Two years ago I took the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia, and as part of the journey I made a detour on a parallel rail line called the Baikal-Amur Mainline (also known as the BAM). The BAM took me to parts of Russia that few Western tourists will ever visit – in fact, in a week on the BAM I only encountered one other foreigner, who was from South Korea. When I visited the biggest town along the BAM railway line, Tynda, I also had the opportunity to Zarya, which is is a nearby village home to an indigenous community of Evenki people. I felt a little bit on edge during my visit as the community didn’t seem to get many visitors and most of the people I encountered were heavily under the influence of alcohol (even though it was mid-morning), but my fears were somewhat offset by this little dog, who stayed by my side the entire time I was walking through the community. When I got home and saw the photos of the dilapidated rural village and the little German Shepherd pup, I was immediately reminded of a classic nostalgic TV show- The Littlest Hobo. It was like I’d stepped right back from Zarya and into the classic 1980s children’s program. Russia was full of surprises, and an unexpected canine companion was certainly one of them!
This week’s photo challenge is about sharp edges. On my recent trip to Singapore I noticed this sharp-edged skyscraper in the city’s busy business district. In fact, it was blocking my way! My offline mapping program was telling me to walk through its courtyard to get to my destination, but security was having none of that! So instead I walked around this massive skyscraper, in forty-degree weather (that’s Celsius for you Americans!) and happened to catch the building, and a sun flare, at the perfect moment. Overall I was really impressed with Singapore’s multiculturalism, culinary scene, public transportation, green spaces and shopping… if only it weren’t so expensive I would love to return!
Of all the things I expected to see in Peru, a huge statue of two people rolling around and making out was not one of them. And yet, the statue (called “El Beso”, or “The Kiss”) in Parque del Amor (“Park of Love”) is one of Lima’s most popular attractions. You’ll find it on the seaside path in Miraflores, which is a perfect spot for a picnic lunch, rollerblading, cycling or jogging. Visit at sunrise or sunset to join the crowds of cuddling couples taking in some of the city’s best views. In the spirit of this week’s photo challenge, I want to know what is the strangest “romantic” spot you’ve seen while you’re traveling?
I was surprised by the traffic as my bus descended into La Paz, Bolivia. It looked to me like it should only take fifteen or twenty minutes to drive down the side of the mountain into the valleyed city center, but we’d been barely moving along the road for hours. I’d booked my trip there on the spur of the moment, and didn’t realize I was arriving on the day of the city’s biggest and best celebration: La Paz Day. Each July, on this day, thousands of people descend into the city center to celebrate the city’s independence with parades, music, street food, street drinks, concerts and general merrymaking. The next morning everything is quiet, and revelers sleep off their jubilant celebrations on sidewalks, in parks, and anywhere else they happened to collapse. Check the calendar posted on the US Embassy of La Paz’s website to find out when the La Paz Independence Day celebration is taking place, and make sure to book your accommodation well in advance. You might also want to arrive a day early to avoid the traffic jams on your way into town, and leave at least two days later so that you’ll have a chance to see the city operating normally (nothing is open the next morning!).
This week’s photo challenge is about harmony. Not being much of a music lover myself, I look for harmony more often than I listen for it. Recently, I found myself surrounded by harmonious lines and shapes at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain. This massive complex was designed by Santiago Calatrava, who is known for pushing the limits of design (and budgets!) with his architectural pieces. The complex was built in a now-dry riverbed and features several museums, a concert hall, garden walking paths and even a suspension bridge for the passing traffic. The part of the facility in this photograph certainly isn’t the most eye-catching or innovative, but I did feel like this quiet corner created a feeling of harmony for anyone who happened to be walking by. Have you been to the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain? Comment below with your thoughts on the complex!