Archive | April, 2011
April 28, 2011

POTD: Inside the Kremlin

Taken with a film camera (remember film?) back in July 2003, when I was studying in Moscow. In the Russian language, “Kreml” (Kremlin) means “fortress”. All ancient Russian cities had a kremlin at their center. The Moscow Kremlin served as the seat of government for the Tsars of Russia until Peter the Great transferred the capital to St. Petersburg. In March 1918, the Bolsheviks moved the capital back to Moscow, and since then the Kremlin has remained the center of power.

April 24, 2011

POTD: The Tate Modern

The above photos shows the Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge in London, UK. I lived in London from 2004-05 when I was a student at the London School of Economics. My dorm was located in the Bankside neighborhood, right behind the Tate Modern. At the time, Bankside was undergoing a transition, and many restaurants and businesses were moving into the neighborhood.

The Tate Modern building was probably one of my favorite buildings in London, as I’m just a fan of gritty industrial architecture. The building was originally an oil-fired power station that generated electricity from 1952 to 1981. (Interestingly enough, the building’s architect, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, was also responsible for designing the iconic red telephone boxes that used to be found throughout the UK). In 2000, the Bankside Power Station became home to the Tate Modern, which is now the world’s most-visited modern art gallery. The station’s mammoth turbine hall is the site of large art installations that change every 6-12 months.

In addition to the Tate Modern, there are many other sights to visit in the Bankside neighborhood, including the Globe Theatre and Borough Market. A short stroll across the Millennium Bridge will take you to St. Paul’s Cathedral and then further into the city center.

April 22, 2011

POTD: Rainy day in Tiananmen Square

Another photo of Tiananmen Square, located in Beijing, China. The structure adorned with a portrait of Mao Zedong is the Tiananmen gate. Located north of Tiananmen Square, this gate served as the entrance to the Imperial City, within which the Forbidden City was located. The portrait of Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, was placed on the gate in 1949. The soldier in the photo was part of the ceremonial guard located near the square’s flagpole. Apparently, the Chinese military puts on very impressive flag raising and lowering ceremonies during the morning and evening, but I missed them. This was unfortunate, as I am a sucker for anything military-related.

In addition to the military guards, there is a heavy police presence in Tiananmen Square for crowd control and monitoring. Since Tiananmen Square has been the site of important political demonstrations, the authorities continue to keep a watchful eye (via officers and a multitude of security cameras) on any activities taking place there. In fact, in order to gain entrance to Tiananmen Square, you are required to pass through a security checkpoint. You must walk through a metal detector and have your belongings scanned via an x-ray machine. It’s a bit like going to the airport, only the Chinese guards are much more pleasant than TSA agents.

April 20, 2011

The Beauty of Big Sur, Part II

More photos from our drive through Big Sur.

It is hard to make out due to the lighting, but this is McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Big Sur is home to several cattle ranches

One of many reasons why California cows are the happiest in the world

Bixby Creek Bridge

We stopped at Monterey Harbor on the way to San Francisco and enjoyed a breadbowl filled with clam chowder.

The rest of the photos are here.

April 19, 2011

The Beauty of Big Sur, Part I

“Big Sur is the California that men dreamed of years ago, this is the Pacific that Balboa looked at from the Peak of Darien, this is the face of the earth as the Creator intended it to look.” – Henry Miller

On our way from Southern California to Seattle, we drove Highway 1 for the majority of our journey. Our first stop was Los Osos (near San Luis Obispo) where my friend Katerina lives in a cute little house near the bay. Katerina, a friend of mine since the first grade, has been bugging me to visit her ever since she moved up there, and I finally did. And to be honest, I kinda fell in love with the place. We spent the evening at the Firestone Grill in downtown San Luis Obispo watching college football, drinking multiple pints of Firestone ale, and eating BBQ that rivals anything you can find in Texas.

The next morning, our bellies full of blueberry pancakes (seriously, Katerina is an amazing cook), we set off for our next destination, San Francisco. We would be taking Highway 1 all the way there, through Big Sur, Monterey, and Santa Cruz. While this route is much longer than the more direct US-101, the extra hours spent driving along the unspoiled coast are well worth it. Big Sur, a 90-mile stretch of highway in Central California, remains one of my favorite places in California, its beauty unmatched by any other.

Below are some photos I took from that drive.

Elephant seals relaxing on the beach


April 14, 2011

North Korea: Driving through the streets of Pyongyang, continued…

Today I uploaded more footage taken while driving through Pyongyang.

The first video includes footage of Kim Il-Sung Square, the Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang Traffic Girls, and the Grand People’s Study House.

This second video was taken while driving through Pyongyang in the evening. There is not much to see, due to the lack of electricity, and therefore lighting, in Pyongyang.

April 13, 2011

POTD: Brooklyn Bridge

Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge spans the East River and connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Since its opening, the Bridge has become an iconic part of the New York City skyline.

This photo was taken in August 2008, when I met up with my dad and brother in New York City so that we could see a Yankee game before they tore down the old Yankee Stadium. We took a New York Harbor cruise that afforded us wonderful views of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and island of Manhattan. In a subsequent trip to New York City, my friends and I went to Brooklyn (my first time there) to partake in Russian/Georgian food and spend the day at a banya (Russian bath house) in Brighton Beach. With the Cyrillic signs adorning shop fronts and the smell of Russian pastries wafting through the air, I felt like I was back in Moscow.

For those of us who live in DC or other large metro areas on the East Coast, New York holidays are quite easy – you can catch some of the cheap Chinatown buses or take Amtrak (I personally prefer BoltBus). It’s just the hotel prices you have to worry about…

April 12, 2011

POTD: Belfast City Hall

The civic building for Belfast, Northern Ireland.

April 6, 2011

POTD: Cakes on display in Vienna

Without a doubt, the greatest part about visiting Vienna is the food. In fact, all I can really remember about the city are the meals I ate, including Wiener Schnitzel and tall glasses of radler (beer with lemonade) every evening. And, of course, for dessert, strudel or cake (and, occasionally, both at the same time). Lots and lots of strudel and cake. The above photo illustrates just a few of the many cake varieties you can enjoy while in Vienna.

April 5, 2011

POTD: Lecture in the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) Conference Room in the DMZ’s Joint Security Area

In this photo, an officer in the Korean People’s Army lectures our group of American Imperialists on, among other things, U.S. Imperialism. Before the officer began his lecture, our North Korean guide (also in the above photo), Ms. Lee, said “I apologize in advance. I will say ‘American Imperialists’ several times.” I was pretty floored when she said this. A North Korean apologizing for calling us imperialists? Never in a million years would I have expected that.

This lecture was held in the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) Conference Room in the DMZ’s Joint Security Area. Aside from being a major tourist attraction, this conference room is where the North Korean and South Korean/UN Command occasionally meet for diplomatic negotiations.