Posts Tagged With: outdoors

Cambodia -More Awe & Wonder

In December we took our first trip to Cambodia. We spent 10 days in the Siem Reap area which is known for the famous ancient temples and ruins at Angkor Wat. There are a lot of other things to see and do besides temples. A few museums, a waterfall and silk ‘farms’ are available to visit for a change of pace. The one that sounded the most interesting was out on Tonle Sap Lake; a floating village. We decided to visit the floating village  which  is also quite popular with tourists. The idea intrigued me and I was curious what it would be like. I pictured houses floating similarly to boats, but somehow anchored in place. We decided this would be worth seeing, something different and more unusual than anything we have ever visited before.

Only mode of transportation that works here

Only mode of transportation that works here

There are a few places where you can go and see some of the floating villages. The place our tour driver, Rak, recommended was a little further from the city. He felt it was less touristy and crowded. It was $25/person for the trip which included the price of our driver and the entrance/boat for about 1 hour. It was a short drive on main roads through the city . Next we drove through more open country that reminded me of the wide open spaces back home. Once we turned off the main road it slowly turned into a dirt road, sometimes littered with potholes. Seeing Tuk Tuks bump along in the dust made us very happy we had a comfortable car. The road here isn’t paved since the lake floods each year and the road is under water for a long period of time. The dry season runs from November to May and the lake will be as small as 2,700KM2 and it can swell as large as 16,000KM2. Due to this natural phenomenon the inhabitants have constructed their houses on tall poles made from tree trunks. This would be something to see.

House on stilts

House on stilts

We parked the car and Rak hired us a boat and we were led away. We had the boat to ourselves which was a nice surprise. We started off slowly going along a narrow passage for what seemed like a long time. There wasn’t a lot to see other than some trees that were partly under water. Eventually we started to see some of the houses on stilts. As we rounded a corner the village came into view. Houses varied from those in bright colours, to pale peeling paint, to simpler ones in plain wood or what looked like woven palm leaves or reeds. The locals went about their daily business in small boats. We saw some children going off to school while others stayed home and helped pick small fish out of fishing nets. We continued on passing more and more, which was hard to take it all in.

floating villiage

After about 30 minutes we docked and were asked to get off our boat. Another tour through the mangrove was offered for an additional $5 in smaller boats. We decided against this part and continued on our journey. After this stop there was another place to stop and eat and a large temple, but our driver pushed on. We eventually reached the open lake and our driver stopped our boat. We weren’t sure of the purpose since there was nothing to see. We were like sitting ducks and soon women in small boats approached us, With limited English they tried to sell us unappealing snacks and other items. When we said no thank you they said to buy some to give to the villagers. Again we declined and our driver returned us the way we came.

Houses up close

Houses up close

Back on shore we watched some of the locals in temporary houses, simple shacks, where they sold some food to passing tourists and other local workers.  Nearby there were a lot of rice patties and in small shallow sections of the river men wade chest deep and cast large nets to catch small fish. After watching a few minutes we returned to the car and back to the city.

I took a lot of photos, but it was hard to get the best shots as we were always moving. Sometimes I wish we could have also got up closer to have a better look.

a tourist boat with approaching sellers out on Tonle Sap Lake

a tourist boat with approaching sellers out on Tonle Sap Lake

This is a part of a series on our trip to Siem Reap. Missed the other posts about Cambodia? Check them out by following the links below:

Stay tuned …

Categories: Culture, Photography, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Awe and Wonder: Ta Prohm

Have you ever watched the movie Laura Croft: Tomb Raider? If you have then a must stop is the Tomb Raider Temple, as it is often referred to, within the Angkor Wat area in Cambodia. Its official name is Ta Phohm, but due to the movie’s success and popularity rarely is it referred to in that way. I think I had seen the movie years ago and all memories and expectations from it were lost. Others come because it is one of the temples where the large trees still cover the walls and give it a lost/explorer type atmosphere as you wander through the combination of recently preserved walkways and parts that still lay in ruins.

Just inside the main entrance our first glimpse of the incredible man vs nature in Ta Prohm

Just inside the main entrance our first glimpse of the incredible man vs nature in Ta Prohm

This was the one temple I was most looking forward to. The photos and stories I had seen and heard made it sound mystical and magical. As we approached the temple along a wide sandy path I wasn’t disappointed. The small stone temple complex with some crumbling stone masonry around gave it an incredible atmosphere. Unfortunately it was under restoration and over run by tourists, so the atmosphere was quickly lost.

Close up of the massive trees that have over taken and caused some of distruction to the ancient temples

Close up of the massive trees that have over taken and caused some of destruction to the ancient temples

Soon as you enter the main area a large cloud of dust greets you. A main temple is surrounded by scaffolds and small cranes as workers reconstruct the fallen. Stone masons carve and add designs into the stone by hand to recover the lost motifs and images. Restoration is important since the large trees that reach up high have taken their toll on the delicate stones balanced to form walls, paths and pillars. The tongue and grove and indents that fit each piece together like a puzzle is no match for the large roots that snake under the foundations, over walls and through roof tops. Ta Prohm has many areas that have collapsed and fallen over time. I found it surprising how piles of stone were casually strewn about and covered with mosses. The fallen walls, arches and columns a result of time and nature.


We came here after a morning of the elusive sunrise at Angkor Wat. It is a short drive around the Angkor complex. It was getting close to noon, so the sun was bright and high in the sky. It is recommended, to make the most of your photos, as the best time to visit due to the thick foliage that causes darkness and shadow at other times of the day. Numerous tourists and tour groups swarmed the most photogenic areas.  I patiently had to wait to get a photo in numerous areas only to be frustrated as I was jostled by the crowds or someone would walk into your shot without as much as an apology when it was finally my turn. The crowds made the temple less enjoyable and it certainly lost its mystique.


I wandered the many passages and paths that were like a maze within the complex itself. Many passages were narrow and shallow making me wonder how small the former Khmer people were. I got lost as I went inside and out from darkness to light, only to find my way when I encountered the small Buddha statues dressed in a variety of ways. Each Buddha was decorated slightly different helping me recall my route. The smell of intense in the air would tell me I was getting close to such a small altar with a local person passing you incense sticks for good luck, but then requesting a donation after doing so.

I found John again after getting separated in the large crowd earlier and we retraced our steps to leave. Outside the inner passages we walked along part of corridor one which was recently restored the other still crumbled and fallen. Few people ventured this way and it was much more enjoyable and serene. From here we could see the many walls that were set like mazes making me wonder what other secrets and passages we left unexplored. I wished to return to Ta Prohm again, hopefully without the crowds.

Luckily after long waits or hidden areas within the large temple maze I was able to get some incredible shots I was hoping for.

Luckily after long waits or hidden areas within the large temple maze I was able to get some incredible shots I was hoping for.

Stay tuned…. more temples from Cambodia

Categories: Photography, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tourist in Your Own Town: Parks

It was suggested to make the theme more user friendly I should post it on a regular basis. With a full time job teaching there is little free time, so weekly would be difficult. I decided to try monthly. Each new month I will post a theme for Tourist in Your Own Town. You can then post your own photos about where you live fitting that theme, so we can all learn a little bit more about each other and where we come from.

This month I was thinking about Parks since I went to the small park to see the lotus flowers a few weeks ago. My friend and fellow blogger Lavendar Ladi and I often think alike and she posted about a park before I got this post completed! Great minds… and when you have been friends as long as we have…. well that is just scary sometimes 😉

Here are a few PARK photos from Shanghai….

These parks are in Shanghai. Most parks here are wide open green spaces because most people live in apartments. There are flower gardens and paths for bikes that you can rent too. One funny thing I noticed are the tents! Not for camping, but relaxing and staying out of the sun 🙂

The rules….

  • Post something at a/about park where you live and use the tag Tourist in Your Own Town
  •  add the link to your post in the comment section below
  • link your post back to this post, so we can share about our wonderful neighbourhoods

Stay tuned….

Categories: Photography, Tourist in My Own Town, travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Lotus in Bloom

If you just stopped by and saw my weekly photo challenge post on Focus you would have spotted the lotus blossoms. I thought I should show you some more of the beautiful blooms.


Lotus with seed pod in background

Last weekend my co-teacher, her husband and daughter brought us to Guyi Gardens in Shanghai, which was hosting the lotus exhibition until the end of August. Each summer lotus bloom all over China for about 2 months. Their season is just starting to come to an end. I have only seen lotus once while I have been here. Hangzhou has enormous blooms. We saw them as we drove around West Lake, but didn’t have the opportunity to get out and see them up close.


Here we wandered the park at leisure and I was able to snap a lot of photos. Unfortunately they grow in ponds, so you can’t always get up too close. Luckily I had a good zoom on the camera and could get in tight for a few shots. Many people with large tripods could be spotted throughout the park. The day was really hot, humid with a lot cloud cover. I can only imagine how brilliant the colours would have been in the sunshine.

The lotus pond

The lotus pond

There were numerous ponds with lotus and others with lily pads. We spotted a few teeny tiny frogs and two bright red dragon flies. A small river twisted through the park and you could take a small boat to tour around. Instead we went to a little tea house that was in the centre of the garden where we had a quick break. I had a refreshing watermelon juice and we all snacked on dumplings. The cost of admission was a low 10 RMB per person (about $1.50) and family tickets were also available.

lilly pads

lily pads

The colours ranged from pale pinks, to ivory-white and bright sunny yellow centres. I didn’t notice if the lotus had a fragrance, but they were just so beautiful and they looked like there was a light coming from within. Lotus root is also eaten and as I said in an earlier post I have tried it in a sweet mooncake and as a side dish with a sweet sticky sauce. Both taste delicious.

Stay tuned next week for more…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Photography, post a week, Tourist in My Own Town, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Focus: Weekly Photo Challenge

This week the theme is focus set over at Word Press. The idea is to show 2 similar shots with the background blurred in one and then sharp in the next. I decided to share a few shots I took last weekend when we went to a garden in Shanghai to look at the lotus flowers. I took numerous shots and here are just a few to share. Unfortunately I didn’t have 2 exactly the same.

Lotus bloom in focus and buds are blurred in the background.

Lotus bloom in focus and buds are blurred in the background.

The lotus are almost done for the season. Most were a pale pink, but as below some also come in white.

The pink bloom is in focus in the background and the white bloom is blurry in the foreground.

The pink bloom is in focus in the background and the white bloom is blurry in the foreground.

The lotus is a beautiful flower that grows in ponds all over China. They are quite large and their leaves massive. The roots can also be eaten. I have tried lotus root in moon cakes and as a side dish which was cooked in a sweet sticky sauce. YUM!

This is my submission for the Word Press theme Focus. Head over to see more examples or find out how to post your own.

Stay tuned…


Categories: Photography, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comfort Maple: Tourist in My Own Town

As my time home winds down I wanted to post on The Comfort Maple which is thought to be the oldest living tree in Canada. It is believed this tree is about 530 years old! She is a sugar maple, which is famous for the sticky sweet  sap used to make maple syrup.

Last year you may remember my post on the shoe tree in Niagara and my Aunt suggested writing about the Comfort Maple. I had hoped to post about her for the photo challenge old set by ‘We Drink Because We are Poets’, but didn’t have a chance to get out there until after I posted. A few weeks ago we went in search of this tree and snapped a few photos.

The Comfort Maple is located in Pelham, Ontario. Not far from Fonthill and St. Catharines. Located off Highway 20, a main road that crossed the top of the Niagara Escarpment.

We drove down a small country road and then came to a sign pointing us to the tree. We went down a little side road and came to a large grassy area with the lone tree in the centre. Surrounding the tree is farmers fields. It is peaceful, quiet with only the sound of birds singing merrily in the background. A few benches allow you to sit and drink it all in, how soothing .

The Comfort Maple

The Comfort Maple

Let me tell you she is big! I tried to wrap my arms around her and as you could see I wasn’t successful. I was surprised to see some areas have been bricked up and wires holding her together. Age and time is taking their toll, but someone has decided to hold her together, so we may enjoy her and her great history a little longer.

Tree Hugger

Tree Huger

Up close and sparkling personality

Up close and sparkling personality

This is part of Tourist in My Own Town. If you wish to share something unique and old about where you live tell us about it in the comment box below, or even better add the link so we can check it out 🙂

Stay tuned…

Categories: Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Buds & Blossoms

“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    “Winter is dead.”

A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young


We have had 3 seasons in a fortnight. Just 2 weeks ago we had temps 25-29c; unseasonable. We went to more spring like temps around 16-18c until the temperatures plunged to around 5c. Brrr feels like winter again. The damp chill settled back in and the winds picked up to force you to dig to the back of the closet again and find the warm wooly sweaters that I thought I could pack away until next year.

Magnolia Blossoms

Magnolia Blossoms

The blossoms had been out in full force, but the cold temperatures have made some of them fall, wilt or turn brown. The promise of spring has been forgotten for now, but some hardy blossoms have held on. Hopefully soon the chill will move on and spring will be back. One thing about spring it always brings new life and hope of better things to come.


What is the weather been like in your neighbourhood?

Stay tuned for more…

Categories: Photography, post a week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Travel Theme: Green

Each province in Canada has its own provincial flower. Ontario happens to be the trillium. Each spring for a few short weeks these tri-petaled flowers cover forest floors. Most of the foliage is green except for the 3 white petals, but some have a slight pinkish hue.

Trillium -Niagara Escarpment Niagrar on the Lake

Trillium – Niagara Escarpment Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada

This is in response to Ailsa’s photo challenge GREEN. To see more examples or join in the challenge visit her web page here.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Photography, post a week, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Waiting for Spring

This past week in Shanghai we had a taste of Spring. The winter season is shorter here and milder temperatures can come as early as mid-February. I enjoy the promise of spring, the longer days and warm sunshine.

Here are some dried flowers that I found in a garden when I was home in Canada this past December. It held on and is waiting for  the return of spring.


The orginal shot

The original shot

I played with a photography program and tried different effects with the same shot. Which is your favourite?

Stay tuned …

Categories: Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Snow Shanghai Style

This week it snowed in Shanghai! Snow is a rare occurrence with our location about comparable to the latitude of Texas in the United States. Winters are usually mild, but feel colder due to the high humidity which translates into dampness that chills you to the bone! The first year I was here we had 2 small snowfalls one in December and the other January. Last year during Chinese New Year it was a biting cold with snow flurries, but nothing on the ground. This winter was cold and came a bit earlier than usual. I expected snow, but I never saw any. In early January just before we all returned to work there was snow, but I can’t speak of amounts since I missed it. The day we returned to work it did snow, and a few flurries filled the air and mere skiff covered the ground. It was short lived though.

Have you ever seen snow on a palm tree before?

Have you ever seen snow on a palm tree before?

While I was away on Chinese New Year holiday this year  it snowed again. Most of us were long gone to other holiday destinations, but a few teachers who stayed behind said it was a good amount for Shanghai and it left 2 maybe 3 cm of the white stuff on the ground. This week it snowed with another 2-4 cm of slushy white snow covering the ground. Reports were saying snow was in the forecast, but because it is so rare it is one of those “seeing is believing” things. I awoke very early Tuesday morning thanks to jet lag and peeked out the window. Everything was wet and it appeared it had rained. In the distance the highway, which is usually visible on clear days, was blurry. I thought there was something on the window or my glasses. When I moved I knew it wasn’t me, but something outside. It must be snow! Sure enough it started to move towards me and the usual landmarks slowly became blotted out. In the street lamps I could see the heavy wet stuff coming down hard. My first thought… snow day???

The slightest snow often causes delays and school or bus cancellations, but no phone calls. School was still on. I kept

Wet Slushy Snow Covering the Flowers

Wet Slushy Snow Covering the Flowers

watching as the snow started to cover cars and trees. Deciding not to take my electric scooter I went to catch our staff bus. It was a slushy, slippery mess outside. The flakes were big and fluffy though and it looked beautiful falling down, like feathers in the sky. I snapped a few shots, but my memory card beeped at me to announce it was full. Oh no of all days! The children were super excited about the snow, but we had indoor recess due to how wet it was. No one here comes dressed for snow, so no boots never mind  a snow suit in sight, so we had to enjoy the snow through the windows. By 10 AM the snow had stopped and by noon it was only a memory as most of it was all melted. The children were excited if they found a small pile of slush clinging to existence a little longer than the rest.

What was the weather like where you were this week?

Stay tuned for more 🙂


Categories: Chinese Adventures, everyday occurances, post a week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,