Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Grand Mosque - Abu Dhabi

27th August 2014

A nice warm day in Abu Dhabi, and we were taken off to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, with its 82 domes and the spectacular white marble facade.  Conceived by the current ruler's father as a monument to "tolerance. love and mutual understanding" no stone has been left unturned (quite literally) in implementing and putting together this vision.

Opened in 2007, there were shades of the Taj Mahal and the Blue Mosque for me.

An imposing complex that can be seen from quite a distance. The third floor of the northern minaret houses a whole library!

The "towers" in the outer walkway house the elaborate lighting system.  There are some 22 of these around the mosque.  We went at midday, but it seems that the night illumination is quite spectacular, with the lighting reflecting the phases of the moon.



The imposing main entrance


The coloured marble inlays were beautiful and varied.





I used the iPhone panorama option to capture the grandness of the central courtyard, its floral decorations contrasting the stark white marble.


I saw the world's largest hand knotted carpet


Two years in the making, the carpet needed some 1,200 artisans!

Beautiful copies of the holy book.





Moroccan stuccowork.  Beautiful isnt it?


Verses from the Quran - there were different kinds of calligraphy in different domes.













The chandeliers were from Faustiq in Germany we were told.


The pulpit
Very Grand indeed!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Treescapes - Hong Kong

The trees stand proud and erect, and are well cared for.  (Bombax)
I loved the trees of Hong Kong.   It always amazes me what green does to a place.

An ode to commerce, glass and concrete, but to me, the trees of HK just added that little bit to make my heart cheerful.
On the streets, I would see large trees, carefully labelled....not nailed, but with a flexible wire going around.
....And with a spring that allows for the growth of the tree!

Of course the city is blessed with rain, lots of it
The trees very familiar and similar to what we have here.  Lagerstroemia
We also saw trees being chopped down in half an hour with electric saws, when they were in the way.....but from what I could make out, these were trees that gre easily and not the large tropical trees that take a long time to grow.

Tree planting in Hong Kong is very much a part of the urban planning,  there is no random and enthusiastic planting, and what is planted is cared for and tended.

The Victoria Peak trail was delightful and invigorating, and I of course meandered and wandered, looking at every little insect, listening to the crickets whirring, and the bulbuls calling!


The trail all around the peak is lined by a track like this, and seems to be a favourite place for expats to walk their dogs and work on their fitness.

At midday, we saw several serious joggers!  Sweating profusely and carrying that water bottle to hydrate. 

The pathway was lined with tree boards, but I was very unsuccessful in matching the board and the tree.  Hmmm, I wonder why. 






The Peak tram - gets you to the top of the 500 odd m peak, almost vertically!

The Peak - certain parts of it - are protected, and the green cover is lush.

Masked laughing thrushes were a plenty, especially in the city parks

As were the little red doves.  Sparrows were also in abundance, which seems to negate the cellphone theory.

These crickets buzzed in unison all through our walk, the chorus rising and fading to some mysterious rhythm.


The butterflies were as big as birds.....

....but difficult to capture in our little cam.

This light vented bulbul, though, obliged, posing on the lamp post for us.



This was labelled as the India Rubber Tree - brought by the Brits - and with no known pollinating agent in Hong Kong.

Views of the bay
 a
....Kowloon

.....and the bridge and port.
 It must be pretty to do the walk at night as well.

Next time!
We headed back to this monstrosity called the Peak Tower, with a viewing gallery (extra charge for that)
A morning well spent and the hotel room and shower were welcome after this!