Camera info: Canon Rebel 350 D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 100 • f 4 • 1/100 sec
I’m going all serious on you again.
Earlier this week, I watched part of a documentary on how a North Korean man escaped from the concentration camp he had grown up in. He had watched his own mother and brother executed there for trying to escape, but eventually the desire to be free got to him as well. He and another man worked together to get out, and the other man was killed in the process. This type of stuff is still happening in North Korea.
I can assume that North Korea’s camps are very similar to Auschwitz, the Nazi camp we visited in Poland. Security there was extremely tight. In my photo, you can see a sign reading “Stop!” on a standard electric fence. Behind that, there is another barbed-wire fence with the top curved inward. It was also electrified. A third fence, the same design as the second, is next. Finally, there is a brick wall. Just by looking at it, I would guess it around eight feet high. If you look down the fence to the end, there is a small building with four windows. That is one of guard shacks, which were spaced along the perimeter of the camp. Guards would wait there for potential escapees, and try to shoot them before they reached the fence. In fact, our guide told us, prisoners would sometimes use the fence as a form of suicide, since the electricity was such a high voltage it would kill them. The guards tried to shoot the prisoners first, however, since they “did not like to clean up the mess” of someone being electrified.
Looking at all this, I did wonder how some people managed to successfully escape, as it seemed nearly impossible. According to our guide, some 802 attempted, but only 144 made it out alive (not counting all those liberated at the end of the war). I heard some found favor with dissenters who worked in the “hospital” and were snuck out. Some also escaped during work outings, but at high cost: for each successful escapee, ten others from their work team would be shot as a deterrent. Others were freed by SS guards who changed their minds about the Nazi agenda. As we walked around, I kept wondering to myself: If I was put in their place, what would I do? Would I try to escape or stay to protect those around me? If I did make an attempt, what would I try to do?
Put yourself in the prisoner’s shoes for a moment. How do you think you would handle this situation? Remember to pray for those still in camps today.
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?
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…
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.
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!
Some have said that these train tracks mark the site where more families were torn apart than anywhere else in history. These are the tracks leading into Auschwitz, one of the largest Nazi concentration camps in Poland. I took this shot from the top of the guard tower, where I could observe most of the camp. Here, the trains would enter the camp and the passengers would be stripped of their luggage and “sorted” into two areas of the camp: those who went one direction went to hard labor, the others went to the gas chambers. Many people got their last glimpses of their mothers, sisters, and children here.
Our tour had lasted for two hours, and most of us were emotionally exhausted by the time we’d reached the end. The stories were endless. People that had been living normal lives, suddenly uprooted and sent to a camp where death followed them at every turn. It was a side of humanity that many would love to forget existed, yet only our remembrance of it can keep it from happening again. We asked our tour guide how she could keep doing this day in and day out (she had been there for six years). She replied that her job had great meaning – in educating the next generation, she could take part in never letting the world forget what hate and racism could do.
This is just one photo of hundreds I took at the site, and over the weeks and months ahead, I’d like to occasionally post one and tell another story from the camp. It’s a tough subject, but one that I feel needs to be discussed.
What is your opinion on concentration camps to begin with? Is it a good idea to keep them in the public eye?
Ahhh summer. The time to go for camping trips and baseball games, canoe down a lazy river, or just plant yourself in front of the TV and watch the Olympics. London 2012, baby!!! 😀 For a travel nut like myself, I’ve always been curious about the journeys people take. Then what could be more fascinating than the journeys some Olympians took to get to the games?
For instance, what about Khatuna Lorig (USA, Archery)? Her Olympic career has covered shooting for multiple countries! Originally born in the Republic of Georgia, she shot for the Unified Team (Soviet Union, under the Olympic Flag) in 1992. Georgia was her next flag in 1996 and 2000. She wasn’t a naturalized citizen yet in 2004, but by 2008, she was competing for the USA. However, during that match, her hometown in Tiblisi was being invaded by the Russians. Imagine trying to compete under that pressure! She returned under the US team again this year and got 4th place.
Next, what about the “Blade Runner,” Oscar Pistorius (South Africa, Sprint)? Born without fibulas, he had both legs amputated at the knee when he was one. In college, he played several sports, until a rugby injury & subsequent rehab got him into running. After a successful time in the Paralympics, he set his sights on attending the Games with able-bodied runners. A hotly-disputed scientific study initially banned him from the Olympics due to a percieved advantage he had from his carbon fibre “legs.” It was overturned in 2008, but he failed to qualify for that years Games. This year, he not only qualified, but made it to the 400m semi-finals, becoming the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games. In a moving display, he and the winner, Kirani James, traded bibs at the end of the race.
I’m out of space for more stories today, but let’s hear more from you! What’s your favorite story about an Olympic athlete?