Lisbon, Portugal

This is my first time to Lisbon. It was part of a business trip, so as can be expected, it is mainly airport, hotel, meetings and then back to the airport. However, I planned to have an evening out in town on the last evening before flying out. Travelled light as I was not sure about security in the city (it felt safe, but take standard precautions). Packed a Leica M2, Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE as I wanted maximum sharpness at f1.4 and brought along 2 rolls of 400TX film which I will push to 800 ISO to get acceptable exposure. Walked around down town and here are the results. Another thing to add is how cheap it felt to be in Lisbon – after being used to the cost of cities like Paris. A taxi from the airport to town cost less than 10 Euros, and cocktails in bars are 3 Euros each. Makes for a case for a return visit in the future.

 Marques de Pombal Metro Station Marques de Pombal Metro Station  Baixa-Chiado Station Baixa-Chiado Station  Chiado at night Chiado at night  Small town square in front of National Theatre of São Carlos Small town square in front of National Theatre of São Carlos

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Shanghai, China: Shanghai Film Park


It is difficult to write about something 5 months after. For one, I can hardly remember how I got to the Film Park. But I still remember how it happened, I’ve read about this place in Shanghai where many movies were shot, especially the ones that depict Shanghai pre World War II, and for completeness sake, let’s just place that in the 1930s. I can recall Kung Fu Hustle. So, there was no real direction available on the internet, and I had the GPS coordinates only. I remembered taking the Shanghai metro to the southwest, changed into a bus, a wrong bus, and then having to walk a bit and one more bus before I got to within 1km of the park by GPS.

Shanghai Movie Park

As of writing, maps of China on Google Maps has to be viewed in map view and no satellite. There is a little 500m offset on it. I did a little internet sleuthing and came up with this address, copied and pasted (shall I say plagiarized?) without much though:

Shanghai Film Park, Chedun Town, 4915 Beisong Gong Lu, near Cheting Gong Lu
车墩镇北松公路4915号,近车停公路
Coordinates: 31.01228, 121.31037

Now that I have, hopefully, given enough instructions to get there, let me first start by saying that this is one of the hidden gems in Shanghai. Sure, the internet has plenty of day tours, but do you REALLY need a tour guide in a movie studio? I was there late in the afternoon, and there was a movie that was being shot at that time. I can’t imagine another studio where you could just walk up to the set, and watch the film crew doing their stuff.

There is an entry fee, but it is a pittance, a little less than lunch for a tourist. Since a local can eat for less than 10RMB I’d make that clear first. I can’t recall the entrance fee, lets just say its between 10-15RMB at the most. Could even be less.

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Henan Province, China: Zhengzhou, Zhoukou and Kaifeng

Street Performer in Kaifeng
Night Market in Kaifeng

Hanging around in Kaifeng

No phone while driving? Nice one...

National day in China is special. For the party member, this is the 60th such celebration and from what I’ve heard, there will be more fireworks burnt tonight than during the Beijing Olympics and the giant footsteps will make its way to Shanghai, if what I heard is correct. To me it’s quite obvious they will use more fireworks for the 1 Oct celebrations, especially when you consider it will be celebrated country-wide.

Debate aside, along with the midautumn festival, I get to have 6 days off. All of it public holidays.

Now I’ve been fixated on Henan province since early this year when I read about it. Early golden dynastic years of the Chinese empire happened here. Out of the 8 ancient capitals of China, 4 are located here. That would be Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, Luoyang and Anyang. After the first emperor set up camp in Xian, the capital quickly moved to Henan (I believe it was Luoyang, but wikipedia will tell you what it was). Of course Longmen grottoes/caves are here. So is the very commercialised Shaolin temple at Song Shan. Better still, my chinese surname, Chen, the top 5 most common chinese surname, originated here in Henan. The article I read indicated it was in Puyang. My search on the web says another town to the east of Henan which I doubt I will visit due to time constraints. More googling says that it began when Chen state was established, and so on, and the town inside Chen State is today Zhoukou, not too far from Zhengzhou and Kaifeng.

Retro province requires retro equipment. Leica M6 and M2 doing the duties for Henan Province along with 15 rolls of film.

So, the masterplan is to fly into Zhengzhou and cover all 4 ancient capitals and their most important sights and cover two thirds of the cities which are the possible origin of my surname. All these in 6 days.

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Pictures from Sichuan/Guangxi Trip

Coming back from those two provinces, I ended up with 12 rolls of film, 1200 pictures from the DSLR and 1500 pictures from the point and shoot. As you can imagine it takes a long long long time to sort and categorize them and delete the junk shots. I have spent a week developing the rolls of film, and I can only go thru 200 pictures a night maximum for the DSLR as they are all shot in RAW NEF format and needs some kind of adjustments in Lightroom. 
So bear with me for a moment. I will put up the pictures on the postings and will announce on Twitter or Jaiku once I get them ready. Post processing sucks. But there are some nice pictures there!!!

This will also mark the start of me putting watermarks with copyright logo on the pictures, even though they are all small. Read about how pictures are reused without permission and just wanted to be sure I’m protected as much as possible.

Planning to label the posts with the following:
– *Incomplete* means I have not started on it yet
– *Partial* means that I have loaded pictures from some but not all my cameras yet. Soon to have more pictures coming up.

Travels: Kirifuri Kougen: Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

Noon at the Kirifuri Highland
When you look at the map of Nikko, there are 3 major attractions. There’s Nikko town proper, with all its UNESCO temples where the majority of tourists are dropped, then to the west there’s Lake Chuzenji and the Onsen at the end of the road, including Senjogahara, which I did in the last trip… and finally there’s the east with Kirifuri highlands. And a visit is not over till I’ve gone to Kirifuri, which is the destination this week. Mountains, forests, valleys & cows!

Its a similar early morning sight. I am having a McGriddles at the McDonalds at Asakusa in the alley near to the Tobu railway station, waiting for the Tobu Sightseeing Center to open its doors at 7:45am to buy the 4400yen All Nikko Pass. The current expectation is that this will not be as impressive as the latter but the only way to find out would be to go and have a look.

Tobu-Nikko Train Stationmaster's office (Leica M6, 50mm Summicron)

While having my McGriddles, it looks as though the bus ride to Kirifuri Kogen will be cheaper to go a-la-carte rather than a full All Nikko pass. A bus ride to Kirifuri cost just about 650 yen according to the web. Making the quick decision to jump on the next available train to Nikko without waiting for the sightseeing centre to open. Looks like I don’t need the All-Nikko pass this time.  Again, cheapest ticket is the 2hr train to Tobu Nikko at 1320yen. The limited express trains costs double as they have reserved seats and possibly half an hour quicker. They seem to call these limited express and the services have names like Kegon and Kinu. For me, I can spend 30 minutes extra. Everything is routine now for me with the Tobu station at Asakusa. This is my third time here. Buy ticket, go to platform 5 and board the first 2 trains away from the station entrance. Remember, the other train cars get left behind on the way to Tobu Nikko.

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