Daily Post Photo Challenge – Wish

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The Daily Post Photo Challenge is a weekly photography challenge. This weeks challenge is Wish.

I took this photo while in Japan and it is in the grounds of a Shinto temple. The trunks of the trees are adorned with bad fortunes.

THE “OMIKUJI” FORTUNE. Most shrines sell fortunes called Omikuji おみくじ. Just look for a small rounded container filled with bamboo sticks at the shrine kiosk. Pay the attendant (typically 100 yen), pick up the container, give it a shake, and a long stick will pop out of a small hole at the top. The stick will have a number, which corresponds to a fortune. Based on your number, the attendant gives you a tiny slip/roll of paper on which is written your fortune. If you draw a good fortune, keep it, take it home with you. But if it’s bad, leave it at the shrine, don’t take it home. Just look around, and you’ll find a small stand with many strips of white paper tied on. These are bad fortunes and you should tie yours here too. The concept is “leave the bad luck at the shrine, where the divine spirit can exorcise it.

OWPC – Escape

This week’s prompt is escape and it brought to mind my recent trip to Myanmar (Burma) which was an escape not only geographically but also in time. Wonderful country, fantastic people, all smiles.

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I was lucky to be on a small boat near the bridge  – and supplied with champagne while waiting for the sunset. It was magical.

The U Bein Bridge is a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura in Myanmar. The 1.2-kilometre (0.75 mi) bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. (Wikipedia)

What Pegman saw – Shahi Qila

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Shahi Qila

I sought respite from the intense heat in the shade amongst the ruins of Shahi Qila.

I sat on a cool stone and after a while drifted off into an uneasy slumber.

I heard the rhythms of a tabla, the rising and falling notes of a sitar, and singing.

“Go to Burhanpur, and visit Bhulbhulaya, 

My Royal Palace, on the banks of the Tapti River.

Seek out my love. 

Prepare her a luxurious bath of warm soothing waters,

Scented with Khus, Saffron and Rose Petals,

In my Royal Hammam. 

When the evening sun turns orange and it’s fading rays throw fiery shadows on the painted ceiling, 

Light incense sticks and gather inspiration in the fragrance of their ethereal oils.

Then as she bathes, whisper my name,

So that at last, I can be reunited with the Empress Mumtaz Mahal Begum,

My chosen one, my true love.

In doing so, I will grant you fortune and everlasting happiness,

For as long as you shall live.”

I woke up with a smile and his name on my lips.

Emperor Shah Jahan.

What Pegman Saw is a fascinating weekly flash fiction challenge that takes as it’s prompt a ‘Pegman’ point on Google Maps.

Once again I culled my story from history. Fascinating insights.

What Pegman Saw : The Vaults

The Vaults (of Leith)

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My Grandad would often tell tales as we shared a glass of malt, basking in the heat from the crackling fireplace.

As a Cooper, he would regularly inspect the Whisky puncheons held in the Vaults of Leith.

Before each round, he would prise out a bung and help himself to a glass.

One day a Master made a surprise visit.

“Do you always take a glass before your inspection?”

“I do Sir, because there is always a strong smell of whisky and foul air and I would soon turn sick and be unfit if I didn’t harden my stomach.”

They started their inspection together, but the Master, feeling a little squeamish said, “I think ye are no far wrong, a wee dram would fortify my stomach also.”

So my Grandad gave him a drop from the best cask in the vaults and henceforth they became firm friends. (147 words)

The weekly What Pegman Saw is a fascinating weekly flash fiction challenge based on a Google Street View location, somewhere on the planet.

My story is culled and contextualised from the histories of Leith.

This week’s challenge comes from a street view in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland. A city I lived in from 1968 to 1978. Fond memories.

It Takes Two to Tango

It Takes Two to Tango

My wife and I had always wanted to visit South America, and at the top of our list was Macchu Pichu and Lake Titicaca. We hadn’t heard about the Iguazú Falls or the Hand on the beach of Punta del Este and Ushuaïa was, for us, the end of the World only seen in documentaries and made popular in France by Nicolas Hulot, a French Television presenter.

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Some of our destinations retained a dream-like almost unreal quality as I thought they would always be memories of images and sounds from television programmes rather than my own personal souvenirs.

I was very excited to finally have the chance to visit these places and experience them with my own eyes and ears.

Our South American voyage started in Lima and while in Peru we flew to Cusco and visited Macchu Pichu. Nothing could have prepared me for my first glimpse, after the short but tiring trek up the mountain. Tiring because any movement takes more out of you at 10,000 feet.

Reality met the romanced discovery I’d imagined, and the images that I’d seen in magazines and in films corresponded precisely to what I got. It’s quite amazing and I really felt like pinching myself just to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming.

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The rest of that day was, of course, an anticlimax. How can you just go on with your day when you’ve seen something like that?

The images will stay permanently engraved in my souvenirs.

After Peru, we flew to Santiago de Chile and boarded our cruise ship in Valparaiso and sailed for Puerto Mont and Punta Arenas before arriving at Ushuaïa our first Argentinian Port

Arriving in the port of Ushuaïa, the air was so crisp and the sky so blue, I could have sliced it all up and put it into a box marked  ‘End of the World’ . As it happens it’s so far South that there really is a destination called ‘The End of the World’ but I’ll write about that in another story.

From Ushuaïa we navigated further south to Cape Horn, where it was so stormy that I was obliged to  hold of the handrails while taking photos of Cape Horn itself and the wind and waves battered the ship with such an intensity that although we came right up to it our Captain wisely decided not to circumnavigate it.

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I mention this because I have a certificate that states that I have circumnavigated Cape Horn but now you know that that is not strictly true.

From Cape Horn, the ship rounded the Southern tip of South America crossing into the South Atlantic Ocean and headed towards the Falkland Islands, Puerto Madryn and a day in the port of Montevideo and the chance of a visit to Punta del Este where I saw the famous hand on the beach.

Then, finally we disembarked the ship in Buenos Aires and spent the night before travelling the next day to Iguazú to spend a few days visiting the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the Iguazú falls.

I don’t think anything can really prepare you for this visit. Whereas Macchu Pichu is iconic for its architecture, culture and history, Iguazú is an assault of nature on all your senses at once. The sheer size of the waterfall and the power and roar of the water as it plunges over the sides defy your imagination.

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So after Iguazú, the flight back to Buenos Aires gave me the opportunity of reflecting on the sights I’d seen because two days later I was due to fly back home to the UK.

In my mind, the journey was almost over.

Thankfully this was far from being true.

On the last night of our voyage, we attended a Tango Show. I didn’t really have high expectations. I’ve never really been keen on the tango as a dance. I prefer the quickstep, the foxtrot and the waltz . Although I enjoy the skill of the dancers it is a little too postured for my liking.

The restaurant and theatre were tastefully decorated, the waiters were charming and the service was danced to perfection. Almost before we had started we were already finishing the dessert and a few glasses of wine later I was feeling much merrier.

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The house lights dimmed, and the curtains opened. There was a five-piece orchestra high up over the stage that started playing and then the dancers entered.

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They were remarkable. Beautifully precise rhythmic dance steps, with Argentinian attitude, postures and abrupt pauses. The female dancers wore colourful costumes and the male dancers were slicked back, elegant and macho.

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As the Tango originated in Buenos Aires; what better place to appreciate it.

It was a wonderful climax to our voyage and I was disappointed when the curtains closed after the last encore. Although they dance night after night, each dance was fresh and lively.

In conclusion, it takes more than two to tango. The couple dancing the tango and an audience to appreciate them.

They won me over. Now I love the tango.


This is the seventh part of a series of travel tales.

  1. How I went to Brazil

2. Flight over Table Mountain

3. The Tracey Arm Surprise

4. The Lone Piper

5. My Vanuatu Swim

6. Breakdown in Peru

7. It Takes Two to Tango

8. The Bali Run

9. Almost the Northern Lights

10. I’ll Love You To the End of the World