Vietnamese woman Rowing tourists part karst formations, Vung Vieng, Bai Tu Long Bay, Vietnam

Rowing in the Rain
People from Vung Vieng fishing village in Bai Tu Long Bay in North Vietnam supplement their income by rowing tourists around the waters.

It’s mesmerising: sitting in a rustic wooden boat, gliding across pristine emerald waters through a jaw-dropping karst landscape while listening to the gentle splash of the rhythmic rowing. The tops of the mountains are shrouded in cloud as a gentle rain falls.

Bai Tu Long Bay in North Vietnam was designated a National Park in 2001. It adjoins the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Halong Bay to the south, and all the tourism there operates with one eye on a UNESCO-auspiced management plan.

Vung Vieng Village, in the heart of Bai Tu Long Bay, is one of four small fishing villages in the area. Home to more than 60 families, it has become a model for eco-tourism development in the vicinity.

Originally, the families of the illiterate fisher-people in this region lived in the many caves that dot the surrounding limestone karst cliffs. Generations ago, however, the people were moved into small villages of floating homes as part of the establishment of the Ba Mun National Conservation Zone. A floating school was established for the children, but attendance rates were problematic, so children now attend a compulsory boarding school on the mainland, some 24 kilometres away.

Traditionally, the floating villages were extremely poor, with their only income for food, fuel and potable water, coming from fishing. With the help of the management planning organisation, tourism operators, and other external funding, this is gradually changing. Managed fish-farming, pearl cultivation, and eco-tourism has helped these villages generate a sustainable income and has raised local awareness of environmental protection issues.

Not only do tourist operators pay for the almost-daily row boats (like the ones we were in, operated by the Vung Vieng-based Van Chai-Ha Long Rowing Boat Cooperative) to ferry visitors around the sights, but they also pay for collected rubbish, helping to keep the waters cleaner.

It’s a win-win, really.

Female rower sitting in a wooden boat, Vung Vieng, Bai Tu Long Bay, Vietnam

Wooden Row Boat
Our tender drops us off on a tourist dock where local rowers collect us for our morning tour of Vung Vieng.

Male rower in a wooden boat, Vung Vieng, Bai Tu Long Bay, Vietnam

Our Rower
Fortunately, the rowers are brightly dressed, because the morning is rainy and grey.

Colourful floating houses of Vung Vieng Village, Bai Tu Long Bay, Vietnam

Vung Vieng Village
The floating houses of Vung Vieng Village are clean and colourful.

Wooden Row Boat on Vung Vieng waters, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Wooden Row Boat
Tourist are expected to wear their life-jackets, as they are rowed …

Vung Vieng House, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Vung Vieng House
… past the simple wooden houses, sitting on their floating pontoons.

Colourful floating houses of Vung Vieng Village, Bai Tu Long Bay, Vietnam

Vung Vieng House
The houses may be simple, but they sit against a stunning karst landscape.

Wooden Row Boat on Vung Vieng waters, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Row Boat on Vung Vieng
I think the oars are made from bamboo. I would have thought that a wider design would have made rowing easier, but even the slightly-built Vietnamese women seemed to have no difficulty rowing us around. All the boats have the nets on the back for rubbish: to encourage them to be more mindful of litter, boat operators are paid for all the garbage they collect.

Limestone rock Bridge and Reflections in green water, Vung Vieng waters, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Rock-Bridge Reflections
Each of our boats takes us under the limestone bridge in turns, so that we might admire the workings of eons of erosion.

Wooden Row Boats on Vung Vieng waters, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Rowing in the Rain
We huddle under our conical woven bamboo hats as the horizon fades off into the rain and mist.

Pearl Farm buoys, Vung Vieng, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Pearl Farm
Soon, the oyster- and pearl-farm comes into view.

Pearl Farm buoys, Vung Vieng, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Vung Vieng Oyster Farm
The buoys that the oysters are suspended from stretch off into the distance.

Rowing into the Vung Vieng Pearl Farm, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Rowing into the Vung Vieng Pearl Farm

Oysters in a basket suspended in water, Vung Vieng Pearl Farm, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Oyster Farm
We are deposited on the floating dock at the pearl farm.

Beautiful young Vietnamese woman, Vung Vieng, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Sales Attendant
The gift shop has attendants ready to sell us luminous cultured pearls. I managed to resist the jewellery, but I couldn’t resist this smile.

Tourists watch as a Vietnamese man Seeds Oysters, Vung Vieng, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Seeding Pearls
Inside the workshop, the visiting tourists watch as oysters are prised open …

Pearl-Seeding Equipment, Vung Vieng, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Pearl-Seeding Equipment
… and nucleus pearls are embedded for cultivation.

A Vietnamese man Seeds Oysters, Vung Vieng, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Seeding Oysters
It is fiddly and pains-taking work.

A plastic tray of Oysters, Vung Vieng, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Oysters
Vung Vieng Pearl Farm cultivates three different types of pearls, which take between one and four years to grow to maturity.

Karst Islets almost hidden by fog, Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Foggy Islands
It was a short row back to our boat, where we packed up our cabin in preparation for lunch and departure. The world around us disappeared into the February fog.

Smiling Vietnamese boat captain, , Bai Tu Long Bay Vietnam

Captain Nguyen
Our captain popped into the crowded dining room to wish us bon voyage…

Boats soon a foggy Into Hon Gai Harbour, Halong, Vietnam

Into Hon Gai Harbour
… before we cruised back into harbour.

Tour Boats in a foggy Hon Gai Harbour, Halong, Vietnam

Into Hon Gai Harbour
The weather deteriorated further …

Mooring Ropes, Hon Gai Harbour, Halong, Vietnam

On the Ropes
… as we waited for our tender and headed back to shore.

Bai Tu Long Bay is a unique and wonderful place. I was there with my husband because we had heard negative reports about the overcrowding on Halong Bay itself; I hope the eco-tourism model provided by Vung Vieng allows the traditional people there to determine their own futures, while preserving their past and guarding their precious environment – for all of us.

Text: Safe SailingUntil next time,

Happy Sailing!

Pictures: 22February2016

An unmarried Himba Male on the banks of the Kunene River, Namibia

Unmarried Himba Male
Travel dreams are made of this! A young man from the Himba tribe rests on the beautiful banks of the Kunene River: the river that serves as a boundary between Namibia and neighbouring Angola.

It was a beautiful scene: the red, rocky banks on the Angolan shore of  Kunene River contrasting with the rushing green waters and the sandy foreshore on the Namibian side. A young man, recognisable as an unmarried Himba by his hairstyle, sat on a rock, stick in hand.

It was, of course, a constructed image, not a “found” one.

One of the luxuries of being part of a photo-group is that someone else has done a lot of the homework: I was on the banks of the Kunene River in Namibia, a short walk from our campsite at Epupa, with photographer Ben McRae, local guide Morne Griffiths, and a small group of photography enthusiasts. Two young Himba men had been hired to come along as models. It was late afternoon, and the African sun was still hot and jagged, but we were going to work at shooting portraits with Ben’s soft-boxes and off-camera flashes.

We’d had a practice session in the morning: shooting pictures of each other while telling Pedro Ferrão Patrício from Photoburst where to place the equipment in relation to our subjects. I’ve never had much joy with my own flash, and because of the weight, generally just leave it at home. So, it was a lot of fun working with equipment someone else had carried and with willing subjects.

Join me for a “model shoot” in the northern-most reaches of Namibia.

Photographer Ben McRae, Namibia

Photographer Ben McRae
Ben’s not crazy about having his picture made, but it’s only fair that he have his turn! Mid-morning, he set up the lights and reflectors in a picnic shelter, and we worked against a stone wall.

Namibian Guide Morne Griffiths, Epupa

Namibian Guide Morne
Looking a bit like an ad for polo shirts, Morne takes his turn in front of the lights.

Himba men walking away, Epupa Namibia

In Search of a Location
Late afternoon we set off: two young Himba men in traditional dress and an older Himba man, local guide Tom, who would act as our translator.

Himba man seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Himba Guide Tom
Generally, Himba choose to adhere to their rather austere traditional lifestyle. As a guide, Tom has a foot in both camps. He talks to us about the cultural practices of his people.

Two young Himba men flanked by visitors, Kunene River, Namibia

Unpacking the Gear
Our Himba models wait patiently while Ben sets out his equipment.

Young Himba Male seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Young Himba Male
Like other Himba, this young man is rather vague about how old he is: years are described by discrete events (e.g.: “the year of the late storms”) rather than numbers, and age is relevant only with respect to puberty and marriage.

Young Himba Male seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Young Himba Male
We guess him to be about 17.

Young Himba Male seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Young Himba Male
We know he is unmarried by his hairstyle: a single braided plait sculpted to the back of his head.

Outdoor photoshoot with a Himba subject, Kunene River, Namibia

Making the Shot
We take turns working with the young men as Ben moves the lighting around on command.

Young Himba Male seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Young Himba Male
Our young subject has a cheeky, intelligent face.

Young Himba Male seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Young Himba Male
He speaks little or no English, and I can find out nothing about him, except that he loves soccer – as, it seems, do most young men his age around the world.

Young Himba Male seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Unmarried Himba Man
Our other subject is older – we guess around 25. He is due to get married (into an arranged marriage) “soon”. Himba men

Unmarried Himba Man seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Unmarried Himba Male
His smile clearly shows the filed gap in his front teeth: Himba children have their front bottom teeth (incisors) knocked out and the two top front teeth filed into an upside-down “V”. It hurts just thinking about it!

Unmarried Himba Man seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Unmarried Himba Man
We think the young men are related: cousins or brothers, …

Unmarried Himba Man seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Unmarried Himba Man
… but they are not local, so Tom is not really sure.

Unmarried Himba Man standing over the Kunene River, Namibia

Hairstyle
As the day grows late, the colours of the river deepen. I make a photo from behind, hoping to catch that wonderful thatch of hair.

Portrait of an Unmarried Himba Man seated on a rock, Kunene River, Namibia

Himba Man

Himba man in late Afternoon on the Kunene River, Namibia

Afternoon Lights
The shadows lengthen as the afternoon closes into evening over the Kunene River 

Himba man in late Afternoon on the Kunene River, Namibia

Himba Man
… until the ambient light is almost gone.

Himba Man at Rest in sand, Kunene River, Namibia

Himba Man at Rest
The lights are packed up and it is time to go – but I can’t resist one last shot, made in the dim twilight of a long African day.

I walked back to camp with the two young men, who were eager to get going, as they had more than an hour’s walk ahead of them to their final destination, and the light was falling fast. We picked our way carefully over the jagged rocks in the dimming twilight.

Text: Take only PicturesAs we came near Epupa Falls on the Kunene River, the older of the two stopped, stretched his hand over the scene, and said to me: “Beautiful.”

It might have been the only English word he knew, but really, what else needed to be said?

Until next time! 

Photographs: 18August2015

View across Kanaka Bay, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Kanaka Bay, Newcastle Island
You could be miles away from anyone – except for the giant BC Ferry transporting cars and boats across the horizon.

Getting out and about in the “wilds” of Canada’s Vancouver Island is always such a joy.

Truthfully, we are not really in the wilderness; we’re parked on a dock with two pubs and two restaurants within walking distance. Hardly roughing it! But as our ability to access internet has been patchy at best, I do feel a bit disconnected from the rest of the world.

I also feel as if my cameras are being a bit neglected. We’ve been on and around the water a lot, which is always wonderful, but when it comes to dragging SLR cameras and lenses onto a small dinghy or into a kayak – both at reasonable risk of being swapped by rolling salty Pacific waters – I’m less than keen.

So, I’m giving the iPhone a bit of a workout. I find the restrictions challenging, but, as a friend of mine says: “Love the camera you are with!”

Newcastle Island is a Provincial Marine Park just across the water from Nanaimoaccessible by public ferry or private boat.

Last month, my husband and I rowed our dinghy across Newcastle Channel to walk the network of trails on the island. This month, we kayaked around it, stopping for lunch in a rocky bay.

Join me for an iPhone visit.

Totem Pole against a blue sky, Newcastle Island, BC

“Welcome to Saysutshun – Au’ si:em siyeyu
Once known as Saysutshun, Newcastle Island was a seasonal fishing site for the Snuneymuxw people of the Coast Salish group. Today, Snuneymuxw First Nation people lead numerous cultural activities in the park.

Looking over the rough bark of an Arbutus tree to Nanaimo boat docks, Newcastle Island, BC

Arbutus Bark
Newcastle Island was named after the famous mining town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England when coal was discovered here in 1849. Today, the island is covered in trees: arbutus, fir, cedar, maple and oak, among others.

Trail Markers, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Trail Markers
Walking around the island is a pleasure: the trails are well marked, and mostly soft underfoot from fallen pine and fir needles.

View over the sailboats moored on Mark Bay, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Mark Bay
All types of boats are moored in the protection of Mark Bay.

Old Quarry, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Old Quarry
From the late 1800s, Newcastle Island was a source of architectural sandstone for large buildings (see: Walks in the Woods), and from the 1920s, pulp stones were quarried for the pulp and paper industry.

Pile of Pulp Stones, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Pulp Stones
It took cylindrical cutters about three hours to carve out each pulp stone. A small amount of gunpowder blasted the cut stone loose, and it was lifted out with a derrik.

View over Pulp Stones to Mark Bay, Newcastle Island, BC

Pulp Stones
The stones were smoothed with a a lathe; the finished products weighed about 1800 kilos each.

Black Tailed Deer, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Black Tailed Deer
The island is home to beavers (which we haven’t seen), golden raccoons (which we only see when the cameras are in wet-bags!), and dainty black tailed deer.

Light Falling on on Cedar branches, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

“Light Falling on Cedars”

Yellow Lilies on Mallard Lake , Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Lilies on the Lake
Mallard Lake in the middle of the island was originally built as a reservoir; today it is a wildlife sanctuary, complete with elusive beavers.

Path through a conifer forest , Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Into the Woods
Pathways of dappled light surrounded by the wonderful smell of cedar and fir are a treat for walkers.

Looking Up conifer stems to the sunlight, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Look Up!

Leaves and Moss, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

The Forest Floor

Dinghy on rocks, obscured by trees, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Dinghy Below
We tied the dinghy up carefully on the rocky shore when we arrived, before scrambling up the hill to the trails.

Dinghy sitting on rocks, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Dinghy Stranded
When we returned after walking eight kilometres of trails, the dinghy was high on the rocks and had to be carried back to water.

Kayaker and Aircraft Warning sign, Newcastle Channel, BC Canada

Aircraft Warning
There’s not a lot of opportunity to take photos when you are watching for incoming sea planes!

View over the Sandy Flats of Kanaka Bay at low tide , Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Sandy Flats
This beautifully calm bay was named for a Kanaka – a Hawaiian immigrant labourer – who was found guilty of murdering his partner, and who was hung and buried here. They say his ghost still lurks.

Kayaks at Low Tide on Kanaka Bay, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Kayaks at Low Tide
We have a knack! We didn’t spend too long over lunch, but the tide had moved out a long way by the time we finished.

Portaging kayaks, Kanaka Bay, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Portage
We had to portage over quite an expanse of wet sand before continuing around the island.

Sunlight on waves of sand and sewed in water, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Almost Abstract: Seaweed and Ripples in the Sun

Purple Starfish, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Purple Starfish

Great Blue Heron, Newcastle Island, BC Canada

Great Blue Heron
A great blue heron watched us make our way between Newcastle and Protection Islands before we paddled back into Newcastle Channel and home. Nanaimo sits on the other side of the waterway.

Text: Happy Rambles, Ursula :-)

Green trees, waterways, and sunny days ~

Can’t be beat.

Happy Rambles!

Pictures: 26June2016 and 06July2016

Elle King, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Elle King in Blues
If you aren’t already familiar with the powerhouse rockabilly vocals of Elle King, you soon will be. Since watching her perform her catchy breakout hit “Ex’s & Oh’s” at Byron Bay Bluesfest in March this year, I have heard it on the radio in four different countries!

One of the many joys of the annual Easter long-weekend Byron Bay Bluesfest in coastal-eastern Australia is having talented performers from around the world brought to our doorstep. Some are musicians we have known and loved much of our lives; others are fresh young faces with edgy new material see:. Sometimes they bring with them music and songs we are hearing for the first time; other times they perform familiar old favourites.

They come from the four corners of our ever-shrinking world, bringing international flavour to traditional blues and roots music; they speak to us, through their notes and lyrics, of their personal pains and of the human condition; they make us dance and laugh and cry, and bring us joy.

Join me for an international smörgåsbord of sounds, represented in pictures.

JJ Julius Son and Kaleo, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

JJ Julius Son (Jökull Júlíusson) and Kaleo
The Icelandic indie-blues rock band Kaleo was a crisp breath of Arctic air; these young friends garnered numerous music awards in their home country before moving to Austin, Texas to launch their international career.

Elle King, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Elle King
American singer, songwriter, and actress Elle King is larger than life on stage. I get the impression from interviews (e.g.: Billboard on Ex’s and Oh’s) that her personality is just as big off-stage!

Raw Earth, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Raw Earth
Francis Chan Hon Pan wails a tune; Raw Earth from Singapore with their funky take on traditional blues is always a crowd-pleaser.

Irish Mythen, , Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Irish Mythen
From one side of the Atlantic to the other: Irish Mythen, a singer-songwriter born and raised in County WexfordIreland, and now based in Canada’s tiny Prince Edward Island, brought her irreverent humour, her original songs (for a sound clip, visit: Irish Pewter and Whiskey), and her infectious laughter to Bluesfest. The audience loved her.

Irish Mythen and Joey Landreth, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Irish Mythen and Joey Landreth
Festivals are a great meeting-place: Joey Landreth from The Bros. Landreth, based in Winnipeg, half-way across a very big country, joined Prince Edward Island-based Irish Mythen on stage for an impromptu duet.

Ziek McCarter of Con Brio

Ziek McCarter of Con Brio
On the Con Brio web page, Ziek McCarter talks about his father, an Army vet who died at the hands of police in east Texas in 2011, and about his decision to let the pain and anger be in the past, and to make music that lifts people up.

Ziek McCarter of Con Brio, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Ziek McCarter of Con Brio
And lift you up, he does! He sings with passion: songs of joy and life with infectious, danceable beats.

Ziek McCarter of Con Brio, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Ziek McCarter of Con Brio
I was exhausted after the set from just watching; he was irrepressible: all over the stage, performing gymnastic dance moves.

Grace Potter, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Grace Potter
Described as “one hot sister of Rock”, the multi-platinum Grammy-award winning Grace Potter is a feast for the eyes and ears.

Grace Potter, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Grace Potter
An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Grace delivered thumping, pounding, bad-girl rock with attitude.

Grace Potter, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Grace Potter
Grace reminded me of Stevie Nicks, who was once described as “the expression of the female spirit through booming amplifiers”.

Blind Boys of Alabama, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Blind Boys of Alabama
At the other end of the blues-and-roots spectrum, the Blind Boys of Alabama perform American gospel.

Joey Williams, Blind Boys of Alabama, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Joey Williams – Blind Boys of Alabama

Angus R Grant with Shooglenifty, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Shooglenifty
Shooglenifty delivered infectious toe-tapping laughter-producing Celtic-influenced music.

Angus R Grant with Shooglenifty, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Angus R Grant with Shooglenifty
“Snake-hipped fiddle-toting Highland front man Angus R Grant still rules the roost…”

Kaela Rowan with Shooglenifty, , Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Kaela Rowan with Shooglenifty
The band was joined by Celtic singer Kaela Rowan whose angelic vocals moved me to tears – and tears of laughter.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real
Mesmerising! I was so taken with American “cowboy hippy surf rocker” Lucas Nelson and his band Promise of the Real (POTR) that I saw them twice over the long weekend (see: Musical Roots).

Duncan Campbell and UB40, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Duncan Campbell and UB40
Multiculturalism at its best: the long-standing reggae band UB40, from Birmingham in the UK, started in 1978 with musicians of English, Irish, Jamaican, Scottish and Yemeni parentage.

Earl Falconer and UB40, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Earl Falconer and UB40
Started by a group of friends from a working-class neighbourhood, the band used to practice in a local basement. Earl Falconer was one of those founding members.

Duncan and Robin Campbell, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Duncan and Robin Campbell
Robin Campbell was another founding member. In 2008, after the departure of lead singer (and brother) Ali Campbell, another brother, Duncan, joined the lineup. UB40 has had more than 50 hit singles in the UK, and many around the world. I was personally horrified when they turned Neil Diamond’s mournful song “Red Red Wine” into an up-beat dance tune, but Neil didn’t seem to mind when it became a Billboard Hot 100 number one hit, and now performs their version in concerts.

Tenzin Choegyal, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Tenzin Choegyal
It doesn’t get much more international – or gently political – than a displaced Tibetan singing plaintive stories of longing for his lost homeland. Tenzin Choegyal’s voice made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up; his stories brought tears to my heart. (For a sound clip, visit: Boomerang Festival.)

Taj Mahal, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal’s webpage call’s him an “International Treasure”. I won’t disagree: he’s been a Bluesfest regular (see: Singin’ The Blues), and I’m not the only one who loves him!

Beach Boys, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Beach Boys
Much as I loved the Beach Boys in when I was in school slow dancing with some short guy to “Surfer Girl”, they seemed an odd choice for Bluesfest. Clearly, however, the crowd loved them, and forgave the ageing vocals.

Fantastic Negrito, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Fantastic Negrito
Now, this is the real deal! “Fantastic Negrito” is the stage name for Xavier Dphrepaulezz, an American musician who has faced death twice and come through it to say “I play what and how I want to!”

Fantastic Negrito, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Fantastic Negrito
His performance is passionate and personal as he strips himself bare – open to compassion and/or ridicule.

Tom Jones, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Tom Jones
Tom Jones was another artist, who – much as I might appreciate him – didn’t fit my view of “Bluesfest” … but he was FABULOUS. For me, a lover of Leonard Cohen, Sir Tom’s version of “Tower of Song” was a high point. In another festival impromptu moment, he had the Blind Boys of Alabama join him in performing “Didn’t it Rain”.

 Blackberry Smoke, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Blackberry Smoke
In spite of the Sir Tom Jones star-power, Tennessee “Southern Rock” band Blackberry Smoke still drew an enthusiastic crowd for their fourth set of the weekend.

The Selector, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

The Selector
We finished up our Bluesfest with The Selector from Coventry, England.

Pauline Black, The Selector, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Pauline Black
Smart and sassy, the group mix ska rhythms…

Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson, The Selector, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson
with style and punk rock attitude.

It’s hard to imagine a more eclectic and international mix of fabulous music – I loved every minute of it.

Text: Let

As Stevie Wonder once said:

“Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.”

May it bring us all closer together together in these increasingly troubled times.

Statue of Bruce Lee on the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Bruce Lee
Hong Kong – American martial artist Bruce Lee was raised in Kowloon. Credited with changing the way Asians are portrayed in American films and considered one of the most influential martial artists of all time, Lee is a local hero and has a prominent statue on the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui. (11March2011)

Hong Kong has to be one of my favourite cities. The harbour, the skyline, the street markets, the parks, the culture, the shopping…

Exotic and “oriental” while having all the familiar comforts of a large cosmopolitan city, Hong Kong buzzes with excitement, oozes with money, and, at the same time, feels accessible and safe.

This sense of safety is important, as every time I’ve visited the Hong Kong area, I have spent considerable time wandering the streets alone while my husband is in meetings somewhere-or-other.

On my last visit, we stayed on the Kowloon side of the beautiful Victoria Harbour, in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). Billed as a “giant world bazaar”, the district is a major tourist hub, with international hotels, shops and restaurants. But, it is also home to many galleries, museums, and beautiful outdoor areas, including the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade along the harbour. We were just across the road from the Hong Kong Museum of Art (closed from 3 August 2015 for approximately three years for renovations), where I was able to amble around the sculptures in the forecourt.

Tsim Sha Tsui Street, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Tsim Sha Tsui Street
The streets around the southern end of Kowloon are busy, but orderly. English sign-posting in central tourist areas makes navigation reasonably easy.

Hong Kong Taxi, Tsim Sha Tsui Street, Kowloon

Hong Kong Taxi
Cabs are easy to come by, and regulated – so there is no haggling over fares.

Dinosaur, Hong Kong Science Museum forecourt, TST, Kowloon

Daxiatitan Binglingi
I took myself to a photographic exhibition (No pictures allowed!) at the Hong Kong Museum of History. The neighbouring Science Museum was still playing host to “Legends of the Giant Dinosaurs”, so various animatronics graced the courtyard.

Portrait of a female Security Guard, Hong Kong Museum of History, TST, Kowloon

Security Guard
The dinosaurs had attracted crowds of families; the entry area to Hong Kong Museum of History was much quieter!

Orchid Flower in a bauhinia × blakeana tree

Orchid Flower
Bauhinia × blakeana, commonly called the Hong Kong Orchid Tree is the floral emblem of Hong Kong and blooms all over the city – including in front of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Bruce Lee Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Bruce Lee
… where another statue of Bruce Lee welcomes visitors to the “Bruce Lee: Kung Fu ‧ Art ‧ Life” exhibition which examines his cultural influence, as well as his martial arts and film legacy.

Bird in Frangipani tree, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Bird in the Frangipani
There are green places all over the city. Back near the waterfront, the birds are noisy in the gardens. I think this is a Yellow Wagtail.

Water drop (Heaven) by Danny Lee, TST Hong Kong

“Waterdrop”
Representing “Heaven”, this sculpture by local artist Danny Lee is part of the first-ever outdoor exhibition in the Art Square in the the Salisbury Garden.

Big Apple sculpture (Earth) by Kum Chi-Keung

“Big Apple”
This giant green apple by Hong Kong artist Kum Chi-Keung is the “Earth” part of the “Heaven, Earth and Man – A Hong Kong Art Exhibition” concept.

Happy Folks II (Man) by Rosanna Li Wei-han

Happy Folks II
Leading Hong Kong ceramic artist, Rosanna Li Wei-Han, was chosen to depict “Man”. Two groupings of her plump and fleshy figurines took their space in the Art Square. (iPhone4S)

Ju Ming sculptured figures Parachuting over the Hong Kong Museum of Art TST

Parachutes
The “Ju Ming – Sculpting the Living World” exhibition overlapped with the “Heaven, Earth and Man” exhibition.

Blocky Ju Ming sculpture of Children balancing on a Wall, Hong Kong Museum of Art TST

Ju Ming – Children on a Wall
Charming, blocky pieces by the renowned Taiwanese sculptor were all around the Hong Kong Museum of Art. (iPhone4S)

Ju Ming

Ju Ming – Resting
The pieces seem to invite “audience participation” …

Ju Ming

Ju Ming – Lining Up
… as young and old work their way around the sculpted figures…

Ju Ming

Ju Ming – Umbrellas
… and have their pictures taken with them. This was the Taiwanese artist’s first large-scale solo exhibition in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Waterfront under cloud from TST, Kowloon

Hong Kong Waterfront
Low clouds rolls in over Hong Kong on the other side of Victoria Harbour. I’m sure it is not always overcast in Hong Kong – but it always is when I visit! (iPhone4S)

Young Couple watching a large pink paddle boat, Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

Young Couple
A young couple on a day out watch the boats on Victoria Harbour

Young Couple on Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

Young Couple on Victoria Harbour
… then check the photos they have taken.

Hong Kong Film Awards statue against a cloudy sky, Avenue of Stars, TSM Hong Kong

Hong Kong Film Awards
For a long time, Hong Kong had the third-largest motion picture industry in the world, and it still has a distinctive and prominent place in international cinema. The Avenue of Stars along the harbour front celebrates the industry. This 4.5 meter tall statue of Film Awards trophy stands at the entrance.

Statue of a Lighting Man, Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Lighting Man
Bronze lights, cameras, and actors line the waterfront …

Young boy putting his hands on the Handprints, Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Handprints
… while visitors look for the handprints of their favourite Hong-Kong cinema stars. (11March2011)

Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan’s Star
Another local hero is actor, martial artist, film director, producer, stuntman, and singer: Jackie Chan. I admit it: I did try the hands on for size! 😀 (11March2011)

Text: Keep smilingHong Kong is always a pleasure; the sculptures made it a real joy.

Until next time,

Keep smiling!

Pictures: 11March2011 and 30March2014