A tour around Taipei

I am cleaning a bit of my backlog, and found on my work-space some remaining pictures of our Taiwan trip back in Feb/March.

The only day we decided to take a tour with our friendly guide was also the only rainy day of the trip so it ends up being a no so great experience.

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We took off from our hotel in Daan and headed to the North West, to visit what I believe is the Wufeng Lin Family Mansion and Garden. A historical house and garden from a rich Taiwanese family.

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This is a very nicely preserved house, a quite interesting visit, not a good as the Lin Family mansion in Banqiao  district but still a nice thing to see.

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We then drove down to see the change of the guard at the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine, but we arrived too late, and the rain started. Continuing further west we stopped in Beitou, a suburb of Taipei known for its hot springs

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The place made its living through mining and hospitality, including bath and spas.

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There is a very nice museum is an old bath house, including the beautiful pool below.

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At this point we headed along the Tamsui River to the fisherman’s wharf for lunch. We did not find anything much exciting, had a sandwich and then a long walk, without rain, before finding our car again.

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The last stop was Tamsui old street, that we reached after visiting the interesting Fort San Domingo, showing an interesting display of the colonial times. By then the weather started to be very.

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We nevertheless spent a good hour walking along the Tamsui River and through the old street with a stop at the beautiful Longshan temple, above and below.

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Finally, after a nice Taiwan beer in a dry place, we happily headed back to the city and our hotel ( probably the rain stopped along the way ).

All shots Leica M262, Summicron 28/50/35, it was another day where the weather was not enticing to pull out the M6 and play with two cameras.

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A tour around Taipei

Not shooting much in Naoshima

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Kusama Iconic Pumpkin in Naoshima

Naoshima is an island town in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, it has been a long time project to go there, as it hosts several arts museum built by Tadao Ando as well as a famous hotel made by the same architect.

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This year we finally made the trip to Osaka and on the way to Hiroshima we stopped at Naoshima. Getting there seems difficult at first, but in the end it is quite easy, you take the train either to Takamatsu or to Tamano and ferry to the island.

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The Benese house hotel is full 6 months in advance so we had no chance to stay there. We then decided to sleep in Takamatsu and take a ferry for a day trip in Naoshima. Takamatsu is a secondary town, with a big hotel “JR Clement” (a bit expensive for what you get) and a few restaurants where you can manage in english. It also hosts the garden-museum of Isam Nogushi which is well worth the visit.

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A day is Naoshima is probably enough, the Chichu museum hosts some art pieces made to measure and the Benese house museum has an awesome collection of modern and contemporary art. The Lee Ufan museum is also worth the visit, although less well know if you are not into minimalist art. We took a bus to the Chichu Museum with is the furthest palace from the ferry and walked our way back from there.

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The subtle architecture of Tadao Ando is beautiful and invite to meditation. All the buildings are no photo, so you will see here no photos of the them. And I must say I did not miss being surrounded by people taking selfies, not that the place is packed though.

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The rest of the island contains minor exhibitions in some traditional houses and some outdoors installations.

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We spent a nicely filled 10 hours there and probably enjoyed most of it. Time to take the ferry back to Takamatsu

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Pictures shot with Leica M262 and Summicron 28/35 or 50.

Not shooting much in Naoshima

On the road from Patiala to Chandigarh

Patiala looks to be a very interesting place, but we had little time to hang around. We try to visit the two palaces but both were under renovation and although we were allowed to the grounds in both (many thanks to our guide), I was denied using my camera. The first palace was a residence for the maharajah and his many spouses; the buildings we could see are set around a very large pond. It is located in a residential area on the town outskirts.

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This may have been some sort of Natural Sciences museum
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Under construction
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The “pond” is what separate the girls here to the building in the background.

 

The second palace, Qila Mubarak, is located in the heart if the city, it is normally hosting a museum which was closed at the time of our visit (Oct 2017) and the building also under renovation. This is an incredibly big compound to be located in a city center. There is a fort behind the main buildings and more buildings behind the fort. No pictures available unfortunately.

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We then start our drive to Chandigarh through the busy city streets and then on the very good roads off Punjab. Chandigarh is only 70 km away, but with a few stops, we got there in about 4 hours.

The main stop was in Sirhind-Fategarh, the Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib there is famous as it is the place where younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, who were bricked-up alive in 1704 by Wazir Khan and a place to commemorate the memory of the brave Sikhs who were killed while fighting with Mughal forces.

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Gurudwara Bhora Sahib, the wall where the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh were bricked-up alive

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Outside the Gurdwara itself is a  shop for religious artifacts where I finally decided to satisfy my long lasting envy to buy a  Kara (a Sikh bangle). After a long debate we decided to by one each (ok my wife wanted two) and to our great surprise the shop keeper refused us to pay for them and offered them as presents. Another sign of the great Sikh hospitality and friendliness.

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The Gurdwara shop keepers 

Next to the main Gurdwara is another one, where we met the guy in charge (below). Very happy to talk about his religion; probably on of the first guys we could exchange in English.

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Not far from this site is a Mosque, which is supposed to be linked to friendly Muslim people at the time of the war with the mughals. The complex is very nice and spacious. Not all places are allowed for women to visit and photography is a bit more limited than in the Gurdwaras.

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The basement of the main building above contains the tombs of some saints where people come to make offerings.

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Back on the road again, our guide stopped us by one of the many places where a few men where boiling some sugar cane to make some solid sugar.

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Pressing the cane to extract the sugar

We tasted the sweets and pack-up after a little while and finally made it to Chandigarh.

All shots Leica M262+Summicron 28 or 50

B&W shots Leica M6+Summicron 50

 

On the road from Patiala to Chandigarh

THE GOLDEN TEMPLE – AMRITSAR

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, known as Sri Harmandir Sahib,  is the holly place for the Sikh faith.

L1009510 The entrance is a short walking distance from the street, but on the Sunday we visited the traffic was so bad we had to envoy a nice stroll through the streets of the city. A bit esplanade sits in from of the temple (above) where many pilgrims sleep at night. The entrance is North gate called also the clock tower.

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After having left your shoes at the counter, covered your head and washed you hands and feet you can step trough the gate and access the path around the Sarovar (the holly pool of immortal nectar) and have a view at the golden temple, the sanctum-sanctorum.

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Benevolent and photo friendly guards are posted around the pool.

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Sunday may not be the best bet to visit as you see above we were not alone.

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In various stations devotees envoy a ritual bath, note that there are special enclosed sections for women. Sikh are so open minded that we were told nobody would be offended if a non Sikh  would have a dip.

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An important part of the Sikh temples is the kitchen offering food to every visitor, school kids above were waiting to get their meal.

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Inside the Akal Takhat

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A Sikh man reading the Holly book in a small chapel around the pool.

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Volunteers working at the cleaning of the holly pool.

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Sikh apprentice meditating, yes you can become a Sikh (Elmarit 90F2.8). There can be many reasons, like getting married to a Sikh for instance.

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Good bye.

Leica M262, Summicron 28 and 50 and Elmarit 90

THE GOLDEN TEMPLE – AMRITSAR

On the road to the Lac D’Allos

One of the exciting bits of our small outing in France southern alps was going to the Lac d’Allos, a place I did not visit in more than 20 years. Allos is a ski resort 2 hours drive from the sea, situated at 1500 meters of altitude with highest slopes around 2500.

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The side of the valley of Verdon opposite the resort is part of the Mercantour natural reserve and its highest pic, Mont Pelat is 3050m.

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One of the popular walks is to go up to Lac d’Allos. This lake situated at 2300m is the largest natural high altitude lake in Europe. It covers 60 hectares and has a depth of 50 m.

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Flickr-1007537From the last parking place, the walk is an easy 45 minutes uphill until the majesty of the lac and surrounding mountains appears.

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When reaching the lake there is a high altitude refuge, providing food and drinks during the day and shelter for the night.

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From the refuge, a lot of path are available, with various distances and difficulties, I walked a few of the in my teens. If you pass by the area and like hiking, this is worth your time.

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The lake and the “Towers” in the background

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You can have another hour of pleasant walk around the lake, admiring the scenery, flowers, drift wood, or marmottes (marmot in english).

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A marmot, the furry local

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The weather even in early July can be treacherous and we had some rain that day, forcing us to retreat in the refuge. Remember that as easy as this walk is, this start to be the realm of high altitude.

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Inside the refuge you can always hope to make some nice encounters and engage in interesting exchanges. Here Gilles from Lille, was walking the mountains for a week. He likes to play music and use it to exchange with people he meets.

 

All shots Leica M262 + Summicron 28 asph or Summicron 50 or Elmarit 90mm F2.8

 

On the road to the Lac D’Allos

Train des Pignes à Vapeur (France)

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So this was the first day of the holidays; after the long-haul flight from Singapore to Nice and a night or rest, here I am driving up 2 hours from Cannes to Allos in the Parc of Mercantour in the southern french alps, a couple of boys day’s out with my son and my dad.

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I had a couple of ideas of things to shoot on the way, including a stop at the railway station in Thorame Haute a stop on the “Train des pignes” that link Nice to Dignes-Les-Bains.

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To our amusement, when we stepped out of the car a vintage steam train was parked along the station.  It appeared it had to make a stop to let the regular train  pass by as there is only one track in this area.

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The people attending the train were very nice, happy to have a chat and camera friendly, hell they had 2 hours to kill

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This train is kept by a non profit association it travels from May to October on Sundays.

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You can see their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TrainDesPignesAVapeur/

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Shots with Leica M262 and M6+Cinestill 50, with Summicron 28 and 50.

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Train des Pignes à Vapeur (France)

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House is surely one of the most iconic buildings in par with the Eiffel Tower. For our first trip in Australia I select Sydney as our first landing point not to miss it.

If you stay close to Circular Quay the building is always in view.

I am not going to copy wikipedia but quickly the building was the work of danish architect  Jørn Utzon and was opened in 1973.

If you walk around the Rocks market during the week end you can see some vintage shots of the construction which are quite interesting.

We took the tour to visit the building which I highly recommend, but be warned, I find it pricey at 34$ per adult.

On top of having a guide that tells you the story of the building and describe its architecture, you can see some of the show rooms and inner pieces or architecture.

Definitely one of the nicest views is from Harbor Bridge.

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All shots with the Leica M262 and M6 for the Black and White picture.

Sydney Opera House