Saturday, March 29, 2014

Retirement Musings

It's been a busy two and a half years since I retired. Lots of travel and lots of photography. What could be better than that!

I've been on three cruises and to Asia twice. Lost some dear friends and have made some new lifelong ones. I've also re-connected with some old friends on Facebook and LinkedIn. Winter in Chicago seems to be finally ending and I am about to embark on a three week trip to Asia with my new Fujifilm mirrorless cameras (X-Pro1 and X-T1).  Leaving the big pro Canons at home for the first time.

2014 is going to be a great year!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Retired At Last!

30 June 2011 marked the end of a 25 year career as a contract specialist.  01 July 2011 marked the first day of retirement and the first day that I began to pursue my passion for photography full time.

I am very excited that I will no longer have to say "I don't have time to do that" because now I do have the time.

I hope to continue my travels in Southeast Asia and to expand my work to include event photography and begin to put together some travelogues.

I had a great career and as General Amos of the US Marine Corps recently told his staff of current and retired personnel, "The juice was worth the squeeze." 

I will be posting a great deal more and hope that you will enjoy the new adventures.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bali 2010 Photos - Kecak

There many dances in Bali but none as dramatic as the Kecak dance.  It is taken from the Hindu epic Ramayana and tells the story of Prince Rama and his rescue of Princess Sita, who has been kidnapped by the King of Lanka.  There is no gamelan music to this dance, only the chanting of 150 bare chested men.  The culmination of the dance that we saw included the fire dance by a single participant who, while in a trance state, runs over, in, and through a pile of burning coconut shells and husks while barefoot. 

The Road Home - Tokyo

It seems like just a day ago that I was sending a message from the lounge at Narita at the start of Bali 2010.  One leg down, one long leg to go.

My takeaway for the trip home:

KFC chicken at MBK in Bangkok - $2.00
Pink Pepto tablets bought for the trip - $3.29
Having the Pink Pepto tablets in your carry-on luggage - Priceless!

A little of the Bali Belly prior to departure from Bangkok and finding those little pink pills was very soothing.  Not only to my stomach, but to my peace of mind for the long flights home.

Which brings me back to the keywords.  Here they are in no particular order of importance:

Bali belly, Bali traffic, Bali massage, Bali hospitality, weather, gecko, coffee, festival, odelan, barong, kecak, sarong, cremation, teeth filing, trance, rice, puppets, kites, father-son traditions, sacrificial offerings, cock fighting, bo, kim, penny, alia, chris, sandy, rose, django, tewfic, komang, ketut, daiu, dilla, the pond, rian, made hair salon, Bali Zen Spa, chaya, fbi, ducks, nasi gareng, school kids marching, lime juice, bintang, eating with fingers, authentic thai cuisine, tuk tuk, sweat, double decker pizza, propane taxis, propane water taxis, ice, patpong 1, ping pong balls, rambutan, nomad, paon, mosquito netting, pocari sweat, ANA.

Definite memory joggers for a trip that was packed with sensory stimulations of sight, sound, taste, and feel.

An hour until boarding so I will see if I can get a couple of photos onto the blog.

As Bali 2010 draws to a close, my special thanks to Tewfic El-Sawy, The Travel Photographer, who has made these adventures possible and who has taught me so much about style and humor. Thank you godo!


The Road Home

As always happens, a grand adventure comes to an end and Bali 2010 is complete.

I am in the Bangkok airport awaiting my flight at midnight to take me to Tokyo and then I am Chicago bound.  The road home will take about 23 hours and I arrive at about 10AM CST.

Bali 2010 may be in the record books but the memories will be lasting a lifetime.  Was it a good trip?  Definitely.  Did I accomplish what I had hoped to accomplish?  Yes.  Did I learn new things?  It would be impossible to interact with different cultures on a one to one basis and not learn new things.  I experienced and saw things that opened my eyes to the differences between our cultures.  It is important to keep an open mind about what you see and do to keep things in perspective.  What is normal and acceptable for one culture, may be shocking to another.  I will be writing about these experiences in the coming weeks.  We saw firsthand the celebration of cremation in the Balinese life cycle.  We saw firsthand animal sacrifice at one of the religious festivals.  Did I photograph these events?  Yes.  Will I publish all the photos from these events? No.

As with every trip that I have taken with Tewfic El-Sawy, there have been what I call "takeaways".  These are experiences that are special to me and will stay with me always.

I have a list of keyword memory joggers to help me recount everything that we did and saw.  It is a long list and every word has a special meaning and associated memory.  More on these later.

I will see if I can post a few photos from Tokyo.  I have a three hour layover.

It has been another great trip and now the road home has commenced.

Thanks for following my adventure.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bali Photos

Here are some of the photos that I have taken on the Bali 2010 trip.  I hope that you enjoy them.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On the Road Again - Bali Day 8

Sunday, 08 August 2010 dawned clear and sunny with white puffy clouds.

In 2007, my favorite place that we visited was Tirta Empul and I was excited to be going back again, especially on a Sunday when it would be busier than any other day of the week.  Tirta Empul is in the village of Tampak Siring and it is one of the most beautiful temples in Bali.  It is a holy bathing place that is over 1,000 years old.  Legend has it that the sacred spring was created by the god Indra. His forces had been poisoned by Mayadanawa, so he pierced the earth to create a fountain of immortality to revive them.
An inscription dates the founding of a temple at the site to 926 AD. Ever since - for more than a thousand years - the Balinese have come to bathe in the sacred waters for healing and spiritual merit.

There are two bathing pools fed by natural spring waters that are said to have curative powers.  The spring waters flow into the pools from seven pancuran and the water is very cold.  On a very hot day, I am sure that it would not only be curative but also invigorating.  The people pause at each one to pray and to receive the flow of water on their heads and faces.  Balinese traditions are passed along to each generation and are followed by young and old.   As in 2007, several of the young children were experiencing the cold waters for the first time.  It was a delight to some and a freezing shock to others.  A lot of laughter and a lot of crying but in every case, a lot of trust in the fathers holding their sons.

Overlooking the temple on a hill above is a modern building: the Government Palace, built in 1954. Originally a residence for Dutch officials, it was later used by former President Soekarno during his frequent trips to Bali.

As you leave the temple, you "run the gauntlet" of shopping stalls selling everything Bali.  It seems that you can buy anything for "one dollar" unless you don't look like you are going to buy and then the price quickly drops to pennies.

The afternoon was spent in Semara at the market.  Not many tourists and I got to photograph craftsmen shaping and polishing stones for the elaborate gold and silver ring settings at the open air shop.  I chatted with one craftsman and one of his friends who spoke surprisingly good English.  I found out why when he told me that his day job was as a policeman in Denpasar.  We swapped stories and he assured me that when he was not in Denpasar at work, he was just one of the villagers.  Quick with a smile and a laugh, I made a new friend.

One of the exciting aspects of being on the road again is that I get to meet and talk to so many new people.  I hope to be receiving emails from these new friends.  I have already received emails from Allan in Australia, Terje in Norway, and David in Bangkok.

As I said in my last email, I don't think it gets any better than this!

All is well, feel great, and there is much more to come.