Shuffling, Beards & A Fan

You may or may not have heard that ZZ Top added a new band member. He plays the triangle and cowbell. He is a true cowbell virtuoso. But ZZ Top is not just known for their gritty shuffling blues rock, but also for their beards – or two thirds of the band. Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill feature the long beards, the drummer’s name is Beard, Frank Beard, that is. And now the new guys – “Beard or no beard?”, you ask. “One hell of a beard!”,  I say. But judge for yourself.  

  This is an old friend of mine, he he is checking off items on his bucket list, such as being a cowbell its/triangles the at ZZ Top and growing an “extra-manly-Grizzly-Adams-And-Socrates-Are-Green-With-Envy” Beard. Chris is a true dude, he checks all boxes that define “dudivity”. There must have been a point during the growth process of this facial fur, where should he have worn a bathrobe, must have looked like Jeff Lebowski, better know as the Dude, his Dudeness, Duder or El Duderino (if you are not into the whole brevity thing). As luck would have it, we were able to take a second image at a place in Bangkok, that was named after the dude.  

 Yes, the dude is perspiring. It is hot and humid in Bangkok these days. But then again, Chris just like the dude would just ask:”What’s your point, man? What the F%#k is your point man.” And right he would be. A proper dude is a good man. And nothing beats a good man at any time anywhere. That is sort of my opinion in the matter,….man.

And because of all that awe that I am in about Chris’this untamed facial hair growth, I had to buy this shirt today, when I saw it. My sign of solidarity and admiration. Because a beard such as this takes balls the size of pumpkins.  Can you believe that? Life is stranger than fiction.

Alright dudes, continue to abide and to take it easy for the rest of us sinners. Meanwhile stay sharp.


Markus \m/

Ko Phra Thong – Nachlese (Epilogue)

Well, it was a great trip – very relaxing. But now I m already back to the grind. Although, that is a little exaggerated – since I can say, I am one of the few people – probably – who can say they love what they are doing. So let’s go straight to the epilogue. I spent some time photographing the surf and beach-wood and what not.

Surf2Where there’s an ocean there is surf. Sometime it’s fun surf the carries you back in and really makes you (at least me) feel fully alive. Not so here. But the cool thing his the surf and the waves here work just like their bigger and much bigger cousins.

Surf1And when the surf washes out on the beach it creates unique patterns every time. The whole wash out followed by seeping away into the sand  also happens surprisingly quickly. If you take the time to watch, though, it is quite fascinating.

Surf3Inevitably, when you throw ocean, surf, a horizon and a setting sun not a common picture you arrive at a beach sunset. I know it os kitschy to watch on an image, but overtime you witness it, it makes you feel so good, like there could be world peace and an end to world hunger. It’s such a perfect climax to a day.

SkullRingBeadsWhen I saw this dried up dead root, I thought it is such a nice extension of why I love skulls and bones – Beauty Is Only Skin-Deep. Underneath we are all just skulls and bones, the beauty and vanity have seized.

Finally, another reminder of my insight that I look up now to people who suck at playing pool.

PoolBallsShadowsJust like most things in my life, there is not much room for mediocrity. You are either good or committed to become good or you suck. I gets that is why I love black and white photography so much, it is a reflection of my life’s philosophy. You are either learning to achieve excellence or you are learning to enjoy doing something poorly. Most things I know in life are not worth spending much time in the gray zone in – go black or go white.

[instruction to reader: Here, I step off my  soap box]

Okeydokey, stay extra sharp – “strive for excellence in the field of staying sharp”

Yours Markus \m/






Always Something New

I would have thought it to be possible. What? – you ask. That I can actually not only survive, but enjoy a beach vacation on a lonely island without going crazy. But I did, especially the latter. In enjoyed the hell out of this trip.

Let me show you around a bit. Well, there is the perfect and empty beach. Sometimes we had up to four people on the beach – almost two people inthe  same beach zip code.  

This the view looking north. There is a rock with a gazebo on it. It looks lonely, but you will always have the company of the monkeys there.Evolutionary siblings among themselves – a family reunion across time if you will. (Man, I think you guys – my dear readership – are pretty liberal and won’t like flip out over this evolutionist point of view)


And then this is the view of picture perfect beach down south – about 4 kilometers of very tiring sand. I tried running in it and it was a bitch. After 50 meters I hopped into the surf and that was bitchin’. (Oh my word plays on bitch used as a noun and a verb. My friend Emily is an English teacher and I know she will appreciate this on so many levels). 

This is the house where we practiced yoga with Alex at 8:00 before breakfast – actually it was me only, because some people cannot get out of bed before 9:00 when on vacation….imagine that. And the again at 5:00in the afternoon before dinner.

Alex is a Yoga teacher from Mauritius. Hos style of teaching Yoga and leading a class was new to me, but very excellent – I enjoyed it very much. The pranayama beidge between the asanas and the relaxing Shivasana were fantastic. There is even a brand new bamboo bridge that leads over a tiny lagoon. Brennon, the nature guide built this bridge. I suppose he is a real dude and an artist of life, something I really admire.  The reason I liked this vacation souch was that I dis not have to ait around and wait for the sun to set. In the bay you could rent ocean kayaks and stand up paddleboards. Very, very good. And of course then I also spentybte napping – I have told you guys numerous time, what a luxury a proper nap is to me. And I read a lot, skwtched and photographed. Finally, I also tasted the best Green Curry between the Laotian border and Krabi/Phuket. K. Pabi and her staff are goddesses of the kitchen. And now we are at the point where we close this entry and I reuire you to stay sharp. And to make that (staying sharp) a bit easier I leave you with this picture of the bay. 

Sayonara dearest readership

Cheers Markus \m/

A Little Black & White, Some Colour And A Confession

Today is our last day on Ko Phra Thong. And true to form Mother Nature gave us a great sunset, save an elusive Green Flash. Again a very great day. I must say, I discovered my inner Dude. Not the typical surfer or skater dude, but “The Dude” as in the The Big Lebowski – a state of being, think of being in a state of dudeness or dudivity. Where you just are and you go with the flow, where you don’t fight the flow and the clowns around you. In short, this has been a great week. But on to the images and to checking ff the three items of today’s entry.Let’s start with the end and then work our way back. The sunset – it was exquisite, even the afterglow as I write these lines are worth watching.


Then there is the  place from where we watched tonight’s sunset unfold. It’s the barbara/clubhouse of the Golden Buddha Beach Resort – the place where we stayed. The feel here is very comfortable and I hate to say it, but it feels colonial. The furniture is held in dark wood and bamboo with simple shapes, save a few accent pieces, such as this bamboo chair with leopard decoration.


How cool is this chair and the lamp next to it to match. My personal opinion, this is as bad-ass and stylish as you can get in a really laid-back beach resort miles away from the business we call civilized life.

Anyway, in this nice clubhouse they also have a pool table. I love playing pool. For ten years my friend Joe and I played pool every Wednesday at 8:00pm, regardless the season. We got better with time. We’d listen to Johnny Cash (American Recordings Cash, not Nashville Country Cash) or Capt’n Beefheart or wherever else, we could find and we’d play for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. These were super excellent times, that I cherish. I mentioned we got better with time…..but we never really got above “SUCK”. We were clearly above “SUCK PATHETICALLY”, and on good days we were scratching on the ceiling to “POOR”, but by and large we sucked solidly. Now, I see this pool table and I think to myself:”Son, let’s see what we can still do?” (In my inner monologue, when I want to be very generous and understanding with myself, I call myself Son). Anyway, I can confirm I am now looking at the ceiling of sucking. So, I had to retreat to something I do better than playing pool, while incorporating the pool table with the queue and the balls that refused to drop into pockets – we leave tomorrow, I have time constraints – I took pictures of the long shadows the balls cast.


Okeydokey, stay sharp and don’t be afraid to sometimes blatantly suck at some things, it does not kill a person, as I can testify.


Markus \m/

Watching The Waves

There is a great song originally written by Bob Dyland but I like it performed by the Rolling Stones best. The song is called “Watching The River Flow”. There is a passage Inge lyrics where the character in the song sits on an old bank of sand only to watch the river flow day in and out. And that is what I did this afternoon. Except that I watched the ocean – Andaman Sea part of the Indian Ocean -send surf up and down the beach. Just watching was very relaxing. But then again, I look at the world around me also as an engineer and a surfer and thus I started counting the wave sets, in order to derive a pattern. And the sort answer is , there is one AND I will spare you the long answer, because it could get winded – only is a set of two wave types superimposed that run at difference wavelength, amplitude and frequency and this makes for some pretty nice waves to play in, although not surf able- barely body-surfable.

Anyway, I digress. Here is what I am taking about.


Water – present, beach – present, ever so gently clouded blue sky – present. We are ready to play.


 Nice, white-wash coming at me. The water was gently lifting me up before flooding my nose.


Sometimes breaking to the right…


Sometimes breaking to the left and middle. 


And sometimes just creating that typical postcard scene, that is just ever-so perfect.

Well, that’s how we spend out afternoon – pretty cool, huh? Someone has got to do it and next week it’ll be someone else, because I am back at the ranch.

But before I advise you to stay sharp and the bid you see you later. We met Pete’s cousin Hugo, the frog. He was watching us having dinner from the shades. He didn’t even say a word, in fact I thin he was a bit miffed, becUse we did not invite him to the table – you know eat, drink shoot the shit. Oh well, selfish bastards we are.


Now, you need to stay sharp and take it easy for the rest of these sinners.

Sayonara dude rings and duderinos…

Markus \m/ 



Pete The Toad

Do you remember when Elmar thought the sirens had turned Pete into a toad. He was all freaked out and even tried to explain later to Pete, that they thought he was a toad: “We thought you was a toad.”

Now, it turns out, that we have a frog in house where we live right now. And because dor the non-biologist toad and frog are like potato – potatoe, we named him Pete honour of his toady brother.  

  What else happened? Well, since time progresses a lot slower here – not much. Last night I listened to the surf tryingvto crawl up the beach. Apparently it did not work and the ocean got frustrated and started poinding tbe beach instead, at which time I wole up, because if all this brough-ha-ha. I practiced Yoga, had breakfast, went stand-up surfing, napped, walked along the brach and took photos and found this graveyard of shells.


And now, I am writing yhis blog entey for your reading amd viewing pleasure. I know, I live to give. The hat goes always deeper fornyou mydear  readership.

And now, I will engage in a second yoga practice for the day. Limberness must extend from the mind to the body and back.

Sayonara and do stay sharp.

Markus \m/

P.S.: Pete the toad of “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” fame.

P.P.S.: April 15 = Tax day, I hope everyone got theyr stuff taken care of.

The  Great Unwinder

It is Songkran in Thailand and much of the country has shut down. When you live in Thailand you have a choice on Songkran: Stay where you are and partake in the ensuing water fights OR go somewhere, relax and partake in the ensuing watertight so. We chose option 2. Now we are on an island which 15 other guests and 12 people staff. We practice yoga twice a day, sleep, sketch, snorkel, sleep some more, eat two meals a day, sleep even more, go surfing and read – it is quite nice, I kid you not.

On Saturday evening it rained, so the sunset was a bit underwhelming. But yesterday, Mother Nature made up for it with this.


Straight out of a kitsch postcard advertising a 1950s beach movie with Elvis. But I am far from complaining. Because it is only kitsch when you look at that stupid postcard, when you are there in person watching the sun go down with style it’s a well-deserved vacation….and it’s awesome. Watching sunsets like these reminds me of my days living in Pacific Beach where I’d watch sunsets pretty mug every evening. Sometimes with friends on the beach, sometimes sitting on my surfboard waiting for a last set of waves to ride it in and sometimes just alone atop the cliffs above Black Beach next to my university watching this spectacle unfold. On rare occasions nature would treat you to a Green Flash. Rare, because it requires essentially no haze on the horizon, which is hard to come by in Southern California.

But back to Songkran and out island. When the active part of this trip gives way to the less active part, then this is the relaxation inducing view we get to enjoy – I know, not too shabby, either. Then the are the animals, monkey (no not just me), hornbills, all sorts of iguanas, cats, dogs, crab, it’s like Noah’s arc got stranded here.


Well, having said that and shown you this, it is time for me to get back to taking care of this here vacation.

Take care and stay sharp…

Markus \m/ …..from the island…

Hidden Gem In Bangkok

Last week my friend Joe was visiting for a week. Apart from the trip to Cambodia, we also rode through the “Green Lung” of Bangkok, south of the river. It is a place, where you can set your watch 200 years back was you cross the river in an old long-boat. Once there it is a great place to relax, ride your bike through the elevated pathways and stop somewhere in the semi-jungle for a freshly squeezed lemonade or a cup of coffee. Along the way we found an old rickety temple, still in use, but in obvious need of donations to provide much needed TLC.

TempleDoorInsideThe doors and window shades are all made of hardwood – teak presumably and adorned with typical paintings.

TempleWindowI love how the light flows in through the half open window. You can also see the paintings on the blinds. And as the beautiful patterns on the plaster give testimony, there is need for some renovation. The plaster must have sustained water damage and it is coming off the brick walls.

When we were done visiting the temple, we rode of for a drink at the Bangkok Tree House, hidden in the northwest corner of the “Green Lung” along an elevated bike path. This place is very nice and offers good food and drinks. But the coolest thing to me is its bamboo ceiling.

BambooCeilingIn some of the bamboo rods hide small LED lights to light the place up after sunset.


Okeydokey, so much for the blog entry before work.

Sayonara and stay sharp

Markus \m/




But Wait There Is More…

…from our trip to Cambodia. There are at east two more images showing the exact same subject – a tree straddling a building – from two different locations. This was at Beng Mealea and it was a quite amazing sight to behold.



When I see opportunities like that, I feel almost compelled to write a letter filled with gratitude to the Khmer and send I back through time about 850 years. Of course the royal family would then really be puzzled about this message sent through time from the future. But, let’s look at the second image before we take on time travel for little “Hallmark-Thank-You-Notes”

TreeOnGateThe vantage point for the first image was to the left and below. Here I am on top of what was a city wall. The gallon top, even in its current state of disrepair is still about 5 meters wide. I suppose it could have easily been used for a Sunday stroll of whatever family lived there. I can see that. The king…nah, it was probably just an earl of duke. Anyway, he would say after Sunday lunch:”C’mon children put on your Sunday best we are going for a stroll on the city wall. Daddy will show you where the enemies live and how much more land we have to conquer, because it turns out we are in desperate need of slaves.” Then thinking to himself: “I shouldn’t have said that last part. But it’s true these future ruins don’t build themselves. And paying someone to build all this is even now in the modern middle ages way too expensive, even for a duke.” Then they’d go on the stroll, swaggering don the city all with quiet, helpful people fanning them with palm leaves, because it was very likely hot as hell.

Sidenote: Why Is There A Need For Palm-leaf Fanners? Think about it, Sunday after lunch. It is 35C in the shade, you just had a fatty goose a l’orange. The chef thought, Mango Sticky Rice closes the stomach. Of course you overate and now your royal digestion is working overtime. You, too, would sweat like a hooker in church in this state, if you had to walk without a royal palm leaf fanner.

That’s how wide the city wall is.

Okeydoekey, I will now leave you to contemplate how you would have achieved the same result of erecting the buildings of Angkor and its surrounding areas with unquestionable and fully ethical means, without ending up financially like Greece.

Stay sharp

Yours Markus \m/



Beng Mealea And Angkor Wat

Alright dear readership, as promised the summary from the visit to the ruins of Beng Mealea And Angkor. The trip was a two-day trip – out Friday evening, back Sunday afternoon. On Saturday we drove to Beng Mealea and on Sunday morning three select sites within the city of Angkor – in order: Ta Phrom, Bayon, Angkor Wat. The idea was that by going atypical we’d avoid the crowds. It worked only or the first site – Ta Phrom.

Overall, I was surprised and shocked to see how many more visitors Siem Reap (the city tourists stay at for their visit) and the ruins are getting since 2012, when we visited first. There are many more bus groups than I remember – predominantly from China and Vietnam, with a few Japanese, Americans and Europeans sprinkled in.  The state of the ruins has also significantly deteriorated since 2012, but at least there is intervention with scaffoldings and cordoning off of areas for restoration purposes and to control the flow of visitors better. In 2012, visitors could essentially still walk and climb all over the ruins.

But enough of the “critical” observations. The ruins still render me speechless for the same two reasons as before: The sheer size and engineering prowess that existed 800 years ago and secondly of the way the way nature is claiming back areas that were once built upon by man.



This is the way we were greeted as we entered the site of Beng Mealea. Lots of toppled over builds, rubble and enormous trees already in possessions for centuries. As I got used to the sight, I thought I had voices in my head singing Chinese operas. So I ignored them at first, but they kept going, which prompted me to look around. And sure enough there was Chinese lady, watching a video in her smart phone belting it out in her soprano voice. That just made the first experience at Beng Mealea that much more memorable. The first view of buildings at Beng Malea was this.

BM-EntryFrom then on the locations just overwhelm more and more.

Tree1-BM_1Again and again, nature demonstrates its supremacy – its ability to outlast even the most ambitious buildings man can erect. I was somewhat reminded of a TV show that came on the discovery channel a few years ago. called “The World After Humans” or something similar. The premise was to paint a picture what major metropolitans around the globe would look like 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 50 years all the way to 1000 years after humans were no longer part of the Earth Equation. I think for south-east Asia, the ruins around Siem Reap provide a very real glimpse.

When we visited it was already very warm, if not to say hot. The guards that were hired to usher the visitors along on the established walkways had to take a break. And while it may appear mean, that I snapped this guard, I must say I envied him for his peaceful nap.

Sleeping ManYou can find all these portals and entrances that are just astounding.

ClosedDoorI wonder who lived in that particular house, who opened the door and what was the real purpose of this building?

RootvinesBu nature claims everything, like cobbwebs these roots consume the remains of the structure underneath.

At Angkor the sights are just as amazing, just with maybe a few more visitors and currently more cared for.



The tree roots are spreading across the out wall of Ta Phrom like a rider on a horse – a very tall and heavy rider with short legs and a freakishly long torso on a Shetland pony.

TreeThruWayThese tree roots were trimmed to maintain access to the doorway. The intricate, repeatable manmade details are competing for attention from the free-flowing shape of the   spindly finger-like roots and vines.



I have shown this image in the last entry, but I reworked it a bit and thought it warrants being shown again. The site where this tree is, was completely open to visitors three years ago, not it is a big restoration site with half the area cordoned off, because of heavy equipment use to hold the buildings in place during restoration.

Heads2-BayanThis image of the two heads in the baton, I have shown in the last entry. But I think the image has now a bit more punch. And besides image composition and subject accentuation, black and white photography is about punch within the black and white spectrum.

FaceThruWindowThis image actually cost me money. It is the same head as seen in the previous picture of the bayon ruin. On the other side of the building i am photographing through was a sign, that proclaimed some rule. We moved the sign just out of the picture (about 87cms to the right) and that was not well received by the very eager guards. We resolved the situation with a generous hand-shake upon which the frowns were turned upside down. Of course we moved the sign back after we had finish taking our images.

And this little anecdote concludes our 48hour trip to neighboring Cambodia.

Stay sharp dudes…

Yours Markus \m/