One of the most iconic images of Maine is that of the Portland Head Light. This lighthouse was completed in 1791 and sits on a head of land at the main entrance to the shipping channel into Portland Harbor. The lighthouse is located within Fort Williams Park (free to enter) and is a great place to explore, have a picnic, and just enjoy the beautiful Maine scenery. And the best part is that we now live here and can see it anytime we wish!
Monkeys! Cute little monkeys. Adorable and completely innocent little creatures. We once thought that, until we visited SE Asia. During our 6 months in SE Asia we came to realize that we were wrong. Long-tailed macaque monkeys are not so innocent. Cute, yes, but far from innocent. Monkeys are actually vile, thieving, diseased creatures whose sole purpose is to wreak havoc and destruction. To steal whatever they can and run off into the jungle. To bite and scratch, allowing the victim to experience rabies vaccinations. Oh yes, monkeys are the true embodiment of evil.
While on the Indonesian island of Bali we saw another side of monkeys. The cute and innocent side. Near the city of Ubud is the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal. In Hinduism, monkeys are seen as both a positive and negative force. The duality of both good and evil. The Sacred Monkey Forest consists of many Hindu temples and the monkeys are thought to protect the site from evil spirits. The monkeys, 4 separate troops consisting of over 600 long-tailed macaques, are well treated and 15,000 tourists visit each month to see them. While we did see monkeys steal food from people and saw others cleaning wounds from bites and scratches, we saw plenty of monkeys just being monkeys; foraging for food, caring for their young, and grooming each other. We still had our guards up, but it was nice seeing a less aggressive monkey compared to what we had experienced in other parts of Asia.
Below is a series of photos showing the monkeys at the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal. I hope you enjoy them.
Click images to enlarge and for slideshow
Balinese Long-Tailed Macaques
When we first arrive in Kuala Lumpur some friends recommended that we visit the KL Bird Park. Yesterday we had a chance to explore the bird park, which is the largest free-flight aviary in the world, and we’re not disappointed. Armed with my trusty Nikon 180mm telephoto lens we toured the park and we were amazed at the colorful and interesting species of birds.
The park opened in 1991 and is 20.9 acres in size. Many of the zones within the park try to match the bird’s natural habitat, which makes for great bird photography!
One of our favorite birds at KL Bird Park was the Malay Eagle Owl. It reminded me of a real life Furby. And for only 10 RM ($3.10), you could have your picture taken with your choice of two birds.
The parrots in the parrot area were very colorful. Sydney enjoyed feeding the different birds.
The Bird Show
KL Bird Park even offered a cheesy “Bird Show” with Macaus doing silly tricks. The kids loved it!
We were lucky to see the feeding of the eagles. The park staff enter the caged home of the eagles and throw raw meat into the air while the eagles catch it. Next they toss dead mice onto the ground and the eagles swoop down and pick up their tasty lunch.
There were so many species of birds that it was hard to photograph them all. But here are shots of some of my favorites!
I hope you enjoyed the photos essay of birds from the KL Bird Park. If you find yourself in Kuala Lumpur, this place is definitely worth a visit.
While in Hoi An, Vietnam some friends of ours asked if we had seen the old town at night. Having experienced lots of rude people during the day we could only imagine how many more rude people would be out at night. But after meeting our friends for dinner one evening in town we saw what we had been missing. While the town is full of grumpy people during the day and is nothing too special, the town transforms at night into a very colorful and magical place.
We decided to try to capture some of this magic to share with you. I hope you enjoy the photos…
Floating Lantern Sellers
Construction on Angkor Wat first began in the 12th Century AD and became the largest preindustrial city in the world measuring at least 1,000 square kilometers. Today, Angkor Wat is much more than just a bunch of old buildings. An entire community of people still live within the protected area. There are houses, schools, restaurants, and shops. Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is Cambodia’s largest attraction drawing in over a half million tourists per year.
Angkor Wat has been on my bucket list for many years now. It was great to finally get the chance to spend some time there and see this amazing place with my own eyes (and camera.) Below are selected photos from our recent visit there.
Click photos to enlarge and for easier viewing
With postcard photos all over Siem Reap showing a beautiful and colorful sky over ancient temples at sunrise, I knew we had to go. Equipped with tripod and plenty of camera gear we set out in the darkness at 5am to watch the ultimate sunrise. After arriving we found we were not the only ones thinking the same thing and the crowds were thick. Unfortunately, the sun never appeared. The sky went from black to different shades of grey. Just before packing up the tripod, I swung around and took a photo of the crowds of people still waiting for something to happen. I thought the colorful crowd was way more impressive than the sunrise.
Children of Angkor Wat
My absolute favorite subject to photograph at Angkor Wat was the children. Most of them live within the protected area. While not attending the local school (if they can afford to attend), they try their hardest to sell you postcards and other trinkets. Most of the kids selling postcards had the same spiel, “Wanna buy postcards? Ten postcards one dollar. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.” It then started all over, often with 3+ kids surrounding you all chanting the same thing in unison. You couldn’t help but laugh and start counting with them. Many of the other kids there were just like normal kids. They would play games, ride bikes, and just hang out. For us it was a tourist attraction. For them, it was their home and playground.
I apologize for some of the blurry photos. I was using my favorite lens for most of these, which is manual focus. None of these kids would sit still, and manual focus is not the best with wiggly children.
With the harsh tropical lighting I did not like most of the temples and structures in color and shot them mainly in black and white. But I can’t have a photo essay on Angkor Wat without some of the structures in color. So, here are some that don’t look too bad. Once again, if you haven’t already done so, check out my Black and White photos of Angkor Wat.
There are numerous long tailed macaque monkeys that live at Angkor Wat. These were the first ones we had seen and they were busy looking for breakfast in the tree. We spent a good hour watching them, but not wanting to go through rabies shots, we kept our distance. Over the next few days we saw monkeys eating garbage in the parking lots, stealing a can of Pringles from a shop, and even chasing a lady. Best to admire from a distance!
On the far end of the Angkor Wat complex is an area known as Kbal Spean. We had to pay $25 for our tuk tuk to take us the 35 kilometers out there, hike 6 kilometers (round trip) through the hot and humid jungle to get there, but what we found was completely worth it. The ancient people that lived at Angkor Wat centuries ago carved sacred symbols into the stream bed to bless the water that would help their crops grow downstream. Getting away from the crowds, the sound of falling water, and the 1000’s of butterflies everywhere made this a very special place for us.
Having no luck at the sunrise, we tried for a sunset. Unfortunately, we came on a day where the sun disappeared behind clouds shortly after arriving. We waited and waited with 100’s of other people. Just before giving up, the sun popped out for a couple of minutes allowing me to get these two shots.