Archive | November, 2010
November 19, 2010

POTD: Soviet decorations in Pripyat

These decorations were hung on the lampposts in Pripyat in preparation for the 1986 May Day parade that never occurred due to the explosion at the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

November 18, 2010

North Korea: The Mangyongdae Children’s Palace

Here is the last footage from the DVD of our North Korea tour. This is the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace (which I will write about further) in Pyongyang. The Children’s Palace is where the most gifted (or politically-connected) children go for their after school extracurricular activities. It’s like a miserable YMCA on steroids, where, instead of having fun, the kids are forced to put on show after show for Palace visitors.

The below videos show these kids, whose “artistic skill is higher than that of the children of any other country”.

November 18, 2010

POTD: Abandoned gas station in northern Armenia

Our van broke down during an excursion to northern Armenia, so there was little to do but take photos, eat khorovats, and drink vodka while we waited for another car to arrive.

November 17, 2010

POTD: Cleopatra and Caesarion at the Dendera Temple Complex

cleopatra and caesarion

cleopatra and caesarion

The above relief is from the Hathor temple near Dendera, Egypt. It depicts Cleopatra with Caesarion (little Caesar), her son by Julius Caesar

November 16, 2010

POTD: Soviet Red Army memorial in Freedom Square, Budapest

soviet memorial

soviet memorial

This memorial to the Soviet Red Army is situated in Freedom Square (Szabadság tér) in Budapest, Hungary. If you are familiar with World War II and Hungarian history, you will not be surprised to learn that this memorial is quite contentious and is often defaced. It is the last Soviet memorial standing in the city, as the rest have been carted off to Statue Park. The below article gives more information on controversy surrounding the monument:

If some Hungarians get their way, the last Soviet statue in Budapest will be carted off to join busts of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and other communists in a monument graveyard on the edge of town.

Their campaign is angering Russia. Relations between the two countries, already chilly after Russia twice interrupted gas and oil supplies to its former satellite states, may cool further if the drive to tear down the memorial succeeds.

“This is an unworthy sacrilege,” said Igor Savolsky, Russia’s ambassador to Hungary. “If this statue is removed, it would greatly worsen the atmosphere of binary relations.”

The 16-foot-tall (5-meter-tall) statue has sat on the same spot since 1945, in tribute to the Red Army troops who died while seizing the city from the Nazis.

The World Federation of Hungarians, a nationalist group, is lobbying the main opposition party, Fidesz, to include the marble obelisk’s ouster in a referendum later this year.

“The fact that it’s still standing after 1989 is an insult,” said Janos Meszaros, 27, an engineering student, while standing next to the memorial in Szabadsag ter, or Freedom Square. “The communists ruined Hungary. This statue reminds me of it.”

The Hungarian government says the hammer-and-sickle-adorned monument is protected by a treaty with Russia and isn’t going anywhere. Anti-government rioters attacked the memorial last year, scratching off a carving of Russian troops. Since then, it has been surrounded by two layers of iron fencing and patrolled by police.

November 15, 2010

POTD: Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam

Burnside’s Bridge is a landmark on the Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg, Maryland. Crossing over Antietam Creek, the bridge played a key role in the September 1862 Battle of Antietam during the American Civil War when a small number of Confederate soldiers from Georgia for several hours held off repeated attempts by elements of the Union Army to take the bridge by force. Finally, the Federals seized it, but not before the attack had been delayed for several hours beyond what had been expected by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside. The bridge now bears Burnside’s name.

November 14, 2010

POTD: Dubrovnik

dubrovnik

dubrovnik

One of my favorite places in the world.

November 13, 2010

POTD: Staging area prior to entering the DMZ

Taken during a September 2009 visit to the North Korean side of the DMZ.

November 12, 2010

POTD: Communists near Red Square

Yes, they still exist, and occasionally hold small rallies. Photo taken in the summer of 2003.

November 10, 2010

POTD: Wangfujing Snack Street in Beijing

I don’t think there is enough money in the world to get me to eat a scorpion. OK, maybe I would do it for $500. Scorpions on a stick were one of the many interesting snacks you could purchase at the Wangfujing Snack Street. I went the safe route and opted for what I call a Chinese burrito: noodles wrapped in a giant moo shu wrapper and then grilled, followed by a dessert of green tea ice cream.