8 Dec 2009

"Island Girl" by Elton John

Holiday to Langkawi and western Islands of Thailand

Get the slide show here! If you do not hear the music please click on the speaker ICON.




I took this 4 day trip by overnight coach from Bangkok to the south of Thailand and then to the Island of Langkawi, Malaysia via the ferry port at Taman Sentosa. On the island of Langkawi we were treated to a trip up the 700 m Gunung Mat Chinchang with great views over the island and beyond. After an overnight stay on the island we returned to Thailand and visited a few islands by fast boat and stayed on the paradise island of Ko Lipe for our next night. The next day was spent exploring the Tarutao Nationl Park that is made up of many small beautiful deserted islands. Once back on the mainland of Thailand at Pakbara, Satun, we made our way north and stopped near Puket for lunch and then a boat trip down a set of rapids. Then we made our long trip home overnight to Bangkok. Another great experience with some lovely people.

6 Dec 2009

"Our Shangri La" by Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris

CLICK ON THE SPEAKER ICON TO PLAY THE MUSIC
My China Trip to the beautiful Shangri La area
See all photos on Flickr - click here




Shangri La Area of China:
See all the photos in a slideshow here - CLICK HERE

INFO HERE -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhongdian

You can link to the web sites if you see underlined blue text.

I took a package tour to the Shangri La area of China from Bangkok along with 45 other people from the Government Education Department of Thailand. Similar holidays are organised throughout the year and many of them take the chance to travel far and wide. Many had been to Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

Day1
We flew from Bangkok to Kunming in China and spent the afternoon walking up a forest and cliff trail called to a Buddhist temple called Dragon Gate. We then had our evening meal at a conference centre in Kunming where a wedding reception was taking place. The hotel at night was at the Enjoying International Hotel, Kunming with very comfortable and large rooms.

First impressions are that in this area of China the city and towns are very advanced and have lovely streets with plenty of trees and bushes and flowers. The area around Kunming is mountainous and beautiful. Kunming at 2000 mtr above sea level , and I guess no one in Europe has heard of this place, is a very large industrial and commercial city with around 7 million people there. There are lots of new building works including large road works ongoing. China is certainly not short of resources or revenue to proceed with all this work. They are getting ready for the tourist invasion that is sure to come from overseas tourists. Already there is a large China tourism with many of the hotels full for sightseeing tours of the area.

Day2
The second day we were up at 5am and checked out of the hotel by 7am and on the road towards Lijiang. We stopped off at the old city of Dali and toured the old preserved city and also visiting the nearby beautiful and very grand Chong Sheng Temple and the Three Towers that have a history going back 1800 years. Their mother building was known as Chongsheng Monastery and used to be the royal temple of the Kingdom of Dali and one of the largest Buddhist centres in southeast Asia and were built between 823 and 1108AD.

In the late afternoon we visited the old town of Lijiang that has been preserved to its former glory and where I managed to get hopelessly lost and got a taxi to take me back to the hotel where we were having our evening meal. The new city of Lijiang is a large bustling city and has clean, tidy streets. The old city is well preserved and many tourists from all over Asia visit here to look at the tourist shops and buy silk, woollens, stone and silver items. It was very colourful and beautiful in this area. We travelled all the rest of the afternoon through mountainous scenery on route to Lijiang. We had our dinner at the Lijiang Grand Hotel where a special Thai meal had been prepared for us. I have to say that is was the best meal of the tour because it was Thai food. The Chinese food we were presented with was always a “do it yourself” affair where a large pot of meat or fish stock was placed at the centre of the table on a stove and various vegetables and meats were placed in it. Thereafter you helped yourself to the broth and bowl of rice along with other foods that were brought to the table in random order. These included fish, pork, chicken and duck, all mostly of bones! Omlette was also presented on some occasions. Tea, Pepsi and Beer was also on offer.
We spent the night at the Shiner Hotel in Lijiang.

Day 3
On the third day we were again up at 5am to beat the queuing coaches that enter the large natural parklands to take the tourists to see the Yulong Snow Mountain (Jade Dragon?) where, unfortunately on the day I was there the weather was foggy and cold. We went on a cable car up to 4451 metres to view the mountain (18,359 ft) and the glacier that forms there. We all bought oxygen aerosols to assist us with breathing the air at the high altitude although I did not use my one. When I got to the top the sun was out and lucky to get spectacular views of the mountain area. Awesome is the word. Everyone talks about the Rockies, the Alps etc. but these mountains are equally as beautiful and rugged. After visiting the mountain tops we descended and were then entertained to a show given by 500 local people of the Nakhi tribe who told us the story of their culture formed over the thousands of years. The show was in an open air theatre and the temperature was about 6c and misty. Brrr! After this we had lunch in a Jade Water Village close by. I must say that China needs to improve the public toilet cleanliness if it is to expect the World to visit. I will say no more!

Day 4
The next day we were up again by 6pm and on the road to Shangri La. We passed through stunning scenery all the way through mountain passes and steep ravines where the coach seemed to be almost over the edge in places! We stopped at a beauty spot at Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Gorge) where we walked down into the gorge where the famous Yangtze River flows through a very deep, narrow passage beneath very high mountains. It is located about 62 miles northwest of Lijiang and is believed to be the deepest in the world. Again, this was very good to see nature in its raw state. We had lunch at Hutiaoxia Zhen, a small riverside village near the gorge. The afternoon was spent travelling over a high pass and on to Shangri La. On the way there I noticed many Hydro Electric Power stations that used the Yangtze River and its feeder rivers as a source of cheap power. In Shangra La we visited Zongzanlin Monastery high up in the mountains. Shangri La city is at an altitude of 4300 metres (13,000ft) so it gets a little time to become accustomed to the low oxygen levels. Some of our group fell ill here with the high altitude and freezing weather overnight. Our hotel, Holy Palace Hotel, was poorly heated and I spent a night very feeling cold. I should have kept my socks on.

Day 5
Next morning we were up again before dawn and on our way back to Kunming by air. Inside the Shangri La airport was very cold with no heating offered! When we got to Kunming we visited a herbal treatment clinic where we all got a foot massage while the doctors had us trapped and tried to sell us there splendid ointments and pills etc to cure all health problems. A doctor read my hands and told me that although I was a healthy and strong man (ha ha) I would have liver problems in the future and I could prevent this if I bought his special herbal pills that cost £250 for 6 months supply. I politely told him to forget it. We then visited another Buddhist Temple, Yuantong Temple, in the middle of Kunming. Not my favourite kind of place but very colourful buildings.



Day 6
Next morning it was another early morning rise to go to the airport and fly back the heat and bustle of Bangkok. Six full days of South West China gone in a flash but travelling with very nice and friendly Thai people who made me feel as part of the group.


Exploring and enjoying the flower and birds market, Stone Forest and Yuantong Temple in Kungming, Dali an ancient town featured for its Bai ethnic groups. I explored the ancient city, and to living Shaping Market and saw the local life. The highlights of the Shangri La travel is to discover the Lijiang Ancient Town and Zhongdian(Shangri La). Spend your leisure time there but a busy time to linger around by biking around the ancient Lijiang city, hiking of the Tiger Leaping Gorges or horse riding in Shila Sea; Peaceful and beautiful place is Zhongdian, flowers along the road on route from Lijiang to there, explore Shangri La around.

22 Sep 2009

"Mr Blue Sky" by ELO


I got the opportunity to be part of an Auditing Team working for an electrical power generation plant in Dar es Salaam and on a small island where the gas process facility was located. I was there for a week. Not a bad job if you can get it.
CLICK HERE FOR DETAIL>>> SONGO SONGO Projecy brings Energy to Tanzania
And Here >> Detail of Project




CLICK ON THE VIDEOS Below to view them.




24 Jun 2009

Kodachrome by Paul Simon

No more little yellow envelopes! CLICK HERE to view BBC blog on the subject.

I guess it was inevitable. Digital photos are here to stay. The are of much better quality than ever before and must be as good as Kodachrome.


I always used Kodachrome 25 or 65 asa in my SLR cameras that included a Zenit E (remember this?) and Olympus OM1, 2 and 10.

Kodachrome was the king of film. RIP Kodachrome.



I end this BLOG with a Quote from BBC - Phil Coomes

Along with every other blogger, I can't end the post without mentioning that Kodachrome will of course always be remembered for at least one reason, the fact that as far as I am aware it's the only brand of film that has been immortalised in song. So perhaps the last word should be left to Paul Simon: "Kodachrome, they give us those nice bright colours, they give us the greens of summers, makes you think all the world's a sunny day"... and what's wrong with that.

2 May 2009

"The River" by Bruce Springsteen




I recently went on The River of Kings cycle tour in Thailand.

TRIP PROFILE
The River of Kings Ride takes you back in time, far from the busy streets and fast paced modern city to a period of more than 700 years ago. It’s a tour where you can lose yourself in old world ruins and history, thereby experiencing the culture of this truly mesmerizing country.

The tour is mainly on road and takes you to the rural Thai countryside and the rich history of Thailand, all while enjoying an active holiday. The distances are not too strenuous and can be managed by most people.

We started in the north where we cycled over the foot hills surrounding Chiang Mai, and so we encounter a few climbs on the first two days. The central part of Thailand is flat, and after the third day we did not see any other hills of significance.

A fantasic holiday!

To listen the the SONG by Bruce Springsteen click on the speaker ICON.

13 Mar 2009

"Drive My Car" the Beatles



When the letter arrived at my home I nearly threw it away thinking it was junk mail! As it turned out how wrong I was. I looked at the letter again, 10 days later, before I put it into the paper recycle trash and could not see any mention of cost so I rang the Porsche hot line and was told that the whole event was free including the flights and transport to Silverstone.

On the day it turned out to be a fantastic experience. Porsche GB laid on a very well organised event. I enjoyed the whole experience of my time at the centre. The Centre is well laid out to view all the Porsche car range and you can take any of the cars out to have a test drive. You can even take your own Porsche out on the circuit. The handling circuit roads are well laid out with varying camber and blind corners and my driving consultant, Ian, knew everything about the new cars that we were driving on the day, the 2009 update of the Porsche Boxster. The low friction skid pan and ice hill roads were a revelation and taught me that breaking on ice should be part of my instincts from now on with a car fitted with the PSM. A point worth noting, if you have a car with anti-lock braking (ABS)installed. And the food; the food is exceptional! You will have to go far to get food as well prepared and presented as this. We arrived at the Porsche centre just in time for lunch, had our 2hours of great driving and then returned inside to receive afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberries, cake and home-made biscuits.

There were 20 new Boxsters waiting for us to drive and we all got a drive in both engine sizes; the 2.9 ltr and the 3.4 ltr. They were all washed and ready for our use. I have to say that I do not know how the Porsche engineers can make the best handling road car better but they have done it. The standard Boxster is now better to drive than my 8 yrs old Boxster S with a bigger engine; Increadable.

Now where is that money box?

6 Mar 2009

"Photographic" by Depeche Mode

I am please and delighted to have been asked to display some of my photos on Flickr.

Here are Two of them:

1. A Visit to Cypress Gardens, Florida

2. Schmap Leeds Sixth Edition: Photo Inclusion

Hi Iain,
I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo has been selected for inclusion in the newly released sixth edition of our Schmap Leeds Guide:
Bolton Abbey : www.schmap.com/leeds/sights_water/p=105039/i=105039_19.jpg
If you use an iPhone or iPod touch, then this same link will take you directly to your photo in the iPhone version of our guide. On a desktop computer, you can still see exactly how your photo is displayed and credited in the iPhone version of our guide at: Bolton Abbey: www.schmap.com/?m=iphone#uid=leeds&sid=sights_water&p=105039&i=105039_19
Finally, if you have a blog, you might also like to check out the customizable widgetized version of our Schmap Leeds Guide, complete with your published photo:
www.schmap.com/guidewidgets/p=67872859N00/c=SJ1008248
Thanks so much for letting us include your photo - please enjoy the guide!
Best regards,
Emma Williams,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides
www.schmap.me/emma.williams





Bolton Abbey, originally uploaded by IainCameron.




See my Bolton Abbey photos on Flickr by clicking ==here==

2 Mar 2009

"She's A Rainbow" by the Rolling Stones

I enjoy cooking as many of my friends already know. I made this curry taken from a programme on ITV.

It is called Rainbow Curry and is quite delicious.



Here is the Recipe:

For the rainbow chicken
1 chicken breast, skin removed, cut into pieces
2cm/¾in piece ginger, peeled and grated
2 lemons, juice only
5 tbsp Greek-style yoghurt
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp ghee
2 small onions, finely chopped
½ red pepper, seeds removed, thinly sliced
½ green pepper, seeds removed, thinly sliced
½ yellow pepper, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 green chilli, seeds removed, flesh finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste (made by blending 1cm/½in ginger with 1 tsp water)
1 tsp garlic paste (made by blending 1 garlic clove with 1 tsp water)
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
½ paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
small handful fresh coriander, plus 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, to serve

For the pilau rice
4 tbsp ghee
½ onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
100g/3½oz basmati rice, rinsed
½ chicken stock cube, crumbled
150ml/5fl oz boiling water

Method
1. For the pilau rice, heat two tablespoons of the ghee in a frying pan over a medium heat until foaming. Add the chopped onion and garlic and fry until softened and golden-brown.
2. Add the rice, two more tablespoons of ghee and the crumbled stock cube and stir well to combine.
3. Pour over the boiling water, return the mixture to the boil, then turn down the heat, cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 minutes, or until the rice has cooked through.
4. For the rainbow chicken, place the chicken pieces into a bowl and add the ginger, half of the lemon juice and two tablespoons of the Greek-style yoghurt. Stir well to coat the chicken in the marinade. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then set aside for five minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of the ghee in a frying pan over a medium heat, add half of the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
6. Add the sliced peppers and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and golden-brown. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
7. Place the remaining onion, the garlic, chilli, ginger paste, garlic paste, cumin seeds, ground coriander, paprika, turmeric, chilli powder and coriander into a food processor and blend to a paste.
8. Heat the remaining tablespoon of ghee in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the spice paste and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the marinated chicken pieces and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring well to coat the chicken in the spice paste, until the chicken is completely cooked through and golden-brown.
9. Add the remaining lemon juice, the remaining three tablespoons of Greek-style yoghurt and the reserved fried peppers and onion to the pan. Continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring well. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
10. To serve, spoon the rainbow chicken onto a serving plate. Spoon the pilau rice alongside. Garnish with the remaining chopped coriander.

I hope you enjoy eating it.

19 Jan 2009

Feel the Need in Me - Detroit Emeralds (sweet as apple pie)

I made some Apple Pie last week. It is very easy to make this delicious dessert.
It was so good I thought I may share it with my BOGGER Friends.

The music may seem inappropriate but the Detroit Emeralds (remember them?) sing "Your love is better to me than apple pie".