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Sebastian Trzcinski-Clément
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The last condors of California

I made yet another stop. It was in one of the many bends of the scenic Big Sur road, in southern California. I parked the car as I had just noticed three people enjoying the scenery from the cliff top. They seemed to be waiting for something – birds undoubtedly –, two of them with binoculars and another with a telephoto lens hooked up on his camera.

A minute passed. I saw nothing beyond the soothing calm ocean across the horizon and the waves crashing onto the rocky coastline. As I started the engine, the photographer darted past my car – and then I saw them: a couple of Californian condors shot up in the sky, suddenly appearing from below the cliff I was parked on top of. Another tiny parking area was thankfully to be found fifty metres down. In no time, I had my own telephoto lens hooked up onto my camera. And shortly after, a couple of additional photographers joined the party, and obvious signs betrayed the fact that they were not amateurs: a huge telephoto lens with a teleconverter on one side (a 300mm with a 1.4 converter from what I gathered), an antenna to detect the radio-tagged condors on another.

Radio-tagged, I say? There’s a sad reason for that: the California condor, the largest North American land bird, actually became extinct in the wild at the end of the 1980s, mainly because they collided with power lines or poisoned themselves with lead contained in bullets. The 22 remaining wild individuals were captured, trained to avoid power lines(!), before being reintroduced – only two hundred or so today flying out in the wild, half of them in California. The largest land bird, really? Well, its wingspan is about three metres – that’s more than the average height of a ceiling in a house (look around you and try to picture that).

One could therefore think that it’d be fairly easy to photograph them, since they are so large and since they fly in relatively straight and graceful lines at speeds up to 90 km/h. Unfortunately, in the case of a BIF (the acronym for “bird in flight” as I came to realise when I started meddling with the “experts”), a really long telephoto lens is key – so even with my cropped-sensor camera and a 200mm lens, I was a bit too short to be able to hope for the autofocus system to catch razor-sharp images. Yes, once again, I find reason to be a little dissatisfied with my work, especially since I was much better equipped and a little more savvy than when I shot those Andean condors (http://goo.gl/NPOZs) when I was in Peru a year and a half ago. Fair enough, there were some reasons for increased photographic difficulty: those ugly-bald-headed vultures possess an entirely black plumage and the background was a light-reflective ocean, limiting the contrast of the object and distracting the autofocus system. Perhaps should I have selected less of a wide aperture to find the lens’s sweet spot around f/5.6, especially since I could have easily bore with an increased ISO in such bright daylight conditions, as was suggested to me afterwards when I cried on forums.

Enough of my geek talk, back to my costly condors, for they have on average cost $100,000 per head in conservation costs. Guess what? There’s actually a link to Andean condors. To test whether reintroducing captured birds back into the wild would work, captive female Andean condors were released in the US. The experiment being a success, the Andean condors were recaptured… and sent back to South America. Despite their contribution, it is therefore safe to assume they didn’t get any green card. Any resemblance to actual events is purely coincidental, of course.
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Ncl L's profile photomase koplak's profile photoRomin Irani's profile photoSri Wahyuni's profile photo
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Beautiful ! 
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Asocial and dumb – but so cute

Just as proboscis monkeys are endemic to Borneo (see a previous post: http://goo.gl/55b6v6) or just as dodos once existed solely in Mauritius, koalas can only be found in Australia, specifically on its southern coasts where they weigh twice as much as the ones on the eastern shores. It’s no surprise these cute marsupials have become an emblem of the country, although urbanisation and deforestation (Australia shamefully ranking fifth in the world by deforestation land area) have contributed to reduce their population to somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000.

Despite this somewhat low number, it was fairly easy to spot some of them as I was driving along the famous Great Ocean Road in the state of Victoria. There are some well known spots like the road going up the hill in Kennett River, and then I got lucky, spotting a sleepy one high up in a tree of a national park and a few ones feeding on the road to Cape Otway. It’s adorable to notice how they cling to trees with their sharp claws while using one forepaw to grasp leaves, suddenly stopping to slowly look around. Arg, I want to touch those big fluffy ears!

But don’t be mistaken: koalas are mostly nocturnal, sedentary and sleep twenty hours a day. It’s not that they are particularly lazy though: it’s actually due to their diet, essentially made up of eucalyptus leaves which unfortunately have limited nutritional and caloric content. This diet restriction may also explain why koalas can’t afford to have a large brain despite their large head. In fact, they have one of the smallest brains proportionally to their body weight among mammals… which means koalas are pretty dumb, unable to adapt to unfamiliar circumstances.

No wonder that after sleeping so much they feel a little cranky. Seriously, apart from mothers with their offspring, koalas don’t bond more than a few minutes each day – they’re completely asocial. I can let you imagine what these few minutes of "bonding" are all about. Think hard… okay, I know you have a naughty mind but if not, how do you think mammals reproduce, huh?! Well, even if I won’t post pornographic koala videos (I wasn’t lucky to witness their “social” behaviour although I did hear the male’s loud low-pitched bellows), you’ll perhaps be interested to know that, like most marsupials, the male koala has a bifurcated penis and the female has two lateral vaginas (although only one opening)… what the heck, seriously?!

Anyway, even if they’re dumb, slow, inactive, and not particularly friendly to one another, koalas are still part of the animal-I-want-to-bring-back-home-and-cuddle species – and it’s really all that matters, thank you very much.
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TGIC Thank God it's Caturday's profile photosiritoitet laurensius's profile photodamar garchia's profile photoJanusz Woldanski's profile photo
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so cute koalla, love..love..love
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A major water temple up in central Bali

It’s not particularly impressive as such but it is on every postcard of Bali. This 17th-century temple named Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, literally the “temple at the beginning of lake Bratan”, however turns out to be a major temple: it’s one of the nine temples protecting the island from evil spirits, it’s even a water temple since it’s actually built on tiny islands. That’s at least one reason why the temple area is so crowded with pilgrims and tourists.

Another reason for the temple’s popularity is probably because it sits along one of the only three roads that traverse the centre of the island to reach the northern shore without having to go all around the island (which would probably be in the range of 400 kilometres). My nostrils consequently received their fair share of carbon monoxide coming from all the badly-maintained tourist buses and minivans that I couldn’t always overtake – imagine me on a scooter shrouded in a cloud of dark smoke, yuk.

An additional explanation for the temple’s reputation is undoubtedly the simplicity and the harmony of the eleven-thatched-tier pagoda (if one dismisses the kitsch frogs added around the temple for whatever obscure reason), as well as its setting on the lake surrounded by the often-cloud-covered mountain tops.

The crowds and the changing weather conditions didn’t really allow for any respite on my way across the island. And yet, as I was spending quite a bit of time trying to frame the pagoda along different angles and different light conditions, a ceremony hidden behind stone walls caught my attention – a ceremony in honour of the water goddess most likely, to ensure the supply of water for Balinese farmers, since the lake is a main irrigation source for the area. Notice once again how men wear their white headdress called udengs (see a previous post on the topic: http://goo.gl/524u6e) and how women carry baskets of offerings on their heads.

On the way back a day later, it was a cloud of heavy rain that I had to ride through, yay. For the crater lake of Bratan is located at an altitude of around 1,000 metres – my observations of Balinese weather up there led me to conclude that brief but heavy rain downpours are inevitable just about every day so one simply needs to time things appropriately... or be covered up, especially since it then gets quite chilly. Or is it because pilgrims pray at Puru Bratan every day and their prayers get answered by the water goddess?!
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Ncl L's profile photokaryn tiara's profile photosusi silaban's profile photoAinur Rofiq's profile photo
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Really wouw..
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Gliding on the Kinabatangan river in Borneo

Light rain was constantly whipping my face. Once more, my China-bought rain cape was making its wonders, protecting me and my photography gear. We were about a dozen on that simple boat, on the lookout for animals on the sides of Kinabatangan river, in the middle of the rainforest in Borneo. The wide muddy-coloured river was uninviting – after all, crocodiles were roaming even if I didn't get to see them.

The grey clouds didn't offer much chance for the sunlight to shine on the rainforest, making it harder to spot the animals often located high up in the trees and even more difficult to take any good-quality pictures. To give you a sense of what that river safari looked like, here’s a brief eight-times accelerated video montage: Kinabatangan River, Borneo. Fair enough the montage is not as amazing as that GoPro ad I love – and which music usually wakes me up in the morning – (GoPro HERO3: Almost as Epic as the HERO3+) but what do you want!

The boat guide was unsurprisingly a keen observer. Without him, I’d never have been able to spot half of the animals I eventually saw. Each of the three two-hour rides would grant me with good opportunities to shoot different animal species with my camera: pygmy elephants (http://goo.gl/hH0mvZ), kingfishers (http://goo.gl/8ICQbr), proboscis monkeys (http://goo.gl/55b6v6), but also lizards, purple and white herons, orang-utans and many silver monkeys.

I couldn’t however help but associate together the last two pictures of my album: the ominous smoke-puffing chimneys above the palm tree plantations that I noticed as I was leaving the ever-shrinking rainforest and going back to “civilisation” versus that sad monkey seemingly waving back at me...
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Marylis Clement's profile photoLidya Novianti's profile photomarjo tykkälä's profile photoMargaret Wong's profile photo
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do you love my Indonesia mr. clement ?
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Farming seaweed – or fishing for tourists?

Apart from the few children making silly faces and playing with the carcass of a dead dog, the local Indonesian farmers were relatively old men and women – or at least past beyond the prime of their lives. Their ritual didn’t vary, tied to the tide (ha, love that internal rhyme) and harvesting times – patiently attaching seaweed seedlings to lines attached to the bottom of the ocean; diligently harvesting ripe seaweed, sheltered from the sun under their round bamboo hats; endlessly walking back and forth between the small wooden boats and the shore, carrying heavy baskets of green and brown seaweed; and waiting for it to dry during three days, up to seven when it rains.

Unsurprisingly to me, for I had always associated eating seaweed with Japan ever since my breakfast in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese guesthouse) up in Takayama in the Japanese “Alps” (and those marinated sour cherries, yuk), seaweed farming began in Japan at the end of the 17th century. Dare I add only then since I could easily visualise in my mind an Akira Kurosawa film in which such farming would be practised as far back as the Middle Ages? I’m probably too uncultivated (haha) in the agri/aqui-cultural domain to be able to tell what kind of farming was filmed though.

Most of the seaweed grown on the small island of Nusa Lembongan, southeast of Bali, is however destined for the Asian cosmetic industry. One problem though is that tourism on that island took off about ten years ago, drawing more local young people to the tourism industry (remember my surfing pictures? http://goo.gl/CwHhmB), however cyclical it can be, instead of the more tiring, lower-earnings work as seaweed farmers – although some apparently nonetheless work in both industries.

According to my quick research and because I love data, each farmer collects between half a ton and one ton at each harvest (which occurs five weeks or so), each kilogram bringing in between 2,000 and 8,000 Indonesian Rupiahs (that’s only 17 to 68 cents of a US dollar) depending on the type of seaweed and market fluctuations – so it’s on average a $300 monthly income which is a bit more than the average Indonesian wage, although I haven’t taken into account production costs… and that income is often not enough for farmers to have access to electricity, let alone fresh water. And since there are no processing facilities on the island, there’s no way for local farmers to earn a bigger share of the approximate ten times increase in seaweed price once it reaches international markets (according to prices I could check on Alibaba). I guess I’ll think a bit more about it before going into that business myself...

Teaser: in my next post, we’ll head to a 600-year old Buddhist temple in northern Thailand which would never have been founded save for a (white) elephant.
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Umi Ardiningsih's profile photoAnggi febriansyah's profile photoRini Saadiah's profile photoMargaret Wong's profile photo
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Wouww..really superb image.amazing story
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Have him in circles
111,422 people
 
A dynasty’s tombs

India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was still free from British yoke. At the time, a multitude of kingdoms with their Muslim sultans and Hindu maharajas at their head were spread across the Indian subcontinent. It’s also about that time that the British East India Company managed to increase its trade influence, Western powers playing behind the scenes supporting kings against one another and eventually leading to the downfall of the latter and their submission to the British empire.

So let’s get back in time. Starting in 1518 and for almost 170 years, the Qutub Shahi dynasty ruled over the kingdom of Golconda in what is today the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India. All the sultans of the dynasty were buried in the mausoleums you can see in the album, the most impressive with domes that were originally overlaid with blue and green tiles but were neglected over time. Yet even if the tombs have lost their past splendour, the quiet atmosphere of the site contrasts sharply with the bustling life of the old city – or the bustling life of any city in India, I should say. I could only hear a distant muezzin calling for prayer but was otherwise left alone to my wanderings on the fairly large grounds of the tombs, save for a couple of men who could only speak five words of English to me (don’t forget that barely 15% of Indians can speak English), perhaps a little surprised I could enjoy such Indo-Persian architecture… just as I was surprised to think they would also actually care about ruins.

There’s one additional interesting building roughly towards the centre of the site, turning out to be one of the finest ancient Persian examples of its kind: it is the bath… the mortuary one, intended for washing the bodies of the dead sultans as part of the traditional ritual – before the bodies would be put to rest in burial crypts located just under the visible external structure. The mortuary bath is one of the places where I played with shooting techniques – in this case taking hand-held bracketed shots (i.e. photos at different exposures) so I could merge them together afterwards in post-processing and effectively render the details in the darker and brighter parts of the image (or what is called HDR – High Dynamic Range). The site also proved an easy testing ground for trying out the back-button focusing technique (AF-ON), following my dissatisfaction at shooting wildlife recently (stay tuned for an upcoming post about my attempts to capture some of the very last elements of an American species in California). But on that occasion at the Qutub Shahi tombs, I wasn’t too dissatisfied with my shots and also had some fun playing with post-processing, in particular using some Google+ tools (you may recognise the HDR scape, drama, and black & white effects).

But let’s return to my dead people. Some got lucky, if I may say so: they were the favourites of the sultan and got to be buried next to them – a couple of physicians, a pair of courtesans, a commander-in-chief. But only two tombs – of all tombs – don’t bear any inscriptions. Can you guess why? I actually don’t know the exact answer but I speculate this has to do with the bloody actions caused by one of the two. The founder of the Qutub Shahi dynasty was in fact assassinated… by one of his own sons… who didn’t stop there as he blinded his elder brother and forced his other brother to flee. Nice. The exiled brother would however be reinstated back on the throne eight years afterwards, the murderous brother eventually dying from cancer after seven years and his young son only reigning for a year… those two being the ones whose tombs stand free from inscriptions. I guess the architects of the tombs had reached the limits of how much history can be bent in a favourable way...
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Alyssa Dasilva's profile photoRatih Kharisya Adzin's profile photoAgus Wibowo's profile photoSebastian Trzcinski-Clément's profile photo
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wow,,,,,,marvelous !!!! i wanna come to india and see abt it all
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Ephemeral reality – and imagination

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 ominously flew over the densely-populated island of Penang three weeks ago – but eventually carried on flying towards the south Indian ocean. The hypotheses and speculations on the disappearance of that flight have captivated me – I have been reading every single bit of available “information” every single day, strangely fascinated by this ongoing mystery.

My theory is that a fire on the plane – possibly caused by the 200 kilograms of lithium batteries it was carrying or by blown-up tires – forced the pilots to shut down electrical components, therefore possibly affecting communications means, in order to try and contain the fire. Maybe they even tried to gain altitude to starve off the fire from oxygen? And then they would have dialed in flight coordinates to land on the nearest long-enough landing strip, possibly Langkawi? But by that time the fire could possibly have spread, smoke intoxicating the cabin and the cockpit, and for whatever reason, the pilots imagined they’d never land safely and preferred to leave the autopilot on to get the aircraft to crash where nobody would be hurt on ground – i.e. heading towards the Indian ocean – not crashing right away so as to let satellites detect its trajectory… Or maybe a pilot just went crazy, who knows... will we ever even know if no debris are found? I would think that this story makes good fodder for a film – I’d be possibly inspired to write a thriller novel inspired from the speculation and the facts around all this.

I digress, as usual, although the common theme beyond showing you pictures of Penang in Malaysia – and George Town specifically, its capital – is imagination and how it goes by definition beyond reality, how imagination feeds itself from artifacts and tidbits in our lives. And what better way to showcase a town than to let artists express their imagination directly onto the walls of the town. In the case of George Town, some pieces were actually commissioned, some as part of a festival two years ago, while others sprung up freely, inspired by the lively and often humourous murals and steel rod caricatures. Boyish-looking but internationally-renowned Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic is one of those artists whose works I photographed, such as the (real) bicycle with the two (painted) children. Louis Gan is another, the artist behind the (painted) brother and sister on a (real) swing – I really like this blending of real-life objects and drawings, with passer-bys clinging to those objects when posing for pictures.

Of course, it’s not without posing challenges when art is considered too controversial or possibly damaging to historical facades, or when those new art pieces are themselves being vandalised or gradually fade away with time. The somehow ephemeral nature of that funny street art – string-ball or painted or ‘kung-fued’ cats, minions on a pole, a painted boy on a real motorcycle – truly resonated with me and I’m sure with many others too. Take a look for yourself – in my album or in person (here’s a Google map with the location of some of those art pieces: http://goo.gl/zVnWS9).

One thing that's certain is that flight MH370 didn’t eventually crash on Penang. The flight’s most likely crash – symbolically represented on that last photo in my album – could indeed be considered a one-off event, a blip on the radar screen of sad world events. But I gather the mystery still shrouding many aspects of what should be an ordinary journey that many ordinary people could have taken has kept me intrigued, perhaps hypnotised or even entertained, even if it’s mixed with a tint of dread. I can thus relate to words by George Bernard Shaw in his only science-fiction 5-play opus called Back to Methuselah (full text: http://goo.gl/L4ek78), the last play of which, As Far as Thought Can Reach: A.D. 31,920, is accordingly set thirty thousand years in the future when great longevity is the norm (I wish!): “without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable”.
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Ankit Doshi's profile photoIway Sherii's profile photosuci zuyo's profile photoSebastian Trzcinski-Clément's profile photo
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no so bad, this is so ammazing
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Saint Patrick’s Day in San Francisco

The rows of people posted on each side of Market Street, in downtown San Francisco, mostly remained silent as the parade marched on. The odd brass bands and loudspeakers did try to liven up the atmosphere a little – of the about hundred groups which paraded, I’d easily say that the one made of (ex or pretending-to-be) hippies from the 1960s generation was the most hilarious and joyful. Compare their faces to the ones made by the very serious scouts, let alone the fake smiles of the local senator, the city’s mayor or other district “supervisors”... making me wonder if those guys really thought that waving hands in slow motion and playing at throwing sweets at bystanders would make them more “likable” – or perhaps is it that they have a fraction of Irish blood in their veins just like we all have East African blood from a few million years ago?!

Truth be told, Saint Patrick's Day has been celebrated in Frisco – or San Fran, however you want to call the city – for the past 162 years, undoubtedly linked to the fact that Irish Americans were its largest ethnic group for quite some time until the top spot went to Chinese Americans at the turn of the current century. That is if you don’t count hobos as an ethnic group since they’re to be found on every street of the city centre, a good fraction of them clearly and sadly being mentally deranged although they’re generally not (too) aggressive. The largest Chinatown outside of Asia is otherwise said to be in San Francisco – and maybe there even are Sino-Irish families nowadays.

It did seem that all trade associations, corporations and guilds of the city had decided to parade – the police force, firefighters, various Churches, dance groups, soccer clubs and what not. Heck, most didn’t even bother to wear the traditional green colour although green-beaded necklaces were thrown out in addition of sweets and other candies.

Why green, I hear you say? I thought Saint Patrick was traditionally associated with the colour blue? Very good remarks, young Padawan. Listen carefully since there are two topics we need to consider:

First, the colour green has been associated with Ireland for the past 500 years when the green harp flag was first used by the Irish Catholic Confederation, green being the colour of rebellion.

Secondly, 800 years before that, we’re in the 9th century of our era, Saint Patrick's feast day – the 17th of March, Patrick’s supposed date of death – had started to be celebrated by Irish people. British-born bishop Patrick had partly contributed to having brought Christianity on the island in the 5th century and naturally gradually became Ireland’s patron saint.

Now mix the colour green and Saint Patrick in a pint of beer, or two since we're talking about Ireland, throw in some three-leaved shamrock (used by Patrick to explain the nebulous concept of Holy Trinity to Irish pagans), and by roughly the 19th and 20th centuries you get Saint Patrick’s Day becoming a national holiday associated with the colour green and celebrating everything Irish in general. Tada! Or cheers, rather!
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Nice views of a fun festival :) I think  we need a St Pat's days parade here ;) Not just lolling around in the various pubs ;)
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The long walk of the white elephant

The white elephant had been released into the jungle. Yes, a white elephant – with a relic of the Buddha attached to its back. We’re in the 1370s of this era, times when Islam reached Malaysia, the Ming dynasty just started in China and Scotland won back its independence after two long wars against England. King Nu Naome of the Lanna Kingdom, of what is part of Thailand today, was looking for a sign, some kind of revelation.

The elephant marched on for weeks, in the jungle, before it slowly climbed up a mountain west of Chiang Mai. I gather the long and winding road that was first built half a millenium later probably wasn’t too far off from the elephant’s own path. I wasn’t on an elephant when I went up that same mountain, but on a scooter, so elephant jokes (http://goo.gl/hH0mvZ) naturally come to (my twisted) mind, such as “how do you put five elephants on a motorcycle?”.

Back to my white elephant. When it reached the peak of the granite mountain, perched at 1,676 metres, it trumpeted three times, laid down slowly, closed its eyes – and expired its last breath. “Eureka!”, exclaimed the King, “this is where I shall build a temple”. And that’s how the Doi Suthep temple was born, bearing the name of the mountain it was constructed upon, becoming one of northern Thailand’s most sacred temples.

In July every year, ten thousand students retrace the elephant’s footsteps and its long walk on foot so they can embrace the spirit of the city, believed to reside in the mountain, pay their respects to the Buddhist relic, and on the way introduce themselves to each other.

On that new year’s eve when I was there, the sound of music could be heard from the entrance of the temple grounds – an entrance that is reached after climbing the 300 steps of a naga-balustrade staircase. Costumed children were dancing (check out a previous post http://goo.gl/3eYkH), temporary monks (see http://goo.gl/Gvdnm on that “temporary” notion) were playing with big bells, and pilgrims continued their way towards the main cloisters, attracted to the gold-plated chedi (or stupa) in which the Buddhist relic is enshrined. Can you notice the five-tiered cylinders at the top of the chedi? They were erected to honour Chiang Mai’s independence from Burma and its union with Thailand. And what about those delightful tinkling bells with heart-shaped metal inscriptions? Fair enough, those little statues of laughing monks are terribly kitsch...

I tried to find a spot where I could stand and discreetly photograph the pilgrims, disciplined in how they entered and exited the loop of other pilgrims walking around the chedi, flower in one hand and sometimes the lyrics of their prayers in another. Seeing them going around wasn’t without reminding me of the circumambulation of Muslims around the Kaaba in Mecca (which is unfortunately not open to non-worshippers). It’s interesting to note that the act of moving around a sacred object is somewhat common to most religions.

I however didn’t get to verify the relic’s magical powers, being apparently able to glow, vanish, move itself or even replicate itself – in fact, the relic at Doi Suthep is supposed to be the smaller duplicate of the original. What? Of course this is true! Okay, I’ll admit another king back in the days wasn’t convinced either and let the monk, who claimed the relic came from the Buddha’s shoulder bone, bring it to the aforementioned king. And the elephant being white? Come on, there’s even a statue to prove it! Tsk tsk.
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Chelle Gray's profile photooewais albany's profile photoRenata Davidson's profile photoAtcharapan Kamsuprom's profile photo
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Awesome....great shot!
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”If I had such a nose, I'd amputate it!”

It’s impossible not to recognise Borneo’s long-nosed reddish-brown monkeys once I caught sight of them up in the trees on the banks of the Kinabatangan river. They’re fairly good swimmers but they spend most of their time leaping in trees. That habitat is unfortunately being destroyed, their population numbers consequently severely decreasing, just like those of kingfishers (http://goo.gl/8ICQbr) and pygmy elephants (http://goo.gl/hH0mvZ). That’s for the sad part of the story.

Sexual dimorphism is particularly pronounced among those monkeys (hang on, I talked about dimorphism, don’t stop at the very first word of my sentence although we’ll get to that side too): males are a bit bigger in size, and its undoubtedly their large nose (also known as “proboscis” – that’s still an easier word than my surname) that distinguishes them from females (which by the way still have pretty large noses for primates).

Those monkeys turn out to be endemic to Borneo: that means they can’t be found anywhere else in the world, except in zoos obviously… or in the Netherlands, because proboscis monkeys are also known as monyet belanda or orang belanda in Bahasa which means the “Dutch monkey” and the “Dutchman” respectively, as Indonesians had observed that their Dutch colonisers had similar large bellies and noses (I won’t comment).

In case you didn’t get it, the title of my story is a quote extracted from a well-known soliloquy declaimed by Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac in response to his opponent’s mockery, simplistically describing Cyrano’s nose as “big”. You won’t regret it if you are a lover of words: take a minute to pay attention to, enjoy and laugh at the carefully crafted words and rhymes of that “nose” tirade – although the original text is in French (http://goo.gl/ZW65G), the English version is not bad at all and quite faithful to the French text:

You might have said at least a hundred things
By varying the tone. . .like this, suppose,. . .
Aggressive: 'Sir, if I had such a nose
I'd amputate it!' Friendly: 'When you sup
It must annoy you, dipping in your cup;
You need a drinking-bowl of special shape!'
Descriptive: ''Tis a rock!. . .a peak!. . .a cape!
-- A cape, forsooth! 'Tis a peninsular!'
Curious: 'How serves that oblong capsular?
For scissor-sheath? Or pot to hold your ink?'
Gracious: 'You love the little birds, I think?
I see you've managed with a fond research
To find their tiny claws a roomy perch!'
Truculent: 'When you smoke your pipe. . .suppose
That the tobacco-smoke spouts from your nose --
Do not the neighbors, as the fumes rise higher,
Cry terror-struck: "The chimney is afire"?'
Considerate: 'Take care,. . .your head bowed low
By such a weight. . .lest head o'er heels you go!'
Tender: 'Pray get a small umbrella made,
Lest its bright color in the sun should fade!'
Pedantic: 'That beast Aristophanes
Names Hippocamelelephantoles
Must have possessed just such a solid lump
Of flesh and bone, beneath his forehead's bump!'
Cavalier: 'The last fashion, friend, that hook?
To hang your hat on? 'Tis a useful crook!'
Emphatic: 'No wind, O majestic nose,
Can give thee cold!--save when the mistral blows!'
Dramatic: 'When it bleeds, what a Red Sea!'
Admiring: 'Sign for a perfumery!'
Lyric: 'Is this a conch?. . .a Triton you?'
Simple: 'When is the monument on view?'
Rustic: 'That thing a nose? Marry-come-up!
'Tis a dwarf pumpkin, or a prize turnip!'
Military: 'Point against cavalry!'
Practical: 'Put it in a lottery!
Assuredly 't would be the biggest prize!'
Or. . .parodying Pyramus' sighs. . .
'Behold the nose that mars the harmony
Of its master's phiz! blushing its treachery!'
– Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Act I scene 4 (http://goo.gl/iPI343).

If you want to see how it goes in French, here’s Gérard Depardieu (whose nose is also recognisable – probably not a coincidence) at it, some twenty-four years ago (that is before he went a little bit bonkers): La tirade du nez de Cyrano : l'auto dérision à son meilleur !.

Oh and there’s another distinctive “red” trait that makes male proboscis monkeys unmistakable, ahem: take a look at a couple of my pictures again… Let’s just say that proboscis monkeys are known to enjoy sex even with no reproductive purpose… which is obviously the case when mounting their same-sex counterparts which they apparently also do. And since the Olympic games are currently taking place at Sochi: Luge - The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion TV Commercial Ad ;-).

Teaser: in my next post, we’ll head to a small island located southeast of Bali, home to a completely-manual aqua-cultural industry that started off 350 years ago in Japan. Can you guess which one I’m talking about?
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12 comments
 
Fascinating series :) And I enjoyed the translation about Cyrano!
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Sharing the passion for Google technologies and leading teams across southeast Asia, India, the Middle East and Africa
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  • Google
    present
  • Dell
  • Estin & co
  • TNT Express
  • Accenture
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Zürich
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Paris - London
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Demanding. Passionate.
Introduction

What I write about. Most of my posts are true stories with pictures of my wanderings across the planet, from Peru to Thailand and many other countries in between. I don’t really have a permanent home anymore, especially since I live with very little and considering the exciting and privileged job I have at Google. Drafting those stories, selecting and processing photos take about three hours each – that is why I don’t spam you more than once or twice per week with my posts, and that is also why your +1s and comments are encouraging. An index of all my posts, classified in many ways, is available for your perusal. If you can’t be bothered to go through that index, why don’t you take a look at my photos of various animals (hermit crabs and no, I don't kick crabs anymore; Andean condors; Borneo kingfishers; dolphins in Bali; monkeys in Thailand), stories of my family (my grandpa, my late grandma, the cord, Litsa), famous landscapes (Machu Picchu, Borobudur, Bromo volcano), awkward places (underground mosque, water palace, salt ponds, circular Inca terraces, Buddha's head entrapped in a tree, a hotel for bees, long-necked women), my most popular posts (Javanese dancers, Thai dancers) or just sunsets (in Thailand, in Indonesia).

About me. I can be sarcastic, I listen, I check facts (I'm Zetetic – I just love this word and love words in general), I'm an organisational freak, I read and I take humble stabs at writing, I watch movies,, I cannot go on without music, I love photography (check my photo albums), I travel most of the time (otherwise my social life is mainly limited to playing badminton once a week), I'm a citizen of the world, I pay attention and have come to deeply enjoy speaking in public, always trying to enthuse my audience. I don't drink (not even coffee), I don't smoke – and never did. I'm kind but I'm a bit stubborn (okay, maybe more than a bit – my siblings think I’m Sheldon Cooper while others say I have a vague resemblance to Tom Cruise). I'm a quiet person but I am always bustling with (crazy) ideas and stories. I kiss slowly (I'm a Frenchman, does that mean anything? Maybe it does since I can relate to bleak chic) but I don't feel like having children. I'm somewhat of a tormented soul too – my school of thought is Camusian-Nietzschean-Cynic. Trying to be hedonistic too (I fail miserably), which is not contradictory with caring for and helping others, sometimes being a positive deviant.

How to send me a message. Click on the email icon below my cover photo, next to my name – note that you need to be logged in to be able to send a message. Alternatively, if you use Gmail, you can directly type my name as you compose a message, even without knowing my email address.
Education
  • Collège des Ingénieurs
    MBA
  • Stanford University
    Advanced Project Management
  • Supélec
    Master of Engineering
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