Rocks and Boats and a Fishing Village

Half a year ago, I was living halfway around the world. On special weekends I would visit special islands, The days would start with the sun. Except when I brought out the camera. Especially on expensive photo trips.

One remarkable island out of the 15,000+ that Indonesia has is called Belitung. Off the east coast of Sumatra, almost directly north of Jakarta, this island has/had two claims to fame. First, during the Dutch colonial period, it was exploited for its vast supply of tin. When tin fell out of favouring the world, the island met with a similar fate. Decades later, a talented Indonesian writer, Andrea Hirata, published Lashkar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops, in English). A blockbuster movie followed that successful book, and brought out visually what Belitung should forever be famous for: its landscape of crystalline waters and rocks with personality.

After reading the book, a visit to the island was on my list, but it took my reliable partner in photo-adventures: Rajbir, to make it happen. And the expert guidance of our photography guru, Ranar, to make it better.

 

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THAT particular trip we were blessed with an overcast sky and no sun to make those colours pop.

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But we persisted.

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Over 2 days and 2 nights.

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Until the last day, when the sun finally shed it’s shyness and cast some shadows.

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Success!

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Exploring Lima v2.1

A mixed bag of outings for me, these last couple of months in Lima. I’ve been going out mostly with my school, El Sol, for a number of cultural excursions, trying to keep pace with spoken español, and only managing to understand 15-20%.

Mercado Surquillo: The local market for everything fresh and cheap and exotic.

Casa de Aliaga: You can pass it by without ever knowing the treasures it holds within. But Casa de Aliaga is a home in Lima Centro lived in by the same family over 17 generations, over 4 centuries, and is well worth the visit.

A walk through Lima Centro: Plaza San Martin and Plaza de Armas. I’ve been here before, and never tire of visiting the heart of touristy Lima in these colonial neighbourhoods. A ride on the Metropolitano bus service was an experience in itself.

The Procession of Señor de los Milagros: A half-baked attempt to capture the procession of thousands of people in purple robes, but we arrived too late and ended up running away midway to get our cafe and turrón fix.

Artesanal beer tasting: Helps to understand español better, of course.

My personal favourite: Walk through the graffiti in Barranco. It made my day to see an artist in action, and realise the quantum of talent and effort and art supplies that go into a street side creation. The artist in the photos below is painting under the bridge.

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Will walk with friends @ Delhi

When a bunch of ex- and present-Jakarta folks got together in Delhi, we picked the Ghazipur flower market for an early morning photo walk. Predictably it was a bustle of activity and a riot of colours. Enjoy!

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We neutralised the benefits of the exercise with a sumptuous breakfast of chole-bhature in Green Park. Because, you can’t go to Delhi and not do that!

Will walk with friends @ Mumbai

This is my favourite activity to meet/make friends, get some exercise, and feed the travel monster inside me. Photo walking. Regardless of how many years I’ve spent in a city, it all looks different through the lens. Mumbai offered up the perfect opportunity to do just that. And my friends just happened to know some of the most interesting places to walk about.

The Gateway of India at dawn:

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The interiors of the fanciest hotel in Mumbai with the largest heart – The Taj Mahal:

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A whiff of nostalgia, watching the sandwich guy set up his stall, and other activities:

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A walk through Darukhana, one of the old-time ship breaking yards with a bit of history:

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People :

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And the part that makes it all worthwhile – a breakfast place that’s both picturesque and satisfying:

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Here’s Kailash staking his claim on a new business:

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When at Kala Ghoda, must pose with the kala ghoda (black horse):

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And at nightfall, after all is said and done, the terrace offers a glorious view of Mumbai city at night, sparkling all the way from Antop Hill as far as the eye can see.

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Circles and Spheres

An opportunity to get on a rooftop for photography is impossible to resist. Rajbir arranged with the good people of Grand Hyatt Jakarta to allow us on top of their building, to admire Bunderan HI in all is sparkling glory.

More than any other, this is the defining spot of Jakarta for me. The roundabout (bunderan) is the centre of the action for numerous events in the city, and many that we’ve enjoyed ourselves. New Year’s Eve celebrations, Car-free Sundays, protests for causes, all take place under the Selamat Datang Monument – the sculpture of the man and women welcoming everyone to Indonesia in the centre of the circle.

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We got to the terrace well before sunset, to set up our gear for the best angle or the safest position, whichever was possible. Then waited for the blue hour.

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The black night was even better.

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We found a new toy:

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But one is never enough:

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Too soon, it was time to say Sampai Jumpa (until we meet again).

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Step into the Field

A few months back, Rajbir connected us with a talented Indonesian photographer, Ranar. He took us to this offbeat spot in West Java, called Argapura Majalenka to photograph hills full of harvest-ready bawang merah (spring onions). Quite a difference from the popular paddy fields found all over Indonesia, these hillside plantations have their own charm. Standing in ankle-deep soil, we did our best not to trample any, but it wasn’t easy.

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Ranar is a specialist in making excellent photos in-camera without the use of editing software, and taught us some of his techniques of using our cameras to their maximum potential. The best time to have these views is towards the end of the rainy season, March-April. How to get there? I have no idea! This area doesn’t attract tourists, only photo hunters like us. The village is pretty; we were in a simple and comfortable homestay, the owners of which insisted in bringing us homemade food for every meal.

We rounded up our trip with a bit of waterfall photography, before plunging into the never-ceasing traffic headed into Jakarta.

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