admin in Blog on April 1, 2014
Our next port of call would provide a stark contrast to many of the previous ones in Indonesia. Whereas in earlier ports, we saw a lot of extreme poverty, in Brunei we saw a lot of extreme wealth, especially when it comes to anything relating to the sultan, who is one of the richest people in the world. His palace has a whopping 1,788 rooms! He does spread the wealth around, however. Both healthcare and education is free to all citizens, and there’s also no personal income tax. The city is very nice and the streets are very well-maintained.
In Brunei, we visited a museum focusing on the life of the sultan and displaying various items belonging to/given to the sultan, most of which were either solid gold or gem-studded. We then walked around the downtown area, photographing some of the water villages, which are unique to Brunei. The highlight of our visit, however, was the Omar Ali Saifudin Mosque, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Asia. It features giant gold domes and its own lagoon. We spent a lot of time photographing there before returning to the ship. Here are some images from the day:
admin in Blog on March 31, 2014
After visiting several Indonesian ports, we finally moved on and stopped at Kota Kinabalu, our first port in Malaysia. We decided to explore on our own here, as we did for many of the other ports. What’s nice is that Crystal usually runs a shuttle service from the ship to the center of town. (The only exceptions are when the country we’re visiting has restrictions against it.) This makes it easy to explore a lot on foot… if you don’t mind long walks in the Southeast-Asian heat!
In Kota Kinabalu, we first walked to the local market and actually ended up spending a lot of time there. Markets in different parts of the world can be fantastic for photography, and this one was especially good. It took up an entire city block, with the stalls facing the street making for the best photography (because of the light). There were crazy meat stalls, vibrant spices and loads of colorful chilies. The people were also great, and generally open to having their photos taken.
After exploring the market for a while, we took a taxi to a Malay museum and heritage village. The village featured different kinds of homes and structures that you would have seen in different places and time periods around the country. I didn’t shoot as much here, but it was nice to visit a place less bustling than many of the downtown areas we had been exploring.
Finally, we returned to town and went up to a viewpoint that overlooks the city. It’s at the top of a very large hill that you can hike to via a series of staircases that wind through the trees. There’s a little cafe at the top and that’s where we spent the final part of our day in Kota Kinabalu.
Here are some of the photos I shot there, many of which were from the local market:
admin in Blog on March 19, 2014
It’s not every day that you get to visit one of the UNESCO wonders of the world! We were very lucky to have been able to visit the spectacular Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, on our stop in Semarang. Semarang is on the Indonesian island of Java, on the southern edge of the Java sea. We took the tour to Borobudur because it was quite the trek to get there from Semarang. Not only was it a three-hour bus ride, but the traffic gets so bad there that we had police escort cars the ENTIRE way there and back, with their sirens on and everything. They would stop traffic and lead us on the wrong side of the road when need be, so we were really grateful to have that. If we didn’t, then I’m afraid we’d still be sitting in Java traffic a week later!
As I mentioned before, Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and it’s quite amazing. Not only is it huge, but the amount of stone carvings on different tiers in the temple complex is staggering. The temple was built around 800 AD and was estimated to have taken some 80 years to complete. It measures 403 feet square and 100 feet high! I had seen photos of Borobudur before, and it was definitely on my list of places to visit and photograph. I love all the Buddha statues build into the walls and inside the bell-shaped structures on the top tiers of the temple. I spent every minute I could shooting there before we had to leave for lunch.
Lunch was at the neighboring hotel and we were treated to a beautiful buffet under a tent with a stage in the middle, on which traditional musicians and dancers entertained the diners. Before heading to the ship, we made one stop to see a shadow puppet show, which was much more elaborate than the kind I’ve seen before!
I hope you’ll enjoy the following images from this amazing place, and do put it on your “to see” list, because it is worth it!
Next stop: Makassar. More to come! …