spunktitud3

Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun


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Botswana – Milky Way at the Safari

Milky Way in Botswana
After an exciting afternoon of safari photography at Mashatu Game Reserve, we spied a hint of the milky way appearing up in the skies. Stoked, we looked around, ascertained that there were no animals (especially predators) nearby, jumped out of the car for a quickie shot. It was the fastest milky way photography I have ever done ;)

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Botswana – Blue Waxbill

Blue Waxbill
The blue waxbill (Uraeginthus angolensis), also called blue-breasted cordon-bleu, is a small estrildid finch (about 12.5cm) found in open grassland, savanna, bush or wooded areas and cultivated lands of South Africa. We saw these cuties in Botswana’s Mashatu Game Reserve. It needs to drink regularly, hence is often found in areas with a constant supply of surface water. Its diet consists of small seed and insects (for protein especially during breeding period). Interested males sing and dance when courting a female, with a blade of grass in his beak (it must have Spanish blood, reminds me of flamenco!). Blue waxbills can live for a decade or more.

Listen to the chirpings of a blue waxbill.


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Botswana – Leopard on the Prowl

Leopard on the Prowl
Leopard on the prowl for a steenbok. The poor steenbok was highly confused with all the attention it was getting (“I don’t think I am special enough for safari vans to be following me!”)

As much as I wanted to capture a successful hunt, much of me was rooting for the steenbok to escape. The little guy survived, phew.

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Photo of the Day – Margaret River’s Wild Roos

Wild Kangaroos in Perth
Caught this pair of wild kangaroos at Gunyulgup Drive in Margaret River, Perth. Apparently, everyday at around 5am and 5pm you can see HUNDREDS of wild kangaroos at the empty green space near Little Fish Restaurant. Apparently, the roos hang out at rural golf courses around the area as well (Vines Golf Course, Margaret River Golf Club, Melville Glades Golf Club, Yanchep Golf Course, etc). Another ‘interesting’ place to see them would be Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park (yes a cemetery). It’s definitely a must-see when you visit Margaret River :) Be careful of them if you are driving, as they are well-know to be ‘road hogs’ or may just suddenly jump out to cross the road.

Other places that you can try are Yelverton Brooks, Whiteman Park and Cottonwood Reserve (off Dianella Drive and Gay Street by Chanel 9 and Chanel 7 TV studios). Do you know of more kangaroo sighting places in Perth or Australia?

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Japan – Mikoshi 神輿 Parade at Yushima Tenjin

Yushima Tenjin - Mikoshi ParadeI was fortunate enough to chance upon a mikoshi 神輿 parade when I was at Yushima Tenjin for its Plum Blossom Festival. Yushima Tenjin - Mikoshi ParadeA mikoshi 神輿 is a divine palanquin or portable Shinto shrine which transports a deity while moving between main shrine and temporary shrine during a festival or when moving to a new shrine. During festivals, they bring the mikoshi around the neighbourhood to bring blessings to the area.Yushima Tenjin Plum Blossom FestivalSaying a prayer before the mikoshi procession. People sign up to be mikoshi bearers as they believe they can get a bountiful harvest or blessings for the year.Yushima Tenjin - Mikoshi ParadeAnd off goes the parade. Such processions usually start and end at a Shinto shrine.Yushima Tenjin - Mikoshi ParadeAs they parade down the street, mikoshi bearers will shout a loud chant to encourage themselves to carry a palaquin that can weigh over a tonne. There are 4 different styles of shouldering, all with a different chant. The beareres may also toss the mikoshi to ‘amuse’ the diety inside.Yushima Tenjin - Mikoshi Parade
The most common method of shouldering in Japan is “Hira-katsugi 平担ぎ” where the beareres shout “wasshoi わっしょい,” and may or may not toss the mikoshi. For the “Edomae style | 江戸前” which is seen at the Asakusa Sanja Festival, bearers shout “say ya, soi ya, sah, sorya” and sway the mikoshi rapidly.Yushima Tenjin - Mikoshi Parade“Dokkoiドッコイ ” shouldering style is seen in Shonan in Kanagawa Prefecture where the mikoshi is moved up and down rhythmically, and more slowly than in the Edomae style. Bearers shout “dokkoi dokkoi dokkoi sorya” and there is a song called a “jink” (lively song).

Multiple mikoshi is used for the “Odawara style 小田原担ぎ where the mikoshis meet and run in a “Holy Dash”, shouting “oisah…korasah…koryasah” and there is a song called a “Kiyari” chant. Instead of swaying the mikoshi, it is moved from side to side and turning corners at full speed.Yushima Tenjin - Mikoshi ParadeYushima Tenjin - Mikoshi ParadeYushima Tenjin - Mikoshi Parade

Yushima Tenjin - Mikoshi ParadeWhat caught my attention were these men in traditional fundoshi (loincloth).Yushima Tenjin - Mikoshi ParadeAt 10 degrees celsius – don’t you feel cold?! *feeling shy*Yushima Tenjin - Mikoshi ParadeYushima Tenjin - Mikoshi ParadeThe palanquins return to Yushima Tenjin after the procession. It was an interesting cultural experience that I appreciated. Do try to catch one too the next time you visit Japan.