Eminönü pier waterfront

The heart of the walled city of Constantine, Eminönü is the focus of a history of incredible richness. Eminönü covers roughly the area on which the ancient Byzantium was built. The Galata Bridge crosses the Golden Horn into Eminönü and the mouth of the Bosphorus opens into the Marmara Sea. And up on the hill stands Topkapı
 Palace, the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) and Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya). Thus Eminönü is the main tourist destination in Istanbul. It was within the Roman city walls – that area which was formerly the Byzantine capital Constantinople.

Eminönü Ferry Pier

Excentrique

A trend of artisan and entrepeneur shops have hit Istanbul’s Kadıköy district in the last few years. 
Erkan Sahin owns the Excentrique shop, making accessories for jugglers, fire jugglers, artists and artisans for the last five years.  I was attracted by the pitchfork and when I opened the door, he stopped sewing and invited me in for tea and a chat. Love those Turks!Erkan Sahin sews

Alkim Bookstore

With over 500,000 books and seven stories, Alkim Bookstore is the Powell’s of Istanbul.  
Cafe Kafka on the top of the building has a heck of a view of  the northern shore of the Sea of Marmara, facing the the European side of the Bosporus.Alkim Bookstore

The Eminönü waterfront, Hagia Sophia and The Galata Bridge

Disembarking the ferry at Eminönü and you get an eyeful.
The Hagia Sophia is a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. It attracts almost 3.3 million visitors annually.The Galata Bridge  is a bridge that spans the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey. Underneath, restaurants and cafes serve drinks and food all day and night. Come here to enjoy a beer and nargile while watching the ferries making their way to and from the Eminönü and Karaköy ferry docks. From the end of the 19th century in particular, the bridge has featured in Turkish literature, theater, poetry and novels.Hagia Sophia & Galata Bridge

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is a historic mosque in Istanbul and is still popularly used as a mosque. Built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I, its Külliye contains a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice.  At its lower levels and at every pier, the interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade İznik style ceramic tiles, made at Iznik (the ancient Nicaea) in more than fifty different tulip designs. The tiles at lower levels are traditional in design, while at gallery level their design becomes flamboyant with representations of flowers, fruit and cypresses.

Blue Mosque

Parkour in Istanbul

Specail1Parkour (the man without the shirt far right) ascends a wall by a church in Kadıköy.
Practicing parkour, he and his friends ascended this wall and left right before the police came.
Parkour involves seeing one’s environment in a new way, and imagining the potentialities for navigating it by movement around, across, through, over and under its features. Developed from military obstacle course training, parkour is a holistic training discipline using movement.  Practitioners aim to get from A to B in the most efficient way possible. This is done using only the human body and the surroundings for propulsion, with a focus on maintaining as much momentum as possible while still remaining safe.   Although it can be practiced in any location, it is usually practiced in urban spaces.
It was developed in France, primarily by Raymond Belle, David Belle, and Sébastien Foucan during the late 1980s. Parkour 1

Azerbaijani Protest

The next day I was strolling by the Marmara sea, photographing cats when I heard this protest.
According to my sources, these people are holding up the sign of the wolf, which refers to an ancient Turkish legend that a she-wolf led the Turks to safety.  
This sign of the wolf held up by people here references the Nationalist party of Turkey. The protest concerns the “Khojaly massacre”.
The Khojaly massacre was the killing of at least 161 ethnic Azerbaijani civilians from the town of Khojaly on 25–26 February 1992 by the Armenian and, partially, by CIS armed forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. According to the Azerbaijani side, as well as Memorial Human Rights Center, and Human Rights Watch
the massacre was committed by the ethnic Armenian armed forces, reportedly with help of the Russian 366th Motor Rifle Regiment, apparently not acting on orders from the command.
The death toll claimed by Azerbaijani authorities is 613 civilians, including 106 women and 83 children.The event became the largest massacre in the course of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 
Armenian genocide protest

Kurdish protest

This protest found me, as it passed the first group on the small winding streets of Kadıköy.
According to my sources, it seems that this was a manifestation about right to be educated in Kurdish native language and anti-racism. 
Kurdish protest 2One knowledgable source said that these are Kurdish people, however, another cautioned that these political groups are not necassairly Kurdish but leftist in general.

Millions of Eyes

In my first 48 hours in Istanbul, I saw 3 protests.  
This is Saturday morning.
 
The sign reads “Millions of Eyes are searching for the murderer of Berkin”.
It refers to a 2013 incidence in which a 13 year old boy died while going to get bread in his neighborhood.  
A police bomb canister hit him and eventually killed him during a demonstration in Task Gezi Park. 
No policeman was ever held accountable or charged for this boy’s death.
Task Gezi Park is an urban park next to Taksim Square, in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district
and it is one of the last green spaces in Beyoğlu and one of the smallest parks of Istanbul.
In May 2013, plans to replace the park with a reconstruction of the former Taksim Military Barracks (demolished in 1940) intended to house a shopping mall,
sparked the nationwide 2013 protests in Turkey. Today, plans are on hold for the proposed development but have not been dropped.
Berkin demonstration Kadikoy

Turkish cats

With the Hagia Sophia for a backdrop, this Turkish delight poses while waiting for her next meal.  People leave food and drink on the street for kitties.  
It was explained to me that many people do not believe in having cats indoors, but since religion teaches they are God’s creatures they are to be cherished and nurtured.  Meow! 
My first day in KadıKitty and Hagia Sophia4köy, I came across – and petted – 50 cats.

Doğuzzan Demin selling simit

Simit has a long history in Istanbul. Archival sources show that the simit has been produced in Istanbul since 1525.
It is a circular bread, typically encrusted with sesame seeds or, less commonly, poppy or sunflower.  
Simit’s size, crunch, chewiness, and other characteristics vary slightly by region.
Simits are often sold by street vendors, who either have a simit trolley or carry the simit in a tray on their head. 
Based on Üsküdar court records dated 1593, the weight and price of simit was standardized for the first time. 
Simit is an important symbol for many people of Turkey.Doğuzzan Demin selling simit

Just off the boat

The snow that kept me in Paris is melting in the night as I get off the dock from the Ido into 
Kadıköy. Though relatively deserted after the storm, Kadıköy 
is a large, populous, and cosmopolitan district of Istanbul, Turkey on the northern shore of the Sea of Marmara, facing the historic city centre on the European side of the Bosporus. A prominent  residential and commercial area with inumerous bars, cinemas and bookshops, it is considered the cultural centre of the Anatolian side of Istanbul.
Istanbul snow

The Charles de Gaulle experience

The Charles de Gaulle Airport is one of the world’s principal aviation centres, as well as France’s largest international airport. It is named after Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970), leader of the Free French Forces and founder of the French Fifth Republic, as well as the President of France from 1959 to 1969. i got stuck in Paris for 2 days because of travel time and then snow in Turkey. Friend and famed Paris photographer/poker player Pamela Shandel bids me adieu as I (finally) leave for Istanbul.
As it was explained to me by my Airfrance service coordinator, I have had the Charles DeGaulle experience – meaning much time, pain, and pleasure transiting at the Paris airport.
Goodbye to Paris & Pamela

The eyes have it

More than 10 million tourists visited in Dubai last year as the emirate experienced a surge in visitors. Visitor numbers were boosted by increases from its largest source markets – such as a 30 per cent rise in tourists from Saudi Arabia and a 54 per cent increase in Russian visitors, both countries which feature in the city’s top five markets.

 

Eyes at Miracle Gardens

Fashion – dollars and cents -


Fashions are as diverse as the Dubai visitors. More than 10 million tourists visited in Dubai last year as the emirate experienced a surge in visitors. Visitor numbers were boosted by increases from its largest source markets – such as a 30 per cent rise in tourists from Saudi Arabia and a 54 per cent increase in Russian visitors, both countries which feature in the city’s top five markets.Dress to impress

Tallest building in the world

Fountains flow by the Burj Khalifa at night. It is the tallest artificial structure in the world standing 2,722 feet. Opening in January 2010,  Burj Khalifa is the centerpiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development planned to include 30,000 homes, nine hotels, 7.4 acres of parkland, at least 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 30-acre man-made Burj Khalifa Lake. The decision to build Burj Khalifa is reportedly based on the government’s decision to diversify from an oil based economy to one that is service and tourism basedFountain & Burj Khalifa 8

Dubai Creek

One of the oldest methods of transport, water taxis take locals and tourist alike across Dubai Creek.
Historically dividing the city into two main sections – Deira and Bur Dubai, Dubai Creek ends at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary.
At one time sources say that the creek extended as far inland as Al Ain and that the Ancient Greeks called it River Zara. 
It was along the Bur Dubai creek area that members of the Bani Yas tribe first settled in the 19th century, establishing the Al Maktoum dynasty in the city.
 In the early 20th century, the creek, though incapable then of supporting large scale transportation, 
served as a minor port for dhows coming as far away as India or East Africa.
Dubai Creek 2

Deira Old Souk Abrra station

Water taxis take locals and tourist alike across Dubai Creek.
Historically dividing the city into two main sections – Deira and Bur Dubai, Dubai Creek ends at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary.
At one time sources say that the creek extended as far inland as Al Ain and that the Ancient Greeks called it River Zara. 
It was along the Bur Dubai creek area that members of the Bani Yas tribe first settled in the 19th century, establishing the Al Maktoum dynasty in the city.
 In the early 20th century, the creek, though incapable then of supporting large scale transportation, 
served as a minor port for dhows coming as far away as India or East Africa.
 Sabkha Abra station

Miracle Gardens

With over 45 million flowers, Miracle Gardens opened in the fall of 2013 in a developing suburb of Dubai. The theme seems inexplicably Dubai.
The gardens change with the season, open December – May.   No maps, no guided tours…but, all the world loves a selfie.Selfie at Miracle Gardens

The Deira Fish Market

The Deira Fish Market is by far the cheapest place in Dubai to buy fresh fish. It is also an interesting and vibrant place to visit.  Hundreds of traders offer a huge variety of seafood, caught locally and further afield. It also boasts sections selling meat, fruit and vegetables.
The Deira Fish Market is located on Corniche Road in Deira, close to the Gold Souk and Al Shindagha Tunnel. Open daily until 11 pm.Kitty want a fishie

Nebil at Al-Romaizan in The Gold Souk

The Gold Souk is in the Deira part of Dubai. A trip to the Gold Souk truly demonstrates why Dubai has earned itself the title City of Gold. It’s worth visit even if you have no intention of buying, just to soak in the atmosphere of shop windows glinting with 18, 21, 22 & 24 carat gold, showing-off the abundant riches of this part of the world. Gold prices are among the lowest in the world and are largely determined by weight; also varying depending on whether the jewelry is machine-made or by a craftsman.

Nebil at Al-Romaizan

Evening Prayers

Dubai is a city determined to retain its heritage while racing at breakneck speed to embrace the 21st century. The Islamic religion impacts every aspect of Muslims’ lives and they prioritize their life in this order: religion, family, country. Speakers send out the call to prayer which occurs five times a day.

Call to Prayers 2

Bùi Thị Thảo

Tho will finish her degree at Hanoi University in 6 months in travel and tourism. Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country with over fifty distinct groups (54 are recognized by the Vietnamese government), each with its own language, lifestyle, and cultural heritage. AT the cultural museum, she explained many nuances to me about this culture and said she is descended from the Kinh (Viet) ethnic group. Thank you Tho and I hope when you visit I can show and tell you about the hipster culture in Portland….
Vietnam University Tour guide

It’s a long, long way home….

Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country with over fifty distinct groups (54 are recognized by the Vietnamese government), each with its own language, lifestyle, and cultural heritage. This Ede long house belonged to a powerful family as evidenced by the carvings on the staircase and elsewhere. The breasts on the staircase to the right are carved on the visitors staircase to enter the home. The house is over 142 feet long, almost 20 feet high and sits on stilts. The Ede are a matriarchial society and as daughters married, another room was added to accommodate the growing group of women, their husbands, and family.

Long House 1

 

Rainbow bridge

Opened in the fall of 2014, Nht Tân Bridge connects the airport with the old quarter of Hanoi. The bridge, part of Hanoi’s 43.6km ring road, crosses over the Hng River and is Vietnam’s longest cable-stayed bridge at 1,500m. Funding for the VND13.6 billion project came from Japanese international loans.  Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam, Hiroshi Fukada,  has reportedly suggested that the bridge’s name be changed to Hu Ngh Vit NhVietnam Bridget (Friendship of Vietnam and Japan).

Sung Sot cave

Hạ Long Bay consists of a dense cluster of some 1,600 limestone monolithic islands limestone monolithic islands each topped with thick jungle vegetation,
rising spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Suprising Cave limestone 3

Hạ Long Bay

In 2000, the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee inscribed the Hạ Long Bay in the World Heritage List for its outstanding examples
representing major stages of the Earth’s history and its original limestone karstic geomorphologic features. Halong Bay 2

Water Puppets

Water puppetry (Vietnamese: Múa ri nước, lit. “puppets that dance on water”) is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today’s Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play. The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. Hanoi Water Puppets 2

Tube houses

There are two main things you’ll probably notice about the architecture in Hanoi: 1) the French colonial period, and 2) many houses and buildings in Vietnam seem seem to be very tall and narrow.  The reason for this is the way people are/were taxed on property – by the width of the front of the building. This is especially apparent in the Old Quarter of Hanoi where people buy houses with very narrow frontages so that they minimise their tax burden while having a place to display their merchandise to passers by. 
These buildings are refereed to as “tube houses” and often include courtyards partway through to improve air flow. The government is considering moving 26,000 people out of Old Hanoi over the next five years to make way for new development.
Tube House 2

Rainy night at Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake (Vietnamese: H Hoàn Kiếm, meaning “Lake of the Returned Sword” or “Lake of the Restored Sword”, also known as H Gươm – Sword Lake) is a lake in the historical center of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. The lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life.

Hoan Kiem Lake 4

Not bad for 1,763 years old

The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amitābha Buddha located at the Kōtoku-in Temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The bronze statue probably dates from 1252, in the Kamakura period, according to temple records.
At one time, the statue was gilded. There are still traces of gold leaf near
the statue’s ears.  
The Buddha at Kamakura 6

Setsubun at Sensōji

Setsubun – “A bean throwing festival” – is held the day before the beginning of spring in Japan.
The  beans are thought to symbolically purify by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them.  Tokyo’s oldest temple – Sensoji – was the first place in Japan to hold a large-scale setsubun ceremony, bringing mass-market appeal to a ritual that had been practiced since the Heian era.Sensōji gifts in air

Oh you Devil!

Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!?
The custom of Mamemaki first appeared in the Muromachi period. It is usually performed by the toshiotoko (年男) of the household (the male who was born on the corresponding animal year on the Chinese zodiac), or else the male head of the household. Roasted soybeans (called “fortune beans” (福豆 fuku mame?)) are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon or ogre) mask, while the people say “Demons out! Luck in!” (鬼は外福は内! Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!?) and slam the door.
Oni wa soto

The Imperial gardens

The total area of the Imperial grounds including the gardens is 1.32 square miles.  During the height of the 1980’s Japanese property bubble, the palace grounds were valued by some as more than the value of all the real estate in the state of California.  Chiyoda district is shown behind the trees of the gardens. Imperial Gardens 2

Team Angel

D-Lite or Kang Dae-sung, of the South Koren boy group Big Band, performed solo in Tokyo at Yoyogi National Gymnasium to a capacity crowd of 57,363. 
D-Lite wrote a song called “Wings” after being involved in a car accident in 2011 in which a motorcylcist tragically died.  Team Angel  – Marina, Nagomi, Riza – show their support.Team Angel

Shinjuku at night

Shinjuku (新宿) is a central ward of Tokyo, known as the metropolis’ second center (副都心, fukutoshin). The area surrounding Shinjuku Station is a huge business, commercial, and entertainment center located atop the world’s busiest railway station complex.
The east side of Shinjuku is devoted to shopping and nightlife, including Tokyo’s largest red-light district Kabukicho (歌舞伎町) and gay nightlife central Shinjuku ni-chōme (新宿2丁目).Shinjuku at night

Live long and prosper

Native Tea in Mountain (Japanese Old Style Tea)
It is a manufacturing method of the tea of the Meiji era.  This tea dries in opened form.  Then the tea is parched.  Often health improves by drinking the tea.  A person’s disease can be cured from old days by drinking this tea.
Mayumi Aoyama sells the tea outside the Meiji Shrine.
Mayumi Aoyama

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine  located in Shibuya, Tokyo, is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. A couple enjoys the afternoon sun at the Meiji Shrine as snow drips off the roof behind them. In cold weather many people wear masks to ward off illness.

Meiji Shrine 3

Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku (新宿区 Shinjuku-ku?, “New Lodge”) is a special ward located in Tokyo Metropolis, Japan. It is a major commercial and administrative centre, housing the busiest train station in the world (Shinjuku Station)  and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the administration centre for the government of Tokyo. 

At Shinjuku train station

Proud City

Travel time was almost 2 hours on the train from the airport into Shinjuku, the ward of Tokyo where I am staying. It snowed the day before – locals say it is unusual this year since it has been unseasonably warm.  Coming from Sydney, I am quite cold.  Brr!Tokyo Proud City 1