Archive for the ‘observations’ Category
This year’s autumn has been spectacular in Germany. The weather has been perfect and we’ve seen some amazing fall foliage.
The pictures in this slide show were taken in different places: near the Rhine and along the Sieg river in the west of the country, and in Bad Brückenau in the southern federal state of Bavaria.
Btw: a few years ago, I posted another autumn slide show here on this blog and called it “Feels like fall“. That slide show was created on slide.com and then embedded here in this wordpress blog.
Unfortunately, slide.com no longer exists. If you go to their website, you’ll see a notice “Slide.com closed its doors on March 6, 2012 and is no longer available.”
So when you read my original 2008 wordpress post “Feels like fall” today, all you see is the text. The slide show is gone forever. So that really does feel like fall…
One of the nicest things about the people of Finland is their love of animals. In the Finnish capital Helsinki, for instance, they’ve erected a number of statues to celebrate the strong bond between man and seagull.
Now who ever said that dog was man’s best friend?
My sister lived in Portugal, where she worked as a gardener. She died earlier this year. This was her garden.
Good bye, sis. I miss you.
It was called “Dressing the City und mein Kopf ist ein Hemd” and focused on the relationship between people, clothes and urban space.
Sounds strange – and I guess that’s what it was. But in an interesting way. I mean, what do you expect: it’s performance art!
For the audience, the performance has no real starting point and no defined end. All of a sudden, you’re in the middle of it.
There are numerous actors and artists doing things simultaneously at different spots (dressing, undressing, relating with each other or with the clothes they’re wearing or the city architecture).
Let your intuition be your guide – or just follow the crowd of people that quickly forms around the artists doing their thing.
Since different artists act out their scenes simultaneously, you’ll never be able to see everything. But that’s just like in real life: while you’re concentrating on one aspect of your life, one “story”, other things are happening right next to you that you’ll never know about. Maybe you’ll just hear about them later or see the remnants of these other life-stories, scenes, dramas…
The artists who thought up “Dressing the City” are Angie Hiesl and Roland Kaiser. On their website, they explain the ideas behind their art performance:
Clothes are our second skin, the membrane between our body and the environment. They are the link between our inner and outer worlds and make a public statement.Clothing is a non-verbal means of communication and delivers signals that relate directly to our social role.The issue of clothes and all their associations – whether social, cultural, aesthetic, historic, religious or moral – leads directly to Hiesl and Kaiser’s original form of expression: the provocation of our senses in public space.
Provocation is something that’s difficult in a city as cosmopolitan, diverse and tolerant as Cologne. The people here are pretty unfazed by what they see on the streets every day. So during yesterday’s performance, some passers-by just walked on without looking when a woman or a man were undressing down to their underwear in public.
When an older gentleman crossed the street and saw this lady more or less dangling from a traffic light, he worriedly asked “are you all right, Miss?” – much to the amusement of the bistanding art-lovers, who were well aware that this lady was part of an art performance.
At first, the onlooking art-lovers didn’t know whether this procession was part of the performance. Or was it a group of evangelical Christians who wanted to preach against this decadent form of art? Neither one. In liberal Cologne, everyone just went their way and let the others be.
You can see another great interaction between art and real life in the film I posted above. About 4′ 20″ into the film, you’ll see a little kid who’s obviously very curious, what these two people are doing out on a park bench in their underwear. In the next scene, he and another kid are totally fascinated by one of the actors taking off his shorts in public. Hilarious.
Dressing the City und mein Kopf ist ein Hemd will be performed at least three more times in September, 2011. Go see it if you have the chance. And if you’re not in Cologne, Germany, don’t despair: Angie Hiesl and Roland Kaiser have taken some of their art performances to other cities and countries – even as far away as China.
I’d heard from friends that things had gotten really crowded out there: too many tourist boats. Too much diesel fume in the air. Too much trash thrown into the water.
No doubt: Halong Bay is still beautiful. No wonder it’s Vietnam’s prime tourist attraction. But you can see how crowded the waters of the bay are in this little film I made.
UNESCO designated the bay with its hundreds of little islands a World Heritage Site in 1994. Rumor has it that UNESCO is considering withdrawing this title because of the damage that tourism is doing to the area. Not a pleasant thought. But then again: visiting the bay today, I was part of the problem. Oops.
According to Wikipedia,
Fuel and oil, along with tourist litter, have created pollution problems, which impact on both the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem of the islands. Human waste from portable toilets erected for tourists, finds its way into the soil and water surrounding the islands, once more altering the ecosystem functioning, through increased nutrient flow.
The delicate limestone cave ecosystems are diminishing as tourists visiting the caves break off stalagmites and stalactites. Litter, including wine bottles, are dropped into cave streams. Visitors exhale carbon dioxide, which has a deleterious effect on the caves. The mouths of some caves have been widened to allow for tourist access. This increase in light has led to an imbalance in the delicate links between flora and fauna, and a decrease in the humidity of the caves.
What can you do if you still want to see Halong Bay?
I can’t recommend going out there on a one-day trip. On these short trips, the tour operators only take you to the most visited places. You get a glimpse of the bay, but you can’t really enjoy it because you’re always with a crowd.
I’ve heard that some operators like HanoiKultour don’t go with the pack of boats touring the bay every day. Instead, they travel on different routes, visit different islands within the bay. That way, the masses of tourists spread out a little.
And who knows – Mother Nature might even have a chance to deal with the damage they do and actually recover.
Warning: Some pictures in this text show severely injured people. Do not continue reading this post if you find such depictions upsetting or objectionable.
There are some things in Vietnam I just can’t understand or get used to. I’ve written about eating dogs before. That’s one example. Here’s another one.
There’s a hospital in downtown Hanoi that has a glass showcase on its outer wall. Displayed in it are very graphic pictures of injured people. I originally thought they showed victims of traffic accidents, because reckless driving is a big problem in Vietnam. But a friend told me that the photos depict work injuries and virus or bacterial infections treated at the hospital.
Are these people the hospital was able to save? Or are these the cases where the doctors couldn’t help?
Are these pictures meant to show what horrible injuries the hospital doctors have to deal with? Or should they serve as a warning to people to be careful and drive cautiously and avoid such injuries?
The pictures make me sick. I try not to look at them whenever I pass that street corner.
I disapprove of displaying these pictures on a public intersection in the heart of Hanoi. How do the people depicted here feel about being shown like this? What about the friends and relatives of the victims? These are things that passers-by – and especially children – shouldn’t have to see.
What strikes me, though, is that Vietnamese people don’t seem to be as squeamish as me or as sensitive to the ethical questions that displaying these photographs etail. They just don’t seem to mind these pictures. They’re able to ignore them.
These days, a street cafe has even put out its chairs right underneath this traumatizing display case. Cafe patrons sit just in front of these horrible pictures of severely injured people. They eat, drink and chat as if they were sitting on the banks of a balmy lake.
There are some things in Vietnam I just can’t understand.
I went for a walk this afternoon. Not much else you can do on a Sunday in Ha Long City (apart from taking the boat out into Ha Long Bay. But the weather wasn’t great this weekend, so we cancelled our planned boat trip).
As I strolled along the Ha Long pier, a bunch of giggling girls wanted to try out their English on me. I guess they must have been in their early teens. The dialogue went something like this
What’s your name?
My name is (unintelligible Vietnamese girl’s name). Where you come from?
Where is your wife?
- uhm – Germany. (I didn’t want to go into detail that might have traumatised them)
Are you lonely?
- uhm… ?
I guess this sequence of questions can come in handy for some kind of women in some kind of situations.
I don’t often recommend blogs on this website, but today I’ll make an exception. Reisedepesche is a wonderful travel blog in German that you can enjoy even if you don’t speak the language.
Reisedepesche is written by a 30-year-old guy (Johannes Klaus) who’s been travelling around the world for the past year. Klaus records his thoughts, takes great pictures and produces funny videos. And he really makes you appreciate the beauty of our planet and the warmth, hospitality and diversity of its inhabitants.