Kuala Lumpur and Thaipusam

The Hindu festival of Thaipusam is about faith, endurance and penance. In Malaysia it’s dynamic and colorful, and at the Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur attracts around one and a half million people each year.

Thaipusam is a time for Hindus of all castes and cultures to say thank you and show their appreciation to one of their Gods, Lord Murugan, a son of Shiva.

It was first celebrated at the Batu Caves in 1888. Since then it’s become an important expression of cultural and religious identity to Malaysians of Tamil Indian origin, and it’s now the largest and most significant Hindu public display in the country.

Attaching limes to the body by what can best be described as large fish hooks.

Groups of musicians and drummers add to the carnival feel, and pilgrims follow in procession.

But despite the atmosphere of celebration this is a deeply reverential event for the pilgrims. Some carry pots of milk or “paal kudam” on their heads as a show of devotion and love to the god.

Others carry elaborate frameworks on their shoulders called “kavadis”, which have long chains hanging down with hooks at the end which are pushed into their backs.

Many of these pilgrims are pierced with two skewers; one through the tongue, and one through the cheeks.

The piercings signify;

  • that the pilgrim has temporarily renounced the gift of speech so that he or she may concentrate more fully upon the deity.
  • that the devotee has passed wholly under the protection of the deity who will not allow him/her to shed blood or suffer pain.
  • the transience of the physical body in contrast with the enduring power of truth

The devotees who go to these extremes say they don’t feel any pain because they are in a spiritual and devotional trance which brings them closer to Lord Murugan. The trance can be induced by chanting, drumming and incense.

Many men get their head shaved at the site of the ceremony.
A huge quantity of trash is created by the large numbers of people, and mostly it is just what one would expect. But who knows what this might be and why is it so colorful?




New Zealand West Coast and Franz Josef Glacier

Although the focal points of the west cost of New Zealand might be considered to be the glaciers the coastline itself is dramatic and fascinating. For the glaciers, the first European description of one of them was made in the log of the ship Mary Louisa in 1859. The glacier was later named after Emperor Franz Josef by a German explorer in 1865.

Setting sun on Franz Joesef glacier.
The reflecting pool  at Franz Josef glacier.

The Franz Josef Glacier is currently 12 km long and terminates 19 km from the ocean. It exhibits a cyclic pattern of advance and retreat, driven by differences between the volume of meltwater at the foot of the glacier and volume of snowfall feeding the top.

What was once a hike to the face is now finishes aroind 700 meters away from the face because of safety issues. Its not really a hike, more a casual walk and the number of tourists is very high.

Hiking to the glacier.


New Zealand – Cape Foulwind

Cape Foulwind is a promontory on the west coast of New Zealand southern island. It was previously named Rocky Cape by Abel Tasman, the first European to visit it, in 1642. The present name was bestowed by English explorer James Cook in 1770

after his ship Endeavour was blown a long way offshore from this point.



Cape Foulwind seal colony. several New Zealand brown seals can be seen on the more protected rocks.








Wales in Winter

Stopped off in Wales to see family before Xmas. There were a few snow showers plus storm Christine which provided strong winds and hail, all in all a lot of fun.

Storm Christine on the Llyn peninsula
Aly Text box
Porthmadog golf links 12th green with Snowdonia mountains in the background.
Shaft of light through the clouds.





First snowfall of the winter.



Lleyn peninsula stormy ocean.


Storm passing through.




Harbour at dawn.
Hailstorm at the beach.