Miles I Have Travelled

MILES HAVE I TRAVELLED

Miles have I travelled on earth and by sea
Airliners, boats, trains and cars carried me

Buses and bicycles, skates and on foot
Of movement and travel I’ve known a lot

Over earth and oceans and clouds above
Felt urge to explore and all Nature to love

On infant’s scooters I first learned to ride
Unaware of all future rides beside

Cycled quiet roads seeing island delight
And the slow peaceful ride in a ferry at night

I’ve enjoyed riding smooth miles on a bike
Done lots of walking but failed to hitch hike

Skimmed on ice to fall from skates and crashed
Strolled in sun, and in showers of rain I’ve dashed

I’ve rowed on the Torrens and had such fun
Ferry rides on Sydney Harbour and Swan

Travelled trams and buses and taxis, too
Electric blue sparks of a trolley bus to the zoo

I’ve shared with hundreds some days on a cruise
Roamed exotic markets new foods to choose

I’ve been on catamarans and on yachts
Hearing wind in sails and talk of reef knots

Fascinated I’ve seen castles in France
Imagined ancient times and olden dance

Motor boating on tropic waters warm
Exploring the green coral islands’ charm

Scary car-ride with a short sighted friend
Whose learner’s frailties I could not offend

I’ve learned to fly in a Tiger moth old
And mastered driving a car in the cold

Experienced torrid traffic hooters
Casually ridden on Italian scooters

Driven thousands of distance over dry sands
And flown thousands of miles to distant lands

Covered many hostile miles without fright
On steamer chugged and rolled across the Bight

I enjoyed the boat trip and ocean’s sight
As I’ve gone east to west and returned by flight

The great Nullarbor Plain I’ve watched glide by
Where you’ll not see a tree if you blink your eye

As the train rushes along from east to west
Or from west to east, if it’s there you love best

Lulled to sleep by rhythm of train’s strong wheels
I’ve known train-travel and the comfort it feels!

Miles over desert to seek desert well
I’ve travelled short, brave trips on a camel

Vast stretches of deserts been seen by me
And high mountains of snowed Himalaya

Been in an olden car in high Kathmandu
Drunk with beauty of Mt Annapurna

I’ve been alone in the old part of Kathmandu
Wishing I could have had luck to meet you

Walking round London’s grey wintry city
Longed that I’d more than a day – ’twas a pity

I’ve alone sped smooth in refined limousines
And free with the wind in my hair on a bike

Midst fierce storms I’ve known rough roll of waves
I’ve known the smooth quiet flight of a glider

I’ve seen the Pacific Ocean, silvered by Moon
Molten magic, whiteness in night-time gloom

I’ve strolled promenade’s companionable ways
And run to get to a meeting on time some days

I’ve swum a few miles – yes, only just a few
In surf, river, pool, bay, coral isle too

Climbed the high island cliffs of Lord Howe
Walked through nature’s lush rainforest below

Dived with flippers below the vast coral sea
So the underwater world also revealed to me

I’ve skipped, leaped and almost floated in space
Twirled and swirled in dance in absolute grace

I’ve played lots of tennis, exercised vigorous, free
I’ve bent, tended my garden and hugged a tree

Walked gentle miles of botanic gardens and flowers
In botanic gardens spent many satisfying hours

Experienced Fiji in summer- tourists humid delight
Contrasting our country’s dry heat plight

Enjoyed miles in markets’ exotic pleasures
Buying vivid garments and many fruit treasures

Noumea was the time to stop for languid waiting,
With scarlet poincianas my great consolation

Tahiti on arrival was sultry, strange, heavy, hot
Without motivation I really didn’t like it a lot

I’ve sauntered down laneways and run a race
Ridden a stubborn old nag in a foreign place

I remember fond rides in the old fashioned tram
And yearned for the gipsy home in a caravan

I’ve had static times and simple joys of a home
Moving as inclined as all free spirits roam

I’ve danced a reel with a partner in kilts
And taken a hesitant walk on stilts

Both polka and waltz I’ve skipped and danced
Even astral travelled as I’ve slept entranced

I’ve sailed the breezes on tropic waters warm
Waters smooth, clear with no fear of harm

I’ve known hardness of bumped travel in a jeep
And suffered later in getting to sleep

I’ve slept cold, alone in a sleeping bag
On a dark starry night, on a mountain crag

Ski lifts of Swiss alpine mountains so white
Offered beautiful views from their wintry height

I’ve flown over the white snows of the Alps
And over the eternal hard grey blue of the sea

En route to Peru’s Lima and old Cusco too
And by bus weaved our way up to Macchu Picchu

Sitting there at Macchu Picchu at last, quite still
Drinking in the beauty as I know you will

When you travel the miles over land and sea
To these ancient ruins, where mists rise ethereally

I’ve heard the magic music of Andean flutes
Played in the dry high Andean Mountains

Ridden the heavy red earth of plantation trees
Of coffee – with an old nag as mount for me

Observing the red earthed farms in Brazil
Not coffee but people attract me there still

There’re many ways I have travelled the miles
So many I can hardly think to count…

Rickshaws of orient novelty commonly seen
But mean, pain-racked the poor drivers have been

Travel by Indian pull-carts does cause a joke
Until thought is given to the poor feet of the driver bloke

I love the lull of the railway click-clack
Comfort, content – going forward, not back

Many the ways to enjoy past travel days
Retained by essence of memories ways

Excited by travel, yet often tired out by it
New things been seen and delights often shared

There’re many fine travel modes I’ve been shown
Yet one remains only to spacemen known

Even dreaming, my soul astral travels space
Returning at morn with smile on my face

But the nicest movement I now enjoy
Is the pure freedom my mind flight gives me

My mind has the wings I now most enjoy
When I want to travel from here to there

Mind knows no limit, no tickets to get
Passport and route by imagination is set

Spirit enjoys natural thrill of travel to see
New faces, new places, new flowers and trees

Strange habits and customs, landscapes galore
But after a while modern travel can prove a bore

The younger travel miles satiate our soul until
We know that it’s time to change and be still

Now instead of traveller’s strong urge to roam
Is a longing for blessed place to call home

It remains that we access beauty of all travel joy
When stored in the wealth of our memory’s employ

Of the wonder, wildness, natural glory of life
We’re privileged to have known it free of strife

Our world’s now threatened in many a way
Times for safe travelling are less day by day

I’ve known many modes, movements, travelled ways
And enjoyed the many miles of my travelling days

But perhaps best of all I like walking on foot
And being old now I desire most to stay put

Time now to recline on my couch with T.V.
To let all travel experience come to me.

……………….

To remember travel, new sights and sounds
Different strange people feet touching new ground
Nature and cities north, south, east and west
All places have a great charm of their own
As we test freedom’s wings and our heart sings

Memory reminds of the wonderful wild,
The glory, the beauty of the whole world
Recalling travel delights, I lie on my couch
Mind without limit, no tickets to get,
No passport, injections or noisy jet

No effort now required for muscle, limb
No reason to worry that eyes are dim
No need rely on technology’s skill
No need to fear an accident or spill
Quite the best of all movement I now enjoy free
Is this wonderful free flight my mind gives to me!………..

How to Take Amazing Travel Photography

Travel photography is a career for some. Most people though just want to bring back nice photos to show their friends and family. No image will replace the moment of being there, that’s why people still travel instead of browsing Google Images! Professional or amateur, the first thing you need is a camera. Yes, a camera, and a real one, not a phone or something you attach on your helmet.

Choosing the best camera to buy requires a good amount of research. However, most modern cameras will do a good enough job, particularly if you do not want to get technical. Today, if you buy any mirrorless or DSLR, you will get a very good camera. Just skip the kit lens and buy a good general purpose one but not a super-zoom as those compromise in image quality and low-light performance. For just making nice photographers, you can get a smaller fixed-lens camera. There are plenty of premium models offering 1″ sensors which is a huge leap in image quality from the typical ultra-compact and cellphone camera.

Still, better image quality only allows a photographer to show the images bigger. It does not improve a photograph itself. Even a low-end camera now offers much better image quality than what 35mm used to be like 20 years ago and many such images graced covers of National Geographic. So, make sure you have a camera and let’s get started on how to make amazing photographs!

Actually, the second step to create stunning images starts without the camera! What your images need to do is share your amazement of a place. So what you need to do is look for what amazes you and investigate it well.

Say you just arrived in downtown Lima at the Plaza de Armas. The plaza is enormous, it’s surrounded by imposing historic buildings on 3 sides, there’s a huge fountain in the middle, lights, flowers arranged in patterns and hordes of people passing through.

You feel amazed but you can’t snap a photo as soon as you step onto the plaza and expect a great outcome. An actual photo of the plaza in impossible from within it, you would need to seek a good vantage point for that. Instead, find each element and details that make the place amazing to you.

The cathedral, for example, on the east side of the plaza, is extremely imposing. It also has these spectacularly carved wooden balconies protruding from the stone walls. Get close to it, look at what element fascinates you the most. Once you have mentally noted elements that interest you, it’s time to start composing your image.

Composing means place elements together. Of course, you cannot move the cathedral or the fountain but you can move yourself to show elements together or separate them. This is where the camera lens makes the whole difference and where zooms greatly help. Place yourself where you can see the elements you thought of and bring the camera to your eye. Look and inspect the view. Adjust your position and zoom until what attracted you to make this photo is prominent and there is little to nothing else in the frame. Remember the saying:

“Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take Away” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Already if you get this right, your photos will have much more impact. Then you can further improve the composition by adding other techniques:

  • Leave space in front of the subject. Either unoccupied space or something which establishes location, such as a patch of flowers.
  • Let a complimentary subject in the frame. For example, a person or animal to show the scale of things.
  • Include a leading line, something which points to the subject, a road, fence, etc.
  • Tilt the camera up to exaggerate perspective for imposing subjects.

The last thing which has the most impact is light. Photographs are made of light but not all light is equal for photography. Cameras can only capture a certain amount of contrast. Anything behind that results in over-exposed (completely white) or under-exposed (very dark) areas.

There are two ways to deal with natural light. One is to work with and the other is to wait for it. Travel photography is not studio work, so you cannot control the light much and without accessories.

Working with the light means to move yourself and the orientation of your camera to that what is shown in the viewfinder does not have a too high contrast. It’s pretty simple, just look at the darkest and brightest area of the scene. Move to exclude one or the other when they contrast too much.

Working with the light often goes against the composition created in the previous step. This is why it is often much better to wait for the light. The sun does not move fast so this takes time but it is highly predictable. Take the time to see where the sun is and if it is moving towards a better position or not. Remember, the sun always moves towards the West. If the light is improving, come back later. If not, come back tomorrow.

Pay attention to sunrise and sunset times. Around then, plus or minus an hour, depending on where you live, the contrast is lowest and there is still color in the sky. This is the best time to take beautiful images. Over 95% of published travel images are taken during these times!

There you have it. Much better images to showcase with only 3 steps: Get a camera, compose and work with the light.

White Sun – The Heart Teaching

The Sutra of Hui Neng said that,

“Since time immemorial, it has been the practice for one Buddha to pass on the original truth to his chosen successor, and from one patriarch to another to transmit the awareness of the original heart.”

This transmission was accomplished without words. It was the teaching that went directly from heart to heart. What was passed down from one generation to the next was the heart teaching, the direct link between human nature and divine essence. This teaching enabled the past saints and sages to see beyond forms and made it possible for them to perceive with perfect clarity, no confusion, contradiction or conflict. They were then able to practise the truth with righteousness and spread the knowledge of truth widely.

The heart teaching is simple but yet not easy to absorb or be enlightened unless one is very wise. It is a teaching of the essence of the truth and by putting it into practice in daily life; one will ensure complete deliverance and freedom from obstructions. The heart teaching is the transmission of Tao and Master Zi Si, who followed in the tradition of Confucius once said:

“Tao is treasured by those who know. It will not be passed on to anyone other than the right person.”

All the generations of the patriarchs, saints and buddhas upon receiving the Tao or the heart teaching, immediately turned the wheel of dharma to save the sentient beings. With their great wisdom they wrote down their understanding of truth and the heart teaching in texts which we now called scriptures. Originally these scriptures were intended as a guide, a way to dispel obscurity so that eventually cultivator would be able to realize the essence of their true nature.

However, after the passing away of these great saints, sages and patriarchs, few people were able to understand their profound writings or fully comprehend the characteristics of their true nature. This is because the hidden messages that underlie all the scriptures cannot be directly explained in words. The time, according to heavenly stages, was not right for the widespread propagation of the heart teaching and the essence of the scriptures remained generally undisclosed.

When this main understanding of the texts remains hidden, the effectiveness of the texts themselves is minimal even though they have been handed down from thousands of years to the present time. In short, the texts, though written by enlightened saints and sages, become doctrines and philosophical tracts. The intended offering of the ultimate liberation of our true nature is not fully grasped and realized, hence human keeps on searching for the truth.

The Doctrine of Mean states that,

“The methods of government of Emperor Wen and Emperor Wu are displayed on wooden or bamboo slats. While the emperors lived, their empires flourished but after their deaths, even though their written instructions on the tablets remained, their style of government was abandoned.”

This is the example of how written words may not be followed or failed when their essence is not comprehended.

The world is now very different in physical terms especially the highly efficient communication technology and travel. Spiritually the conditions too have changed. There are also many people who have turned away from the pursuit of material wealth to cultivate their lives. It is the time for the heart teaching to be spread to all people because the time has ripen for the Heavenly Tao to be brought to the world. Those with affinity will encounter the Heavenly Tao and this is the saying of my Heavenly Teacher JiGong:

“The Tao of Heaven is very precious. A year passes and a year comes. When the great Tao is in Nirvana (latency), no where can Tao be sought and studied. No matter how much money you have, you can’t buy the flowing back of time.

Flower that falls; cannot return atop the tree. Neither can the water that streams by, return to its spring. The beautiful scene of sunset disappears upon the advent of the night. Even works of righteous will be taken away by the ‘Messenger of Death.’ Now, the ‘Messenger of Death’ may seem to be in a place of afar with no intention to force near you, but unknowingly and unnoticeably, it comes!”

Time is very precious. It is the ripening of the Heavenly time that the heart teaching can be revealed to those with affinity. It is the transmission of the essence of Tao from heart to heart, there is no word and it is also called the ‘wordless sutra.’ We do not know what will happen tomorrow or the next minute, death can come anytime to anyone regardless of whether we are young or old. The coffin is for dead people and not old people, says Heaven. The heart teaching is to allow us to transcend the cycle of birth and death and end the cycle of reincarnation.

During the time of Sakyamuni Buddha 2,500 years ago, the heart teaching was transmitted using a golden flower. The Patriarch Arya Mahakasyapa received the essence of Tao when the Buddha holding the golden flower in front of his eyes looked at him and said, “I have the true dharma hidden in my eye.” The rest of the devotees did not get the message and transmission but Arya Mahakasyapa smiled at Buddha knowing the answer to the truth and his divine true nature.

Author: T.A Chew