Up Down – Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – March 31, 2017

This is our entry in Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – March 31, 2017.

In February this year, we visited the Angkor complex near Siem Reap , Cambodia. A highlight of any visit is to climb the three levels of Angkor Wat, finally arriving above the third level at the central tower (the Bakan Sanctuary) topped by a symbolic lotus bud. The original stone steps to the top are steep and disintegrating. A wooden staircase with metal handrails is laid on top of the stone steps. While the wooden stairs are safer to climb, they are just as steep.

Stairs to Bakan Sanctuary of Angkor Wat

Because a thunderstorm was brewing during our visit to Angkor Wat, the usual long line to climb the stairs to the very top was short. We waited only a few minutes before two descending visitors brought with them the badges we needed for entry. (There is a quota for the number of visitors who can be in the Bakan Sanctuary at a given time.) Our climb and visit is described at Angkor Wet.

After walking around the Sanctuary, staying out of the rain in the covered outer periphery, we decided to risk the wet staircase down so that other people waiting below could have their turn.

Stairs to Bakan Sanctuary of Angkor Wat

The water-soaked steps were now a slick dark brown. The railings that were so shiny silver on the way up were now slippery with rust, but we, like everyone else, clung to them for support.  With rusty water streaming from each hand, we descended cautiously. At the bottom, the attendants carefully removed the lanyards with permits from our necks, trying to keep the permits clean. Our guide met us and emptied his drinking water bottle on our hands to remove  most of the stain.  Only a visit to a nearby restroom with soap and water finally returned our hands to a normal color.





Jayavarman VII – Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Letters I or J

This our entry in Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Letters I or J.

Jayavarman VII,  who is generally regarded as the most powerful of the Khmer kings of Cambodia, was a Mahayana Buddhist.  The Buddha figures in the Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom are modeled after him.

Jayavarman VII as Buddha

Jayavarman VII  (1125–1218) was a king of the Kymer Empire in what is now Cambodia, ruling from 1181 to 1218, approximately.  During his reign, he built temples in the Angkor complex near present-day Siem Reap. Three of his temples that are most familiar to tourists are these:

  • Ta Prohm, built to honor his mother
  • Preah Khan, built to honor his father
  • Bayon, built to honor himself, and the Angkor Thom city surrounding it

Angkor Wat, built in the early 12th century, already existed when Jayavarman VII built his temples.


Many Faces of Buddha

This is our second response to The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Dense.

This photo was taken in a temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There is no such thing as too many statues of Buddha in Thailand.

Many Faces of Buddha

Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 1600, f/5.0, 1/320 sec, 64 mm

An Agarwood Bouquet

This is our entry in The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Dense.

This photo was taken in a small roadside shop near Huế, Vietnam.  These incense sticks are hand-rolled by the shop owner from ground-up agarwood. The color (mixed with agarwood) is hand-applied to a few inches at the end; each color contains a pleasant natural scent.

iBallRTW incense sticks
Incense Sticks

Incense is burned as an offering to ancestors and gods; this practice is called thurification.  The smoke is a form of communication and spiritual food.  Multiple sand-filled pots are placed near temples, shrines, and other sacred places for holding the incense sticks upright as they burn.

Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/8 sec, 35 mm


Ambulate, you Ungulate! – Tuesday Photo Challenge – Forward

This is our entry for Dutch goes the Photo!’s Tuesday Photo Challenge – Forward.

This camel was one of thousands at the Pushkar Camel Fair in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India, in 2014.

Pushkar Camel


Specs are:

Olympus Tough TG-1, ISO 100, f/3.8, 1/200 sec, 12 mm


Cart Wheels – Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Spring – Wood

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Spring – Wood .  This photo was taken in a self-sustaining village in Bagan, Myanmar. Villagers make whatever wooden objects they need, including wooden wheels for carts.

iBallRTW wooden wheels
Wooden Cart Wheels

Here is a completed cart, with a neck yoke for oxen.

iBallRTW wooden cart
Ox Cart




Bagan Photo Shoot 2: The Firewood Seller

This post highlights our second photo shoot in Bagan, Myanmar, with the international award-winning photographer Maung Maung Bagan.  (The first photo shoot is described at Bagan Photo Shoot 1: I need a map.)

As we exited the car at our first location, young monk in tow, Maung Maung collected another model: an 80-year-old firewood salesman. As we were told several times, people in Myanmar want to remain active and useful for as long as they can and modeling jobs are quite welcome.

Firewood Seller

Our model was willing to walk and model as directed by Maung Maung.  We couldn’t figure out whether he was a regular model for Maung Maung or just a quick study.  A very cheerful fellow, it wasn’t easy to capture his image without his smile.

Firewood Seller

However, when we paid him at the end of his gig, he could not contain his happiness. (That’s Maung Maung Bagan in the left side of the picture.)

Firewood Seller
For less than one hour’s work, we paid him 5000 Myanmar Kyat, which equals about $3.67 in US dollars (USD). For comparison, a journeyman lacquerware maker (who is a highly-skilled worker) in Myanmar earns about $4 USD a day.