Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning


This is my interpretation of last week’s Photo Challenge: Beginning.  When I learned that I will be staying in a tent, camping in remote areas with minimal basic facility or none at all (including shower and toilet!) in South Sudan, I decided to cut my hair short.  I  love having long hair and Ive had it for years.  But because it needed a lot of maintenance care like regular shampoo or conditioning, having a long hair in a hardship condition will not be easy (at least for me as I have the tendency to be very vain when it comes to my long hair!)

This photo is a painful reminder of the sacrifice I made for a humanitarian mission.  It also signifies a beginning for yet another new chapter of my life and a beginning of a new journey…far different from the comfortable material world I live in!

Categories: Africa, South Sudan, Wandering the Road Less Traveled: My Humanitarian Missions, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: | 14 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

One of the joys of working in Africa is interacting with the local communities in rural villages.  In South Sudan, local people, old and young, greet each other by shaking hands.  They are always curious as to the purpose of my visit.  Some would even stop by to chat with me asking about my country or other personal stuff like are you married, why you don’t have children etc.  Often I am mistaken as Chinese.  They greet me with Ni Hao (Hello in Chinese) or call me simply as China.

But what I like the most is when children excitedly shout Khawaja everytime they see me driving or strolling around the village.  Khawaja is the term that South Sudanese use to refer to foreigners particularly white people.  It is always a joy to hear children shouting Khawaja while waving at me with a big smile.  I am the only expatriate in my team, hence, I get all the attention.

One time, we passed by a primary school and students aged 4-7 were all waving at me shouting Khawaja.  On the way back, we decided to visit the school to conduct a mine risk education.  As soon as the car stopped, about a hundred children rushed towards the car all eager to see me.  I was mobbed by children all wanting to have a glimpse of the Khawaja!  Some even wanted to touch me and shake my hand.  Luckily the teachers came on time and asked them to go back to their classrooms. Before I left, I taught them how to do the flying kiss gesture.  Since then, everytime I pass by that village, children would greet me with a flying kiss.

However, in far flung areas, this is not the case.  Since white people are rarely seen in the area, young children are scared of me.  One time, we were mobilizing the community members for another mine risk education, when about 4 young children passed by.  I called them to join us.  As I approached the children, they were so scared that they started crying (shrieking actually) and ran away as if they have just seen a zombie walking.   The adults were laughing at me.

There was also one time where I heard one boy asking my colleague whether I am a man or a woman because I was in jeans and wearing a cap.   South Sudanese women always wear dresses, sarongs or skirts, rarely you will see them wearing trousers.

Children in the main town are more welcoming.  They are always excited to greet me usually asking me to take a photo of them.

So for these week’s photo challenge, I am going to feature photos that show JOY.  Here are some of the children I have befriended during my field work.  They were the ones who requested me to take photos of them and film them while they sing a song for me.  It was a joy to watch as they show off and pose for the camera.  They were so happy when they saw their photos and videos.





Here is the video I took of my little friends as they embodied life’s simple joys.

Categories: Africa, South Sudan, Wandering the Road Less Traveled: My Humanitarian Missions, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , | 17 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: One

This week’s photo challenge is about establishing a focal point such as photos that focus on one thing.  Here is my entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: One.

I took this photo at a botanical garden in Christchurch, New Zealand with my friend, RC, who was touring me around her new hometown.  I was so fascinated with this ornamental plant with strange white petals and little yellow buds in the middle.  I wanted to make it stand out without using the DOF effect or blurring the background.  So I asked RC to hold one flower.  This is another way of drawing the eye of a viewer to your point of interest or focal point that you want to highlight.  What do you think? Did it work out well?

New Zealand flower

Categories: Australia, Christchurch, New Zealand, Oceania, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , | 15 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

Last Sunday, December 15, heavy fighting broke out in Juba, the capital of the newest country in the world, South Sudan. Hundreds of people have been killed and about 20,000 seek refuge at two UN campuses.  According to the Human Rights Watch, there is likely that the fighting can lead to civil war as South Sudanese soldiers and rebels have executed people based on their ethnicity. About 500 people have already been killed and the fighting have now reached other states in the country.

As I continue to monitor the situation in the news, I thought of the times when I felt that sense of community among South Sudanese despite of their different ethnicity. The only thing that I can think of is working with my Community Liaison team in the field. I am the only expatriate and the only woman in my team. My local colleagues belong to different tribes and ethnic background. Seeing them coexist as teammates, workmates and eventually as close friends is a joy to watch. It is even more exciting everytime we camp together with the technical team whose members are mostly soldiers with different ethnic background. They play football and cards together, watch football match together, they eat and share meals together, they camp together and travel together. They often teach me the differences in their beliefs and tradition without being offensive to one another. There is always that sense of belongingness and identification as one people – as South Sudanese.

This week’s Photo Challenge allows us to interpret the word COMMUNITY in any way we want. As a way of tribute to my South Sudanese friends and colleagues, I am featuring that sense of community I witnessed in South Sudan to show to the world that amidst the fighting and tribal wars happening in the country, there is still the presence of ethnic diversity among its people — that feeling of oneness and belongingness where one matter to one another.

In particular, I am going to share one of my experiences…one that I will forever remember during my deployment on field with my team. We often travel in convoy, usually in two cars or more if the technical team are with us. I love seeing our land rover vehicles in convoy cruising in the countryside. We are always mindful of following our Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) when traveling because of the insecurities in the areas we go to. Often, we communicate via radio to check one another making sure that we don’t lose sight of each other while on convoy. Because of the bad condition of roads in the country, we often encounter road accidents along the way which makes us stranded for more than an hour sometimes almost the whole day stuck in the middle of nowhere. This is where I often see the spirit of communal unity and cooperation among my local colleagues as well as with the nearby communities.

One day, we were on convoy with the technical team (about 5 cars) heading to a far flung village when we encountered a road accident. A truck was stuck in the middle of the road blocking our way. My men hurriedly went down to check the situation.

south sudan

They immediately offered to help.

south sudan

Two of our vehicles got stuck also when we tried to maneuvered to the side of the road.  The road was muddy and slippery with huge puddles everywhere. This is always the case when it is rainy season.

South Sudan

Nearby villagers also volunteered to help. It was a sight to behold. South Sudanese of different tribes and ethnic background working as one community.

South Sudan

After all our vehicles managed to pass by, everyone cheered, shaking hands and hugging each other for a job well done.

As the new conflict arises in the country, my prayers goes to my colleagues and friends hoping that they will remain to be the way they used to be — as one family, one community.

There are several images that I wanted to share but I opted not to show them in public to keep the identity of my South Sudanese colleagues.

For more on the current situation of the South Sudan Unrest, please visit UNMISS Videos on YouTube.  Here is one of the videos uploaded:


Categories: Africa, South Sudan, Wandering the Road Less Traveled: My Humanitarian Missions, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: | 3 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

This week’s photo challenge is in celebration with the Halloween.  The challenge is to feature an image that is eerie making the viewer wonders what lurks in the shadows.  As I have not encountered any ‘ghostly’ images nor have I been into a haunted house, I decided to showcase photos that I did during a photography workshop.  In one of our sessions on creative photography, we were asked to use different kinds of effects apart from what is integrated in the camera.  One such kind of effects was  the use of a projector. To create an artistic visual, we used different art works and project it on the wall then superimposing these layers of clip arts over a subject.

Our first subject was a fellow photographer kneeling down and taking a photo beside a tree surrounded with candles.  The tree and candles were images projected on the wall.  At first, we were asked to use a tripod but after taking some shots, I find that my composition is a bit flat — plain and somehow boring to look at.  So I integrated one of the photography tricks, called camera movement, where you move your camera while taking a shot.   It created a ghostly shadow adding more depth to the image showing something eerie story to tell.


I did the same trick on our next subject.  It created a more eerie effect than the first one.

DSCF8651 DSCF8653

I was very happy with the outcome that when we tackled the next topic which is camera movement. It was easy for me now to create various tricks.  One evening, in one of our field exercise, I saw one of my classmates sitting down by the garden while his group mates were standing beside him planning how to execute their next assignment.  I took a photo of them using the camera movement trick.  And the outcome? — eerie images….. that if one will see it without being told of a camera trick, he/she might think that a ghostly shadow lurks behind the subjects. It can also show images of people being in a trance state.  Do you see what I mean? Do you have any other interpretation of these images?




Click the link for more of Weekly Photo Challenge.






Categories: Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: | 20 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

The changes in color of the horizon after sunset is one of my favorite subjects to photograph when I am traveling.  I find it amazing how the sky can yield post-sunset afterglows casting beautiful splashes of red, yellow and orange colors.  But why are some parts of the world more colorful than others?

This week’s photo challenge features the horizon, the space or line where the sky meets the earth.  There are many places where the sky meets the earth around the world.  So in today’s post, I am showcasing my favorite photos of horizons in different countries taken just before or after the sun sets.  Let me know which one do you like best.

The Colors of Africa


The Classic Colors of Western Europe


When the sky meets the earth in Asia-Pacific

asia pacific

Categories: Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You

Orange, is a stimulating vibrant blend of red and yellow which is often associated with change like the autumn leaves showing a change in season.  It is often used as a transitional color such as the color of sunrise which meant another day or sunset representing the coming darkness or a change in time.   Depending on the contrast of shades and tints, the hues of orange may mean different things from domination to passion, aggression to soothing, deceit to friendly among others. 

Despite the fact that orange is often recognized as a happy, flamboyant color, I prefer the combination of orange and black.  The contrast between these two colors as shown in my photos below represents the hue of me.    Orange portray the kind of life I have….always moving about….embracing change even if its unsettling or daunting at times (as represented by the shades of black), I still continue to shine and rise up to the challenge of another day. 

As what the famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, said, ” Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.  It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”

All photos taken in Botswana.

All photos taken in Botswana.

All photos taken in Southern African countries: Walvis Bay, Namibia (Upper Left Photo); Maun, Botswana (Upper Right Photo); Zambezi River, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (Lower Left Photo); Sowa Pan, Botswana (Lower Right Photo)

All photos taken in Southern African countries: Walvis Bay, Namibia (Upper Left Photo); Maun, Botswana (Upper Right Photo); Zambezi River, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (Lower Left Photo); Sowa Pan, Botswana (Lower Right Photo)

Click the link for more details of the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Categories: Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Victoria Falls, Weekly Photo Challenge, Zimbabwe | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinite

Its been awhile since I entered a post for the Weekly Photo Challenge and I must admit I had a hard time interpreting this week’s challenge.  I am not sure how I understand the word infinity or whether my understanding is enough to interpret it visually.  According to Collins English Dictionary, Infinity is the state or quality of being infinite, an endless time, space and quantity.

I only know the word as associated with everlasting love as symbolized by the infinity necklace resembling a figure of eight.  But it is too cliché if I am going to interpret this one.

As always, I want to be different and so  I googled how other famous writers use the word infinity.  I found a number of quotes and put them together into a poetry (sort of!).  I looked at my collection of photos and found the ones that actually tell a story…almost related to the quotes I compiled.

All photos were taken by me at Cape Town in South Africa…truly my most memorable and happiest trip!!!

Here goes….enjoy!!



" I'm one of those people who think that infinity is big enough for us all--and eternity long enough."                                                                                    -  House Of Seven Gables by Hawthorne, Nathaniel

” I’m one of those people who think that infinity is big enough for us all–and eternity long enough.”
– House Of Seven Gables by Hawthorne, Nathaniel

And, like all fine arts, it must be based upon a broad, solid sincerity, which, like a law of Nature, rules an infinity of different phenomena. - The Mirror of the Sea by Conrad, Joseph

                         ” And, like all fine arts, it must be based upon a broad, solid sincerity, which, like a law of Nature,   rules an infinity of different phenomena.”

– The Mirror of the Sea by Conrad, Joseph

                     ” Through the glass of the little skylight you saw a square of blue infinity. “                                                                                                             – The Four Million by Henry, O.

” It gave you an awful sense of the infinity of space and of the endlessness of time. ” – Moon and Sixpence by Maugham, W. Somerset


” Then silence that passed into an infinity of suspense.” – The War Of The Worlds by Wells, H.G.

“The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me. ” – Pascal Pensées

” Was it being borne in that profound darkness through the infinity of space?” – Round The Moon by Verne, Jules


Click on the link for more information regarding the Weekly Photo Challenge

Categories: Africa, Cape Town, South Africa, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

This week’s Photo Challenge is about changing the perspective of shooting a subject. Instead of taking a photo from the usual angle (front of, to the side or from behind), take a shot from directly above.

As usual, I wanted to feature a different interpretation of the theme. I was searching for photos I took directly from above.  There were many but mostly landscapes shot which I have already featured in my past posts.

I decided to feature macro shots taken directly from above just to give the theme a different perspective.

Here are some macro photos of flowering shrubs taken on top of  Cape Town’s Table Mountain in South Africa:


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Categories: Africa, Cape Town, South Africa, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

One afternoon in Gaborone, I went out with a Serbian friend for a photoshoot trip.  Our first stop was the Gaborone Game Reserve.  We were hoping to find the rhinos.  It was the only ‘big five must see animals’ in Africa that I have not seen yet.  We were told the rhinos often are seen roaming around near the restaurant during winter, so off we went with our camera gears.  When we arrived, we were told that there was no sighting of rhinos around the vicinity since the winter season started.  We were dismayed.  So I went around to explore and take photos of flowers and fishes swimming at a nearby creek. Then I heard movements above me.  I looked up. To my surprise, there were hundreds of yellow birds building nests at the same time at a century old tree.  I called my friend and off we went to our photographic mode, both of us lost in one of nature’s best and most magnificent sights!

My entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Up …. I present to you the African weaver birds at work!

bird 1


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Categories: Africa, Botswana, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , | 10 Comments

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