Lochs, Bothies and Blue Skies.

I was in the Cairngorms earlier today; a big national park in the highlands of Scotland. It was a beautiful and I’d love to share some pictures with you.

If you are unfamiliar with Scotland I’ll reveal the mystery of what a Bothy is!

This is the view of the Cairngorms from Aviemore; taken from the main road at the bottom of the village:

On the road up to Cairngorm you pass Loch Morlich; there are often ducks at play; a lot of them were slipping and sliding on the ice today.

The start of our short walk; the sunlight on the trees was beautiful today:

 

We arrived at a small loch, a few people were around and there was a little fun to be had in breaking off chunks of ice and sliding them across the loch; it makes a beautiful sound. My friend Angus featured below.

 

Just a little bit further along the walk we’ve got a bothy.

Scotland has quite a few bothies especially around the more remote areas. They are typically ruined cottages or similar buildings that have basic restoration to provide shelter for hill walkers and mountaineers. They are often maintained by charities.

We are talking super basic. A roof, a fireplace and a concrete floor. No water, heating, toilet etc.

That view tho:

I’ve got great memories of Bothies. I used to do quite a bit of hill walking with my dad when I was young and while we’d carry tents if we came across a bothy we’d sleep inside. A chance to hang up wet socks and boots and get a roaring fire going.

Back in the day you’d often meet some interesting characters; fellow walkers, in a stay over in a bothy.

I’ve been travelling a lot last few years. I love travel and foreign countries and I’ve seen some beautiful landscapes.

But…

Gosh, Scotland is stunningly beautiful. And I wish I could describe how fresh and clean the air feels. Even compared to moderately clean air towns the air up in the highlands is so fresh. You feel high!

So I guess like many Scots, my heart really is in Scotland.

 

Hong Kong and 2 Photos, 2 Years Apart.

I came back to Hong Kong. The last time I was here was early 2014.

When I was here last time I took this picture from Kowloon of a Junk passing by. That’s Hong Kong Island in the background.

Now that I’m back I found that Hong Kong hasn’t changed too much.

In more or less the same location, but from a different angle and earlier in the day look what I saw:

I find myself stunned by the beauty of some of the views of the Hong Kong landscape. It’s a city of contrast though, the pure beauty of the landscapes belies some of the cramped, dirty, smelly streets crammed with people. Be ready for it if you visit.

 

A Short Trip to Asakusa

Today was a chill day. I didn’t have any exercise scheduled. My main plan was to study some Japanese and graphic design and to head over to Asakusa and maybe take a few photos.

To be honest, the day was a bit of a fail, I couldn’t concentrate at all and it was way too hot to walk around taking photos for a long time.

However, I did take a few shots in Asakusa. The area is famous for Sensoji 浅草寺 – it’s a temple complex that many people visit. There are a lot of shops selling traditional japanese products. There are also a lot of traditional restaurants.

You have probably seen the entrance gate to Sensoji before, it’s the one with the huge lantern. It’s often photographed super close up and you can see there are always lot’s and lot’s of people around it.

Here are three shots from around Sensoji.

Post those three shots I was sweating and uncomfortable so I took the train back to Shibuya to chill out.

Now I am enjoying a cold beer. Sometimes life is tough!

 

Look Up, Head Raised High

Look up, head raised high,
Beauty hides plainly in sight,
Not just a blue sky,

In modern rushed lives,
Head oft down, in phones we drown,
Wake up! it’s a choice.

 


I recall a conversation with my mothers husband when I first moved to London. We were driving and walking around the city. My mothers husband has fond memories of walking around the city when he was younger. He has an eye for detail and was looking up at the buildings as we walked around.

When you walk around a city, it’s easy to only look straight ahead.

Even easier to look at your phone.

But when you look up a whole new world opens itself up to you. Not just the sky. Little details; ornamentation, gargoyles, feet hanging out a balcony, a lady drinking a cup of tea at a window.

This is what inspired me to have a go at a Haiku about this.

These pictures are quite striking examples of the detail to be found looking up; framed beautifuly by the sky. But even in day to day life I am often surprised by what I see just walking around the streets.

So try it out, put your phone away and look up, with your head raised high!

 

Through the Window (On The Bus In Bangkok)

Young or old,
Is there anywhere you want to go?

Look out for them,
Charging around, in a bright flash of red or blue.

You have to share,
But a sense of community can be found their.

Relax in your seat,
A moment of freedom is found.

Books, music, snooze or chat,
What will you do?

I will simply sit back and enjoy the view.


During my trip to Thailand this year, I became slightly obsessed with the buses.

Two things caught my eye, the beautiful bright colours and all the little details. The flaps on the front, the expressive lights and grills, the thai flag stickers, the coloured wheel nuts. It’s a visual feast!

As I was walking around the Wat Pho area I saw one bus waiting. I noticed how the passengers were together, but still alone. As I looked on from outside I realised that people lose their self awareness when sitting on the bus. You could openly see people lost in their own world: talking to a friend, listening to music, daydreaming etc.

‘On the bus’ is it’s own little world. People from all kinds of backgrounds, at all ages, come together and spend these moments together, but yet still alone.

I thought, how lonely it is to drive around in a car on your own, when you could be on these wonderful buses.

Life’s Changing Perspective

Yesterday afternoon I was browsing wordpress and I saw the discover challenge  to post about perspective. Coincidently earlier that morning I took a photo of two work men from an unusual top down perspective as they sat on a truck cab.

However the visual perspective wasn’t what made me connect this with the wordpress challenge. But rather the image reminded me of my childhood. For a time my dad drove his own scrap metal truck similar to that in the picture.

I remember in those days I looked up in wonder at the big world; where even the simplest things seemed larger than life:

  • One of my dad’s friends could eat a packet of crisps in one handful!
  • An old farm we passed might reveal a collection of cool old cars
  • The world was huge by my dad seemed so strong and my mum so kind, nothing bad could ever happen.

Twenty seven years later; after study, work, travel and the countless interactions with people from all walks of life, my perspective has changed so much that the younger version of myself could never have imagined where I would be, what I would be thinking about or perhaps more interestingly how I would think.

All the things that happen as we grow up give us so much knowledge, and so much understanding. Our perspective can’t help but drastically change.

Is a potential price of this a loss of wonder?

New knowledge and experiences can help retain a sense of wonder in life. One thing that I try to do is occasionaly think outside the box. I might read a new type of magazine/book, visit a new place, learn a new sport/art/other skill.

As we grow and learnand our perspective changes we also run the risk of narrowing our viewpoint.

That may come down to the way we operate. If we have a bad experience with a certain type of food, people, place we form a negative viewpoint. Sometimes we need to be conscious of this and force ourselves to revisit our perceptions  to check if they are accurate.

The discover challenge on perspective reminds me to look for wonder. It also reminds me to check my negative opinions.

Now, time to go and have some fun with the big world!

Moganshan 50 Shanghai (M50)

I had a dream-like three weeks in shanghai earlier this year. I want to introduce you to m50; the contemperary art district.

Shanghai itself is a bit of an enigma, it’s China of course; but also very much it’s own place. The history is fascinating and provides background perspective on the modern day relationship between east and west. Shanghai also has it’s own dialect and other Chinese people may consider the Shanghainese as overly proud.

It’s a city of old and new, a city of hope, and also a city of hope lost. There is division of rich and poor that reminded me of my time in Russia years before. In big Chinese cities there is a context of rich people becoming super rich on massive growth vs. poor people arriving in the cities with nothing but hope. But there is a sense that anything can happen, although perhaps only to the lucky or entreprenuerial few.

When I was there I stayed in a traditional lilong / longdang apartment for two weeks and a more modern apartment in the french concession for one week. I like to avoid hotels or restaurants with other foreigners and stay local and eat local.

When I was in Shanghai I read the excellent five star billionaire by tash aw; which further lost me in the feeling of the city. I can’t recommend enough reading novels set in a place you are visiting.

There is so much to say about Shanghai, but I want to talk about Moganshan 50 in this post. It’s abbrievated as m50 and is the site of a former mill that is now a contemperary art district. It was perhaps my favourite place to visit.

The mill has been converted into a lot of individual galleries (over a hundred?). The art varies from traditional oil paintings to fairly ‘out there’ stuff. In addition to the galleries there are working art studios; you can see some artists at work. Unfortunately I couldn’t photograph any of the art itself.

When I was there I really wanted to buy some artwork; I had my eye on a few peices, but I just couldn’t afford it.

One of the best things about m50 is the aged industrial architecture, which I always thinks goes so well with art; particularly contemporary. This is why I like Tate Modern in London, the turbine hall is breathtaking; even if a lot of the art misses the mark to my taste.

There is also an excellent cafe at m50 – with wonton in soup to die for, not the main cafe at the entrance, just nearby at the side. It’s also an art bookstore.

If you visit Shanghai please be sure to go and have a look around m50.