Seven Super Shots

Madhu at The Urge to Wander nominated me for another of those exciting inter-blogosphere photo challenges.  I can’t believe it was almost two months ago, but the evidence is irrefutable.  There are rules, of course, and although I’ve no idea how to Tweet them as stipulated, I’m proud to enter seven of my photographs in the Hostel Bookers 7 Super Shots competition – a themed challenge responding to the seven prompts:

An image that:
… takes my breath away – The Bayon Face

For me, visiting places like Angkor, Borobudur, and Ephesus, for instance, carries an additional burden of expectation for not only are they repositories of great cultural and historical significance that I’ve longed to see since I was a girl, but my imagination has enlivened them with the exploits of their modern-day ‘discoverers’.  I’d spent almost my entire first day pouring over the bas-relief carvings of Angkor Wat and was feeling the stress of insufficient time to do likewise at the nearby Bayon, when I popped out of a tower doorway and turned left.  There, in front of me – right there in front of me – was a face of such exquisite beauty and tranquility that it took my breath away.  Today it does so still, remembering that feeling of surprised awe, and gratitude – that something so beautiful should still exist, and at my good fortune in having seen it.

… makes me laugh or smile – The Gondolier’s Dog

I have to admit the gondoliers of Venice, as an occupational group, were never on my ‘most greatly admired’ list.  This last visit though, as I saw the effect of the global economic crisis even in Venice – and took my first gondola ride – I was finally persuaded to embrace these nimble lagoon walkers when I spied this fellow crossing the Grand Canal at S. Angelo.  I yelped with laughter, almost missing the shot – you’ve just got’ta love a man who takes his dog to work!

… makes me dream – On a Slow Boat to China

As a child I was brought up on the stories of Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham, the songs of Noel Coward, the great swing and jazz bands of the late ‘40s and ‘50s, and the romance of travel, particularly to the ‘mysterious’ East.  Lilting lyrics like ‘… on a slow boat to China …’ created such tangible images in my childish imagination that when I saw this longboat slicing through the liquid gold waters of the Mekong it was as though I had stepped into the dreams that have fueled my wanderlust all these years.  It was 2006, on the west bank of the Mekong, while I was waiting for the punt to cross over to Kong Island  – the largest of the Si Phan Don, the Four Thousand Islands, in southern Lao.

… makes me think – The Red Elephant

The red elephant is from the Kataragama Devale, one of the four temples devoted to Gods and Goddesses from India who, over millennia, have been transformed by popular culture into protectors of Lanka.  Every time I watch the Kandy perahera, and see the devotion still accorded the relics carried by the red elephant, it makes me think a lasting peace between the people of this troubled nation is possible.

… makes my mouth water – Mangosteen & Memories

Should my selection be that incomparable meal at Venissa in the Venice lagoon last year, or my friend Mo’s Crab Curry, her Wambatu Pahi, or fish and chips by candlelight at a picnic table on Bondi Beach?  What about shucking oysters off the rocks and eating them fresh from the sea, or window displays of charcuterie, or patisserie anywhere in France, the smell of baking bread, of crushed basil, or, when I close my eyes, the taste and texture of an aged cheddar, or grana padano?  All these make my mouth water, but it was a few lone mangosteen – in a basket at a greengrocer in Buderim, Queensland – that not only had the saliva springing but also the tears – how I missed the fresh, ambrosial flavour of this fruit, and the people I’d left behind in Sri Lanka.

… tells a story – The Blinded Buddha

From ancient tomb robbers to the two women who were today arrested for pilfering treasures from the Colombo museum, people have stolen from the heritage of the past, more often than not mutilating the priceless statues and artifacts in the process.  This beautiful, stylized bronze, among the priceless Buddha statues on display at the refurbished Wat Phra Ke in Vientiane, Lao, illustrates the sorry story of the sack of the city in 1827, reminding me of the always ugly legacy of greed and avarice.

…  I am most proud of (a.k.a. my “National Geographic” shot) – The Hennaed Heroine

After years of war and destruction, the people of Ban Lahanam Thong – a village sprawled along the high banks of the Mekong in Savannakhet Province, Lao – specialize in the production and manufacture of organic cotton, for sale on the open market.  From Granddad keeping an eye on the little ones, to our hennaed heroine at the indigo vats, everyone in the village is in one way or another involved in growing cotton, picking, ginning, spinning and weaving cotton, growing, gathering and processing dye materials, building looms and whittling shuttles, creating new designs, developing markets.  That’s not to say the village women hadn’t also made the most luscious vegetable patches I saw, or that pigs, cows and chickens weren’t raised in abundance, that rice paddies weren’t maintained in anticipation of the ‘season’, or that children weren’t readied to travel to school – on a new all-weather road – in the nearest town.  The opportunity to meander through the village at leisure and capture these industrious and charming people au natural, yielded several treasured images, but this is the one of which I am most proud.

In accordance with the rules, and in recognition of the enjoyment I derive from their work, I nominate the following bloggers to post their entries in the prescribed fashion.

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39 thoughts on “Seven Super Shots

  1. amazing fabulous images WG, i love each one and the stories touch my heart, especially the two lao photos, but also the red elephant, and my memory of mangosteen is from bangkok, at the beginning of our research trip down the mekong through lao …. all absolutely marvelous 🙂

  2. You have managed to choose some spectacular images for this challenge! Your Hennaed Heroine is stunning just like the indigo lady you posted earlier, as is the photo of the Gondolier! Your evocative words about the Buddha and the Perahera elephant are thougt provoking and I can’t wait to set my eyes on that breathtaking Bayon face! Brilliant job TWLG 🙂

    • Bless you Madhu – your support is always so encouraging – it’s great to get positive feedback from a woman who’s got the eye!

      I’m going to be as excited as you, when you’re at Angkor – boy did those temples grab me 🙂

  3. 7 great images, such as I’ve come to expect from you… I thought, The Gondolier’s Dog will be my favourite, but where is the dog? I looked for him/her at the bow, but no, truly at home, there it was napping comfortably in the sun 🙂

    • Snuck up on you unawares, eh? Me too – I wasn’t taking pictures of the gondola but as it slid past something caught my eye and there he was, fast asleep on his carpet! So glad you liked it Ella 🙂

  4. I’m pleased you included the long boat on the Mekong. It symbolizes TWLG and captures what precedes all travel… dreams, imagination and possibilities. Thank you for sharing that image, your masthead. All of the photos have special meaning and you convey that.

    • You’ve got it in one, Lynne – it may not be the best photograph in the world, but it’s an image which best illustrates everything I imagined travelling would be. Thanks so much for your perceptive comment – and the support 🙂

  5. This entry is brilliant. I hope you don’t mind but I did tweet it for you and added the required hashtag as it appeared in the rules.

    • So you told them I’d posted? How brilliant! Thank you Michelle. At some stage I’ll have to get a young person to explain everything to me, and show me what to do … 😦

      I’m so glad you liked the post Michelle – these themed challenges can be interesting and quite revealing.

  6. Each and every one of your photos here have taken my breath away. Stunning, each and every one! And I shall put this on Twitter also. It deserves to be viewed by many.

  7. You have not wasted your life, for sure. You have seen some truly beautiful sights and you write inspiringly about them. I always lusted after that header of yours and now I know the story behind it.

  8. These are amazing images–imbued with the power of the story behind the visual. I have been too overwhelmed by the task of actually having to choose seven images to proceed, but I believe you have made excellent choices.

  9. Oh boy, these are cracking great shots, Wanderlust – the Hennaed Heroine is achingly beautiful, and the Gondolier’s Dog is so sweet I may have developed a cavity. Love it! xxx

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