Thursday, June 30, 2011

Glenelg, South Australia, Australia

This awning's sole purpose is to encourage the contagion of topophilia. That's Greek for 'place loving.'  My love affair with Glenelg began many years ago in Glenelg, Maryland. Then, I visited Glenelg, Nova Scotia. And now, Glenelg, South Australia. What makes this place special? Its name. It's a palindrome. What does it spell backwards? [2011]

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hahndorf, South Australia, Australia

Hahndorf is a German village in the hills above Adelaide. It is what geographers call a strassendorf, a village strung out along a single street (here, it's very long). Many of the old stone buildings are now turned over to the tourist trade, including this one, complete with bicycles hung out to dry. [2011]

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Melbourne and its street-car suburbs have the world's largest collection of cast iron filigree in the world. Every house (really cottage) has a porch and yard too small to be functional, but not too small to be beautiful. If you thought Ernst Burgess's "zone of independent working men's homes" had to be bland, South Melbourne will change your mind. [2011]

Monday, June 27, 2011

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Most jurisdictions have some kind of penalty for swearing in public places, but here in Victoria police will now have the power to issue an on-the-spot fine. There does not seem to be a list of "seven dirty words," which will give the officers lots of latitude. As we would say in Virginia Beach:  %*#!! [2011]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Around the world, only a few shot towers survive, and Melbourne has one. It was used to turn molten lead into lead shot. (Go to Baltimore, if you need more information.) Now Melbourne Central has thrown a conical dome over the tower and made it part of a CBD shopping mall that rises above the railway station. [2011]

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Macau S.A.R., China

This island of tranquility, fashioned after the Portuguese fatherland, was planted in Macau in the early 20th century as the Colegio de Santa Rosa de Lima. Don't you like the symbolism of the steps? They used to be so much a part of school architecture, a reminder of the struggle to achieve and the necessity of learning anything a step at a time. [2011]

Friday, June 24, 2011

Macau S.A.R., China

It was an ordinary skyline until 2007 when the Grand Lisboa was completed to become the tallest building in Macao. It's a casino, of course, shaped like a yellow lotus. But that cupola on top looks very much like something lifted from the Lisbon skyline. Remember, Macao was Portuguese until 1999. [2011]

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Is this high rise wearing an invisibility cloak? When you look at it, all you see is blue sky, clouds, and the high rise next door. As if Hong Kong didn't have enough vertical monoliths: Now, their images bounce around mirrored urban canyons giving every building a ghostly twin. [2011]

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

It is people like this who make Hong Kong livable by keeping it green. In the future, she will be replaced by a subterranean network of drip hoses managed by ground sensors that detect soil moisture and computers that regulate water flow to the root zone of each and every plant. For right now, though, let's say 'thank you.' [2011]

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

From The Peak on Hong Kong Island, you get a spectacular view of the high-rise city that Hong Kong has become over the last 20 years. Across the harbor is the Kowloon Peninsula, where the International Commerce Center dominates the waterfront. It is the world's fourth tallest building. [2011]

Monday, June 20, 2011

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

From Orchard Road, now almost a canyon of shopping malls, skyscrapers appear on nearby ridges. In Singapore, greenery fringes everything; and awnings, like umbrellas, are everywhere. They are used to make this equatorial city livable by offering cover from the sun and the rain. [2011]

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

The Singapore River was the lifeblood of the island for most of its history. A hundred years ago it would have been jammed with sampans and lined with shops and warehouses. Now, it's all about enjoying Saturday afternoon and learning to play the guitar. [2011]

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Malacca, Malaysia

Read those t-shirts. Read those aprons. These are the waiters at Café Geographér, "where east meets west" along Jonker Road in Malacca. Having lunch here (no MSG and all natural ingredients) was a 'geographically yours' moment. To geographers everywhere: This goes on your bucket list. [2011]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Malacca, Malaysia

You are looking at the Strait of Malacca and a new mosque on its Malayan shore. Masjid Selat Melaka is the centerpiece of a new development on a new island built to give the city of Malacca some room for expansion. It has come to be known as the floating mosque because at high tide it looks like it is floating on the water. [2011]

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

What's he selling? Can you decipher the clues? I know you found the coconuts: full of milk they are, and all you need is a straw. If you are thirsty, there's nothing better than a fresh coconut. Did you spy the sugar cane? If you've got a sweet tooth, there's nothing better than cane juice. And, if you're hot, don't worry. He's got his hand on a block of ice. [2011]

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Early 20th century architecture contrasts with gleaming 21st century towers in one of the oldest areas of Kuala Lumpur. The Central Market neighborhood was lucky to survive at all given the development pressure for ever more office space. KL seems like a jigsaw puzzle of vertical and horizontal components, and not much integration between the two. [2011]

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Brickfields is the 'Little India' of Kuala Lumpur. Indians had easy access to Malaya when both were under British rule. Their presence continues, as does their culture. This man requested a banana leaf for his rice. Talk about 'Green Cities': What could be more green than that? And, yes, the original economic base of the settlement was brick making. [2011]

Monday, June 13, 2011

Panyee, Thailand

It's a village on stilts in Phang Nga Bay.  Every structure is built over open sea.  Why?  Because there is no room on Koh Panyee (the island in the background) for settlement.  These fisher folks, all Muslims, have been living here for hundreds of years.  Their fishing economy is now supplemented, perhaps surpassed, by the money they make on tourism.  [2011]

Sunday, June 12, 2011

James Bond Island, Thailand

The 1974 classic Man with a Golden Gun was filmed here in Phang-Nga Bay.  You can't see the famous beach, but you may recognize the islet of Ko Tapu.  By everyone here, the island itself is called James Bond Island.  Its Thai name is Khao Ping Kan and it is part of Ao Phang National Park.  [2011]

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Patong, Phuket Island, Thailand

Slowly, every morning, Patong Beach comes to life. Beach chairs and umbrellas are yours for the day if you want to pay 200 baht (about $7). One thing for sure, though: You didn't want to be in one of those beach chairs on December 26, 2004. Do you remember why? Patong Tower is the tallest building on the island, and a harbinger of the island's future. [2011]

Friday, June 10, 2011

Patong, Phuket Island, Thailand

Thai curries for lunch? Have your choice, with rice and a plate of cucumbers and green beans. All for one US dollar. There's nothing to hide here; the kitchen opens right onto the street where everyone can see how their food is being prepared. What do American restaurants have to hide? [2011]

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is filled with used book stores that open right onto the street.  Like the city's temples, they have their guardians. Unlike the temple guardians, though, feline bibliophiles don't do a very good job at intimidating those who enter!  What do the titles on sale here tell you about the population geography of Chiang Mai?  [2011]

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai gets the award for the most attractive street signs in the world.  It is one way the city cultivates a sense of place.  Thapae Road leads into the old city through Thapae Gate, then the sidestreets, called sois, are numbered.  This is the 6th side street of Thapae Road.  What do you make of the two languages?  [2011]

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Temples galore: That's what you find in Thailand. And, there's so much gold. Wat Phrathat is located on Doi Suthep, a peak in the mountains surrounding Chiang Mai. Beneath this casing of gold is a relic of the Buddha which was brought to the mountain on the back of a white elephant 600 years ago. [2011]

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bangkok, Thailand

The gods are on the side of the King, and their minions will protect the royal palace. At one time only the king could enjoy all that glitz. Today, the palace is open to the public. Palace guards like these, though, are assisted by the police. Intimidation, by the way, is an objective of royal architecture everywhere in the world. [2011]

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bangkok, Thailand

Novice monks are seen all over Bangkok. They serve for only a year or two, maybe even less, and make a decision about remaining monastic at age 20. The robes separate them from society, connect them to Lord Buddha's teachings, and equalize their status. So young to be so serious, but they are all very serious looking. [2011]

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bangkok, Thailand

It was under a tree that Buddha achieved enlightenment. Specifically, it was a ficus tree (to Americans, a banyan). All over Bangkok, old ficus trees with their distinctive trunks are venerated reminders of Buddha's wisdom. Flowers, figurines, and colorful ribbons are brought as offerings. [2011]

Friday, June 3, 2011

Haridwar, India

Some just don’t like their pictures taken! Especially when they are caught with stolen goods. And, do you know who she stole that drink from? Pilgrims. On their way to Mansa Dari temple on top of the mountain. Mansa is the goddess of wishes. I think this monkey gets her wishes fulfilled every day. [2011]

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Haridwar, India

Who’s here on the banks of the sacred Ganges? Holy men seeking moksha, priests earning a living, grandmothers getting a last wish, supplicants wishing for rupees, kids on their way to adulthood, vendors selling temple offerings, families sending flower petals downstream, young men having a splashing good time, and women doing the laundry. [2011]

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Haridwar, India

This is where the Ganges of the Himalayas becomes the Ganges of the North Indian Plain. See the evidence of the heavy sediment load brought down from the mountains? This view is from the foot of Mansa Devi temple, which guards the western gateway into the mountains and to the Ganges' source. [2011]