There wasn’t much time of a proper photo session in Moscow, unfortunately. The only one was in Moscow Metro circle line–Koltsevaya line.
It took about 90 minutes to hop on and off the train on each of the twelve stations. I wish I had more time but had to regroup with others to see a circus. Otherwise, it could have been a real joy to explore details on the unique decors of each station. More than that, juxtapositions of contemporary local commuters and Soviet Union architectures built during the cold war were truly fascinating.
While taking the Metro, I just couldn’t help thinking of London Underground I experienced the year before. Even though the navigation for passengers couldn’t top London, it was still easy to get around and very efficient, especially, for a megacity like this. And to have permanent public arts (even they were propagandas, then and now) in public transports set Moscow Metro apart from any other cities in the world.
After a short cold walk around the hotel in the morning, the first full day in Murmansk was a drive to Teriberka (Териберка) to see Arctic Ocean. That wasn’t just long but also plain white and full of snow. And it was worth the ride.
The trip was almost scrapped because of the weather. The snow could block the road and we would waste three hour of driving there for nothing. The guide gave us a choice to Snow Village instead. However, we decided to stick with it and took the risk. We were glad for that decision.
Along the road, we hardly see anything clearly outside the van even the sun. However, the sight of tundra landscape in the snow just kept us excited. There were shrubs on the side, hills behind, and some manmade cabins every now and then. They were all gray contrasting with the pale white snow. Other than that, the only colorful things on the road were the reflective sticks to mark the edges of the road.
More importantly, it didn’t feel we were in danger being in the van driven in the condition. We made two stops for photos: the road sign and somewhere with a snow wall. There, when we got out of the van, I grabbed the DSLR camera and got some shots of the spots to fulfill my photographic need.
It was still snowing in Teriberka when we arrived. At first glance, what stroke my attention were abandoned houses. According to the guide, the population was 500 because they had moved to Murmansk. Somehow, there weren’t as many abandoned houses in snowy town as we’d seen in urban or desert area. I wanted to take photos more of those houses but we had to move on.
We got on a sleigh with a snowmobile (not reindeers, unfortunately) to get to Arctic Ocean. The ride wasn’t far but rough with the wind and snow. But once we reached the shore, what we saw made it all the ride we’d done, long and rough, worth it. It was a slight feeling of being on top of the world. When I was done with photos, the guide told me that was warm for them at 0-1°c. I could only imagine when it was really cold.
When we took a sleigh back, I was starving, so were the others. We had to walk to the only restaurant in Teriberka for the late lunch. That gave me a good chance to explore the town along the walk. What I found were more than abandoned houses. There were more of lively buildings along the walk including a new one.
To wrap up the day trip, the van dropped us off at the entrance to Aurora Village, where we would stay a night. It was halfway back to Murmansk. The snow finally stopped. While we were waiting for a FWD to pick us up to the cabin, the sky was cleared up. And we had time to just hang around on the road. Sunrays showed up for the first time in the day. And it summed it all.
The first day I arrived in Russia, my first impression of Murmansk was the apartment buildings or Khrushchyovka (хрущёвка). What I see was patterns that seemed to be the same but each block was different either by age of the buildings or residents decorating them. That, to me, created some vibrants to the city even though it looked straight hard on the surface. This Russia trip got me excited already.
The next morning, I wander out to see the city. It was pretty cold and snowy. I could only walk around for 30 minutes when fingers and toes started to get numb. But it was enough to get a quick sense of lives of the locals through the morning commutes.
On the same day, we would be on the road to Teriberka. It was something to remember. That’s on next post.
One thing I couldn’t afford to miss when in Bangkok is the Royal Crematorium. The royal cremation ceremony was held in October 2017. The Royal Crematorium was still on display as an exhibition until December. I had an observation of people paying the last homage of the late King Bhumipol in December 2016. I was eager to see how they transformed Sanam Luang to glorify the monarch. They have done a very good job.
I don’t use a DSLR camera for a photo shoot much these days. But the day I visited Sanam Luang to take picture of it, I had so much fun. Because it was spectacular.
I arrived the place in late afternoon and the weather was perfect with overcast cloud to diffuse sunlight. It was not so busy that we needed to queue up. That gave me some rooms to take photos without bumping with the crowd.
Then, I realised that it was impossible to get deep down in details of the crematorium while photographing because of each element was created through the royal tradition with ancient Buddhist and Brahma believes. From the Funeral pyre to the surrounding pavilions converted into exhibition halls. And I didn’t do any homework on any of them what so ever.
So, yes, I was in awe and overwhelmed.
It wasn’t just the structures and the decorations that amazed me, but also the people. As the day went into dusk, the magic started to emerge—the golden hour of sunset. That was when the crowd started to form. There were some top spots for photographers stationed. But most visitors used their mobile phones or tablets to take picture considering it was a one-off event in their lifetime.
This was one of the most fun photo sessions I had for a long time. The last one I had real fun could be sunrise in Sydney I took in 2016. It reminded how much I could engage with photo shooting when the subject was astounding like this.