The Soul of Shangri-la

DaoCheng Yading

The year 2004. The first time I was ask to join a group of photo-enthusiast to a trip to Yading in Sichuan. A 2 weeks trip that would took me through beautiful landscapes, quaint villages, high altitude snow-capped mountains.  I had no idea of these places, not a clue of what to expect. It would be a tough journey through high altitude places with very basic amenities. But the scenery and the photos we can capture will be amazing.

Sunset at Yading Peaks. Shot with NikonD100 in 2004.
Mt.Jambeyang (Yangmaiyong) at Lourong Pasture

Fast forward to the year 2018. I lead a group of travelers through the same route but it is a great surprise to see the amount of development along this route. Making our journey so much more comfortable with good guest houses, hotels & restaurant. Thank goodness, the landscapes have not change much, still look very much the same as years ago. 

2004: We stayed in a Tibetan home in Yading village. It was mostly pasture land with few houses spread out. There was no electricity, we have to use the small generator to charge our camera batteries. There were big group of us taking turn to charge our batteries as we will be camping in side Yading for the next 2 days. There were no water or toilet, and we haven’t had a shower for almost a week after we left the last small-town days ago.

2018: We stayed in Shangri-la town (Riwa). Comfortable guest houses, restaurants & shops. Room with attached bathroom with hot water & heater to keep yourself fresh after a long day of trekking in Yading.

The once sleepy Yading village is now a popular place with many guest houses & hotels.

After the bus drop us at the entrance of Zhaguanbeng, we took a short walk to the battery car station. Instead of horses (in 2004 I took a few hours riding a horse) we now use the battery car to Luorong Pasture (4,180m) about 7 km away).

In 2004 we camped inside Yading next to the snow-capped mountains. It is a good thing this is no longer allowed as camping will surely destroy the surrounding park with pollution & human waste. I am happy to see the stream are still very clean and the water is clear.

The campsite I once stayed in 2004. It was very cold, I hardly slept & woke up before sunrise with a water bottle frozen.
The campsite I once stayed in 2004. It was very cold, I hardly slept & woke up before sunrise with a water bottle frozen.
My only sunrise shot of Mt.Jambeyang (Yangmaiyong) before I went back into the tent as it was too cold. Shot with NikonD100 in 2004.
The trek from Chonggu Temple to Pearl lake (4080m) is about 1.5Km.
Mt.Chenrezig (Xiannairi) at Pearl lake

The trek from Lourong Pasture (4180) to Milk Lake (4600m) & Five-colour Lake (4700m) is about 5.5KM but is mostly steep climb. 

Milk Lake
Yading, shot with Nikon D100 in 2004
Without realising I shot the same angle of Yading as the photo in 2004. Shot with Nikon D850 in 2018
Our Tibetan driver & guide took us to his village temple.
A typical Tibetan meal during our visit to my driver house.
Mt. Chanadorje (Xianuodouji)

The slow train from Hatyai to Phattalung.

When I planned my trip my first trip to Thale Noi, Phattalung I had so much time that I decided to take a slow leisure journey once I touch down at Hatyai airport. And it was quite a challenge as I have not been to Hatyai before and I don’t speak Thai apart from able to order tom yum goong and pad thai.

From the airport I took a taxi to the railway station, which is about 12 km away. First thing I did when I reach the railway station was to find out when is the next available train to Phattalung. After a few exchanges of thai & hand language I choose the 1.50 pm train. I couldn’t really hear how much is the ticket I just pass 100 Baht thru the counter for 2 tickets. I took the tickets and a bundle of lose change. The ticket cost us 18 Baht each. 

Then we went for lunch at a local shop near the station. We had noodle and were given free bananas too. After lunch, we went back & waited for the train, which was a little late according to the schedule. I have to double check with the counter to make sure we didn’t miss our train. We were finally in the train on the way to Phattalung just after 2 pm. The train is pretty old with wooden benches for seats. It was not full and its free seating. Luckily it was not a very hot day or else it will be very stuff inside as there were only fans in the carriage. The train made many stops along the way. But what keep me occupied and busy with my camera were the local passengers in the carriage. And the 2 hours passed by quickly. It is a small station and we find our self standing at the main entrance without sign of tuktuk or taxi. I went to the ticket counter to ask and was told to check outside. Went out and started asking people but nobody seem to know. Saw a pickup truck with some people at the back I went to ask the driver. While we couldn’t really understand each other, he is nice enough to help me ask another driver and after a few exchanged of the place I wanted to go and how much it will cost. It was settled and we were on our way as the rain start to pour. After about 30 mins we finally reach our hotel.

The New Nikon Z50

My first hand-on impressions

Nikon Z50 + 105mm f/2.8
  1. The size: It’s the smallest of Nikon Z mirrorless body. Small & Light but still hold comfortably in one hand. My wrist doesn’t feel the strained even holding & shooting in one hand paired with the kit lens without having a camera strap attached. 
  2. The sensor: The APS-C sensor probably won’t bother the new user who upgrade from beginner dslr or phone camera. But I like to have my ultra-wide lens so I have to use the FTZ to shoot with my other ultra-wide lens & also other lenses like the S series lenses.
  3. Image quality: The 20.2MP sensor produced images that’s generally excellent with good realistic colour tone. While I usually shoot in Raw, the Z50 jpegs is very usable without post processing.
  4. Video: I am a newbie for video and I find it quite easy to set up for video recording and the result is pretty good. I use ‘recording’ instead of shooting as I set up the tripod and let the Z50 runs as soon as I see fireworks lighted up the sky. Ok I guess this is not a fair review for video. But it’s easy just like using my mobile phone to record.

What I like most:

Nikon Z50 + 16-50mm
  1. The large LCD is great & the touch screen is responsive. For once I use the LCD entirely instead of the viewfinder.
  2. I am a bad selfie shooter but I like that the LCD can flip so you can see yourself when you want to do selfie. But I use it to shoot sometime else. The image of hanging coils of incense that’s almost reaching the ground making it impossible for me to do an upward shot of it from low angle. By flipping the LCD in reverse, I can see how Is my composition before I release the shutter with a tap on the touch screen.

What’s the drawback?

  1. With just the kit lens 16-50 & the 50-250mm zoom, there is a limitation to your range of shots. With the maximum aperture of f/3.5 you will not going to get that dreamy bokeh shot, which will affect the new user. The existing Nikon users can use the FTZ adapter or the S series of lenses. 

Welcoming the Rat for 2020


Z50-0095RCelebrating the 2020 Lunar New Year of The Rat.

On the eve of the new lunar year, people flock to the temple at night. Preferable to  be at the temple before or by 12 mid night so you can be the first person to light the josh stick and pray for the best for the new year. The 2 oldest temples in KL Chinatown are the most popular as people started arriving after their reunion dinner. (more…)

The World’s highest railway

The Qinghai-Tibet railway or Qingzang railway is an alternative to flying in-out  of Lhasa. My first 2 trips to Tibet was from Nepal, crossing the Nepa-China border at Zhangmu located in Nyalam County. The road condition here is pretty bad and during bad weather it’s a nightmare travelling thru this section but thing has changed after the recent earthquakes and it has not been use by tourist since then. Continue reading “The World’s highest railway”

The Road to Mandalay

Mandalay Pictorial

morning at Ubein Bridge, Mandalay

You can take a slow boat ride up the river to Mandalay or like us we prefer to fly direct to Mandalay. Many years ago in my first trip to Myanmar we took a night train from Yangon. It was one of the most memorable train ride but certainly not in the most comfortable way. It was a long long train ride taking more than 10 hours in a old shaking train with wooden seats and windows that you cannot close. It was freezing from night to early morning as we were travelling during the last week of December. Continue reading “The Road to Mandalay”

Yangon Chinatown Pictorial

Street scene of Myanmar Chinatown.

Yangon chinatown street scene
Yangon chinatown street scene

After more than a week traveling thru Mandalay, Bagan and Inle lake, i ended up in Yangon for our flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

As we arrived late in the afternoon we only managed to visit Shwedagon Pagoda during sunrise and had a morning free time before we check out from hotel and go to the airport. In the evening hours during sunset there were many local people and tourists at Shwedagon Pagoda. Most people come early morning or late afternoon as it is cooler but it will mean there will be hundreds of other people too.

Continue reading “Yangon Chinatown Pictorial”

A half-day transit in Helsinki

My luggage like Helsinki



I will not forget Helsinki for awhile at least. I am on a flight from Singapore on  Fin Air, and transit in Helsinki for my onward journey by Icelander Air to Reykjavik , Iceland but when arriving in Reykjavik Airport I couldn’t find my luggage after everyone has got theirs. After filing a missing luggage i was told it’s probably still in Helsinki and they will try to get it to me by the next day flight. And was given a toiletries bag among toothbrush , i got a XXL t-shirt. And I normal wear M. Good thing is i did get back my luggage the next day just in time as my group about to leave the city to other parts of Iceland. That will be another story to come.

Continue reading “A half-day transit in Helsinki”

Sheila Leisure Farm, Taiwan

A Refreshing Mountain Retreat with Breathtaking View.


Sheipa Leisure Farm perched at the top of 1,923 meters offers a panoramic view of the surrounding Sheipa Mountains of Sheipa National Park in the Guanwu National Forest Recreation Area. The main building and the accommodation are built to blend into the surrounding environment giving you an easy access to enjoy the natural sceneries and fresh air. Continue reading “Sheila Leisure Farm, Taiwan”


Is a small small world

close up of white pheony flower
close up of white pheony flower

Macro photography is a genre of photography that you’ll either love it or will give up totally after your initial try. This is photography that requires a huge dose of patience and probably a strong pair of legs. I remember I was really amazed with photos of insect with extreme close-up revealing details that I’ve never seen before and wonder how it’s possible to capture those minute details and colours that’s not visible to our naked eyes. Off course shooting extreme close-up of insect is not everyone cup of tea but there are more to this as I have friends who have shot beautiful macro shots that defies your imaginations.

Continue reading “Macro”