At the base of the tower.
These people were camping out for some event at the tower the next morning (I think a pop band at a radio station or something).
These guys were just enjoying the sites.
From the middle of the street, late one night with my tripod.
Salarymen on the way home.
Three very different shots, same sunrise.
A few Tokyo black and whites, around Hiroo.
Police on pretty much every corner.
Cartoon figures of some type, on every corner.
The 100 Yen Shop – why are all of their signs in English?
A snow shovel for 100 Yen ($1). It snowed 2 times in 2 years when we lived in Tokyo .. not sure it is a good investment?
At first I thought that the owner of this bike was simply having a tough time letting go, the way that it is locked to the office chair.
Our guide explained that the bike owner was using the two items to protect their parking spot. Cones simply don’t do it.
Colored balloons marking the local health care center.
My final posted shot on Beijing, at the market.
A great place to explore (just make sure you bring a polarizing filter to cut through the haze).
If you have followed this blog at some point you know that one of my favorite places to visit while traveling is a market. Beijing was no different. The markets are the best places to enjoy the “life” of a city.
When you stand outside a street vendor like this, it makes our North American dining experience seem so .. pedestrian.
A few black and whites.
It also seems like their food is fresher. Farmer to market …. perhaps it is different in January.
In the Forbidden City the most interesting thing to me was the roofs. I can only imagine how much was lost during the different cultural purges of the last century.
Right below the roof at the front of this shot is where a Starbucks use to be. It was removed prior to the Olympics as it was not good for their image. I would hate to have seen the lineup.
A few more roof shots from around the city. Grass can grow in the toughest of places.
Deer are a popular ornament for under the roofs. Blue deer.
To the Forbidden City, Beijing China. Waiting for our guide ….
I wonder. Down a side street in Beijing.
As I have mentioned before on this blog, when traveling we love to visit markets; seeing what the locals eat and how they live their lives.
I would say that the Chinese medicine market was a new level of different for our travels. As we pulled up our guide explained that these markets are in decline, replaced by Chinese pharmacies that carry every type of herbal medicine imaginable.
Perhaps the decline is a display issue. A few of these sellers were bagging their wares to sell to other shops.
A few of my favorite shots.
That is a bag of snakes.
I cannot remember, but these were some type of fish. There was a common theme through the market, almost everything would cure one condition … and contribute to fertility or virility.
Odd to see Sea Horses.
The shells of turtles, for some reason that bothered me.
As did seeing these deer horns.
Last shots. Of course, there has to be lots, and lots of beetles.
Really interesting to see.
At the Chinese medicine market in Xi’an, China.
That calculator looks like it has a lot of miles on it.
This is the Temple of Heaven, on a warm day with the smog backdrop. We were not there on a clear blue-sky day.
The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven (simplified Chinese: 天坛; traditional Chinese: 天壇; pinyin: Tiāntán; Manchu: Abkai mukdehun) is a complex of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It has been regarded as aTaoist temple, although Chinese heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism.
To me the more interesting view is the walkway to the temple. Filled with retired people and families, enjoying each other – playing cards and different board games. There is a lot going on, and I am sure there is some money changing hands in some of those games.
Shirts optional. The Chinese men had an interesting cultural norm of pulling their t-shirts up from the bottom and tucking them through the neck, exposing their mid-sections. It was hot, but for me, not hot enough to resort to that (smile).
I think I would call this shot “friends”.
I love this little flower shop. This wonderful elderly couple run it and over the last couple years I have gone in there many times. No shared language, other than a love of flowers and herbs.
I think that Yoyogi Park is one of my favorite parks. I love walking it. In Tokyo, people gather in the parks on the weekends. Families, friends, joggers, ninjas, cosplayers, dancers … everyone.
That is why it is such a great park, if you stop and look around.
There are many joggers holding a piece of rope between them. When I asked, it was explained that these people are jogging with a blind companion.
The bridge, that takes you to where the festivals are – on this day it was Cinco de Mayo day.
A few shots from Cinco de Mayo which was all about the food and .. of course, some dancing. It was amazing watching this woman balance the bottles. I wonder what made her want to learn this dance? She went to 8 bottles.
In Japan you will never be disappointed by the unique English translations.
You will never be disappointed by the food either.
On the weekend you will see these huge trucks driving around Tokyo blaring music – advertising bands. These bands are always pop bands – and J-POP is a very unique brand of music.
You be the judge: when you read the name of this album – GUTS! – and interpret the name of the band (‘Arashi’ means ‘Storm’) what do you envision? Myself, I envisioned a tough-guy band.
Now view the band. (smile)
Just down the road from where we live in Tokyo. There is no lawn at this club, the courts are all clay (smile).
A few HDRs from when the azaleas were in full bloom.
The path beside the club. I walked this path for a year – until we changed offices.
It is a colorful city. Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm f/2.8 USM.
Sitting in one of the canal locks (there are many).
You also see some interesting wildlife on the canals. To answer your question, yes – it really is that big. This is not the zoom making it look bigger.
On the canals of Bangkok. Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm f/2.8 USM.
As we rode down the river, lots of people were playing music. Some with some very big speakers.
These homes exist in the shadow of some of the world’s most modern buildings.
Reminds me of Hong Kong.
Actually, down the street from where we live – a spring view. Config: Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 28-300mm f/2.8 USM.
Many restaurants look like this, with the welcome cloth over the door.
This fellow was arriving, ready for his next food delivery.
Last shot, in black and white.
As previously mentioned, a few weeks ago we headed to a shrine sale/market on a Saturday morning. In one area they were serving food. I love Japanese food. I love that Japanese “fast food” means that someone is cooking it quickly, from scratch, instead of mcCooking it.
A few shots. This fellow was quite artfully keeping his ashes out of my food (smile).
These folks were cooking a very popular dish that you see at the baseball fields – octopus balls with a nice squirt of Japanese mayonnaise on-top.
I went for the noodles.
I am afraid that I am becoming a Japanese food bigot and will not be able to step into Canada’s version of a restaurant .. Moxie’s, Jack Astors .. without a sense of despair. I will definitely have to seek out those Canadian ‘chef owned’ restaurants actively.
Reflecting on the difference, it seems to come down to economics. More and more, Canadian restaurants are owned by business people – not chefs. It is bought as a business, not as a extension of a passion and everything from building layout to food delivery is controlled by HQ.
Very different from Japan where those holes in the wall are still family owned with the husband busy cooking while the wife runs the business. Sure, there are fast food chains, but they are a small fraction of the ecosystem.
Guess that is why Tokyo has more Michelin stars than anywhere else in the world – by a huge margin. If you come to Tokyo, explore the food. You will not be disappointed.
A fun way to spend a Saturday morning.
This fellow was super content.
In the end we didn’t buy anything. I don’t need a $100 hand crafted wood comb. But really enjoyed wandering around.
The homes and apartments may be small, but they burst with plants.
Notice the complete lack of any litter.
The Japanese make the most of their space.
With Jaipur complete we faced the arduous trip from Jaipur to Delhi. How long would it take? The answer was 5 – 8 hours. Who knows? That is the joy of traveling in India. A couple hundred kilometers is a trip into chaos where anything can happen.
The good thing about that? Lots to see. A few shots from the drive.
Those are bags filled with cotton candy. Some children will be happy,
While we were in India I read all about multinational business failure in India’s food market. It seems like the country is not ready for wide-scale, super market led food distribution. Read the article on the Journey of an Indian Onion from the Economist, fascinating.
One of the many, many markets that we passed as we drove to Delhi.
One of the local distribution engines in action. If you tried loading your truck up like this in Canada, you wouldn’t make it 2km before the police had you stopped.
Of course, the police would have to find you and get to you first. It might be hard to conduct a police chase on an Indian highway .. with all of the tractors, cattle, camels and everything else in between.
These guys didn’t seem to mind the traffic.
One last shot of a potter, by the side of the road; who needs some help organizing.
It took us 7 hours. Time seemed to fly by.
Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm USM.
There are 3 ways to the top of the Amber Fort, walk (it is long), a jeep up the side streets (our method) or an elephant ride that wanders up the hill.
I jumped in front of this one as it made its way back down the hill.
The road up and down the hill is packed with jeeps. Elephants randomly walking into the middle of the street do not speed things up.
Neither do the random cattle. Wandering free and completely unafraid.
I had a chuckle at this sign. Not an issue.
This fellow was moving much, much faster than we were.
It was very hard not to jump out of our parked vehicle for some authentic popcorn. But the rule was clear, no street food, no matter how seemly innocent – not even popcorn.
Never a dull moment.
Shot through the window of our van as we drove through a street.
The goats of India are like the dogs of Tokyo, dressed!
One of the benefits of having a private guide is itinerary control. When we arrived in Jaipur the family was ready for a quiet break from touring. I had to run an errand and Anu accompanied me – through the side streets of Jaipur.
Once the errand was complete we stepped out and decided to take a one block loop around the shop. What fascinated me was the fact that the one block walk was a city, inside a city with a wide range of shops so diverse that the area could almost operate as a self contained unit. Food, mechanical shops, butchers, a pharmacy, clothing and apartments in a block.
Rickshaws are like scooters in other countries, everywhere.
Fossil fuels, specifically wood, is still used to cook and in homes around the city. This wood “store” was manned by a man and his goat.
A micro-city, within the city, which also included a wide range of food – fruits, street vendors and of course, the local butcher.
Last street shot. The hustle and bustle, in this case two guys trying to sell carpets. According to our guide, the women are tough negotiators.
Highly recommend stepping into the side streets if you can.
I love the colors and vibrancy of India.
The second stage of the sales cycle was to show us how they made a carpet.
Hand woven and then burned with a torch to remove the extra silk.
An intricate process of burning (to tighten and seal the knots) and shaving. With the wool carpets he took a blade to the fibers to finish the process.
While it is all staged to facilitate the sales process just like in other places such as Murano, Italy, it was interesting to watch. The problem I have as a “tourist” is what is the right price? This vendor was pitching us rugs that ran from $5K-$12K USD. While I know silk rugs in downtown Toronto often go for that price (or more), I was instantly on the defensive. Certainly they send those to foreign markets at a fraction of the cost – so what is the right price?
In the end, that is why we did not buy. Perhaps we would have if we felt there was a compelling reason and a deal to be had due to the “buy from the source” scenario.
Being Expats our propensity to “consume” is quite low. Beside the fact that we are living in Tokyo, we have entered into a phase in our lives where we are getting rid of things – not adding. It has to be pretty special to get into our suitcase on a trip.
Our guide had scheduled a stop at a textile shop which is a collective and one that he trusts. I have a long sales background and appreciate a good selling process. Their process is all about creating that emotional tie, letting us know the background on the collective and walking us through how the carpets are made.
The selling process started with showing us how they print silk by hand. Amazing to watch.
The finished process.
Made me wish that we needed something. Carpets, their high price item, were next.
I kept seeing these sidewalk barbershops as we traveled the roads of India – often too late (our van had already whizzed by). On our last couple days in India I set a goal – get a few shots before it is too late.
Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm f/28 USM. Having the 300mm helped.
I think that the blue chair might be a barbershop standard.
This is the only barbershop that I spotted inside – on the way from Jaipur to Delhi.
Incredible India! I just loved having a camera there.
As we approached the potter’s home his family gathered around. It was a simple demonstration, showing us his craft.
I love the bright colors of the community.
With no signs of electricity into the home, it was all done the old fashioned way – by hand.
His watch seemed an odd contrast to the surroundings.
While traveling from Agra to Jaipur we detoured into a small town. We went to see how the locals live and to see a potter. Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm f/2.8 USM.
Every street, regardless of location, has one thing in common – water buffalo and cows.
The potters house.
Cow dung was spread out on the roofs of many of the houses – they use it for fuel.
I was allowed to look inside one of the homes (below), and it was as you would expect. Simple open rooms, with a fire pit and sleeping quarters on mats. It was also filled with smiling children, staring at the gaijin.
The potter was next.
My transfer station is Ginza. Again, it seems like I flow against the commuters with more people getting off than getting on. Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 50mm f/1.2.
As with much of Japan’s society, it is all about order. When you stand on a platform you will notice the little colored markers where the doors will stop and people calmly and neatly line up on either side, waiting.
As people funnel on, there is no pushing or shoving – even as it gets tight.
And it definitely gets tight. Although on this day, the conductor did not need to do one of those famous ‘pushes’.
A few more shots around the subway.
The subways of Japan, the cleanest and most efficient in the world.
It occurred to me recently that I have never brought my camera along for the commute. The other week I did. Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 50mm f/1.2.
The subways have some old fashion elements – like white gloved conductors who hop on and off to guide the crowds.
My commute to work is a short one. It starts at Hiroo station – stop number 3. I change trains at stop number 8.
I seem to go against the flow of the commuters. This station fills up with people getting off the train, not on to it. Very clean.
Note the face masks. I found that very odd when I first moved to Tokyo – people on the train, in the street and in the office wearing facemasks.
As an insight into the Japan culture, often people wear masks not to avoid getting sick – but to stop themselves from getting others sick. Very polite. I have even started wearing a mask when ill (garnering a few looks) and on airplanes; it is fantastic for your throat as the air is dryer than a dessert on a plane and the worst place to catch a cold. I travelled a significant amount in 2013 (often 10 hour flights) and seemed to be catching a cold every other flight – the mask helped.
Another common reason for wearing a mask is allergies (blogged about previously).
The train flying by.
The Tokyo rush hour can become very crowded.
I think this is my favorite shot of the morning.
Next stop Ginza.
This fellow was very proud of his camel and the grooming. A majestic animal. He was offering rides outside of Fatehpur Sikri.
Love the intricate designs. He loves his camel.
Wandering around Chofu (a district of Tokyo) I came across this place. I am not sure what is going on, is it a shop?
There was a very helpful sign in English. If anyone could help me out with the translation, that would be great.
Foreigner in a foreign land.
A small temple, tucked off the road in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. As seen by one of the many mirrors on the road. The mirrors are in place as the buildings are so close to the roads that it is almost impossible to see around corners.
No one was around .. just a pair of boots.
The temple was across from the tracks. Everything in Japan (and Tokyo) is so tightly packed in and usually close to some type of train track.
Being Canadian, seeing lemon trees like this in January when it is 6C is a bit baffling.
Near the temple was a workshop of some type. Odd seeing what appears to be a machine shop in the middle of what feels like a residential area.
As always, Tokyo is filled with random English.
People often refer to India as “Incredible India”. Seems like Tokyo needs a adjective inserted.
I thought it odd that this man would re-shoe his horse in the middle of a busy Old Delhi street.
It turns out that used horseshoes are very valuable in Indian culture. Business people buy them for good luck.
The man on the left is waiting for the horseshoe – money in hand.
The Old Delhi markets are a real mix. Inside a city block you can find everything; spices, food, textiles, with a little bit of everything in between.
When it comes to colors and textiles, the Indian culture is all about color.
The Indian culture also loves their marigolds. Street vendors were selling them everywhere – especially near temples.
Did I mention that watching the street vendors and not being able to try any of the foods was torture?
This fellow was making these amazing deep fried, cinnamon, crispy sweet cakes. How do I know? They had them in the hotel at breakfast – a place where we could eat the food.
The Indian spice markets are like the textiles – filled with colors. I had one vendor try to sell me a huge bag of cardamom for a couple dollars – definitely not Tokyo prices.
A wonderful “wander”.
Throughout India you see these on doors, walls and hanging in the air – to ward off evil spirits. In this case they are warding the spirits and locking them out.
Remember, always look up. They were hanging all around the markets.
I think it is a lime – with chilies.
How do you describe the Delhi markets? Many words come to mind. Rich, alive, colorful, crammed, dusty, packed, rambling, chaotic. All apply including “interesting”. On Christmas eve day, we wandered the textile and spice markets of Old Delhi. Every alley filled with sights.
These are two of my favorite shots – capturing the essence of the alleys of Old Delhi (Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm f/3.5 USM)
This sign was hanging outside a string of fireworks shops.
A few fireworks with very interesting names.
The fireworks were right beside the “Dental Depot”.
And this empty office, which our guide said was the sanitation office – they must have been out and hard at work.
The use of English in Japan can be interesting. Take a guess at what this company’s business is?
A wind vane (or weathercock) is an instrument for showing the direction of the wind. They are typically used as an architectural ornament to the highest point of a building.
I only figured it out by looking in the window (smile) and noticing the colors that are inside of the lamp by the door.
If there is one photo that I took while in India which “describes” Delhi, this would be my choice.
Modern capabilities (electricity, communications, internet and everything else in between) strewn across the street in chaos. The word I would use is “chaotic”.
How these two guys make heads or tails of the wiring is beyond me?
Last shots of San Francisco. I don’t know why I looked up, but glad I did. My wife always reminds us – when traveling always look up. A crisp. clear blue sky.
While I wandered through Chinatown, I wondered – what would Buddha think?
Reminiscent of those old motels you would pass (or stay in) as a kid.
I stopped by a church for an hour. A haven on a walk. A spot to think, reflect, say thanks.
I would say, San Francisco feels welcoming.
I think this van welcomes a lot of people to write on it.
Living and traveling around Asia, this store front no longer feels odd or foreign to me.
The famous hills of San Francisco.
I didn’t take this tram home. The wait was too long.
Last shot. Flowers in bloom.
Great city. Thanks for dropping by ….
Tokyo is a busy city. Everywhere is always busy. Despite being busy, it always feels orderly and most of the time – the crowds are not overwhelming.
But one thing is for sure. The crowds are always there – it goes hand in hand with a population of 40 million. At times, those crowds are inexplicable to a foreigner. The popcorn stand being one of those ‘scratch my head’ examples.
I have found another in Hiroo. This line was a couple hundred meters long – which I estimate as a two hour wait (minimum – it was not moving fast).
Why? Three guesses.
“AND THE FRIET”
Yes. A tiny little French fry shop. Seriously.
As mentioned previously, I arrived early in San Francisco and went for a walk. It was a cold Sunday afternoon (November) but sunny. The concierge laid out a route and I began walking toward Chinatown.
Chinatown and a cup of tea. There were a lot of tea shops offering a cup of tea.
I didn’t really understand the free tasting thing. I was trying to order a green tea and they kept giving me these tiny little cups until they understood I wasn’t there to buy a big box of tea.
I passed this shop and stopped. A Sakura tree … we bought the same one in Japan (but in white)
Pretty cold. Not a big time for outdoor patios.
Down an alley and I was stopping in at the place where they invented the fortune cooking. 50 cents to take a photo …
Love the architecture of the city. Toronto should have protected more of their buildings.
Love the colors.
This tower will always have special meaning for me. My very first – large sales deal was at Transamerica in Canada. I will always remember the Transamerica tower on their business cards (A guy honked at me when I stopped to take this).
It was the first time I had ever wandered around San Francisco as I always go airport>hotel>meetings>airport. Nice city.
I will take the Acmerican ones please.