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  Photo of the Day    Mar 2020

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Maaria Cruises Kerala Backwaters in India

Maaria Meesale from Tartu, Estonia, takes the slow boat on a meandering
voyage through the idyllic green maze of waterways in the backwaters
of Kerala, known as "God's Own Country" to the locals in southwest India.

Serene, cool and green: it's not how you imagine India to be. The boat is human-
powered with a bamboo pole. The cruise is so tranquile that many fall asleep.

Kerala is one of National Geographic's 50 Places of a Lifetime.

Kerala . India | 2011
31 Mar 2020

Kids at Jama Masjid of Delhi in India

Kids like to frolick at the courtyard of Jama Masjid, the great mosque of
Old Delhi which is the largest in India, capable of holding 25,000 devotees.

Completed in 1656, it is the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan,
the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort.

The highly decorative mosque has three great gates, four towers and two
40m-high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble.

Delhi . India | 2011
30 Mar 2020

Saanvi Admires Taj Mahal in India

Saanvi, dressed in traditional clothes from Mumbai, admires the Taj Mahal,
the breathtaking white-marble mausoleum commissioned by Mughul
emperor Shah Jahan as a declaration of lasting love for his beloved wife,
Mumtaz Mahal. Located on the southern bank of the Yamuna River near
Agra, India, the Taj Mahal took 22 years to build and finally completed in 1653.

This exquisite monument astounds visitors for its symmetry, structural beauty,
intricate calligraphy, inlaid gemstones, and magnificent garden.

Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage since 1983.

Agra . India | 2011
29 Mar 2020

Reflection at Kotor in Montenegro

Located on a beautiful bay on the coast of Montenegro, Kotor is a city
steeped in tradition and history, with remarkable scenic views.

The dramatic old town is a maze of cobblestoned alleys, medieval
churches, cathedrals, Venetian palaces and pillars, protected by
the city walls fortification.

Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage since 1979.

Kotor . Montenegro | 2020
28 Mar 2020

Spirit of Lovcen Monument in Cetinje, Montenegro

Built in 1939, the Spirit of Lovcen (Lovcenska vila) monument in Cetinje,
Montenegro, commemorates Montenegrin emigres who was
drowned while returning from USA to fight in World War I.

Cetinje is the ancient royal capital of Montenegro.

Cetinje . Montenegro | 2020
27 Mar 2020

Pussy Willow of Valbona National Park in Albania

Pussy willow is a name given to the genus Salix (willows and sallows). In early
spring, before the male catkins come into full flower they are covered in fine,
greyish fur, leading to a fancied likeness to tiny cats, also known as 'pussies'.

Valbona National Park in northern Albania has a gorgeous setting on a wide
plain surrounded by towering mountain peaks of the Alps, snow-capped
in winter and spring. Hiking opportunities abound.

Valbona . Albania | 2020
26 Mar 2020

Alessio and Alex on Koman Ferry in Albania

3 year-old Alessio and her brother 11 year-old Alex are enjoying their
ride on the 3-hour-long commuter ferry on Koman Lake from
Koman to Fierze in northern Albania.

This is one of the most scenic ferry rides, offering breathtaking views
along the way, in Albania as well as in Europe.

Koman Lake . Albania | 2020
25 Mar 2020

What's Happening Back There?

6 year-old Aldo and his friends turn their attention towards the back
of the ferry to find out what the commotion amongst the girls is about.

They are all riding on a 3-hour-long commuter ferry on Koman Lake.
in northern Albania.

Koman Lake . Albania | 2020
24 Mar 2020

Onufri National Iconographic Museum of Berat in Albania

Onufri Museum is dedicated to Byzantine art and iconography. The museum
is located inside the Church of the Dormition of St Mary, dates from 1797, at
the highest altitude of the Berat Castle quarter. The museum was named
in honour of Onufri, an Albanian painting master of the 16th century.

Onufri's spectacular 16th-century religious paintings are displayed along
with the church's beautifully gilded 19th-century iconostasis.

Berat . Albania | 2020
23 Mar 2020

National History Museum of Tirana in Albania

The National History Museum (Muzeu Historik Kombetar) is the largest museum
in Albania and holds many of the country's archaeological treasures and a
replica of national hero Skanderbeg's massive sword.

  The modernist mosaic adorning the museum's facade shows Albanians
victorious and proud from Illyrian times. The collection of statues,
mosaics and columns from ancient Greek and Roman times is breathtaking.

Tirana . Albania | 2020
22 Mar 2020

Rustem Kryezkiu at Tirana in Albania

Retired 66 year-old Rustem Kryezkiu loves to sit at Sheshi Skenderbej
(Skanderbeg Square), the centre of Tirana, and watches the world goes by.

Lively Tirana is the capital of Albania which has awakened from its
Communist past in the early 1990s.

Tirana . Albania | 2020
21 Mar 2020

Loopholes and Mistakes of Home Quarantine Abound as Hong Kong Closes Border

This reporter arrived in Hong Kong on 19 Mar 2020, the first day when mandatory quarantine
for 14 days is required for all residents and visitors. Loopholes and mistakes are found
to be abound for the government's home quarantine measures for inbound travelers.

1. I completed the online health declaration in advance and received the QR clearance
code effective for 24 hours, hoping to save time and speedup entry.

2. The QR code was only visually and casually checked. I just waved the code as I walked
pass the inspector, who did not scan the code to ensure accuracy and validity.
Anyone can pass through with a fake or expired QR code.

3. I still need to fill out 2 copies of the health declaration paper form with my contact
information. When asked why I need to repeat filling the information after completing
online health declaration, the immigration officer said the online form is for the
Department of Health while these paper forms are for the Immigration Department.

I wonder: Does Hong Kong government know to share information between departments?
Does Immigration Department knows to use carbon copy form to ensure the data on 2
forms are consistent? and to save time by visitors?

4. There was no explicit checking of body temperature other than the remote automatic
scanning by machine as the visitors walk pass. This is very important but weaker than
the explicit temperature check on exit.

5. Everyone entering is given a wristband, supposed to be a tracking device. It appears to
be a plastic strap with a serial no. and a QR code with no visible electronics part. I am
highly doubtful that it can perform tracking.

6. I was given a piece of paper requesting me to install a "Stay Home Safe" mobile app,
which appears to be the key to tracking, if I have a smart phone.

There is no provision for people who have no smart phone or if the smart phone does
not have enough memory to install the app.

I could not find the "Stay Home Safe" app on the Google Play store.

In an attempt to clear my questions and doubts, I called the hotline at 5394 3150. There
was no one answering and was told to leave a message but was immediately told that
the message box was full. So, I am in a total limbo, with nowhere to go to to get answers.

As of 11 am on 20 March,18 hours after my arrival, I still have not received the SMS message
the government is supposed to send me with the code required to activate the app.

7. I was provided with an envelope with a 30-page booklet 'Points to Note for Home
Quarantine for Inbound Travellers from Overseas' in English and Chinese. No
verbal instructions were given.

I don't know how effective that will be, especially for those who do not understand
English and Chinese.

9. I saw lots of people in government uniform standing at airport doing nothing. I don't
know why except it is to show the government is seen to be doing something.

10. Conclusion: The screening for inbound travelers appears to be inadequate and the
procedures for home quarantine by Hong Kong government are riddled with mistakes
and loopholes which makes the measures totally ineffective. Enforcement is highly
doubtful especially if an incorrect address is provided.

Chek Lap Kok . Hong Kong | 2020
20 Mar 2020

Sarajevo Pigeon Square at Dusk in Bosnia

The famous Pigeon Square (Bascarsija, meaning main market in
Turkish) where hundreds of pigeons linger by day is the very heart of
the old Sarajevo.

Surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated along the Miljacka River,
Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with
a population of 275,524.

Sarajevo . Bosnia | 2020
19 Mar 2020

Sarajevo Pigeon Square in Bosnia

The famous Pigeon Square where hundreds of pigeons linger is in the centre
of the Old Town of Sarajevo.

Ringed by mountains, Sarajevo as capital and cultural centre of Bosnia
and Herzegovina, has an enticing East-meets-West vibe.

Sarajevo . Bosnia | 2020
18 Mar 2020

Sarajevo City Hall in Bosnia

A stately neo-Moorish striped facade makes the triangular Vijecnica (City Hall) Sarajevo's
most beautiful Austro-Hungarian–era building. Built in 1896 and seriously damaged during the
1990s siege, it finally reopened in 2014 after laborious reconstruction.

Ringed by mountains, Sarajevo as capital and cultural centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has an
enticing East-meets-West vibe. It was once renowned as a religious melting pot, known as
'the Jerusalem of Europe'. Within a few blocks you can still find large Catholic and
Orthodox cathedrals, Ashkenazi and Sephardic synagogues, and numerous mosques.

Two violent events in Sarajevo made world history in the 20th century: the assassination which
sparked World War I, and the brutal nearly-4-year siege of the city in the 1990s.

Sarajevo . Bosnia | 2020
17 Mar 2020

Mostar of Bosnia & Herzegovina

The jewel of Mostar, Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a 16th century
 Ottoman-style bridge that spans the Neretva River, connecting the two sides of the city.
Built in 1556, it was destroyed during the Bosnian War and rebuilt in 2004.

The small Old Town has old Turkish houses, cobblestoned streets: interesting shops
and cafes. It is a UNESCO World Heritage since 2005.

Mostar . Bosnia & Herzegovina | 2020
16 Mar 2020

Sunset at Kotor in Montenegro

Atmospheric Kotor is wedged between the brooding mountains and the crystal-clear water
of the bay, a UNESCO World Heritage since 1979.

The old town is a medieval maze of cobble-stoned paths with museums, churches,
cafe-strewn squares, and Venetian palaces, protected by the city walls
snaking improbably up the surrounding slopes.

Kotor . Montenegro | 2020
15 Mar 2020

Cetinje Monastery in Montenegro

The Orthodox white-stone Cetinje Monastery is the spitual heart of the ancient royal capital
of Montenegro - Cetinje, at the foot of the Eagle Cross Mountain.

The monastery was built in 1484 dedicated to the birth of virgin Mary. It have been repeatedly
destroyed during Ottoman attacks and rebuilt. This sturdy incarnation dates from 1786,
with columns recycled from the original building.

The chapel to the right of the courtyard holds the monastery’s proudest possessions:
a shard of the True Cross (a claim made by many European churches) and the
mummified right hand of St John the Baptist..

Cetinje . Montenegro | 2020
14 Mar 2020

Snow-capped Valbona in Albania Shutdown by Coronavirus

Valbona has a gorgeous setting on a wide plain surrounded by towering mountain peaks,
snow-capped in winter and spring. Hiking opportunities abound and the trek to the
equally beautiful village of Theth is the most popular.

It is also home to the Valbona Valley National Park in the Albanian Alps. Unfortunately,
the government has just shutdown all the hotels owing to the coronavirus pandemic
on 12 March and tourists are left without accommodation.

Valbona . Albania | 2020
13 Mar 2020

Lake Koman in Albania

With magnificent mountain scenery as its backdrop, Lake Koman in northern
Albania offers one of the most enjoyable cruise from Koman to Fierze,
the gateway to panoramic hikes in Valbona National Park.

Lake Koman . Albania | 2020
12 Mar 2020

Berat - 'Town of a Thousand Windows' in Albania

Charming Berat in south-central Albania has picturesque white Ottoman houses stacked
up against the hill to its castle, earning it the title of 'town of a thousand windows'.

Stunning architecture and the epic mountain scenery that shelters the city helped it to become
a UNESCO World Heritage in 2008.

Berat . Albania | 2020
11 Mar 2020

The Pyramid of Tirana in Albania

14 year-old Lani Tochilla loves to ride his bike playfully at the abandoned Pyramid of Tirana, indisputably
a symbolic landmark of the capital of Albania.

Originally built in 1988 as a Museum of Enver Hoxha, a posthumous dedication to Albania's infamous
Communist leader who ruled in harsh Stalinist style in 1944-1985 . The Pyramid is now a relic
portraying the country's turbulent past.

The fenced-off structure is in a dilapidated state, but many people enter the area treating it as a
cultural playground, spraying graffiti, climbing up to the top, biking or skate-boarding, etc.

Demolition was scheduled in 2011 but the move was heavily protested for heritage preservation.
The controversial structure still stands as a ruined historical remnant of its darker days.

Tirana . Albania | 2020
10 Mar 2020

Clouds Floating Above Hong Kong

As spring approaching with high humidity, low clouds can be observed floating above
the city shrouding some of the skysrapers. The view from the Peak is quite
unusual and interesting.

The Peak . Hong Kong | 2020
9 Mar 2020

The Future of Women Power?

On International Women's Day, an Indian lady comes face to face with
'The Future is On', a mural by Colombian street artist Jaba Ultraboyz,
depicting two woman commanders in a futuristic Hong Kong.

The status of women is a hotly debated topic in India, still a highly
male-dominated society.

Wanchai . Hong Kong | 2020
8 Mar 2020

My photo is the top story on the front page of Master-Insight.

Rosy Trumpet Blooming in Fanling

Many flowers are blooming in spring. Near the Cheung Wah Estate at
Fanling Centre, there are several Rosy Trumpet trees in full bloom,
attracting many photographers and passers-by to take pictures.

Rosy Trumpet is native to tropical South America. The tree can reach
30 metres with up to 1 metre in diameter. It is the national tree in
El Salvador, named Maquilishuat.

Fanling . Hong Kong | 2020
7 Mar 2020

Red-whiskered Bulbul in Flight

.Spring is in full swing, and there are nearly 30 Golden Trumpet trees are
blooming at the centre of Nam Cheong Park in Sham Shui Po. Golden
Trumpet is native to South America and the national flower of Brazil.
It usually blooms in March and April.

The red-eared owl is a medium-sized songbird with sharp black
peaks and white cheeks, and loves to drink nectar.

Shamshuipo . Hong Kong | 2020
6 Mar 2020

Over 100 in Central Flashmob to Protest Police Brutality & RTHK Suppression

Netizens launched a "Lunch with You" flashmob during lunchtime in Central today to
protest against police brutality, arbitrary arrests and suppressing RTHK.

Starting at 1 pm, over 100 citizens and office workers gathered in the atrium and balconies
of the second and third floor of Landmark in Pedder Street, Central, chanting, '5 Demands,
Not One Less.' A black flag of 'Free Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time' was raised.
Citizens chanted slogans such as 'Disband the police force without delay.'

At around 1:40 pm, Protesters marched around the second and third floors of the
Landmark. 4-5 plainclothes police were on the scene monitoring and there has
been no conflict between the two sides.

Central . Hong Kong | 2020
5 Mar 2020

Sunset at North Lantao

A hiker at Tung O Ancient Trail as the sun sets in north Lantao. Hiking is
increasingly popular with the population eager to escape the crowded
urban area as the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic rages.

Lantao . Hong Kong | 2020
4 Mar 2020

Red-whiskered Bulbul Feeding on Kapok

The Red-whiskered Bulbul is a medium-size songbird with a pointed
black crest and white cheeks.

Kapok is a tropical cotton tree found in southern China. Its cotton fibre
is used to make clothes and its bright red flowers to make herbal tea.

Tsimshatsui . Hong Kong | 2020
3 Mar 2020

Five Major Controversies of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

Kate from New Zealand hikes near Tai O, viewing the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
from afar.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is an important transportation infrastructure connecting
mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. The official line indicates that the bridge can
greatly reduce the travel time between Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau, forming a 'one-hour
living circle'. However, since the construction of the 100-billion-dollar bridge began in 2009,
its controversies continued: budget overruns, delays, accidents were frequent, 18 workers
were killed during the project, and the Chinese pink dolphin never returned...

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was opened on 23 October 2018, and the project has
5 major controversies.

(1) Bridge costs over $100 billion with serious budget overruns: According to official data in
2009, the total investment of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was originally estimated
to be RMB 72.6 billion, and the main bridge construction was over RMB 37 billion. Mainland
to contribute RMB 7 billion; Hong Kong contributed 6.75 billion; Macau contributed 1.98
billion, and the rest will be settled through loans.

The actual expenditure in Hong Kong alone is more than HK$120 billion. If Hong Kong's
population is about 7.4 million people, each person pays HK$16,000 for the bridge project.
With the Hong Kong section of the high-speed railway costing RMB 84.4 billion, both
projects are known as the 'white elephant projects'.

(2) The actual benefit is in doubt: The bridge has opened to traffic for over a year but the
traffic flow continued to be sluggish. Until 30 September 2019, the average daily traffic
flow was about 3,981 vehicles, which was only 43% of the forecast. Based on traffic flow,
the estimated annual revenue is about RMB 280 million, which is only 13% of the total
annual operating cost of about RMB 2.2 billion. There is serious deficit after the first
year of bridge operation and cost recovery is unforeseeable.

(3) Occupational accidents: At least 18 people were killed, 9 of them died in the Hong
Kong section or port-related projects, and hundreds of people were injured.

(4) Suspicious construction quality: There were endless scandals during this national
infrastructure project. Only one year after it was opened, abnormal settlement was
found. The Highways Department confirmed that the latest settlement data of the
Hong Kong Port Police Accident Control Tower was 91 millimeters, which is five
times more than the 15 millimeter settlement of the adjacent fire drill tower.

(5) Environmental concerns: The biggest impact of the Bridge on the environment is the
pollution of the ocean, which threatens the endangered Chinese white dolphin. According
to figures from the WWF Hong Kong Chapter, there were about 148 Chinese white dolphins
detected in Hong Kong waters 10 years ago, but only 47 were recorded in recent years.

Engineer Albert Lai commented: 'This is politics overriding professionalism,' and Hong
Kong people had to live with the aftermath.

Lantao Island . Hong Kong | 2020
2 Mar 2020

Inside Penang Floating Mosque

The Floating Mosque in Tanjung Bungah, Penang is a majestic structure
with Moorish design and seven-storey-high towering minarets.

V wears a robe provided to cover herself as per the rules. The mosque has
separate worship area for men and women. 

It is the first mosque in Malaysia to be built on the sea, with pillars and stilts
supporting its structure. It can accommodate 1500 worshippers during prayers.

Penang . Malaysia | 2020
1 Mar 2020

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