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Showing posts from July, 2014

Athens, Greece: Grecian Graffiti

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I woke up at three o’clock in the morning to catch a ride to the airport with Pat and George, a couple I met in Turkey. They were flying back to the US and I was on my way to Greece. The couple and I had a lively conversation on our way to the airport until we said our goodbyes at the check-in counter. I was trying to find the gate for my flight and almost at the end of a long walkway when I noticed a man lying spread out like 'the crime scene outline of a dead man' on the floor of a poorly lit terminal. His head rested on his backpack. Soon the airport police officers arrived to take the man’s pulse. The man looked dead. I could not shake the image of a dead man at an airport terminal out of my mind. What if suddenly I dropped dead while traveling, I thought. I could not imagine the process that the police authority must go through to notify the family of a foreigner.

The scene kept replaying in my mind as I arrived in Greece. It was very early in the morning; too early for…

San Francisco Golden Gate Park: Photo Essay

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“Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent.”
― Rumi On my way to do my normal routine of walking the trail surrounded by Stowe Lake, and hiking the Strawberry Hill, I took the (road) less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. I spotted lots of beautiful blooms, some wild flowers and some not so wild.  The famous San Francisco "Karl the Fog" was absent that day.  The sun was perfect above the blue sky, showering the blooms with light.  I took out my camera and snapped a few pictures.  After my hike, I was inspired to walk farther to the M.H. De Young Museum and took more photos along the way.

#1.  Franciscan Paint Brush?

#2.  Wild Iris 



#3 Lotus flower from the M.H. De Young Museum pond


#4 Wild Flowers


#5 Pinks and Reds

#6.Violets and Blue

#7. Yellow Flowers

#8. My Homage to the San Francisco Giants

#9. The wildlife was abundant too.  I spotted a hawk, a heron, a few blue jays and a squirrel.

#10. M.H…

Dubai: Of Gold and Sand Dust

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I was sweating profusely and just downed a whole bottled water that just came from the ice-box. Our guide told us that it was the beginning of summer in Dubai. It was late afternoon and we were in the heart of the city, passing a wide boulevard lined by very tall and modern buildings. The tallest building seemed to sway in the hazy gray daylight. The city skyline covered by smog felt like midway between New York and Los Angles. Our guide said that it was not smog that enshroud the buildings, but sand dust. After the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), our guide continued to name the buildings – Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, etc. It seemed that each hotel brand was represented there.

We stopped at Dubai famous landmark, the Burj Al ArabHotel, and went to the beach. People go to the beach at sundown to avoid the scorching heat. The hotel provided a nice photo backdrop from the beach, along with the man-made hill on the other side.

I came to Dubai with the knowledge that Dubai …

Petra, Jordan: Photo Essay

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I had to improvise a headdress from a yellow bandana to put under my gray Calvin Klein hat. It was a fashion paux pas  but I had to cover the back of my neck. It was hot, I was sweating bullets. We just entered the Siq at Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Jordan, famous for its rock-cut architecture.

Our first stop was in front of the small intricately carved openings in the rock face: Carved into the sandstone hill by the Nabataeans in the second century A.D., the structure that started as a temple may have been used as a church or monastery in the later centuries. Our guide's explanation about the place was interrupted by the hooves of horses as they pulled carriages carrying tourists who were unable to walk along the rock-walled alley.    Meanwhile, a fellow tourist told me that we were seeing the opening scene from the movie 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'. Thank God, I had not seen the movie or it would have clouded my impression of an amazing site.����…

Jordan: The King's Highway

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We were traveling on what seemed to be a modern highway (Highway 35) when our guide announced, “We are traveling on the Kings Highway, one of the oldest roads in the world. It stretches 335 kilometers from Amman to the southern region of Aqaba.”  The highway is mentioned in the bible (Numbers 20:17 Please let us pass through your country. We will not pass through fields or vineyards, nor will we drink water from wells; we will go along the King's Highway; we will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory."

Mt. Nebo and Madaba
We took a detour to Madaba to see Mt. Nebo where Moses stood and gazed over the Promised Land that he was not allowed to enter after leading his people through the desert for forty years. Today, we gazed at the endless horizon. The view has an eerie dead calm like the Dead Sea. We could actually see the Judean hills and the Dead Sea from our vantage point.

#1.  A view from Mt. Nebo


#2. Madaba 
We …

The Little Town of Bethlehem

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The Holy Land:  The Little Town of Bethlehem
As we passed the Kidron Valley to cross the West Bank, our guide mentioned two things relevant to our going through a checkpoint to cross the West Bank:  the illegal residents in the West Bank, and Israel not wanting Palestine to control the border with Jordan, Egypt and the Sinai desert. After the checkpoint, the scenery changed to a sad picture: a sleepy town, rather scruffy town – pile of garbage on vacant lots and open ditches. Our guide told us that that part of the West Bank has no government because they wanted autonomy. He did not talk much about the area's political history.

I thought it ironic to see a rather neglected place leading to Bethlehem considering that Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread” in Hebrew, is depicted in the Bible as a tranquil and pastoral place.  It was known for its fertile and cultivated fields in biblical times; It was referred to in the Old Testament as Ephrat, which means fruitfu…