Oct 30, 2008

Mexico Bound

I’m on an early flight tomorrow morning headed to Mexico for the next 10 days and just in time for the Day of the Dead festival.

After landing in Mexico City and connecting with friends we will hop on a bus to Patzcuaro, about a five and a half hour journey. Located in the state of Michoacan I’m told on good authority that Patzcuaro is a remarkable place to witness Day of the Dead celebrations. Next we’ll be heading to Uruapan which features a national park and volcano. The last few days will be spent relaxing on a beach on the Pacific Coast before heading back to Mexico City.

I’ll be interested to see coverage of the elections next Tuesday and a different perspective from our neighbor Mexico. Naturally, I have posts lined up while I’m away.

Photograph: Sugar Candy Skulls, Day of the Dead, Mexico

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Mexico’s La Catrina

Oct 27, 2008

Man’s Best Friend Hong Kong Style

Hong Kong’s most pampered pets are not typically the four-legged variety. In fact man’s best friend comes in a small package, convenient in a city where space can be scarce.

Located in Mongkok on the Kowloon Peninsula is the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden. Most active in the morning men take their feathered friends in bamboo cages for walks here. They stop to chat with one another hanging the cages in trees or on a fence and compare the warbles of their songbirds.

The garden is flanked by Hong Kong’s premiere bird market. It makes for an interesting place to stroll and take in a little Chinese culture where songbirds are prized among pet owners. Dozens of stalls line two long narrow alleyways filled with a variety of songbirds and a smaller selection of boisterous parrots. Birds are often chosen for how they sound, not how they look.

The market also sells food and accessories. Live crickets are sold in clear plastic bags. Pampered birds are fed the creatures with chopsticks. Rows of bamboo and teak cages are displayed along with blue and white pottery food and water dishes.

To get to the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden and bird market take the MTR to the Prince Edward Station. On the way you’ll pass though a large outdoor flower market. Here is a map. The market is open daily from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Oct 23, 2008

Street Scenes: Carpet Sellers Essaouira Morocco

The ancient port city of Essaouira located on the Atlantic coast of Morocco is an ideal place to purchase Moroccan handicrafts. The variety and quality of goods is excellent and the shopping experience is much more laid back than in Morocco’s large cities.

It would take tremendous willpower to walk by this display of carpets without stopping to take a look. Which one would you pick?

This photo has been published on the back cover of the latest edition of DK Eyewitness Travel Morocco.

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How To Buy a Carpet In Morocco

Oct 20, 2008

Guatemala’s Patron Saint of Gamblers And Drunks

How many saints do you know who openly welcome copious amounts of alcohol and tobacco? In the village of San Andres Itzapa, Guatemala just a short drive from Antigua is a shrine dedicated to San Simon. Part Catholic saint and part Mayan god his worshippers pray to him for fertility and prosperity.

San Simon also has a reputation for being the patron saint of gamblers and drunks. Devotees leave offerings of alcohol and tobacco (cash is good too) to appease him.

In the village small fires smolder in the courtyard outside a concrete building painted a deep red. Inside a life size wooden figure of San Simon dressed in conquistador fashions sits on top of an altar. Incense and candles burn on tables. If you look closely you can see he is partly covered in plastic. Devotees sometimes spit alcohol and coca-cola on him as a way to ask for his blessings.

San Simon goes by Maximon in other parts of the country. You’ll see small wooden folk art statues of him for sale in Guatemala’s markets.

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Oct 16, 2008

Street Scenes: Shinjuku Tokyo

When photographing cities the day doesn’t end when the sun goes down. In fact a whole new world of opportunities opens up.

The neon forests of Shinjuku in Tokyo offer the perfect setting for capturing an urban landscape at night. Tripod required.

Oct 13, 2008

Tailors Market Tripoli Lebanon

Wandering the the world’s markets is one of life’s traveling pleasures. The port city of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city, houses among the most atmospheric of Lebanon’s markets.

Like ancient markets around the globe the souks in the Old City of Tripoli consist of a network of alleys and covered passages where generations of merchants and craftsman have toiled for centuries. Each section features particular goods, such as spices, jewelery and textiles.

Pictured is the Tailors Market. Dating from the 14th century it suffered damage during the Civil War and was restored after. Openings in the high arched ceilings allow natural light to filter down to the small shops. It is nice place to take in displays of traditional fashions worn by women.

Oct 10, 2008

Vestine Of Rwanda

Maryam of My Marrakesh has just returned from Rwanda and has posted on her blog an account of a woman named Vestine who survived the unimaginable horrors of genocide.

It needs to be shared. It needs to be read.

How you can help.

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." --Albert Einstein

Photograph: Courtesy and Copyright of Maryam of My Marrakesh

Oct 8, 2008

Catedral de Santiago Antigua Guatemala

Like many of Antigua, Guatemala’s landmark buildings the Catedral de Santiago has undergone numerous unplanned makeovers. Established in the 1500s it has endured earthquakes throughout the centuries. The beautiful facade contrasts with a modest interior. The details were forever lost following rebuilding.

Catedral de Santiago overlooks the heart of Antigua, Parque Central. Horse drawn carriages clip clop along the cobblestone streets surrounding the plaza, where locals and visitors put plenty of benches to good use under the shade of trees.

Shoe shiners seek out potential customers while Maya women sell textiles to tourists. After dark just as the mariachi bands start playing they head home on buses to the villages they call home.

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La Merced Church

Oct 6, 2008

Spices From Around The World

Spices can appeal to the eye as much as the taste.

Dubai has a market dedicated to spices. Located in Deira by the creek large sacks overflow with many varieties.

These deep red chiles in India were found in the narrow lanes of Old Delhi.

Like India, Mexico is also a land where chiles are a common spice in cuisine.

Included in these sacks is golden turmeric, photographed in Marrakesh’s souk.

Previous Posts in this Series:

Oct 2, 2008

Street Scenes: Commuters Shanghai China

The last time I was in Shanghai, almost two years ago, there were significantly more scooters on the back streets behind The Bund.

Just a few years earlier the majority of commuters stopping for the light at this same corner were riding bicycles. What is your main mode of transportation?