If you’re in Yangon, Myanmar and you have three hours to spare, take a ride on the circle train. This slow, rickety train goes around the city and stops at 39 small railway stations along the way. The whole loop is about 46 km long and will take approximately three hours to complete.
At every station, people get on and off and vendors sell their wares. It’s a whirlwind of colors, sounds and smells. As the train pulls out, different neighborhoods, villages, rice fields and pastures drift by. It never gets boring. And the whole trip doesn’t cost more than 50 cents.
But go quickly. Rumor has it that the circle train will be modernized. That may be good for commuters and for progress, but Yangon would lose a truly unique and wonderful attraction.
Only a few steps from the sinful streets of Patpong in downtown Bangkok lies Wat Hua Lamphong. It’s known as the temple of the coffin.
Visitors to Hua Lamphong temple can earn merit by giving donations to sponsor coffins for the poor and homeless. The temple mixes Thai, Chinese and Indian rites. There are Buddhist shrines, you can pray through the joss sticks at a Chinese looking altar, and there’s a shrine to Ganesha, the Indian Elephant god.
The temple is also home to about a dozen cows and a cow shrine. People visiting the shrine write down a prayer and pray in front of an ornately decorated statue of two cows right next to the cow pen. Then the faithful buy some food for the cows and feed them. But even though the cows seem to lead a very privileged and sweet life at the temple, at least one source says that they’re only there to be sacrificed some time in the future.
What can I say about Chicago except that it’s one of my favorite cities? Do I need to tell you that it’s home to almost ten million people and the third-largest city in the U.S.? Do I need to mention that it has the second busiest airport in the world? No. You can read all that on Wikipedia. I’ll just let these impressions speak for themselves.
Gucci, Prada and Paul Smith – they’re all at Bangkok’s newest luxury mall ‘Central Embassy‘. It opened on May 9, 2014 on Ploenchit Road – within walking distance to at least three similar high-class shopping malls. Though I’m not sure who needs yet another mall with stores for the super rich, the architecture is fascinating.
Most of these pictures were taken simply looking up at the seven floors of the shopping center in its atriums. All in all, the space is vast – and that’s probably the biggest luxury in a crowded city like Bangkok.
And since Central Embassy isn’t a mall where they just play muzak, there were even some flautists and a string quartet taking care of the entertainment the day I was there.
I was able to spend two weeks in Fiji in 2013. It was an amazing experience. Loving, friendly people, beautiful beaches, unbelievable coral reefs and colorful tropical gardens.
But Fiji is also one of those places where the luxury of the tourist resorts is worlds apart from how the locals live. Towns like Nadi and Lautoka are sad and uneventful places. Life’s no beach for the people of Fiji.
Bavaria’s Lower Franconia region is picture-book Germany. The Main river snakes through the landscape, passing rolling hills, vineyards and picturesque villages and towns. This region around Würzburg, Aschaffenburg and Kitzingen is especially beautiful in fall, when the leaves are turning and the grapes are heavy on the vines.
These photos were taken near Escherndorf and Kitzingen on the Main River and on Schwanberg.
I love South-East Asia and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensively in this part of the world. But nothing prepared me for the splendors of Myanmar. I was totally amazed when I visited there earlier this year: wonderful people, beautiful landscapes and stunning pagodas.