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7 Super Shots from Plus Ultra

Quite a while ago Bama from What an Amazing World! kindly nominated me to join in on HostelBookers’ 7 super shots. I realise I am super late jumping on the bandwagon, but choosing your best photos is like choosing your favourite children – you’re hesitant because you love them all for different reasons! After much agonising and plenty of wrangling, here are my 7 selections.

A photo that… takes my breath away

After a 5:00am start and a tortuous four-hour bus ride, I found myself walking a ruined section of the Great Wall of China. It was a chilly winter’s day, but the sky was blue and the smog of the past few days had all but disappeared. Apart from my group – and its eager following of village vendors – there was no one else doing the climb. The best moment of all came at the end of the hike, when I sat down alone in the doorway of a broken watchtower. It was completely silent and the Wall stretched on before me, with hardly a soul in sight.

A photo that… makes me laugh or smile

I came across this beautiful sand castle while spending a long weekend in Cádiz, southern Spain. I was so desperate to go there that when my friend wrote “let’s be stupid and go this week!” I took his word for it and booked everything straight away – including the hotel room and a 9-hour overnight bus ride. It turned out that he was only joking, but being a good sport he flew in all the way from Barcelona. It would become one of the most memorable weekends of my Spanish adventure.

A photo that… makes me dream

Tenerife, the largest of the seven Canary Islands, had me head-over-heels even before I stepped off the plane. Minutes before landing I caught sight of El Teide, its soaring cone blanketed in a fresh layer of snow. The very next day we were hiking the depths of Masca Gorge, jumping into the frigid Atlantic and watching wild dolphins performing acrobatic stunts from a boat. Everything about this trip seemed perfect – we were enchanted by the hostel, the scenery, and most of all, the friendliness of the locals.

A photo that… makes me think

While in architecture school I was constantly taught to question the motives and meaning behind every design. Daniel Libeskind’s extension for the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada was a case in point. Inspired by the crystals of the museum’s mineral collection, the building is totally revolutionary, but to the observant eye it looks like just about everything else he’s ever designed. Are architects entitled to copy and paste when they reach super-stardom? And why does it have the same stripy windows of the Jewish Museum in Berlin?

A photo that… makes my mouth water

Hong Kong cannot truly be understood without the use of your taste buds. Pictured here is a batch of steamed shrimp dumplings, har gau, which are often considered the ultimate test of a Dim Sum chef. An ideal har gau is a miniature work of art – the shrimp inside must be succulent and just small enough to be enjoyed in one bite, while its skin of rice flour should be exquisitely thin but not easily torn.

A photo that… tells a story

This picture was taken towards the end of a working day in a Hong Kong wet market.  The shopkeeper was punching numbers into a calculator, counting her earnings with a concentrated but easy expression on her face. Although this market has been in continuous use for the past 150 years, it will soon fall victim to the wrecking ball, making way for another group of skyscrapers in the name of “progress”.

A photo that… I am most proud of

No other image could speak more powerfully about my 9 months of living the Spanish dream. With a friend visiting from home, we were having an alfresco dinner in the Plaza Mayor when all of a sudden I looked up to hear a collective “aah” rushing across the flagstones. In a split second the floodlights had been switched on, bathing the entire ensemble in dazzling shades of gold. I did not have my camera with me at the time, but on one of my final nights in Salamanca I ventured back to the square, ready to recapture the magic of that moment.

And last but not least, here are my 5 nominees to take part in the game:

Debra from Bagni di Lucca and Beyond

Madhu from The Urge to Wander

Minh from the only one I’ve got

Nicole from thirdeyemom

Lucy from loca4motion

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. It’s worth the wait, James! All the pictures are stunning and beautiful! As a matter of fact, that very picture of The Great Wall is the one that really made me seriously think to go to Beijing (soon I hope).

    April 4, 2012
    • Thanks Bama! Beijing is fantastic for history buffs – it really gives you a sense of China’s past glories. Hopefully AirAsia will start flying there soon enough!

      April 4, 2012
  2. nice shots !

    April 8, 2012
  3. Fabulous shots – and where can we go to learn how to make sand castles like that? I thought I was doing well to make a “tower” with a bucket! Speaking of buckets, seeing the Great Wall of China is on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing!

    April 9, 2012
    • I have no idea how they built that – it is an absolute work of art!

      April 12, 2012
  4. The Adventures of Twins #

    The 4th photo is from our hometown! A lot of Torontonians didn’t like the architecture of the ROM at first – mainly because the area is filled with “medieval” buildings whereas this is very modern. I like it though, it’s an interesting change!
    – Jo

    April 10, 2012
    • I liked it the first time I saw it, in the winter of 2008. It was magical to see the crystal at night, all lit up with the snow piled up around it!

      April 10, 2012
  5. What gorgeous photos! And I love that you’ve shared the story behind all of them.

    April 12, 2012
    • Thank you, Erica! It was a pleasure to write this up. 🙂

      April 12, 2012
  6. I also like the captions and their coherence…also, the Great Wall pic is particularly stunning. Congratulations James!

    April 19, 2012
  7. Missed this somehow Bama!
    Love every one of them and relate very well to a couple! Have experienced the lights coming on in the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca and still haven’t found a Hargau to match the ones we had in Hongkong on our first visit! I don’t have a photo, but that would have to be my top ‘mouthwatering’ picture as well 🙂 Let me see what I can come up with.

    June 5, 2012
  8. thanks for inspiring!
    I’ve set a link to you:

    July 15, 2012

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  1. 7 Super Shots! « The Urge To Wander
  2. 7-super-shots « Flickr Comments by FrizzText

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