weekly photo challenge: community

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.

South Korean community of schoolchildren on the way to Jeonju

South Korean community of schoolchildren on the way to Jeonju

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.

shoes at a pavilion in Jeonju

shoes at a pavilion in Jeonju

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.

Seyda, Eegii, and Mahmoud

Seyda, Eegii, and Mahmoud

The first class I ever taught at Northern Virginia Community College was this class, with whom I formed a very tight bond.

my favorite ESL class ever: summer of 2011

my favorite ESL class ever: summer of 2011

And while not a community of people, here’s a community of white pelicans & cormorants on the shores of Lake Langano in Ethiopia.

white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans and cormorants

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.

a community of travelers on a junk in Halong Bay

a community of travelers on a junk in Halong Bay

a community of travelers in Cappadocia, Turkey

a community of travelers 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.

Myrna, me and Anna in Daegu, South Korea

Myrna, me and Anna in Daegu, South Korea

Anna, Kathy and me at a Daegu baseball game

Anna, Kathy and me at a Daegu baseball game

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.

Mario, Kathy and Anna on Jebel Akhdar

Mario, Kathy and Anna on Jebel Akhdar

Oh how I miss this community. 🙂

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travel theme: sky

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

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

on a hill in Maryland

on a hill in Maryland

The Dead Sea, Jordan

The Dead Sea, Jordan

sunset on Jebel Akhdar, Oman

sunset on Jebel Akhdar, Oman

looking across the moat from Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

looking across the moat from Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

on the way to Shirley Plantation, Virginia

on the way to Shirley Plantation, Virginia

the National Mall, Washington, D.C.

the National Mall, Washington, D.C.

Here are my favorite sky pictures, from Lake Langano in Ethiopia.

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

 

 

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weekly photo challenge: let there be light!

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.

Lanterns in Kyoto, Japan

Lanterns in Kyoto, Japan

And a beautiful lantern at Kargeen in Muscat, Oman.

lantern in Muscat, Oman

lantern in Muscat, Oman

I adored the colorful lanterns in Istanbul….

lanterns in Istanbul, Turkey

lanterns in Istanbul, Turkey

…and in Granada, Spain.

Lanterns in Granada, Spain

Lanterns in Granada, Spain

But most of all, I’ll never forget the lanterns at a lantern festival in Seoul, South Korea.

lantern festival in Seoul, South Korea

lantern festival in Seoul, South Korea

lantern festival in Seoul

lantern festival in Seoul

lantern festival in Seoul

lantern festival in Seoul

lantern festival in Seoul

lantern festival in Seoul

And the lights in Seoul during my son’s visit to South Korea. 🙂

Christmas lights in Seoul

Christmas lights in Seoul

Christmas tree in Seoul

Christmas tree in Seoul

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. 🙂

Christmas 2009 in my Oakton home

Christmas 2009 in my Oakton home

travel theme: through

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.

through arches in Adam, Oman

through arches in Adam, Oman

through arches at ruins in Adam, Oman

through arches at ruins in Adam, Oman

through arches at ruins at Adam, Oman

through arches at ruins at Adam, Oman

through arches at the Alhambra, Granada, Spain

through arches at the Alhambra, Granada, Spain

through an arch at Seville's Alcazar

through an arch at Seville’s Alcazar

though an arch in the Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain

though an arch in the Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain

through a cave in rowboats in Tam Coc, near Hanoi, Vietnam

through a cave in rowboats in Tam Coc, near Hanoi, Vietnam

through the window of Holy Grounds Cafe in Emmitsburg, Maryland

through the window of Holy Grounds Cafe in Emmitsburg, Maryland

 

travel theme: dance

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.

a dancer at an Indian wedding in Varanasi, India

a dancer at an Indian wedding in Varanasi, India

a spontaneous dance erupts on the road near Maisan in South Korea.  Several Korean women were dancing and one of the EPIK (English Program in Korea) teachers joined in.

a spontaneous dance erupts on the road near Maisan in South Korea. Several Korean women were dancing and one of the EPIK (English Program in Korea) teachers joins in.

Mr. Yun dances with his tambourine while I sing at noraebang in Seongju, South Korea

Mr. Yun dances with his tambourine while I sing at noraebang in Seongju, South Korea

Belly dancer at Alf Laylah Wa Laylah in Chantilly, Virginia

Belly dancer at Alf Laylah Wa Laylah in Chantilly, Virginia

Belly dancer at Casablanca in Alexandria, Virginia

Belly dancer at Casablanca in Alexandria, Virginia

dancers at Yod Abyssinia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

dancers at Yod Abyssinia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Apsara dancers at Siem Reap, Cambodia

Apsara dancers at Siem Reap, Cambodia

weekly photo challenge: culture

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.

travel theme: benches

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.

a bench that represented loneliness on my travels in Athens, Greece

a bench that represented loneliness on my travels in Athens, Greece

a bench in Athens, Greece

a bench in Athens, Greece

a bench in a park in Athens, Greece

a bench in a park in Athens, Greece

a bench wrapped around a tree in Athens, Greece

a bench wrapped around a tree in Athens, Greece

benches in Gayasan, South Korea

benches in Gayasan, South Korea

benches set up around a potential campfire in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

benches set up around a potential campfire in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

a bench in the neighborhood of my youth, Marlbank, in Yorktown, Virginia

a bench in the neighborhood of my youth, Marlbank, in Yorktown, Virginia

travel theme: smoke & mirrors

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.

a Vintage Shop window acting as a mirror in Carytown in Richmond, Virginia

a Vintage Shop window acting as a mirror in Carytown in Richmond, Virginia

what's behind the window and what's outside?

what’s behind the window and what’s outside?

Joe's Inn in Richmond, Virginia.  is that a bright red car in the window?

Joe’s Inn in Richmond, Virginia. is that a bright red car in the window?

a window acting as a mirror at Reston Town Center, in Reston, Virginia

a window acting as a mirror at Reston Town Center, in Reston, Virginia

Williams & Sonoma at Reston Town Center

Williams & Sonoma at Reston Town Center

And finally, the ultimate in Smoke and MirrorsThe Trick Art Museum in Daegu, South Korea.

nothing like an icicle in the heart...

nothing like an icicle in the heart…

...or getting pinched in the butt by a painting

…or getting pinched in the butt by a painting

or having a tug of war with some caped men

or having a tug of war with some caped men

or a mirror that's not quite right....

or a mirror that’s not quite right….

or having a little sip of milk poured from a painting

or having a little sip of milk poured from a painting

or sitting next to a field on a lovely day

or sitting next to a field on a lovely day

or being pulled underwater by a giant hydraulic

or being pulled underwater by a giant hydraulic

or doing a single hand-stand in an art gallery

or doing a single hand-stand in an art gallery

or playing King Kong on the Eiffel Tower

or playing King Kong on the Eiffel Tower

or hanging precariously to a wall

or hanging precariously to a wall, hoping to avoid certain death below.

weekly photo challenge: future tense

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:

  • As everyday as the experience of waiting for a bus or train.
  • As abstract as something that symbolizes  your ambitions or hopes for the future.
  • A note, prayer or promise jotted on a napkin or cross-stitched with exquisite tenderness.
  • The promise or portent of spring, sunrise, or storm in nature.
  • A street candid of someone nervously waiting on their date to arrive.
  • A piano falling from a third storey flat into the oncoming path of an adorable kitten. Or any other action about to take place.
  • Anything that involves the present and a hint of the future all in one frame.

I can’t resist posting my own pictures of Ema, the prayers and wishes penned and hung in the grounds of Shinto shrines.

Japanese Ema in Kyoto

Japanese Ema in Kyoto

Here are the Korean versions of Ema.

the Korean version of Ema

the Korean version of Ema

Korean wishes

Korean wishes

Here’s me with some older Korean ladies waiting for the bus to take me to the Boseong Tea Plantations.

me waiting with some Korean ladies at the bus stop to go to the Boseong Tea plantations in South Korea

me waiting with some Korean ladies at the bus stop to go to the Boseong Tea plantations in South Korea

Alex waits to catch a bus to Suncheon Bay Ecological Park in South Korea

Alex waits to catch a bus to Suncheon Bay Ecological Park in South Korea

And firing up hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey for a sunrise balloon ride.

Firing up balloons for a ride over Cappocia

Firing up balloons for a ride over Cappadocia

And finally, Buddhist prayer flags in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Prayer flags at Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

Prayer flags at Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

travel theme: green

Saturday, March 16:  Ailsa of Where’s my backpack? has challenged us this week to post pictures with the color green, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.

at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.

A Buddha in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A Buddha in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

in the Franciscan Monastery, Washington, D.C.

in the Franciscan Monastery, Washington, D.C.

an outdoor movie theater in Rethymno, Crete, Greece

an outdoor movie theater in Rethymno, Crete, Greece

green umbrellas in Fira, Santorini, Greece

green umbrellas in Fira, Santorini, Greece

Grapes in Wekan, Oman

Grapes in Wekan, Oman

in Rethymno, Crete, Greece

in Rethymno, Crete, Greece

in Wekan, Wadi Mistal, Oman

in Wekan, Wadi Mistal, Oman

at a lantern festival in Seoul, South Korea

at a lantern festival in Seoul, South Korea

sunday post: arrangement

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.

a temple in Seongu, South Korea, with an arrangement of colorful lanterns

a temple in Seongu, South Korea, with an arrangement of colorful lanterns

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!

arrangement of odd-shaped topiary

arrangement of odd-shaped topiary

arrangement of succulents

arrangement of succulents

another arrangement of clipped hedges

another arrangement of clipped hedges

topiary and other textures arranged to present a beautiful whole

topiary and other textures arranged to present a beautiful whole

arrangement of topiary

arrangement of topiary

another garden arrangement

another garden arrangement

a hillside arrangement

a hillside arrangement

another arrangement of topiary

another arrangement of topiary

Another country that knows how to do arrangement is JapanFushimi-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.

infinite torii gates at  Fushimi-inari-taisha Shrine

infinite torii gates at Fushimi-inari-taisha Shrine

bottles of something at the entrance to  Fushimi-inari-taisha Shrine

bottles of something at the entrance to Fushimi-inari-taisha Shrine

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.

Ryoan-ji, or Temple of the Peaceful Dragon

Ryoan-ji, or Temple of the Peaceful Dragon

food in the Nishiki Food Market

food in the Nishiki Food Market

Good wishes (??) at one of the Buddhist temples in Kyoto

Good wishes (??) at one of the Buddhist temples in Kyoto

And finally, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a beautiful arrangement of dipping sauces, a delight for the eye and the taste buds. 🙂

a beautiful arrangement of dipping sauces in a restaurant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

a beautiful arrangement of dipping sauces in a restaurant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Jake’s Sunday Post

 

travel theme: international women’s day

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:

a woman & her children at the Lalibela Saturday market

a woman & her children at the Lalibela Saturday market

a woman at the Lalibela Saturday market in Ethiopia

a woman at the Lalibela Saturday market in Ethiopia

And from India:

Indian women in Rishikesh, India

Indian women in Rishikesh, India

Indian women in Delhi, India

Indian women in Delhi, India

a woman selling flowers in Varanasi, India

a woman selling flowers in Varanasi, India

And women from Nepal:

women in Pokhara, Nepal

women in Pokhara, Nepal

a woman in Pokhara, Nepal

a woman in Pokhara, Nepal

And from South Korea:

a woman and her bear on the bus from Seongju to Daegu in South Korea

a woman and her bear on the bus from Seongju to Daegu in South Korea

my two favorite Korean colleagues in Byeokjin Elementary School, Byeokjin, South Korea

my two favorite Korean colleagues in Byeokjin Elementary School, Byeokjin, South Korea

a woman at Windy Hill, Geoje, South Korea

a woman at Windy Hill, Geoje, South Korea

And finally, in Kyoto, Japan:

two young women in Kyoto, Japan

two young women 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 post: plains

Sunday, February 24:  Jake’s Sunday Post challenge for this week is Plains.

Here are some plains in Lalibela, Ethiopia.

plains near Lalibela, Ethiopia

plains near Lalibela, Ethiopia

Plains near Lalibela

Plains near Lalibela

And some plains in Thessaly, Greece.

plains at Thessaly, Greece

plains at Thessaly, Greece

And finally, more plains near Aldie, Virginia.

plains in Aldie, Virginia USA

plains in Aldie, Virginia USA

Virginia plains

Virginia plains

plains near Swedenburg Winery in Virginia

plains near Swedenburg Winery in Virginia

sunday post: road

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:

a clogged road in Varanasi, India

a clogged road in Varanasi, India

on the road for 14 hours between Chandigarh and Rishikesh, in India

on the road for 14 hours between Chandigarh and Rishikesh, in India

on the road between Chandigarh and Rishikesh.  again.

on the road between Chandigarh and Rishikesh. again.

after our 14 hour grueling journey, a village road in Rishikesh, India

after our 14 hour grueling journey, a village road in Rishikesh, India

sunday post: collectibles

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.

little Communist doll collectibles

little Communist doll collectibles

travel theme: food

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.

fish in lime juice

fish in lime juice

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.

dipping sauces

dipping sauces

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.

spring rolls accompanied by herons carved from turnips

spring rolls accompanied by herons carved from turnips

Prawns in a delicious sauce decorated by a dragon carved out of a pumpkin.

prawns with a pumpkin dragon

prawns with a pumpkin dragon

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.

the chef and his sailing ship

the chef and his sailing ship

sunday post: solid

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.

the Monastery at Petra ~ one huge SOLID creation!

the Monastery at Petra ~ one huge SOLID creation!

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 post: silence

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.

the tendrils of nature silently entwine themselves around the history of man

the tendrils of nature silently entwine themselves around the history of man

weekly photo challenge: movement

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!

whirling dervishes in Cairo, Egypt

whirling dervishes in Cairo, Egypt

And here are some whirling, paddling feet near Hanoi, Vietnam.

some fast foot movement near Hanoi, Vietnam

some fast foot movement near Hanoi, Vietnam

And finally, some excited fans at a baseball game in Daegu, South Korea.

At a Samsung Lions game in Daegu, South Korea

At a Samsung Lions game in Daegu, South Korea

travel theme: art

Monday, July 2:  Ailsa at Where’s my backpack? has created a new travel theme for this week: artShe 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.

the infinite ceramic mural

art in Hanoi

more of the wall….

weekly photo challenge: fleeting moment

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… 🙂

street scene in Hanoi, Vietnam

street scene in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi at night

Hanoi at night

 

nighttime in Hanoi, Vietnam

nighttime in Hanoi, Vietnam

If you’d like to check out my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, please drop by and visit rice paddies and papayas.

sunday post: village

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.

fishing village on Halong Bay in Vietnam

fishing village on Halong Bay in Vietnam

houses in the village

houses in the village

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.

floating village on Halong Bay

floating village on Halong Bay

If you would be known, and not know, vegetate in a village; if you would know, and not be known, live in a city. ~ Charles Caleb Colton

If you would be known, and not know, vegetate in a village; if you would know, and not be known, live in a city. ~ Charles Caleb Colton

 

The notion of the world as a village is becoming a reality. ~ James Wolfensohn

The notion of the world as a village is becoming a reality. ~ James Wolfensohn

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.

weekly photo challenge: create

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.

an artist's workspace in Busan, South Korea

an artist’s workspace in Busan, South Korea

the artist's color palette

the artist’s color palette

 


a-z archive: y! challenge (yearning)

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.

in Rishikesh, India

in Rishikesh, India

sunday post: famous movies

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 cinemaare 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 large rock formation with its seven fluted turrets, named the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence.

the large rock formation with its seven fluted turrets, named the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence.

the red desert of Wadi Rum

the red desert of Wadi Rum

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.

up this mountain is Lawrence's Spring

up this mountain is Lawrence’s Spring

To read about my trip to Wadi Rum, please visit a day in the red desert of wadi rum.


sunday post: water H2O

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.

For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

weekly photo challenge: friendship

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!

Jayne and me in Delhi, India

Jayne and me in Delhi, India

me with Jayne in Delhi, India

me with Jayne in Delhi, India

Jayne and me in Varanasi, India ~ on the Ganges

Jayne and me in Varanasi, India ~ on the Ganges

Jayne, me and random Indians in Rishikesh, India

Jayne, me and random Indians in Rishikesh, India

Jayne and me at Corbett Tiger Reserve in India

Jayne and me at Corbett Tiger Reserve in India

enjoying beers at a hotel in Corbett Tiger Reserve

enjoying beers at a hotel in Corbett Tiger Reserve

me and Jayne in Jaipur, India

me and Jayne in Jaipur, India

And finally, on our last day, in Mumbai.

Farewell to India!!

Farewell to India!!

Here are the adventures of Cathy and Jayne in India:  catbird in south asia

a-z archive: w! challenge (weeping willows)

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.

weeping willows on Houhai Lake in Beijing

weeping willows on Houhai Lake in Beijing

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.

weepings willows and bicycles

weepings willows and bicycles

water lilies and weeping willows

water lilies and weeping willows

If you’d like to read about my day at Houhai Lake, please visit houhai & wangfujing: rickshaws & weeping willows, scorpions & golden lilies.

a-z archive: w! challenge (windmill at windy hill)

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.

a windmill at Windy Hill in Geoje-si, South Korea

a windmill at 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.

Windy Hill windmill

Windy Hill windmill

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).

travel theme: rhythm

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.

At Houhai Lake in Beijing, China, we found this little outdoor cafe with a singer singing folksy tunes....

At Houhai Lake in Beijing, China, we found this little outdoor cafe with a singer singing folksy tunes….

the open air cafe along the boulevard at Houhai Lake in Beijing... cool rhythms... :-)

the open air cafe along the boulevard at Houhai Lake in Beijing… cool rhythms… 🙂

 

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