Around the monasteries in Ladakh, you often come across notices about and faded, worn pictures of a young child.
At first glance, we thought someone’s child was missing, but upon inquiring, we learnt that the boy is the Panchen Lama – in Tibetan belief, the monk in charge of finding the successor of the Dalai Lama and has been spirited away, along with his family, in 1995 by the Chinese when he was 6 years old.
The reason why the Chinese did this, is kind of obvious (China, you may want to cover your ears for this) – if they control the Panchen Lama, they control who becomes the next Dalai Lama. The topic is extremely sensitive for Tibetans and they have been raising their voices in futility for the last 20 years to ask for his freedom. China, meanwhile, has appointed a ‘faux’ Panchen Lama in place of the real one but the Tibetan people refuse to accept him, believing that the real Panchen Lama is still alive, even though they worry about his state and well-being.
Theirs has been a long and fruitless battle in trying to reclaim their lost country, lost independence and spending generations in exile. There’s a sort of determination, sometimes punctuated by desperation, in their voices – they want him to come back, they need him to come back.
One year ago, on this exact day, I was in Ladakh – a remote, arid and beautiful region in Indian Himalayas; and a place that I would happily go back to any day and recommend that anyone who can, visit now. You can read all about our adventures on the road in Ladakh here.
The absolute worst thing about a vacation getting over is that it’s over. And the next one is at least a few months away.
As I sit at my work desk with a sunburnt face and hundreds of unread work emails, my brain isn’t helping matters, conjuring up images of turquoise waters, painters’ palette sunsets and white sand beaches, every now and then. Maybe I should try these tips instead. Or cheer for every passed hour till it’s time to go home and dive into hundreds of holiday pictures. 🙂
Walls are often silent backgrounds or spectators to the action upfront.
But sometimes and in some places, they take on a personality of their own – at times a grim one, like the Berlin Wall that once separated East and West Germany; or at times a fun one, like the walls of the Comic Book route of Brussels or the ‘Love Wall’ of the supposed house of Shakespeare’s Juliet in Verona.
Juliet’s Wall, Verona – hastily written last-minute love letters (stuck with chewing gum, more often than not)
Asterix and Gang in a rush – Along the Comic Book route in Brussels (1)
Tintin & Captain Haddock trying to make their way down a flight of stairs – Along the Comic Book route in Brussels (2)
Lucky Luke – Along the Comic Book route in Brussels (3)
The engraved panels above the ‘Passion Facade’ entrance of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
One of the last standing sections of the Berlin Wall, only retained as a grim reminder of the past
The East Side Gallery, Berlin – a section of the wall full of murals ranging from the solemn…
This week’s WP photo challenge was a challenge, indeed for me. I’m hardly a photographer but I like going back to old photos and discovering new details or dusting off old memories.
After a fair bit of digging around this weekend, here are a couple of waterscapes from two corners of a continent – the Aegean Sea* of Fethiye, Turkey and the River Tagus of Lisbon, Portugal. The stars of the photos though, aren’t the water bodies themselves, but the petite Turkish tea (çay) glass and the turret of the Torre de Belem, which is anything but petite (can comfortably fit a handful of people inside it).
*technically, the Aegean region of Turkey lies in the Asian part, but it’s close enough to be called Europe!
(I wish I could’ve captured a lens blur in the second picture too, but I would’ve needed to know a bit more about cameras and photography at the time for that. 🙂 )
There are two reasons why I love Europe – Schengen visas and the trains. Both are key to traipsing with ease from country to country.
I’m also an overzealous planner, if there ever was one, when it comes stuffing my itineraries with places to see and things to do.
Put the two together and you have my itinerary for just over 2 weeks in Europe in the fall of 2014. This itinerary will give you an idea of how ground is possible to be covered and how; and if you’d like to take this pace or go a little slower. I’ll cover the places we saw and inter-city transport in this post (and how to book it). In the interest of brevity, why we chose these specific places and money matters will be addressed in dedicated posts.
Where we went:
Over 15 days of hectic travelling and lots of pounding over cobblestone streets, we saw / slept in all these places (more posts on these coming up soon!):
Biggest beer festival in the world
The spires of Tyn Cathedral
The view that everyone comes for
‘Salute to the Sun’ – a very cool art installation of hundreds of solar lights that come on after sunset
Plitvice Lakes on a cold, foggy day were still spectacular
Night lights, central town square
Bled is the stuff of fairy tales
The Campanile (bell tower) that collapsed unexplained a hundred years ago
The 2000-year old marvel that still stands and is actively used
The sunset that will make you fall for Florence
Hiking between Vernazza and Corniglia
Erm, well, since our day in Milan was eaten up by a 4-hour train delay