In March 2013, we attended an excellent performance of Kathakali in Fort Kochi  in the state of Kerala, South India. Kathakali, a major form of classical Indian dance originating in Kerala, features the retelling of Hindu and other ancient stories by actors in elaborate costumes and makeup. While the traditional form of Kathakali has only male characters, we did see female actors in this performance and in a different performance in Tamil Nadu. In addition to the actors, musicians perform, usually on the left side of the stage.

Kathakali performance

Before we visited India this time, we saw the picture of the main character on the cover of a book and decided that we wanted to see that actor in that place.

Because of the elaborate makeup, each performance is preceded by several hours of  preparation for the troup.  For an extra fee, we were able to observe some of the makeup preparation of the major character’s face. This painstaking preparation took an hour or so.

Makeup, made from rice paste and vegetable colors, helps the audience identify characters in the play. Makeup colors are important indicators, with green for noble characters and red for evil characters, while some red among the green indicates an evil inner nature. Below, the “lady” in the red hat is trying to seduce the main character (green face).

Kathakali seduction scene

Several scenes from the performance are shown below. With his red costuming, the character in the first picture is clearly evil.

The picture shows the major characters at curtain call.

Curtain call for Kathakali performance

While the performance was given in Sanskrit or Malayalam, neither of which we understand, the story could be inferred from the acting. The costumes were fantastic, the acting was superb, and we enjoyed the performance greatly.


Wat Arun – Temple of Dawn

We visited Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, in Bangkok, Thailand, in the Spring of 2016. Unlike our visit in 2013, the temple was covered this time in scaffolding for renovations.

Wat Arun viewed from the Chao Phraya river

Wat Arun is recognizable by its central prang (tower) in the Khmer style.

Central Prang of Wat Arun

Visitors can climb a long way up the side of the prang using three staircases, each steeper than the last. The two photos below show the second (middle) staircase.

Climbing Wat Arun
Climbing Wat Arun

Wat Arun’s central prang is encrusted with fanciful floral and religious motifs.  Demons are featured at the lower level. We could not climb high enough to see angels.

The floral decoration is created from seashells and recycled porcelain. The larger image below clearly shows re-purposed plates.

With luck, the scaffolding will be removed and the renovation completed by the time we visit again.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Eyes

This is my entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Eyes

Reclining Buddha

This is the face and right eye of the Reclining Buddha located in the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Watt Pho) in Bangkok, Thailand.

This photo was taken in March 2013 with an Olympus Tough TG-1 camera. Settings were:

ISO 320, f/3.5, 1/50 second, 10 mm focal length (35 mm equivalent about 56 mm)

Tuesday Photo Challenge – the Path

This is our entry in Dutch goes the Photo! Tuesday Photo Challenge – the Path

On 28 October 2014, we were visiting Shimla in northern India. We were staying high in the mountains (8,250 feet above sea level) at Wildflower Hall with views of the Himalayan mountains. We hiked the Wild Strawberry Trail, on the ridge line, a distance of  1.7 kilometers (about a mile) with maximum ascent and descent of 30 degrees.  The gate pictured is the entrance to the trail from the Wildflower Hall property.

Gate from Wildflower Hall to Wild Strawberry Trail

The trail is also used by horse sellers, who join the trail somewhere else.

The estimated walking time is 1 hour, but with multiple stops to take pictures and rest, the trip took a bit longer.  Fans of the BBC series The Jewel in the Crown can imagine that Sarah Layton and her father Colonel Layton were looking at these vistas during their horse ride in the mountains.

The flower  and fruit of the wild Indian strawberry (mock strawberry), for which the trail is named,  are pictured below.




Wat Pho’s Golden Buddhas

Most people visit the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) in Bangkok, Thailand, in order to see the 150+ foot long reclining Buddha. However, in the nearby cloister, visitors can find nearly 400 gilded Buddha images seated around the Ordination Hall. Below is a detail shot of one of the rows of golden Buddhas taken during our visit in March 2013.


Golden Buddhas in Wat Pho Temple

This photo was taken with an Olympus Tough TG-1 camera. Settings were:

ISO 200, f/4.9, 1/100 second, focal length 18mm (35 mm equivalent focal length of about 100 mm)

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge August 24, 2016

This post is my entry for Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge August 24, 2016

Overpasses near New Bern, North Carolina

This photo was taken on June 5, 2016, with an Olympus TG-4 camera. Settings were:

ISO 100, f/8, 1/200 second, focal length 4 mm (35 mm equivalent of approximately 22 mm focal length)