Hong Kong Fortune Tellers

This photo is one reason I love my Olympus OMD EM-1 it works great in low light which has opened up a whole new world of photography when I travel going out at that magic time just after dusk and even later so many new photo opportunities.

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The fortune teller market Hong Kong a fun place to photograph and have your fortunes told.

Film Review. Altiplano by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth.

Breathtaking, expansive and emotional. Altiplano is a film set in the Peruvian Andes that really portrays the region as it is. This is not a Peru that the tourist sees. It is a film that covers in a way too many topics about Peru that many will be lost on the viewer and most reviewers it seems, but it redeems itself in other ways. With faith, belief and redemption as it’s main theme it delves deeply into Andean culture like no other film or documentary that I have seen has. From the opening scene when the statue of the Virgin Mary crashes to the ground and the locals take it as a bad omen, to the Virgins rebirth at the end the mood is set.  Altiplano is a film that will have you captivated and enthralled,  loosely based on the Mercury contamination by a mining company in a small Peruvian village which had tragic consequences. This is not a documentary or a travel film far from it. Having lived among these people and experienced first hand many of the rituals in the film, I found it both enlightening and disturbing at the same time you become part of a different culture for it’s duration and that is what a  good film should do.

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“Saturnina”  Magaly Solier  is wonderful as the lead actress.

First rate cinematography and it’s  setting make you feel as you are there among  the locals living their reality in a barren and harsh land that god seems to have forgotten about. The acting is first rate, dialog is kept to a minimum and each of the main characters are seen to be both emotionally hard and soft. I realise that Brosens has tried to show us the Andes as he has seen it but in many ways the film fails to do this… you can not understand it unless you have seen it first hand. There is far too much symbolism, ritual and realism that the average westerner will go yeah right… sure thing they don’t do that! (Warning spoiler!) Well folks they do and I can guarantee you that everything in this film is 100% accurate right down to when the lead actress commits revenge suicide and then at her funeral they throw the dice to see if she goes to heaven or hell. I came away from this film with one thought pessimism. Co director Brosens talked after the film and I understood his point of view that all this is an everyday occurrence there… life goes on there can only be faith and hope. Yet for me it is more about who cares and who… if anybody is doing anything about these things happening in the poor parts of the world. That is the unanswered question here.  Highly recommended, if you get the chance to see it then do! The trailer can be seen here Altiplano

Cafe Ayllu a classic coffee shop in Cusco

The cafe Ayllu has been serving the hungry of Cusco for 38 years now. I have been going there for over 20 of them and it hasn’t changed. It still is the best cafe in Cusco. It’s location smack bang on the plaza with it’s huge windows allow for a fine view where you can sit and enjoy what is happening outside, while partaking in fine drinks and food. It is famous for it’s baked custard and hot chocolate, but all of it’s pastries are good and the pancakes with fruit and honey absolutely delicious.

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The Ayllu still with it’s original furniture, service and food.

It’s prices are local prices so you are not paying the tourist premium you do in many other places on the plaza. The Ayllu is where all the intellectual and arty set in Cusco go to hangout. Often jam packed even at 10pm at night it is definitely a must visit place if you are heading to Cusco. Just order a coffee and my favorite treat an alfajor ( a large shortbread biscuit with caramelised condensed milk inside)… Kick back and watch the world go by.

Terror in the hostal Frankenstein!

I have been walking past the entrance to the Hostal Frankenstein for around 15 years now. I always wondered who stayed there? I mean with a name like that? Oh yeah it is located in a back street in Cusco Peru. Anyway when we were looking for a place to change hotels to for Mum and Dad I thought can’t hurt to take a look… can it?

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Ok, just what is this place like? Sorry not for Mum & Dad.

Well it certainly is an acquired taste I asked to see a room… and if you woke up with a hangover… the paint scheme would do Oscar Wilde and his battle with his wallpaper proud. Oh did I mention the huge fat iguana that wanders around the place? Actually truth be known it isn’t half bad for the price and certainly is central to the main plaza. No the owners name isn’t Herman it’s Ludwig and he is from what I can gather from Franken in Germany ahh… there is the connection! Beware though it has the world’s most dangerous showers those evil electric shower heads that I just cannot get to work! Gotta love it cold Andean mountain water! Backpacker? then go for it!

Trust me I’m your guide!

When we invited my folks to come to Peru this year with us…  Luckily for them I have 23 years of experience travelling and living there. Things started real well we hadn’t even boarded our plane and Dad had lost his passport and tickets somewhere in the airport… But they were found and we all arrived safe and sound. Actually to my surprise everything pretty well went like clockwork.

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Just a short climb up there and we will get a great view!

Mum and Dad did real well and kept up almost all of the time considering we were at 3000 plus meters altitude or higher during the trip. Though every time I pointed up and said Hey just up there are the most fantastic unknown Inca ruins they would kindly reply it’s ok… You go we will wait here!

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Ok I didn’t mention the lots of stairs… but hey they look happy.

We spent 2 days at Machu Picchu doing one half one day and the other the next. It was cloudy and rainy the first which gave it a really mysterious feeling. Then on the second the hot andean sun put in an appearance and it was like 7000 degrees. If you have been to the big MP then you know what it’s like, but just getting there is an adventure in itself. You first fly to Lima then fly onto Cusco, then you have to wake up at like 5 am to catch the train for a 4hr trip through the Urubamba valley and last but not least a scary 20min bus trip up the mountain side… Whew! and then you are finally there. But it is worth every second of the long trip once you are in the Inca Citadel itself.

It is a photographers dream.

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Mysterious Machu Picchu.

Back from Peru and back at work….

Finally after arriving home a few weeks ago I have managed to catch up on everything and am now able to pay more attention to the neglected things like my blog.

I had a great time travelling and photographing many places in Cusco.

Local camera shop “closed for siesta” Cusco 09

 

The beautiful town of Chincheros Peru 09

So expect more posts about our trip and some exiting new products from Voigtlander!