Alaska Travel Information

Alaska is a great combination of rich culture and heritage to experience unmatched adventure, world-class fishing, wildlife, glacier hikes and other specialities with vast and magical 586,000 square miles. It is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world to entertain visitors with its special attractions like Kayaking, Museums, Cruises, Birdwatching, Mushing and many more.
Alaska Travel Information
Before beginning your travel to Alaska, plan your holidays to enjoy each and every day of your stay in Alaska. Hire/book some good planner or guide who will give you complete and correct information about the climate, accomodation, food, transportation, shopping, religion, events, festival and other travel activities.
Anchorage in Southcentral Alaska
Alaska's famous attractions of sightseeing are Glacier Bay National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, Denali National Park, Yukon, Kenai Fjords National Park, Trip to Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska and lots more to explore recreational parks, monuments, forests, glaciars and many more. Denali National Park in Alaska

“Must Have” Kit for overlanders...


Bring a head torch - We’ll be camping in the wilds and we can promise you that eating carrots won’t be as helpful! Book with us and grab a 15% discount on kit from Nomad Travel Stores.  Fancy bush camping? See more of the real Africa and go all out on the Okavango Delta in Botswana...

Check out what bargains Nomad can offer at their stores in London, Bristol, Manchester or Southampton or order online at www.nomadtravel.co.uk

Image copyright®: Ian Britton (http://www.FreeFoto.com)


Verdict: Gnawa Photo Expedition

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

Now ensconced in sunny and hot London, I've reflected on the past 2 weeks spent photographing in Morocco during the Gnawa Festival Photo Expedition, and two key words immediately jump to mind: frustrating and sublime.

Here's the frustrating bit: people photography in the large cities of Morocco is to say the least, extremely difficult. Moroccans are generally reticent to pose under any circumstances, and photographing them on the sly (say in a marketplace) can lead to some unpleasant confrontations. I recall that we were photographing fishermen off-loading their catch in the post of Essaouira, and hearing one of them, clearly irritated by our presence, asking his colleagues if we thought them to be monkeys in a zoo. Other Morrocans would agree to pose provided they were paid, then adopted the dreaded "frozen look". Some noticed our cameras, and immediately covered their faces whether we pointed our cameras in their direction or not. Street photography needed ingenuity and a self-starting approach, since photographing in a group didn't work.

I exerted much efforts to engage people and show respect, but despite my fluency in Arabic (somewhat different for the local idiom), I wasn't terribly successful in persuading them to be photographed. However, I did manage to establish moments of genuine kinship, such as with the owner of Africa Music in Essaouira who spoke at length about Gnawa music, but it did not translate into being open to photography. It will be included however in my planned multimedia piece on the Gnawa.

The other frustrating issue is that in impoverished Morocco, and because its high unemployment rate amongst its youth, there's a sense that tourists ought to pay for every little service, whether needed or not. I found this to be particularly true in Marrakech and Ouazazate, but less so in Essaouira. For instance, the self-appointed guides at the Ait Benhaddou Kasbah in Ouarzazate are spectacularly venal, and some even threatening. It's a shame since the site is UNESCO-listed, and ought to be supervised instead of being left to a bunch of hooligans.

Before I turn to the sublime aspect of the photo-expedition, here are a few other random thoughts. In the grand scheme of things, Ouarzazate was a dud from a photographic standpoint. Unless one is willing to photograph the Kasbahs (there are two of them), nothing else attracted my attention. I'd give Marrakech a passing mark for photography because of its Jemaa el-Fna square, and that's about it. Again, all this is said based on my sort of travel documentary photography, and is certainly not applicable to other disciplines. The infrastructural component of the expedition went well. Hotels were generally fine, but the Riad Mimouna in Essaouira stands out a certainly being a jewel. Our bus was expertly and safely driven by the jovial Abdel Hakeem, and was extremely comfortable. However, the drive from Marrakech to Ouarzazate was uncomfortable for those who suffered from motion sickness because of the road's switchbacks.

As for the guides: I didn't find them particularly good nor flexible enough to earn the description of "fixers", with the exception of Hassan E'Chater in Essaouira, who displayed occasional flashes of ingenuity. Guides are badly paid in Morocco, so have to rely for income on herding tourists to stores and restaurants.

The sublime aspect of the photo expedition was found in Essaouira, so in the unlikely event that I repeat this trip, it would only take place during the 4-5 days of the Gnawa Festival, and not more. Although it's still difficult to photograph people in this little town, the medina itself is remarkably photogenic, and since its streets are normally crowded, candid photography is frequently easy. Personally, I found the event to be initially somewhat ill-organized but it got better as the days progressed. Our hotel, Riad Mimouna, was a few steps away from the small Zaouia Sidi Bilal where many of the nightly Gnawa performances were held. Most of my documentary photography and audio recording of the Gnawa was done there. The Zaouia family of caretakers included Rokeyah and her two young nieces Khadija and Ibtisam who, despite their being less than 8 years old, attended the performances well into the wee hours of the night. Khadija greeted some of us with hugs; a display of affection indicative of the Moroccans' hospitality.

The Gnawa performances at the zaouia were breathtaking. I managed to thwart the administrators efforts, and photographed almost as much as I wanted. Rather bizarrely, photography was allowed at some performances, and prohibited at others. Since the area is quite small, a fast wide angle lens is recommended. Since the Gnawa music is extremely percussive (the qerqabs are really noisy!), I've experienced some distortion in my recordings which perhaps I can fix using either Garageband or Audacity. Another great aural experience was the Berber women singers at the La Recontre restaurant near the zaouia.

One of the highlights of the trip was photographing the Gnawa procession which, in effect, inaugurates the festival. It started at Bab Doukala, and winded its way to one of the main arteries leading to Bab Marrakech. The various Gnawa bands performed for the public, and competed with one another to achieve the highest decibel level. One of the bands included a female Gnawa, who is quite famous in their circles.

Gnawa music has a new fan. I bought a few CDs of a couple of Maalems, such as Mahmoud Guinea and Hamid El-Kessari. And fans of grilled sardines will find Essaouira to be the place for them.

Finally, the above photograph was made during a Gnawa performance, when a young local woman suddenly stood and dances to its rhythms. Within a few moments, she had gone into a deep trance by violently throwing her head about. I had seen women going into trances here before, but they were much older and were larger.

Other non-photo sublime moments:

Witnessing an elderly fisherman choose a plump fish from his catch, cutting it to manageable bits and feeding two ravenous scrawny cats. Noticing they seemed thirsty, he found a discarded plastic bottle, cut its bottom to use as a plate and poured water for them.

Sensing the tremendous energy in the audience of young people when Babani Kone of Mali made her entrance on stage, and when Cheb Khaled, the king of Rai, sang his hits on the Essaouira beach.

Returning to my hotel at 3 am from the Essaouira beach after the Rai concert and realizing that, despite the late hour, there was as many people walking about as there would be during the day.

Summer Blue

Summer Blue in La Jolla.

La Jolla is a seaside area, seven miles along the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. It is about twelve miles north of Downtown San Diego. La Jolla is probably best known for its beautiful weather year round with a average daily temperture 70F and around 60F at night, making this place a tourist hotspot. It is an area of great natural beauty with mixture of geology-sandy beaches and rocky shorelines, excellent for a variety of outdoor activities. In addition, La Jolla is well known for its elite shopping and dining, with upscale boutiques, import shop and gourmet restaurants lining Prospect street.

We walked along the Prospect street of La Jolla. This is my first time showing my husband's picture as many of you requested. He usually doesn't like to be in the picture or reveal his face because he is so shy.
The water is generally cold in the beaches of California. It's way too cold for us but it seems not cold for local people here.
Summer Blue in Dallas.

Summer in Dallas is way too hot. I wore silk Marciano dress with Fendi shoes.
Thank you everyone for your great support of my last post. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I also thank you lovely blog Fashion Titbits, Fashion Moment and Sin of My mind for giving me the blog AWARD.
Wishing you all have a wonderful day!!!! Big hugs....from Hanh ;-)

Black or White

One of the Saturday afternoon, I went for a hair cut and found this interesting moment in the Indian Barber shop....

A white in the Indian Barber shop for hair cut! Beside this, I wondering....he was hairless?!
The "Black or White" from Micheal Jackson famous song suddenly came into my mind! Don't you feel it?

Yeah....that's remind me the King of Pop - Micheal Jackson. R.I.P.





MY TRIPS - Home

Check out Madagascar and get ready for our "TWEET UP" on Friday 21 August...


Did you know Madagascar is slashing the single visa fee. Now you take a trip to what is known as the eighth continent for less.  Fancy it? Try our 8-day Madagascar Dhow Sailing adventure. 

The trip starts at Hellville Port, the itinerary taking travellers around the Nosy Be archipelago. When not camping on secluded islands adventurers can opt for forest walks, swimming and diving. Highlights include Nosy Tanikely, a marine reserve which is perfect for snorkeling; Nosy Komba, noted for its friendly Lemurs; and Mahalina – with opportunities to explore the mangroves by kayak. 

£650pp. The price includes all highlights, transport, camping equipment, sleeping mat, airport transfers, some meals, and services of skipper, chef, and three crew. Excludes visas, travel insurance, flights, departure taxes, sleeping sheet, snorkel, kayaks and fishing line hire, tips, soft drinks, optional activities and items of a personal nature. Group size (maximum ten). Accommodation: guest house (1-night), camping two person dome tents (6-nights). Departures: year-round, every Saturday. Email us at info@acacia-africa.com

You can also come and join us for a "TWEET UP" on Friday 21 August and find out more about our Madagascar trips.  Feel to quiz us between 10 am - 12 pm (BST). http://twitter.com/AcaciaAfrica


Ah Soon Bak Kut Teh*, Johor Bahru

Ah Soon Bak Kut Teh (N1°29.323' E103°46.049') located at Jalan Keris 1 of Taman Sri Tebrau, Johor Bahru.

The restaurant has a poor environment, it makes you feel like having your Bak Kut Teh in the oven. But....it's crowded everyday especially lunch time!

Crowded and hot environment.

I visited this shop on one of the Saturday noon time and it's pack with peoples! The Bak Kut teh serve here is the Teow Chew Claypot style.

We ordered :-
1) Bak Kut Teh for 3 person
2) Yellow Rice Wine Claypot Chicken (small) (Signature dish)
3) Salty vege & tou-fu

Teow Chew Claypot Bak Kut Teh

Yellow Rice Wine Claypot Chicken

Tou-Fu

This is the place where I started to love Teow Chew Bak Kut Teh many years ago.....and the Yellow Rice Wine Chicken is one of the Best I ever taste within Johor Bahru. So far none of others come close to it!

The taste of the Bak Kut Teh maintain the same from my last visit (many years ago). I will recommend most of my friends who love Bak Kut Teh to try it at least once! The cooking method still use the traditional way which is 'Charcoal'.

Traditional Charcoal cooking

The damages was :- MYR48.00 for 4 adults & 1 child (include drinks)

Rated : 4.5/5 for the Bak Kut Teh, 4.9/5 for the Yellow Rice Wine Chicken.
Business hour : Morning till 3pm (Close on Monday)

Another GOOD Bak Kut Teh worth to try!


View Larger Map

Bak Kut Teh at Johor Bahru :-
* How Yu Bak Kut Teh, Permas Jaya, Johor
* Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh, Tmn Daya, Johor Bahru
* Shi-Hua Bak Kut Teh, Permas Jaya, Johor Bahru*
* Soon Lee Bak Kut Teh, Taman Johor Jaya, Johor Bahru

* Soong Huat Bak Kut Teh, Taman Desa Tebrau - Johor Bahru
* Ah Soon Bak Kut Teh, Johor Bahru*


Bak Kut Teh at Muar :-
* Leng Kee Bak Kut Teh, Muar, Johor

Bak Kut Teh at Kulai :-
* Sze Hwa Bak Kut Teh, Kulai, Johor*


Bak Kut Teh at Pekan Nanas :-
* Tong Heng Bak Kut Teh at Pekan Nanas, Johor.





MY TRIPS - Home

Alcaucin is a Town Málaga




Alcaucin is a Town Málaga
Alcaucin is a town and municipality in the province of Málaga, part of the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain. The municipality is situated approximately 54 km to the city of Málaga. It has a population of approximately 1,600 residents. Natives of the town are called Alcaucineños.
By : Wikipedia.com

Alameda Spain Travel




Alameda Spain Travel
Alameda is a town and municipality in the province of Málaga, part of the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain. The municipality is situated approximately 85 km to the city of Málaga. It has a population of approximately 5,000 and the natives are called Alamedanos or Lametanos. The Bandito "El Tempranillo" is buried here.
By ; Wikipedia.com

Donegal Castle World Travel





Donegal Castle World Travel
Donegal Castle (Irish: Caisleán Dhún na nGall) or O’Donnell’s Castle (Caisleán Uí Domhnaill) is a castle situated in the centre of Donegal town, County Donegal in the northwest of Ireland. For most of the last two centuries, the majority of the buildings were in ruins but the castle was almost fully restored in the late 1990s.

The castle consists of a 15th century rectangular keep with a later Jacobean style wing. The complex is sited on a bend in the Eske River, near the mouth of Donegal bay, and is surrounded by a 17th boundary wall. There is a small gatehouse at its entrance mirroring the design of the keep. Most of the stone work was constructed from locally sourced limestone with some sandstone. The castle was the stronghold of the O'Donnell clan, Lords of Tír Conaill and one of the most powerful Gaelic families in Ireland from the 5th to the 16th centuries.
By : Wikipedia.com

Sogod Southern Leyte



Sogod Southern Leyte
Sogod is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Southern Leyte, Philippines. According to the 2007 census, it has a population of 39,864.
The municipality of Sogod is the home of Southern Leyte State University. Parts of the municipality are prone to mudslides. Following the 2006 Southern Leyte mudslide, Governor Lerias placed the town of Sogod under a state of calamity.
Within the bay, Sogod town is the centre for trade, commerce and industry.
By : Wikipedia.com

Sogod Bay Scuba Resort




Sogod Bay Scuba Resort
At Sogod Bay Dive Resort we are committed to providing divers with a top class diving experience and great value for money. Within ten to thirty minutes of Sogod Bay there are over twenty dive sites accessible on our boat “Kermit” and from the shore. Whenever feasible we offer our guests sixty minute dives.
In addition to a vast array of both soft and hard coral Sogod Bay supports aquatic life from tiny pgymy seahorses, nudibranches and pipefish to turtles, frogfish, napoleon wrasse, and even, at the right time of year, whale sharks!

Co-owner and certified PADI instructor Phil McGuire offers a range of PADI courses, both for divers who are new to diving and for certified divers wishing to continue their dive education during their stay at the resort. The resort is the only dive operation in the area offering enriched air facilities.

Our philosophy is that the quality of the diving must be reflected in all areas of the resort. Accordingly, all of our accommodation has been designed with quality and comfort in mind. Indeed, since opening in February 2006 all of our guests have been impressed by the quality of our accommodation. Our cottages are equipped with air-conditioning and a fan and each cottage overlooks Sogod Bay, just a few metres from the shore.

Essaouira Report: Zaouia Sidi Bilal

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

Within a few steps from my lovely Essaouira hotel (Riad Mimouna) is the zaouia of Sidi Bilal, who was the first muezzin in Islam, and is the patron saint of the Gnawa order.

It is there that most of my photographs of the Gnawa performers are made. The backdrop of the zaouia is of traditional islamic zellige, and is just perfect. I've witnessed three Gnawa performance at the zaouia so far. The first was of the Gnawa Maalem Allal Soudani, the second was of the Tunisian Sidi Ali Lasmar Stambali, and the third of the magnificent Ganga de Zagora. The first two performances were of the Gnawa Maalems on the traditional guembri (a three stringed instrument), while the rest of the group provide the repetitive percussive accompaniment with the also traditional qarqab, which are the hand-held cymbals. The end of each session was particularly interesting as local women would join in the furious hand-clapping, add a special stone to the incense burner and eventually go into a trance.

The third Gnawa performance was of the Ganga de Zagora, which did not involve other than the qarqabs and drums known locally as t'abl.

The final performance tonight will be of the famous Maalem Ahmed Baalil, which will start at midnight and will probably end at 3 am.

While it's a tad premature, but I must say that the report card for the Gnawa Festival Photo Expedition is mixed. The reluctance and refusal of many Moroccans to be photographed is a considerable obstacle for people photography, and the harshness of the sun/light also makes it very challenging. Street photography in the medinas is possible, however the light conditions are not ideal. On the other hand, photographing the Gnawas has been a cinch (with one minor exception), and they are extremely photogenic and attractive. The music is remarkable, and its rhythm is impossible to resist. I'm girding myself for a longthy editing process once I'm back in New York to create a Gnawa multimedia slideshow, accompanied by ambient sound recorded during the performances.

FAQ

I would love to say thank you to everyone for your continuing support and sweet comments. If you are a blogger, you would understand it 's not easy to frequently update the blog with your life and family activities. I try my best to update my blog and hope you all enjoy it. So please, when you visit my blog try your best to leave a kind comment to encourage me to keep up my work. Thank you very much for your time!!.... You know I read every single comment and I try my best to visit your blog as well. If you have a question, I'll try to reply by email, through your blog or on my comment page. Many of you had a few questions, requested me to post them and also want to know me little more. This is it.

Skin care product and routine?
I use L'Oreal cleaner for cleaning my skin in the morning and at bed time. After cleaning is L'Oreal toner. I use SISLEY face moisturiser for day and night. Sisley is an expensive product, $400 per jar, but it's worth it for your skin investment. One jar lasts about 9 months. So, if you divide $400 into 9, it doesn't cost much per month. I also use eyes cream from Sisley, one jar last me over a year. When it comes to skin care, I won't be cheap because it's important to protect and keep your skin looking young and healthy rather than getting a face lift later on. It's unnatural to me. I also get a facial 4 times a year when the seasons change.
What product line do you use for your makeup?
I use Bare Naturale L'Oreal for foundation. I love this foundation much more than Serge Lutens which I tried once before and it's expensive, it's not worth it. Shimmer blush from Bobbi Brown, eye shadow also Bobbi Brown. Lip gloss is whatever line, I don't stick with one.

How do you keep clothing clean when you're with your kid? Do you look nice and fashionista 24/7?
When I stay home with my kids or run errands with them, taking them to gymnastics, ballet or ice-skating, etc., I wear normal clothing from Gap, Hollisters or Madewell and have no makeup or maybe just a little. It' s ok to be dirty. When I'm dining out with them, having a date with my husband, going out with my friends or going shopping...I become fashionista. Every week, we have family dining out and I have a dinner date twice with my husband (we have babysitter come twice a week for us to go out). That's when I dress up. My husband and I enjoy going out just 2 of us because it's good for us having time together to keep our marriage hot. We also like to enjoy different cuisines and it's a good chance for me to play with my fashion clothing.
This is how I look when I do activities at my kids's school. So, I don't think other moms think I'm into fashion. I wore F21 dress and legging.
Taking my kids to gymnastics. I wore Hollisters Co pants, Madewell tee. Do you remember Nastia Luikin who won an Olympic gold metal in Bejing? That's her. Well, my kids do gymnastics at a small local gym. We went to WOGA for one hour training with her. This is a cool thing to do for my kids. When they grow up and look back and say "Thanks mom and dad. That's cool".

How long does it take to make your shoe collection? Will you collect the same volume each season and in the future?

It took years to collect my shoe collection. I started slowly at first. But the last year and this year, it has been speed up. My husband said "I deserve to expand my collection after nine years of being a good wife, good mother" and he supports me. I earned the credit, you know. I will probably slow down next season and in the future. But who knows, sometimes they are like vanilla ice-cream with chocolate chip and Oreo cookies. Most of them I waited for on sale. I did not have shoes collection when I was in high school or college. I love fashion whole my life but back then my parents are very conservative about education. All I did to show them I was good student with A+ and I attended two universities. I had no time for anything else except studying. When I moved here, I attended college again, and had a full time job. It was hard because I had to begin everything from zero. I remember the time I visited a high-end fashion store when I received my tax refund. My husband is a wonderful man who understands my passion for fashion and support me.

The secret to keep you slim since you have two kids?

This question was answered in the entry title " Girls plays dress up". Please, check that out.

These pictures took last night. The family went out for Italian Food. My kids refused to have pictures taking, they weren't in good move for picture. I wore Fallon necklace, Alexander Wang tank (I wear this tank and Helmut Lang tank a lot, love their versatile), Marni skirt that I bought sometime long ago for $100 from original price over $1000 at 4510 store, Marni shoes also bought long time ago from last call at Neiman Marcus for about $250.

Wish everyone have a wonderful weekend!!!!xoxo...Hanh.