A travel and photography blog by Loke Chee Meng
About the title shot :
In the autumn of 2009, I found Little Bugsie, of all places, on a toilet sink in the Days Landscape Hotel located at the foot of Changbaishan, Jilin, China. I invited Bugsie into the room. I gave it the 'red carpet' welcome and took the shot above with a Panasonic DMC-LX3.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Travel tip#9 - How high can you go?

How high can you go?

I am not a fitness buff.  I am not even the outdoor-type.  But I have summited Mount Fuji (3776m) and gone up to altitude as high as 5248m without falling sick.

Once you are at an altitude of about 2000m, you will inevitably feel breathless when you strain yourself.  But this is not Acute Mountain Sickness (AMC) or Chronic Mountain Sickness (CMS), maybe not yet. Hypoxia is a condition in which the body as a whole or a region of the body is deprived of oxygen resulting in what we generally called ACS/CMS.  When ACS/CMS becomes serious resulting in fluid build-up in the brain (HACE) or in the lungs (HAPE), it is fatal if not attended to immediately.

As a matter of fact, Acute Mountain Sickness (ACS) or Chronic Mountain Sickness (CMS) has little to do with a person's level of fitness, gender or age.  Herein lies the danger.  It is therefore important to be prepared, recognise the signs and symptoms and know what to do when faced with it.

Now, if you are going to Tibet (which is an interesting place for holiday), most of the time you will be above 2000m.  The altitude of Lhasa is already 3650m.  The first thing to do is acclimatisation.  When you arrive at Lhasa, for example, you do nothing on the first day.  Just rest.   Don't be a hero and insist on venturing out.  Some people think that they have paid a lot of money for their holiday and they are not going to idle around and waste a day or two.  You are only asking for trouble if you do so.

Just be mindful that you are at high altitude and do things slowly; don't run, don't jump, don't bent down to pick up something abruptly.  I even tell people to brush their teeth slowly.

Some people think that when going to Lhasa, Tibet, taking the train will enable them to acclimatise better as the ascent is more gradual compared to taking a plane.  Sure the ascent is more gradual but the trains are pressurised and therefore do not help in acclimatising.

Many people believe in consuming the Chinese herbal medicine HongJinTian as an antidote for ACS.  I am skeptical.  But if you believe in it, please go ahead; I cannot underwrite your life.   I would suggest that before your trip go and see a GP and get a prescription of Diamox.

If you experience giddyness, nausea, headache, perspiration, light headedness, prolonged breathlessness, consume the medicine based on the doctor's prescription.  If the symptons still persist, go to see a doctor as soon as possible.  The doctor will most likely put you on a drip.  Now, if the doctor recommends that you evacuate to a lower level, comply as soon as possible.  Even Everest climbers have died for refusing to follow advice to evacuate.

You may also come across tourist shops selling oxygen cannisters that look like insecticide spray. I am doubtful of its content.  Again, I don't want to underwrite your life; go ahead and buy if you want it as a precaution.  If you are travelling with an organised tour, make sure you that the tour coach carries a real oxygen bottle, the type used in hospitals.

One final point, avoid consuming alcohol at high altitude.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The 12 months of 2015

'The 12 months of 2015' is a customised calendar I made with selected sunrise and sunset theme I have shot in the past at various places.   I have intentionally not mentioned whether they are sunrise or sunset in this post as I would like to leave it as a teaser for the reader.  Sorry, no prize for the right answers.   Most of these shots are originally landscape shots.



A Chinese saying has it that,

"After returning from Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), you do not want to see any more mountains.  After returning from Jiuzhai (Jiuzhaigou), you do not want to see any more waters."

Huangshan (1864m) is located in Anhui province, China.  The saying above is testimony of its unparalleled beauty.  Most people go up Huangshan via the cable car.  I walked up all the way to the top all in 8 hours!  It was tough but absolutely satisfying.

Now before you jump to conclusion that the above shot is a sunrise or sunset shot, do note that I had stayed on the mountain top (in a hotel, of course) for a night.  


U Bein Bridge, Mandalay, Myanmar
U Bein Bridge, Mandalay, Myanmar.  The teak-wood bridge is quite an icon.  This is a popular location for photographers and it should be easy to find out if this is sunset or sunrise.  The shot was taken from a small boat on very shallow waters.


Jogjakarta, Indonesia

This shot was taken on top of a hill.  It should be easy to tell if this is sunrise or sunset.  The tell-tale sign is obvious.


Bagan, Myanmar
Yes, those are hot air balloons.


Xiapu, Fujian, China
Xiapu is famous for its mudflats but you can also capture some glorious sunrise and sunset scenes.


Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
This is Brunei Darulsalam, Land of the Peaceful Abode.


Fisherman Wharf, Danshui, Taipei
Don't expect to see fishing boats returning with their catches in Fisherman Wharf in Danshui.  There aren't any.  The place is full of eateries and tourists.


Lake Inle, Myanmar
This is a pair of the iconic 'leg-rowers' in Lake Inle.  The fishermen use one leg to row the boat with the other keeping him standing.  Guess what they do with their hands.


Two dogs

There are two things I would like to say about this August shot.  First, guess the location.  Second, I think the two dogs made a difference in this shot.  Actually, the two dogs went into the water for a swim after I took the shot.


West Lake, Hangzhou

The legendary 'Broken Bridge' at West Lake, Hangzhou.  The bridge is anything but broken.  It got its name because when the snow on the bridge melts, it looks like it is broken.  It is one of the 10 classical scenes of West Lake.


Haikou, Hainan
I was looking out of the window of this restaurant by the sea in Haikou, Hainan Island, China and voila, the big round egg yolk was above the horizon.  I immediately grabbed my camera and dashed out of the restaurant to take this shot.  Of course, I did tell the waiter of my intention.  So, was I having breakfast or dinner?


Gardens By The Bay, Singapore
Singaporeans should not have problem telling if it is sunrise or sunset.


Mile, Yunnan, China
The name of this location is not pronounced as 'Mile' (as it would be in English) but 'Mi Le' as in Hanyu pinyin.  There is nothing very much to see in this city.  I was there en route to the beautiful Yuanyang rice terrace. There is this big cigarette manufacturer in this city that has gotten so prosperous that as a way to demonstrate its corporate citizenship (or rather to atone its sin) built a large resort with a man-made lake in the city.