doyen of photography

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prof. Ismail Hashim is the doyen of Malaysian photography. Passed away recently, this is a rare shot of him nestled in between subjects that matters to him most and quite often depicted in his works. Unknown to many, Ismail is camera shy and I was most privileged to immortalize him over a cup of coffee. Pictures taken at Kedai Kopi Chuan Foong, Jln Chan Siew Teong, Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

~~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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earth stump

~earth stump~ image copyright Kris lee 2013

~earth stump~
image copyright Kris lee 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once there was a tree.. and she loved a little boy. And everyday the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples.And they would play hide-and-go-seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. And the boy loved the tree…. very much. And the tree was happy.

But time went by. And the boy grew older. And the tree was often alone. Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, “Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.” “I am too big to climb and play” said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money?” “I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.” And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time…. and the tree was sad. And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.” “I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm,” he said. “I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house ?” ” I have no house,” said the tree. “The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy.” And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time. And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak. “Come, Boy,” she whispered, “come and play.” “I am too old and sad to play,” said the boy. “I want a boat that will take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?” “Cut down my trunk and make a boat,” said the tree. “Then you can sail away… and be happy.” And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away. And the tree was happy… but not really.

And after a long time the boy came back again. “I am sorry, Boy,” said the tree,” but I have nothing left to give you – My apples are gone.” “My teeth are too weak for apples,” said the boy. “My branches are gone,” said the tree. ” You cannot swing on them – ” “I am too old to swing on branches,” said the boy. “My trunk is gone, ” said the tree. “You cannot climb – ” “I am too tired to climb” said the boy. “I am sorry,” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something…. but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry….” “I don’t need very much now,” said the boy, “just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.” “Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.” And the boy did. And the tree was happy.

This inspiring classic poem “The Giving Tree” was chosen as the appropriate fit to complement this image. Picture taken at Hollywood Beach, Tj Bungah Penang.

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alleys of old

~alley of old~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~alleys of old~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love these long forgotten alleys of old

Unplastered walls

Roots that grew to be heard

Incidentally, they were all planted by birds

Huge giants they are

But neglected

I love these long forgotten alleys of old..

~roots 1~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots 1~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots III~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots III~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~roots II~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots II~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

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(Pictures taken at Penang Pier opposite the Jetty, Weld Quay, Penang)

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extended family

~extended family~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~extended family~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

Overseas Chinese left their motherland at a tender age and through sheer hard work and good foresight, many astute businessmen found fortune and eventually became well-known philanthropists. Apart from contributing to society, these visionaries pamper themselves with homes large enough to fit a few generations of “extended family” leaving their wealth to be managed by trust funds. As a result, younger generations today still continue to enjoy the fruits of their efforts with children and grandchildren being sent overseas to further their studies and eventually migrate~ leaving these homes to the care of their faithful caretakers. Many of these homes were today rented out, leased or sold to commercial concerns as well as educational institutions because it is no longer cheap to maintain houses like this. One such house (as shown in pic) is currently leased to Kentucky Fried Chicken, an American fast food corporation who had tapped into the Penang market since the seventies. Picture taken at Larut Rd, Penang.

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palms palms palms

~palms palms palms~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~palms palms palms~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name ‘Penang’ comes from the modern Malay name Pulau Pinang, which means Isle of the Areca Nut Palm (Areca catechu, family Palmae) and this palm tree appears on both the State Flag and its coat of arms. There are thousands of species of palm in this world and if one cruises down the streets of Penang, chances are one would stumble upon stunningly beautiful mature species such as these with captivating inflorescence. (At the time of posting, the palm pictured above has been felled to make way for development). Pictures taken at Jln Dr Lim Chwee Leong, Penang.

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~other palms~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~other palms~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~other palms~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~other palms~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

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an uncommon chapel

~an uncommon chapel~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~an uncommon chapel~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Built on top of a hill in the 1800′s, St Anne’s chapel amasses a yearly pilgrimage of more than a 100,000 on its feast day though it has but a seating capacity of only 300 at any given time. Part of the reason for this phenomenon is the legendary sighting of her apparition above the hill behind this chapel and the widespread accounts of her healing power and blessings she freely give to all who revere and believe in her. In short, she answers prayers. Many transformations has occurred on church grounds eversince and today it is a sprawling sanctuary that boasts a new church with a seating capacity of 1500- possibly the largest in this region. But this grand old lady has been kept unperturbed. This is an uncommon side view of the old chapel with its steeple as seen from the new church. The statue of the resurrection of Jesus is but a new addition. Pictures taken at St Anne’s Sanctuary, Bukit Mertajam, Province Wellesley, Penang.

~the old bell~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the old bell~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~archangel michael~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~archangel michael~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the new church~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~new church~
image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~new church reliquary~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~attap house reliquary~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~guardian angel~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~guardian angel~
image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~holy water font~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~holy water font~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Studio of Hitori

~Hitori outside his Studio~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Hitori outside his Studio~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the age of twenty, Hitori left Japan to pursue his interest in Art. He traveled across the art capital for the next twenty learning all the ropes to find himself settling curiously down with his lovely wife in Penang and last year happens to be their twenty-fifth year of residence. A little odd but very humble, Hitori is not an atypical Japanese that we know of. Blending in well with the local folks, he stays in a pre-war house filled with discards which he masterly assembles them into works of art- an interesting sort of collage between conceptual, assemblages and sculpture and finally outdid himself after being commissioned to create a gigantic ten storey high sculpture facing our easterly coast called the “One Blue Sky”. Hitori also initiated the “Penang Island Sculpture Trail” where all his well-known sculptor friends he invited from all over the world were encouraged to stamp their mark in Penang with their sculpture contributions hence leaving a trail of Art he gifted Penang. Picture taken at Stewart Lane, Penang.

~assemblage~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~assemblage~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~assemblage~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~assemblage~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~experiments~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~experiments~
image copyright Kris lee 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Two Riders, Three Pillions

~two riders, three pillions~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~two riders, three pillions~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

Motorcycles made its presence felt on the streets of Penang more than half a century ago and it brought smiles on the faces of many who were looking for a convenient and cheaper mode of transport to ease their daily activities. To the younger generation, it is this vehicle that paces their first step towards independence. Picture taken at Jln Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang.

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Acheen Minaret

~acheen street minaret~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~acheen minaret~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six years after the founding of Penang in 1786, a well known tycoon Syed Hussain Mohd Aidid shifted his base from Acheh, a popular spice route in North Sumatera to Penang. Of Arabian stock as well as a member of the royal house of Acheh, Syed Hussain was wooed by Captain Francis Light, the founder of Penang to establish his base here. His bait, reasonable autonomy to trade and self govern his household, his slaves and his clansmen as in accordance to his custom and his Moslem belief. He settled himself where Armenian Street and Acheen Street is and from there, works his ways into the hearts and minds of its inhabitants thereafter establishes an enclave between these few adjoining roads for his clansmen together with other Moslems from the same area to trade, rapport and cohabit like one close knitted family. Francis Light was not wrong. His efforts paid off when Penang became a favored spice route and the choice embarkation point for Moslems on a sojourn to Mecca, their holy land. Twenty two years on, Syed Hussain embarked to built a proper mosque to serve the community and that was how Acheen Street Mosque came to being, a sturdy structure snugged in between inferior houses of timber and attap. Syed Hussain passed away in 1840 and as is customary, his mausoleum is built inside the mosque compound. This minaret stood as a legacy of his duty towards his own race and belief that made it all possible for him.

This minaret built in Mughal style has a conspicuous pothole. Tradition says it was the result of cannon fire although some octogenarians claim loud booms once came from it. Despite the dispute, record shows that this mosque possesses a cannon of its own and the firing once led to a serious clash between two factions of the town Moslems over the actual date of the end of the month of the ramadan period. Whilst one faction who attends the Acheen Street Mosque was celebrating Hari Raya, the other faction who venerates at the Kapitan Kling mosque a short distance away was still fasting. After that incident, the town community compromised and handed down a decree that town Moslems must alternate between both mosque for their Friday prayers and those caught venerating at the wrong venue would be penalized. Peculiar as it is, the rule still stands today. Picture taken at Armenian Street, Penang.

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Hainanese Bombe Alaska

~Bombe Alaska Hainan Style~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Hainanese Bombe Alaska~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Considered the mother of all desserts, ‘Bombe Alaska’, an ice-cream cake covered with an igloo of meringue emerging from an oven found its way into the hearts of Penangites through Hainan Cookboys. Hainanese were seamen from China but locally, they became favored cooks of our colonial masters because of their skill in conjuring up many western recipes with a peculiar twist and taste of its own, the result of having to imagine the descriptions of their bosses who speaks in a language they could hardly understand. When the British ceded control of then Malaya, many of these Hainan Cook Boys as they were called became chefs of their own restaurants serving delectable delicacies they use to serve their masters with like Choon Pneah, Asam Heh, Roti Babi, Barsteaks and Macaroni Pie to name but a few but as all popular recipes would, their own style of Bombe Alaska became one of the first that faded into oblivion until a revival of interest came right after Georgetown was accorded a UNESCO Heritage status. Today, some restaurants are competing for customers serving their own concoction of Bombe Alaska as a recipe proud of its origin. The fact is, it is a real show stopper to see it being served flambed and every time it emerges from the kitchen, it never fail to garner curious onlookers. Little did anyone know that this recipe was first whipped up to commemorate the United States purchase of Alaska in 1867. Picture taken at Yeng Keng Hotel, Chulia Street, Penang.

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Motor Mechanics

~motor mechanics~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~motor mechanics~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most motor mechanics like Ah Lung left school at a very young age to take up apprenticeship in blue collar trades. Like the rest, they leave their hometown and survive on mearger earnings living in shared apartments, only going home once or twice in a month or during festive seasons. Most of them never if ever left their trade but some lucky ones became bosses of their own repair shop.

~apprentice mechanics~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~apprentice mechanics~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

Over the years, as Ah Lung became a more formidable repairman, he was also given the task to head younger apprentices that was allowed into the stable. Currently, there are no guidelines compelling skilled work force to attain competency certificates thus, this cycle of how skills were handed down naturally repeats itself. Picture taken at Jln Nanning, Penang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The White Mens Grave

`the white mans' grave~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

`the white man’s grave~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shaded under a canopy of cascading plumerias in Northam Road is an old graveyard that houses Penang’s early settlers, missionaries and administrators. Most of them succumbed to malaria at a very tender age including Captain Francis Light, the founder himself thus earning early Penang the epithet “the white man’s grave”. Thomas Leonowen, husband of the noted Anna Leonowen whose stint at the Siamese court tutoring the wives and children of the king which was later made into a hit musical called ‘The King and I’ himself is himself an early settler.

~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

This graveyard once stood at the edged of the town next to paddy fields and vegetable plots but as the city grew, it is today smacked right in the heart of the inner city attracting history buffs more than their descendants. Pictures taken at the Protestant Cemetery, Jln Sultan Ahmad Shah, Penang.

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Medicated Masseurs

~medicated masseurs~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~medicated masseurs~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the long wait, locals has a quaint attachment to traditional Chinese masseurs rather than those physiotherapists found in hospitals whenever they experience discomforts and pains in their joints. From whence thee treatment came about is anybody’s guess but their endeavor in providing comfort and relief to those in agony is a testimony to their immense popularity. Here, a sitting customer patiently anticipates his turn outside the treatment room where the ‘sinseh’ stations himself while a young disciple gets his relief playing games on a handheld gadget. Picture taken at Jln Samak, Off Federal Cinema, Penang.

~feel good wait~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~feel good wait~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

~kitchenette of oils~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~kitchenette of oils~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~agony and attestations~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~agony and attestations~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

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Egret Below Fronds

~egret below fronds~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~egret below fronds~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Migratory birds are many and depending on the species and flyway these birds are accustomed to, Penang is one of the habitual pit stops of these winged ones found scattered along the coastal beaches and mudflats of Tanjung Bungah all the way to Northbeach. Perched under the shades of coconut frond, an Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx Intermedia) or locally known as ‘Bangau Kerbau’ is spotted in full upright posture looking out towards the unending sea.

~legs of an egret~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~legs of an egret~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

As compared to the Great Egret and the Little Egret, they are chiefly identified by their smooth ‘S’ shape neck without kink, a slightly domed head and a gape that ends below the eye. Their legs are generally dark. Picture taken at the coast of Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

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Victoria’s Clocktower

~Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Memorial Clocktower~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~Victoria’s Clocktower~
image copyright Kris Lee 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To commemorate Queen Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee, a Jubilee Clock Tower was erected at King Edward’s Place, at the junction of Light Street and Beach Street, Georgetown, Penang courtesy of  Cheah Chean Eok, a distinguish local Chinese tycoon in the same year. Built in the Moorish style, the tower stands sixty feet tall, one foot for each year of Victoria’s reign. Unfortunately, Queen Victoria never stepped foot on Penang soil which was once a British settlement neither did she live long enough to see the memorial clocktower dedicated to her completed. By the time it was completed in 1902, the queen had died. Picture taken at King Edwards Place, Light Street/Beach Street junction, Penang.

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quaint looking postbox

~quaint looking postbox~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~quaint looking postbox~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curiosities never fail to garner audiences and this quaint looking postbox dating back to the Victorian era now joins many others in the list of historical objects once found in abundance on the island. Painted in fire engine red and mounted on a base made of concrete, this 200 year old cast iron ’grand old lady’ still serves the residents up in Penang Hill. Picture taken in Penang Hill, Penang.

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Gun Hill Temple

~Gun Hill Temple~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Gun Hill Temple~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most hindu temples in Penang were built in accordance to the Dravidian discipline, an architectural style found in South India and Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple, better known as the Penang Hill Hindu Temple was no exception. It started off in the 1800′s as a small shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity Murugan by the Indian sepoys and sedan chair carriers and had since grown in size. It is located at the mount within Penang Hill called Gun Hill sharing its site with a Malay mosque. Shown here is one of the ornated cornerpieces found on the roof. Picture taken at Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple, Gun Hill, Penang Hill.

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hungry ghost

~hungry ghost~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~hungry ghost~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

The ‘Hungry Ghost Festival’ happens annually during the Seventh month of the Chinese calendar. During this period, traders and residents from the same street or community would collectively raise funds to organize a feast complete with entertainment in the form of traditional puppet or opera shows or the modern version called ‘Ko Tai’ (a stage performance) to appease ‘Tai Su Yeah’ (God of Hades pictured above) who is supposedly the deity who protects mortals and these wandering spirits, whom were released from the underworld to roam about for one full month.

~other paper effigies~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~other paper effigies~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

There is a marked difference between ancestor worshipping that happens during ‘Cheng Beng’ (All Souls Day) as compared to the Hungry Ghost Festival, which is a ritual to appease all ghosts, be they young or old, in the hope that these ‘lost souls’, some of whom are out to seek vengeance, will not disturb them. And especially to those termed ‘wandering spirits’. Spirits of whom were denied proper ritual sent-offs when they passed away, those who died in road accidents and their souls were left to roam, or those whose next of kin and ancestors forgets to pay homage to them, therefore the term ‘Hungry Ghosts’. During this month, younger children and adults are taught to observe the strictest of curfews, latest by midnight, to avoid encountering these spirits.  The food served on the altar are meant to appease ‘Tai Su Yeah’ who would relish the offerings first, before the believers can consume them, and the first few ‘premium’ rows in front of the Ko Tai are reserved for these spirits on the fifteen night of the seven month. The paper effigies and ‘Hell’ money are meant for the spirits, and are burnt.  Superstitious as it is, the Seventh month is also a taboo period for those wanting to ‘tie-the-knot’, relocate their home or business premise, kick-start a business, career, education etc. as bad luck is said to befall them. Exactly midnight, on the last day of the festival, the ghosts would all return back to their own world, as the Gates of Hell closes. The effigy of Tai Su Yeah is then lit up in a bonfire alongside the rest of the paper effigy. The array of food left on the altar table, after being consumed by the spirits, would be distributed to the needy. Picture taken at Concordia Road, Pulau Tikus, Penang.

~guardians of hade~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~guardians of hade~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

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fresh catch

~fresh catch~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~fresh catch~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

Traditional livelihood has over the years given way to rapid development and the fishermen at Northbeach, a small promontory behind Ocean Green Seafood Restaurant has also not been spared. For the very few who thrived however, their sampans still brought on fresh catches as fishmongers and restaurateurs await. Picture taken at Northbeach, Jln Sultan Ahmad Shah, Penang.

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drop zone

~drop zone~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~drop zone~
image copyright Kris Lee 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I don’t know much about photography except that I did learn  composition  from  art

school. I don’t know much about writing because I didn’t do well  in  English  during

school days. I guess there is this unseen hand that shapes our interest through our

life experiences.”

~Kris lee 2013~

lunchbox meal

~lunchbox meal~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~lunchbox meal~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

Lunch is an important meal to local folks. To the lesser fortunate, having a simple lunchbox meal is indeed a blessing courtesy of some religious societies which made it their daily affair to donate food. Sitting at the temple courtyard annexed to a shaded shrine, temple devotees were also seen going about performing their customary rites in the hope that their prayers would eventually be answered. Ballets of roof tiles supposedly to be used for the ongoing renovation were seen parked at the forefront. Picture taken at the Goddess of Mercy Temple, Jln Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang.

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bird’s nest fern

~bird's nest fern~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~bird’s nest fern~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird’s Nest Fern, supposedly of the species ‘Asplenium Nidus’ grow well in the tropics under warm humid conditions in areas partial to full shade. Their fronds are a characteristic light green in color, often crinkled at the edges with a black midrib lined with spores forming in clusters at the underside and they are often found attached on the branches and trunks of trees, the result of bird’s droppings laden with seeds that the birds consume. Each of these fronds (similar to banana leaves) called ‘lamina’ can grow up to 150 cm in length. These two giants are spotted some 15 meters off the ground where the huge tree stood. Picture taken at Persiaran Kuari, Penang.

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