Monday, January 31, 2011

Asia - part the 2nd. And together

Greetings friends and family -

We're once again traveling together! This installment of Transcontinental finds us on another low-budget, high-impact, great photo-op-filled journey thru Southern China & Southeast Asia. In fact, I'm finally able to update here at 2315 on 31 January (local time) - live from sunny, tropical Saigon, Vietnam!!

Unfortunately during the first part of our journey, we were stuck behind the Great fireWall of China. Aka - no facebook (gasp!) & worse, no blogspot, or any blogs for that matter...

Also... I admit, I forgot the cable connecting my camera to USB in the US - so I am currently unable to upload my dozens(squared) of photos either!! That said, stay tuned here and we'll at least keep you posted of our goingson, even if without the visual aids at first.

Thanks for reading! Tell your friends!
-Tim P

Bogota - without the altitude sickness!!

June 2008. Bogota, Colombia.

I don't know much what to say about Bogota. The capital city deserves so much more time than the few days I was able to spend there - while I enjoyed lots of what this magnificent City has to offer a traveler (and with family!), I also missed so much of its diverse mash-up of all of Colombia's culture, arts, and food found here due to the brevity of my visit.   So for more proper commentary sprinkled throughout the post, I defer my words here to that of fellow traveler and friend, Matt Morrison - I only asked for his raw thoughts on the place.

Fog over mountain over coffee. Central Range (locally known as Cordillera Central), Colombia.

On the Central Range, a fog-laden mountain valley along the road from Cali to Bogota. Colombia.

Receding mountain fog on overland approach to Bogota, nestled in Colombia's Eastern Range. Colombia.

Another view of the Eastern Range, on approach to Bogota, Colombia.

"...Bogota was a strange combination of rich and poor. There was extremely affluent areas mixed in with people who need to choose which bills to pay. ...there was a strong reminder of how Bogota used to be (extremely crime ridden) in that every house is heavily protected by locks and gates. However I felt pretty safe there."

Tiny sliver of the valley plain that is Bogota, Colombia.

Align CenterAnother sliver of the city, at night. Like it goes on forever... Bogota, Colombia.

Another favorite photo - Bolivar Sqaure, skirted by la Catedral Nacional. Bogota, Colombia.

Colombian flag, cathedral, rainbow, Monserrate - view from La Candelaria. Bogota, Colombia.

In colonial style - la Casa de la Moneda - the old Mint in la Candelaria. Bogota, Colombia

So it's not just in the U.S., folks. Bogota, Colombia.

Escopetarra - "guitarifle' - from National Police Museum. Bogota, Colombia.

From rooftop of National Police Museum - orginal art & view of Monserrate. Bogota, Colombia.

I've forgot the artist and the title, yet it remains one of my most favorite paintings ever - Judgment Day; and its enormous. Note one of first-ever painted images of the female Succubus demon, bottom-right. Bogota, Colombia.

Main stairway entrance to Biblioteca Nacional - very democracy-themed. Look close... Bogota, Colombia.

Fernando Botero's many works were characterized by a style that has been often mimicked, but never duplicated, and often with a political glint. Here, a pictoral jest at a particular lady of means, and the aristocracy in general. Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia.

An early draft of work supposedly incomplete. The style clarifies later.. Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia.

A haunting yet jovial musician, playing. Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia.

A clear political slant - finished after the documented massacre of peasant workers' assembly. Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia.

Pueblo after an earthquake. Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia.

House thief. Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia.

One of my favorite Botero pieces - his Reclining Venus. Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia.

Another favorite of mine - quirky smile & all. A fine study of Botero's prowess in his own style. Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia.

Amazing study in the style of Botero. Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia.

Aside from Botero works, the museum also included some works by his collaborators and visiting artist-friends.  Here, one of my own all-time favorites by Picasso - self-portrait.

"In [the city]... are so many beautiful parts. The old national cathedral next to the government buildings; that square is really cool. There's also la Candelaria and some really cool public places (the library, fields, etc.) that you can just go and chill.
What was strange is the weather and the temperature. It's a city in the mountains and it's either raining or not raining. It felt as though it were fall all the time."

The lone window-washer. I don't know the cathedral's name.. Bogota, Colombia.

Spectacular column inside 17th century Museo Iglesia de Santa Clara - a la colonial Baroque. Bogota, Colombia.

Barrel-vaulted ceiling of the same Museo Iglesia de Santa Clara. Bogota, Colombia.

One altar of la Iglesia de San Francisco, the oldest Church in Bogota. Colombia.

Rare and exclusive; an after-hours visit to Cerro de Monserrate brought me close and personal with the statue of Fallen Christ. Monserrate, Bogota, Colombia.

Catedral Nacional, seat of the Archdiocese of Bogota, and main church for the President and all Colombia's big-wigs. Plaza de Bolivar, Bogota, Colombia.

Pre-Colombian ceramic-work, showcased in el Museo de Oro. Bogota, Colombia.

More ancient Andean ceramic-work. Museo de Oro, Bogota, Colombia.

More art from el Museo de Oro, this time really of gold. Shadowed human figure serves as the ephemeral model.  Bogota, Colombia.

One of very few self-portaits; I look simply dashing.. I mean I like the sculpture - like the 'invisible hand' concept gone wild. Botero Museum, Bogota, Colombia.

"Overall the city of Bogota is slightly strange because it is a very old city with a lot of history that is struggling to keep up with contemporary problems, stressed by the economic situation of the world and South America."

Thanks, Matt!   Count on this: I will certainly return to Bogota, and with my camera once again at the ready.

The photos laid out heretofore are taken with an Olympus Stylus 1050 SW
 Creative Commons License
These works by Tim Paez are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License


Salento - colonial, natural, but don't drink the water - extended post.

May 2010 - As travelers, we are often those who are most aware of the dynamic currents of our world systems, of events and things as they happen and we make our passages through. Salento, in el Quindio department of Colombia, stands juxtaposed between the modern and colonial Colombia - and makes for a spectacular traveler's treasure trove of experience, both ecological and cultural.

Valley overlook from the town, Nevado del Tolima of Colombia's Eastern Range in the background. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Model (but functional) bridge built entirely of Guadua bamboo, using no metal nails. Housed in a guadua-themed bio-reserve in the department of Quindio, serves as a regional center for promoting use and development of this hardy grass. Quindio, Colombia.

The connection between people and nature is well-understood in Colombia. Big trees in a regional bio-reserve. Quindio, Colombia.

Flat ground ...or incline? Just one of my personal favorite photos.
Guadua Bio-reserve, Quindio, Colombia.

A testament to the universality of bamboo, this species is from Japan and its bark has traditionally been used as the face makeup for Geisha's. Specimen from guadua bio-reserve, Quindio, Colombia.

Decades after disuse, railroad tracks still dot the forested hillsides. Outside Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Often converted from railroad tracks, many of he mountain roads are solidly built. Quindio, Colombia.

Chicks & chicken, populating a small-scale organic artisanal coffee plantation. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

El Quindio is a main piece of Colombia's breadbasket - its the coffee region, and a major source for the industrial-grade bamboo, guadua, among many other crops. Salento, a large municipality in el Quindio, has long stood as resplendent of the traditional crafts, arts, and lifestyle that so characterized this part of Colombia. The main part of the town is situated at the foothills that are the entrance to el Parque Nacional Los Nevados - among the few remaining glacier fields around the equator. The region is rich in natural resources and traditional heritage, and the thriving systems of agriculture have subsisted for centuries. Only now are the traditional systems in the more remote regions of Colombia butting against modern agriculture, and the contrasts are startling.

This is where coffee begins. Organic artisanal coffee farm. Step 1. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Wonderfully healthy and rich organic, shade-grown coffee plants. Bananas growing in between. Step 2. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Old-school artisenal farming - picking the ripe berries by hand and by sight. Step 3. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Husking coffee beans - by hand. At this farm, the rind is kept and mulched, then reapplied to the fields. Step 4. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Sun-drying the husked beans, small-scale farm style. Step 5. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

The second-best part of the coffee-making process: roasting the beans, by hand, over a wood-flame stove. Step 6. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Take a break! Roasted coffee beans - cooled down and ready for the next step. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Grinding roast beans, by hand. I've heard from java junkies that it keeps beans from overheating as is common with most electric grinders. Step 7. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

The favorite part for most - the brew. Clearly there's a distinct flavor, strength, and preparation of tinto, the common Colombian-style coffee. Step 8. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Truly traditional, organic, shade-grown coffee farming. Contrary to belief, coffee plants do not require total light, nor vast quantities of water; this system of farming maintains an extremely healthy balance of all living things on the farm using minimal resources. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Pineapple, happily growing between the rows of the atrisenal coffee farm. Healthy for the farm, healthy for farmers' income. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Comparison shot of conventional coffee farm, as compared to artisenal, organic farming. See 'Step 2' photos to compare. Quindio, Colombia.

Our host encouraging a toast - pulled over on a hillside road approaching the local Glacier Park el Parque del Nevado, Quindio, Colombia.

Comparison shot. Truck for reference - Colombia's national 'tree' is really a palm - Palma de Sera - Wax Palm. eEl Parque del Nevado, Quindio, Colombia.

Another favorite photo - photographing the photographer. El Parque del Nevado, Quindio, Colombia.

Wax palm hillside. The height of these palms indicates the area has remained undisturbed for decades. El Parque del Nevado, Quindio, Colombia.

Looking skyward. El Parque del Nevado, Quindio, Colombia.

Looking down across the valley, treetops and hilltops - another favorite photo. El Parque del Nevado, Quindio, Colombia.

However, don't let your guard down here, traveler. Not in mind are thieves (present worldwide) or guerilla rebels (military everywhere around the town) - these are the everyday, often observable and 'felt' kind of threats we learn to watch for most often. Traveler, beware the water here! Upon completion of a wonderful, locally-sourced and prepared meal I paired with the finest of locally-sourced and boiled water - in a glass cleaned immediately before with un-boiled water. The error of my way, unlike that of all my compatriots save I, was to bemoan (internally) and humbly decline (outwardly) the proffered first choice - cola, sans ice, in newly washed glass.

Looking out from in, on the church bell-tower, on the town square. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Late afternoon on the main strip in downtown. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

The obvious colonial latin charm of Salento makes it an attractive respite hub for trekkers and backpackers through this region of Colombia. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

View of Salento's downtown from surrounding hillside. Note position of church spire in town square. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

View up the valley. Note the solitary homesteads hidden in the hillside. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Trekking around Salento's valleys and farmsteads - in the rain. Quindio, Colombia.

I'm no mycologist, but the fruits of this mud pie make me smile. Quindio, Colombia.

More fungus, some of my favorite lifeforms on earth, decomposing trees. Quindio, Colombia.

Mid-morning fog heralding the start of our hike thru the valley. Quindio, Colombia.

Barn-side discovery - the saddle room! Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

More colonial-styled homes and buildings, paired with typical Colombian cold-weather garb in foreground. Salento, Quindio, Colombia.

Typical site in rural places around the world - a row of Jeep Willy's around central square of Salento. Quindio, Colombia.

Main church in central sqaure of downtown Salento. Quindio, Colombia.

Roadside produce stand. A thankfully common site in this part of the world. Quindio, Colombia.

"The Quindio wants you alive." Roadside warning. Quindio, Colombia.

Real use of Guadua in the public domain - toll plaza built of the bamboo in full use at the border of the department of Quindio. Colombia.

Hillside grazing, along the departmental border of Quindio. Colombia.

I thought initially this was a wildfire or a battle. I learned instead that it's just a process in crop rotation - burn what's left of sugarcane before planting again. Quindio, Colombia.

5 days later, and about 12 lbs. lighter, I made my way sprightly back to Cali; whereupon the ever-overly-concerned elder matrons of the clan opined incessantly amongst themselves on which form best to pursue in order to keep me from getting sick again.. or getting kidnapped.. or injured.. or from having much fun whatsoever.  Unless I went escorted by an authorized local clan-member.  I enjoy my cousin's dearly - and its to them I'll make it up - but its the oppressive-feeling manner of the elder ways' that I had to escape. So I did...

 Next up : Bogota!

The photos laid out heretofore are taken with an Olympus Stylus 1050 SW
 Creative Commons License
These works by Tim Paez are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License