Trapped in Walls

As promised, here are some close-up shots of a few relief sculptures around Prambanan temple.Image

Relief is actually a sculptural term for chiselling away the background material to give the piece a raised effect.

You could just see the effort that went into this especially since the entire Prambanan complex was just covered with these. Whoa!

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Retirement Huts

The thing about travelling is that you get a taste of different lifestyles and you end up imagining yourself living or heck even retiring in some of these places. It may be a bit premature but when I think of retirement (and I honestly do) these tropical seaside huts come to mind.

A simple shack by the beach

Built using sustainable and locally sourced materials

With a great view of the sea.

Ah wishful thinking. What about you? Which places would you like to move to and why?

Let’s Get Lost

“Not until we are lost do we truly understand ourselves.”

– Henry David Theroux

Travelling, especially alone, forces you to:

Embrace your fears,

Unlearn prejudices,

See through a child’s eyes once again,

Seek comfort in the unfamiliar

and if you are lucky…

Fall in love with a stranger.

Note: Thank you for the many wonderful comments. They really do mean a lot. As I’m currently lost in the Middle East (Jordan), anyone want a postcard? (Btw, picture above is not from Jordan)

Sydney / Saigon Mindboggle

It can’t just be me right? I mean, the similarity is uncanny.

Notre Dame de Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Perhaps one of the few advantages of old world colonialism is the fusion of architecture styles. The Notre Dame de Saigon was built by French colonists to establish Roman Catholic Church in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). During its construction, red bricks were imported from Marseille and the glass windows from Chartes Province in France.

Luna Park in Sydney, Australia

This is an amusement park on the northern shore of Sydney Harbour. Luna Park was originally opened in 1935. Since then it has been closed, reopened, demolished and opened once more following a series of urgent repairs and general lack of profits. Nowadays though, it has been refurbished and is a fun sun-shiny way to spend a day in Sydney.

Marina Bay Sands

If you are a fan of megastructures and excessive living then you must check out Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands. It is the world’s most expensive standalone casino property and a night in one of the hotel’s 2561 rooms is enough to cover my monthly rent. Argh!

Aside from the casino and hotel, the Marina Bay Sands also houses a theatre, shopping mall, museum, skating rink and several high-end restaurants. The photo above was taken from the DNA bridge leading to the development. In case you were wondering, that thing on top of the three towers is a 340m long ‘Skypark’ with a 150m long infinity pool overlooking the Marina Bay. Pretty swanky huh?

Note: Here’s a panoramic view of the entire development just to emphasize the grandiosity of it all!

Chandeliers of Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul wins the award for most adaptable structure. Throughout its life, it has been a basilica, a mosque and since 1935, a museum.  Most people assume that it means Saint Sophia but Hagia Sophia literally translates into “Divine Wisdom”.

The chandeliers above date way back from the Ottoman Empire. If you look closely, the interiors are an eclectic mix of Biblical mosaics and Koranic calligraphy. Two different beliefs from two different eras, seamlessly meshing with each other to create one of the greatest examples of Byzantine Architecture.

Sydney Opera House

A building that needs no further introduction, the Sydney Opera House is a quintessential Aussie icon as much as the kangaroo.

Its construction is surrounded by controversies and budget constraints leading to the unjust resignation of Danish architect Jorn Utzon. Formally opened in 1973, Utzon was not even invited nor mentioned in the ceremonies.

A reconciliation didn’t happen until the late 1990s when the Sydney Opera Trust appointed him as a design consultant for future works. Utzon was awarded a long overdue Pritzker Prize (highest honour in architecture) in 2003. A true visionary and modern artist, he died in November 2008.

Shopping in Dashilar

When east meets west in a truly literal sense:

In Beijing’s Dashilar Street, this Swatch store is one of the many western brands (I remember seeing H&M and Zara among others) who share the street with traditional tea houses, silk shops and herbal stores– some of which are centuries old.

Despite having been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries, this pedestrian-only street manages to maintain its distinctive Chinese old world flavor.

Fun Fact: There are no public toilets along Dashilar. Trust me, I know.