The land of raging winds. Vast, open fields that go on for miles. Clear streams and lakes with colours unknown. Endless glaciers and peaks that suddenly appear out of nowhere as the clouds part.
Where the weather always has a mind of its own and you may see four seasons in a day. Where the summer brings days that almost never end. A place that remains frozen for a good part of the year, where only a handful of hardy souls can thrive.
And a cliche it may be, but I think I left a piece of me behind.
In parts of East Africa, the savanna extends as far as the eye can see. Boundaries seem to have no meaning as the Serengeti plains of Tanzania cross the border and become the Masai Mara in Kenya. Little surprise then, that ‘Serengeti’ literally means ‘the endless plains’ in Swahili. It wouldn’t be hard to get lost here, with no markers and the uniform landscape extending in all directions.
A hunting lodge by origin, that ended up being the seat of the French Government and royalty and now figures on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Palace of Versailles has seen its share of glory and continues to bask in it, to this day.
If like me, you’re hungering after some non-palace, non-museum time in Paris (all that sightseeing can get heavy on the head), the Palace is an easy hop from the city and has extensive and perfectly manicured lawns, that one can happily spend a sunny summer, or even winter day in.
On a still autumn Sunday, the many fountains were given rest for the day and undisturbed, the Bassin d’Apollo‘s edge seemed to divide a symmetrical world into near-perfect halves.
If you happen to visit Bali around the festival of Galungan (like we did by a happy coincidence in 2013), you’ll notice these ornamental poles of bamboo peering over you, decorated with leaves and fruits and with an offering basket suspended from their top, adorning the gateways of buildings and lining the roads.
With a little inquisitiveness, we learned from our driver and the hotel staff that these poles are called ‘penjor‘ and are symbolic of festivals and celebrations in Bali. And at the time of Galungan, a festival that signifies the victory of good over evil (much like Diwali in India, we thought), 20-feet high penjors bloom in abundance outside almost every home, office, shop on the island, for people to thank the Gods.
Captured during the famous sunset at the Uluwatu temple in south-west Bali:
More symbols of significance with the Daily Post’s challenge this week: “Symbol.”
Entering the Grand Palace in Bangkok is almost an attack of dazzle on the senses*. Gold, gems, statues of precious stones, the Palace could probably rival the GDP of Thailand in value. And as you go snap-snap-snap, taking in all the fabulousness around with your camera, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed, like you aren’t going to be able to do justice to it.
* hence the sunglasses, just in case you get blinded by the bling
Here’s just one of the heavily adorned doors around the palace. And this isn’t even on one of the important buildings! I guess living royally is serious business. More about the Grand Palace and its treasures here.
More gateways with stories from around the world here: “Door.”
Shopping for clothes is serious business in India. Try taking a stroll in one of the more famous local textile markets or bazaars in India on a Saturday and you’ll know that this isn’t a task for the faint of heart.
Lanes upon lanes of little shops snake through the labyrinth markets in all directions, crowded by women with hands full of shopping bags and buying appetites still not satiated; and shelves overflowing with fabrics of every type, every print and every color imaginable.
This photo was taken on one such Saturday afternoon in one of the many almost-identical stores in a New Delhi market, unwillingly having to brave the mad rush.
The Cappadocian landscape is legendary as a ‘moon-land’ and ‘unearthly’. But all those brown and other earth tones can start to look all the same after a few days. Breaking the monotony are the vivid colors of the local pottery, one of the other things that Cappadocia is famous for.
If you’re keen, you could even try your hand at a pottery / ceramics workshop in Avanos, the pottery hub of the region – and buy at source, so you’re sure your Cappadocian souvenir isn’t made in China!