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Saturday, July 31, 2010

"The Iron Silk Road"

Here is a link for a great article in National Geographic magazine on the new railroad connecting Baku (The Caspian) to Eastern Turkey (The Black Sea).  The article emphasizes economic advantages for the local populations especially the Georgians.  It also covers a bit of the history/tensions in the Caucasus and the ramifications for this particular project.  If the link doesn't work, let me know and I can send you the article.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/08/new-silk-road/forrest-text

Enjoy!

PS  It also has some beautiful pictures!

Pieniny Region7

Some more from this wonderful trip--rock formations and the beginning of the bike ride back up the river.  I wish I'd taken more of the scenery on the way back but I was trying to focus on keeping my balance as it had been a while since I'd ridden a bicycle!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Road to Mecca2


This is a great pic!  Click it to get a good view of the winding road that eventually leads into Mecca.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Al Hada Monkies


Or, should I say baboons!  These fellows live in an area called 'Al Hada' which is about 20 kilometers from Taif, Saudi Arabia.  They're accustomed to tourists but are still wild animals.  One of their tricks is to block your path to your car so you have to continue feeding them.  When you run out of food, they tend to get very agitated!  I countered this by always holding one piece of fruit in reserve.  I would get as close to my car as I could and then toss the fruit in the opposite direction.  This caused a diversion that would allow me to jump in and close the door.  But, I had to be cautious and drive slowly as they would stand on my hood until I vacated the area.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Road To Mecca!

I'm posting these pictures for my Saudi friends and anyone else that might be interested.  You may recognize the road leading down from Al-Hada towards Mecca.  The holy city would be about 45 minutes west of this location.  Of course, not being Muslim, I could not enter the city but was able to explore the surrounding area.  Anyway, I think the surroundings look very majestic, don't you?

Pieniny Region6


Well, as we started our trip down the river, we immediately noticed the scenery was just amazing!  You'll see from the pictures the unique shapes of the rock looming above.  You'll also notice the jovial guide that was steering our raft.  He was hilarious with his running monologue that lamented the existence of mother-in-laws, especially his own!  Be sure to check back in a few days as I'll be posting pictures of the bike ride back up the river.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pieniny Region5



What a great trip this was!  The first picture shows a small street on the Polish side of the border.  It was amazing how easy it was to cross the bridge into Poland.  The border guards just waved us through after a cursory glance at our passports.  No computers nor visa stamps . . . and just think, 20 years before it would have been very difficult to enter the country at all!  The second and third pictures show scenery as we floated down the river.  More coming soon!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Little Things Mean So Much

Today, I was at work winding down on a Friday afternoon when a stranger entered my office. He had a bag with some small gifts that he presented to me. Turns out, they were from a friend of mine in Georgia who had asked this fellow to deliver them to me when he came to the US for training. Oh how I miss that wonderful country and its generous people!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pieniny Region4


A nice view of Poland from the bridge crossing from Slovakia.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pieniny Region3


Here are the boats going down the river!  I can't wait to ride the bike back up it!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pieniny Region2


Here are two more pictures showing the river separating the two countries.  I especially like the color of the bridge crossing into Poland.  Look out for pictures of us floating down the river!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pieniny Region


Here is a picture of the river separating Poland/Slovakia.  We rode a boat down the river and then, bicycles back up it.  It was a fantastic experience that I will cherish forever.  I'll post more pictures of this adventure tomorrow.

Angkor Wat7


There are/were really some amazing ruins to see at the temple complex.  This was a bath that royalty used to use.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Angkor Wat5


I'm really focusing on Angkor Wat, I know but I'll try to add some variety later in the week.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Angkor Wat3


Walking across the stone bridge in the previous picture, I was able to snap one of these workers picking up refuse in the water.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Angkor Wat2


This was a walkway through the water to the main temple complex.  The entire site is so huge, you need at least a week to see all the important ruins.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Georgian Woman turns 130!

I'm a little skeptical about the age, but there are a disproportionate amount of centenarians living in Svanuri so I have no doubts she's over 100.  If I move there, maybe I can live to be that old!  See the news release below:

"How long can humans live? Some elderly people shock science. Antisa Khvichava, 130, is the oldest woman in the world, according to the nation of Georgia. A spokesperson for the civil registry at the Justice Ministry in Georgia, claims that Khvichava was born on July 8, 1880 and is currently living in an isolated mountain area.


Khvichava lives with her 40-year-old grandson and spent her entire life as a corn picker before retiring in 1965. While speaking to a Georgian news station, she said, “I’ve always been healthy, and I’ve worked all my life–at home and on the farm.” Though Khvichava appears fragile, she tries to be mobile and she speaks fluently in Mingrelian, the native tounge for that section of Georgia. She never learned to speak Georgian.

No third party sources have verified her age, but she displayed a two archaic documents that show her age during the Soviet-era. Many officials in the coutry back up her claim as the oldest woman in the world.

Khvichava has one son, 10 middle-aged grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and 6 great, great grandchildren. Khvichava lost her birth certificate some years ago but promises to media outlets that she is as old as she claims."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Angkor Wat


I was fortunate enough to have a driver (employed with the hotel) who took me out to the temple area right at dawn.  Siem Reap and the surrounding environment are still lightly visited.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

River View in Prague


Ohhh!  There was such a nice breeze blowing that day and the temperature was perfect.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

Admittedly, a little early but best wishes nevertheless.  It is on this day we should all remember what others have sacrificed for our independence and what SOME today are doing to erode our freedoms.