ss_blog_claim=94754a6b1be8770ce22d6ccb8015a428 ¿Where the Heck are You?: 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009

An Elephant Walk to Remember

When I was in Cambodia, I partook of an elephant safari ... an elephant walk. This late afternoon journey took us through the steaming jungle near Siem Reap and Angkor Wat to the mountain top of Phnom Bakheng and its ancient Buddhist temple to watch the sunset.

When walking at a leisurely pace, elephants lumber and plod along, swaying back and forth. Perched up in the throne you do have a commanding view as your Mahout guides the beast along the path. The rocking motion is not exactly gentle and you have to keep an eye out for low hanging vines and branches.

The photos might be oddly composed and a bit blurry. The first being a "no-lookie-self-portrait" snapped at arm's-length. The second image captures the sway of not only my fellow safariers perched in their throne, but is compounded by the low-light of the encroaching evening in the jungle and by me being rocked by my own elephant. As for the odd angle of the third pic...I can only assume their elephant shifted when my safari mates clicked the shutter.

This is the Wat on top of Phnom Bakheng. It was the first of the mountain temples built in the Angkor area in the late 9th century by the Khmer king Yasovarman.

And lastly, the temple in silhouette against the sunset.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What is a Chicken Bus?

Travel, by whatever means the journey asks of you!

Most folks figured out that a Mule Train is not an Iron Horse, but a caravan of mules; however, the Chicken Bus was a mystery for many. Chicken buses are a means of local transportation in Central and South America and a source of legend and lore for the intrepid traveler. The Chicken Bus is typically an old retired American school bus with a wild paint job, a roof rack for cargo and luggage, driven by a gregarious and fearless driver who races the bus wildly along rural roads and careens around mountain passes to deliver natives and their cargo to the far flung villages. Your backpack or suitcase is tossed on top with the indigenous cargo - pallets of textiles, sacks of grain and yes...crates of chickens! The Chicken Bus has risen to it's highest art form in Guatemala, where the regional buses are adorned with vivid and colourful murals. For those seeking motorized transport in this Quiz, the Chicken Bus was just what you were looking for!

The Elephant Walk was the #1 pick this week. Wanting a clever name for the Quiz's pachyderm parade, I chose to call it the Elephant Walk. This comes from Henry Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk" the theme song from the 1962 movie "Hatari!" Along with The Pink Panther and Moon River, it is one of Mancini's most recognized compositions. You can have a quick listen at this link:

One Hump or Two - the Camel Caravan came in a close second to the elephants. Camels come in two models - coupe or sedan - both are 4x4 with an awkward gate that is not as smooth as a mule or horse. The coupe would be the one hump Dromedary, the Ship of the Sahara. The sedan is the double hump Bactrian camel found in Asia, primarily the Gobi Desert of China and Mongolia, of which there are only about 1000 wild members left. Dromedaries have been exported to several areas including to the American Southwest in the mid 1800's. There is a large contingent of over a half million feral camels living in the outback of Australia.

Some people asked for "non-stinky" or motorized transport like planes, but sorry, no seats were available. Interestingly, twice as many folks would rather hitch a ride with their thumb than ride the Chicken Bus. It seems that many Baby Boomers are nostalgic for their college years and hitch-hiking around the country.

You chose your means of transport and then tell us about your journey - where did you go?

Travel, by whatever means the journey asks of you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Where the Heck are You? - Oivoi Symposia

Οινoι Symposιa

fileId:3096224744139993;size:inter;They say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans!” Applying that philosophy in the homeland of Philosophy ... when in Hellas, do as the Greeks! In English, the Romans gave us the forum in which to gather, and the Greeks - the symposium - from the Greek word symposia. For over 5000 years the Greeks have enjoyed organizing symposia, intellectual gatherings where they would eat, talk about philosophical subjects, all the while drinking oivoi - wine. A symposia begins with a toast to Dionysus. Dionysus is the Greek God of wine and liberation. Also known as Bacchus, and readily adopted by the Romans and raucously celebrated with the infamous feasts of Bacchanalia. A most fine tradition and institution to pass along to the modern world.

fileId:3096224744139972;size:inter;Pelekas Agios - Kerkyra of the Ionian islands of Greece. We spent the day climbing to the top of the Neo Forio, the 13th century Venetian fortress that towers over Kerkyra (Corfu) town. Old and new are definitely relative terms when you are in Greece, to the tyro everythingappears to be old. From the ramparts of hilltop citadel we peer through the archer’s slits and small windows across the city to the old fort - the previous Venetian fort built in the 11th century.


The long day exploring the ancient forts worked up both our thirst and appetite. After returning to the family run pension overlooking Pelekas Agios (Pelekas Bay), we shower and change clothes. Then gather on the patio with friends for our own symposia to discuss the sites we visited today and plan more adventures for the future, and of course to eat and drink and watch the evenings’ sunset.

fileId:3096224744139985;size:inter;We begin our symposia by bringing out a couple bottles of wine we picked up along our way through the Aegean and crossing the Peloponnese. A very dry and crisp white from Achaia Klaus near Patra on the Peloponnese, possibly the world’s oldest continuous vineyard and has been in production for 4000 years. Chilled, this bottle is refreshing after a day climbing the fortresses, and a perfect accompaniment to the mezedes (appetizers) of Saganaki (grilled Kasseri cheese), Melitzana (aubergine salad), tarama (fish roe salad), and olives. We enjoy clay pitchers of local oivoi rossa (red wine), vinted by our hosts family, with the evening’s meal of spit roasted lamb.


The wines of Greece are quite varied and often only available in the region where the grapes are grown and the wine produced. They are quite unique because of the more than 300 varieties of grapes are indigenous to Greece, some have been cultivated since ancient times.

fileId:3096224744139978;size:inter;During the Greek dominance of the Mediterranean, they brought wine, varieties of grape vines, and their vinification skills first to their outposts in Italy and Sicily around 800 B.C., and later to France and Spain. Amphorae, the huge clay vases the Greeks used to store and transport their wine, have been discovered in archeological sites all around the Mediterranean basin and as far away as Switzerland. Later the Roman Empire would continue the practices they learned from their Greek forbearers, as would the following medieval realms of the Venetians and Franks. Wine was not only libation, but also currency for trade and barter in the ancient world. And that trade would spread the grapes, the wine, and the tradition of celebrating the gods with the fruits of the harvest.

fileId:3096224744139970;size:inter;As the sun drew down close to the horizon, we brought out our last bottle of Vin Santo, a naturally sweet wine from the southern Aegean island of Thira (Santorini). The grapes are grown on vines twisted into crowns that lay close to the ground. The grapes are allowed to dry some in the sun on the vines before being picked and vinted. The drying concentrates the already high sugar content and produces a delightfully sweet dessert wine. We raised our glasses in a final salute to Dionysus, a spectacular day of exploration, and to the sun setting on Agios Pelekas.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cayes Reefs Skye - Seaing is Belize-ing

Cayes Reefs Skye - Seaing is Belize-ing


Image #1 - Cayes Reefs Skye & Seas

December 2006 - Flying from Caye Hicaco (Caulker) Belize towards the northern mainland area of the country, I was awestruck by the incredibly glassy smooth and reflective surface of the Caribbean Sea that afternoon. I had never seen such a large body of water so perfectly smooth as the sea between the cayes was this day. I was a passenger in the little 10 seat single prop plane and took the opportunity to take many shots out the window as we flew along at only a few hundred feet in the air. I found this motorboat scribing its wake across the water almost parallel to the exposed reef very intriguing

While reviewing my Belize photos I thought you might enjoy this image and and some additional images created from it. This first image has been cropped to remove one of the plane's wing struts that was captured in the full frame. Well below, image #4, you will find a reverse or mirrored image of this same photo. From these two images I created the mirrored perspectives of images #2 and #3.


Image #2 - I refer to image as "Inward Mirror" with the appearance of the boats converging.


Image #3 - The Outward Mirror - as the boats seem to be speeding away to different harbours. Combining the mirrored images also creates some interesting illusions within the reflections of the clouds on the water.


Image #4 - the reversed view of the original photo.


Image #5 - Cloud reflections in tidal pools.


Image #6 - An area of shallow reefs, mudflats, and sinkholes in various greens and browns creating an interesting pallet of textures and patterns.

All the proceeding images were taken with a Kodak Z740 digital camera. Editing was minimal - cropping of the original photo to remove wing strut from view, reversing the cropped image, and the subsesquent merging of the original and reversed copy to create the mirror views.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Eyes Along The Road

Eyes Along The Road

... along this road traveled,
there have been many eyes
that have seen my journey ...

These eyes greeted me.
These eyes laughed with me.
These eyes sat across from me,
and shared meals with me.
These eyes took adventures with me.
And these eyes, smiled at me.

These eyes,
as did mine own,
shed tears
as we parted
to then journey
our separate paths ...

MrBill © 2007

Eyes Along The Road