Tomb Raiding in Cambodia

Temple Complex

Continuing my theme of BIG PLACES, I give you the temples of Cambodia! This one I believe is Ta Prohm, but given the maze-like winding I did at somewhat breakneck speed, I am doing good to recall where I was at all! There are throngs of tourists, but you still can’t help but sometimes seeing the place through the lens of western video games.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 22 January, 2017
  • Focal length: 22mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s
  • Title: Tome Raiding in Cambodia

Exploring Angkor Wat

Tomb Raider

Technically Tomb Raider was shot at Ta Prohm and this is Angkor Wat temple, but being American, I can’t help but tell you how much I felt like I was in a movie! Sure there were hoards of tourists and guides, but there is something amazing (and terrible) being able to freely explore this ancient temple complex!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 21 January, 2017
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s
  • Title: Exploring Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Temple Carvings

Churning of the Ocean of Milk

This is one of the most famous carvings in Angkor Wat temple and perhaps all of Cambodia. The Churning of the Ocean of Milk tells the story of a battle between Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) to gain supremacy on the Earth. The two sides battled in a great tug-of-war struggling while pulling on the Naga (a mythical snake creature) thus causing the great churning of the ocean of milk and things to be revealed in the turmoil of the ocean including the Amrita (the elixir of immortality). In the process they numerous times petitioned the help of Vishnu who aided the Devas. In several ways the Devas tricked the Asuras and gained supremacy in the world, sending the demons to hell.

This is of course my rendition from what my guide at Ankor Wat shared of the story. I am still trying to work my way through how this story relates to modern times. Perhaps this is further complicated as this is a Hindu sculpture inside a Buddhist temple.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/3.5
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 21 January, 2017
  • Focal length: 18mm
  • ISO: 640
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s
  • Title: Angkor Wat Temple Carvings

Neon in the Air

Flying in Style

I admit it, I am spoiled. So many people don’t get to travel. So many people don’t take the time to travel. So many people can’t afford to travel. So many people are too afraid to travel. The list is endless, some are very legitimate reasons others are less so, but if you can go and experience a place very different than where you are from, it is impossible to look at the world with the same eyes. If you dream of going someplace, get your passport today (if you don’t already have one). Start saving! GO!

This photo was taken aboard a Qatar Airbus A380 where I recently took two trips (BKK-DOH, DOH-CDG) in First Class. I am going to call it Doha, Qatar, but really its somewhere over the Middle East. This is the stairs leading into the first class cabin from the lower deck. I told you I was spoiled!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 25 January, 2017
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 3200
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s
  • Title: Neon in the Air

The Ethereal Essence of Sakura

Magic in the Air

Magic is probably the wrong word to use. I feel like Sakura is must more of an Eastern philosophical festival than my Western mind completely grasps. There is so much beauty in the blossoms of the cherry trees. The burst forth to the enjoyment of all and fill the previously cold world wrapped in winter with color and life and the most glorious fragrance. Their time here is so short, only about 10 days, then the blossoms fall (die?). When this happens, a cool breeze come through and the petals of these one beautiful flowers rain down to the ground. I can most compare it to snow, but at the same time, nothing like snow. In that moment, for me at least, is perhaps their most beautiful expression. They leave the world in a gracefully chaotic fall that I can only call magical.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s
  • Title: The Ethereal Essence of Sakura

Zen Seclusion

Taking a Moment

Tokyo isn’t exactly a place for quiet. It’s hustle and bustle non-stop and packet to the gills with people. This is almost doubly so during Sakura! I have found though, even in the most densely populated places you can find moments of zen.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 17mm
  • ISO: 640
  • Shutter speed: 1/640s
  • Title: Zen Seclusion

Flowering Bush in Tokyo, Japan

Spring is Around the Corner

Believe it or not, Spring is not far around the corner! Personally I can’t wait for winter to be over, but this realization got me thinking about Sakura. I am not traveling quite as much as in years past. Part of me is really sad about this, but it also makes me thing about the Buddhist meaning of this time in Japan. The cherry blossoms live only for around 10 days and they are a reminder of impermanence. Nothing can last forever, but despite inevitable mortality, spring will come again.

I found this flowering bush (or maybe tree) while viewing Sakura. The closer brighter blossom was nearly perfect, it too made me thing while circumambulating the Shinobazu Pond that while the Sakura gets all the attention, there is beauty all around.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 640
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s
  • Title: Flowering Bush in Tokyo, Japan

Temple of Heaven Fire Baskets

Favorite Historical Sites

If I had to pick between the big three UNESCO sites in and around Beijing my preference, BY FAR would likely be with the Temple of Heaven. While in antiquity this was a temple for the Emperor of China, today its is an expansive and exquisitely beautiful park near the heart of Beijing. There is a majesty in walking up the path reserved for only the emperor. There is a grandeur and elegance that masks (along with modern perception) the religous rites preformed here to bring a good harvest. If for some reason you have to choose between The Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City and The Great Wall, I would chose in that order.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 6 September, 2016
  • Focal length: 31mm
  • ISO: 640
  • Shutter speed: 1/1000s
  • Title: Temple of Heaven Fire Baskets

The Forbidden City Roof Details

Plans Already Defined

When you visit Beijing for the first time, or go with someone who is going for the first time, your itinerary is almost designated for you by the historical and cultural significance of the region. You have to see:

  1. The Great Wall
  2. The Temple of Heaven
  3. The Forbidden City

All three are UNESCO World Heritage sites and all three are AMAZING! It’s honestly a wonder The Forbidden City wasn’t destroyed during the cultural revolution in China, but lucky for all the world, it is still very much waiting for your visit!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 5 September, 2016
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s
  • Title: The Forbidden City Roof Details

Badaling Section of The Great Wall

7 Wonders

With our most recent trip to China, I realize I have now seen three of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Here is the completely list:

  • Christ Redeemer: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Great Wall of China: China
  • Machu Picchu: Peru
  • Petra: Jordan
  • Pyramid at Chichén Itzá: Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
  • Roman Colosseum: Rome, Italy
  • Taj Mahal: Agra, India

Of course technically the wall is really multiple walls, and I only saw one very touristy section. It was very well restored, but personally I think I tend to like the less populated and more rugged hiking that might be involved in visiting one of the less visited sections. Here are a few tips, bring a hat, sunscreen, water and snacks! If you plan on going to Badaling (one of the “easier” sections to get to from Beijing) bring patience. There are over 1.35 billion people in china and I think about 1 billion visit the Badaling section of the wall each day (this maybe an exaggeration). Keep in mind despite not being “rugged hiking” it is a VERY steep climb!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 5 September, 2016
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 250
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s
  • Title: Badaling Section of The Great Wall