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about the land and the people

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Entries from February 24th, 2013

notes from singapore

February 24th, 2013 by sophie · reportage, singapore

funny story. my sister is planning a trip to amsterdam and we were talking on the phone about travel guides. so while we were speaking, i sat down in front of the bookshelf and had a look at the guides i own. i got two of these wallpaper city guides from phaidon publishers and started to wonder, if you get them in germany as well. i bought them in new zealand for my trip home. i had one stopover in sydney and one in singapore. while talking to nina, i started to browse randomly through the city guide for singapore. you know the empty pages you can find at the end of almost every guide, right? so the wallpaper city guide has them aswell… but they were not empty… i was there for just two days, had no company, noone to talk to, so i guess i felt like i had to tell about my impressions and wrote them all down in my city guide. funny thing i didn’t remember it… so i thought, maybe it could be interesting for you to read them, thats why i am going to typewrite it. and you get to see some pictures of my trip aswell. enjoy!

they sell coffee machines at starbucks. and they got starbucks at almost every corner downtown. it is warm and wet and if it starts to rain, you will be totaly wet within 20 seconds. the raindrops are huge and they feel fluffy and warm! the people in singapore pass you everything with two hands, otherwise it is rude. and you have to take it with two hands as well, but i think they forgive foreigners if they are rude, cause they probably just dont know about it. they have impressive umbrellas which they share at the trafic lights. most of the malaysian girls are very beautiful but appear like they have no idea about their beauty.

i life in little india, a very popular district of singapore. my first impression of little india was at 12am. walking to ‘mustaffa shopping center’. 24hrs cheap-cheaper-cheapest!! if you enter the center, be aware, it could be possible that you will lose at least 15 minutes of your lifetime to find the exit again! little india is as much beautiful and interesting as scary at night. walking through this district was a bit weird at the first time. i was the only white girl between a lot of dark skinned people, something i never experienced before.

the nationalities of the people in singapore are pretty much a pottpurri of the asian world. as different their origin is as different is their behaviour aswell. the malaysian people are extreme friendly.. smiling and speaking an amazing good english. i experienced the indian guys more quiet, less chatty but still friendly.

i didnt get to see much of singapore during my two-days stay. most of the time i walked around without knowing where i was going and taking a lot of pictures. when i felt like i want to go back to my accommodation i looked at the pictures on my camera, compared buildings and streets and in the end i made my way back like that. i met two different worlds in one city. little india was my first impression and so different to what i exspected from singapore. there is much life going on, people having dinner on the street, many different smells, food courts, garage sales, music and people socialising or just going shopping at night.

in australia and new zealand people use to text while waiting for a bus or walking or even driving… in singapore they call each other, wherever you look, there are people talking on the phone.

orchard road and the city center, the other side of singapore. orchard road is the main and well known shopping mile. one big shopping center next to the other. high society shopping, prada gucci, calvin klein, versace… whatever you want and how much your budjed allows. something else i recognized was, that there are suddenly a lot of europeans and americans on the street. orchard road is probably the world they know and thats why they like it…

rain in singapore is very special. if it starts once, it almost lasts forever. it is like a flood from the sky and it suddenly gets very dark aswell. 

cabs are everywhere, they have different colours and drive very fast. the first person i talked to was the cab driver on my way from the airport to the hotel. very patient he answered every question i had about singapore. he told me that they have no seasons, it is always warm in singapore, just in december it gets a bit more rainy. he also told me that i have nothing to worry about when i am alone on the street during nighttime. and indeed, people were never rude, just sometimes they were watching me while i was walking around and taking pictures. in little india, men used to say a special word to me when i passed them, i cant remember it but i know that it was irritating me, because i had no idea, if i was just a disturbance for them and they maybe just wanted me to take off. once a man stopped and asked me, if i know the word and if i understand the meaning of it. he told me: “it means you are a lucky woman and people around are very lucky!”





photographed by sophie daum

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8/2013 image of the week: würzburg

February 22nd, 2013 by sophie · germany, image of the week

it was a late summer day in würzburg. i went to the festung marienberg, where i was going to shoot a friend doing fire juggling with poi.
while we were waiting for the dark, i took this picture on film with the canon ae-1 of my mum. not till the film was developed i realised the beauty of this moment.

© sophie daum

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traveling pages: carlos ruiz zafón – la sombra del viento

February 17th, 2013 by nina · books, review, spain

carlos ruiz zafón
la sombra del viento (the shadow of the wind)
first publication 2001
planeta, barcelona, spain
565 pages
languages: spanish, english, german,  french and 32 others

i know, this book is not exactly about travelling. but it is about barcelona and it is one of my favourite books ever. i read it a lot of times and i also have an audio book i am listening to. it is a book i warmly recomment to everybody. a book about books, friendship, barelona, love, hate and a young man who wants to know the truth. it is wonderful, exciting and an absolut must read!

It’s the year 1945 in spain. daniel sempere is 10 years old when his father takes him to the cemetery of forgotten books for the first time. it is the rule that every new person at this place should pick one book and make sure it will be never forgotten. daniel discovers a book named the shadow of the wind of the very unknown but brilliant julian carax.  he starts to find out the details about julian carax life. but this is not as easy as he thought it would be. there are so many mysteries about carax life. along with his friend fermin he is digging deeper. he finds a twisted family story, old schoolmates, an everlasting friendship and penelope. and there is chief-inspector fumero. a ruhtless and coldhearted person who would stop at nothing. daniel gets tangled more and more into carax story and when he finally falls in love with bea it seems like history repeats.

a little ps: the first 80 pages float by without a lot happening, but be aware of the characters who get introduced, you might meet them again. i abandoned the book at my first read, not understanding what people like about it. but i gave it another try and without noticing i fliped the last page. finishing this book made me feel like loosing good friends.

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7/2013 image of the week: Leather

February 15th, 2013 by Jasime · image of the week, morocco

This picture was taken on a very hot day on top of the roof in Fès Morocco.

© Jasime El Ouali

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Don’t be that guy

February 3rd, 2013 by volker · article, editorial

Seriously don’t be it. We all know that one guy; at the beach, at the hotel, at the bar and especially at the buffet. What kind of guy I’m talking about is the waving flag of your country, reincarnated as the bloody prototype tourist.

Imagine sitting at a café at 11a.m. ordering a coffee, soaking up the sun and culture. Two tables away a little group of men are ordering their beers. Looking sunburnt like hell and red as a lobster. And you bet, even without seeing the tattoo of a bangin’ british bull dog on their bellies, you would assume that they are straight from England. Or imagine the pool back at the hotel. Spotting a middle aged male storming always onward in his speedo marching to his rightful place – at the sun. And even without this reference to our beloved Kaiser Wilhelm, this case is clear. And speaking of long gone empires – measured by the ridiculous amount of “free food” Russians put on their plate at the all-you-can-eat buffet, communism was really that bad.

Sure, you’ll think in no way I’m gonna be one of those. Yeah, no one thinks he will be one of them until he declares the deck chair as his colony and is sporting socks in some nice sandals. Face it, we all have it in us, waiting until the right time to bloom and take us over

Anyway. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, even in this case. By trying to avoid being that guy, you lean automatically to another threat: immersion. And while I’m at it, don’t be that guy either. Immersion means the sorry attempt to totally immerse into the foreign culture. Guess what copycat, it doesn’t matter how good you think you pronounce it, everyone knows you are a tourist when you shout “pizzas” at the trattoria. And by simply cloning the folklore of the land and its people you are just showing ignorance for their traditions – again.

Reasonable tourism, if you would like to call it that way, is in between of these poles. On the one hand the ignorance and the tank mentality, on the other hand the total lack of self-awareness combined with the submarine mentality (for the pacifists: submarines are sneaky and try to be not seen at all). You are tourist, don’t be ashamed to admit it and don’t be afraid to try something new.

So please the next time in a new country, please do your best to not be a neocolonial idiot, who is overwhelmed how different every little thing is and try to just simply enjoy it. Embrace the possibilities, go with the flow, you won’t regret it.

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5/2013 image of the week: empire state building

February 1st, 2013 by Jasime · image of the week, new york, photography, usa

This picture was taken on the Herald square in NYC.

© Jasime El Ouali


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