Such a lot of world to see.

Skyline

KL is warm in many ways.

_DSC1718_a_v_tonemapped Kuala Lumpur sits in near the middle of Peninsular Malaysia, just about at the equator.  It’s one of Asia’s few truly multicultural cities, with Indians, Chinese, and local Malay (Bumiputera) people all laying the  historical foundations of what is today Malaysia's capital city. KL has experienced a sort of economical and societal breakthrough in recent decades, with the efficient monorails, the two new airports and the iconic skyscrapers serving only as physical evidence. _DSC1740 KL is often compared with Bangkok, its sister capital city some thousand miles to the north. And while Bangkok is bigger, and certainly more historic, it could be argued that Kuala Lumpur is the friendlier, more sensible city. With almost 8 million people in the Klang Valley around KL, it’s certainly not small either, but there is a near universal warmth in the people of this diverse city. It can still be chaotic, but we found there's almost a homeliness about KL that is rare to find so far from home. _DSC1933 Like many cities in Asia, some of the best parts of town are the bustling markets where locals and tourists alike congregate to shop, eat, and gather at almost any hour – day or night. Hawkers and street-side restaurants  call out that they have the best chili pan mee noodles, or the freshest seafood,  or the cheapest designer purses, top quality!  But these are also the markets where locals by wholesale goods, and congregate after work hours. These markets are the fabric that makes up the city of KL, with icons like the Petronas Twin towers, providing lovely inflections. Kuala Lumpur is a city of great and varied food, and great and varied humans. Humid mornings and humid afternoons.  It's a city where you can still find a tiny bit of that rainforest that stood there before the city ever was. This is KL, and it is warm in many ways. Follow the link here, and stay tuned for more Malaysia and Indonesia! _DSC1418 _DSC1964 _DSC1589 _DSC1505

Dubai

IMG_0270 From humble beginnings as a village of pearl divers and merchants, modern Dubai is often seen as anything but humble. Known now for its ambitious construction projects and record holding skyscrapers, Dubai is modern day symbol of wealth in the Middle East. "The City of Gold", as it has become known, Dubai is a city of ambition. It’s a fascinating place for so many reasons, and not simply its rapid rise to stardom nor its renowned megaprojects (though the way engineering has been pushed to the limits in Dubai is often breathtaking). It’s a city of controversy, with growing pains, and likely more to come. I’ll choose to not wade into the deeper controversies in this context, but I’ll say that Dubai is a living experiment. An experiment of multiculturalism in the Middle-East, and often a clash between worlds. A clash between times even, but yet, Dubai’s many modern marvels are not only a source of pride for the Arab world, but also a collaboration between cultures, and people. A week in Dubai is plenty of time to see the city, both its modern wonders and its less lauded communities that make the city tick. Often the contrast between such great wealth and such humility is quite prominent in Dubai, as these photos will appear to show two distinct cities. Often, however, such contrasts will exist on the same block. It’s not uncommon, in my experience, to see a Lamborghini pull stridently down a busy street of restaurants, where the food server is making only a few dollars a day. Or to see groups of people walking to midday prayer in worn sandals and simple garb, while on the next corner stands a grand strip of 5 star luxury high-rises.  While there is much excess, there is also a sense of humility and optimism. The mood is positive in Dubai, friendly, perhaps even carefree. Click here for my photo tour of Dubai. IMG_9794 IMG_9704 IMG_9851 IMG_9830 IMG_9817 IMG_9930

Gallery Update: Chicago

I've updated my gallery of Chicago with pictures from a recent stay - lots of architecture, streetscapes, and colorful views of this marvel of a city. Here's a link, with some highlights below. img_7821 img_7665 img_8170 img_7947 img_7763

Las Vegas

Hi Folks! I had the pleasure (displeasure? 😉 ) of a weekend in Las Vegas, barely had enough free time to snap a few pictures to update my aging Vegas gallery. Things have really changed in Vegas since my last visit 6 years ago. Aria and The Cosmopolitan now dominate the center strip. The beloved Sahara has been gutted, and retrofit as the SLS. The north strip is getting more and more rundown, and there's a new Ferris wheel overlooking the strip that is apparently the tallest in the world. I've added just a few pictures to my gallery, you can check it out hereIMG_8987 IMG_9010 IMG_9073 IMG_9009  

Rediscovering Montreal

I should probably know the city that is Montreal by now. For the first 25 years of my life, I have been visited nearly as many years as I was old. My last name comes from "La métropole" of Montreal. With that said, it's been a few years. My french is rusty. I had stayed more or less exclusively with family up until this visit. And what a great city to rediscover. Let the pictures speak: Click here for my gallery of Montreal.


East meets West

Though it sits on China's south coast, and is ethnically 95% Chinese, Hong Kong is perhaps just as much western metropolis as it is an East-Asia hub. Owing to nearly 300 years of British influence, this staunchly capitalist city has prospered with low tax rates and a free economy. In 1997, although the Brits transferred the city's sovereignty to mainland China, Hong Kong retained its same basic governance and freedoms that it has had under British authority. It's a fascinating mash up of influence. Education, politics, and law all follow their basic counterparts in England. Other aspects of the city more closely relate to mainland China - food, entertainment and spiritual beliefs. East meets West aside, Hong Kong is simply one of the most well developed cities on earth.  Efficient transportation, towering skyscrapers, and often overwhelming density. As the routine goes, click here for this gallery of Hong Kong.