Santorini


I like the islands…these are the places where I feel the limits while at the same time give up from my boundaries…

A week end trip to the Greek island Santorini, to meet my Parisian friends…

They say the sunset of the Santorini is the best of the world. I think each islander on this earth is proud of having his own sunset….

Hidden and silent streets where you only see the locals… The main streets always crowded….

And the churches bells, accompanied me during all day….

Finally Komodo Dragons


Now I know what may look like the ancient times…. I’m talking about the ancient times of dinosaurs …. I think one of the places on earth to grasp a sense of those times is the island of Galapagos…. and the other place is Komodo Island…. Well, going to Komodo Island in search of the rarest creature of the earth is much more practical than having a special trip to Galapagos… And here it is….

But, on the way to Komodo Island, ask to the boatman to bring you first to Padar island. This is the most beautiful uninhabited island of the world which I had seen so far. You have to hike a little bit to see this wonder of the world, but it’s worth to every step and to every drop of sweat…

 

As for the Komodo Dragons, you should be lucky to find one in the middle of the island. We walked almost one hour and we were lucky…..

The guide told us that this was a teen dragon.  A huge body of almost 3 meters, but very agile… be careful not to be close to him…

And finally… the lunch of a baby dragon!

 

 

Labuan Bajo is not in South America


img_2163img_2144Where’s Labuan Bajo? It’s not in South America! It’s a town in one of the thousands of islands of Indonesia. And for a traveller who departs from the west side of the world, it may take more than one day to reach there…

First take a flight to Jakarta, capital of Indonesia. You can stay a couple of days in this chaotic and surprising city where you’ll acclimatize your body to the tropical heat. When you’re ready you can hit the road for your final destination.

We took an early morning flight to Labuan Bajo; there’s not a direct flight, there is a stopover in Bali where you can have a delicious coffee before taking your next charter flight. From Bali, after almost two-hours flight you arrive to the island of Flores and Labuan Bajo is one of the main towns of this pretty island, located in the west side. The airport is newly constructed and I think this is the most modern building which you’ll see in this island. The center of the town is just 2 km. from the airport and on the way to your ferryboat, your driver would like to show you the bay of Labuan from one of the best spots.

We left the city (or should I say the town?) behind us and took a ferry for the Bidadari Island. ‘Bidadari’ means ‘angels’ in Indonesian. In fact this is one of the paradisiacal places on the earth hence its name embellishes it more.

We stayed five nights in an eco-lodge surrounded by verdant hibiscus garden a few meters away from reef corals. The Flores Sea was calm and warm, hiding a colorful world in its depths. The famous Komodo Archipelago was lying  in front of us like a wall bordering between the bustling world and our small Bidadari Island. The crickets were chanting the secrets of a life unknown to us.

As one of the TV ads says it’s ‘Wonderful Indonesia’!…

Coming Next: Dragons in escape!

Kunming, one of the best Chinese cities


Shi Lin Kunming is one of the best cities in China to live in. The major reason of that is its climate: Kunming has a temperate climate year-round. It’s also a central point for the tourists wishing to visit western regions of Yunnan and Tibet. In the foothills of the Himalayas, it’s called ‘Spring City’ .

Kunming Beauty

Kunming people are nice, unlike local people in the big cities, they’re more friendly towards foreigners. Although the city center has become a jungle of skyscrapers, like in every big city in China, about one hundred kilometers beyond the city center, I had a chance to visit one of the most astonishing natural beauties of the world: Stone Forest  (石林, Shi Lin)and Jiuxiang Karts Caves (九乡风景区; Jiu Xian Feng Jingo Qu).

Forest of Stone

Both places are around 80km. from Kunming center. There are some buses going there but I rented a car with a driver and I think that it was worth to do that. It’s a huge area, try to go there early in the morning. You would spend all your day in these two places.

Stone Forest

Stone Forest is like a Flintstone World….

Yunnan Girls

But beware, it’s very crowded….

Shi Lin

 

 

I like more Jiu Xiang Caves area , what you see above the earth, you witness them underground, you feel the surreal of the place…

Jiuxiang cavesWaterfalls in Jiu Xiang

Jiu Xiang Caves

 

When you return to Kunming, awe-inspiring feelings will probably preside you… you can finish your Kunming day with the specialty of this region; with a delicious mushroom plate…

Note:  Bangkok is a perfect hub to fly to Kunming, the flight is around 2 and a half hour, more comfortable to fly from any other big city in China…

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Lijiang: Venice of China


A canal with flowers

A canal with flowers

Lijiang is the old capital city of the Tea Road; for centuries it was the central bazaar where Tibetan and Han traders negotiated for their products. It’s at the bottom of Himalayas and Qinghai – Tibet plateau; you can feel the fresh air at an altitude of 2,000 meters. It’s surrounded with mountains, rivers and lakes. Besides of its amazing landscapes, it’s known also by its rich culture.

One of hundreds canals in Lijiang

One of hundreds canals in Lijiang

More than 20 different ethnic minorities live in Lijiang, amongst them are Naxi, Bai, Tibetan, Puma, Yi , Lisu, Miao people. Each of them have their own traditions and the different colors and styles of dresses fill the car-free cobblestone street of the old city.

Local people from Lijiang

Local people from Lijiang

 

 

 

 

In 1997, Lijiang was the first Chinese hill town listed in the World Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO.

Street view from old Lijiang

Street view from old Lijiang

 

 

Old women of Lijiang

Old women of Lijiang

Old way of transporting merchandise

Old way of transporting merchandise

Together with its picturesque landscapes, the arts and architecture of this town are fabulous. They are the masters of Dongba scripts, drawings depicting the Naxi culture. When I returned back home, my Chinese teacher asked me whether I listened to Naxi music. `Of course` I told her, almost everyday I witnessed live music performance of ethnic people on the border of the canals.

Old Naxi Scripts

Old Naxi Scripts

 

Famous Wall Scripts in Lijiang

Famous Wall Scripts in Lijiang

When you enter into the old city, the first thing that you notice is the numerous stone bridges embellishing the canals of Lijiang.  Another interesting thing: there are many shops where you can rent one of the beautiful Lijiang dresses, there you wear your costume and do your make-up and then a photographer takes your picture on one of the 350 bridges. Nice souvenir!

Pose For

Pose For

Another Pose

Another Pose

Thanks to its nature Lijiang kitchen uses lots of mushrooms or jun zi… really delicious in the hot pots!

Famous Mushrooms

Famous Mushrooms

Kublai Khan arrived to this city and drank water from this well…

Kublai Khan Well in Lijiang

Kublai Khan Well in Lijiang

You must absolutely visit Black Dragon Pool Park (hei long tan) , just 15-20 minutes of walk after you exit from the Old Town. It’s a relaxing place located at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. You can climb to Elephant Hill if you want to see an overview of old and new city. Or you can visit the Naxi Culture center to listen their songs.

Black dragon pool park

Black dragon pool park

This is not particular to Lijiang but my favorite toys, remembers me the Far East Asia 🙂

My favorite!

My favorite!

And don’t forget, life is full of surprises… you can not know when and where you can see a white camel. Sometimes you should switch your path from main streets to side streets 🙂

What is this?

What is this?

Watchtower of Turkey on Vimeo


I loved it!

Aside

Baku & Caspian Sea

Baku & Caspian Sea

I arrived to Baku before the sunset; the big sun was shining like an egg yolk in front of me. The international airport of Baku is situated almost 20 km. away from the city center. The heat, the dust and the oil odor welcomed me in Baku.

I didn’t have any idea about Baku before coming here and I was thinking that the city looks like to any other oil-rich cities of the world. I was mistaken: when the taxi entered to the city, new buildings – in old french styles, appeared (later on, I was informed that only the facades of the buildings were being renovated, ie, this was only a make-up! Nevertheless that makes feel well any first time visitor in this city.) I first noticed out a big cultural center complex, Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, built in 2012 by the famous architect Zaha Hadid. Then the traffic has become heavier as long as we approached to the city center.

Flame Tower behind a historical mosque in the Old City

Flame Tower behind a historical mosque in the Old City

 

 

Flame Tower is one of the newest buildings of Baku, where our hotel was also located. If you have a chance to stay in Flame Tower or have a drink in the pretty coffee house of this hotel, you have a bird’s-eye view of the city and the Caspian Sea. At night the city is fully ligthed up.

Funicular of Baku

Funicular of Baku

 

Next day, we took a funicular from the park which was situated in front of our hotel for going down to the old city. The funicular is free but you have to wait almost 20 minutes. Once in the center of the city, we witnessed once again to the richness of Baku; even the underground passages were covered with good quality marble. The shops selling luxury brands were also telling me that I’m in one of the raising economies of Asia.

Underground in Baku

Underground in Baku

Baku - City Center

Baku – City Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The city center of Baku is surrounded by an old citadelle dating back to 12thcentury. You enter into the Old City (or Köhne Sehir, as the locals call it) and you’re lost: you leave all the luxury of the city behind you and you find yourself with buildings smelling history. For my part, I imagined as if I was a local living in the medieval ages, at the period of Shirvanshah maybe. The Shirvanshah Palace is a good starting point to understand the history of Baku.

Maiden Tower 1

Maiden Tower 1

Qiz Kalasi (or Maiden Tower) is one of the symbol monuments of Baku. There are lots of mysteries about this tower. First of all the historians are not sure about its age although most of them agree that it can be dated back to the 10th century. Then, nobody is sure about the function of this tower: was it made for the protection of the city? Or, was it a scientific observatory?And of course, there are many legends about it; now I remind one of the most classical legends: the King had imprisoned his daughter for protecting her, the girl couldn’t live in the prison and threw herself from the castle to the Caspian Sea. That’s why it’s called Maiden Tower.

Inside of a big supermarket in Baku

Inside of a big supermarket in Baku

Five o'clock tea in Baku

Five o’clock tea in Baku

 

In order to remove the melancholy of Maiden Tower, the best solution is sitting under the big and old plane tree in the open air tea house next to the tower and order an Azeri tea. Tea is delicious and together with it you will be served with different kinds of jams, all delicious too!

Miniature Books Museum

Miniature Books Museum

But I keep the big surprises for the end! I discovered two precious treasuries in the Old City. The first one is the Miniature Books Museum. In this small museum, you will be amazed by the lilliput books from all over the world. You can even see the smallest book of the world, or the oldest smallest book of the world, which is a copy of the Coran dating back to 17th century. The Russian lady who is the manager of the museum welcomes each visitor and explains in detail each book. The entrance to the museum is free.

Nizami Museum of Literature

Nizami Museum of Literature

The second big treasury is the Nizami Museum of Literature, situated at the center of the city. Nizami is one of Azeri greatest literature figure. The museum is located in an old and palatial building. At first it doesn’t look like as a touristic place, but once you enter here, you discover a real treasure! This is not only a literature museum, it’s also the national history and art museum. It has a huge collection of miniatures, pictures, carpets and antique objects and the guide – who accompanies you during your visit, tells you the history of these lands, their cultures, their poems and their literatures. It’s a place which should be visited not only by the literatute lovers but by everybody who wants to learn the culture of Azerbaijan. At the end, you would surely understand why Azeri language seems so soft to the ear, why all Azeri people are so kind!

I think that Baku had a special place in my ‘visited cities’ list….I even think that it’s my most precious discovery of the year 2014!

Maiden Tower 2

Maiden Tower 2

Old City Walls

Old City Walls

Gallery

Memoires from St. Petersburg

This gallery contains 10 photos.


(Early morning scene from Helsinki – St. Petersburg train) (Melancholy in St. Petersburg) Just one year ago, Shabby had told me to do this trip to St. Petersburg. I didn’t want to travel anywhere. I was in a middle of … Continue reading

Mission Blue chronicles the life, loves and calling of ocean champion Sylvia Earle


Mission Blue is a new documentary for the lovers of the ocean and the nature. Fantastic!

TED Blog

Sylvia Earle is a fearless 78-year-old woman. In the new documentary Mission Blue, we watch her dive with sharks in the deep blue sea and fearlessly dodge fishing nets as she swims through the middle of a major fishing operation. The film offers a bold new view of the famed oceanographer whose relentless pursuit of saving the ocean takes her from the mythical expanse of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the swirling schools of the Chesapeake Bay menhaden fishery to the bustling fish markets of Tokyo.

Mission Blue premieres today on Netflix. Watch it here »

Directed by Fisher Stevens (The Cove) and Bob Nixon (Gorillas in the Mist), Mission Blue serves up visually stunning underwater footage. But beyond that, it weaves an inspiring storyline that focuses on Earle herself. Mission Blue could have easily been a documentary about the devastation of the ocean, but…

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Pop Chinese 你看到的不一定是真相


I am a fan of chinese, and I liked this expression!

Hanshengchinese

0814nǐ kàn dào de bù yí dìng shì zhēn xiàng

你 看 到 的 不 一 定 是 真 相。

What you see is not necessarily the truth.

自分の目で見た物は真実には限らないです。

당신이 본 게 진상이 아니다.

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