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Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Snapshots – bicycles

Posted by dan on March 3, 2011

Bicycle stunt in Sydney

Bicycle stunt in Sydney

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Snapshots – Hampi, India

Posted by dan on January 25, 2011

Silence that speaks...

A popular destination with the Goa crowd, Hampi is indeed a magical place. The little town is cute, but the surrounding natural setting is what makes it special. There are ruins of an ancient kingdom, temples, sacrificial places amongst incredible boulders. It is a big area, you could explore it for several days – or just chill out in a nice cafe overlooking the river, like most people do.

More about Hampi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampi

 

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Snapshots – Calcutta downtown

Posted by dan on January 22, 2011

The first time I went to India was in 1991, arriving in Kolkata – then still Calcutta –  from Bangkok. My friend and I said we’d never come back again to India – we were so shocked, even with South-East Asia and China behind us. Yet, a year later I was back, and then again in 2001. Most of the photos here were taken on the last trip, except the one of the beggar who buries his head in the foot path. That was taken in 1991, in front of the Indian Museum. The other images are also from the area (Chowringee, New Market and Sudder street) with the exception of the last one at the train station. Beggars were absent on my last trip; they were pushed out of the city center, although surely didn’t vanish. I wonder how much the city has changed in the last ten years. Massive and run down, I still love it – as much as any other Indian city, it has its own special flavor and vibe.

See also: Kolkata attractions pictures & videos

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Bangkok – the world of the khlongs

Posted by dan on January 15, 2011

Dragon boat at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn

Dragon boat at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn

Bangkok – or as locally called, Khrung Thep, the City of Angels – was built on the banks of the meandering Chao Phraya river. Much of the land was crisscrossed by little channels – known as khlong – and houses, even all neighborhoods, were built on wooden poles. Most of the waterways in central Bangkok have been filled up, but just across the river from the Khao San road area there are still larger areas intact. The fleet of the Royal Barges is also housed here, which is open to the public. Getting around on the water, even for longer distances within the city, there are several options from cheap public boats to water taxis, and there are also organized cruises.

You can get to the Royal Barges from the Khao San Road area by a little ferry. The pier is in a little lane, off the major road that runs parallel to the river. From the same pier you can board a regular ‘water bus’ to all the way to Silom Road – faster than on the road by a regular bus for the same price.
There is also a frequent little ferry between Wat Po and Wat Arun. The pier is bigger and more obvious, with several Thai restaurants and vendors around.

Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, looks different than Wat Po and the temples around Wat Phra Kaeo, as it was built in Khmer style. Its massive stupa looks  impressive from the base, and it is covered with carvings and sculptures with obvious Hindu influence. Well worth taking the ferry ride.

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Snapshots – three wheelers

Posted by dan on January 7, 2011

Three wheelers in Dhaka Bangladesh

Three wheelers in Dhaka Bangladesh

Tuk-tuks and human powered rickshaws are making their way to the western world. Three wheelers were common in Europe when I was a kid, but somehow they have disappeared where I lived. They never went out of fashion in France and Italy though, where they still make their own brands. Two at the back or two at the front, doesn’t matter – here we go again.

Véléance, Electric Vehicles: http://www.veleance.fr/

About Piaggio APE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaggio_Ape

About the Tuk-Tuk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuk_tuk

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Adivasi – tribal people in India

Posted by dan on December 17, 2010

The Bondo men still carry bows and arrows

The Bondo men still carry bows and arrows

Although little known, there are hundreds of different tribes in India, a country which has more than 10 official languages and, according to some studies, up to 800 spoken languages. One interesting and diverse region is Orissa where there are 62 different tribal groups. One of the most interesting and smallest is the Bondo who live up in the hills of Khoraput district along with the Didayi and Gadaba. Their way of life is under threat – as the case with indigenous groups all over the world – but they still retain much of their culture. You can get in contact with them in one of the weekly markets where they sell sago wine and buy the things they need. The following images were made in the market of the little town of Onukadeli (also written in many other ways), located at the upper end of the Machkund Dam Project. Most of the photos were taken by a local man who doesn’t want to be named. I gave him my camera for the day while I was drinking with the Bondo. Although he had never used a digital camera before, he made some amazing shots in the market. The images in the villages are mine.

Note: Please be respectful when visiting tribal areas. Apart from their lands being taken, the tribal groups are under enormous cultural pressure from Hindu officials and Christian missionaries – no need to make them feel like exotic animals in a zoo.

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Indian fishermen – Puri to Konarak by bicycle

Posted by dan on December 9, 2010

Going out to the sea

Going out to the sea

The Konarak sun temple is one of the main sights in Orissa, and its erotic sculptures are often mentioned along with the sculptures of the Kajuraho temples. From Puri, where most visitors to the area stay, there are a number of ways to getting to Konarak, including on a rented bicycle. Most part the road leads along the coast, where fishermen live. They are not from here; they are sea-faring nomads, migrating over a thousand miles along the coast from Kerala according to fishing seasons and living in temporary villages. They sell the fish right on the spot, with local buyers coming to their village markets. Doing a dangerous job with style, they remain free and happy.


Travel TipOrissa tourism official website: http://www.orissatourism.gov.in

.
“Style is the answer to everything.

Fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous day.
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without style.
To do a dangerous thing with style, is what I call art.”
Charles Bukowski

‘Style’, told by Charles Bukowsky: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekh_GymdgIc&feature=related

‘Style’, told by Ben Gazzara as Charles Bukowsky in the film ‘Tales of ordinary madness’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upL99XQ5_jQ

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Loi Krathong – thanking nature

Posted by dan on November 20, 2010

This video is produced by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. See video in English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSkriTLhM7A

Loi Khratong is a Thai festival which has its roots in the Hindu Diwali festival. Its meaning has changed in Buddhist Thailand – instead of celebrating the return of Lord Rama, Thais pay their respect to the spirit of waters for sustaining life: the rice fields, fish, men and beast. Held usually on the evening of the fool moon of November, people descend on the rivers, klongs (canal), lakes and ponds, and float lit up wreaths made of banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. It is also a party time, with loud music and restaurants full of people.

More about Loi Khratong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loi_Krathong

Loi Khratong official website: http://www.loikrathong.net/en/index.php

 

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Maha Kumbh Nagar – megapolis not marked on any map

Posted by dan on November 13, 2010

Naga Sadhu on horse back

Naga Sadhu on horse back

Happens only once every 144 years in India, the Maha Kumbh Mela is the biggest gathering of people anywhere in the world. In 2001 up to 100 million people flocked to the Hindu festival located between Varanasi and Ahmedabad where three holy rivers – the Yamuna, Ganges and the mythical Saraswati River – merge. On any given days there were at least 10 million people present, with around 20 million people on peak days. With its sprawling tent city (Maha Kumbh Nagar) and temporary citizens who live there for a month this makes it one of the biggest cities in the world – except that at any other time you wouldn’t find there anything.

“The normal Kumbh Mela is celebrated every 4 years, the Ardh (half) Kumbh Mella is celebrated every six years at Haridwar and Prayag, the Purna (complete) Kumbh takes place every twelve years, at four places (Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik). The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela which comes after 12 ‘Purna Kumbh Melas’, or 144 years, is held at Allahabad.

The last Ardh Kumbh Mela was held over a period of 45 days beginning in January 2007, more than 70 million Hindu pilgrims took part in the Ardh Kumbh Mela at Prayag, and on January 15, the most auspicious day of the festival of Makar Sankranti, more than 5 million participated.

The previous Maha Kumbh Mela, held in 2001, was attended by around 60 million people, making it at the time the largest gathering anywhere in the world in recorded history.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumbh_Mela

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Japanese Pop Art in Paris

Posted by dan on November 9, 2010

Reading the in-flight magazine on the way to Paris, there was an article which I found interesting. It was about the controversial work of a Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami, exhibited within the walls of the royal Versailles Palace – something a leading French aristocrat, Prince Sixte-Henri de Bourbon-Parme, has tried to stop but failed. At the same time the president of the Chateau de Versailles, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, called it his “duty” to “open the palace to the artistic creation of our times.” Opinions might differ and I don’t want to take sides – I can understand both opinions. I didn’t plan to go to Versailles this time anyway, and the funy manga-pop display wouldn’t make me change my mind.

I kind of forgot about it all, but walking around the Marais one night, I came across a small gallery at Place des Vosges, under the arcade. It was closed at this late hour, but I managed to have a peek through the window – on display there it was: the Japanese Pop Art in Paris.

The exhibition in the Versailles Palace is open till December 12, 2010.

See photos of the exhibition: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2010/sep/10/takashi-murakami-palace-versailles

Read the story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11615040

Read the story: http://www.japantoday.com/category/entertainment-arts/view/japanese-pop-art-at-versailles-stirs-controversy

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