Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiku Catchoo! – Travel Haikus

This post is part of WordPress’ Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiku Catchoo!

Pin Christmas Ornaments Zazzle Inner Bodhisattva by Seas Reflecting Starlight

Many holiday gifts are available at my Zazzle stores – see coupon codes here!


Travel Haikus

Seek the horizon
Never knowing what’s beyond
Explore a new shore
Adventure awaits
When leaving the familiar
What wonders you’ll find
As your travels grow
You’ll grow as a person too
Expanding your mind
Tourists rush around
Well beaten path tourist spots
Not meeting locals
Travelers stick around
Get to know the real place
See the unique

Black Friday / Cyber Monday Canvas Print Sales:

Full Moon Over Kiyomizu-dera

Up the Great Wall

Colossal Le Shan Buddha

Please Share


Daily Prompt: Trick or Treat – The Light of Amida Pumpkin

This photo is part of WordPress’ Daily Prompt: Trick or Treat.

Light Of Amida Pumpkin by Seas Reflecting Starlight

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Yet pumpkin carving is an art that I really should dabble in more often. It’s lots of fun, and with the right tools, not too difficult.

I picked this pumpkin at a local farm (yes there are pumpkin farms in Hawai’i). The weather was perfect, and it was fun to stroll through the rows of sunflowers, corn, green beans, and pumpkins. A friend and I each carved our own pumpkin. I was surprised at how easily the tools from the pumpkin carving kit sliced through the pumpkin – much easier than the knives I used to use growing up. It makes me want to create an even more intricate design for next year.

How did I get inspiration for an Amida Buddha pumpkin?  It just popped into my head.  Hardly traditional Halloween decor.  But just as Jack-o-lanterns light pathways, the Buddha also illuminates a path.  On this night celebrating the connection between this world and the next, it is a reminder that not everything on the other side is scary.

Happy Halloween everyone!


table lamps and more

Available at my Inner Bodhisattva Zazzle store.

Also check out my limited time art FREE giveaway and sale!

Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV – Red & White Origami Swallows

This photo is (a belated) part of WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV – my entries for other weeks can be found here.

Red and White Origami Swallows by Seas Reflecting Starlight

Thousands of origami paper birds soar above my head, white and red.  They lift my eyes upwards towards the cascading ceiling.  So simple, and yet so elegant.  I can’t help but smile.  I enjoy origami, and started learning it when I was 9.  Although I can make cranes in my sleep, I haven’t ever made anything quite like these elegant birds.  Generally the instructions I’ve found to make origami swallows haven’t quite been this variation, but that goes to show the diversity within origami.  Everyone has their own style.

This illustrated guide is probably the closest to recreating the swallows in my photo.  I also came across a video version of a different model (in Japanese, but you can follow along easily even if you can’t speak Japanese):

Happy folding!

Travel theme: Distance / Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea – Hong Kong Harbor Mists

I decided to combine two different photo contests this week:
This photo is part of a weekly travel themed photo contest Travel theme: Distance – my entries for other weeks can be found here.


This photo is part of WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea – my entries for other weeks can be found here.

Hong Kong Harbor Mists by Seas Reflecting Starlight

From high on Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island, there is a spectacular view of the city below.  The nearby skyscrapers seem surprisingly striking for this cloudy April day.  On the other side of the harbor, shapes on the Kowloon peninsula fade in and out of the midday mists.  The faint outline of the mountains looms in the distance.

Hong Kong Harbor can feel bustling, yet peaceful, depending on where you are.  Generally I’m not a big fan of huge cities, but I like Hong Kong.  It really is a place that has something for everyone.  The city itself has everything you can imagine, and when you want to get away, town and rural areas are only a short metro, ferry, or bus ride away.  It is also ridiculously easy to navigate.  Hong Kong gets points for having one of the best airports and metro systems I’ve ever seen.  My first time ever traveling alone was in Hong Kong, and it didn’t take me long to get comfortable exploring the city.

Prints available on: Pixels, Fine Art America, and Zazzle.

gel mousepads and more

Available at my Bamboo Scroll Zazzle store.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour – Mountainous Laos Sunset

This photo is part of WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour – my entries for other weeks can be found here.

Mountainous Laos Sunset by Seas Reflecting Starlight

Upon arriving in Luang Prabang, Laos, I heard of a great hill from which to watch the sunset.  Customs took awhile, and I reached the bottom of the hill with only about 15 minutes left until sunset.  Still rather motion sick from the propeller plane I came in on, I hiked up the mountain as fast as I could, worried that I would miss the sunset.  The hill was deceptively tall and long, so each time I thought the end was in sight, I discovered more stairs just around the bend.  Although exhausted by the end, I somehow made it to the top of the “hill” in time to watch what turned out to be a very golden sunset.  The beautiful mountains in the distance and the winding Mekong River made for a very peaceful setting.  It was a rush climbing up there, but in the end it was worth it.


Other photos taken during Golden Hours (sunrise or sunset):

Kinship Memorial Lantern by Seas Reflecting StarlightKinship Memorial Lantern

Hanauma Sunrise Panorama  by Seas Reflecting StarlightHanauma Sunrise Panorama n

Askew Beach Seaweed by Seas Reflecting StarlightAskew Beach Seaweed

Continue reading

Travel theme: Motion – Obon Dancers

This photo is (a slightly belated) part of a weekly travel themed photo contest Travel theme: Motion! – my entries for other weeks can be found here.

Obon Dancers by Seas Reflecting Starlight

When the Japanese holiday of Obon came to Hawai’i, it expanded into a whole season.  There is a different Obon Dance every weekend all summer here, hosted by temples all over the islands.  This photo was taken at the 2013 Bon Dance at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin temple in Honolulu.  While the many dancers encircled around wearing kimonos, happi coats, and street clothes, I tried to capture a sense of their movement by experimenting with different exposure times and camera angles.  The variety of different kinds of traditional bon dances (and even a few modern ones) amidst a live musical performance is one of the many highlights of Obon season.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companion – Kinship Memorial Lantern

This photo is part of WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Companion – my entries for other weeks can be found here.

Kinship Memorial Lantern by Seas Reflecting Starlight

Special companions are those who stay with us, even when we can’t be physically together.  The bond that connects us is something that can transcend distance, and even the cycle of life and death.

At the Lantern Floating Festival in Honolulu on Memorial Day 2013, this little girl carries a lantern down to the water to release into the ocean.  The lantern is in loving memory of someone close to her who has passed on, but it is also in honor of the special connection that the two of them have.

Lantern Floating Festival 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Movement – Trekking Through the Thai Jungle

I’m participating in the online adventure travel and photography magazine LetsBeWild.com’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggers. This week’s challenge is: Movement! – my entries for other weeks can be found here.

Trekking Through the Thai Jungle by Seas Reflecting Starlight

Taking photos while riding an elephant through the jungles of Thailand can be an interesting challenge – and just the type of situation that can create unique photographs with good timing.  Motion blur can be a beautiful element in photography.  Since the elephant trainers keep the pace of the elephants, they are relatively in-focus compared to the foliage in the background.  The key comes down to getting a feel for the rhythm of the elephant’s stride.  Each part of the stride will have varying speeds, moving quite fast at some points, and slowing to nearly a stop at others.  By experimenting with different timings and/or shutter speeds, can create unique effects .  For more variation, or if your subject is moving at a different pace than you are, try leaning your body while snapping the picture.  Similar techniques can create motion blur in other situations with rhythmic motion, such as while on a boat, or while riding horses and other animals.

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up – Up the Great Wall

This photo is part of WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Up – my entries for other weeks can be found here.

Up The Great Wall by Seas Reflecting Starlight

Climbing the Great Wall is high on the wish list for many visitors to China, but not everyone realizes just how much of a climb it really is.  China loves its stairs, and the Great Wall is no exception.  However, these stairs are notoriously uneven, with small steps dispersed amongst giant steps, and plenty of steps that are sagging in places from the wear of millions of feet.

The surface of the wall isn’t the same rock that was there over two thousand years ago – it has been rebuilt multiple times, most famously during the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century, right on top of the crumbling ruins of the older sections of the wall.  While scaling the wall today, it is hard to imagine how difficult it would have been for ancient Chinese troops to patrol up and down the mountain.

The climb, although not for the faint of heart, is very rewarding (and for more than the “I Climbed the Great Wall” t-shirts sold halfway up the mountain).  The views are spectacular, as is the sense of accomplishment. Visitors aiming to reach “the top” are often surprised to discover that upon reaching what they thought was the highest point, that the wall really continues up and up beyond what they had previously been able to see.  But all the little old ladies zooming past the young “in shape” tourists probably aren’t laughing at them (too much).

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color – West Lake Colorful Light-Show

This photo is part of WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Color – my entries for other weeks can be found here.

West Lake Colorful Light-Show by Seas Reflecting Starlight

At dusk along the northern shore of West Lake in Hangzhou China there is a beautiful water show lit up by an array of colored lights.  Right at the waterline there are dozens of little fountain heads that shoot the water high into the air – sometimes 50 feet or more.  The fountains of water change angles as well in a coordinated fashion, making the mist seem to dance across the lake.

Hangzhou is one of my favorite cities in China.  It’s a city that has modernized quite eloquently without loosing its charm or cultural heritage, and while still upholding the beautiful natural landscape that surrounds the city.  Even when venturing into the main parts of the city, Hangzhou never quite feels like the large metropolis of over 8 million people that it is – which is part of why I like it.  After spending the day peacefully meandering around West Lake, or exploring temples, tea fields, and museums, the light show is a nice finale.  I easily become memorized by pretty lights.

Continue reading