People around the World: Asia

Last month’s feature, People around the World: Africa, was the first entry in a series of round-the-world portraits, some staged, some not, some intimate, some not. My goal: to show the world – and the people in it – at work and at play.

I have enjoyed poring through my photography archives, and smiled with delight upon rediscovering many of the pictures in last month’s gallery and in today’s as well.

Today, we visit Asia, the largest continent on earth!

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What Religion Means to Me

With Passover beginning today and with Easter taking place this Sunday, I spent some time recently thinking about religion. On my travels, I’ve traveled to majority-Protestant countries such as Anglican Great Britain, and to majority-Catholic countries like Mexico. I have had the good fortune to visit majority-Muslim countries such as Turkey, heavily-Buddhist countries like Thailand, mixed-religion countries such as India and the United States, and Communist countries like China, where Atheism is officially encouraged but where most locals actually worship the State.

Of course, those descriptions are broad and somewhat simplistic. As such, I hope you don’t get too wrapped up in the semantics. Allow me to continue.

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Photo Essay: Syria 2007

I am following up my recent A Syrious Problem – Thoughts on Syria post with a collection of pics I took on my 2007 trip to the region. I hadn’t looked at these photos in awhile, and am a bit disappointed with the picture quality, though not with the content. The photos are in chronological order. I hope you’ll comment on your favorite ones and share with friends – it’ll be a long time before Syria once again appears as it did through the eye of my camera lens.


Above pic: Syria believes in you! A cheesy/scary billboard of Bashar al-Assad greets visitors with a wave outside the main entrance to the Old City/Souq of Damascus. Stepping inside those walls is like journeying back in time. Once again, apologies for that hoary travel writing cliché which I love so much.

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A Syrious Problem – Thoughts on Syria

So at the time of writing it’s been over two-and-a-half years since the Arab Spring – supposedly started via Facebook and supposedly ignited to change the region for the better – went viral and spread across North Africa and the Middle East like wildfire. A Tunisian man by the name of Mohamad Bouazizi set himself on fire out of frustration. Libyan colonel Muammar Gaddafi was killed (no loss there), and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was ousted. Oh, and Syria went to hell in a handbasket.

Ah, revolution in the Middle East. A real clusterfuck.

 Flashback to 2007

I had the opportunity to visit Syria in 2007. That year was a good one for yours truly, Loyal Reader. I “celebrated” seven years as an Angeleno and seven years in my job as a media researcher. The job had begun to wear on me, but I was making a good wage and had somehow turned three weeks of paid vacation into double that. (It was the only benefit that was worth a toss, and it would be taken from me the following year.) Travel for the year had already taken me to Cancun; Barrow, Alaska (!); China, Norway, Iceland, and Seattle. Thanksgiving was coming up and I knew I had to outdo myself. A college friend and long-time travel buddy mentioned that he had a friend from Germany who had recently been posted to the German Embassy in Damascus of all places.

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