Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

June 17, 2017

The Trawler Launch

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 10:23 am

Karaikal, Tamil Nadu.

I was going for a ride in my bike towards the beach when I saw this massive boat on the road. So, of course I stopped and had a look at what was going on.

On the Road 928
The trawler on the road.

They got a back-end loader and pushed it down the ramp. The sand ramp. They had to put all bits of timber under the wheels.

Trawler launch 930
Going down the ramp.

The traweler was secured to the wheels carrying it with ropes twisted with logs.

trawler launch 932
side view

Big Propeller 936
Securing ropes.

Here is a shot of the propeller showing how the ropes are attached to the wheels.

going down the ramp 938
Going into the water. 938

The back-end loader pushed the trawler into the water.

stuck on sand 942
Stuck on the sand

Cannot go any further by pushing from behind with the back-hoe.

last push 945
Still stuck on the sand.

But she was still stuck on the sand. They got another trawler and put a line on her to tow her off the sand.

yippee afloat 947
Success, she is afloat.

Everyone yahooing when the trawler is afloat. Game over. Set and match.

June 9, 2017

Rameswaram Water-front

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 8:37 am

The Sea Shore.

I woke up this morning at 6am, had my cup of chai and a deep-fried doughnut thingie and took off along the waterfront. I was going to look for birds but the action going on in the water was much too interesting to ignore.

Paddling a raft

They make these rafts out of big logs and use them for fishing with traps and nets.

sail boat
Sailing boat.

This is a very cheap mode of transportation. No paying for petrol.

Bringing the pots home
Bringing the pots back home.

This guy was bringing his fish trap back to shore.

Dragging a raft
Dragging the raft.

It is easier to drag the raft along when the water is shallow.

Indian Palm Squirrel
Indian Palm Squirrel.

There were a few Indian Palm Squirrels sun-baking on the sand.

Black Kite
Black Kite

Looking for shellfish
Looking for shell-fish.

A fisherman

Greater Coucal
Greater Coucal

Coolite boat
Koolite canoe

June 7, 2017

Murugan’s Birthday

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 12:22 pm

Vaikasi Visakam.

Vaikasi Visakam is the celebration of the birthday of the Hindu god Lord Murugan. He is the god of courage, wealth and wisdom and the younger son of Shiva and Parvati. He is the brother of the elephant-headed Ganesha.

Vaikasi Visakam procession
The procession through the streets

On the day, Tamil people go in a procession to carry milk to the appropriate temple.

carrying milk
Carrying milk

I had no idea what was going on when I heard drumming at about 6am. While I was having breakfast, I saw all these people going past and celebrating, so I grabbed my camera and went out on the streets to take some shots. I did not know what it was all about.

drinking curd
Refreshing curd drink

The people in the processions were given drinks by some stalls along the way.

mad colours
Mad colours

There is a guy under all that gaudiness.

hanging around
Hanging around.

There were a few guys suspended by hooks. But not many.

the band
The band.

Quite a few musical groups. The processions kept coming for about 3 hours that I noticed. Probably a lot more.

boys acting up
Boys acting up.

And of course some young blokes had to have as much fun as possible, throwing water at everyone. They even grabbed my hat.

spike through the cheeks
Spikes through the cheeks

There were lots and lots of guys with long spikes through their cheeks. It was explained to me that there was no pain and no wound afterwards. I do not think I will try it out.

More spikes

The ladies were getting into it as well.

proud young man
Proud young man

This handsome young man was walking along very proudly.


Lots of friends out together having a good time.

more friends
More friends.

I like it that people were out with their friends and family and having a great time.

May 24, 2017

Kollam Boat Ride

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 2:29 pm

Kerala Backwaters.

I caught the train from Varkala to Kollam this morning. It cost me a whole ten rupees. But I only went about thirty kilometers. It started raining on the way. I think it is pretty close to the start of the monsoon. It was raining pretty heavily all morning. I found a hotel near the ferry dock. Pretty seedy but cheap. I managed to find out about a boat ride on the backwaters around Kollam.

the skipper
The skipper.

It was the public ferry that went around all the islands near town. We would just go from wharf to wharf picking up passengers and dropping them off.

date night
Kids getting on the ferry.

It was a marvellous bargain. Twelve rupees for a two hour sight-seeing tour around the Kollam backwaters. Ha ha.

deck hands
The deck-hands.

We would get to a wharf and the deck-hands would jump off and hold the boat still with ropes while the passengers got on and off.

Chinese cantilevered nets
Chinese fishing nets.

These are the same type as the famous ones at Kochi. They are cantilevered and go in and out of the water very easily. Just using science.

Trawler fleet

There were so many trawlers. Hundreds and hundreds of them tied up along the harbour.

friendly kid
Friendly kid.

This kid said hello to me, shook my hand and gave me a couple of biscuits. Such wonderful hospitality.

Kerala houseboat
Kerala Houseboat

This is your standard Kerala Backwaters Houseboat. They cost a fortune to hire them out.

Fishin indian style

Lots of people out fishing along the waterways. I saw one guy catch a decent sized fish. They just have a length of fishing line tied to a stick and away they go.

haulin em in
Setting the nets

A couple of fishermen setting their net from a a dug-out canoe.

May 21, 2017

Sri Lanka to India

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 6:33 am

From West Sri Lanka to West India.

I spent a bit of time waiting for my visa to India in Colombo, then I went to Negombo for about 4 days. I spent most of my time in Negombo bicycling around the town and checking out the beach about 3 times a day.

Plane to India
The Plane to India

So finally I get to go to India for the third time. I was utterly shocked when I saw the plane. It was a small twin-engined thing. EEEK! But it was ok. It got us to India despite being two hours late. I arrived In Madurai and rested up for a couple of days before heading to Trivandrum in Kerala, then on to Varkala, up the coast a bit.

North Cliff
Varkala Beach

I am staying on the cliff above the beach. This morning I took the camera for a walk and got some shots of the fishermen coming in through the surf. These guys nearly got smashed.

Surfing after fishing
Nearly smashed.

But luckily they missed the big one and happened to find a little wave to come in on. Crazy stuff.

Catching a small one
Coming in on a small one.

There were all these guru-looking dudes dispensing blessings or something to the pilgrims. Maybe they were brahmins or holy men. I have no idea.

Karma Chameleon
Dispensing karma

I have not seen many birds yet. But I have been in cities and a beach. These are all I have seen so far.

Indian birds so far

White-throated Kingfisher
House Crow
Great Egret
Black Kite
Brahminy Kite
Common Myna

May 2, 2017

Getting Indian Visa in Sri Lanka

Filed under: General — admin @ 8:33 am

Applying for Indian Visa in Colombo.

The first thing you need to do is get all your information together. You will need a lot of personal details, so make sure you have all that stuff well in hand. Here are the details that you will need.

Current Passport number, Place, date of issue, date of expiry
Last/old passport number, place, date of issue. Maybe need a photocopy.
Education level, eg Graduate.
Your religion.
Birth place, date
Parents names, birth date, place of birth.
Address in Sri Lanka. (Your hostel)
Permanent address (in your country).
India address(hotel).
Marital status. Name, place and date of birth of spouse, if married.
Occupation. If unemployed or retired put down last employer.
Visa type (tourist).
Length (6 months).
Number of entries (double).
Places to visit (put up to 12).
Likely entry and exit ports (ALL PORTS)
Purpose (tourist)
Date of arrival in India.

If you cannot find your old passport number, just write a letter to the High Commissioner stating that you have lost your old passport, it was destroyed, the dog ate it. State that you do not have old passport and state if and when you last visited India.

After you have gone through all that data-mining, go to the IVS website and download the FAX REFERENCE FORM . Print it out and fill it in with a BLACK pen.

Indian visa fax form eg
An example filled in.

Then, Go to the IVS page and click on “Apply Online” at the bottom of the page and fill it in as you go. Make sure you fill in all the fields before you save on each page or it will not let you do it. Make a note of your reference number and you can save and come back later if you do not have all the information. Better to have it ready. The information I detailed above is all that you will need.

Then you will need 2 or 3 passport photos. They MUST have a WHITE background and be 2″x2″ , and be recent. I got 6 photos done for 250 rupees.

Next Step. Print out the Appication form, paste a photo on it, sign it twice – under the photo and at the end.

Get some photocopies of your current passport, your old passport, your Sri Lanka Visa page in your passport. You may need a bank statement, hotel booking in india, or tour itinerary. I did not need these things but I had them ready.

ivs  colombo
IVS Office , (image owned by google)

Ok, then go to the IVS office at:
IVS Global.
129 Philip Gunawardena Mw.
Colombo 4

If you have not done any of the above, do not fret. There is a shop down the road that will do it all for you – printing, photos, comb your hair, conduct wedding ceremonies – for a fee.

Go into the office and see the girl on reception. She will check out your form and help you with any mistakes or confusions. She will check your passport, photocopies and then give you a number and you go to the first floor and see the officer when called. The officer will check your form, take the money(15,000 rupees for me), and give you a date to come back and leave your passport. A day after that you can pick it up with your visa.

April 25, 2017

Sri Lanka Budget

Filed under: General — admin @ 2:37 pm

How much I spent in a Month

I have been keeping a meticulous record of my expenses for thirty days in Sri Lanka. Let us call that a month. I wanted to see exactly where I spent my money. I started off recording on a pad, but graduated to a spreadsheet. My thirty days started in Mirissa, then Kalamatiya, Bundala National Park, Tissa/Yala, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, Colombo, Kandy, Arugam Bay, Kalkudah, Uppuveli, and Jaffna.

The totals in Rupees and USD , then daily Average, were as follows.

Rupees USD Daily Av.
Transport 11225 US$74.83 US$02.49
Food 34397 US$229.31 US$07.64
Tips 2135 US$14.23 US$00.47
Food 34397 US$229.31 US$07.64
Hotel 56450 US$376.33 US$12.54
Food 34397 US$229.31 US$07.64
Tours 29000 US$193.33 US$06.44
Food 34397 US$229.31 US$07.64
Other 3200 US$21.33 US$00.71
Food 34397 US$229.31 US$07.64

The Grand Total in Rupees is 136407 .
The Grand Total is USD is US$909.38.

Making a Daily Average of US$30.31 and 4546 Rupees.

So, a good idea would be to keep to a budget of 4000 rupees per day. Put that in a separate money wallet and that is your money for that day. Try and only spend that money for the day and not go over it. If you have any left over, put it back in the kitty and give yourself another 4000 rupees for tomorrow.

Looking back over the expenses, the biggest ones were Hotel and Food. If you can keep those two down, then you will be going a long way to having a much lower budget. I stayed mainly in single rooms and ate at the hotels quite a bit. You can save heaps of money if you are a couple or three people. And stay in dormitories.

You can also save lots of money by eating what the locals do. Rice and curry, Vegetable roti, roti and dahl, kottu, etc. Tourist restaurants are a rip-off.

I also spent quite a lot on jeep safaris to Kalamatiya Bird Sanctuary, Bundala National Park, Yala , Kithulgala, and Kumana National Park. They cost heaps but mostly they were worth it, because I photographed heaps of birds and animals and I was very happy with the results.

I tip quite a bit in Sri Lanka. I give waiters and bus conductors 20 rupees most of the time. It is not much but they seem to appreciate it. I also tipped some of the wildlife guides/drivers if they were good, but gave nothing if they were crap. The guides at Yala harassed an elephant so I did not give them a cent. They were lucky I did not report them.

Other is personal items like soap, razors, ear plugs, medicine, O.R.S. , skin cream, sunburn lotion, etc.

Transport is very cheap in Sri Lanka. It is not really an issue. Do not worry about it at all. Buses and Trains are very cheap. Tuk-tuks are where the transport costs can escalate. Pay them about 100 rupees per kilometer. The locals pay about 50 rupees per kilometer. Haggle them down if you are a major tight-arse but remember petrol costs a lot and they have to pay for their tuk-tuks which are quite expensive relatively speaking. So try and be fair and not too mean. I usually walk away from an obviously ridiculous price and if they quote a reasonable price, I usually give them an extra 50 or 100 rupees at the destination.

April 4, 2017

Creative writing 101 – Stream of Consciousness.

Filed under: General — admin @ 10:25 am

A Day out in Ella.

4/4/2017. I have got a notebook! And I am in a coffee shop, and a coffee costs more than a meal! Coming from Tissamaharama, I caught the direct bus going to Kandy. Otherwise I would have had to catch 3 buses! There are hundreds of white tourists around. They are so strange. They even bring their babies all the way from Europe! Bizarre. All the backpackers are way more exotic and strange than any Asian cultural activities. I bet all the Sri Lankan people come to Ella to gawk at all the weird white people.

Nice View Guest House
Nice View Guest House

Last night we had a massive thunderstorm with lightning and hordes of rain. My Guest House is on the top of a ridge overlooking big mountains. I think we are at about 1000 meters. It is so nice and cool after the heat of the lowlands. Oooh, there was almost a dog-fight. Not much else happens around here. It is starting to rain now. And man just walked by with a load of firewood on his head. This is strange writing on a piece of paper – so old skool – but I like it better than tapping on a keyboard. My thoughts flow more freely – if very laterally.

I have to get the train to Nuna Oya tomorrow, then a bus to Nuwara Eliya. It take something like 2.5 hours to go 60 kilometers! The garbage collectors have just turned up out the front. The driver has an umbrella over his head to protect himself from the evil raindrops. It is really pouring now and everyone has their umbrellas out. I feel a bit left out.

Balcony View
View from my balcony

I am wondering what to have for lunch. Maybe something different than rice and curry? Something western perhaps, but what? Chicken fried rice might be nice. An omlet? The sun is out and nearly stopped raining. Soon time to move.

Now I am up the hill at a local restaurant have fried rice and chicken, 400rupees, and a coke, 60 rupees. I also went to the supermarket and bought a couple of raxors, 130 rupees. All the locals are eating at this joint, so that is a good sign. Beware the western tourist restaurants – shit food, high prices and more chance of food poisoning. A couple of Buddhist monks just went by in a tuk-tuk.

March 25, 2017

Mirissa Whale Watching

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 10:26 am

Sri Lanka.

This morning I was up before 6am waiting for the tuk-tuk which actually came on time. He took my to the fishing harbour and we got onto the whale watching boat. This dog did not care one iota about all the hustle and bustle.

let sleeping dogs lie
Let sleeping dogs lie

I stayed downstairs because I knew it would be rolling like heck up top. The whole thing only cost me 2000 rupees, which was a bargain – less than twenty bucks.

whale watching boat
Whale-watching Boat.

I must admit I did not expect to see much but we saw heaps of Blue Whales and really up close too. Maybe a bit too close at times. The Coast Guard came past us at one time and warned us to stay away from the whales a bit more. But I did not think the captains paid much attention because they kept getting pretty close.

Blue Whale
Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

The boat itself was not too crowded. I was execting to be shoved into a can of sardines but it was fine. We even got breakfast – a cup of coffee, hot dogs, lolly water, and a slice of cake.

Blue Whale fin
The fin

On the way back we stopped and a Whale Shark swam beneath our boat. You could see the spots on his back and his big wide mouth under the water but he did not surface.

Blue Whale after blow
Just after a blow

I saw this tern sitting out on the water miles from land. I have no idea what it is.

Mystery Tern
Mystery Tern

And for an extra bonus, a couple of shots of sunset at Hikkaduwa.

Hikkaduwa sunset
Hikkaduwa sunset

sunset over island
Sunset over island.

Things I seen

Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
Whale Shark

March 22, 2017

A nice train ride

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 6:07 am

From Bentota to Hikkaduwa.

And of course I am exaggerating for dramatic effect. But let us start at the beginning of this story. We had a malfunction with the booking at the villa at Bentota and we had to move to a guest house in Aluthgama, which is across the river from Bentota. It was not as nice but was close to the town and shops and everything. But it was very reasonable at $10 a night.

Bentota mangroves
Mangroves along the river

And of course I posted photos of my river boat ride in the last post. It was very enjoyable. I spent the rest of the time wandering around the town checking out the sites.

Aluthgama beach
The beach at Aluthgama

This morning I set off to get the train to Hikkaduwa. I bought a second class ticket for 70 rupees (about 60 cents) and waited for the train. I had a very funny moment at the station restaurant where there was a really old Sinhalese movie from the sixties on the television. The guys were dancing around and laughing their heads off. Very funny. I will try and find it on youtube.

Here come da train
The train comes

Well, the train came as you can see and I found the second class carriages this time. And I even found a seat, which was amazing. It was mostly full of Europeans going on day trips. I guess to Galle fort. Eventually I found my hotel after being driven up and down the road by the tuk tuk driver who had no clue where it was.

hikkaduwa beach
Learning to surf

After freshening up after my mammoth 37 kilometer train ride, I went for a walk down the road looking for the beach. I was offered a glass-bottom boat ride by some dude and coconuts and tours and rides on tuk tuks and wood carvings and trinkets and knick-knacks. I refused them all of course, having plenty of the aforementioned crap in my pocket. Any hoo, I saw the beach. There is a left hander off a reef, a beach break for the beginners, and reefs stretching along the coast. It is very touristy. And there was lots of white flabby skin lounging on deck chairs.

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