Nepal – The Daily Snapshot, Monday

Pokhara, Nepal, February 2019: Its not only ones spirituality that awakens in the Himalayas but a sense of fun too. Against the magnificent Annapurna backdrop folks can be seen jumping off the hills while others pose for photographs.

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Jumping off a hill, supposedly attached to the parachute! 

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Tibetan Buddhists posing for pictures.

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Nepal – Daily Photo Snapshot, Sunday

Pokhara, Nepal February 2019: When it comes to viewing the Himalayan Mountains, where the required effort is minimal, there’s no better place than the end of Pokhara Airport’s runway 04. As one wakes up to a clear crisp morning, jump on a bus followed with a short walk under the spectacle of a Himalayan sunrise.

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Himalayan Mountains, no effort, no expense!

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Great early morning views for those passengers on this flight to Jomsom.

Travel – Season 9

Nepal, February 2019: Yes, as the title says I’m in my 9th year of travel. For the benefit new readers, It all began in 2011 with a 3 month trip to Goa. Back then I was just the naive British tourist adjusting to the cultural shock-wave that was India. Subsequently the learning curve became easier and the trip began taking on a different dimension. While most where there for a jolly good booze-up by the sea, I began to delve deeper, behind the scenes one could say and thus my thirst for cultural travel was born!

I travel by seasons, choosing to leave England early January returning late July and hopefully arrive to some nice summer weather. In England, I’ll try to earn enough cash so that I can continue travel cycle over again, primarily visiting Asia. This season will focus on 4 weeks in central China, so stay tuned and lets live the adventure together!

Right now I’m in Pokhara Nepal, researching and preparing for my China visit, via Hong Kong from where I hope to pick up my tourist visa. Pokhara is a great place for hanging out. It’s cheap, pretty quiet compared to Kathmandu with a significantly cleaner environment. The scenery isn’t bad either, especially on a clear day where one can see a good portion of the Himalayan mountain range at close quarters.

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Here’s a view of the Annapurna range, easily seen from Pokhara.

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There’s Pokhara City as seen from a nearby hill.

Since I’ve been coming to Pokhara since 2014, there’s little I can write about that hasn’t already been written. While I search for blogging inspiration, I’ll upload some of the views I’ve been seeing over the last few weeks such as those featured above. In the meantime if you have any questions or suggestions on a topic I could look into please don’t be shy at letting me know.

England – Spirit of the Fenlands, Cambridgeshire

England, Autumn 2018: The fens, an expanse of low lying fertile lands extending from the North sea southwest across 3 counties. back in time, before the middle ages infact, the fens were little more than a giant bog of marsh and quicksands with very little value other than producing reeds for roofing materials. Then one day, early 1600’s a group of smart folk had the idea of draining the place to expose the fertile soils from which delicate crops would grow. Their legacy today is a plethora of canals and waterways, pump houses and sluice gates to control the excess waters, much like we would see across the North Sea in Holland. (Google Map)

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Since most of the land around here is below sea level there is a risk of serious flooding. As such some of the major roads are built on raised banks such is this one at Murrow Bank in Cambridgeshire.

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The Fenlands are crisscrossed with a network of waterways and channels ensuring that excess water has a place to flow thus keeping the cultivated fields free from flooding. The channel depicted here would have been constructed sometime in the late middle ages, 1700′ era.

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The Fens, featureless but with big wide open skies.

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On a landscape such as the Fens, one can see a rain shower way ahead of it reaching ones location. This shower is about 20 minutes away!

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Big skies means great sunsets such as this one at Parsons Drove, Cambridgeshire. 

Click the thumbnails for larger, clearer images…

 

England – British Village Snapshots

England, Autumn 2018: Quaint, quiet and historic – descriptions that can be applied to just about any British village or rural settlement. Here in Norfolk, many rural communities find their beginnings way back in the dark ages when life was basic and rudimentary at best, that is unless one was the local farming baron or other form of gentry. Back then, sometime around the 1600’s, farming techniques improved. more of the population had food to eat while the barons had more to sell. Consequently, villages  expanded into cultural centres with its cottages and dwellings often tied to local farms.

Nowadays, Norfolk villages are occupied mostly by the rich – folk from London seeking peace and quiet at weekends. Many rural properties and village dwellings are way off the price range of ordinary folk who are generally forced to move away towards cheaper areas. Here’s  few snapshots of some villages around the rural county of Norfolk, England (Google Map).

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England – Snapshots of Rural Britain

England, Autumn 2018: A series of quick posts depicting rural England. Fields, villages and churches all go to make rural England some of the most enchanting spots on the planet! The images here are all taken in my home county of Norfolk (Google Map) where we have a diverse landscape of forest, low lying marshlands and an extensive coastline.

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Steams away: A steam train speeds through the English countryside harking back to the days when public transport linking towns and villages consisted of an extensive railway network, driven on coal and steam power. This train is maintained and operated by a group of enthusiasts who run the line from the seaside town of Sherringham, North Norfolk. During Summer the line is open for tourists rides and those seeking a nostalgic experience on the North Norfolk Railway.

 

 

 

 

Photography Like A Pro With A Canon Compact

England, Autumn 2018: I’m definitely no pro when it comes to photography that’s for sure but thanks technological advances over recent years just about anyone can take a half decent picture, yes, even me!

While the pro’s will run around dragging bags of heavy and expensive kit behind them, amateurs like me will find that a simple point and shoot compact will do a pretty decent job – even ones mobile phone will take a nice neat wide angle photo with crisp, clear results.

Over recent years I’ve been drawn to brands such as Panasonic, Fuji and more recently Canon. Canon compacts are slightly more expensive but have the edge when it comes to quality. Their feature packed cameras will make any amateur pass as a decent photographer.

The photo’s presented throughout this blog are the product of a Canon compact, the SX710 HS. Light weight, small enough to carry around in ones pocket and with around 300 clicks on a single battery charge, its the ideal companion to record those unique travel  adventures.

Here’s a look at the Canon SX710 HS…

 

 

How to make those amateur photos look professional

While the base image from the Canon compact is pretty good in itself more often than not there’s room for some improvements. A little lighter, more colour and perhaps a bit sharper too, especially if the photo was taken on a dull day, as it often was in Hong Kong! Here’s how I achieve the images you see throughout this blog.

Take the photo…

  1. I’ll keep things simple by using the cameras AUTO function – good for landscapes and still or very slow moving objects. Good for close ups of bugs and flowers to.
  2. For fast moving subjects such as aircraft, birds or snakes I’ll turn the dial to the SPORTS function and just click once the image is focused.

Edit the photo…

  1. To post edit images I use a program called IFRAN VIEW. A powerful and free image editing tool to enhance original photos.
  2. first, zoom in to fill the laptop screen and SAVE AS. Next, AUTO ADJUST COLOURS and finally SHARPEN. Now the resulting image should be something half decent!

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Further editing…

In low light conditions or if I’ve been a little to enthusiastic with the digital zoom, images may show some graininess, also referred to as noise, especially in close-ups. To fix this I use another free editing program called Photoscape which has a function to smooth out grainy photos.

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Here’s a few before and after images to illustrate the above.

 

 

 

So, with a cheap camera and some free software one can attain some professional looking images even if one lacks the technical knowledge and know how! Ideal for web pages and blogs where images can be small in size, where a  high resolution is not a necessity.

Nepal – Flying Home, Sector 4 The Last Hop

Schipol Airport, Amsterdam, Netherlands: Its been a very long day having left Kathmandu about 16 hours ago flying home to Norwich England via 2 airports. The sun sets across continental Europe as we board the bus transporting passengers bound for Norwich to the remotely parked aircraft. Its a KLM City Hopper Embraer 195, a relatively small plane seating about 50 passengers and used extensively on the short city routes such aa this 35 minute hop across the north sea to Norwich. Yes, soon I shall be home, exhausted but relieved to be sleeping in my own bed for the first time in 7 months.

Nothing to see from the windows on this flight because its almost dark, after being delayed on the ramp for about 20 minutes – waiting for the co-pilot to turn up apparently! And so that draws to a conclusion my travels for 2018. Over the next few days I’ll reflect on the highs and lows, the good, bad and the ugly aspects of traveling across Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, Malaysia, and Singapore.

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KLM Embraer landing at Norwich some time later of course!

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Short hop across the North Sea

Nepal – Flying Home With Buddha Air, Turkish Airlines and KLM, Sector 3

Istanbul, Turkey, July 2018: In a couple of hours flight number 3, but first we have to navigate Istanbul Airports international terminal which can best be described as organised chaos! The place is clearly to small for the number of passengers here on this Friday afternoon. Big queues at the transit security check but at least its moving -about 30 minutes here, in a slow shuffle towards the screening belt and metal detector booth. Once through the formalities one is free to roam around the place and figure out directions to the next departure gate and Turkish Airlines flight 1953. Regular flyers to Istanbul may be pleased to know that a new airport will open in October, theoretically making the Istanbul transit a somewhat more pleasant experience, but for now one will just have to suffer with the congestion – in the terminal and on the tarmac.

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A Congested Istanbul Airport, little room to spare on the taxi way!

Sector 3 is just a short flight, about 2 hours and 50 minutes to Amsterdam. The aircraft slowly inches towards the runway joining the long Friday afternoon departures queue –  40 minutes before the plane actually reaches the number one spot for take off. So, as this penultimate flight to Norwich England lifts off Ataturk’s runway seventeen left, one gets the sense that in a few hours trip 2018 will really all be over.

Sadly solid cloud cover prevents any good photos of the Central European landscape as the plane sets course for Amsterdam’s Schipol airport, so lets just eat delicious pasta, take a nap and wake up near our destination in about 2 hours.

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Building storms over Greece

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Approaching Amsterdam from Lelystad

Passing around the Northern tip of Amsterdam, a city easily recognisable from its plethora of canals and waterways, and of course windmills. So, as the aircraft twists and turns its way onto the final approach here’s the view from a left side window seat.

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Welcome to Amsterdam Schipol Airport, Netherlands, Europe.

The last sector, a short 35 minute hop across the North sea in  about 2 hours. For now we leave Turkish Airlines for this trip and transfer to KLM for the flight to Norwich and home! Yes, after leaving Kathmandu about 13 hours ago, the end is almost upon us. First grab my boarding pass from the self -check-in kiosk then its another round of security checks. No queuing this time since I’m the only one present in the giant security hall! I’ve traveled through Schipol plenty of times over the years and its always been a pleasurable experience. Quick and easy formalities every time, plenty to eat from a huge choice of foods and of course good coffee – but its not cheap. However, they will take credit cards so one can forget about the cost. for a month at least.