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Walking along the bank of Nile in Luxor or Aswan, you would be asked a hundredth time a day if you want to ride a felucca, the traditional wooden single-mast sailing boat, which is still commonly used in upper Egypt and Sudan. Powered by the wind, feluccas glide graciously in a zig-zagging way across the Nile River. Piloting a felucca seems easy enough, as our felucca captain Abdul appears to be half-reclining in a relaxing post most of the time, but when my sister and I take turns to sail the boat, we realize it requires quite a bit of strength.

An oar is attached to the rear of the boat, which would control the mast and the direction of the sail; to steady the mast against the wind power in order to move in the desired direction do need some strength, the reclining post is actually to press your feet on one side of the boat for support, and place your back against the oar, so that you use your whole body to steady the mast, it is quite tiring, and after just about 20-minute piloting the felucca, I have backache for two days!

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23 Dec 2011, Friday, Egyptians of all walks of life converged at the Tahrir Square in Downtown Cairo to demonstrate; some speak up against the brutality of military personnel against a veiled woman during the previous week’s protest (now famously known as the blue bra woman); some demand leaders with affiliation to the old Mubarak regime to step down; some call for a fairer and just political system, etc…..

The mood at the square is calm, no sign of clashes, in fact, it feels a little carnival-like, and street vendors are doing brisk business….

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A few hundred years old minaret in the old city of Khiva.

Here are some shots from my last year’s Central Asia trip, on the magically medieval-looking ancient towns in Uzbekistan. If you stare hard enough, you might just spot flying carpet among the minarets 🙂

Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva – these names invoke images of the 1001 Arabian Night in my mind. Islamic architecture is one of the wonders in these ancient towns, but after visiting a few of these historical cities, I regretted to have sticking to the well-trodden famous cities tour route, they all somehow look and feel rather alike – welcome to the reconstructed glory cities, in a film-set mode….

Uzbek traditional hats hanging for sale on the old city wall of Khiva.

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库车卖食品的巴扎里有很多馕摊子,是当地的主食。A naan trader in a food bazaar in Kucha.

 

I love visiting the bazaar in every town I’ve been to in Xinjiang, for the bazaars are often the liveliest place in town.  

Like many places in Central Asia region, the bazaars in Xinjiang are organized according to trade – one section for clothing, one section for agricultural produce, one section for jade and jewelry, another section for daily appliances…..  

我在新疆旅游时,其中的一大乐趣就是逛巴扎(bazaar),也就是当地的集市。我每每一抵达新的地点,不论是大城市如乌鲁木齐,或是小城镇如库车,我都第一时间打听当地巴扎的所在地。  

和许多中亚地区相似,新疆的巴扎按兜售的商品来分类,往往会出现一条街道卖的都是衣物,下一条街道则全是玉石,隔一条巷子则卖食品,又或者是其中一天一条街都卖羊。  

有的小地方的大巴扎只有一条街,却还是会分段来摆摊子,商品分门别类在不同的路段出现,井井有条,让顾客可以很容易地规划自己采购的路线。 (more…)

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只剩下外皮的胡杨树还依然屹立不倒。

 

Legend has it that the Euphrates Poplar tree could live for three thousands years, and when it dies, it would not tumple for another three thousand years, and when it does collapse, it would not decompose for another three thousand years….. 

In Xinjiang, along the 70th km of the Taklamakan Desert Highway, there’s a wild poplar forest, what appear to be “dead” trees stand tall among the green ones….   

传说中胡杨是一种生命力极强的树,可以活上三千年,死后却又三千年不倒,倒下后,又三千年不朽….. 

在新疆塔克拉玛干沙漠公路上地70公里处附近,就有一大片的野生胡杨林。即便传说可能有点夸大,但是胡杨可以在相对缺水的沙滩中生长得极其茂盛,也还真是不简单。 (more…)

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葡萄乡里许多沿路的房子外墙刷上了“用心良苦”的壁画。

 

我漫步在吐鲁番市葡萄乡一带时,见到许多房子的外墙都刷上了色彩鲜艳的壁画。据悉这些壁画是由当地政府的文化宣传单位派出人员绘制。大多壁画的内容以民族团结为主题,有的则突出当地维吾尔族人的风土人情和欢愉生活。壁画主打人物,附带简短的标语,以汉语和维吾尔语标注。这些“用心良苦”的壁画似乎都画中有话,我把部分的壁画拍摄下来,大家慢慢领会吧….. 

孩子们与象征和平的鸽子....壁画以头饰来表现少数民族的身份。

 

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从空中俯视丹霞应该又是另一番景色。

 

背上电动飞行机装备准备起飞的李向东。

我从康乐草原要继续往西走去敦煌,最简单的路线是返回张掖市乘坐火车,于是决定在返回的路上,再次去丹霞老雷家投宿整顿,这个决定让我有机缘碰上了“空中飞人”。    

 来自兰州的李向东自小喜欢玩模型飞机,虽然长大后无缘当个飞行员,却在友人的牵引下玩起了空中滑翔,后来又投资了几万块买了个电动伞飞行机,有空时就带着相机到空中去拍摄。    

我回到丹霞的那一个下午,他正准备到一个山头去起飞看丹霞,好奇的村民们都过来围观。起飞的过程还真不容易,单是电动飞行装备的负重就达30公斤,在还未起飞前,老李就得背着装备启动马达,调整飞伞等。不少村民还都主动过来帮忙。    

当他升空后,更多临近的村民都跑到山头来一睹奇观,连丹霞地貌售门票的工作人员也找了过来,大概是想如何才能向这位飞进去景区“逃票”的游客索取费用吧。 (more…)

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