Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chiang Mai sunset panorama


This is a view from our balcony tonight in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A beautiful sunset behind the Doi Suthep mountain where one of the most famous temples of Northern Thailand is located.

We didn't have a nice sunset for a while here because of the rainy season. It was always overcast around this time. Tonight was special though, the sky was cloudy but it gave beautiful colors over the mountain.
I just love the view from our new apartment. It's even nicer from the rooftop, where the pool is located *wink wink*

You can click on the photo to have a larger view. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Splashing Elephant ~ Mae Tang


Another shot from Mae Tang park of a mahout ordering the elephant to act crazy and splash all around to get the curious tourists wet and giggling.
I was particularly happy to have a long zoom lens allowing me to stay away from the water and not get my camera all wet.
Getting sprayed by a big geyser in Iceland was enough!

Note: My apologies for the lack of updates in the past few days. I am in the process of revamping my whole blog and website and got caught with a lot of work. I will try to keep posting once every 2 days until my website is up and running again. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Vault ~ Reims


Notre-Dame de Paris might be the most famous cathedral in France, but I also am a big fan of the Notre- Dame de Reims cathedral in Reims, North-East of Paris, home of Champagne.

I first visited the cathedral on a cold Christmas Eve and got overwhelmed by the atmosphere. I felt so tiny next to those huge columns and I sat there listening to a children choir singing softly Christmas songs.

The vault is 38m high (125 feet) with no decoration. The austerity and the cold inside creates an intimidating atmosphere.
It is definitely a place I would go visit again and again.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Elephant Love ~ Mae Tang


Is this how elephants kiss?

Seen in Mae Tang Elephant Park, these two elephants seemed playful!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Bright Light ~ Reims


Is this how the bright light at the end of the tunnel would look like?
This shot was taken in the Basilica of St. Remi in the city of Reims, France. It felt like something special was calling behind those doors..

I chose to post this because of the way I am feeling. With deadlines approaching, responsibilities and moving to a new apartment, pressure and stress are increasing but it feels like I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully all this will be over by the beginning of next week and I can start my own projects and reorganize myself more efficiently!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Elephant shower ~ Mae Tang


Another elephant shot from Mae Tang Elephant Park. This big one was happy showering people around the river while the mahout was riding it. Needless to say I tried to stay as far as possible not to get my camera equipment all wet!

Elephant Bathing is one of the activities of the park. Some parks actually let the visitors get in the river and help wash the elephant but this one was only for mahouts while tourists watch from the bank.

Elephant shower ~ Mae Tang


Another elephant shot from Mae Tang Elephant

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Birthday Balloons ~ Chiang Mai


Well ok, not really birthday balloons.. This guy was selling nice colorful balloons on the Sunday Market in Chiang Mai.
But we can all pretend these balloons are meant for me, right?

Because it's my birthday today! Yep..

I am celebrating my 280,535th hour on this planet and my 224th dog year!
Thank you for my parents for obvious reasons and thank you for my girlfriend and my friends for the beautiful day I had today.

Cheers to everyone!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mae Ping River cruise ~ Chiang Mai


One of the many recommended activities in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is a cruise on the river Mae Ping East of the city.
The cruise lasts 2 ridiculous hours on an old boat. You will be taken to a temple, a market and an authentic fishermen village along the river. All this for about 400 baht (12.5$). You can add 50 baht more and get a Khao Soi, a traditional delicious meal of Northern Thailand (some people will jump out of their seats at this price *wink*).
Although some parts of the cruise can be scenic and relaxing, I don't find it very cheap for a mere 2 hours of boat ride with rushed visits to interesting spots. 400 baht after all pays 5 lunch meals! Ha!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Saturday Market Food ~ Chiang Mai


On Saturdays and Sundays (or even every other day), one of our main activities here in Chiang Mai is to find new food to taste!
Although less than the Sunday Market, the Saturday Market is also home to many varieties of food from traditional Thai food like Pad Thai, the delicious Khao Soi to dim-sums and French fries.
Food is often served in smaller portions than in western countries, but usually Thai people eat more often during the day.
I saw this street food lady selling dim-sums with a nice light I just had to take the shot.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chillin' Mahout ~ Mae Tang


The Elephant Parks in Thailand are filled with activities from elephant riding, elephant bathing to bamboo rafting.
While some mahouts entertain the public with elephants playing football, others get ready to take the tourists through a jungle on the back of the melancholic pachyderms. And eventually have a deserved break!
Most of these mahouts work long hours and even have to skip lunch to occupy the demanding tourists.

I saw this Thai mahout smoking a cigarette while watching the tourists clapping enthusiastically at the elephants painting flowers. I loved his style and pose!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Strokkur ~ Iceland


I know this is just a bubble shot but it's not any kind of bubble!
It is captured a few milliseconds before it erupted into a tower of water and steam about 30 meters (~ 100 feet) up in the air.
This is one of the most famous geysers located in a geothermic area east of Reykjavik, Iceland. This geyser named Strokkur (meaning churn in Icelandic) erupts every 4-8 minutes, as opposing to the famous Geysir (the word geyser comes from it) which is now dormant due to clogged conduit.

Strokkur started first erupting in 1789 when an earthquake opened the conduit of the geyser. Another quake later blocked it again in 1896 and in 1963, locals cleaned up the plumbing system and the geyser has been regularly erupting since.

Useful information: Do you know why geysers erupt?
The deeper we go inside the conduit, the hotter it gets and the water is above boiling temperature. But it doesn't actually boil because of the pressure from above. Due to underground movements, this extremely hot water is forced up in the conduit which produces a chain reaction. The pressure decreases (less water pushing from above), water starts to gradually boil and reaches the top with high velocity which makes it burst into a tower of water and steam that smells like sulfur. This shot is right before the bubble pops.

Dumbo ~ Chiang Mai


Another elephant shot from the Mae Tang Park I took a few weeks back.
This was part of the elephant show for tourists, where each mahout and his elephant are introduced to the public (each have a name) and then proceed in entertaining the public with football, painting or dancing.

This shot reminded me of Dumbo following his mom. It was cute!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tour Eiffel Panorama


Another shot of the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris on a beautiful Autumn morning.
This view is from the Champs de Mars where the Peace monument is. The place was still empty with few tourists wandering around.

I don't know about you but I've met many people who dislike the Eiffel Tower, finding it ugly and breaking the charm of Ol' Paris.
I personally find it beautiful and a marvelous piece of architecture. I especially enjoy it when the tower sparkles for a minute every hour at night.

Have you ever been to Paris to visit the Tower? Do you like it or do you find it ugly and intrusive?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Mahout


What is a Mahout I hear you say?

A Mahout is that guy on top of the pachyderm. It's the person who trains and drives the elephant.
Mahout comes from the hindi word mahavat. These trainers start very early as a young boy and are each assigned an elephant with whom they will "bond". They usually stay with the same elephant all their life (or until one of them dies obviously).
Originally, mahouts used to train elephants to help with logging in the forests. These big strong animals pulled huge logs across long distances in the jungle. But when Thailand banned logging due to widespread destruction of the forests, more and more elephants started to be used (especially in Thailand) for the tourism business.
Today 95% of Thai elephants are privately owned and domesticated in elephant parks to offer shows and rides for the demanding tourists.

On the photo, you can also notice the ankus, a sharp metal hook mounted on a stick that the mahout uses to handle (or punish) the elephant. Luckily I've only seen them use the stick part to tap on the head.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lost Duckie!


Just a fun little shot today that I captured in the deserts of the UAE a while ago. It's my little rubber duck lost in the desert, away from any oasis.. Will it survive?

Today's post is early and different because I have to catch a bus to Bangkok for another visa run. I'm not really looking forward for a 10hours bus drive and a plane back & forth to Malaysia.

Will keep on posting from Bangkok in the next few days! Cheers!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Elephant Ride ~ Mae Tang


When I was invited to the Mae Tang Elephant Park, I participated to many of their activities including elephant shows, elephant bathing, bamboo rafting and of course, elephant rides!

I had to test it and well... It's not the most comfortable ride I've had. Only camels are probably worse. I preferred the stoic oxen pulling their carts on a muddy road.
It's also a real challenge to take sharp photos while riding those pachyderms. I had to increase my ISO, put my camera on continuous mode and shoot away! One over a dozen shots should be sharp enough to work with!
So the mahout (trainer) took us for a 30min ride across the jungle while stopping from time to time at these towers (this one on the photo was broken and abandoned) to push us to buy bananas or sugar cane to feed the elephant.
The trick is to refuse every time, the mahout will get a few sugar canes/bananas for free to feed the animal anyway... they don't want an angry and hungry beast wrecking havoc through the jungle!

Well, although it doesn't seem like it, I still enjoyed the ride and would probably do it again, just for the fun! (Do not think about motion sickness..).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Photo Essay: Pere Lachaise Cemetery ~ Paris

Bored of the Eiffel Tower or the Notre-Dame Cathedral when visiting the beautiful city of Paris? Why not spend a quiet afternoon walking along the haunting tombstones of the most famous and most visited cemetery in the world? The Père Lachaise Cemetery!


1) Entrance of Père Lachaise, the most visited cemetery in the world. It was established in 1804 by Napoleon Bonaparte.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Child at play ~ Chiang Mai


Another shot I got from the PhotoWalk a few weeks ago in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is the same kid playing with a top seen on this portrait in the market.

It was too bad it rained for hours later so we couldn't get more shots. I felt a bit more comfortable taking street portraits when I was with the group, I am not very used to street photography and I feel a bit shy approaching people to take photos when I don't even speak their language.

I am improving day by day though as I am forcing myself to get out there and approach strangers. I might even have a project coming up soon so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ox Cart


Part of the Mae Tang Elephant park program consists in a half hour ride on an elephant to a touristic village (with lots of souvenirs and annoying people in ethnic costumes running after you) and then coming back to the main center riding an ox cart.

Ox carts are these 2-wheeled wooden carts pulled by oxen (that's the plural for ox, not oxes). Oxen are castrated male cattle preferred to horses because they can pull heavier loads in a steadier fashion. Ox carts were common in many parts of the world and are still used in some remote areas in South East Asia, like Thailand or Malaysia.

It was in fact a much more comfortable ride than an elephant!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Colors of Asia


One of the things I enjoy about Asia is the explosion of bright colors everywhere.
From the products in the markets, bags, clothes, tuk-tuks to the traditional costumes of Hill-tribes, everything seems to be very colorful making it a pleasure for the eye. Even the taxi cars are bright yellow, green or pink!

Why do we tend to become more and more dull in the "western civilized" world? Are we afraid from everything that is not beige, gray, black or white?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mae Tang Elephant Park ~ Chiang Mai


Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit (for free!) an elephant park in Mae Tang, about an hour drive North of Chiang Mai.
I had never been to elephant parks yet in Thailand so I didn't really know what to expect. I had a great time with a few other photographers and we had free access to the whole program (plus a special baby elephant bathing show that tourists don't see).

We had been invited by the park to take photos which would later be used for fundraising to help the elephants' training. Many centers have been hit and had to close due to lack of tourists because of the last events in Bangkok.

PS: The elephant in the shot is not dead or hurt. Just lying on the ground to let the tourists ride it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Endless Journey


And the pilgrim walks and walks knowing that the goal is never clear nor important, but the journey is endless and enlightening.

Many of these pilgrims (now good friends) that I have come across keep on walking, again and again, either physically or spiritually. Many don't really know where they are heading, but all know that the journey is what makes us grow and gives us the strength to carry on with our dreams.

"Caminante, no hay camino... Se hace el camino al andar".

"Traveler, there is no path... the path is made by walking".
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