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    A Bangkok Day. Wat Arun: The Temple of Dawn . . . and More!

    It was a beautiful Saturday late afternoon in Bangkok when I went to meet my friend at Wat Arun for some photography and then on to my favorite music venue, Saxophone, for some good live music.

     

    Left to right:  my friend and I at Wat Arun.

     

    Wat Arun is a fantastically ornate temple and chedi complex astride the Chao Phraya River.

     

    Wat Arun had been closed for many months, and shrouded in scaffolding for a major restoration.

     

    There are several temple structures, and several chedis crammed into a big square compound.

     

    The Wat Arun chedis are covered with intricate detail.

     

    When I say covered with intricate detail, I mean intricate detail.

     

    A phantasmagoria of Buddhist imagery.

     

    A massive and decorated chedi.

     

    There are a variety of structures at Wat Arun.

     

    There were quite a few tourists, Thai and foreign, at Wat Arun that afternoon.  These steps were very steep and irregular.

     

    I climbed those steps for this view.

     

    Such powerful visions!

     

    A Yak . . . a monster guard.

     

    As the afternoon light faded into evening, Wat Arun became more interesting.

     

    Bronze Buddhas here and there.

     

    Buddha and chedi at Wat Arun.

     

    Another bronze Buddha on the opposite side from the other one.

     

    Buddha in the golden light of the photographer's magic hour.

     

    Buddha and bikkus.

     

    Buddha Gotama and detailed Wat Arun chedi.

     

    The last of the golden light settling on the Wat Arun chedis.

     

    Some of the disassemble scaffolding from the recent renovation were still to be recovered.

     

    Deeper shadows . . . 6:00pm and the word went out to leave Wat Arun because it was closing time.  Oh no!

     

    I hated to leave Wat Arun as the light was getting better by the second!

     

    Wonderful late light . . . but . . .

     

    A beautiful light fell on this encased Buddha shrine.  We said iur good-byes to Wat Arun and headed out onto the small alleys to find the old Portuguese Cathedral . . .

     

    We found the Portuguese Cathedral along a stretch of river bank.

     

    The last light on the old church front.

     

    There could not be a greater contrast between this (recently restored) church interior and the splendor of Wat Arun only a few hundred meters away.

     

     

    We walked from the church to the river bank, now alight with tour boats and the shopping plaza on the far bank.

     

    Even at this hour, a troika of tug boats were struggling against the current to move a train of four huge rice barges to their upriver destinations.

     

    Looking up the river, we saw the last colorful light of a marvelous Bangkok sunset.

     

    These sunsets are very fleeting this close to the Equator . . . the sun goes down very fast here.

     

    We were so infatuated with the sunset that we hadn't noticed this amazing old, pre-war teak wood house bathed in the orange glow of the dock lighting.

     

    Only the shadow knows . . . a self portrait.

     

    Beautiful traditional detailing . . .

     

    And, yes, the house is lived in . . .

     

    I could not get enough of this old wooden house . . . it was mesmerizing.  We left to take a taxi across Bangkok to the Saxophone Pub.

     

    There was a very good Thai 'salsa band' playing.

     

    The trumpeter was especially good.

     

    Great jazz chops.

     

    The band sung in Spanish.

     

    The bass player kept the band very tightly together.  We really enjoyed ourselves the entire afternoon and evening.

    Memories of Scotland: Isle of Mull Road Trip

    Our trip to the Isle of Mull was, a road trip, and as such, we saw many interesting places on the way there.  One such place of interest was not far from where we spent the night, the famous village of Pitlochry . . . Blair Castle.

     

    The oldest sections of Blair Castle date from 1269.

     

    A lovely burn (creek) ran along the side of the castle.

     

    Like many castles in Scotland, there have been many renovations and much remodeling over the centuries.

     

    Our route took us along the souther edge of the Highlands, and along Loch Tummel.

     

    Although it was early April, Spring had not yet reached Scotland.

     

    Way out in the countryside, people still built their homes as row houses . . . a statement of the power of the Scottish Lairds as much as anything I guess.  Here, along Loch Tummel.

     

    Along the bluff above Loch Awe.

     

    Lovely.

     

    I wanted to take our Thai visitors to a magical place . . .

     

    I wanted our visitors to see one of my favorite chapels in Scotland,  Saint Conan's Kirke on the shores of Lach Awe.

     

    Saint Conan's Kirke is interesting because all the local Clans had a seat of representation in the chapel.

     

    The Clan seats were reserved with their coat of arms.  Fascinating cultural artifact.

     

    A beautiful pipe organ filled one side of the chapel. I would love to have been there to hear it play.

     

    The crypts of nights and clan leaders lined the chapel.

     

    The Saint Conan's Kirke chapel interior with many moods.

     

    A dark, cloudy day . . .

     

    There was some fine stained glass there as well.

     

    A very stylized effect.

     

    A wonderful window to the world . . .

     

    Simple, straightforward furniture.

     

    Saint Conan's Kirke.

     

    Not all churches are churches.  This old rural church has been converted to a cafe . . . we stopped for coffee, tea and, of curse, scones.

     

    The cafe retained many original features of the church.

     

    The very beginning of Spring . . . and the first buds.

     

    We arrived in the old harbour town of Oban.  It is a favorite place of ours to visit, not just because of the ferries we have taken from here, but because our favorite restaurant to have fresh oysters is there (front and center on the dock with the bright red roof). "The best oysters in the world" - my wife says.

     

    We checked into a nicely restored old seafront hotel (the only white one in the row of guesthouses and B&Bs).

     

    Ferry service to many of the western isles of Scotland originate from Oban.

     

    The Oban Ferry Terminal (foreground) where we departed for the Isle of Mull.  That is a fake ruin on the horizon, a folly, built in Victorian times when ancient ruins were fashionable to have in your city.

     

    Oban has some fine old architecture.  Here, Gaylen House.

     

    Down along the pier, Oban harbour.

     

    A row of old Oban harbour side B&Bs.

     

    Quaint, weathered, old world charm.

     

    Weathered charm.

     

    But Oban was just a stopover . . . our destination was across the water . . . the Isle of Mull.

     

    The ferry that took us to the Isle of Mull as it arrived in Oban.

     

    The views from the windy deck of the ferry were breathtaking!

     

    The rugged hills of the Isle of Mull.

     

    The Isle of Mull in a nutshell . . . a sea economy and culture.

     

    Friends and family visiting from Thailand means an opportunity for a road trip somewhere I have never been.  The Isle of Mull, and it's atmospheric and moody landscapes and quaint seaside villages beckoned . . .

     

    The west coast of the Isle of Mull is wet, wet, wet.

     

    Thick, wet moss of the west coast.

     

    Early April 2017 . . . always very damp Isle of Mull.  The dampness on a cloudy day certainly brings out the color of the decomposing autumn foliage.  A view from a hill.

     

    The sea invades the land around the whole of the Isle of Mull.

     

    When we saw a castle ruin we would stop for photos.

     

    We stopped often and walked out to points of interest and to gaze upon the fantastically moody vistas.

     

    As is true for all of Scotland, there are always castle ruins to explore.

     

    Castle ruins everywhere.  These are the ruins of 14th century Aros Castle.

     

    Isle of Mull always presents a strange, otherworldly view.

     

    A fisherman out on an Isle of Mull inlet.

     

    Small villages dot the inlets.

     

    This church was in a style I had not seen before in Scotland.

     

    Abandoned and weathering ship on the Isle of Mull.

     

    The dampness from a light drizzle brought out the color, pattern, detail, and complexity of the old rotting ship.

     

    Sheep everywhere.  Very wet sheep.

     

    View from our hilltop B&B of the sweet 'town' of Tobermory.

     

    Our very sweet B&B, The Harbour View, was was run by a Scot and a Thai!  Our Thai visitors were able to have Thai breakfast!

     

    Tobermory, Isle of Mull, has to be one of the most picturesque villages I have ever seen!

     

    Not only a photographer's dream . . . Tobermory is a painters dream as well.

     

    Simply Beautiful.

     

    Low tide, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland.  April, 2017.

     

    Half of the harbour village of Tobermory.

     

    Walls along the colorful streets of Tobermory.

     

    The old Tobermory church steeple against a perfect blue sky . . . in the western isles of Scotland . . . in April. Impossible.

     

    I never tire of this view.

     

    The small pink shed next to the harbour sold excellent ice cream.  Our B&B was on the hill above the village.

     

    The old Tobermory town clock.

     

    History marks itself.

     

    Ancient battles fought and castles defended near here.

     

    Castle Duart (c1350) under renovation.

     

    The atmospheric view from Castle Duart on a cold, rainy day on the Isle of Mull.

     

    Then, around a bend . . . . a photographer's dream come true!

     

    Fantastic patina of age and deterioration.

     

    Abandoned after years of service.

     

    There are no bad light days in photography . . . .

     

    Not too long before this ship completely disappears.  I wonder if this is an Aberdeen Trawler.

     

    Three old fishing trawlers abandoned.

     

    Nature taking over.

     

    Fishermen worked these decks for how long?

     

    Always a view of sea and rising hills.

     

    On another day . . . sun and blue sky along the tiny roads . . .

     

    Cattle and sheep augment the fishing industries of Mull.  These are Highland cows.

     

    We meandered along these small roads using Google maps to guide us to points of interest.

     

    After a long drive in the rain on tiny roads, we reached a small valley rimmed with low clouds and this austere church.

     

    The rain came and went on all days.  These cattle were very wet!

     

    The morning we were leaving the Isle of Mull the weather turned wonderful . . . of course!

     

    Ships to and from the Outer Hebrides pass through the Sound of Mull.  We took one of these ferries there last year.

     

    We boarded our ferry back to Oban on a beautiful morning.

     

    It was a smooth passage home.

    Memories of Scotland: Boat of Garten Rail Yard

    If you love UK place names like I do, you have to love 'Boat of Garten' . . . Here I found a wonderful rail yard of derelict rail stock and an old steam yard locomotive.

     

    What a photographer's dream!  A weathered locomotive!

     

    Old passenger cars from a bygone era.

     

    Train rolling stock was scattered about.  Some of them appeared to be occupied.  A self portrait!

     

    Some of the rail cars were being used as storage containers. There is a strong movement of railway preservationists in the UK.

     

    Here's something you don't see every day: a train with a steering wheel! 

     

    A stamp on the frame noted this car was built in 1906.  Imagine the journeys taken in this car!

     

    Restoration parts and pieces storage.

     

    Such a wonderful machine!

     

    Classic locomotive photo in HDR.  I know it's become ubiquitous, but I just HAD to.

     

    These rolled through the UK . . . and UK History.

     

    I was so happy to have found this old rail yard.

     

    There were some people working up in the switching tower (left), but nobody came out to say Get Out.

     

    I'm not too sure what the intended purpose was for this track machine.  It did have a steering wheel, which might have been used to lower the plow.

     

    The rail yard was littered with stacks of parts and pieces of . . . who knows what.

     

    Parts to make the industrial train system work.

     

    Cap head screws.

     

    An old rail crane.

     

    As I was leaving, assuming I had seen the best of the old rail yard, I happened upon this amazing study in shape and texture, light and shadow.

     

    Someone's workshop.

     

    Lovely flat light.

     

    Inviting, in a spooky kind of way . . .

     

    We stayed the night at the Strathallan B&B in the village of Grantown-on-Spey.  It was sweet . . . and they served a huge and delicious breakfast.

     

    Grantown-on-Spey is not an ancient town, but a planned settlement (1765) which would be a gateway to the Highlands.  There were some very beautiful neighborhoods.

     

    The B&B had a fine flowering garden.

     

    One of my my greatest memories of Scotland will be the quaint stone cottages.

     

    Downtown Grantown-on-Spey.

     

    We drove up and over the Highlands and back to Aberdeen.

     

    Although it was an overcast day, the Highlands shone with color and light!

     

    A beautiful valley in the Scottish Highlands.

     

    Stone walls, deep valleys, heather and heath . . .

    Back Home In Thailand

    After four wonderful years living and working in Scotland, we have returned home to Thailand.

     

    Back in the Buddhist World . . . and happy about it.

     

    The Wat Poh Reclining Buddha almost completely fills the Wat it occupies.

     

    So powerful in it's grandeur.

     

    The Wat Poh Buddha at rest.

     

    Wat Poh, and its Reclining Buddha image, is my favorite place in Bangkok.  My friend John Stiles and I went there on my second day back in Thailand.

     

    The lower legs were under repair . . . but the feet were exposed.  Amazing.

     

    Wat Pho is a great place to just wander around . . .

     

    There is always something interesting just around the corner at Wat Poh.

     

    The grounds of Wat Poh hold many temple structures.

     

    What to do with too many donated fans?

     

    Buddhas.  Lots of Buddha images at Wat Poh.

     

    A monk ghost in the Buddha Hall.

     

    So many beautiful Buddha images in Wat Poh.

     

    I am always surprised to discover that there will be one Buddha that I relate to more than all the others. This one seemed special to me.

     

    Night fell on Wat Poh . . .

     

    What a fantastic place!

     

    My friend John is always on the lookout for the perfect photo.

     

    A calm and peaceful place on the first night of 'Buddhist Lent.'

     

    Pilgrims walking around the temple, candles lit.

     

    The lights went on the chedis of Wat Poh.

     

    We wandered for hours among the structures of Wat Poh that evening and into the night.

     

    The moods of the spaces changed as it grew darker.

     

    Wat Poh is filled with interesting structures.  I would like to learn the significance and history or each.

     

    You cannot believe our own eyes; the beauty!

     

    Interesting shadows everywhere.

     

    We walked out of Wat Poh and into the dark streets of Old Bangkok.  10:30pm and still 31c.  Fantastic to walk around Bangkok at night. We headed toward the river nearby.

     

    Wat Arun across the Chao Praya River.  The dock at right is for the river 'taxis' - actually river busses. I was going to take one home up the river (one hour) but the service had stopped already.

     

    Wat Arun.

     

    Restaurant cruise boats passed by.

     

    We both knew of a small restaurant along the old piers that line the river.

     

    A very laid back waiter took care of us: beer, then rice and minced pork with chilies.

     

    Don't look too close at the kitchen . . . just enjoy what comes out of it.  We did.

     

    I am always in the histories that are revealed in the old surfaces . . . this old wooden shop house still had vestiges of past generations hung about here and there.

     

    The old and the new.  That Pepsi salesman really gets around!!

     

    We walked out the way we came in . . . through this wooden hall leading us off the dock and into the Bangkok night.

     

    Dark, old space.

     

    The Royal Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, is next to Wat Poh and is always a busy area of Bangkok.  Tourists sped through the night on a wild tuk-tuk ride.

     

    Late night tourists engage in selfie-taking behaviors in front of the palace walls.  John and I did the same!!!

     

    It was a beautiful night to be out walking along the palace walls.

     

    At around 11:00 we started to flag taxis to see if they wre interested in taking us to our different parts of the city . . . several didn't, but eventually we each secured a taxi.

    Winter Vacation 2016-2017: The High Sierras, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Richmond, Baltimore, and Pennsylvania.  Whew!

    Swall Meadows, Eastern Sierras, California.

     

    Out along US Highway 395, Eastern Sierras, California.

     

    June Lake, Eastern Sierras, California.

     

    Approaching June Lake, California.

     

    Hot Creek Geological Area, off US Highway 395 near Swall Meadows.

     

    The Buttermilks, outside Bishop, California.

     

    Incredible Mono Lake, California.

     

    Hot Springs Ice, Mono Lake, California. December 2016.

     

    Manzanar WWII Japanese Internment Camp, California

     

    Out along US Highway 395.

     

    Fossil Falls, California (US Highway 395)

     

    The Outpost (closed), Darwin, California.

     

    Old water truck, Darwin, California.

     

    A Death Valley sunset.

     

    A high view down to a sand storm in Panamint Valley, California.

     

    Tourists from all over the world make the trek to Badwater Flats in Death Valley, California to walk on the lowest spot in the Americas.

     

    My camera never left the hotel room in Las Vegas.

     

    Hoover Dam on a wonderful day.

     

    "Winged Figure of the Republic" - by sculptor Oskar Hansen, Hoover Dam, Nevada.

     

    The great bridge at Hoover Dam.

     

    Great Hoover Dam on the Nevada-Arizona boarder.

     

    A very low level at Lake Mead.

     

    Out in the Nevada desert.

     

    We visited family in Richmond, Virginia . . . . where they controversially display statues to the leaders of the Confederate States of American along Monument Avenue.

     

    Beautiful old homes along Monumant Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.

     

    Stonewall Jackson monument, Richmond, Virignia, USA.

     

    At The National Acquarium in Baltimore, USA.

     

    A forest walk in the Poconos of northeast Pennsylvania, USA.

     

    A very cold morning in rural Pennsylvania, USA.

     

    MORE COMING SOON . . . . .