Hong Kong is one of my most favourite places I’ve been to. It’s been coming up on my newsfeed these days for worrying reasons, unfortunately. Although, I’ve only been a few times, each time it has left a sea of impressions. Whether it’s dense city life, food, people, the outdoors, the hills or the sea, the city hits it out of the park with what it has to offer. Living so close, I should really be making my way there more frequently…. once one can easily travel again of course.
The new world of travel restrictions has put a break on cross-continental travel for now. On the other hand, it’s been a good opportunity to organize myself and sort out albums from previous travels.
Lisbon is a hilly city, getting on top of some may require more effort than others … depending on how hot the day is. But it’ll most likely guarantee a nice view. This one was a hot and colourful day and provided for a warm and colourful view.
The city of joy is how the locals repeatedly referred to their hometown as I was chatted up by friendly Kolkatans. Some refer to it as the city of firsts, for pioneering a number of achievements in India, or a city of palaces, for its wealth of architectural beauty. Kipling described it as a “city of dreadful night”, “magnificent”, “the many sided”. I can’t remember visiting a city with so much characterization attached to its name. Kolkata is probably all those things to different people.
During the day, its streets are filled with constant hustle and bustle, smells and car roars continuously compete for attention – often against the backdrop of architectural awe, creating a scene rarely replicated elsewhere. Buildings too, compete for attention. While some are nursed to withstand the perils of the city’s humid climate, others – full of history and culture – stand crumbling, waiting for better days. Some streets provide a moment’s rest before spitting you back out. Amidst chaos and the high-paced environment people always found ways to gracefully slow down, eager to strike a conversation – tell a story about a neighbourhood, their job, a cultural event, and of course, no conversation is complete without a mention of cricket. If couple of days is anything to judge by, Kolkata is all those things they call it.
“Querida viejita: Qué es lo que se pierde al cruzar una frontera?
Cada momento parece partido en dos. Melancolía por lo que queda atrás y, por otro lado, todo el entusiasmo por entrar en tierras nuevas.”
Che wrote these words as he crossed the border into Chile from Argentina across this very mountain range (a bit south from Santiago) in 1952. It was his first border crossing on the famous motorcycle trip, I find these words to be true for many of my own border crossings. Santiago is my first city in the Americas south of Mexico, leaving me packed with plenty of enthusiasm. I had a burning desire to move here for school when I was 19-20 but it never came to be, I went to Europe instead. Years later I’ve finally made it and the first thing to spark my curiosity (entusiasmo por entrar) is the massive cordillera, steep and imposing. For the most part I grew up in a city by the mountains, so I’m no stranger to mountain views. However, mountains this massive next to a city this large is something special. Santiago, with its population of over 5 million is located in a valley surrounded by mountains trapping the pollution inside, making it one of the most polluted cities in South America. You can see the smog permanently hovering above the city. Yet the mountains tower above that too.
Despite having spent months in Mexico I haven’t really spent all that much time in bigger cities. Merida is one of the few where I did stay for a little while. It’s in some ways my favourite place I’ve seen in Mexico. As I’ve mentioned in my previous Merida post it makes me feel like parts of the city are stuck in the past. This street is a good example of the impression Merida has left on me. It’s close to the market area, a fairly narrow street full of run down beautiful colonial buildings. Many of them are falling apart and there are a lot of similar buildings around the city. Their condition does give it a certain character and appeal like it’s not trying to impress you, it’s just is what it is. This particular photo has also been my wallpaper for several months now.
I’ve finally spent a few hours going through the Mexican photos from over the summer. Given the experiences I’m surprised I haven’t filled my SD cards 100 times over, but I still captured some interesting memories. This probably being the most relaxing. At the time we’ve been working in small communities on the Yucatan Peninsula and with a weekend off my colleague and I decided to take a last minute trip to Tulum in Quintana Roo.
The first photo is from the cabin we stayed during the 1st night. The latter photo is after hours of driving dirt roads in the national park just south of Tulum, which has, no doubt, been a weekend highlight for me. At the end of the park on the coast side is a dead end with a small village of Punta Allen, living off the coast. It’s been a little tiring getting to the village but has been totally worth it.
Along the road to the village there are a bunch of small openings cleared out by machetes. We took a few out of curiosity until we found one that lead to the isolated beach, on the second photo. I set up my orange hammock, got my book out, we put on our swimming attire and played a game where we own a private beach. While the cabin is sure sweet I think I prefer stumbling across a gem like this. Clearly we weren’t the only ‘smart’ ones as there were some ropes laying around left by previous visitors from over the years. What would you prefer?