Jan 30, 2008

Write To Travel

Escape From New York has been featured as Travel Blog of the Week on Write To Travel, one of my must read blogs. New Zealand based author Liz started the blog to chronicle her journey of writing for a living.

Incredibly well written and full of quality information some of the highlights include the Interview with a Travel Writer series and a weekly roundup of the Top 5 Blog Posts for Writers. If you have ever dreamt of earning income from travel writing make sure you bookmark and subscribe to Write To Travel.

I spent most of a cold winter day in New York catching up on editing photos yesterday. I’m way behind. Morocco kept me busy for hours so I’ll leave you with this photograph of Essaouira.

Bodhnath Stupa Nepal

In Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley you can look into a pair of eyes you won’t soon forget. They are the eyes of Buddha painted on the Bodhnath stupa. Stupas are sacred Buddhist shrines and Bodhnath is the largest in Nepal.

Bodhnath is also the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. Monks in saffron robes walk around the stupa spinning prayer wheels. Above them multi-colored prayer flags flutter in the breeze. A Unesco World Heritage Site it isn’t known exactly when the current stupa was built but it’s believed to be about seven centuries old.

Located several miles outside the city of Kathmandu the best time to visit is in the late afternoon when it is less crowded. Visitors are welcome to walk up and around the stupa but if you do make sure it’s clockwise.

Jan 28, 2008

Portraits: Vampire Mermaid

The Vampire Mermaid was the belle of the ball. She strutted her stuff down Surf Avenue on a warm summer day. Surrounded by her mermaid comrades, a few spare King Neptunes and an endless sea of enthusiastic onlookers she was quite content to pose for photographs.

Not afraid of daylight or land the Vampire Mermaid was a participant in the annual Mermaid Parade held each June in Coney Island Brooklyn. If you are ever in town during the parade or live in the area and have never been I highly recommend attending. The costumes are astounding and the atmosphere one big party.

I’ll write more about the Mermaid Parade later on but for now I’d like to introduce this post as the first in a series of portraits from around the world that will be featured on a regular basis. No matter where you go it’s always the people who make the place.

Jan 23, 2008

Campo De Fiori Rome Italy

How would you like to shop like a Roman? It’s not expensive. I promise.

In the city center is a neighborhood called Campo De Fiori. During the day its main piazza has an outdoor market active since medieval times. Open Monday though Saturday it sells prime produce, cheeses, flowers and kitchen items such as espresso makers, a nice item to take home.

The market is a local affair, with just a smattering of tourists taking a look. Grandmothers carefully choose fresh vegetables and chat with stall owners. Don’t you wish you were invited to dinner? A few outdoor cafes in the piazza offer a good place to rest and take it all in.

The side streets of Campo De Fiori are worth wandering down. Vespas zoom by on narrow cobblestone lanes named after the artisans who inhabited them centuries ago. Ancient doorways line alleys that haven’t escaped Rome’s ubiquitous graffiti.

Jan 21, 2008

Ex-Voto Folk Art Mexico

Which vices do you wish you were able to give up? The man to the right suffered terribly. His vice gave him horrible visions of the devil.

The photograph is of an ex-voto, or retablo as they are often referred to, a form of Mexican folk art which give thanks to saints or in this case the Virgin of Guadalupe for answering prayers. A rough translation follows below:

“I give thanks to the Virgin of Guadalupe who has performed this miracle for me of helping stop this cursed vice that has given me such horrible visions and the devil came and took me. But fortunately this has made me stop taking it. This is a testament of my gratitude to the virgin.”

This is one of several retablos from Mexico I brought back from my recent trip to Guatemala. I’ll post on the others as well. I discovered them in a large artist cooperative selling a wide variety of textiles and folk art. It dates from 1953.

For more on retablos check out this post Parish of the Immaculate Conception in the remote former mining and ghost town of Real de Catorce, Mexico.

Jan 18, 2008

Hanuman The Monkey God, India

We were on the way to Agra from Jaipur when we spotted the giant Hanuman statue along the Jaipur-Agra Highway. His mighty size and raised hand beckoned us to pull over and take the time to admire him before continuing our journey.

There are many gods and goddesses in the Hindu religion but Hanuman the Monkey God is among the most loved in India. He is known for his strength and devotion to Lord Rama whose wife he rescued from a demon king. Those devoted to Hanuman fast on Saturdays and Tuesdays to honor him.

If you find yourself cruising along the Jaipur-Agra Highway coming from or going to Jaipur there is an excellent but little known detour well worth taking. You can find out more about it here.

Jan 16, 2008

Se Cathedral Old Goa India

The Portuguese left an architectural legacy in Goa radically different from what the British left behind in other parts of the subcontinent. Pictured here is the Se Cathedral in Old Goa. Completed in the 1600s it is still active and one of the largest cathedrals in Asia. Its style is Portuguese-Gothic and the main altar on the inside is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

In Old Goa, the former capital, there are more than ½ a dozen churches and cathedrals. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Jan 14, 2008

Shanghai Museum

Shanghai is a night photography paradise. There is no shortage of neon and its major landmarks are lit up each night in the most flattering way including the Shanghai Museum pictured here.

Founded in 1952 its current abode was built in the 1990s. The modern Chinese aesthetic houses more than 100,000 pieces of ancient art. You could easily spend a day here. Located in People’s Square not far from Nanjing Road the museum is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day except Saturday when it stays open until 7 p.m. Admission is 20 yuan.

You can see more night photography of Shanghai here and here.

Jan 11, 2008

City Icons—Independence Monument Mexico City

The ground surrounding the Independence Monument, Mexico City’s icon, is slowly sinking. Also known as the Angel Statue or Angel of Independence it originally had no steps when it was built in 1910. They have been added as needed throughout the years to compensate for the receding land on which it sits.

The Angel is located on the Paseo de la Reforma the city center’s main thoroughfare. Created by Antonio Rivas Mercado to commemorate the War of Independence and its heroes she is the symbol of the city.

Here is a tip: Reforma is closed to traffic on Sundays for most of the day. Joggers, cyclists, dog walkers and Sunday strollers give it a park like atmosphere. If you are lucky you may catch the bizarre sight of pairs of police officers rolling by on Segways.

The only downside to Reforma being closed to vehicles is that traffic in the vicinity moves at a slow crawl. But in a city that is infamous for its traffic as always I recommend taking the metro.

Jan 9, 2008

Produce Market Chichicastenango Guatemala

The produce market in Chichicastenango Guatemala is a dazzling display of goodness from the earth.

Even more eye catching are the Maya people dressed in traditional textiles.

Here you see women carefully choosing tomatoes. They are not abnormally large, produce on testosterone. You also won’t find overpriced organic here.

Wholefoods eat your heart out.

Jan 7, 2008

Dhobi Wallahs Mumbai (Bombay) India

Laundry can be anything but mundane in India. At Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai it is theater. Thousands of men work in what must be the world’s largest open air laundromat. There are no machines run on electricity here. Water and soap fills concrete troughs where clothing and linens are washed and beaten clean by hand. After, everything is hung to dry in color coded order and ironed.

Known as Dhobi Wallahs (laundry men) this army of men keeps the threads of the residents of the world’s most densely populated city clean. The intake is huge but items, which are picked up and dropped off, are rarely lost. Nobody is sure how they manage this, a skill passed down for generations. The Dhobi Wallahs of India could likely be the only people on earth qualified to solve the mystery of the socks that go missing.

The best time to observe and photograph the Dhobi Wallahs of Mumbai is the morning.

Jan 4, 2008

World’s Most Densely Populated Cities

Forbes recently ran a feature on the world’s most densely populated cities. It came as no surprise that cities in the world’s most two most populated countries, China and India, showed up repeatedly.

Below are photos of the cities on the list I’ve taken. New York was no where to be found. This comes as no surprise. After returning from any of these cities Gotham always seems empty.

Checking in at No. 1 is Mumbai (Bombay) India. Below is a street scene photographed near the Gateway of India.

Taipei, Taiwan ranked 7th. This photograph is of the city center.

Shanghai, China was 10th. Here is an overview of its smoggy skyline.

Beijjng, China is in 12th place. This was taken near Tiananmen Square on National Day.

Delhi, India was 13th. With 14.3 million people even Delhi seems less crowded when compared to Mumbai.

For a list of all the cities check out the Forbes feature here.