SJ's Photographs

Some history should not be repeated...names of Jewish householders rounded up from a canal street in Amsterdam etched onto the pavement.

Another surrealistic scene in Iceland

You can almost imagine yourself on another uninhabited planet...Iceland

Global warming up close is scary. every few seconds you hear a great cannon shot and the guide tells you there goes another glacier breaking up.....

Thats all you need...a small hut, a chair and a million dollar view... Iceland

The Church in the centre of Reykavik

look at the lines...taken at the Amsterdam museum of Photography.. exhibition of Larry Clark's exhibition on Teenage lust

We dont have to the same all the time...Its always the unreasonable man that makes mankind progress.

This piece of found art wouldnt look too bad next to Edward Munch 's Sream. its a plank off one of the wooden fence in my backyard.

China 30 years ago was ahuge adopter of bikes. sadly, now it is quite different.

taken at the huge installation in front of the Chicago art institute

Chicago Magnificent Mile....somehow the sculture looks very at home amongst the skyscapers.

Geometry can be so intriguing. Henri Cartier Bresson is the greatest master of the use of geometry in photgraphy. You can practically feel the symphony of his geometry in some of his photos.

Museums are now as much art themeselves as the exhibits they house. Chicago Museum of Modern Art

James Turrell installation at the Houston Museum of Modern Art. He is such an awesome artists and has another set of beautiful installations in Noashima Island in Japan.

wonderful sky..wonderful scupture...so so architecture

notice how the Uzbek hats mimic the Domes of St Basil Cathedral in the Red Square, Moscow

even dogs are of different storkes, see the other jack russell on the safety of land

You get to see a lot of wonderful happenings on a sunny smmer day in an english park.

thats St Luke in modern day garb, in St luke church, Chelsea.

this tiny dog was palying catch with the big branch with its owner. the English really love their dogs.

Kelfield Gardens,London. A little neighbourhood park. and you have kids of all nationalities playing together. thirty years ago when i was staying here while a student, you see only white people.

The Dutch are great at economising space...

Marijuana Heaven, amsterdam. the sickly sweet smell of marijuana everywhere on the streets of Amsterdam

Swans just dont like dogs..London, Hyde Park.

found off a wooden fence in melbourne

Found art...off a wooden fence in melbourne 

Picnic area in Dandenang Mountains, melbourne....cockatoos.

Not all of us are of the same strokes. We must try to make room for everyone

everything seems just right here. The different branches silhoutted against the setting sun..the national flag of Turkey....

A mural on the wall of an apartment building in St Petersburg.

wonderful mural on the wall of a building in St petersburg. it is always interesting to look at things from a different perspective. 

My best burger in the US. Served at 10 am in a cold winter morning at a lakeside stop in a small mountain resort just off the town of Bishop, California. i think the ambience , the cold and the qietness of the place has something to do with it. PLus the steaming hot cup of coffee.... this is life...

Early morning lake tahoe

It can only be out of a hotel window in Moscow. Somehow it is extremely difficult to avoid stereotyping, even when a country style of architecture is concerned. 

the criss crossing power lines brings out even more the tension between the man and the horse. St Petersburg, Russia

we can almost imagine time staying still here. San Francisco

Iceland again at its most surreal..One could almost imagine Luke Skywalker heading towards his starship in the picture.

Battersea power station being reachitectured...what a lovely tag line...and the developer is.....a self made young Malaysian tycoon , Tan Sri Liew Kee Sien. I found it quite ironic that a Malaysian businessman could succeed so well in the design capital of the world. Well, there is no limits if you dare to dream.

The shame of the past. these silent ruins were homes of Greeks who were forcibly repatraited 50 years ago after the war between Turkey and Greece. Whole villages were transplanted. many people could not adjust and it created untold hardship. Now these houses stands empty. Kayakoyo.Turkey.

Its a charming little Greek island, Mies, off the coast of southern Turkey  which welcomes hordes of visitors from Kas, Turkey. that's neighbourliness, although it was not like that in the last century.

look carefully..that's living with good design when your biclycle bay is also a shopping centre signage. Tartu, Estonia

I thought this was quite cute to find in the streets of St Petersburg. Someone cruising to work on a skateboard.

This is one very appealing aspects of St Petersburg, its revolutionary history. that is why they respected Che so much.

This view of a backlane from my hotel in St Petersburg , taken in the early hours of the morning when i was up because of jet lag. It could have come straight out of a mafia movie of the mobs in Chicago.

The love for dogs is universal. the photographer is trying to capture the most pleasing photo of the dog. Nobody has ever done this for me. Pskov, Russia

Charming cottage on the outskirts of Tartu, Estonia.

One can almost someone at the bottom of the cave rock shouting ," Rapunzel..Rapunzel...throw down your locks..." . Cappadocia, Turkey

Another great example of found art. Even the hooked nose is typical of the turkish people in this part of the world. Cappadocia , Turkey.

You think the Chinese are brand conscious. Well, the Russians are not far behind. they even have a Burberrys car,in St Petersburg.

Sometimes , I think some  Russian's views of China and the Chinese have not really changed that much. There is still a lot of work for both governments to get their people to understand each other better.

It must have been quite chillin to sit under the bridge , imbribing ,with the backdrop of the church behind. I chanced upon this during a morning jog in Pskov, Russia

Tartu, Estonia, on the border with Russia, is a city of good design tastes. Even the simplest buildings can be dressed up elegantly in this university town. And , yes, you are seeing more than doubles..even the figures in the windows have all been painted in

Morning has just broken . There was still a chill in the air. Lake Tahoe

While on an early morning drive in Lake Tahoe, I chanced upon a forest clearing , still shrouded with some morning fog. It was a magical feeling but i felt i did not do justice to the scenery. In the early morning cold and the sounds of chirping birds, you are at peace.

Pskov, the city of monasteries. their masons are famous Russia all over . That's why they have 45 monasteries in a small little city.

Caught this piognant picture off a lovely hilltop at sunset in the US. 

Everything was just right here. the fonts of the words on the wall, the colour combination. And , of course , the slight tilt hints to you that it is San Francisco , even if you miss the words on the wall.

It's so surreal,as though you are in heaven...No, I chanced upon this scene in Iceland...Not many of such places left in the world. Better to visit it soon. Sometimes i wish i wasn't a photgrapher. then my first instinct would be to sit down and drink in the atmosphere ...with a hot mug of coffee in both palms ( instead of busily snapping away).

It is not difficult to guess which city this is, Moscow, in fact. That's why it is so important to understand a person's culture. That way, the world will be

 a happier place because there will be a lot less misunderstanding. It's nothing personal...it is just part of their culture. And we all move on. 

The Japanese landscape is better appreciated up close. the setting sun showed of the twisted brabches of the tree so well.

One of the most beautiful places in the USA. the scenery of vast expanses of space just astound people like from singapore , a tiny island city. you can imagine the peace and stillness. awesome.

The wizened face of this adult monkey so captivated me.

Good fortune signs abounds in this ancient city, Pingyao, in Shaanxi. The local folks have lost a whole thriving business in the silver trade with the advent of mordern banking in china. Silver was for a long time used as a mode of currency and Pingyao was the centre of silver storage for the whole of china for a long time.

this was taken of the inside of a casino hotel in singapore. the mirrored image created a pathway that seemed to hang in midair....hence the caption.

Uno in Japan. this is quintensentially Japan. My daughter thought of the amish in Pennysylvannia when she saw this picture...hence ...amishi.

I got lucky with this picture in one of the most famous backlanes in melbourne. rather piognant look on the face of the chinese chef...mirroring the look of the chef character on the wall. one can imagine all kinds of life lived by minorities inhabitants in major cities round the world. It's usually far from a bed of roses.

When you weep , you weep alone...

Taken in a small village at the bottom of Mt Huangshan. The Mickey Mouse seemed strangely out of place amidst all the homilies of the Cultural Revolution plastered all over the walls.

This is a picture of the Shanghai Expo’s most iconic building, the China Pavilion. It now houses the China Art Museum.  This building would be on par or even rival our Durian or the Sydney Opera House in scale and grandeur.  Both our Durian and Sydney Opera House open its grounds almost round the clock to the public; this Shanghai Expo Building is continuously blocked and admission is controlled (even within its vicinity).

 

I had a huge laugh when after I took the shot, I realized that besides the red railings, the traffic light had been turned to red and even the pedestrian sign was on red (surely an overkill).  It reminded me so much about Singapore many years ago when we were trying to promote entrepreneurship and risk-taking and one of our famous tech entrepreneur, Sim Mong Woo, made the comment about Singaporeans and the “No U-turn” mentality.  (ie. most motorists here will not make a U-turn at any break in the road divider unless there is a U-turn sign.)

 

China is going through this stage now where things are heavily regulated but I am sure it will gradually change over time.

 

 

During the cultural revolution , many antiquities were destroyed. Those that were allowed to remain had to be defaced first by the owners,  such as these heritage homes in Jiangxi province. IN a way , it is good, as it bears testament to future generations about the dangers of excesses , of whatever kind. I understand that , even today, there are statutes in France which were similarly defaced during the french revolution and hence allowed to remain. Funny ,isnt it?..less is actually more...

Life is what you make out of it. Although the worker has a terrifically ardous job ( see how her face is completely shrouded ), she still can live her dreams by creating that beautiful figure of a young lady

The railing of this love locks bridge in the center of Paris divides the picture quite nicely into two distinct parts. Although the love locks looks very messy compared to the serene picture of Paris at the top, nevertheless, the countless love stories that are told by these locks somehow makes this bottom mess more interesting 

I was in a really sweet traditional hotel in Pskov, Russia ( near the border with Estonia) looking out at at the window at 2 am in the morning ( suffering from jetlag ) . It suddenly dawn on me that this was the nicest hotel view i ever had. i felt transported to another world in the still of the night, as if elves will be knocking on the window sill next.Pskov is small Russia city renowned for its traditional Russian orthodox churches.Its masons have for centuries built churhes all over Russia.

Jiuzhaigou in China's Sichuan province is one of the most colourful national park in china in the fall. but comes winter, all is white. even when it is at its whitest, new beauty unfolds...if you look hard enough. You can see the outlines of a chinese 'shansiu' or landscape paintings carved on the mssy green of the huge rock face. A little bit like life , isn't it? One don't have to look very far to look for beauty so long as you are able to open up your heart.

this cute photo was taken during a rest stop on the way to Halong Bay in Vietnam. Reminds me of those nature photos of huge whales which has an assemblage of small fishes picking at the molluscs attached to its skin. The mighty needs the small and vice versa so long as both understand their roles. Even in politics, between big and small nations.

I was in a chinese seafood restuarant in guangzhou when i noticed the red glass partition. the silhouettes were jsu amazingly eerie. i leave it to your imagination as to what else you can conjure.

This picture was taken in Cape Cod . Over the rise is the ocean . I thought it was rather funny with the sign and the the rows of wooden sticks . It looked more like a sharks graveyard and sharks should be warned rather than human beings.

This unusual picture of a granite etching was found in the only museum dedicated to the Cultural Revolution. The museum is about 40 km south of Shantou, Guangzhou and has many interesting pictures  about the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, all etched in granite. I thought it was rather poignant that the shadow of the grilled windows cast on the granite is trying to tell us a message .

This is part of my series on found art ( or in this case , wall art ). It had an added dimension on how the humble discarded wooden planks can also create art. Taken in Harajuku , Tokyo.

taken at swan lake in Perth, Australia. It is actually a white pelican basking in the reddish glow of the setting sun. I mused how we all sometimes act on our role in life so much that the real us is lost, with dire consequences sometimes. It is so important to always try to be our real self as much as possible and not be someone else because others expect us to be so.

I don't even know what kind of building this was, whether it was a hotel or a corporate headquarters but the starkness of the lighted words attracted me and one could read many things into the words " Liberty Central ". Taken in Hanoi.

The Tao is so elusive and when you see a glimmer of it , you thought you have it in your grasp but it is not even there, just like the picture. Taken outside a Taoist Temple in Mt Hengshan , Southern Hunan.

This was a field of long thick grass in southern Hunan. Locals plant it and then harvest it to eave into mats that will keep them warm in winter. The effect of the grass flowing in the wind was very comforting.. a very smooth flow.

Sunrise in St Petersburg serves out striking colours showing up the  overhead electric cables for the trademark St Petersburg electric buses. I wish more cities would keep such trams and buses .

The land of masons, that is what Pskov was historically known for. Its masons builds fine Russian churches and monasteries . till this day , Pskov still have a very medieval feel to it. You see churches and monasteries all over the city.

Imagine lying in your hotel bed and looking out of your window and seeing this million dollar view. IT is like you are in a fairy land and expecting elves to come out soon.

Ever wondered why Russian churches have domed shaped minarets? I was told it ensures that after a heavy snowfall, the snow will not collect. Of course, it follows the Byzantine tradition.

The city is peppered with statutes , naking it a photographers delight.

Melbourne has some very interesting alleyways and the graffiti makes it even more edgy.

you cannot see me....

That 's my Melbourne buddy, Mick, doing his slick Latin moves through the glass panes of the National Gallery of Victoria. 

View from a boat in Halong Bay, Hanoi.

it looks ethereal... another view of Halong Bay, Hanoi

picture of a lacquer painting, Hanoi. the way the reflection of the light was caught on the lacquer surface made the picture rather uncanny.

cute stance, streets of Hanoi

Hanoi street stall displaying vegetable art

The  Cork Tower in Melbourne Central. wonderful perspective.

Habibie was indonesia President during the Asian Financial crisis. he had this dream of linking up 8 islands to the south of Singapore to create an economic zone that can tap on Singapore. this was one of the beautiful bridges that was built. it is now used as a scenic spot for locals to chill while hawkers peddle their wares 

The Chinese are coming, not only in their economic powess but their soft power too. this stretch of the Huangpu river was converted from an old port to a recreational park and the innovative use of the giant port cranes shows just how imaginative the shanghainese are

the chinese are going to make a clean sweep of the world ballroom dancing scene. all over china are scenes like this , repeated every where every evening. the level of devotion to this form of exercise can be seen in the guy the chinese guy is dancing with an invisible partner

Surreal scene of an awesomely huge limestone cavern in Halong Bay, Hanoi

dawn breaking from the shores of camp richardson, Lake Tahoe. the colours are so amazing that i could not help but sat and watch in silence as the colours changed . it was so quiet and i was the only person on the jetty and the ducks were so friendly that they waded towards me....ah....this is life...with a hot mug of coffee in your hand.

this is quintinescently New York .  talented musicians like this group can be found frequently at street corners, making use whatever available space there are , including this vacant retail space along spring street.their free and easy going spirits inspite of the somewhat harder  times belie a strong spirit.

this was taken off a wall in a backlane in New Lane,Penang, malaysia. we  are surrounded by art everyday , wherever we go, only if we bother to stop and look. so  goes the old adage  that we should stop from time to time to smell the flowers . and no human hands was involved in sketching out the outlines of the White House ,it was time and weather. and yet we could spend hours trying to decipher more from this old wall.

in front of art, we are all the same and equal, regardless of race , religion, age, etc. is it not strange that even the most conservative amongst us will not flinch in front of revealing art, so long as it is art. so a liberal attitude towards art  goes a long way to inculcating tolerance and acceptance of differences in values.

this gentlemen was curious at my snapping away  of the legs of ham hanging on the wall and we got into a conversation about hobbies. he told me his hobby was ballroom dancing and he is a latin dance teacher. he was  middleaged he was very happy when i told him he looked younger and immediately agreed to show me a few of his latin moves. there and then . i thought it was quite hilarious to dance latin with a backdrop of hams.

most villages in china are wary of letting their kids be photographed by strangers, so it was quite a nice surprise to be surrounded by this bunch of kids in a small village in chonqing asking to be photographed with their parents sitting close by . i never did find out what was the purpose of the little basket hanging around the little girl's neck .

while waiting for the lift in the Shanghai Art Galllery, i turned and caught this picture of a lady going up the stairs. the shadows were just right to create an element of mystery and the ascending staircase leads us to think there is something nice upstairs. apparently, cinematically, descending staircases from right to left is supposed to give us the opposite effect.

we are all a lot more similar than we think. with the internet, teenagers all over the world share the latest fashion statements. taken in hoa kiem lake hanoi, vietnam

i love foreboding skies, with its dark ominous cloud formations, even better if it is on a bright sunny day. then the contrast will even be greater.  i supposed it is this same sort of enchantment that make storm chasers chase storms, although sometimes with quite dire consequences. the amazing thing is that in different countries , photographs of foreboding clouds can present very different images.

Taken at a beach in Perth, Western Australia. I was very impressed with the old guy’s physique and he obviously is also very proud of it from the way he was standing. The two young men walking past offered a nice contrast. All these against the background of the typical Australian beach and sunshine.

i was walking towards elgin bridge  tunnel, singapore when suddenly this caucasian kid burst out of the blue ( or blu pink). his parents are probably racing behind to catch up with him. the  picture of the  lone kid almost pitching forward in a psychedelic tunnel is , well, surreal.

This picture was taken 18-storeys up from a hotel in Guangzhou. I was testing my new telephoto lens when I noticed that the workers were dismantling these huge yellow plastic road separators on the road under construction below. It presented a totally different perspective of workmen, particularly as the two workers with hats seemed to be talking to the guy passing by on his motorcycle.

First, I must give credit to the artist who did this wire form art that was installed for a short while at the top of a mall along Orchard Road. He is Victor Tan, a gifted Singaporean artist with visual impairment .

It was drizzling slightly that morning and against a bleak sky I saw the wire-form figures fluttering in the wind. I quickly positioned myself to catch a break in the clouds and the tower cranes atop the adjoining building. It gave the impression of the crane drawing out the form of the wireman. So even Art has now gone mechanical.

I have always marveled at the pain dancers have to go through just so that they can look good and perform well for others. Ballet is such an excruciating activity and yet these ballerinas have to keep their muscles under wraps and appear slim and graceful.

I took the picture of their backs because it tells a fuller story of their trials and tribulations. The muscles on their backs are clearly visible almost like scars and yet if you look at their front, they look so fragile (almost porcelain like). I wonder whether these two girls were discussing their waist lines.

This picture was taken during an art event at Unit 15 along this same stretch of Lorong 24A. The photographer is Eddie Sung. Eddie is a famous and well-respected photographer who takes photos of rock artistes. I remember his one-click philosophy of phototaking. He
sees, he thinks and he waits until the perfect moment and he takes only one shot and . . . it’s the perfect shot. Unlike me, I shoot thousands of them to get one lucky break.

The monk in the picture is Reverend Bhante, the abbot of the Buddhist Library across the road. I brought him to see Eddie’s work and I then took pictures of them as Eddie slowly brought him around explaining every picture to Bhante. Bhante is quite a cool monk. He digs rock music and photography (besides Tibetan Thangkas). So I could not resist the caption. Sorry Bhante . . . hope this does not spoil your spiritual journey.

Now for the free plug on Eddie Sung. Please check out his work at http://www.eddie-sung.com (or better still, visit his gallery).

This was taken from the airport coach with an iPhone in Narita. It is actually the setting sun. I took the picture just when the coach was passing these huge pylons which almost filled the sky. So it is Japan with its beautiful natural scenery and industrial power house image superimposed together. Every inch of this picture is filled with pylons and it didn’t take away any bit of the beauty of the setting sun. Amazing!

I wanted to capture a picture of an installation art by Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese lady artist famous for her polka dots and a designer for Louis Vuitton. But what came out strongest in this picture is the tiniest little thing in the picture . . . that of the little girl who is playing on the chair. She looks almost worm-like. It’s just the way she is squirming forward that is so endearing in this picture.

We were invited to have lunch with a family in this little known Hakka walled village, about 40km from Swatow. I brought along a bottle of champagne that we downed with the man of the house (first time he drank champagne). We ate home-cooked fare such as spring onions with eggs, fried chicken and noodle soup but somehow the champagne still tasted right. Perhaps it’s the convivial village folks whom we were meeting for the first time. They even gave us a set of porcelain wares (Swatow is famous for this) when we said goodbye.

I caught the picture of these two girls playing cards, and the smile on their faces as they chatted with each other was so infectious. You could almost feel as if you were listening to their jokes.

Wu Yi Shan is one of the UNESCO Heritage sites in China, famous for its karst mountains. The typical postcards of Wu Yi Shan always show tourists on bamboo rafts floating down the river, meandering amongst the impressive karst mountains.

I decided to take this picture to show a different aspect of this scenic area; that of the economic benefits tourism has brought for this small town. The local folks are now employed as boatmen and are loading the bamboo rafts onto lorries from the end point to the staging point. During peak season, the whole area of the river is a madhouse and the flatbeds that trundled continuously carrying those bamboo rafts do nothing to the pristine environment of Wu Yi Shan.

This was taken with an iPhone from the back of a cab in Hong Kong. I was so amused by the array of telephones on his dashboard. This surely must be the ultimate multi-tasking moonlighter extraordinaire. And it just has to be in Hong Kong where the people are so hardworking and resilient.

It was lunch time and these sedan chair carriers were having a break, hardship written all over their faces. Their work is hard, carrying tourists up the steep stairs of MT Huangshan , for a small fee.

Taken in a street in Bangkok.

Cute shot of a young man sitting in a motorised pedi-cab looking rather comical with his tiger cap. He is at peace, oblivious to the cars around him, contented with his own mode of transport, even though the taxies were whizzing by all the time. This is a very Buddhistic (I think) quality that is very much evident in Thailand. The idea of easily finding contentment in life.

Dogs can’t lie- From the picture you can see that these two toy poodles were already not seeing eye-to-eye on their marriage day. We humans are better at hiding our emotions.

This was taken in a public park in Shanghai. Apparently the Shanghai residents, who are part of a local toy poodle blogsite, arrange to bring their toy poodles to the park on an appointed day so that they can “match” the dogs to procreate. Once the dogs are “matched”, some of their proud owners even go to the extent of picking an auspicious day where their respective canines are dressed to the nines and then formally married off. Such fun!

Mount Huang Shan is one of the oldest, most scenic and sacred mountains in China. Perched on top of one of the peaks is a radar-shaped dome. Typical pictures of Mount Huang Shan are usually of its mist-shrouded peaks with the ever-present cypress trees piercing through the veils every now and then.

After I took this picture, I realised it presented another
perspective of the tourist industry of China. It is modernization at all costs, down to the cable cars, the mountains and new radar domes at the peak so that tourists can have better reception with their cell phones in this previously pristine area.

There is also another almost comic perspective. The picture does show all the faithful flocking to pray at this “Temple of Dome” (see the building below the radar dome). The crowds circulating the dome certainly give this impression. The constant refrain is, “if you want to see China, better see it early than later”. Things are changing too fast.

Taken in a small village in the foothills of Mount Huang Shan, China.

We were walking along the alleyways of this bustling village, brimming with tourists when I spotted this old lady sitting outside her family home. She must have had zillions of tourists taking pictures of her when all she wants is to have a quiet snooze outside her home. So her reaction was quite instinctive when I clicked my camera. But she was so sweet. When I went forward to apologise, she waved me off with a smile. I hope you can feel the atmosphere of this charming little scene from the picture.

A collage of defaced wooden panels.

Picture was taken from the houses in the village at the foothills of Mount Huang Shan.

The locals explained to me that during the Cultural Revolution, the young Red Guards came into the houses and told the owners that they are going to destroy all historical relics and artifacts. The only way to save the beautifully carved wooden panels was for the owners to “deface” such panels themselves. As a result most of the figures in the wooden panels in this old village had their faces chipped off.

This was taken in a village at the foothills of Mount Huang Shan, one of the most famous mountains in China.

We were visiting this traditional village at the foothills of Mount Huang Shan when we were hustled by this kid to buy a forlorn looking head of cabbage. Although he obviously just got off a scrap (or some rough time from his elders), he was still very gung-ho and doing all he could to persuade us to part with some renminbi. I told him I will buy his cabbage provided he let me take a shot of him. He readily agreed. Such wonderful spirit in a young kid (hopefully you all can also feel it in this picture.)

I was in this very quaint and well-preserved riverside village in Chong Qing when I took this picture. It was in the morning and the shops were just beginning to open for business when this wizened old man walked past me. After I took this picture, I was struck by the smallness of this old man against the doors of the buildings hemming both sides of the alley. He looked so tiny and forlorn against them. Even his gait seemed ungainly.

Picture of a “Stick-man” looking at discarded furniture in Chong Qing with a jacket hanging in the background

Because of its undulating terrain, Chong Qing has a lot of charming alleyways with old houses built onto the hills. Sadly, a lot of these old houses are being torn down to make way for megamalls, office buildings and condominiums.

This photo was taken in an old alley that was marked for demolition.

“Stick-man” is a name for labourers in Chong Qing city who uses a stick to help carry loads for the people of Chong Qing. It is the simplest form of device, just a bamboo with strings attached on both ends to tie and balance any loads. Because of its rocky terrain, Chong Qing residents need these stickmen to help them move around the numerous steps and stairs of all the up and down alleyways of the city. A typical fee for a short journey is about 5 Yuan or S$1. It is very hard work.

I took the picture because I was struck by the beautiful white jacket that was hanging out to dry in the hard scrabble neighbourhood. Appearance counts (and all the more in cosmopolitan China). No matter how poor you may be or how difficult your circumstances are, nothing like a beautiful white jacket to lift you up to another world.

This picture was taken in a small village about 20km outside Hanoi. This village specialises in making earthenware and pots.

Just outside the village is a huge coal pile. It was a Sunday and the owner had brought his toddler son along to work. To prevent the boy from wandering off, the father had left the boy in the coal pit as the father busied himself with his customers.

I felt it was rather incongruous to have a little boy in his Sunday best, standing in the black ominous coal pile.

People are same everywhere; we all love our kids. No less so even amongst people living in this tough environment.

I was resting on a bench in the afternoon sun at the monastery when a Tibetan monk walked past. I have always loved old trees and these two were so full of character. After I snapped the picture, I saw the harmony in the old trees standing by a lone old monk. Notice also the usual white Tibetan offering banner fluttering on one of the branches of the old tree. All very simple and austere. It always feels like I am right there in the monastery whenever I look at this picture. And guess what, the monk will pass on but the old tree will most likely be still there. life is so transient and we should try to slow down our pace.