Monday, September 19, 2016

Exploring Bangkok's Grand palace / Chatuchak Market - in a hurry!

Visited Bangkok again for work, and this time had a couple of hours (thankfully!) to explore the city. Was a hectic couple of days leading to the day I'd actually have an afternoon free.
Knowing the schedule would be tight I left my DSLR back home, trusting my OnePlus Two for handling the odd snapshot!

View from the Hotel

Caught a taxi to check on Grand Palace, the Taxi hardly moved anywhere. The notorious traffic of Bangkok at work. Was a beautiful day with clear blue skies - but that also meant pure heat!

Reached the Grand Palace with the temperature and humidity high, but a quick glance at the watch put the urgency back in priority. A quick entry ticket and a few scans later we were in the Palace complex - the unique Thai style very evident.

Tourists thronged this place as it was labelled as a must-do when in Bangkok (I was there too, for the same reason :D ).  Hordes of them following a flag/stuffed toy (Tour operators use this technique to keep the group members in-line). The heat made many of them opt for the shadows/covered parts of the pathway, it was sultry for the lack of a better word! The T-shirt soaked in sweat, barely able to see through the Mobile screen to click any images I managed a few frames while doing a round of the complex. A stop at the Refreshment counter for a tender coconut was very refreshing. The taste was different than the ones back in India...a lot sweeter.
Done with the Grand palace we caught a taxi to JJ Mall, near Chatuchak market. A dash for the food court and lunch was done - some energy for the rest of exploration.

Preparation of Pineapple fried rice

I was very keen to visit the Chatuchak market - famous to us aquarists as a haven for wholesale traders of the Aquarium trade. The scale of this is enormous, I was able to sample a few stores. Sorely missed the DSLR here, the lack of light in most tanks resulted in blurry phone-camera images.

The entrance had a few shops selling good quality guppies and goldfish, visitors of all ages selecting their choices.


The whole gamut of species..from Freshwater to Brackish to Saltwater - all on display.

Planted tanks in all shapes and types.

Boy, was I enjoying myself here!

Was pleasantly surprised to see a Channa barca

Future giants ;)

A huge knifefish

Haven't seen a more colorful "Golden" Killi

Pretty large Altums

Koi angels

A few giants!

The multi-colored Crayfish

Multi-storeyed housing

A few shrimps using them as a perch ;)

A nice looking Crab!

Fantastic looking shrimps too


Tubs, Filter media, Koi name anything that is fishy and they had it all

Anyone for some driftwood?

Some lucky soul carrying back a large tub for setting something up

The humidity and lack of fresh air did have me step out to explore other areas. Moving out across the street the scene transformed into an area with a lot of mammals and birds. Kittens, Puppies, Weaver birds in cages, Iguanas, name it, they had it!

Walking on the edge of the street to catch a taxi back I noticed many more shops/footpath vendors with their fishy merchandise.

I really wonder how they manage to keep them alive in those bags for so long!

Shallow trays acting as displays

Superworms and Frogs among the many options for fish which prefer live feed.

The streets were filled with Bettas, all shapes and colors. The tanks to hold them were priced very attractively as well! (1 Baht = ~2 Rupees)

A couple of moving timelapses

Was disheartening to see a lot of dyed and "short body" variants of all fish :( They just don't look pretty, I wonder what drives the demand! Next time you see these in an aquarium store - PLEASE SAY "NO"

Finding a taxi that would get me back to the hotel was a challenge, many would simply refuse while others quoted exorbitant rates. Noticed a Bike Taxi not far and decided I'd try that mode to get back..was fun weaving in and out of car lanes. It took me a full hour or more to navigate through the thick traffic and reach the Hotel back in time. A quick taxi ride back to the Airport and we were all set for the journey back home!

Some sights from around town

You want to become a big laugh? ;)

Locking away relations :P

Adios till the next one :)


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bringing "Bob" home

Fish are dear to me, have provided me source of inspiration and a great hobby to pursue - keeping my sanity levels in check (or should that be insanity?)

Aleena had a liking towards fish too, she would be enchanted by their movement and colors. This image which I had envisioned for a very long time made possible by dear wifey after a quick "director's explanation" :)

Was visiting Nikhil's facility when the super moment occurred - Aleena saw bettas and decided she'd want one for herself. She sifted through the many packets and picked one. She was sure she wanted this particular fish - for herself!

The joy on the face was something to behold, warmed the cockles of my heart
Setup a quick 18"x9"x9" tank, hoping to convert it into a decent scape.

Managed to snap a few of the pretty Betta, what Aleena has named "Bob" :)

Bob has already made this tank his "home", building his own bubble nest.
While here Bob has had multiple delicacy options including Aleena's fave - Biryani
Thankfully the tank is out of reach, as of now ;)


Thursday, April 16, 2015

The road, fish and food!

Road trips are always fun, add fishing to that and we've got a heady mix on our hands. We're addicted to that and yet had been off it for a very long time.
A few phone calls exchanged between Ajay, Vyas and I - we were all set with looking up Google maps to trace the route with the maximum amount of blues showing (blue on the map indicates a water body ;) )

Started off with a group-selfie

The love for the great outdoors, travel and the fantastic camaraderie we share ensured we made short work of the long distances.

The summer sun beat down and the temperatures rose quickly though the day, at times reaching 38-39c. Having made good ground the speeds reduced drastically once the wide highways ended, the snaking roads of the State highway made for some slow progress. It was post noon that we cast the first net - so to speak :)  The yummy Kerala cuisine ensured our energy levels were right up there. The Appam, idiyappam, Puttu, Kadla curry, Motta curry, Chilly beef all helping along the way.

The first stop was along the Periyar river.

Making our way down a set of stairs we noticed the usual suspects - Dawkinsia filamentosus, Pseudosphromenus cupanus, Rasbora daniconius, Salmostoma boopis.

We began to attract a lot of attention from the passersby who were very keen to see what the city-dwelling folk were upto in their river. We'd smile back with a net in our hands with "Meen" (fish in the local language) :)

Ajay's cast net at work!

Exploring the river further with the help of Ajay's cast net we netted many more of the same fish, and then the next draw left our jaws dropped! Sheer beauty with Olive greens and red fins, we had the Pristolepis rubripinnis

We noticed some dashes of red just under the surface of the shimmering water, but then thought it wasn't really the river system the denisonii is found in.
The next couple of casts sprang a further surprise - the Sahyadria denisonii. We had seen them earlier in what was thought of as their only location - Iritty, but here they were way downstream. Had some doubts of these possibly being the Chalakkudiensis but the lack of the black marking on it's dorsal helped remove any ambiguity.

Had carried the snorkeling kit along, and am I glad I did! tried watching these underwater and one of the denisonii swam right in front of me - what an exhilarating experience! Spotting them in the wild and seeing them underwater almost running into your face WHOA :D

A very interesting Garra mullya with small orange specks

Ajay and Vyas checking out a small canal - saw a small Channa gachua and some filamentosus here, a lot of Ambulia and Egeria densa were seen too.

Moving further south the next stop along the Pamba we noticed some nice looking stocky barbs. Stopping to investigate we were soon posed the standard question of what were we upto, and we'd reply with a wide grin on our face "Meen" :D
This turned out to be a very interesting stop with some nice variety of Barbs.

Cirrhinus sp

Puntius punctatus

Puntius mahecola

Puntius parrah

For ID

Pseudetroplus maculatus were found in plenty too! The colors on some showed us why they're commonly referred to as "Orange chromides"

Xenentodon cancila and a few Aplocheilus sp. spotted too around the edges of the aquatic plants

Puffers (Carinotetraodan sp.) were found in good numbers around the plants too

Mystus malabaricus

With the setting sun we dipped our nets to end the day underneath a bridge.

Pseudetroplus maculatus,  Pseudosphromenus cupanus were found in good numbers. Saw this goby in one of the angler's bag - Awaous grammepomus

Scooping in a stagnant pool got us quite a few Horadandia atukorali - brilliant little schooling fish!

Drove down towards Kumarakom to find a place to stop for the night. Tried the local speciality of Karimeen cooked in Banana leaf, Mussels and some chilly beef.

Got to experience a fishing boat coming ashore with the night's catch - full of sardines and mullets

The next morning was a quick dash to the Kumarakom bird sanctuary.

The two sneaking up on me :P

With the humidity levels and the temperature rising the walk within the sanctuary was pretty draining. Opted for a quick boat ride offered by a local.

The Vembanad lake is a brackish system, and is vast! Saw a lot of Pistia aka water lettuce, Salvinia natans, hornwort and Ambulia

Spotted the usual Pond Herons, lesser cormorants and the occasional Purple heron fly by.

This intermediate heron using it's wings to cut down on light and reduce reflection for it to locate fish under the surface

Cattle egret in breeding plumage

A white throated KF

This Little heron was a nice surprise find

The multiple resorts along the water's edge and their unique boat "gates"

The boathouses added a certain amount of charm to the place. Very surprisingly the lake has been kept extremely clean. Hope other tour operators and businesses take note - it is a no-brainer to keep the place which generates all your income clean.

Colorful adornments providing some photographic opportunities

Vyas feeling a little too shy posing for the camera ;)

A small checkered keelback was spotted swimming along

As we began our journey back to home base we stopped at a couple more places.

Some kids doing their best to beat the heat!

A few fun bursts with the enhanced burst rate the 7D brings (thanks much Richa and Bikram!)

Ajay managed to capture this interesting procession from the driver's seat

A few notable observations

Mystus sp - had a very interesting dark coat

Dawkinsia tambraparniei

Pseudetroplus maculatus - with a very interesting red lining around the caudal

Salmostoma boopis

Puntius vittatus

Chanda nama

An interesting looking Awaous/Glossogobius sp.
Interestingly not a single tilapia was seen/netted!

Huge props to Marc for ID'ing the barbs :)
At the very last stop the mandatory question was posed to us by the locals yet again and we answered "MEEN" :)  Most could not wrap their heads around the fact that we had come all the way from Bangalore to catch, photograph and release fish. I tried my best to translate fish-mad to the best of my abilities, and that would bring a chuckle from them. Well "we are like that wonly" :D

For the ones who regularly ask for gear details:
* All wide angle images taken with the Samsung galaxy grand
* Canon 7D + 55-250mm f5.6 used for fishy closeups
* Canon 7D + 400mm f5.6 used for bird images and some boat shots

Till the next ride,