Critters

Australia has its share of unique animals. Kangaroos, obviously, but also the quokka (shown in the lower left photo), a raccoon-sized marsupial that is found only a few islands off the Western coast: primarily Rottnest Island, which is a recreational destination, and some smaller nearby islands. We found the kangaroos at the Caversham Wildlife Park, on the mainland, where they are completely domesticated to the point of eating kangaroo snacks out of tourists’ hand.  Domesticated kangaroos are lazy, unlike the quokkas, who are constantly hustling for food. The quokka in the lower right corner didn’t get that sandwich by being…

On the rocks

If you drive about three hours north of Perth, you’ll come to the Pinnacles, a desert area dotted with thousands of limestone formations. (Weirdly, the Indian Ocean is just a half-hour drive away, and you can see it from the high point of the park.) (Different filters on each of the lenses produce different colors.)  

Getting In to Bayon

This post should have come earlier … to get to Bayon, you have to pass from Angkor Wat into Angkor Tom, the formal capital complex of the Khmer Empire under King Jayavarman VII. Angkor Tom is a walled city which is reached via gates to the north and south, by crossing a bridge which is lined with statues of gods on one side and demons on the other. Each group of figures is holding a seven-headed naga along the length of the bridge. (Unfortunately, most of the statues on both bridges have lost their heads over the years, and the…

Ta Prohm

The final temple of the day was Ta Prohm. King Jayavarman VII built Ta Prohm to be a monastery and university, but it is best known as the temple in the Angelina Jolie film Tomb Raider. The temple is distinct for the trees with their enormous root structures growing out of the ruins, and—apart from stabilization—the temple has largely been left in the condition in which it was found.

A different side of Kathmandu

A few weeks back, I went to Kathmandu to take photos for a friend’s research project. She is examining the leadership roles—formal and informal—that women play in sukumbasis, informal settlements that have sprung up in Kathmandu as migrants have poured into the city.  The sukumbasis we visited are on either side of the Bagmati river. The Bagmati is a holy river—the Ganges of Nepal, as it were—but is now heavily choked and polluted due to the unrestrained population growth of the city. Two generations ago, people swam in it; now it is full of untreated sewage. A view of Jagritinagar from the…

climbing mount olympus

for our final weekend in greece, we climbed mount olympus. mount olympus, the highest mountain in greece at 2,918.8 meters, is the legendary home of the greek gods (zeus, hera, poseidon, demeter, athena, apollo, artemis, ares, aphrodite, hephaestus, hermes, and dionysus. the god of the underworld, hades, stayed home). according to the mythology, the jagged peak of olympus, stefani, was zeus’ throne, and the gods threw up obstacles to keep mortals from reaching the heights, but we were not to be dissuaded. scenery on the way up. our group started our ascent on friday from the “village” of prionia, which…

more exploring tinos

we took a long hike on the second day we were in tinos, using a guide that abby found on the web. the guide incorporated the marked hiking paths on the island, but also included byways that the author had found on his own excursions. tinos is dotted with dovecotes, buildings that shelter pigeons. the venetians introduced pigeon-breeding to tinos and other cycladic islands, for the meat. especially during the second world war, pigeon meat was very popular. the majority of them standing today are from the 18th and 19th centuries. some of them are well maintained while others have…