Tate Modern & East London Canalside

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I had a couple of nice days out recently that I thought I might share with you.

Last year Tate Modern; a famous modern art gallery, expanded with the new ‘Switch House’ wing.

One of the lovely things about Tate Modern is the location; a former power station. It provides a massive space for art and preserves a beautiful and iconic building.

The architecture of the new Switch House wing is quite striking and impressive both inside and out.

London is so full of interesting architecture that I think it’s difficult to create something which stands out, is different, yet is not ugly. I personally like this design, what do you think?

No trip to the Tate is complete without a walk along the Southbank. If you’ve never been the former power station is on the river side in central London.

Some shots of one of my other architecture favourites – The National Gallery and riverside scenes.

I also had a couple of lovely days out in East London recently. I’m in love with the canal walk from Kingsland Road (near Shoreditch); a fashionable bar, gallery, coffee shop area, which goes along past another cool area; Broadway, then alongside the huge and beautiful Victoria Park before arriving at the Olympic Park which has a couple of unique brewery bars in former industrial buildings.

It’s so beautiful there, the next time it’s sunny I’ll go out and take more photos. It’s especially nice to see the spring blossoms and check out the people living in houseboats on the canal.

 

 

Looking Back at 2016 Photos

germany, hong kong, japan, london, scotland, south korea, taiwan, thailand, Thoughts on Life

I thought it might be fun to spend one of the last hours of 2016 taking a quick look back through this years photos and picking out a few of my favourites by month.

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I took 6390 photos this year, that’s almost double what I took in 2015 and 2014. And I was a bit surprised to see that 2420 of them were taken in Thailand. It really is one of my favourite places to be.

There is a direct correlation between how I feel and how many photos I take. I was feeling pretty awesome in Thailand at the start of the year, but as the year moved forward I struggled to eat healthy and get into better shape; two big ongoing goals. And that coupled with difficult work meant my mood wasn’t great for the second half of the year.

I travelled quite widely, but didn’t really take full advantage of it. I’m glad I am thinking this through now as it’s now my main goal to improve eating, fitness and mood in 2017.

Without further ado, let’s take a look month by month through my pics of the year.

January

Only 55 photos taken in January and all in London. However there are a couple of nice ones including the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and the New Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf. I was back to using my old D3100 and 50mm lens.

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February

February and more London shots. I went around Soho / Chinatown / Shoreditch with a new ‘used’ camera. A D610 with the kit lens. I used this and my 50mm for the rest of the year.

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I also went to Thailand for a bit of rest and relaxation. Highlights were a great flight on Eva air with the nicest air stewardesses, the sunset at Bang Sare and the cocktail VW buses popular in Thailand.

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I also started a collection of photographs to capture ‘motorbike’ life in Thailand, they are such an integral part of Thai culture.

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March

1152 photos in March. A lot of motorbike and beach shots. I also discovered the awesome Baa Hop Fang festival / market in Pattaya. At the end of the month I went to Bangkok and started working my way through a book of Bangkok walks.

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Bangkok

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April

April was another Bangkok month. I had a great time walking around the city. I think my best pictures of the year are from April; especially one shot of the Maha Nakhorn building. I also enjoyed Songkran; the Thai new year festival. That’s an unmissable experience!

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May

May was back to London for work. I got some nice spring shots in Shoreditch. I also went to Scotland to see family but got a chance to take some pictures in Edinburgh, Crail and my mum’s garden.

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June

No photos! – My work project was managing the half year report for Standard Chartered so I can only guess I had no time at all to even think about the camera!

July

I think I was quite busy in July too, only a handful of shots from city walks in London and another Scotland trip.

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August

With work coming to an end I went of to Tokyo with an unexpected layover in Frankfurt due to a Typhoon.

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September

More Tokyo where I enjoyed some of the best Karaoke nights out and a few visits to my local Maid Cafe. I then went onto Taipei.

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Taipei

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OCToBER

This was another good photo month. Some more shots in Taipei and then off to Hong Kong and Shenzhen before heading to Seoul.

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Hong Kong

(I need to revisit the processing on these HK shots it’s not great)

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Shenzhen

The highlight was OCT Loft

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Seoul

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November

Last few photos in Seoul. Korea really has the most beautiful a palaces.

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December

Back to the UK, and I had a lovely chance to finish the year with some pictures in Scotland and London.

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That’s it, 2016 in photos. I do need to take some time to go through all the photos, there are some picks in their that haven’t been processed yet, but it takes a load of time to review photos.

I’m really grateful for the chance to see the places and people I have this year. On the other hand I know that I didn’t push myself with a positive attitude to get the most out of it. That’s my big goal for 2017.

So, watch this space, hopefully there will be a lot more interesting sights to come in the year ahead.

Portable Loft, Yangjae Citizens Forest, Seoul & Fish In The Pool

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I found the cutest local cafe in Seoul with the friendliest owners.

It’s called Portable Loft. They also have a craft / design store – Portable Lollipop.

I found their blog; you can see some pictures of Portable Loft and the owners plus their friends / family here http://blog.naver.com/jungurion/220896163629. The Lollipop website http://www.portablelollipop.com/

The cafe and store are located in Yangjae Citizen’s Forest; totally off the tourist route, but not far from Gangnam. About ten different buses from Gangnam pass by the area.

It was a lucky find, I happened to stay in an Airbnb apartment above the cafe for the week.

The owners don’t speak English, but despite that they made me feel super at home. Through pointing and gestures I managed to order their delicious hand drip coffee in the morning. They also have two draught craft beers on tap and a selection of other drinks.

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The owners gave me one of their postcards which is based on a hand drawn sketch of the cafe. You will recognise the lady in the postcard and blog pictures by the distinctive hairstyle :)

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Portable Loft really inspired me. If I were to have my own cafe / shop business this is pretty much the blueprint I’d love to create it based upon. Some of the charming features I loved were:

  • Hand chosen craft beers and hand drip coffee that show care and love for quality
  • Beautiful natural interior decoration – a little bit ‘Scandinavian wood feel’
  • They do have a food menu, but it’s literally one cooker behind the bar, so cute
  • A lot of customers appear to be friends and I saw groups come and enjoy relaxing and talking to the owners
  • The cafe and shop show an interest in art and design and they have built a really interesting collection of products.
  • They are off the beaten path so I think most of their customers are local or may come based on word of mouth etc. no unappreciative tourists!
  • They have a music system in one corner and they have a pile of vinyl and CDs next to it and their selection of music is beautiful. A lot of acoustic and calming sounds.

Talking of music I came across the fish in the pool by Hekuto Pascal album while sitting in Portable Loft. I didn’t know what it was, but realising it was Japanese I snapped a pic of an empty CD cover with Japanese text on it. I later found the album on Spotify:

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This is some seriously beautiful music.

I’m slightly embarrassed to say this music actually brought me to tears a few times.

The album is mostly instrumental, but the final track has lyrics and there is something soft, sweet and magical about the melody and vocals. Perhaps there is an undertone of sadness. It’s a songs that makes me feel an appreciation for people and places, but also a sadness for lost opportunities and lost times.

Portable Loft is one of the reasons I love to travel. Forget the tourist checklist, I really appreciate the chance to see a corner of local culture and to meet people that care about art and design and customers.

I recently came across a book called Do / Design: Why Beauty Is The Key To Everything by Alan Moore.

It’s a great little book that takes about good design and why that matters in life. This resonates strongly with me and I think design along with community are two of the most important things that can bring enjoyment to everyday life.

Portable Loft hit’s both of these perfectly.

Happy Christmas 2016 from London – XMAS Day Photowalk

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Happy Christmas to everyone here on WordPress and any others that have found their way to my blog.

Today I want to share a handful of pictures from my Christmas Day photowalk around London. Without further ado:

The area around Seven Dials (between Covent Garden and Soho)

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Trafalgar Square

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Around Piccadilly

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Regent Street

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Carnaby Street

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As usual a huge variety of decorations around London and still some more to be seen. I plan to visit the Southbank and St. Pauls.

I would say that this years Regent Street decorations are much nicer than last years. The same goes for Seven Dials. I like the messages on the signs on Carnaby Street, but I think last years spectacular decorations were nicer.

Last Year

http://hakkanotogame.com/2015/12/22/christmas-in-london/

http://hakkanotogame.com/2015/12/27/christmas-in-london-part-ii/

A Walk Around Anstruther Harbour

scotland, Thoughts on Life

Whenever I visit my mum in Perthshire, Scotland I like to take a trip to the coast. Arbroath, St Andrews, Anstruther, Crail and lots of other villages have lovely harbours.

The fresh sea air, fishermen at work, it is especially lovely when you normally live in a big city.

This month I went for a walk around Anstruther harbour and snapped a few decent shots.

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There are a couple of others posts featuring Anstruther on my website if you enjoyed these:

Christmas in London 2016

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Five days left until Christmas, I think it might be time to inject a little festive cheer into my blog.

Last year I spent Christmas in London, I had a fantastic time taking photos and enjoying the quieter than normal city.  A lot of people leave; presumably to visit family or take the opportunity for a short break. This coupled with the beautiful lights make it a magical place to be.

Last year my ‘Christmas in London’ photos turned out so nice – see part I and part II.

I went Christmas shopping on Sunday and I bagged my first two photos of a Christmas tree at St. James. One of which features ‘blurry Alex in a bauble’ (that would be the name of my Scottish folk christmas themed music band):

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I also bagged a couple of other nice shots; not so Christmassy, but worth sharing. Was lucky to catch a Jaguar E-Type passing the Horse Parade / Cavalry Museum and London Eye:

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And a telephone box / Big Ben, I like the warmth from the lights. You can almost make out the star on top of a Christmas Tree at the bottom left in the grounds of Westminster / Big Ben:

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Big City, Local Touch – The View from Bukchon, Seoul

south korea, Thoughts on Life

Seoul – we’ve taken a look at the royal palaces Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung, we’ve also seen the view from Naksan Park. Now I’d like to share the beautiful view from my favourite area; Bukchon Hanok Village.

It’s a village on a hill in northern Seoul comprised mostly of traditional ‘hanok’ houses.

These houses are small and quite beautiful, they were originally known as Joseon Houses after the Joseon dynasty. This was the time when Korea went through a lot of prosperity and advancement. An interesting character to read about is King Joseon the Great, he is widely regarded as having improved politics, science etc. promoting Confucian style values (family / education) and he is the leader who introduced the impressive Hangul writing system.

Did you know you can learn the Hangul aphabet in a day.

Then you can go to K Pop Karaoke!

Bukchon can be packed with tourists during the day, but is quiet a night. Let us take a look at some pictures:

Ihwa Village & Naksan Park, Seoul, South Korea

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Another good spot to check out in Seoul is Ihwa Mural Village and Naksan Park with beautiful views across the city.

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It’s near to Hunsung University so there are a lot of cafe and cheap food options. It’s also a short walk from both Changgyeonggung and Changdeokgung.

Head up the hill from the main road to the mural village and park. I arrived just as sunset was ending and literally ran all the way up to try and get a shot with the sun! I almost died..

As well as the mural village being famed for street art, there are also a number of art installations around the area.

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You can see N Seoul Tower from here.

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If you walk a little further up you can you get a view to the North, East and back to the South.

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On the walk back down I spied a lovely little pagoda style terrace overlooking the west.

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Unfortunately this trip to the Mural village was a bit dark for photography, but here is one shot from a previous trip.

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Reflecting on The Foggy Tay

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Last night I was the lucky recipient of a lovely Christmas meal at The View restaurant in Newport-on-Tay, just opposite Dundee (Scotland). My mum kindly treated me and her husband.

This is the view. I don’t think I’ve seen such a long stretch of light reflections before (it went on further). I don’t normally take this kind of photo and so don’t carry my tripod often. In this case I put my camera on a fencepost; 30 seconds exposure at F16.

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The last couple of days in Scotland were frosty and beautiful. The green landscape with a light covering of white. But this morning I woke up and the frost was gone, replaced with a light fog.

It’s been on my mind to take a river / bridge shot in the fog for quite some time. I drove down to the River Tay at Dundee just after lunch. The fog wasn’t really sitting on the river, but it was visible in the distance. Between that and the complex shades of grey of they sky and the very still river it was really lovely, but freezing!

I was lucky to spot a Heron. Unfortunately I don’t use / carry long zooms, but I managed to get a recognisable sharp shot with the bridge in the background. The shot below shows the Heron and it’s Shadow on the calm water. 3/20 shots came out sharp using 3D tracking – wildlife photography really requires the best gear.

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Another couple of shots highlighting the curve of the bridge:

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And after a short wait I caught one of the red Virgin East Coast Line trains passing. The red and white livery of the train was a fantastic contrast to see crossing the grey landscape.

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I also saw a Seal in the middle of the river, but  unfortunately there was no chance to get anything other than a little circle representing it’s head with my 85mm zoom.

Lochs, Bothies and Blue Skies.

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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:

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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That view tho:

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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.

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

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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.

 

Dongdaemun Art & Cultural Centre Pt II

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Continuing on from my last post about a set of stairs at Dongdaemun Art & Cultural Centre in Seoul, South Korea I was also impressed by the main walkway from the street to the museum and design halls.

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The concrete captures the afternoon light beautifully and the shape is quite striking.

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I also like the mix of English, Hangul, Katakana and Hanzi / Kanji (Chinese Character) lettering on the various halls.

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That’s it from Dongdaemun.

Stairs – A Short Study, Dongdaemun, Seoul

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I’m really getting on board with the enticing blog post titles; “Stairs – A Short Study” – hardly groundbreaking clickbait.

There is relatively modern design plaza in the centre of Seoul. I decided to take a few photographs as the architecture is quite unusual.

This post is about one set of stairs.

I was drawn by the wonderful geometry. I love how they widen as they descend. I like the grey concrete of the stairs, floor and wall and how while they are similar they have different angles and textures. I think it’s a wonderful piece of subtle design.

But the stairs aren’t the full story, the interest was completed by watching different people walk up and down.

A single guy strolling down slowly.

A middle aged couple marching up in bright winter coats.

A young couple romantically staggering up.

One of the things I love about photography is the frozen motion especially mid step, jog, leap..  I think that’s why some sports / action photographs can be so striking.

Looking back on images of people frozen in time as they ascend or descend is more interesting than the real moment; sometimes life goes too quickly to catch the details.

Note: these photos are unadjusted from RAW in the camera, I like the natural unedited low contrast. I think it’s the first time I haven’t wanted to process a photo at all (I’m not talking about photoshop, just the normal in camera automatic processing).

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Am I crazy, or do these stairs hold any interest for anyone else?

Changdeokgung Seoul Korea (Royal Palace)

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Ok – so last post I was so excited to visit china and do some tai chi…  well… it didn’t quite work out. So, I’m in Seoul, Korea now.

Shenzhen was more developed and interesting than expected, but after a week I realised it wasn’t the right kind of chill atmosphere to enjoy tai chi. And with early morning and late evening lessons there just wasn’t enough non-shopping activity to keep me entertained.

Instead I hopped on a plane and came to Seoul to see a friend. I’ve been travelling about 8 weeks now and I felt like I could really do with seeing a familiar face. I’ve also been dreaming about Korean Chicken and Beer for about a year.

This is my second trip to Seoul. On my first trip I went to one of the Royal Palaces; Gyeongbokgung – it was so beautiful. So on this trip one of my first stops was Changdeokgung; another royal palace, that happens to be a UNESCO heritage site.

I wanted to share some pictures of Changdeokgung. I spent a few hours walking around the palace and secret garden.

From about 200 photos I picked 22 out that I am really delighted with. Keep your eye out for the Racoon; perhaps one of the last of a long line of royal Racoons.

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This place is really super photogenic. It’s a bit packed with people as you can see in the photo with the large palace building. However there is a large part of the complex that most tourists seem to skip. If you ever go then start by heading into the former administrative area. Many of the lovely pics were taken there; so peaceful.

And isn’t Autumn just so fantastic!

I have to admit I’ve was in love with photography in 2014 and 2015, but this last 6-8 months I’ve been losing interest a little. But this trip around Changdeokgung has sparked the desire in me to continue.

I plan to make some other posts about other aspects of Seoul soon. It’s a top city.

OCT Loft (Shenzhen Contemporary Art)

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I went to OCT Loft in Shenzhen yesterday. It’s a contemporary art centre in a former industrial complex. The look and feel of OCT Loft reminded me of Moganshan 50 (M50) in Shanghai, I posted some pictures about my trip there last year.

I only had a little time so I didn’t go inside many places; but I am definitely going to go back, in the meantime I can share some pictures of the complex and exhibition hall A:

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China, Tai Chi and A Little Autumn Regret

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I’ve done it! I’m so spontaneous (crazy?). In three days I converted an idea over a coffee into a shiny new Chinese visa and a new plan for the next month.

I’m a little surprised they are letting me back in. I went to China in 2014 and was obviously causing lot’s of trouble.

On my last trip I went to Yangshuo in Guilin to do some Tai Chi and Qi Gong Fu. I didn’t make much progress as it was a short stay; I also wanted to visit Shanghai.

I don’t know why, but I always feel nervous about applying for a Chinese visa and entering china. Despite my nerves my experience in China was quite positive. Not scary at all.

I think the nerves come from spending almost a year in Russia; which is not exactly happy happy la la la land.

I was browsing around the web a few days ago and I noticed there is a good Tai Chi teacher in Shenzhen who speaks English. I remember last time in Yangshuo most of us foreigners couldn’t really understand the Tai Chi teacher, he spoke English, but he would go into rambling stories in a strong local accent.

So I’m off to Shenzhen to have another go at Tai Chi.

I’m quite often tired and my digestion sucks which can put me in a little bit of a low mood. I think it stems from years and years of office work, electronic screens and not the best diet. In recent years I have improved my condition quite a lot through better diet, yoga and meditation. But when I’m travelling I can get fatigued quite easily which really throws a spanner in the works of being able to see lot’s of sights and experience local culture to the fullest extent. The blog is great at showing the beautiful days out, but doesn’t highlight the long lies and coffee shop days!

So my plan is to invest at least a few weeks in Tai Chi to see if I can get a bit of a reset on my system, balance out an increase my energy.

Let’s get into the ‘China’ mindset by taking a quick look at a few of my 2014 pics!

Yangshuo:

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Hong Kong and 2 Photos, 2 Years Apart.

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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.

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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:

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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.

 

In Awe at The Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA)

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Today; while recovering from sunburn, I headed out to the small but well organised Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei.

Free from the crowds of the national palace museum and other ‘rainy day’ locations it was a short, but enjoyable visit.

There were three major artist exhibits. I loved one of them. From the other two I strongly disliked one and for the other I liked the ‘synopsis’ describing the work, but I didn’t like or ‘get’ the work itself.

Dànshuǐ / Tamsui, Taiwan; Blue Skies And Fishing Boats

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I took a trip to Dànshuǐ just north of Taipei on Wednesday. The weather was beautiful.

Let’s take a look starting with the view back towards the north of Taipei. This is from a waterside park / promenade just next to the MTR station (Taipai Subway/Overground).

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Taipei Street Food

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(all photos taken in a rush with ‘shakey hand’ mobile phone)

I’ve been making the rounds of the Taipei street food scene. Main observations; very cheap, some things are delicious, a lot of it is unhealthy.

1st stop Shilin night market. Where I tried the famous ‘stinky tofu’; shown on the left below. The tofu is fermented and has a very strong ‘stinky’ smell, but the taste is not that strong. I’m think fermented foods are good for the stomach so I was excited to eat it.

Drum Boy is Tired and Showing Your Emotions

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On Saturdays visit to Confucius and Baoan Temples, I saw some Taiwanese people practising drumming in a park.

During the warm up:


And

I was quite amused by the total lack of self consciousness the boy displayed. He was clearly impatient / bored / hot / tired.
I guess parents are all too well familiar with this.
In comparison, at the same moment, the man was carefully practising and closely checking the sound with his ear.
I was wondering about the difference between the boy and the man.

  • As we get older do we naturally take practice and preparation more seriously?
  • Does the school and work system teach us to ‘work’ even when tired?
  • Does experience of life in society teach us to take more care of how we present ourselves?

When they started to play I noticed the boy was a little out of time compared to the others. But despite that he played loudly and confidently.

So I was thinking should we be more expressive; as children are?

Can you imagine those long business meetings, everyone is tired, not much is getting done. Instead of sitting politely, people start to climb the walls, swing on the chairs etc.
What do you think?

Happy Birthday Confucius

taiwan

September 28th marks the anniversary of Confucius’ birthday.

I think Confucius must be one of the most recognisable historical names.

Do you know a lot about him? My knowledge was limited to some sayings of the form, “Confucous says……”

On Sunday I went along to take a look at the Confucius temple in Taipei.

A philosopher sage and teacher, it’s impossible to distill all his teachings down into a few words. But we can get a simple grasp of his beliefs. He is considered a great teacher in China. He was a huge proponent of education, believing strongly in free education for the masses.

Hello Taipei

taiwan

I’ve had three days in Taipei. I’m feeling good about this city; it has positive vibe. Today I went for a walk along Dihau Street. It’s a fairly traditional area with a lot of shops selling things like tea and herbal medicine.

There are some vibrant, busy scenes. But even in amongst those you can catch people taking a rest from the hot afternoon sun. Check out the guy in the truck cab.

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Rainy Days in Tokyo and Meditation

japan

I’m enjoying a few rainy days in Tokyo; it’s Typhoon season after all. The rainy days are quite refreshing and a little cooler than the normal late summer heat.

Until the last few days I had been mostly in t-shirts and trainers/sneakers (converse or vans) due to the heat. I prefer to walk around with shoes (brown brogues) and a shirt, so I am kind of happy with it being a little cooler. I can wear a shirt w/out immediatly soaking it in sweat!

Here is a grey sky over Shinjuku from yesterday.

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Girl in Tokyo reading Manga on the train

Tokyo Ranchero and Manga Girl

japan

I snapped a few nice shots around Tokyo in the last few days. I spotted another sweet classic parked up in Harajuku. This is a Ford Ranchero, it’s the first time I saw one in real life, I think it’s the slightly less popular competitor to the El Camino. This one looks awesome in gloss black.

A Ford Ranchero in Harajuku, Tokyo

A Ford Ranchero in Harajuku, Tokyo

A Short Trip To Asakusa

japan

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.

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Sendagaya Jeep

japan

The highlight of the day was a classic jeep spotted in Sendagaya (千駄ヶ谷), Tokyo (東京)

I saw this on the way from the Tokyo Metropolitan Gym to Omotesando. The metropolitan gym has a training room, pool and finess studio available for public use for 600 yen per session. It’s great for visitors who don’t want the hassle of a membership.

Here’s the Jeep

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London – Frankfurt – Tokyo

germany

My last three months – suits, ironing,  americanos, the client office, ms excel, paper, meetings, timetables, stress relief beer, stress relief chocolate and escapism netflix.

But I finished up last Friday in London, it’s Thursday now and I’m sitting in Starbucks Omotesando in Tokyo.

Now that I have space to breathe I have a goal, I want to get into a solid consistent yoga practice. I’ve dabbled in yoga for a few years, but no where near regular enough. I do know when I practice my body feels better and my brain more relaxed and balanced. I’m on my third day in a row of practising since arriving in Japan. I’m also aiming to hit the gym every second day. I turned 38 this year and I don’t want to continue to slide into beer belly middle / old age. Now it stops.

I left London on Sunday, aiming to fly to Tokyo via Frankfurt. But due to a typhoon warning in Japan we were stuck overnight in Frankfurt. On the positive side I had the chance to walk around Frankfurt and got some nice photos.

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Look Up, Head Raised High

Poetry, thailand

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.

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Through the Window (On The Bus In Bangkok)

Poetry, thailand

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.

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Getting Wet In Bangkok

thailand

As I left my apartment I looked carefully in all directions; making sure it was clear, I immediately flagged down a taxi. I had to be quick, I knew they could be waiting, just out of sight, ready to get me. As soon as I was in the taxi the driver locked the doors and warned me not to open the window. We both knew the danger.

The roads were busy, but the driver was good, he rushed down some side streets. I might still make my appointment.

The trouble was, how would I get close enough to the building by taxi to get inside safely? The driver took me to the back entrance, making sure no one was around, he pulled over. I paid and got out.

It looked clear, I could see the stairs to the entrance. I made a run for it.

Half way, a black SUV came careening around the corner. As it came towards me the rear windows started coming down. Too quickly two barrels appeared. I wasn’t going to make it.

As I put my first foot on the step, two powerful streams of water came out the rear of the SUV and soaked me.

Despite my best attempt, I became the latest victim of Songkran; the Thai new year celebration. I didn’t reach the cafe for a coffee with my friend without getting soaked.

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A kid on the bus with a supersoaker ready to soak some pedestrians

hakka no togame

japan

 

My blog name may sound strange in English. The reason is it comes from Japanese. It has a special significance to me which involves an ex girlfriend, travel across the world and around one hundred and thirty hours of TV.

The Japanese Kanji for hakka no togame is 白霞罸.

The first two characters together represent the name Hakka (romaji) / はっか (hiragana). When two consonents  are written together in romaji to pronounce it pause slightly before the consonent and pronounce it sharply and clearly. Kind of like Ha-Ka rather than Haka.

Names in Japanese have underlying meaning, in the case of Hakka 白霞  – the meaning is 白 – white and 霞 -haze.

The third character 罸 means punishment, penalty, censure.

Therefore hakka no togame / 白霞罸 can be translated to something like ‘white haze punishment’.

Why on earth would I call my blog white haze punishment? We have to go back around ten years to answer that.

I moved to London when I was around 28. After moving to London I had what I would call my first real grown up relationship (girlfriend).

My girlfriend was called Corrine and was from Singapore.

We used to love going to cafe japan in north london to eat delicious Japanese food.

When we were relaxing at her apartment one night she put on an anime movie. The movie was one of the ‘Bleach’ films.

Bleach is a super popular long running anime which is now finished.

Life’s Changing Perspective

thailand, Thoughts on Life

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.

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Two work men sitting on a truck cab in Bangkok

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Close up of two work men sitting on a truck cab in Bangkok

Christmas in London – part II

london

I survived christmas alone in London.

Actually; and I feel guilty saying this, it was delightful.

I missed my mum; it is a time when everyone is talking about family. However thanks to yoga, meditation, reading and learning I was able to keep a reasonable perspective. It’s just another day, I saw my mum recently, and I will see her again soon. The other matter; a girlfriend, hopefully I will meet someone I match with soon.

After I finished work at my client on christmas eve I went to wholefoods and treated myself to something fancy; sourdough fruit bread (ridicoulsly priced), this was the first part of my plan for an awesome solo christmas day. So next morning it came to be that I was lying cosily in bed watching an xmas short animation with toasted fruit bread and coffee. Oh and my mum had sent me a gift to unwrap; a book, and I also had a box I sent myself; a new skateboard (uhm I am in my thirties in case you were wondering).

Afterwards I packed my camera, book and sketchpad. No transport in London on xmas day, but there are hire bikes. So I took one of those from my shared place in east london and went to holborn where part two of my plan went into action; to visit the hoxton – a really cool hotel and have some food / coffee and a beer.

So technically I even exercised!

The rest of my day was spent walking, taking photos and enjoying a couple of beers on my part walk part hire cycle pub crawl around London.

It was rainy, but that’s cool, rain can give a nice shine to city streets as the sun goes down.

This was kind of enjoyable; way less stress than roasting a turkey and preparing all the trimmings.

First photos – covent garden:

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Christmas in London

london

Too busy to write. Just over 4 weeks ago I started a new contract. Despite quite a bit of experience I still feel nervous at a new client. That’s my excuse for not posting on my blog.

But I want to write. I want to post. I miss it.

I hadn’t taken any photos in 4/5 weeks. I was starting to feel as though losing myself. I finally woke up and took my camera out on Saturday, the thought in mind; get some Christmassy photos:

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Freestate Coffee in Holborn, London have lovely decorations on their sign

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Asprey on New Bond street have beautiful lights

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Cartier on New Bond street have lovely lights and rich colours.

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The Neon store/bar/cafe in Soho is also pretty captivating

That’s all for now. I wasn’t too happy with the others.

It was such a long time between my last and current client that I had to sell my Nikon D750 and now back to using my Nikon D3100, it’s good, but I really feel the lack of low light capability (w/out flash).

In other news; I am in a fight with consistency these days.

My mind is full of good thoughts and ideas; be happy in the present moment, learn/improve yoga / tai chi / gong fu / pilates, treat people kindly, be confident, express myself, eat well, live w/out too much ego, read a lot.

But despite my intentions, on a day to day basis, I forget, and I am lacking the will power and minute by minute presence to go in the right direction.

Lately I succumbed to drinking too many beers; eating chocolate, chain watching TV, being a little moody and not excercising regularly.

I feel kind of embarrassed. And frustrated; I know that every time I miss the mark, I weaken my resolve for the future. Days are passing by and I am not actively living the way I want to moment to moment.

I have a couple of nice Christmas photos from last year taken at Holborn in London:

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Along the side of a well known hotel in holborn – lovely lights

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a christmas tree in the courtyard of the above hotel

Can you tell that these two photos were taken with a more expensive camera? The lens is the same and I develp / process my photos in more or less the same way.

What are you planing for Christmas?

I was originally planning to visit Edinburgh for a few days. Then drive to  see my mum on Christmas day. But now I can’t visit. Or at least I thought I couldn’t and cancelled my reservations. Instead I was thinking about a trip to Germany or Austria for a few days. Or should I just stay here and save money. I still need to pay off some credit card bills following my long period w/out client work.

2015 has been a strange year. It started out with the worst flu ever; which I aggravated by taking a 3-changeover flight from scotland to hong kong. Then I had some adventures for a few months; but that was followed by a bad decision about a girl and then a super difficult time finding a client.

I’m unsure about 2016, but I think I need to be more structured and brave in committing to things. This year I missed a lot of opportunities through indecisiveness. It was a little strange as it’s the first time in my life I found myself struggling to make decisions. It was almost paralysis.

I realise now how important it is to be brave; take a leap of faith and take risks.

Walk Around Shoreditch

london

Edit: 14th Dec 2016: Added some new photos from 2016.

I’d love to take you on a ‘blog photo walk’ around Shoreditch; my favourite parts of East London.

Historically a poor area, with low rents it became a hub for creatives. As can happen the art scene attracted others, prices started to rise and some have been priced out. But, to my mind, it now has a good mix of artists and creature comforts; good apartments, cafes, bars, restaurants, independent galleries and fashion stores.

I say Shoreditch, but I really mean a larger area which includes the north end of Brick Lane, Shoreditch High Street, Hoxton and Dalston.

One of the main attractions in Shoreditch is the street art. The following picture showing the girl with the apple is by the French street artist Alice Pasquini:

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I was lucky enough to capture a local artist at work, the following pictures is saki & bitches:

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There’s a lot of street art to be found hidden away on side streets and next to parks. Maps can be found online and some locals operate street art tours.

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The character on the green wall below at eastern curve garden in Dalston and is by a famous artist called Stik, you may have seen his book:

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The art below can no longer be seen now that this area has been developed into new apartments:

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In addition to street art, there are a lot of galleries and studios around Shoreditch. A lot of local businesses are to do with illustration, animation, graphic design etc. If you walk around you can see into some pretty nice offices.

Myartinvest pictured below is a concept gallery where you can buy a share in artwork. Good idea if you can’t afford to buy whole artwork yourself but want to get involved.

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A central point in shoreditch is the overground station. That’s where Boxpark is situated; a container complex with small stores and places to eat. It hosts a mix of smaller independent brands and larger brands trying to catch some of the creative market.

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There are some quite cool places in east london, take for example Shoreditch House – a members club / hotel in a converted warehouse opposite boxpark. The motorbike in the picture is in front of Cowshed Spa which is in Shoreditch House.

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There are lot’s of good places for coffee / cake and chill out in the area. A couple that I like are Fix Coffee and Close-Up Cinema / cafe both pictured.

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I don’t have pictures of all my favourite cafes and bars, but here is a list of places to check out:

– jaguar shoes collective
– attendant
– the hoxton
– ace hotel
– cream
– barbour & parlour
– brick lane coffee
– strongroom

It changes pretty quickly though, so expect new places to pop up and old favourites to close.

Around shoreditch and further up towards Dalston you also have vintage fashion stores and vinyl stores such as Love Vinyl and Blitz

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Cafe, bar and art aside one of the best things about this part of london is the traditional architecture; warehouses and town houses that can be found around brick lane for example.

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December 2016 Update – Additional Photos From 2016

Rivington street; one of the streets with a lot of art and cafes:

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A household goods store with a lovely tiled exterior:

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An extremely expensive chocolate shop, but with a beautiful window message:

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Some more street art by Stik on Rivington street:

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A beautiful sky above Boxpark:

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One of the charismatic local Bar Staff at Translate:

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Inside the pretty well known Cargo nightclub on Rivington Street:

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Jaguar Shoes Collective; my favourite bar which doubles as an art gallery and is disguised as an import fashion store:

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Do people buy their bikes to match up with local street art:

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Another Boxpark pic featuring the new Routemaster bus:

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The pizza often at the recently opened Homeslice. Best single slices of Pizza ever!

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Boxpark during Olympic celebrations.

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One of the many custom bikes you can see around Shoreditch

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Recently closed; Brick Lane Coffee, was one of the well known coffee shops around Brick Lane area, but the owners now run Jonestown Coffee just around the corner (I did the photos on their website!).

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That’s it for now.

Autumn Leaves and Haiku Thoughts

london, Poetry

perfect autumn tree

as autumn leaves us,
so do green leaves, goodbye with,
a final flourish.


I’ve been on an unnoficial search for the perfect autumn tree. I was starting to lose hope following a couple of weeks of pretty cloudy flat grey skies – that kind of weather just doesn’t bring out the colours. But alas today was bright and blue and I went to Green Park in West London. I found this beautiful tree. I think this is one of the prettiest I have seen in terms of colours.

I recently finished bloggingU writing201 poetry; my first foray into poetry. And the first form I learned was ‘haiku’. I came across a book in the Japanese language section of the bookstore on ‘haiku’ accidently yesterday. I read a few pages.

I’m almost at intermediate level in Japanese. The first thing I wanted to share with those that may not be aware of it is the pronunciation. Japanese doesn’t have consonants and vowels and syllables in the same way we do.

So for ‘haiku’, we could mistakinly think it’s close to hi-ku. But the sound is really ha-i-ku and that ‘i’ is like our ‘ee’ in cheese. So pronounce it in three parts; ‘ha – ee – ku’ at an even speed and tone.

That may not be the perfect instruction, but just to give you an idea.

Some observations from the bookshop. The haiku syllable counts 5-7-5 were never syllable counts, they were counts of the japanese sounds, which don’t match syllables, so you don’t really need to get exact syllable counts correct if you are writing in english.

The other thing is that haiku were supposed to have a positive message or thought traditional; oops – so far some of mine were about sad things!

Moganshan 50 Shanghai (M50)

china

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.

m50 sign

m50 entrance

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.

m50 chains

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.

m50 door

m50 pipe

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.

m50 girls

m50 posters

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.

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m50 gallery and people

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

Tower Bridge

london, Poetry

tower bridge south view

Stately stone towers,
Stand over the Thames river,
Watching years go bye.

An iconic sight,
That sighs when misguided types,
Say “it’s London Bridge”.

Remember ’Tower’;
London’s majestic lady,
And favourite Bridge.

tower bridge side

tower bridge city view

tower bridge and shard

tower bridge bus

tower bridge kids

tower bridge sunset


Tower bridge; often mistaken for London bridge, is one of the most popular sights of London. The bridge itself is extremely central just south of the city and right next to the Tower of London; from which it takes it’s name.

Standing on the south side you can see the shiny modern glass buildings of the city through the bridge; what a contrast.

When you get up close you can also see the beautiful detail of the stone and metalwork.

I included a few haiku that I wrote. I was trying to think of a good metaphor or simile for the bridge, but I couldn’t come up with anything concrete.

When I think of the bridge, I think of it being over 120 years old, and I think of how it must feel watching all these modern glass buildings grow around it. At one point it would have been the tallest thing in the area, but now it’s dwarfed by behemoths like the shard.

And most days it’s constantly photographed by tourists, I suspect the bridge is ‘bemused’ with modern life.

Tokyo Rail

japan

Clean, shiny steel and birdsong soft and sweet. A place full of people, some fast asleep, where could I be?

yamanote line, harajuku

The Tokyo metro, or one of the Japan Rail (JR) lines in the city. Rail is something of a cultural passion in Japan. It’s a huge part of day to day life in Tokyo; the most convenient way to travel around the huge city.

A microcosm of Japanese values it’s impeccably well managed. Almost always on time and masterfully maintained.

long train

Perhaps the most famous image of Tokyo’s hectic rush hour is the attendants shoving and squeezing people onto already packed trains. Faces can be seen seen squashed against windows and doors. It does happen, but I never take part; I tend to wait out the rush hour in a cafe.

waiting on train

It’s quite a different story in the UK; when our aging underground stations become overcrowded the station attendants will temporary close entry.

A reflection of a prioritisation of efficiency over comfort in Japanese culture. As a Japanese friend commented, “it is very important get to work on time in Japan”.

Other thoughts of Tokyo rail; complex rail maps, female only carriages, cleanliness and modern technology. And less well known; beautiful visual design and ever helpful staff.

japan rail map shibuya

An example; the Japan Rail map of Tokyo and the surrounding area at the station in Shibuya – complex and beautiful.

Note the look and feel of the ticket machines. It’s modern, but yet retro. A metallic feel with plenty of prominent buttons and slots. They say to me, “I am proud to be ticket machines”, they don’t attempt streamline themselves into the human world.

It’s not only the ticket machines that feel metallic, trains are finished in polished metal; always very clean. It’s especially noticable at one of Tokyo’s many railway crossings. When you wait on trains to pass you can see the trains are clean from the ground up.

Why so clean? – Japanese people take a lot of pride in their work. I think this is in part the healthy desire to do a good job. And in part it’s the story of a society with strongly enforced cultural values.

harajuku station

Take for example the Japanese word, “Ganbatte” (がんばって) which means roughly “do your best”. You hear this a lot in Japan. For example if someone is preparing for an exam, has an interview, is entering a competition you might say “Ganbatte”. It’s telling in English that we don’t have a word like this and you rarely hear people say “do your best”. When I think about it, we would use, “good luck”. Do we subconsciouly place emphasis on luck vs. hard work? I heard it said that your true nation is your language.

Let’s be frank, trains in UK are disgustingly dirty, if you are on the london underground just touch the outside with a finger – it’ll come away black.

train map 2

girl waiting

They play birdsong in some of the stations in Tokyo. On one trip I regularly used the Toei Oedo line. I would always enjoy listening to the birdsong in the background. I don’t think I consciously noticed it at first, but at some point I realised it contributed to a joyful and relaxed feeling.

A friend tells me it’s used as a warning sound for blind people. Regardless of the true purpose it has a calming effect.

It reminds me that concrete cities and high technology are not our natural environment. Perhaps we suffer from a build up of background stress from our surroundings. These small touches can bring some peace and make life a little more comfortable.

train above

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When trains arrive or depart in Japan you get jingles, tunes and tones. It makes you aware but doesn’t cause any panic or stress. In the UK we get alarms and buzzers. It makes me feel tired.

Have you ever hear of ‘cotton wool Britian’ – we have a love affair with health and safety. Visual and audio warnings are everywhere. Do they reduce accidents – I don’t know, but they certainly contribute to a feeling of constant threat.

Even though Tokyo is a huge modern city packed with people and technology, I feel like it caters to the human need for comfort and relaxation better than many others.

yamanote musician

Perhaps the most popular rail line; the Yamanote line. It’s the circular route that you can see in the centre of the rail map. It stops at many famous places. The green colours of the Yamanote trains and the little touches of green on the clocks, ticket machines etc. make a beautiful theme.

Tokyo is a city full of amazing vibrant colours, which really pop in photography.

The Yamanote line is a case in diversity. The stations it stops at include everything from traditional temples to electronic and business districts. A wide variety of people can be found on the platforms and trains; tourists, salary men/lady, school pupils, fashionistas and even Elvis style rockers.

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harajuku tourist

What a strange city. In some ways it could be considered monocultural as Japan still remains relatively closed to foreigners. But within it’s Japanese culture there is a large diversity. Perhaps driven from the need to be different.

I expected Japanese commuters to play Nintendo or Sony or be glued to their mobile phone, but it’s not completely the case. A big surprise was the popularity of books. Tokyo has big bookstores in all the main areas. And even has some cool concept stores such as the Tsutaya at the fashionable Daikanyama.

tsutaya daikanyama

tsutaya girl

tsutaya cafe

I started to realise how important literature and poetry is in Japan. I recently discovered one of the most famous concise forms of poetry ‘haiku’ comes from Japan. And only yesterday while finishing the very good book, “strange weather over tokyo” I discovered the following poem:


In loneliness I have drifted this long way, alone.
My torn and shabby robe could not keep out the cold.
And tonight the sky was so clear
it made my heart ache all the more.
– Seihaku Irako

A little of topic, but worth sharing. So a lot’s of people read on the trains. Japan has a slightly smaller format for novels. They look really cute and easily go in your pocket.

Japan is obsessed with cuteness – a topic close to my heart.

Coming into or exiting a station in Tokyo is generally a pleasure. The stations are super clear, they always seem to be staffed by helpful attendants and every station I have been to has a clean toilet! Just the thing when late night asahi and sake are common features.

station attendant

You can’t escape from the rail in Tokyo, everywhere you look it’s their to see.

Life in Japan can be difficult with long working hours. It’s important the trains are clean and on time. One thing that will amaze any visitor is how quickly and easily japanese people can fall asleep on the train. If you fall asleep on a train here in the UK it’s likely someone is going to steal all your stuff.

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Tokyo is very safe. Theft is virtually non existent. You can leave your bicycle unlocked at the park entrances, you can leave you Macbook, phone and wallet unattended in a coffee shop.

The only complaint I have to say is when I’m stranded after 1am, then it’s time to find a late night club, a 24hr restaurant or a manga cafe and wait it out with all the other partiers for the 1st train the next day.

But that’s a small complaint.

superficial city

london

image

dark reflections, an
illusion of perfection,
superficially.


I like to walk around the city of london occasionally, this is a picture of the gherkin / 30 st. mary axe. City architecture can be beautiful, however there is a juxtaposition with the reality of the imperfect nature of the businesses that occupy them. In some ways corporate architecture is like make up.

a coastal harbour town in scotland

Poetry, scotland

moonlit boat, anstruther

lined up boats, anstruther

Fishing boats in wait,
Metal clangs, a seagull calls,
But otherwise still,

Fishermen resting
In cottages, a respite,
From the cold hard seas,

Wire mesh, wooden slats,
Lobster pots piled by the side,
Waiting for their bait,

A visitor walks,
Taking photos, fingers numb,
Scotland’s winter coast

lobster pots, anstruther

grounded boat, anstruther

white wing boat anstruther harbour

man on a pier, anstruther


These are a few photographs I took in Anstruther; a small former fishing village on the East Coast of Scotland. They were taken last winter, it was super cold and my fingers were numb holding the camera :)

(images copyright alexroanphotography 2014-2015)

tokyo dining

japan, Poetry

blue sushi restaurant

Prepared like art, with heart,
Eaten with care, flavours rare,
Japanese food is really that good,
Cooking and dining are national pastimes,
Ramen is a passion and,
Sushi a fashion,
That powers Tokyo life.

snack bar

snack bar 2

Colourful restaurants; from counter bars to tatami mats,
Natural flavours, fresh, chosen with care,
Attention to detail, clear to see, delicately prepared,
Haru, Natsu, Aki, Fuyu; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter,
Often seasonal; food and tableware.

yakitori cooking

salary men dinner

Traditional meals, that are
Humble small dishes, with
Rice to fill you,
Fermented soya to increase your life,
Vegetables and seaweed to nourish you,
Fish or meat, just a treat,
All arrayed in front of you,
Tea afterwards as a sweet?
Candy, chocolate and cake? – simply no need.

green lights

red lights

Hidden behind green and red lights,
Small alleyways, with restaurants side by side,
That’s beautiful Japan,
Beer and skewered meat; just what I need.

italian food

sakura bar

Just one word of warning,
Be prepared,
If the food is good,
To wait in line.

queue

sake barrel

Tokyo dining; a social affair,
Friends, food and sake, the perfect afterparty,
Salary man and lady; who work so hard, can finally relax,
Even alone, you can be part of the counter dining family.

yellow ramen bar

red noodle bar
curtain bar


This is kind of a poem I wrote today after completing the first 5 days of the wordpress bloggingU writting201 (poetry) course. The photographs are from both 2014 adn 2015 of restaurants and food stands in Tokyo, Japan. I’ve been wanting to write something about these photos for quite some time. But I had been putting it off, as I was going to write something quite long winded. Today I had an idea, why not just try to write a simple poem about some of the things I love about Japanes food / dining.

Alexander

Scotland’s Mountains – An Ode to Sir Hugh Monroe (Writing 201 day 5)

Poetry, scotland

cairngorms, scotland

Outdoor walking, early morning, hills loom above; a tidal wave of green,
Damp socks and wet boots waiting, silence but for the trickling of a stream,
Wild mountainous terrain; sometimes rolling, often rocky, by chance is it a dream?

A famous Scot; Sir Hugh Munroe, he catalogued the tallest mountains seen,
From Ben Lomond in the south to Ben Hope in the north; not smaller than three thousand feet,
Alas, Munro himself stood upon five hundred and thirty five peaks, sadly that’s three left to complete.

Peak of the shoe, ridge of the fox, hill of horse studs,
Summit of the corries, old upper part, hill of the son of duff,
These are the names of some Munros; originally in Gaelic, Norse and Scots,
That were given by hunters, herders and crofters in times long forgot,
This dramatic landscape, with ridges that bite and sides so sheer, may induce fear,
When I was young; father took me their; the memories are something to revere.

rannoch moor train station


(edit: I wasn’t quite happy; I had to re-work this a bit).

It’s day 5 of writing201. Prompt word – ‘Map’, form – ‘Ode’, device – ‘Metaphor’.

I decided to structure my Ode according to the traditional greek form; Pindaric Ode, which is the pattern – abb acc ddeeff.

Thinking about ‘Map’; I decided to write about my home country Scotland and Sir Hugh Munroe. Sir Hugh identified and created a table of all the mountains in Scotland over 3000 feet tall. It was published in Sept 1891. Over time it’s become something of a challenge to walk/climb all the Munroes, but not many have done it. Unfortunately for Sir Hugh he passed away just 3 Munroes short of his target of all 538 peaks. But he inspired generations of Scots to take up the challange and see the country by journey through his list of Munros.

The first picture is one I took at the very start of the year in the Cairngorms at Loch Morlich. The second was a little later in the year at Rannoch Moor. I also described a little of the feeling of being in the Munroes at the start. My dad took me walking there when I was young. Scotland has a lot of fairly wild and remote land, and with the highly changable weather; from sunshine to storms in an hour, you often end up in wet boots.

kyoto umbrella

japan, Poetry

kyoto umbrella

bright orange and blue
just a small shelter it’s true
but I still love you

I took this picture in Kyoto, Japan, back in 2014. At the time I was working on my photography in a structured way. On the day I took this I was working on contrasting colours. Specifically looking for blue and orange, red and green etc.

Contrasting colours can be quite powerful, especially if you have a visual weight contrast e.g. 80% of one and 20% of the other. That’s why sometimes if you see a girl in a purple dress holding a single yellow flower, it looks beautiful. In fact some photographers will take a contrasting colour flower to a photo shoot just for that purpose.

Yesterday when I started writing201 poetry course we learned the form haiku, today I was thinking about this picture and had this short haiku in mind.