A Glimpse of Lhokseumawe

View of an intersection from Hotel Harun Square

Stayed for two nights at Lhokseumawe before catching the flight home in Medan.  It was planned because  I was just curious.  I had been hearing the name for a long while.  Here are some pictures of the small town by the sea from my small walk around.

Finally, a photograph of the Islamic Centre in Lhokseumawe.  It made my day, because of its spacious ground that didn’t restrict my movements playing with the Samyang shift lens.  I took shots of this building left, right and centre.

 

Banda Aceh: Icons Of The Tsunami & Some Street Photos

The Grand Mosque, Masjid BaiturRahman – House of The Mercy Mosque became a sanctuary when it happened

It has been more than a decade since the destruction caused by the tsunami that hit Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh Province, Indonesia. Life goes on. The city has been rebuilt and looks like any other city in Indonesia. Some scars still remain though. Not only as a reminder, but some, for its exceptionally withstanding the brunt of the force of the wall of water. They are now icons of the tsunami. I am sure there are many, but five of them are now very popular as tourist attractions.

I visited four of them. I missed the dome of a mosque that was swept more than twenty kilometres away inland and stranded in a paddy field.

Masjid BaiturRahim – House of The Merciful Mosque lies near the shore at Ulee Lheue

Masjid Rahmatullah – The Mercy of Allah Mosque at Lampuuk not far away from the shore. I was told that the water reached the dome

This is an electric generator on a barge

A stark contrast of a boat not on water but on a roof of what used to be a house

 

Here are some street photos.

Takengon – Tanah Dataran Tinggi Gayo

Berada di kabupaten (perbandaran kiranya di Malaysia) Aceh Tengah, Takengon adalah salah-satu kecamatan (daerah) di kabupaten ini. Terletak pada ketinggian 1200m dari paras laut, ia dikenali juga dengan nama julukan Tanah Dataran Tinggi Gayo. Untuk sampai ke Takengon, banyak khidmat jalan darat yang disediakan oleh berbagai-bagai perusahaan perjalanan di kota Medan. Jalan-jalan di pergunungan tidaklah luas dan tidak pula mendatar serta berliku-liku, oleh itu, digunakan van untuk perjalanan siang hari dan bas pula digunakan untuk perjalanan malam hari. Pergi saja ke Jalan Gajahmada, Medan, di sana terdapat banyak loket-loket (kaunter) untuk pembelian tiket bus atau van ke Takengon. Perjalanan udara dari Kota Medan ke Bener Meriah, daerah yang bersebelahan dengan daerah Takengon, baharu sahaja diadakan. Buat masa sekarang, hanya Wings Air sahaja yang mengadakan perkhidmat penerbangan ini. Untuk keterangan lanjut, sila cari atas talian.

Bandar Takengon letaknya di pinggir barat sebuah tasik yang bernama Danau Lut Tawar (Danau Laut Tawar – Adalah lebih baik jika namanya Danau Laut Air Tawar, kerana air yang ditawar itu obat/penawar, semoga sihat sesiapa yang meminum airnya, jauh dari membuat tawar hati). Ia tidaklah begitu besar. Kalau tidak ada masalah kesihatan, boleh saja keliling kota ini dengan berjalan kaki.  Pada mereka yang mempunyai semangat ‘adventurism’ yang tinggi dan mempunyai banyak waktu, teruskanlah berjalan kaki mengelilingi danau Lut Tawar. Cuma hati-hati di jalan kerana ia tidak mempunyai kaki-lima (ruang) untuk pejalan kaki. Boleh juga gunakan khidmat becak motor.

Penginapan boleh dipesan atas talian. Saya telah membuat ‘booking’ melalui sesawang Agoda untuk dua malam di Hotel Bunda. Hotel yang sederhana tetapi sangat memuaskan dari segi hidangan sarapannya, tempat terletaknya hotel ini yang agak ‘central’ (boleh melihat pemandangan sekitaran bandar Takengon dan danau dari atas bumbong hotel), cafe dan rumah makan bersebelahan, dan kedai untuk top-up kartu prabayar berada di seberang jalan. Tidak lupa juga terminal bus dan van yang tidak begitu jauh. Saya telah berjalan kaki ke sana untuk membeli tiket perjalanan saya selanjutnya.

Cuaca di Takengon sejuk tetapi tidaklah keterlaluan. Akan lebih terasa pada malam hari dan pada awal pagi, lebih lagi terasa apabila ditiup angin. Gabungan hawa sejuk ini dan tanah yang subur membuat penghasilan tanaman kopi dari bijiran Robusta dan Arabica yang baik mutunya sehingga bijiran kopi Arabica Tanah Gayo ini boleh mencapai harga yang lebih tinggi dari harga-harga bijiran kopi Arabica dari negara Brazil atau negara-negara Amerika Latin yang lain. Untuk melawat dan melihat kebun dan kilang kopi di Takengon, tanyakan saja pada abang-abang becak, banyak yang tahu dan boleh membawa buat lawatan tetapi tidak semua.

Kopi Gayo pastinya boleh dibawa pulang sebagai oleh-oleh. Oleh-oleh selainnya adalah hasil kerajinan tangan dari orang-orang suku Gayo. Saya tidak memasuki kedai kraft tangan ini, cuma melihatnya dari jauh. Dari yang tradisional, terdapat juga yang baru seperti tas tangan wanita dan tas-tas sandang belakang.

Akhir kata, Takengon adalah tempat kunjungan yang sesuai buat berehat sambil menziarahi dan melihat kebun dan kilang penghasilan kopi (agro tourism kiranya). Menikmati rasa kopinya di cafe-cafe yang terdapat merata, selain dari menikmati hawa dingin, pemandangan serta semestinya rasa masakan Aceh yang tidak banyak bezanya tetapi ada kelainannya. Ada lagi tempat-tempat yang boleh diziarahi seperti air terjun, tempat yang ada cerita legenda dan acara tahunan seperti pacuan kuda gayo. Itu semua mungkin pada ziarah yang akan datang jika diizinkah Allah.  Amin.

Going Distance On The Cyclo-Cross

001

I decided to test the cyclo-cross and build up my strength and stamina cycling a slightly longer distance last Sunday to the town of Pontian Kechil shortcutting the  main road by going through palm oil plantations which have a mixed of paved and dirt/gravel roads.  It was a leisurely ride as I didn’t  have the required fitness yet and obviously there were lots of stoppages in parts due to rains, photography, tiredness and lastly as I expected, saddle sore.  All in all, it took me four and half hours to reach Pontian Kechil.  On reaching Pontian Kechil the bike became slightly heavy  which I found caused by the brake pad touching the rotor.  Without the necessary tools, I was unable to readjust it.  The only tool that I brought along was the air pump.  Tired, sore butt plus if I were to cycle home, part of the journey will be in the night and if I were to go by the main roads, the distance will be longer, I decided to get a taxi home.

Two lessons learned from this trip, one is that I need to set aside a generous amount of time for the trip and rest if I’m not spending the night and bring along tools to do repair/adjustment.  For longer distances, spare tube is a must.  The other, cycling on dirt/gravel road is more tiring due to lack of traction and rolling.  It is akin to running on a beach, nevertheless, it helps build up strength and stamina.

Actually three lessons learned…I read how to avoid saddle sore.

Some Pictures of Lombok

Here are a few pictures shot in Lombok somewhere from Tanjung to slightly further up pass Bayan.

Lombok

The majestic Mount Agung in Bali as seen from Tanjung, Lombok

The majestic Mount Agung in Bali as seen at Tanjung, Lombok

Lombok lies next to the popular island of Bali.  It belongs to West Nusa Tenggara Province of Indonesia where the capital city Mataram is in the island of Lombok itself and the famous Komodo dragons island just east of the province.

Most of the hotels are located on the west coast and concentrated at Senggigi area, no problem for food and public buses from the airport to Senggigi especially for backpackers.  At Tanjung, further north from Senggigi, there is a recently opened small hotel called Mina Tanjung Hotel.  Nice and quiet, a good place to relax next to the sea but apparently no choice at all for eating out except at the hotel restaurant.  Then there is Kuta, not the one in Bali but a beach in south of Lombok which is said to be pristine and a place for a good quality of surf.  Last but not least, there is Mount Rinjani, fifth highest mountain in all indonesia.

This is my first time in Lombok and I am looking forward to tour part of it tomorrow.

Independence Day Drive

Patriotic display

Patriotic display of Malaysia and the State of Johor flags

31st August is Malaysia independence day and it was last Monday. On late afternoon that day, I decided to go for a drive to Pontian to shoot sunset and some wildlife if possible plus whatever that grabs my attention.  I am trying to familiarise myself looking at the trees to find interesting image for the camera sensor if the forest is not.  A practice session in scrutinising a bland landscape for an exceptional image.

Pontian is the southernmost region of mainland Asia but the honour for the southernmost place belongs to Tanjung Piai (Cape Piai) and it is gazetted as one of the places to go for a tour in Johor.  Not far away across the Tebrau Straits lies Singapore, linked to Peninsula Malaysia by a causeway and a bridge. A quick check on the weather, it was forecasted to be 15% cloudy, but then I forgot to check on one other thing, that is the tide.  Last I saw there were a group of otters swimming upstream into the river when the tide was getting low but on this trip when I reached Sungai Rambah, the tide had totally ebbed and the birds were very few and far away.  That left me with just the landscape and the sunset.  Anyway, I did stop by the pineapple field on the way to the small town of Ayer Baloi and at Sungai Ayer Baloi for some snaps though.

Note:   In this region, you are never short of clouds.  The problem is, there are too many of it. If it is not above, then on the horizon.  Also on a glance, the sky may look clear but there’s probably a thin layer of it.  As a result, it is hard to get dark blue sky even if you use a polarizing filter.  I easily get very dark blue sky in Mecca without using any polarizing filter on a wide-angle lens. (After watching Walter Lewin’s last lecture For the Love of Physics, I guess the particles in the atmosphere here are moist as compared to Arabia causing less blue light reflection.)

Some Pictures of My Second Trekking Up Mount Lawu

Mount Lawu as seen from Tawangmangu

Mount Lawu as seen from Tawangmangu

This time around, I’m with a group of friends and their families hiking up Mount Lawu and we spent a night at the summit plus another at Pos 3 (Post 3) resting area while on the way up.  Quite a group, ten people altogether including two juveniles.  That said, not all the adults are on the same fitness level, so extra night needed for rest.

It happened in early last June and we went up to the summit by way of Cemoro Kandang which is in the province of Central Java and came down to Cemoro Sewu in the province of East Java.  In reality these two track entrances/exits are roughly 500 metres apart thus Mount Lawu is divided between these two provinces of Indonesia.  My friend was told by the ranger at the entrance that the temperature at the summit could reach six degrees Celsius.  Of course we came prepared, only that our sleeping bags were rated fifteen degrees Celsius max and no sleeping mat.  Oh my, what a surprise we had.  Yes, we were noobs when it came to sleeping out in the very cold but lesson learnt.  We were lucky that the huts at Pos 3 and at the summit were vacant when we arrived, else it could be a lot worse more challenging.

Cemoro Kandang track is a long and winding dirt track through the forest.  It is low in gradient but definitely longer than Cemoro Sewu track, a steep, mostly clear open view path and paved with granite right up almost to the summit.  Just imagine going up the stairs of a 3265 (summit) – 1200 (Tawangmangu) metres skyscraper. There is a small pool of fresh water about 100 metres after Pos 3 of Cemoro Kandang track and a fresh water well at a place where there are a few small caves after Pos 5 at Cemoro Sewu track. (Note for fresh water: On the way up to the summit.)

All-in-all, it was a delightful experience for me once again.  In retrospect, I just wish that my interest in astrophotography would have came in earlier, before we set-off for the trip.  Reading about Perseid Meteor Shower had opened up my interest in astrophotography and I am now wanting to try it out.  So, where can I get a used, good, sharp and fast wide prime lens? Sounds like I have to pay a little premium.

Malioboro & Surroundings

Malioboro

This is Malioboro

Many tourists come to stay in Jogjakarta to visit Prambanan temple and Borobudur.  Malioboro is a street name in central area of Jogjakarta, next to Tugu train station and is a kind of melting pot where domestic and foreign tourists come to sample the place and do some shopping.  One of the popular items on sale here are T-shirts.  The words Jogja (short for Jogjakarta) and, or Malioboro are found in many of the artwork.  Not surprisingly, the surrounding areas are packed with tourist class and budget hotels.

LIMA 2015

LIMA 2015 Aerospace Venue

LIMA 2015 Aerospace Venue


LIMA stands for Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition that takes place once every two years. It covers both civilian and defense industries but the main focus is on defense industry. The event, which had its beginning in 1991, is held early in the year around March. There is an event this year and it is over. I had the opportunity to present myself in person to witness it for the first time. Part of the reason was that I wanted to see local military pilots performing the cobra manoeuvre in their Sukhoi Su-30MKM. The first time I saw it was in early 80s in an aerospace exhibition held in Singapore and performed by the then new Sukhoi Su-27. I never knew who the pilot was, but the manoeuvre was pioneered by a Russian pilot named Viktor Pugachev. Never did I see it before, a plane in very high alpha almost verticle, flying horizontally across. It was an eye-opener and awe-inspiring manoeuvre, a class of its own.

My intention to cover both the Maritime and Aerospace events did not go well. My mistake, I did not know that on the event days, it was practically impossible to get from one event location to the other on time. The Maritime and Aerospace events were held at different venues and I did not factor the traffic conditions in. Arriving late and practically no space for parking, I did not get to cover the maritime event except that I was lucky enough to see the maritime show, a mock-up operations of sea rescue and took some pictures.

The following day, I decided to totally dedicate the time to cover just the Aerospace event especially the aerial displays because it was my main reason for being there. I moved from one location to another, both inside and outside the venue including top of the hill next to the runway. Only a few pictures of the flying metal birds turned out good, ah well, but it thus inspired me to do better next time…if I have the means and time for it. Definitely I need to do some careful planning if it is permissible for me to be there on the next coming event.

Thank you very much to the organiser for issuing me a Media Pass and I wish that it will again be given to me for the subsequent event, if it is possible for me to go, to fully cover LIMA thoroughly. I am a blogger/photographer, covering event is my espertise.

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