Archive for October, 2012

Here are several takes on two photos I took while touring the salt and pepper fields surrounding Kep, Cambodia. Comments welcome! I’ll add a new poll with ‘sea themed’ photos soon.

Thanks for participating!

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Last days of October

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Brussels, Photography
Tags: ,

[music: Autumn 2. Adagio Molto – Vivaldi]

Surviving Belgium Tip #1. Never complain about the weather. Even amidst the rain and grey of Brussels one can find colour; enjoy it!

“This existence of ours is as transient as Autumn clouds.” Buddha

PS I think the music fits perfectly.

 

[music: XX – The XX]– 10 hour XX intro!

At the end of July, I spent a week diving on Koh Tao (turtle island) with the very professional diving school Scuba Junction (which I highly recommend if you are planning a visit).

There are only two reasons to spend time on Koh Tao: exceptional Scuba Diving or early-twenties partying. As this island is exclusively devoted to tourism, the locals and imported immigrant workers have adapted to the touristic environment of party goers, luxury resort divers, and an occasional ‘normal’ scuba divers. Aside from diving, there is little that could entice me back to this island; it had a mini-beachside Disney feel to it, there were too many tourists, and the locals were not genuinely welcoming – to the point of being exploitative (i.e.  the very real motorbike scam).

During my stay, I did have the chance to speak with some very interesting Westerners, travellers. One gave me his copy of The Snow Leopard. Over diner one night, another asked me, “We all need money, but what does one really need it for?”

“Food, shelter and health. The rest of what we need, money can’t buy.” he replied. “I use money to buy myself freedom from the things the rest of the world covets.”

Since we spoke, I have been giving this idea a lot of thought; what I have come up with is not terribly original, but it’s not the originality of the thought but how one puts it into practice that I have found to be interesting. [Generalization warning] The world is increasingly being driven my a notion that we need stuff, iPads, smartphones, designer clothes, 64 megapixel cameras, a 64″ 3D flatscreen TV in every room (24″ in the WC), you get the idea. We spend time thinking about these items and then once acquired, we move on to the next target.

So I have made a few decisions: (1)  Get rid of everything I do not use. (2) Buy to replace, not to add. (3) Favour manual over electric. (4) Reduce my physical possession footprint. (5) Favour local over multinational (the human drive for profits and improvement on a human scale is admirable). (6) Focus on what I can achieve with what I have, rather than buying into the belief that something new will make my ambitions effortless.

This post was originally going to be a simple photographic journey, so here are my Koh Tao photos (Lightroom Koh Tao preset):

October Part IV

Posted: October 22, 2012 in Brussels, Photography
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[music: Requiem – Mozart]

I took these pictures yesterday on a trip to the Jardin Botanique National de Belgique. I mostly used my ‘Angkor Temple of Doom Lightroom’ preset, I think that it worked out pretty well.

Ghost Station

Posted: October 13, 2012 in Brussels, Change, Photography

[music: Left Behind – Aqualung]

I visited the extensive remains of an ambitious plan to relieve Place Louise of it’s traffic congestion problem. A vast tunnel running between Place Poelaert and rue Blanche was built and then abandoned due to pressure from local merchants, worried that reducing traffic would impact their business. During this visit I heard of a number of similar projects around Brussels that had been abandoned, usually because of pressure from one local group or another.

It is sad to visit progress abandoned. Public transport in Brussels is not the best but it appears as if the ideas are there; their corpses slowly decaying beneath our very feet. I thought about this for a while and noticed that often connected, priviledged, or vocal minorities hold back societal betterment. These Ghost Stations should not be hidden away like some embarrassing relative, but held up as testament to lost opportunity, wasted effort, squandered resources.

I then though of my own Ghost Stations: lost opportunities and wasted efforts. Maybe it’s normal to have abandoned projects, perhaps there is a natural level of ideas that are wonderful, plans that are made, projects started and then never completed. So instead of sadness, maybe it’s just a good idea to count them, visit and study them, without judgement, with the objective of building fewer of these stations in the future. While the number of ideas I have has not abated,  far fewer projects are started than 1o years ago, and those that are started have greater likelihood of realisation; one can become more discriminating with one’s time and resources.

I am not sure I see the same phenomenon in society today. Was it always this way? Is Societal Wisdom harder to come by?

Thoughts & Mind

Posted: October 5, 2012 in IdeoKoan 圖像公案, Mindfulness

[music: Symphony #2 – Mahler]

 

October part III

Posted: October 1, 2012 in Change, Mindfulness, Music

[music: October – U2]

“October
And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care

October
And Kingdoms rise
And Kingdoms fall
But you go on…

…and on…”

October, U2, 1981