9-11-2001; Seventeen Years Later

Statue of Liberty

The 9-11 memorials I’ve visited seem to be very appropriate tributes to that terrible day.  I have visited the NYC memorial twice.  Below are links to my previous posts regarding 9-11.  The YouTube video was created in 2001, posted in 2006 and has almost 50,000 views.

9-11 LINK to You-Tube

 

My BLOG post of my 9-11 Memorial visit.

 

My BLOG post of Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksville, PA

 

 

 

Alaska Revisited

 

Eagle Portrait on July 4th, 2018.

How appropriate to photograph an American bald eagle on the Fourth of July in Alaska.  In Hoonah, Alaska I was able to slowly approach this eagle which had apparently just eaten some fish.  Yep, we made a return visit to Alaska to visit Denali National Park and cruise the beautiful coastline for a second time in two months.

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Back in the USA

America! America!

America! …for purple mountain majesties

It was quite a wonderful sight to finally see the mountains of Alaska from our cruise ship.  First small mountains in the distance, the Aleutian Islands, then bigger mountain ranges on the Alaskan mainland.  Back in the USA after about six months of travel to places too hot for any human.  Great to see snow again.

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Orange Gates of Kyoto, Macaques and Hiroshima

Japanese macaque monkeys inhabit Iwatayama Monkey Park.

These macaques are cute, but before we visit the monkeys we must visit one of the most famous Shinto shrines in all of Japan, the Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto.  Inari is the patron God of business, prosperity, rice and sake.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto

This was a must-see for me from a photographic standpoint.  Arriving shortly after sunrise I was surprised how many people were already walking around and some already leaving, mostly other photographers.  We visited Japan during a religious period when the Japanese visit many different shrines, so it was extra crowded.  The photos I took were not so much based on composition, but rather taken when people were not walking through my frame.  Reviewing my photos upon my return, I’m disappointed I did not get a much lower angle of view.  For some reason, out of the over 50 or more photos taken, none are from a more unique low perspective.

Orange gates at the Fushimi Inari shrine

Each gate is purchased by a patron in the hopes of bringing good fortune to their business.  They cost thousands of dollars each, depending upon the size.  The name of the donor is inscribed on one side of the gate.  There are also private shrines off to the sides of these walkways.

The largest gates at the shrine.

The further you walked into the shrine, the higher up Mount Inari you climbed, where there were considerably fewer people.  This is yet another visit to an active religious site where the members seem to get no break from the tourists and selfie seekers.  If the faithful are praying for some privacy, peace and quiet, it was not working this day..

When inside the shrine I was told it is considered poor form to walk in the middle of the path as that is reserved for God.

Miles and miles of gates, miles and miles of people.

There are many fox statues scattered about and in the individual shrines.  They are thought to be messengers to the Gods.

Private family shrine

In one section of the shrine there was a person kept very busy keeping walls of candles lit.  The massive colorful cord on the left in the photo below would be strongly pulled on, ringing some bells before praying and clapping twice.  Many elderly women could not pull hard enough to make the bells ring, try as they might.  More foxes are behind the candles, being good messengers to the Gods.  I was concentrating on getting the large cords on the left blurred and now see I covered a foxes face with a candle.  No wonder I’m not making a living at photography.  Too much to remember.

Shinto shrine, pull the ropes on the left to make bells ring.

Shinto shrine abstract, shades of orange.

Shades of orange abstract

It might be time to leave.  How many photos of orange does one need?  My goal when visiting any place is to take a single, simple photo which best depicts the place being visited.  It seems to me anyone viewing the photo below would certainly know it was in Japan, somewhere.

Main entry gate to Fushimi Inari shrine

 

Macaques at Iwatayama Monkey Park

It is not easy, but if you can get one of these monkeys to look right into your camera lens you can see some very expressive eyes.

Look into my eyes

These monkeys are not in cages and roam freely about the mountaintop.  It is actually the other way around.  If you wish to feed them, you must go inside of a house with fencing over the window openings to feed the monkeys.  They are mostly trained to eat and beg only at the caged house.  Almost 200 macaques are roaming freely.  It is a moderate hike to reach this mountaintop near Kyoto.  I could certainly have spent more time here, just hoping for some more of these expressive photos, but the heat, hunger and plumbing issues eventually required us to leave.  We spent almost $80 to get here by cab, but learned we could return by train for about $5.

The monkeys are free but the people are in a cage to feed them.

Why is it some little boys will always make faces at the camera, especially when dad is not looking.

Boys will be boys.

 

Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima atomic bomb dome building and bicyclist.

There are two large museum buildings in the Hiroshima Peace Park related to the atomic bomb.  The park and museums are not billed as historical museums and for good reason.  Touring the many atomic bomb exhibits I found not a single reference to Pearl Harbor or the events which led up to World War II.

 

Azaleas bordering the dome

 

Beautiful tree adjacent to the atomic dome building

Time for us to move on to our final stop in Japan before getting on our cruise ship to take us home.

Home, James…

Bangkok, Thailand… More Temples

Wat Arun Temple, Bangkok

The Wat Arun Temple was a fun night of photography.  The vantage point for this photograph was extensively researched on the internet in advance.  I’m sitting on the second floor of a bar having drinks using a special low profile tripod (Platypod) which fit perfectly on the wooden railing along the perimeter of the bar.  I never made the journey across the river to actually visit the temple. Continue reading

Fun with Elephants at Patara Elephant Sanctuary

Gimme Shelter

Gimme Shelter


The Patara Elephant Sanctuary allows you to get up close and friendly with elephants of all sizes.  The sanctuary’s advertisement says you can be an elephant owner for a day.  With the elephants walking around freely, our first task was to scrub the mud from their tough skin, then walk them to a large pond and give them a bath.

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Buddhist Funeral in Thailand

 

 

A Buddhist monk motions to a pet dog during traditional chanting.

Wanting to see more of Thailand than the typical iconic Buddhist temples crowded with tourists, I made a special request of our guide, Lucky 8.  This day was to be spent out in the Thai countryside where there would be neither tourists nor admission tickets.  It was by coincidence that we happened upon a Buddhist funeral in Lucky’s home village.  Yes, this entire blog will be about attending a Buddhist funeral in rural Thailand.

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Chiang Mai, Thailand – Land of Temples

Popular Buddhist Temple

When traveling in Europe I try to blend in as much as possible.  Clearly this was not going to be possible in Thailand.  Arriving Sunday afternoon hungry and tired, we thought it best to jump into the Thai culture by eating street food for dinner at a nearby weekend night market.  Ordering our food through gesturing and fumbling with the Thai baht currency, we had fresh spicy food on a stick served by friendly people all willing to help out.  Our Thai experience only got better and better.

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Singapore Luxury

Marina Bay Hotel in Singapore

Singapore is sometimes referred to as Asia Light or Asia 101.  Everyone speaks English, you are statistically safer here than anywhere in the world, the food is wonderful, cabs are cheap and plentiful, trains are always on time and the airport is rated the best in the universe.  Above all, if you are over the age of 50 you cannot be sentenced to a caning as punishment. Continue reading