Weekend Relaxing Exploring Ipoh

Ipoh was on my list of must visits while living in Kuala Lumpur. Ipoh is the capital of Malaysia’s Perak state and travel by electric train from KL Sentral is approximately 90 minutes. Ideally, we wanted to stay somewhere within walking distance of the Old Town with an agenda to escape the city buzz and relax walking around the Old Town, experience great food, and visit the cave temples.

The boutique hotel Sarang Paloh, only  a short walk of 600 metres from the train station sounded perfect. Sarang Paloh is a heritage stay in the Oversea Building and the Yick Woh building. The art deco façade is beautifully restored along with the interior which is decorated with antiques and preloved old furniture. The restoration is of a high standard and materials as close to the original have been used. The staff are knowledgeable about Ipoh and very helpful. I loved my stay in at Sarang Paloh.

Sarang Paloh - courtyard
Sarang Paloh heritage hotel in Ipoh – Malaysia

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Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Abhishekam Ritual

During a tour of the streets of Pasar Seni on a street photography mission by chance, rather than good planning I arrived at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple. One of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular temples.

As the temple is a  holy place, I removed my footwear and asked permission to take photographs inside the Temple, which was granted.

I sat for a moment in the prayer hall to clear my mind, and take in my surroundings.

I was pleased to have arrived in time for the Abhishekam – a Hindu ritual of bathing the deity. According to my google search an Abhishekam of milk removes all sins, and coconut water increases the overall wellness of the family.

The primary deity of the Temple is Sri Mariamman or the Divine Mother – she provides protection for her worshippers from evil spirits.

Sri Mahamanriamman Temple - Chinatown - Kuala Lumpur
Sri Mahamariamman deity

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Inaugural International Guitar Festival 2008

I was invited to cover the inaugural International Guitar Festival, held in July 2008 in New Plymouth – New Zealand. The festival was founded by Garry Sharpe-Young – Venture Taranaki Trust.

The line-up was impressive with rockstars Gilby Clarke (USA), Glenn Hughes (UK), Vernon Reid (USA),  Alex Skolnic Trio (USA), Uli Jon Roth (Germany), and Joe Satriani performing.

The New Zealand line-up included Kara Gordon Trio, Gray Barlett, Mathew Marshall Quartet, and Nick Granvill.

It was a week long festival and included performances to educate and inspire guitarists. Jam sessions, guitar clinics, discussion forums and midnight sessions were held throughout Taranaki. Subsequent Festivals were held through to 2010.

Please see here a few of my favourite photographs. I’m a Canon girl and was using an 85 mm f1.2L  and a 14 mm f2.8 lens for this occasion, and mostly with an ISO rating at 800.

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Podcast Listening Helps Boost Creativity

I’m a podcast fan, they’re convenient and easy to consume. I enjoy listening to podcasts mostly from my mobile phone during my daily mundane tasks. It makes the mundane more interesting. I love the ease of this medium, depending on the time I have available, I can listen to 8 minutes of news from ‘PRI’s The World’, or a fifty minute episode from ‘On Being’ with Krista Tippet interviewing philosophers’, composers and authors.

I mostly enjoy listening to other people’s stories, learning about other cultures and belief systems. Tuning in sparks my creativity.

I use the SoundCloud platform to listen to the following stations:

  1. On Being Studios – Krista Tippett. Questions of meaning with scientists, theologians, artists and teachers. An episode that stands out as a favourite is Krista’s interview with Paulo Coelho (author of the Alchemist) – The Alchemy of Pilgrimage.
  2. Off Camera – hosted by photographer / director Sam Jones. Long form conversational interviews with a myriad of artists, musicians, directors, skateboarders, and photographers. I particularly enjoyed Sam’s interview with Ethan Hawke – Off Camera -27
  3. Modern Art Notes Podcast – hosted by Tyler Green. Features artists, historians, curators, critics and authors. I recently listened to a podcast on Bruce Conner –  an artist renowned for his work in assemblage, film, drawing, sculpture, painting, photography, and performance.
  4. The Splendid Table – hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Explores the entire spectrum of food. I love the interviews that explore culture and cuisine.
  5. The Story Collider. Stories about science, how science effects and changes us. I was fascinated by Skylar Bayer’s story: The Hummingbird of Doom.

Henry Ford once said “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

I’m always on the lookout for new stations to freshen up my library and I’d love to hear your recommendations.

One Night Out in Soi Bangla

When I first hit Bangla Road (Soi Bangla) in Patong it was a bit disorientating.

I’d had a few cocktails beforehand to help me slip into the party spirit. The 400 metre road was closed off to vehicle traffic. Bangla was a party zone, with neon signs and lights flashing, and loud thumping music from the competing line-up of street bars stimulating my senses. It was jam-packed with people, and it seemed like everyone was out for a night of excess.

The atmosphere was festive; with touts selling everything from tickets to ‘ping-pong shows’ to the latest plastic whizzy thing that may entertain children for a few hours before boredom sets in or the toy breaks.

Scantily clothed girls wriggle their wares in the hope of enticing our group to enter their establishment. With flamboyant Ladyboy dancers at Soi Vegas sexily posing for photographs. I looked up to the second stories of bars and saw girls gyrating on poles, girls in glass surrounds giving the come-hither stare.

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Sa Dingding at WOMAD New Zealand 2008

In 2008 I covered the WOMAD World of Music, Art and Dance Festival for the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust in New Plymouth. New Zealand.

WOMAD an internationally established festival, brings together artists from all over the globe. The central aim of the festival is to celebrate the world’s many forms of music, arts and dance.

In 2008 over 300 performers from 14 countries performed at the ‘open air’ stages at the picturesque TSB Bowl Of Brooklands.

This is a sample of the artists I enjoyed:

Cara Dillion (Ireland)

Beirut (USA)

The Monks from Tasha Lhunpo Monastery (Tibet/India)

Dengue Fever (USA/Cambodia)

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba (Mali)

Kora (New Zealand)

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Ampang Park Street Gang – “APSG”

I’d noticed a regular gathering of skaterboarders at the Ampang Park LRT Station Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia and often had my arms filled and no camera.

This evening I made a special trip with my camera in the hope that the skateboarders would be out and about. I chose the 24-70mm lens for speed and flexibility, and decided to use only the available natural light. As luck would have it, three skateboarders rolled out from the LRT Station, and the late afternoon light was nice and bright.

I introduced myself to the skaterboarders and asked if I could hangout and take photos of them. They agreed, these are the photos I took of the ‘Ampang Park Street Gang – APSG’.

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Evening Portraits – Kuala Lumpur City Park

I decided to visit the Kuala Lumpur City Park (KLCC) late afternoon to take some portraits.

The park was crowded which was a lovely surprise, usually I visit early morning when it is more quiet, and today it was almost shoulder to shoulder in some parts, the children’s play areas in particular.

People were attempting selfies with the Petronas Towers as a backdrop and some looking like pretzels in their attempt to capture the twins in their photograph.

Tourists thumbing through guide books, families having their evening meal together, and couples sitting and enjoying each other’s company.

Children laughing, birds chirping, construction building sounds filtering through as background noise — the hammering, pounding and drilling seems never to rest in this city. Adding to the cacophony, security staff blowing their whistles at adults trying to sneak in a swing or two at the playground.

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Muay Thai – The Art of Eight Limbs

My first Muay Thai event at the Bangla Boxing Stadium in Patong, Phuket – Thailand was an experience. Attending martial art events is not something I’d normally do but after hearing all day long from a van decorated as a boxing rink driving around the streets of Phuket and announcing from a megaphone “Tonight – Tonight – Big fight, BIG FIGHT” I thought I’d go and see a match.

Muay Thai is the national sport and cultural martial art of Thailand and I had high expectations. The stadium was filled with cigarette smoke and Sarama the traditional music of Muay Thai playing through the sound system adding to the atmosphere in the stadium. Small groups of gamblers scattered throughout the stadium betting on each fight added to the tension of the evening.

I enjoyed watching the wai kru ram muay  – the pre-fight ritual dance being performed to pay respect to the fighters, trainers and coaches.

It was fascinating to see ringside spectators facial expressions circulating through a range of emotions as the fights intensified.

Beside us a bench of tourists getting into the spirit of the event and chanting ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi Oi Oi.’

Please see a collection of photographs taken of the ‘nak muay’ and ‘nak muay – farang’  fighters at the Muay Thai event in November 2010.

in focus
Thai fighters “nak muay” preparing for the fight.

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