"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." ~ Jonathan Swift
Saturday, December 14: The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is community, and we’re encouraged to interpret this in any way that we want. Community usually refers to people, but there are many symbols or manifestations of people, bound by common ties or beliefs or celebrations.
On the way to Jeonju, South Korea, I found a community of schoolchildren at a rest area; they were all wearing bright yellow raincoats and orange pants, I assume so none of them could easily be separated from the community.
In Jeonju itself is a pavilion where musical performances are sometimes held. As Koreans always remove their shoes before entering any building, the pavilions steps are peppered with shoes from every shape, size and nationality imaginable, as people join together in community to hear a traditional Korean musical performance.
At Northern Virginia Community College, where I teach ESL, we have community potlucks a couple of times each semester. Here is a small microcosm of my larger classroom: a Turkish girl, a young Mongolian man, and a Saudi Arabian boy.
The first class I ever taught at Northern Virginia Community College was this class, with whom I formed a very tight bond.
And while not a community of people, here’s a community of white pelicans & cormorants on the shores of Lake Langano in Ethiopia.
I love when you’re traveling, and you form a little community of sorts: random people thrown together, fellow travelers. I found the most fabulous communities in my travels on a junk in Halong Bay, Vietnam and in Cappadocia, Turkey.
These last two communities of people gave me some of the most enjoyable days in all my travels.
When you live abroad, as an outsider, you often form a small community of expat friends with whom you share some of your happiest moments. In Korea, I had a small group of friends in Daegu, friends who formed a tight-knit community.
And sometimes, your community is very small, a group of very dear friends who take a 6-hour hike to nowhere in the mountains of Oman.
Oh how I miss this community. 🙂
Sunday, December 1: Ailsa of Where’s my backpack? has challenged us to come up with some sky pictures.
“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” ~ Rumi
Here are my favorite sky pictures, from Lake Langano in Ethiopia.
Saturday, November 30: The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Let There be Light!
Writes Ben Huberman of WordPress: We’re entering a truly light-filled season. Christmas trees, Hanukkah menorahs, and Kwanzaa kinaras are spreading their glow in homes the world over (or are just about to), while main streets and public buildings are being prepared for the winter holidays with an explosion of bright decorations.
Take a look around you. Choose one of the light sources you see, and make it the focus of your challenge entry. It can be a dramatic chandelier or a pair of dying candles; the moon, a row of glaring lightbulbs in the parking lot, or a gaudy lava lamp stored in your attic: anything goes. The light doesn’t even have to be switched on: some lamps are just as fascinating for their shape as for the photons they emit.
IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO THAT FEATURES A LIGHT SOURCE.
Here are some understated lanterns in Kyoto, Japan.
And a beautiful lantern at Kargeen in Muscat, Oman.
I adored the colorful lanterns in Istanbul….
…and in Granada, Spain.
But most of all, I’ll never forget the lanterns at a lantern festival in Seoul, South Korea.
And the lights in Seoul during my son’s visit to South Korea. 🙂
Finally, here’s the last Christmas tree I decorated in my Virginia home ~ Christmas 2009. I’m looking forward to my first Christmas at home in 4 years. 🙂
Tuesday, September 24: Ailsa’s travel theme for this week is through. In her post on Where’s my backpack?, she quotes George Bernard Shaw: “Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.”
I’ve seen a lot of beautiful sights through various windows, arches and doorways in my travels. Here are just a few of them.
Saturday, May 4: Ailsa’s travel theme for this week (Where’s my backpack?) is Dance. She writes: Are you ready to dust off your dancing shoes and go for a twirl around the dance floor? It doesn’t have to be a literal interpretation, let your imagination shuffle around with this week’s theme.
Saturday, April 27: This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Culture.
Aaron Joel Santos, the host of this week’s challenge, writes: Culture is a bit of a loaded word. In a photograph, it can embody everything and nothing. So where do we draw the line? Shopping culture, hippy culture, Asian culture, Thai culture, ancient culture, and on and on. These phrases have different meanings. For me, as a working travel photographer, being able to show culture, in all of its various guises, is crucial to the success of an image.
Here is a gallery of cultures I’ve visited in my travels. Click on any of the pictures below for a full-sized slide show.
Saturday, April 13: Ailsa of Where’s my backpack? has challenged us this week to come up with some benches. She writes: Every park bench has a story to tell and when I see one, I can’t help dreaming up a history; a first date, a stolen kiss perhaps, an argument, tearful goodbyes, old friends laughing, children feeding birds or a couple sharing a picnic.
Saturday, March 30: Ailsa of Where’s my backpack? asks: Did you know that March 29th is Smoke and Mirrors Day? The origin of this day, which celebrates all things magical and illusory, is suitably shrouded in mystery, but what a great theme it provides.
Here are some takes on Ailsa’s theme for this art of deception: smoke and mirrors. Here are some shop windows that are a little confusing because of the reflections.
And finally, the ultimate in Smoke and Mirrors: The Trick Art Museum in Daegu, South Korea.
Friday, March 22: In today’s Weekly Photo Challenge, we’re challenged to grab an image from our world that holds the promise or portent of the future. It could be:
I can’t resist posting my own pictures of Ema, the prayers and wishes penned and hung in the grounds of Shinto shrines.
Here are the Korean versions of Ema.
Here’s me with some older Korean ladies waiting for the bus to take me to the Boseong Tea Plantations.
And firing up hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey for a sunrise balloon ride.
And finally, Buddhist prayer flags in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Sunday, March 10: Jake’s Sunday Post for this week is ARRANGEMENT.
I’ve been thinking about Asia lately, especially Korea and Japan, and how their cultures have the art of arrangement down to a tee. Here are some scenes from these two countries, showing arrangement at its finest.
Oedo Botania is an island in South Korea that’s been cultivated since 1963 by Korean couple Lee Changho and Choi Hosook; it’s the first island in Korea ever to be owned and developed by an individual. Every inch of this island is abloom with gardens and punctuated by statues. I walked along the pathways with hundreds of other Koreans who took boats from other locations in Geoje. I checked out the cactus garden, the Venus garden, the flower garden, the bamboo road, the Hope of the World garden, the Dreaming Heights, the Stairway to Heaven, and the Eden Garden. It was like a fairy-tale land bursting with beauty. The island itself was gorgeous with gardens, but the view of the surrounding ocean didn’t hurt it one bit. Most definitely, Korea does nature right!
Another country that knows how to do arrangement is Japan. Fushimi-inari-taisha Shrine was dedicated to the gods of rice and sake in the 8th century. As agriculture’s importance declined, deities were assigned to ensure prosperity in business. This is one of Japan’s most popular shrines, with these seemingly endless arcades of vermillion torii (shrine gates). The entire complex consists of 5 shrines and stretches over the wooded slopes of Inari-san. The 4km pathway up the mountain is lined with hundreds of red torii and stone foxes. The fox is believed to be the messenger of Inari, the god of cereals. Often a fox holds a key in its mouth that represents the key to the rice granary.
And elsewhere in Japan, other arrangements abound: of sand, rocks, food. Ryoan-ji, or Temple of the Peaceful Dragon is home to the famous and celebrated rock garden, the symbol of Kyoto, that draws tourists in droves to contemplate the emptiness between the rocks. It’s an oblong of meticulously raked sand with a formal collection of 15 strategically placed rocks on little beds of moss, apparently afloat in this sea of sand, and hugged by an earthen wall. The unknown creator of this garden left no explanation to its meaning, but tourists flock here to see this interesting but austere arrangement.
And finally, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a beautiful arrangement of dipping sauces, a delight for the eye and the taste buds. 🙂
Friday, March 8: Ailsa of Where’s my backpack? challenged us this week to post something for International Women’s Day. Here are some women I’ve encountered in my travels.
From Lalibela‘s Saturday market in Ethiopia:
And from India:
And women from Nepal:
And from South Korea:
And finally, in Kyoto, Japan:
International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies (About International Women’s Day).
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
Sunday, February 24: Jake’s Sunday Post challenge for this week is Plains.
Here are some plains in Lalibela, Ethiopia.
And some plains in Thessaly, Greece.
And finally, more plains near Aldie, Virginia.
Sunday, July 29: Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post for this week is road. For inspiration, he writes: A road is a route, or way on land between two places, which typically has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by some conveyance, including a horse, cart, or motor vehicle.
Here are a few roads I’ve encountered in my travels:
Sunday, July 22: Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post this week is collectibles. He writes: Collectibles and collecting: groups of items of a similar type that are acquired and saved as a hobby. Millions of people all over the world enjoy the activity of collecting. Just about anything can be a collectible, from children’s toys to car hubcaps to matchbooks. Some collectibles can sell for a few dollars at a yard sale, others for thousands of dollars in specialty stores or at auctions. Although there are many recognized areas of collecting that have their own publications and organized groups of collectors, the world of collectibles is ultimately limited only by the imagination and desire of the collector.
Here are some little Communist doll collectibles at Houhai Lake in Beijing, China.
Friday, July 20: Ailsa of Where’s my backpack? has challenged us with another travel theme for this week: food.
I have to say that some of my favorite foods in all the places I’ve traveled were in Cambodia and Vietnam. Dishes there were healthy, artfully prepared and delicious.
Here’s an excerpt from my post about one delectable lunch in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: phnom penh: wats, royal palaces, & killing fields.
While we have been cruising in the tuk tuk around Phnom Penh, I see a riverside restaurant that reminds me fondly of the Grand Cafe on the Nile in Ma’adi, a suburb of Cairo. I tell Mr. Lo I want to go to this cafe for lunch and since the Royal Palace doesn’t open till 2:00, he drops me off here. I have about an hour and a half, so I order a Tiger beer, which they serve with miniature peanuts with the skin still on them, smothered in salt. The surrounding tropical plants whisper in the breeze. I hear the buzz of construction activity on the river, the roaring engines of cranes moving the mud in the river, the clanking of an anchor on a riverboat. In the restaurant, I hear the nasal sounds of Asians talking, the whining Khmer music.
My meal of fresh steamed fish in lime juice arrives, artfully prepared, with three banana leaf cups full of peppers and sauces. Later, as I write in my journal and watch the people and the activity on the river, I have a glass of red wine. It’s quite lovely and relaxing, although the roaring cranes on the river ruin the ambiance a bit. The Grand Cafe on the Nile it’s not, but it’s pleasant all the same. I’m alone here after my first four days in Hanoi, where I was surrounded by people, but so far, I enjoy the solitude. I’m feeling a little buzz because of the beer and the wine, but it’s a relaxing wait for Mr. Lo to return for me.
And the food prepared on a junk in Halong Bay, Vietnam, was indescribable. Here’s another excerpt from my post: junkin’ it on halong bay: the happiness cruise.
Another extravaganza at dinner. Thanh again reads the menu aloud and tells us to get our cameras out as we will have much to see. Ruth and I prepare to enjoy by ordering a bottle of red wine. First, we’re served another fresh vegetable salad, covered delicately in some kind of spring-fresh sauce, cilantro abounding. Then out come the spring rolls, accompanied by two herons carved out of turnips.
Prawns in a delicious sauce decorated by a dragon carved out of a pumpkin.
Crayfish, very messy to peel, but delectable. Chicken, mackerel, rice, and more tropical fruits. And the grand finale carving: a sailing junk carved from a watermelon. Apparently, the chef spent three hours of his day carving these showpieces.
Sunday, July 15: Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post for this week is solid. He writes: SOLID means : Stable, sturdy, firm, established, durable, rigid, substantial, strong, powerful, loud, heavy, splitting, honest, faithful, straightforward, loyal, conscientious, devoted, honest, faithful, constant, loyal,reliable, dependable, competent, promising, clever, compact, dense, thick, thick-set, concentrated, sterling, neat, pure, stark, constant, steady and united.
Here is the Monastery at Petra. This was the first thing that came to mind when Jake challenged us with the word solid.
Petra’s second most famous attraction is Ad-Deir, or the Monastery. The proportions of this are much bulkier and gargantuan than the Treasury, whose columns are much more delicate and intricately carved. The architectural embellishment is much simpler than the Treasury. But it’s overpowering in its sheer magnitude.
Sunday, July 8: Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post challenge for this week is Silence, the relative or total lack of audible sound. By analogy, the word silence may also refer to any absence of communication, even in media other than speech. Silence is also used as total communication, in reference to non verbal communication and spiritual connection. Silence also refers to no sounds uttered by anybody in a room and or area.
Here’s my entry for Silence. These are the temples of Angkor in Cambodia, enveloped in silence by the forces of nature.
Ta Prohm is a temple built from 1186 by Jayavarman VII. Ta Prohm is the place you always see in photographs of the Angkor temples. It is in a severe state of ruin and nature has overtaken it. Trees grow over its decaying walls, their roots strangling the stone structure like giant boa constrictors. Moss and lichen grow all over the bas-reliefs. Shrubs sprout from rooftops and balconies. Jumbles of intricately carved stone blocks clog corridors. It’s like a scene from Indiana Jones; even Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider had parts filmed here.
Friday, July 6: The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for this week is movement. How do you show movement in your photos? This photo choice is a very deliberate show of movement through the camera lens and the blurring lights, but how else can you show movement of objects, or of the action that’s happening in your picture?
Share a picture that means MOVEMENT to you!
And here are some whirling, paddling feet near Hanoi, Vietnam.
And finally, some excited fans at a baseball game in Daegu, South Korea.
Monday, July 2: Ailsa at Where’s my backpack? has created a new travel theme for this week: art. She writes: One of the things I love most about art is how it can restore the spirit. She goes on to describe the Garden of Circus Delights, a fabulous glass mosaic by artist Eric Fischl, adorning the walls of the tunnel leading towards Penn Station in New York City. She talks of how it refreshes her spirit on a hot and sultry day in the city. Then she says: Art can be interpreted in so many ways, I’d love to see your take on the theme.
In a similar vein, this ceramic mosaic mural is on the dyke beside Hanoi’s Red River. The wall depicts scenes of the different periods of Hanoi, along with modern art work, children’s drawings, and paintings of Hanoi. It is said to be the world’s largest ceramic mosaic.
Friday, June 29: Today’s Weekly Photo Challenge is fleeting moment.
Earlier this week WordPress published a showcase of beautiful street photography blogs from the WordPress.com community. Now it’s your chance to give street photography a shot!
Share a picture that captures a fleeting moment on the street!
These are from Hanoi, Vietnam, one of the craziest & chaotic places I’ve been, besides India and Cairo. I LOVE the energy in these kinds of cities… 🙂
If you’d like to check out my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, please drop by and visit rice paddies and papayas.
Sunday, June 24: Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post challenge this week is village. He writes: A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand (sometimes tens of thousands). Although many patterns of village life have existed, the typical village was small, consisting of perhaps 5 to 30 families. Homes were situated together for sociability and defense, and land surrounding the living quarters was farmed. Traditional fishing villages were based on artisan fishing and located adjacent to fishing grounds.
On Halong Bay, in northern Vietnam, we go on bamboo boats through a floating fishing village. In all of Halong Bay there are about 1,600 residents of 4 fishing villages. They live on floating houses and sustain themselves by fishing. In this particular village, there are 59 floating houses and about 300 people. They live here year round; they live with their children, who attend school at one little schoolhouse in the village, and their dogs, who protect what few belongings they have. One of our group insists the dogs protect them from Somali pirates. Most of the houses have generators for electricity, but they’re only allowed to use them from 7-9 each evening. As we float past the villages in our bamboo boats, we can see flat screen televisions inside the huts, complete stereo systems. Our guide Thanh has told us that generations live here, that their sole livelihood is fishing, that it’s a hard life. I can believe it. I can’t imagine living like this year round and rarely visiting land, or cities, or people outside this small community.
Before we came out on our boats, Thanh told us that there is a problem with the residents throwing “rabbits” in the water. Several of us look at each other, baffled. Rabbits? Where would they get rabbits to throw in the water? WHY would they throw these rabbits in the water? I ask Thanh, probably with a “duh” look on my face: they throw rabbits in the water? Thanh nods, Yes! But one of our group knows what he is saying, “Rubbish, he’s saying they throw rubbish in the water.” Ohhh. That explains. Thanh says Indochina Junk and other tour operators have a system set up to take away their rubbish. To promote a green bay. Bravo for them!
If you’d like to read about my day in Vietnam floating through the floating villages, please visit fishing villages, the riff-raff edges of Hanoi, and the green mango.
Friday, June 22: Today’s Weekly Photo Challenge is CREATE. The best part about creating something is being in the moment, relishing the creativity you’re experiencing, and letting your actions guide you to an end goal. Then you can step back and admire your work! Have you snapped a picture of something you’ve created, or something someone else has created?
Share a picture that means CREATE to you! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Create)
Here are the tools and workspace of one artist who lives to create, in Busan, South Korea.
Tuesday, June 19: This week’s topic for our A-Z ARCHIVE Tuesday’s photo challenge: the letter “Y”: introduce one photo of your own archive with an “Y” keyword for example YELLOW or YEMEN, YOGA or YAK, YARRA River or Yunnan village, YAWN or YACHTING, Yogjakarta or YING YANG, Yosemite or YOUTH, Yucatan or YAMAHA etc.
This photo represents yearning to me, the man yearning for money and possibly some peace of mind, the snake yearning for the music, hypnotized by some unknown dream. I took this photo in Rishikesh, India ~ considered by many to be yoga heaven.
Sunday, June 17: Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post for this week is Famous Movies. He writes: A motion picture is a series of images that are projected onto a screen to create the illusion of motion. Motion pictures—also called movies, films, or the cinema—are one of the most popular forms of entertainment, enabling people to immerse themselves in an imaginary world for a short period of time. But movies can also teach people about history, science, human behavior, and many other subjects. Some films combine entertainment with instruction, to make the learning process more enjoyable. In all its forms, cinema is an art as well as a business, and those who make motion pictures take great pride in their creations.
Here are a few pictures of Wadi Rum in Jordan. This is one of the settings for the famous movie Lawrence of Arabia. According to The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations: Lawrence of Arabia Film Locations, “the real visual splendour of Lawrence lies in its breathtaking desertscapes, which were filmed in Jordan. The camp of Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness), and the well where Lawrence first gets his Arab drag, are the spectacular red cliffs of Wadi Rumm, twenty miles north of the Gulf of Aqaba.”
The film Lawrence of Arabia was partially filmed here and contributed not only to the legend of the man who took part in the Arab revolt but also shone a spotlight on Wadi Rum itself.
Below is a picture of Lawrence’s Spring, where Lawrence of Arabia reputedly washed during the Arab Revolt. The Arab Revolt took place from 1916-1918 and was initiated with the aim of securing independence from the ruling Ottoman Turks and creating a single unified Arab state spanning from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen. Young officer Captain T.E. Lawrence was sent by the British government in Egypt to work with the Hashemite forces in the Hejaz in October 1916. The British historian David Murphy wrote that through Lawrence was just one of out many British and French officers serving in Arabia, historians often write like it was Lawrence alone who represented the Allied cause in Arabia.
To read about my trip to Wadi Rum, please visit a day in the red desert of wadi rum.
Sunday, June 10: Here’s what Jakesprinter writes about this week’s challenge: Water/H2O: liquid of rain and rivers: the clear colorless liquid, odorless and tasteless when pure, that occurs as rain,snow, and ice, forms rivers, lakes, and seas, and is essential for life. Naturally occurring water picks up color and taste from substances in its environment.
Here is my picture for this week’s Sunday Post: H2O: a fountain in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.
Friday, June 8: Friendship. There are so many ways to show friendship and to see it in others. Share a picture about FRIENDSHIP with everyone!
My dearest friend Jayne and I traveled all over the north of India for 3 weeks in March, 2011. It was a rough trip that tried our friendship in so many ways. Someone once told me India is an endurance test and, after this trip, I believe it. Here are a few shots of our enduring friendship in India. I figure if our relationship survived this trip, it should survive anything!
And finally, on our last day, in Mumbai.
Here are the adventures of Cathy and Jayne in India: catbird in south asia
Tuesday, June 5: I couldn’t help but add another post for FrizzText’s W challenge this week. I have always loved weeping willows and I fell in love with these beautiful trees bordering Houhai Lake in Beijing, China.
I wander around the lake. It is so lovely, with a cool breeze sweeping the weeping willows on the lake’s edge, like soft woolen fringe on a Nordic sweater. The lake is filled with dancing points of light, effervescent.
If you’d like to read about my day at Houhai Lake, please visit houhai & wangfujing: rickshaws & weeping willows, scorpions & golden lilies.
Tuesday, June 5: FrizzText’s a-z photo challenge this week focuses on the letter W: winter and windows, wireless lan and his hometown of Wuppertal, whale rescue or women’s lib, walking or weeping, wonder or woe, work or wine, whiskey or woman, wreck or wind.
Here is a windmill from Windy Hill in Geoje-si, South Korea.
Windy Hill is a quite lovely promontory topped with a windmill and ornamental grasses blowing in the strong wind. The view of the water and the other islands and fishing boats is beautiful.
If you’d like to read about my trip to Windy Hill, please visit geoje: rough seas & caressing grasses (& random thoughts on memory, sensuality & friendship).
Tuesday, June 5: Ailsa from Where’s my backpack? created a new travel theme for this week: Rhythm. She writes:
There is an undeniable rhythm to travel, particularly slow travel, that I adore. The clickety-clack of a train speeding along rails, the gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) bobbing of a boat, and my favourite, the clippety-clop of a horse. The rhythm of air travel is less evident; the pockets of turbulence more staccato than anything else, although I suppose you could find rhythm in the repetition of taking your shoes off and putting them back on, putting your toiletries in a plastic baggie and taking them back out again.
However you reach your destination; once you’re there, part of the joy of discovering a new place is learning its rhythm. In general, islands seem to have a slower rhythm than the mainland; cities are faster than towns which in turn are faster than villages. Each one is slightly different and often, the biggest clue to the rhythm of life in a new place is the music you hear on the streets.
We stumbled upon this open air cafe along Houhai Lake in Beijing, China. It has a rhythm all its own.
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