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Fujifilm X-Pro1 : Thaipusam Festival At Kota Kinabalu

Thaipusam is a key Hindu ceremony that is held each year during the full moon in the tenth month of the Hindu calendar – Thai – falling from mid-January to mid-February in the Gregorian calendar. It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community including Malaysia. . It mark as public holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Kedah, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak,  Penang & Selangor.

I’ve been living in Kota Kinabalu for so many years but never heard of this festival being held around here. All this years, I only know this iconic festival attracts over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists at Batu Caves. I was looking for some photographic opportunity during Deepavali last year, when I see the note about Thaipusam at Sri Subramaniam Temple (KM22, Penampang-Papar Road in Lok Kawi). My curiosity about it lead me to ask one of the visitor at the temple, I am lucky enough to know that the person I talked to is one of the temple management team. He said it was actually held every year. Yes, every year here in Kota Kinabalu and I have never seen a picture of this festival that was taken from here.

With the information given, I managed to find the location where it being held. It was at Meruntum waterfront near Sabindo Traffic Light. I can’t wait a friend of mine, Rade to arrive when I saw the ceremony is already started. During the ceremony, I’m still curious will be there any piercing like what we used to see at Batu Caves. I decided to stay when the group of devotees carrying a pot of milk walks to Sri Subramaniam Temple. Then I just realise that the piercing ceremony will be held.

Since this was my first time covering Thaipusam Festival, I have no idea how and what to expect. These are some images I took this morning with Fujifilm X-Pro1 + Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4.

Pot of Milk

I can’t stay until the end of ceremony (I wish I could), I have another priority for family & to perform Friday Prayer. I learn a lot about this festival, next year I’ll aim for the eve Thaipusam. It much more interesting in Batu Caves, but I prefer to highlight the festival at Kota Kinabalu.

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Fujifilm X-Pro1 Shoots Landscape: Kota Belud – A Hidden Treasure For Landscape Photographer

I been sitting here like an hour just to figure out how I’m going to start this post. I wrote few lines, then I discarded it. Then I  start again but lead to another blank page in the end. I hardly describe the beauty of this place just by the use of words. But the scenery, sounds & smells are still fresh in my head. You don’t have to agree with me, but when we can remember every details of certain things happened in our past, that was the point we were experiencing a “clear” mind, live in present, not in our past nor the future. In our daily life, we been clutter our mind with thousand of thought, thinking about our future & our past, but not many live in present including me. Anyway, I’ll leave that introduction of this post just like this as I can’t find the best word to fit that beautiful scenery. Thank you Azman Jumat & Rade for inviting me for this wonderful trip at Kota Belud

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Mount Kinabalu Climbing For The First Time – Part Two

This post is related to the previous post.

After having good rest for the night, at 1.30am we get up & ready for the next climbt to the Summit. From Gunting Lagadan, The Low’s Peak is JUST another 2.6km. I was thinking, the distance is no as bad as we had on our first day climb (6km from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata). Because it was my first time at Laban Rata, i have no idea hows the second day climb looks like. We started at 2.30am after having supper, our mountain guide giving his last advise (that whoever not really fit to go are better not to, and he was looking at me?… Ohh… Come on…I can see clearly his eyes are looking at me! ) before proceeding scaling the mountain.

When we first stepped out from Gunting Lagadan, I can felt the sudden change on the temperature. It was really cold. There was no light along the summit trail this is where your headlamp become your best friend. Just few minutes after passing the gate at Gunting Lagadan, my pace begin to get slower. I stopped more often, I found out that the second day climb is tougher than the first. Not because if the trail, but maybe I’m not fully recovered. I tried to keep my pace with other climber passing me, but only ended with my heart beats really fast. I stopped whenever it get really fast. I need to keep alive here. Our mountain guide was just behind me, he advise me that I can always go back, we must reach Sayat-Sayat (Check point) at 0430hrs. I do thinking of going back, but I keep move forward. When I nearly give up, I take a deep breath, look at the stars &  the mountain. No, I’m not turning back. This will be my first and the last time to climb Mt. Kinabalu.

Then I reach at a point where we have to use provided rope to lift up our body. The angle is around 75-80 degree, it is impossible to go up without a rope. I’m not ready for this, I was thinking my body is too weak to do this. At this point, again I was thinking to go back to Laban Rata. I decided to give a try. Surprisingly, climbing with the help of the ropes actually much more pleasing because now not only your legs, but our arms too took part to lift our body.

The trail before reaching Sayat-Sayat Station (until Lows Peak) is totally on granite rock. When I felt tired, I stop and look behind me. It was cold & silent, and I can see clearly the peaks of Mount Kinabalu in front of me (about 180 degree), and further down there behind me, I can see street light probably from Kundasang & Ranau. That view is one of unforgettable sights, I can still clearly remember every details of that very moment. The sound of the wind, the starts, light trails of th climbers, The Korean Group (I don’t really get the point that they need speak almost shouting even the people the talked to is just few feet away).

I reached Sayat-Sayat at 0430am. Refill my drinks and continue, the first 5 minute from Sayat-Sayat is what I call honeymoon because trail is almost flat. But you that wasn’t the end of the story, there are about 1KM left but when we get tired, now this last 1KM is the most toughest among all the trail of The Summit Trail. If you use a helicopter and landed here, I’m sure we can walk easily here, but now is different story. This last 1KM is where I climb with not only my last energy I have, but full of conflict in my mind. I think about AMS, heart attack, stroke, anything related to sudden death. The guide tried to persuade me to stop, but every time he asked me to stop and go down, I get stronger to move forward.

Finally, I made to the body of The Low’s Peak. Only few people left when I reached 8.5KM, the last 150m to the Summit. But because it was too late, I was advised not to go further beyond that point. I was disappointed, however I proud to made it to that point. For people that has climbed to the peak, they know how tough is the last 150m.

The Lows Peak

8.5KM

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” – Ed Viesturs, America’s leading high altitude mountaineer

That morning, I’m among the last person decent from Sayat-Sayat to Laban Rata. It took about 1 and a half hour to reach Laban Rata. I almost missed the breakfast. 11am me and Rade made our way down from Laban Rata to Timpohon Gate. Going down is not tiring, but it puts a lot of pain to my knee. At 1620hrs, we arrive at Timpohon Gate and there was a transport waiting for us to bring us back to Kinabalu National Park HQ & get our climbing certificate.

Sulap (Hut) At Kota Belud

Kota Belud located about 1.5 hour drive from Kota Kinabalu City towards Kudat. It is the home of the infamous Bajau Horsemen nicknamed “The Cowboy Of The East”. The main reason of the nickname given is they are the earliest Sabahan ethnic group ever recorded know how to ride a horse. Beside of that, Kota Belud is also well known for its “Tamu” (Sunday Market) and Mantanani Island. Along the way up to Kota Belud passing Tuaran, we can actually enjoy the breathtaking view of Paddy Field and The Majestic Mount Kinabalu.

Being tempted by Azman & Rade about their plan to shoot at Kota Belud, i can’t resist to not to join them. So last Sunday, we actually planned to start at 4am but delayed because of uncontrollable circumstances. I made excuses that my phone alarm was sabotaged by my wife. We missed the sunrise which is our main idea for the photo outing.

Anyway, this is some shot which I intended to highlight about a hut (local native called it as “Sulap”) at a paddy field somewhere in Tempasuk, Kota Belud. Sulap is multi-purpose space, it is the resting place, temporary hut for farming tools and a place to stay (when it near to harvesting season) where they will hold ropes which plastic bags were tied along the rope and produce noise to chase away the birds (Pipit).

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Child Photography | Backlight II

These are some additional images from previous post.

Actually, these are collection of my favourite picture i took recently. However, those picture has several issue that it doesn’t speak like the other 2 images in my previous post. Sometimes, we are there at the right time, good lighting and you can’t miss the shot. But capturing with natural light need you to be quick especially during golden hour as the sun can’t wait us to clean up things (background/foreground), to stage or to arrange certain kind of thing. Even though it has several weakness, it does speak. I didn’t missed the expression & mood. It is good enough to print it and put it in our family photo album

Child Photography | Backlight II

Child Photography | Backlight II

Child Photography | Backlight II

Child Photography | Backlight II

Child Photography | Backlight

I can’t describe how i really love backlighting. When I travel around, I always scout the best place for backlighting. There are actually countless good backlighting spots between Kota Belud and Kudat.  Most of the spots are located just by the road site, but we still need to enter locals compound to be able to get the best composition. Kota Belud offering backlight with paddy field and chances to get some nice reflection too. When i drive back and fourth to Kota Marudu from Kota Kinabalu, I always want to stop by and take some picture. Time constrains, bad weather and most often is to pass this route not at the right time are the reason why i still have no photo of it until today.

Anyway, these are some backlight shots i managed to get recently at Kg. Indrason, Matunggong.

Child Photography | Backlighting

Child Photography | Backlighting

About the pictures above, all are taken with available light. The trade off for backlighting is we can’t really preserve clouds detail and it will appeared clipping highlight in our histogram. Those images then post-prosessed in Lightroom with VSCO Film Pack 04 presets.

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