Archive for November, 2008

Great Maul 2

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Kerala, in the south west of India, is known as God’s Own Country.

It now seems there’ll be a lot more to do than just rest on that seventh day when several of the monolithic shopping malls now in construction in Cochin open for business this year.

The main growth corridor towards the airport is filling with new showrooms, hotels and yes, retail malls to service the expanding middle class. The road from the airport, which used to afford views over the rich green rice fields, is now a continuous sideshow of huge garish billboards selling everything from condensed milk to penthouse apartments.

Nearby in historic Fort Cochin, change is a lot slower in coming and life carries on pretty much as it has for the years. Though I did notice some newer, brightly-coloured ropes on the Chinese fishing nets scattered along the shoreline and some with makeshift barriers to keep the over enthusiastic tourists away from the heavily weighted cantilever.


Roo’d Shock

Monday, November 17th, 2008

While visiting family in the countryside of Central Victoria, I came upon a large kangaroo sitting in the middle of the gravel road. The worsening drought has brought a lot of wildlife closer and closer to properties with water remaining in their dams.

As this big guy moved off and I started on my way, the roadside scrub opened up to reveal another sixty or more roos dotted around the paddock.

A visual reminder that I was definitely back in Australia, albeit for just a few days.

Star Struck

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

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 Taking shape at one end of the Melbourne Docklands redevelopment is the Southern Star Wheel. The latest in a seeming endless plague of giant wheels that has taken over the world.

Unlike the finely balanced and mesmerising structures of the London Eye and more recent Singapore Flyer, the Southern Star looks like some throwback to an earlier era of post war engineering prowess. Coney Island finally makes it to Melbourne. 

Strategically placed in the middle of.. erm.. somewhere, the Southern Star is scheduled to open in the last week of November.

I See ICC

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

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Passing briefly through Hong Kong, the beautiful, blue sky day could mean only one thing…..

Lunch by the water!

Having checked in for the night flight, I could enjoy the relative freedom of walking around town unencumbered by additional baggage. The waterfront redevelopment around the old Star Ferry Terminal was in full swing with massive dredges helping reshape the contours of the island’s shore.

Sitting at lunch on an outdoor terrace at Pelli’s IFC2, we were afforded a rather splendid view of progress on the International Commerce Centre designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, rising across the water.

When finished, the two towers will face off against each other across the arrow straits separating Hong Kong Island from the mainland. Twin beacons to the continuing prosperity of the Fragrant Harbour.

Great Maul 1

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

After soaking in the cultural heritage of the Great Wall the previous day, it was back to the reality of development in the new Beijing. I was really hoping this was just too cheesy and horrible an association to make but I guess someone had to do it sooner or later.

Another Hick on The Wall

Monday, November 10th, 2008

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A spare day in Beijing is always the perfect excuse to get out of town for a breath of fresh air. This time we were heading for a section of the Great Wall at Simatai, some hundred and twenty kilometres from the centre of the city.

For most of the way, a new (and mostly empty) expressway had us skimming to the north-east, past small villages just waking to the low winter sun. The bare trees forming ghostly silhouettes in the low lying smoke of the morning’s warming fires. 

The flat landscape of the Beijing valley gave way to the undulating foothills of the distant mountains. For a while, all around us seemed to be vineyards  and then there, off in the distance was the unmistakeable outline of a classic Loire Valley chateau. 

Now just a minute! As we got closer it became obvious it was indeed a chateau of grand proportion. There were several buildings in the complex, all following the same architectural style. And we rounded another corner, the crowning glory came into view.

This sure wasn’t no fake Rolex.

Continuing on to Simatai we spent a good part of the day climbing (and climbing and climbing) along this amazing structure. While there were several repaired sections between the watchtowers accessible to visitors, you could also catch great views towards the more rugged and virtually impassable sections of the Wall as they snaked off along the ridge lines.

One cannot help but be humbled by the sheer enormity of the Wall and the sense of history hanging about the valleys, in spite of the endless ant trail of tourists, still exudes a quiet power.

UNESCO has designated this section of the Great Wall as a World Cultural Heritage site.

Channel Surfing

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

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While CCTV’s new headquarters seems to have been getting all the attention of late, nearby on Jianguomen Waidajie, Nikken Sekkei’s Beijing Television Centre, the home of BTV is almost complete. 

The administration building has 41 floors, including broadcast studios, programs rooms, an information & net center, digital editing rooms and offices.

Big Shorts

Friday, November 7th, 2008

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With the skin now largely complete on CCTV, the striking forms pop out against the otherwise rectilinear skyline.

Bank Job

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Setting up the camera anywhere on a public street always seems to attract some degree of attention. From the casual passer-by, puzzled by the odd appearance of the Alpa, to the die-hard enthusiast who’s heard of but never seen these things, it’s a definite crowd pleaser.

So pulling out the MAX on the bankside promenade of the Huangpu River in Shanghai was kind of asking for trouble. With my limited grasp of the local language, these mostly genial gatherings involve a good deal of blank expressions, hand gestures and general shoulder shrugging before everyone loses interest in the crazy foreigner and moves on.

Left to my own devices, I tried a few multi-frame panoramas in an attempt to capture the breadth of the ever-changing skyline across the river in Pudong. Here’s a rough proof of one pass.

Opening Act

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

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Shanghai World Financial Centre opened to the public recently with observation decks, said to be the highest in the world, on the 94th and 100th floors. The building itself is currently the tallest in mainland China.