Month: April 2010

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia: KL

When in Kuala Lumper I can recommend a visit to the very beautiful Islamic Arts Museum

The permanent galleries are categorised by artefact material or field of study. Located on level 3 of the IAMM are some exceptions, the India Gallery, China Gallery and Malay World Gallery. These three galleries serve as representations of the diversity of Islamic peoples and the multi-cultural heritage of Malaysia. Also located on level 3 are the Architecture Gallery, the Qurans & Manuscripts Gallery and the Ottoman Room – a reconstructed interior of an Ottoman Syrian room dated 1820 – 1821 AD, sponsored by the Standard Chartered bank.

It includes Ceramics & Glass Gallery, Metalwork Gallery, Woodwork Gallery, Arms & Armour Gallery, Jewellery Gallery, and Textiles Gallery; exhibits collections displayed thematically, according to chronology, region or technique of production.  read more here

Mt Denali, Alaska

Alaska is a great place to visit

I get a great view of this shy mountain

In Denali National Park I climb aboard the park bus and get taken further into the park. Mt. Denali is a shy mountain and shows her head rarely. Over the past month, she has hidden herself for 25 out of the 31 days but today she exposes her lofty top.

Books I’ve read about Alaska tell of bears eating willow and I wonder where the trees are. The tundra is covered with short scrubby bush and plants and I’m amazed when I’m told that these 6-inch high shrubs are willows: stunted by the weather, the trees I was expecting did not exist.

I don’t walk far before I see a bear. I freeze. She has two cubs with her. I’m petrified, excited and amazed all at the same time and I sink to my knees to watch. Mum is large; her cubs are like bundles of lard, roly-poly and cuddly looking. She looks towards me, almost nonchalantly and I remain very still, hardly daring to breathe, while the cubs seem to have no worries. I discard my plans for hiking – I can walk any day and prefer to sit and watch. A herd of caribou runs over the hill, a perfect silhouette for a photo and the tiny plants and berries fascinate me. Mostly I just watch the bears.

Too soon it’s time to return to the main camp and, silently, I gloat over the people on the bus who didn’t see any wildlife: as I recount my tale over dinner, I realise I hadn’t rung my bell. The next day Denali is hidden, so content myself with crunching over yellow leaves and admiring the cottonwood trees with their straight white trunks, closer to park headquarters. see more photos here

Written after a month-long trip in Alaska some years ago!

the kiwi travel writer and the birdman

Mansur Poh is a passionate man. Obsessed say some, crazy say others: however, all agree he is a bird man of absolute dedication and Malaysia’s lesser adjutant storks are fortunate to have him. He has been dubbed ”Protector of the lesser adjutant stork” – a fitting title for someone who has devoted over 10 years to unpaid study of this threatened species.

So, what is the lesser adjutant? It’s a stork with a two-metre wingspan, is 120-cm tall, stands with a hunched appearance and has a massive wedged shaped bill. They have an un-feathered head, sparse feathers on their neck and flies with its neck retracted – more like a heron than a stork. When flying, to me they look like a cross between a child’s picture of a bird and a pterodactyl, and have been called ugly by some. It is resident from India across SE Asia to Cambodia, and is one of the world’s endangered birds – with only some 250 left in Malaysia and a world population of less than 5,000.

see slide show and read more Continue reading “the kiwi travel writer and the birdman”

‘travel is the most private of pleasures’

Travel is the most private of pleasures. There is no greater bore than the travel bore. We do not in the least want to hear what he has seen in Hong-Kong” said Vita Sackville-West.

Nevertheless, I was happy to see what Steve McCurdy saw in Italy!

This new DVD by McCurdy (the first of his that I’ve seen) is A Year in Italy and is far from being boring. It’s not a guide book or advert telling you where to go and what to see but a series of vignettes of the colours and tastes of Italy – a country I’ve been to three times.

Seems this travel journalist, like me, doesn’t always do the ‘must sees’ of many guide-books, and his comment that he often ‘finds answers to life’s problems when travelling’ resonated with me. I like the spontaneity and unexpected twists that this love story takes. And a love story it is: Steve McCurdy, says he, “like his father, was Italian in another life,’ and this personal montage is homage to Italy – a real celebration of Italian life and whether you have been there or not, I’m sure you too will fall in love with it.

As ‘travel writing’ with a difference, this is not a film to sit and take notes as to where  you may like to go, but one that  offers an overview of scenes, pictures, sounds, and views from a train. I’m sure even Vita Sackville-West would have loved this.

Steve McCurdy began his film and video production career in 1988 after graduating with a B.A. in Broadcast Communications. It seems that since 1994, he has pursued freelance work and started his own company, Creative Light Productions.  Since then he has directed and filmed in over 20 countries. His work, just like this DVD, deals with people, places, cultures and the human experience. He has worked on several short films, and in 2003 completed his first feature travel documentary,

My only negative comments are these. At times the background music refuses to stay in the background and dominates, and secondly, the title is a well overused term, a cliché: Google came up with 185,000,000 sites. And, it was a shame a tour guide was given an advert on what had been ‘guidebook free’ until that point. Quibbles, maybe, but that’s what a review is about . . .  the good, the great,  and the not so good, just like all travel writing should be – an honest appraisal through my eyes.

A Year in Italy will be released today (20th April 2010) and is being distributed by Questar

If travel is a pilgrimage as suggested in this travel story, I’m sure McCurdy plans on  a life of being a pilgrim.

Weka Pass Railway

A trip on the Weka Pass Railway is fun for all the family. Take a trip back through time in this 1880s railway line – through the Weka Pass .. past wonderful limestone formations such as Frog Rock with its tiny station.

Under an hour north of Christchurch, the train climbs over 200 metres during the 13k: the trip takes about two-hours.

Check the webpage  (link above) for the dates and times of its trips  – mostly Sundays and some public holidays.

See this slide show of some of my photos.

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Eclectic choices: pics of some of my favourite buildings in Christchurch

Christchurch Art Gallery
Thai Buddhist Wat
Unused door in historic Provincial Building
Provincial Chambers
Red brick building is the old post office. Cnr building an old movie theatre. All in Cathedral Square

Love the lines in this building
The old boat-sheds