Loving Langkawi: Part 2

Zionel the mechanic returns and fits our reconditioned gear box and new damping plate. After a few hours of boat maintenance we take the rest of the afternoon off and go for a drive and take in the rest of the sights of Langkawi.

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Loving Langkawi: Part 1

While we waited for spares to be shipped from various parts of the globe, Jamie and I took time away from boat maintenance to enjoy Malaysia’s most popular tourist destination…

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Satun, Thailand – Photos From Our Next Home?

Chopping up stuff in Satun, Thailand

We plan to spend some time on the hard doing some major refitting to Esper. Unfortunately Malaysia doesn’t really figure as a viable option for the amount of work we’re planning so the obvious alternative is to get the work done in Thailand. No great shakes since we’re only 200 miles from Phuket where all the big boat yards are, but there’s another option: head 25 miles east from Langkawi to the mainland and check in to Satun’s boatyard, PSS. Here’s a brief intro to this sleepy town, packed full of images.

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Kolkata, Kewpies and Kalighat

“If you’re talking about a great place to live, I’d say Kolkata. It’s got everything: great restaurants, historic buildings, the Maidan, an excellent transport service and friendly people.” Upon this great bit of advice from a seasoned visitor to India we spent a few days in Kolkata and in this post we visit the untouristic Kalighat to view a few burning bodies.

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#OnePrimeWednesday – Early Morning Basket Boy

This is a submission for the theme that asks for a shot taken with a prime lens. A prime lens has a fixed focal length, in this instance 50mm. A 50mm prime lens is the one closest to what a human sees in real life, which is why traditionally crime scene photographers always used 50mm lenses! No crime scene here, alas, just a photograph of a worker with a heavy steel basket on his head.

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#MyTownTuesday – Cochin, Kerala

I went for a wander late afternoon in the market, in between the stall holders and the main depot where they drop off the fruit and veg. This group of workers allowed me to jump up on the lorry and grab a shot of the workers loading up sacks of chickpea on to the workers’ heads.

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#TonemapHDRTuesday – Banana Depot

This is an HDR shot, a composite of three identical images exposed differently, to pick up detail in the light and shadow areas. It is a submission for another photographic theme and follows on from the set I took at the banana depot.

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#MyTownTuesday – Cochin, Kerala

This picture, taken in the depot of the market, went down well on Google+ and shows yet another worker with a heavy object on their head. These guys must have necks of steel!

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Asmara Market, Eritrea

Asmara is the capital of Eritrea and sits above the clouds at the top of the mountains. Invariably it gets hot and by the end of the day the market traders and shoppers are exhausted.

Winner of The Times Weekend Travel weekly photo competition last year. Liz submitted this without me knowing and was the first photo comp I’d ever won.

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The People And The Places Of Madurai

Firstly our apologies for some unscheduled email updates regarding Somalia and piracy. We’re experimenting with a new service but the emails today were only supposed to be test alerts and you weren’t supposed to receive them. Ooops. Please delete these messages. So…before we leave Madurai we wanted to show you our photographs of the people and the scenes of our fave city. It is a pictorial observation of our time there, presented as two slide shows. Once you’ve clicked on the slide-show to activate it, you can select the four-arrowed button to view in full-screen mode. You’ll need a fairly decent connection as they’re high res images but it’s worth it as the portraits are very personal, whilst the street scenes will give you a good idea of the environment in which these people live.

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Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace – Easy For You To Say

As is probably evident from our previous posts, Madurai is a pretty crazy place. Rest, then, from the madding crowd in the calm of one of her grandest buildings, Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace. Deceptively understated from the outside, the open court-yard of the interior is imposing and beautiful. Liz: “If you are in southern India please do not miss this most beautiful palace. I fell in love with it in many ways. Its shape, colour and structure are sublime. Palest peach, vanilla, apricot, and cream combine to impart an ethereal quality”. The palace is close to becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site, which goes some way to illustrate how wonderful this simple building is. At the end of this short post we include a little slide show of a few of the buildings of Madurai.

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Meenakshi Amman Temple Of Madurai

Last time we left you we’d been wandering the back streets of Madurai and offered plenty of photographic evidence of its energy. In this post Liz gives a more cerebral account of our experience in this fabulous city, taking in the huge Meenakshi temple, which wouldn’t look out of place in Disney World. Her guide teaches Liz about the five sense, and they’re not the sense you or I learned about at school. Strangely every single photograph taken inside the temple ‘disappeared’ from Jamie’s camera, but we have plenty more images of the huge ‘gopurams’, as well as the people of Madurai. Liz’s prose is what travel writing is all about…

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The Buildings Of Madurai

This short slide-show gives you a little taster of the buildings of Madurai, and has been published to coincide with our Madurai blog posts. Pictured are the Meenakshi Temple, the palace, and a strange ‘mall’ with a temple in the middle of it. Plaster of Paris gods stacked hundreds of feet high look out across the city, whilst back-streets hide away secret retreats.

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The Magic And Madness Of Madurai

Having finally made it to Madurai after our fairground ride through the Western Ghats, we were able to relax, put on the walking boots and go for a romp through the back streets of this great city. It is full of strange wonders and fascinating people. This post, with its many photographs, captures just a small part of this: street vendors, manual labourers, layabouts, kids, beggars and strange architecture…

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Pongal, Pilgrims And Palani

In the previous post we finished somewhere in the middle of the Western Ghats, lost, yet the journey up until that point had been fascinating. Not only were the local people preparing for the fantastically named ‘Pongal’, a celebration not too dissimilar to Harvest back at home, but Tamil Nadu was over-run with pilgrims from all over India. As we drove in one direction, so there were thousands of pilgrims walking barefooted the other way, heading towards the temple in Palani that wouldn’t look too out of place in a James Bond film.

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Getting Lost In The Western Ghats

Over the next month we will be serialising our road trip of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the two southern-most states of India. We cover 1,200km, ascend over 2,000m, get lost in the mountains, rub shoulders with gods and relax in tea plantations. The eight or so posts will come out on Mondays and Thursdays, where each new episode continues from the last. They return to what followtheboat was always about: documenting our observations of the people we meet and places we visit through words and pictures. Lots of pictures! We start by taking in the incredible Western Ghats, the huge mountain range that divides India and dictates the monsoons. Just don’t hire the driver we had the misfortune to end up with…

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The Streets Of Madurai

The streets of Madurai is a bustling chaotic mass of energy. One doesn’t have to walk far to get a great picture of the people going about their business, weather selling, carrying, begging or playing. I tried my best to get some surreptitious, objective viewpoints but as soon as you point a camera at a Tamil, they smile and pose!

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Followtheboat Wins Its First Competition

I’ve been badgering Jamie for some time now to take his photography to the next level. I mean, some of his shots are breath-taking, aren’t they?

Having reluctantly agreed he generously allowed me to do the legwork. I decided to start by entering his work into some competitions, this would start to get his name and work known.

It seems that my nagging is starting to pay off. Firstly, we are going to be published, but more about that exciting news in a future blog. Secondly, he’s just won the first competition he’s ever entered!

Encouraged by his Auntie Chris, we decided to enter one of his photos into The Times Travel Photo Competition.

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Crazy Place

Come with me to Crazy Place, a place like nothing you have ever witnessed before. Crazy Place is the name given to the qat market, the covered area where the locals come to buy their drug. It is an insane place. It is Crazy Place.

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Letting The Qat Out The Bag

I found Yemen a difficult place to love when I first stepped ashore. With the beauty of the desolate marsas of Sudan and Eritrea behind us I found Aden an industrial mess. After spending some time there and traveling around, especially to Arab Town, I began to understand it a bit better. Some of the people we met were wonderful. But the problem I had with Yemen was qat.

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