Nov 28, 2008

Panama Bound

I’m heading to Panama City tomorrow for a somewhat last minute trip. A desire to see somewhere new and a relatively inexpensive flight fell into place just before I left for Mexico.

For many the first thing that comes to mind when Panama is mentioned is the canal. But it seems to be entering the radar screens of travelers more in recent years. As this is a short trip I’ll be spending most of the time in Panama City.

I have posts lined up while I’m away and will have plenty to report when I return. Have a great weekend.

Nov 25, 2008

Markets From Around The World

Wandering the world’s markets can give you insight into local culture past and present. Some of the markets below have been in existence for centuries.

Maya traders travel from all around the Guatemalan highlands to sell their goods at the market in Chichicastenango twice a week.

You have to bargain hard in the labyrinth of Marrakesh’s souks.

There are probably more fakes than originals at the Dongtai Road market in Shanghai, China but you can still find an abundance of communist kitsch.

Shopping like a Roman is not expensive at Rome’s Camp De Fiori market.

I’ll just cut to the chase and zero in on the bling in Dubai’s Gold Market.

Nov 24, 2008

Street Scenes: Intersection Hong Kong

The intersections of Hong Kong’s Central District are well presented.

The taxi and man pushing his bike almost look as though they are pieces in a life-sized board game.

Nov 20, 2008

Day Of The Dead Altar Pátzcuaro Mexico

During the Day of the Dead in Mexico altars with offerings for the deceased are set up in homes and public places. This altar was set up in a courtyard.

Altars typically include marigolds, paper cut outs, candles and photos of the deceased. Offerings of food and drink are also carefully placed. Each is its own piece of art.

Nov 18, 2008

Cemetery Vigils Day Of The Dead Mexico

There wasn’t a grave in the sprawling cemetery that wasn’t covered lovingly with marigolds. Thousands of candles flickered.

Families gathered around the final resting place of loved ones where they would stay until dawn. Small fires burned to take the edge off a cool night. The air was fresh like autumn but without the dread of upcoming winter. In the distance mariachi bands played.

This scene is repeated each year during the Day of the Dead festival (Día de los Muertos) in Mexico on November 1. The belief is that the souls of the dead return to earth for the night to be reunited with loved ones. Families set up altars and decorate graves with marigolds, candles and images of the departed. Offerings of food, drink and other earthly items the deceased liked are left.

The traditions of the day of the dead are a mixture of pre-Hispanic beliefs and Catholicism, religious fusion at its finest. It is not a time to mourn but to celebrate and honor the dead. Participants were proud of their artistic tributes on which they spent most of the day preparing. Outsiders were welcome and when asked politely people did not mind photographs being taken.

These images were taken in Tzintzuntzan located on the shores of Lake Pátzcuaro several kilometers from the city of Patzcuaro. Patzcuaro in the state of Michoacán is the epicenter for Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico. Each year thousands descend on the small island Janitzio accessible only by boat. The hilly island with a small cemetery gets incredibly crowded with more observers than participants. Tiny alleyways become as clogged as the arteries of the drunks who roam them which is why we chose to experience the night in Tzintzuntzan rather than navigate a circus-like atmosphere.

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Nov 13, 2008

Day Of The Dead Altar Mexico City

This altar was set up to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe (the Virgin Mary) at the Basilica in Mexico City erected in her honor. It is the most visited Catholic shrine in the Americas.

Altars are set up for the deceased during the festival and typically include flowers, an image of the person and items they liked during their lifetime. Food and alcohol are common. Humor and artistry are also key.

This altar was complete with a full choir and priest in confession booth. I took these photos last year. Photographs from this year’s Day of the Dead taken during my travels in Patzcuaro are forthcoming and will include the overnight vigils in cemeteries and more on the traditions involved.

Nov 10, 2008

Street Scenes: Chaat Vendor India

You can find Chaat stalls on the streets of India just about anywhere. Chaat, a common form of street food which varies by region, is snacks served on a small plate or bowl often made of dried banana leaves.

These two had set up business outside the main entrance of the defunct city of Fatehpur Sikri. The artfully arranged mix of fruit and vegetables were sprinkled with chaat masala (a blend of spices) and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Nov 6, 2008

Published Photographs: Nepal Edition

Nepal was still a kingdom when I traveled there a few years back. I can still remember clearly when I took each of these photographs. The one of the elephant was taken after it was done taking a mid-day bath in the river in Royal Chitwan National Park . I was lying on my back on the ground and rolled out of the way just in time.

From the top (clockwise) Bodhnath Stupa; Royal Chitwan National Park; Thamel, Kathmandu; Durbar Square, Kathmandu and Shiva Parvati Temple, Durbar Square.

These have appeared in publications including consumer magazines and national newspapers.

Nov 3, 2008

Souk Madinat Jumeirah Dubai

One of the perks of shopping at Souk Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai is the view from its outdoor terraces of the Burj Al Arab hotel.

Built in the style of an Arabian market the souk is part of the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah resort. It’s the only market in Dubai where prices are fixed and bargaining is not the norm.

Its corridors with arched high ceilings and open front shops lend a bazaar like (and air conditioned) atmosphere. The exterior of the complex recreates traditional Arab architecture and features wind towers.

Housing more than 70 shops you’ll find anything from beachwear to high quality arts and crafts and home décor items from the region.

There are also a wide variety of restaurants and bars to gain a second wind in the midst of a shopping spree. Many overlook the canals where passengers are ferried on water taxis throughout the resort.

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