Beautiful, Interesting and Ooo Shiny! Images From Various Places

Tourism

2012: The Greatest Hits

Concert

Location: USA
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
(No EXIF Data Currently Available)

Happy New Year (six days ago)! If you were around last year, you may remember I did a year-end review post so that you could relive the awesomeness of posts from 2011. Well, it’s that time again! May I present to you… 2012’s Greatest Hits Countdown!

10. First, everyone here wants to take good pictures, right? That’s why Composition 1 came in at 10th place. Free education for all!

9. Next, let’s travel to Asia. India’s Division of Labor gave us some cultural lessons from the subcontinent.

8. The sad & sobering news stories strike again, but this time with a glimmer of hope in Forgiveness in Colorado. This post also took the top spot for most comments of the year (even if the majority was from the same person) 😉

7. Travel reviews are an intricate part of this blog. Fly Sky High in the Eye is for those looking for fun stuff to do in London, England.

6. Lists make everything seem so organized, even when they make you cringe in embarrassment. At #6, we have Top Tourist Mistakes! (Don’t try these away from home)

5. For all the photo enthusiasts, some practical help was needed. Composition 2 was the top pick of the photography lessons provided this year.

4. Let’s bring on the funny! Many got a kick out of the 15 Funny Road Signs From Around the World, even if we still didn’t understand all of them.

3. It seems people were attracted to the big news stories this year. After only a month on the blog, A Poem for the Children rose to #3 on the charts.

2. Next is a topic that is near to my heart, but again tough to discuss with people. That’s why I called it The Thing No One Wants to Talk About.

1. Last but best of all. This post is on a serious note, but one that illustrates the value of small things done in love. This year’s top post is A Moment in Time.

Bonus Track: Surprise! Surprise! Apparently, people were really interested in my personal life. 😉 This post made honorable mention at #11.

Did your favorite post not make it on the list? Give it some love and tell us why you like it in the comments!


Eating Mexican Food in Poland

Location: Poland
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 8 • 1/100 sec

Yum, doesn’t this picture make you hungry? Or are you just admiring the culinary artwork?

Our group was lucky (or brave) enough to have dinner at a Mexican restaurant when we were in Poland. We were sitting at a long table outside so we could enjoy the weather. It was quite the experience! Along with the decorated food, we had a few good laughs as well. Two of our guys ordered fajitas. Apparently, these are not very common in Poland, because they were served along with written instructions on how to prepare them! That wasn’t all. They also came with bibs! Our server, who knew a little English, explained this by telling us “Fajitas are dirty.” 🙂

Earlier in the trip, we started a running gag at every restaurant we went to. We picked one member of our group, Kelli, and told every restaurant, every day, that it was her birthday. We just wanted to see what would happen! 😉 At this restaurant, most of the servers were dressed in skimpy outfits resembling Spanish dancers from the “Wild Wild West” era. All of a sudden, we heard what sounded like gun shots. A man came running out of the building dressed in all black, with a face mask and cape, and firing a cap gun into the air. Scaring the waitresses, he ran over to Kelli and dropped a cake slice with a candle at her place. Then he took off running again, back into the restaurant. Once we overcame our shock, we laughed pretty hard at that one!

I guess this is what the Polish think Mexico (and likely Texas as well) is really like! LOL

How do your international friends see other cultures, even ours?


Speaking Without Words

Location: Mexico
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 400 • f 13 • 1/400 sec

If a picture is worth 1000 words, I probably don’t have to explain what’s going on here. But just in case… I was at an orphanage in Mexico, playing with the kids. I had been given power to control the bubble solution stock (big yellow bottle). The kids had their own small bubble wands, and when they needed refills, they came to me. There was limited stock and I was trying to help them be conservative. This little boy was doing his best to convince me that he needed more anyway. However, I didn’t know any Spanish and he didn’t know any English, so we had no clue what each other was saying. Yet we still communicated all this without language.

Have you ever run into a situation like this, where someone you try to talk to doesn’t speak your language? Yep, it even occurs right here in the USA. So what do we do? Our basic tendency when we don’t feel understood is to speak louder or slower, hoping that if we enunciate better, people will understand us. But when someone doesn’t know your language at all, it just makes you look silly.

In my travels, I’ve learned that one old speaker’s addage still holds true internationally. “Communication is 20% what you say, and 80% how you say it.” People pay more attention to tone and body language than they do actual words, so learning to capitalize on that has allowed me to communicate with many people worldwide who don’t share a common language!

How about trying some clear body language? When I tried to ask an Indonesion kid the word for “rain”, I pointed to the ocean nearby (water), then to the sky (clouds), and made a motion like raindrops with my fingertips. He knew exactly what I wanted then, and gladly taught me that word as well as several others. Children in India often beg by putting their hands to their mouths, imitating eating, then put their hand out to you, hoping you will fill it. Facial expressions also are clear indicators, as long as you emphasize your feelings well. Smiles are known worldwide!

How could you indicate a question or statement using only body language and facial expressions? I’d love to hear your creative ideas!


Crazy Acts of Death-Defiance

Location: Thailand
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 5.6 • 1/800 sec

 What’s the craziest thing you have attempted to do? Did you succeed? A couple years ago, I challenged myself to go ziplining with some other crazy adventurers in Thailand. I enjoyed the challenge, but apparently not as much as our guides (pictured above)! I was excited when I could cross a cable without holding on to my harness, but no way was I going to try upside down.

I’m sure we all have our limits when it comes to what kind of adventures we will tackle, which makes this week’s news all the more amazing. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock all week, you’ve probably heard about Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting jump from Red Bull Stratos. I was one of the lucky 8 million people who watched it live on YouTube. Aside from morbid curiosity (my dad and I were betting each other on if he would survive or not), I think there was another reason so many people tuned in to watch. We wanted to see someone do someone we wouldn’t dare attempt ourselves.

Are there any other great feats of courage (or stupidity, depending on your perspective) that you remember witnessing? History is full of them, so here are a few of my favorites (most of which, I am too young to remember in person):

  • Alain Robert – “The French Spiderman” likes to climb buildings – really, really tall ones.
  • David Blaine – Magician who also broke the world record for holding his breath underwater – for over 17 minutes!
  • Evil Knievel – Known for leaping over large distances in a single bound… on his motorcycle
  • Gary Connery – Skydived without a parachute – and lived!
  • Harry Houdini – Magician and master escape artist, he was most known for the Chinese Water Torture Cell stunt
  • Jackie Chan – Actor who does all his own stunts, including a 21-story slide down the side of a building
  • Martin Strel – Expedition swimmer who tacked the 3000+-mile Amazon River – and all that swam in it
  • Philippe Petit – Tightrope walker who crossed between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. How he got access to them was an even more challenging feat.
  • William Trubridge – Holds the record for the deepest free dive, swimming 380 feet straight down
  • Yves Rossy – AKA “JetMan”  or “Fusion Man”, crossed the English Channel with just those rockets on his back

If you could be known for some crazy stunt, what would you attempt?


15 Funny Road Signs From Around the World

Location: Poland
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 8.0 • 1/80 sec

Who doesn’t want a good laugh? When we saw this sign in Poland on several streets, we couldn’t decide whether it was a warning to pedestrians to cross carefully, or a sign telling cars they could get extra points for tagging people who tried to escape! Poland is not the only place with odd & crazy road signs, so I thought I’d bring you some of my favorites.

1. Elderly People Crossing

This sign is attributed to being somewhere in Germany, but I’m not sure since the print is in English. Apparently all elderly people here have hunched backs and no hair. At least they’re together, even if they’re headed toward the cemetery. *shaking my head*

2. Potty Instructions

Next we will travel to Asia. For cultures that are used to using the “squatty potty”, extra instructions are sometimes needed. And as another blogger pointed out, even the sign is wrong. They didn’t put the seat down first!

3. Thin Ice… or Zombie Attack?

Direct from Finland! I believe this sign has something to do with thin ice, but another blogger thought it was better attributed to impending zombie attacks. Either way, I think I’ll take another road.

4. Those Pesky Construction Signs

Since we’re on the topic of zombies, many people in the USA are familiar with those flashing orange road construction signs. But every so often, they can be hacked…

Nerds have a sense of humor, but apparently the Maine highway department does not. The fun part is, this prank was continued in Texas using multiple signs, and another using a Mario reference.

Next we’ll move on to England, and their not-so-secret secrets.

5. The Not-So-Secret Bunker

And yes, this is a real place. Even if it’s a tourist stop now, I’d still like to go just so I could dash about suspiciously, humming the “Mission Impossible” theme. And if anyone asks where I’ve been, I can just say “It’s a secret.”

6. Lost in Translation

This sign doesn’t seem odd unless you can read Welsh. According to one blogger, it translates to: “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.” Looks like someone forgot to proofread!

7. The Multi-National Sign

If a lack of translation skill was enough to confuse you, this next sign is worse! Even I don’t know where this one is. How did Venezuela get next to Canada? And why are all these countries up in the sky? I’m so confused!!!

8. No Talking

And then good old Dantak! This one is somewhere in India. Nice to see that sexism is still alive and well in some places of the world. :/ Imagine telling some woman in the USA to shut up and let the man drive. Ha!

9. Vancouver’s All-Inclusive Resorts

Other countries are more concerned about trying to accommodate everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. Take this example from Canada. What I’m wondering is who discovered dogs could read? :O

10. Don’t Injure the Children

Kids are a big deal all around the world. Check out this warning from Quebec. Another blogger translated the French as “Watch out for our children, because it could be one of yours.” I’m assuming that’s what the dead kid on the sign is supposed to infer. But did we really need the visual??

11. Intersection Ahead

One of the oddest bike lane markers I’ve ever seen. But I guess it gets the point across. 😉

12. Very, Very Specific Mileage Marker

Ok, ok, this one is not an actual street sign either, but I couldn’t resist! The Japanese are known for being extremely precise, and this sign from Hiroshima, Japan is no exception.

13. Ad-Libbing

Sorry, there’s no visual for this one, but I couldn’t resist sharing this story!

Someone wrote: “When passing the New Jersey/New York line, the sign read “Governor Jim Florio welcomes you to New Jersey”
Under that was printed neatly …”But the rest of us wish you’d stay home.”

At least we know how they REALLY feel!

14 & 15. More Polish Hilarity!

I’ll finish with a couple more from Poland, just because they are so fun! The first is a school crossing sign. I just love how every girl needs a lollipop bigger than her head. The second is a warning to car thieves, and the visual is just… yeah.

Ok, you’ve seen my contributions, what’s yours? Tell me about your favorite odd street sign!