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Saturday 21 April 2012

Changing Light at Český Krumlov Castle

During my first evening in Český Krumlov, I waited at the viewing platform to photograph the sunset and dusk views of the Český Krumlov Castle. During summer in 2011, the sun didn't set until about 9 p.m., so I waited.

At 9:30 p.m., the floodlights were switched on, but the sky was still bright. So, I waited again.

It was not until 10 p.m. that the sky turned into a sapphire-blue background for my shooting. It was all worth the wait.

Each of these pictures is a HDR merged from 6 to 9 images. If not for the HDR merging, not much details can be revealed in these high-contrast scenes.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Soba in a Bamboo Box

Before I visited Japan, I never knew that soba (buckwheat noodles)can be served in hot soup, as most of the Japanese restaurants in Malaysia serve chilled soba with a cold dipping sauce only.

It was almost four years ago on 27th August 2008 that I had the best yet soba in hot soup in my life! It was at a small restaurant at the scenic Agatsuma-Keikoku in Gunma Prefecture.

This traditional Japanese restaurant even has a fire pit for boiling water and also keeping warm on cold days. It is this kind of ambiance that makes dinning in this restaurant even more enjoyable.

It was low-peak tourist season, so even with five of us, the restaurant owner was surprised by our patronage. We were already very hungry after burning much calories climbing up and down the bridge construction sites, but we still had to wait for our food because the restaurant owner wasn't expecting such a 'big' group.

The hot soup with some side dishes were first served. My host scientist explained to me that the soup was cooked from birds. When he saw the doubtful expression on my face, he tried harder and finally remembered the name of the species - ducks. He wasn't wrong in the first place, duck belongs to the bird family anyway.

The side dishes consist of some pickled cucumber and tomato, and some deep-fried vegetables. I gobbled them up before I ate the noodles.

When the noodles were served, I was quite overwhelmed by the presentation. Noodles in a halved bamboo box! The Japanese always have a way to make the food looks as good as it tastes. I dipped the noodles in the hot soup pile after pile, and this is still the best soba that I have tasted so far.

I really miss Japanese food in Japan!

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