Saturday, April 30, 2016

Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

He has spent every year of his life waiting for the direct rays of the sun to arrive. When they do, he orders them to stop and go back to where they came from. Apollo always heeds the admonition. The Never Alone people of Todos Santos have the power of saints: They reside on the Tropic of Cancer! [2016]

Friday, April 29, 2016

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In the center of Kuala Lumpur, at the point where the Klang and Gombak rivers meet, not even the mosques can win the battle with skyscrapers for visual dominance. Commerce comes before creed in most world cities, and KL is no exception. [2011]

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

The Arch celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The archway itself permits dragons from the hills on the mainland side of Hong Kong to pass directly through on their way to the water. Keeping the dragons happy brings good luck, just ask any feng shui master. The whole idea of feng shui is to block negative energy and allow positive energy to flow. [2011]

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Amsterdam, Netherlands

It's the King's Birthday today. Since 2014, King's Day has replaced Queen's Day as the Dutch national holiday. Nothing else compares. As long as King Willem-Alexander is on the throne, April 27 will be the day when the whole country waxes orange. You have to be there to fully appreciate it. Long live the House of Orange! [2015]

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


The U-shaped valleys that are archtypical of fjords are perfectly visible here in Flåm. Flowing water cuts V-shaped valleys, and flowing ice cuts U-shaped valleys. The fjords are natural highways that lead to the open ocean, but man-made highways are just as necessary. See the road cut? [1984]

Monday, April 25, 2016

Glendale, Kentucky, USA

Ladybird, ladybird: Don't fly away home.
Settle down here, no need to roam.
This apple tree loves you; You do such good work.
But those aphids you're eating: They think you're a jerk.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Washington, D.C., USA

Yesterday marked the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, but no worms enfold the Bard's immortal verse: "All that glisters is not gold; often have you heard that told: Many a man his life hath sold but my outside to behold: Gilded tombs do worms enfold." Portia, are you listening? [2006]

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Washington, D.C., USA

From the facade of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Bottom recites his famous soliloquy: "The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was." Are you Still Dreaming on this 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death? [2006]

Friday, April 22, 2016

San Francisco, California, USA

The Sing Chong Building (a blend of old world/new world elements) was one of first to be rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake that wiped out San Francisco's Chinatown. Now, it anchors a major tourist district which is bisected by the California/Van Ness Cable Car line. [2016]

Thursday, April 21, 2016

San Francisco, California, USA

Consider it a musical miracle: the tones he can coax out of only two strings! The erhu brings the sounds of China, sounds that go back a thousand years, to the streets of America's largest Chinatown. The sprites must be pleased! [2016]

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

San Francisco, California, USA

A bronze Goddess of Democracy by Thomas Marsh stands tall in the middle of San Francisco's Chinatown. Dedicated to those who cherish human rights and democracy, she is a replica (one among many) of the plaster statue built by student participants in the Tianamen Square protest in 1989. In the background is the city's financial district. [2016]

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

San Francisco, California, USA

Portsmouth Square is the social heart of San Francisco's Chinatown, and it's never busier than on a Sunday afternoon. Before it was incorporated into Chinatown, however, it served as the plaza of the pre-existing settlement of Yerba Buena. [2016]

Monday, April 18, 2016

San Francisco, California, USA

Chinese immigrants began arriving in the 1850s, making San Francisco's Chinatown the oldest in North America. Today, the Dragon Gate marks the ethnic enclave's southern entrance. It was built in 1970 and carries a quote from Sun Yat-sen: "All under heaven is for the good of the people." Even those dragons? [2016]

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Gallatin, Tennessee, USA

It's Work Zone Awareness Week and the Tennessee Department of Transportation will do anything to get you to slow down. Perhaps it ought to be renamed Orange Cone Awareness Week. [2016]

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Austin, Texas, USA

Successful sidewalks offer alcoves of public space where you can be off the beaten path, enjoy some privacy, and get some work done. No infrastructure needed, just space. [2015]

Friday, April 15, 2016

Palm Desert, California, USA

The Living Desert Zoo has one of the greatest giraffe habitats in the country, at least from the standpoint of the humans watching them. It's a place where you can enjoy the African savannah and all the reticulations that go with it! [2015]

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

This is the bighorn's little cousin, Stone's sheep. His horns will grow, thicken, and spiral as he gets older. Thanks Assiniboine Zoo for letting us see him! Only a few zoos have the species, which is native to Canada's northern Rockies. [2012]

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

The dingo has become a symbol of Australia, probably because of its grit and adaptability. It mastered the harsh environment and spread across the continent, probably descending from domesticated dogs from nearby Asia. What it hasn't mastered is the human population of the island continent. It's now a vulnerable species. Taronga Zoo. [2006]

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Joint Security Area, Demilitarized Zone, South Korea

The Bridge of No Return crosses the Sachong River and also the boundary between North and South Korea. In the wake of the 1953 cease fire, over 100,000 captured soldiers from both sides were exchanged across this bridge. In 1976, after the axe-murder incident, it was abandoned. [2016]

Monday, April 11, 2016

Joint Security Area, Demilitarized Zone, South Korea

South Korean soldiers stand guard at the border between North and South in the Demilitarized Zone. The Combined Forces Command (US + ROK) stands ready to respond should North Korea attack. The armistice between the two Koreas was signed in 1953, but the Korean War is still not over. [2016]

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Joint Security Area, Demilitarized Zone, South Korea

The JSA is where the North and South stand face to face. Several buildings straddle the international boundary. The division is marked by the curb that bisects the dark pavement. The blue buildings are occupied by the ROK and are under the administration of the United Nations. That's why they are blue. Up the steps is North Korea's administration building. [2016]

Saturday, April 9, 2016

San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Reporting for duty, but their shift doesn't begin quite yet. So before they start waiting, they wait. Their job? Waiters. So, you see, they are honing their skills. [2016]

Friday, April 8, 2016

Yerevan, Armenia

Jaume Plensa is among the great public artists of the contemporary world, but here in Yerevan one of his sculptures is far from unique and totally out of place. Not unique? Variations on this theme appear all over the world. Out of place? Look at the elements of design! Letters from the Armenian alphabet would have made the genius loci lots happier. [2015]

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tbilisi, Georgia

In the ream of myth, the Caucasus were a place of punishment. Deities who rebelled or found themselves on the wrong side of the reigning pantheon were chained to the mountains. Could this chasm in Tbilisi be the site where Prometheus was bound by Zeus for stealing fire from the Oympians and giving it to humankind? [2015]

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Caye Caulker, Belize

You may not be in the tropics, but you are already thinking about getting the boating and windsurfing season started, right? It might seem logical to assume that windsurfing began in tropical seas, but it actually began as sailboarding on Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River in the 1960s. [2015]

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Brussels, Belgium

The Bourse in Brussels is at the heart of Belgium's commercial economy.  However, at the turn of the century, the Brussels stock exchange merged with the Paris, Amsterdam, and Lisbon stock exchanges to form Euronext. Onward marches globalization! [2015]

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bangkok, Thailand

Durians for sale. Have a taste. They are probably not destined to be free samples at Costco, however. No one would ever sell them (or even consume them) inside any structure. In fact, they are openly banned from hotels and never served in restaurants. Why? [2011]

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, England, UK

If you are traveling to an island and want to experience the spirit of place, you have to go by ferry. Once a bridge is built, the spirit departs for other domains. Once an airport is opened, the spirit takes flight. So, when given a choice, choose a boat! Now, make a list of all the ferries you have ridden in your life. It might be longer than you think. [2011]

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Queensway Quay, Gibraltar

Geography is worth defending! No, not the study of geography, the reality of geography: the importance of location on the earth's surface. For Britain, one location that mattered was the Rock of Gibraltar. It guarded the one and only passage into the Mediterranean, and it was probably the most heavily fortified location in Europe. [2015]

Friday, April 1, 2016

Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

"If our food, drinks, and service aren't up to your standard please lower your standard."  So says the Giggling Marlin. Why is he giggling? Look what he just reeled in! Remember: It's April Fools Day! [2016]