Posted by: travelrat | May 7, 2020

Atlas Mountains

Atlas 3

Atlas Mountains, Morocco.

‘I’d rather be in the mountains thinking of God than in church thinking of the mountains’

(John Muir)

Posted by: travelrat | May 5, 2020

Hoi An

Hoi An

Hoi An: 17th November 2019

We stayed at the Silk Village Hotel in Hoi An. As the name suggests, it’s only one part of a complex, selling mainly … silk. You pass many shops selling the stuff as you walk through the gardens to the gate for the bus. Silk is a major commodity in Hoi An; it’s often used to make some of the lanterns we saw last night.

We repeated that stroll through the lantern-lit streets this morning. The centre of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a car-free zone. But, not a bicycle-free zone. Because bicycle bells seem to be unknown in Vietnam, cyclists voice a polite ‘ding-ding!’ to warn of his or her approach.

The way led through a maze of streets, again festooned with lanterns, with all kinds of shops, stalls and businesses lining them. We did a quick pass through a Chinese temple, a reminder of the days when Hoi An was an important international port.; there is still a substantial Chinese community here.

A visit to a traditional ‘tube house’ was included in the tour, although we just saw it rather than learnt about it. The resident guide spoke excellent English, but the acoustics were terrible. Several other guides were giving a spiel as well, so she might as well have recited the Hippocratic Oath in Klingon. I later found out that this is typical; a long house comprising two courtyards; one separating the business quarters from the domestic part. And one for the use of the family.

The Japanese Bridge and the river provided good photo opportunities, The bridge was built in the late 16th Century by Japanese merchants who lived mainly on one bank of the river to the Chinese community on the other side.

Japanese Bridge, Hoi An

Posted by: travelrat | May 3, 2020

Walking … Way Back!

PICT0004

The other day, I took part in a web-chat on Twitter, where we discussed walking. Of course, we showed off photographs as well, and I mentioned that the best of my walking was done in the 1980s, and was mainly recorded on colour transparencies. I tended to use that medium, because the magazines I contributed to liked … some insisted on … trannies.

‘I’d love to see some of them’ said one participant.

I didn’t think that was going to happen any time soon, for, although I have a scanner, scanning slides into digital form is a tedious process, and I usually only do it if I really need to.

But, yesterday, with lockdown still in progress, everything I needed to do completed, nothing on television and pouring down outside, I did a dozen or so. And, I might do more, if this lockdown lark continues for any length of time.

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Posted by: travelrat | April 30, 2020

Skagway

Skagway 1

There are several types of airports and cruise ports. At the top, there are those splendid confections which are mainly designed to show how clever the architect is. At the other end of the scale, there are those brutal, ugly blockhouses which are purely functional. And, there are those which are both pleasing to the eye and functional.

But, occasionally, you’ll come across a location that is so beautiful, that it’s been decided that nature can’t be improved on, and all that’s necessary is to provide somewhere to park your ship or aircraft.

One such place is Skagway, Alaska, which I’ve chosen for my ‘feel-good’ photo this week.

Posted by: travelrat | April 28, 2020

Hoi An: City of Lanterns

Hoi An Lanterns

Hoi An: 16th November 2019

It’s usually my practice to ‘round up’ posts on each place we’ve visited with a ‘slide show’ and/or a video. This time, I’ll do it the other way around, with the slide show first.

We didn’t fly to Da Nang until the afternoon, and transferred by bus to Hoi An. So, after checking in at the hotel, we didn’t get to see much of the town, except for the walk through the lantern-lit streets of the Old Town to a riverside restaurant for dinner.

Hoi An is well-known for its lanterns … somewhere in the city, there’s a factory dedicated to making them. But, we’ll see more of them later

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Posted by: travelrat | April 26, 2020

The eBook

Cover

With lots of time on my hands, and nowhere to go right now, I’ve been catching up on a few things that, for one reason or another, got put on the back burner. One of those things are my ebooks.

I had three ‘on the market’; not much has been happening with them, but I was recently able to review them.

One Thing Leads to Another, I withdrew completely, for it’s now rather dated. When the Boat Comes In I felt ought to be revised. But, on reading through it, I decided it needed to be completely re-written; I’ve withdrawn it, and already made a start on that.

So, only one remains; Keith’s Aussie Jottings. This contains notes from a number of visits over a number of years, which I describe as ‘A digest of things Australian; road trips, rail rides, river cruises … and observations of Aussie life in general’ and is available to download for the princely sum of USD 2.50. from https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/687555

I don’t expect it’s going to make me rich. But, I’m hoping it will at least keep the office jellybean jar topped up.

Posted by: travelrat | April 23, 2020

Keukenhof

Keukenhof C2

The tulips in my garden are finished already!

Generally, though, the displays at the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands bloom until mid-May. I wonder how they do it; I’d like to retain a bit of colour before the roses come out.

Keukenhof 2

Of course, nobody’s going to Keukenhof this year, because of the restrictions. However, they do a pretty good ‘virtual tour’ … and some of us have pictures from previous visits we can look back on.

Keukenhof 1

Posted by: travelrat | April 21, 2020

Ho Chi Minh City

Reunification Palace

HCMC-Hoi An: 16th November 2019

It’s really a museum, but they call it a Palace. Indeed, it once was the Presidential Palace, but it’s now called the Reunification Palace. They display artefacts and pictures, dealing with not only the Vietnam War but also the earlier fight for independence from France.

Maybe it was a little too full-on an experience, or maybe it was just the fact that the multi-storey building was oppressively hot and humid, and there were a lot of stairs to ascend and descend.

Post Office

We made a quick visit to the Post Office, often pointed up as a prime example of French colonial architecture. Not far from this is Notre Dame Cathedral. It was closed for repair, but I’ve always felt see one cathedral, you’ve seen them all. But, I got some reasonable photos by just walking down the street a few yards from the bus.

Notre Dame Cathedral HCMC

Lunch was rather an international affair. I had satay followed by lasagne; most of the group had pizza.

In the afternoon, we flew to Da Nang, from where we took a bus to Hoi An. ‘The Venice of Vietnam’ it says here! We haven’t seen much of the town so far, except for the walk through the lantern-lit streets of the Old Town to a riverside restaurant for dinner.

Posted by: travelrat | April 19, 2020

Walking the Camera

CAM4

Oh, dear! We’re ‘confined to barracks’ for another three weeks!

However, we’re allowed out to ‘exercise’ once a day, and it does give me the opportunity to get really familiar with the handling of my new camera. There’s always something to photograph, even if I sometimes have to look really hard for it.

CAM2

The main thing I’m trying to get used to is the lack of an eye-level viewfinder; this is difficult for I have been using one most of my life, and found I got much less camera shake holding it to my face. That, I suppose, will come with practice?

Another factor is the screen is just about invisible in bright sunlight. Solutions I’ve worked out so far are find a shady place from which to take your picture, or just point the camera in the general direction of the subject, and hope for the best. Believe it or not, that works more often than you’d expect …come to think of it, I’ve been using the same technique with my GoPro for some time.

CAM3

By and by, I’ll have a delve into the manual, and see if there’s some way I can brighten the screen; I can do it on my tablet, so it’s reasonable to expect I can do it on the camera, But, if such instructions exist, they’re hidden away in an obscure corner of a rather prolix document.

I haven’t junked the DSLR just yet … but I don’t think I’ll be taking it on my travels, when they resume. I’ll just save it for local use, when I don’t have to carry it so far, trips in the car or occasions when the weight and volume aren’t issues.

CAM1

Posted by: travelrat | April 16, 2020

Annecy

France 1

Continuing my series of ‘feelgood’ pictures from my archives during the lockdown, here’s Annecy, in France.

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