On the Road

Brought to you by Tippy Hung

New York City

After a whole six months spent in Paris, nothing brings more excitement to me than to be able to return back to New York. Just like most people, New York City feels like home. Upon stepping on New York soil after my long flight, I feel this sense of freedom engulf me. For those whom have traveled to a different country will probably agree with me on this theory. There is something about New York, perhaps the diversity that makes one feel such casualty and freshness. 

One may wonder what makes New York City so great? It’s noisy, it’s dirty, it smells like rotten fish. But just like the old saying goes, “each man writes their own story into the city.” However, one thing I realize is that life can be summarize into three words- It goes on. 

Blast from the past

Somehow I ended up feeling nostalgic about China last night. So I decided to re-watch the Forbidden Kingdom again. It’s a story about an American teenage boy being thrown into the Chinese culture. What interested me was not only the action fight scenes but also seeing the scenes portraying Chinese culture. From the way the people were dress to the way they spoke. "Some people manage to detach themselves from people, from places and their hearts were never broken, but they never live." A quote from the movie that really touched my heart. Having your heart broken over and over again because of a failure to fulfill your expectations, a failure to accomplish your desires can really ruin someone or perhaps make them stronger. However, it’s not what happens to you that makes you who you are but instead, it is what you learn from it and your attitude towards it.

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Since I was little, I had the privileged to live in many different countries. From Taiwan to Singapore, to China, to France and to America. I have always been fascinated by the culture differences in the western countries and the Asian countries. I remember reading Quiet by Susan Caine, there was a part that really caught my attention. 

"Many Asian cultures are team-oriented, but not in the way westerners think of teams. Individuals in Asia see themselves as apart of a greater whole- whether family, corporation or community- and place tremendous value on harmony within groups. Often subordinating their own desires to the group’s interest, accepting their place in its hierarchy. Western culture, is organized around the individual. We see ourselves as self-contained unites; our destiny is to express ourselves, to follow our bliss, to be free of undue restraint, to achieve the one thing that we, an we alone, were brought to this world to do. We may be gregarious, but we don’t submit to group will. When we get together with others, we do so as self-contained unites having fun with, competing with, standing out from, and yes, loving other self-contained units." 

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I can’t disagree with it more. Culture is such an exotic and mysterious thing, there is so much we can learn from it. Not to say that the East is better than the West or vice versa, but that we should embrace the culture differences and through that will we be able to open our eyes about this world. The photos in this posts are just some photos I took in Shanghai and Taiwan.

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Le musée Rodin

Le Musée Rodin was opened in 1919 dedicated to Auguste Rodin, the collection includes 6,600 sculptures, 8000 drawings and many more. When I entered the museum of was immediately welcomed by a faint sound of a girl humming, I looked around but there was no one singing. Then I realize it was music playing from inside the trees. Some of Rodin’s significant pieces such as, The Thinker, The Kiss and the Gates of Hell were displayed in the garden. I found myself standing in front of the magnificent Gates of Hell, just staring at it. I wondered to myself if the gates of hell really look like this.

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The Gates of Hell depicts a scene from “The Inferno”, the first section of Dante Alighieri’s Devine Comedy. The work was inspired by the Gate of Paradise at the Bapistry of Florence. Another source of inspiration were medieval catherdrals. As quoted, "For a whole year I lived with Dante, with him alone, drawing the circles of his inferno. At the end of this year, I realized that while my drawing rendered my vision of Dante, they had become too remote from reality. So I started all over again, working from nature, with my models.” If you look closely at the top center is a small version of The Thinker, also known as The Poet is actually a representation of Dante looking down to the characters in the Inferno. Another interpretation is that it is Rodin himself meditating about his composition. 

I remember I use to learn about the famous Thinker sculpture, so I couldn’t believe my eyes when I was actually standing in front of it. The work is a depiction of a man in sober meditation battling with the powerful internal struggle, yet still looking calm and peaceful from the outside. Perhaps this is how we should approach our troubles and worries, not let it show even though it is bothering us internally. image

Ofcourse, I cannot fail to mention Hôtel Biron. There were a lot more sculptures and art pieces displayed inside. However, what I really liked the most inside this building was the beautiful staircase and the windows overlooking the back garden. I found myself imagining what it must have been like living in this house. Especially during winter when the snow covers the grass like a big white blanket. You can see more photos of different parts of the house below. 

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This is the garden I was talking about. There were so many beautiful flowers blooming but truth to be told, I was scared of the little bees flying among the flowers. 

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 79 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France

La manif pour tous!

My day started off really peaceful, first visiting Musee Rodin then to Institution Nationale des Invalides. Nationale des Invalides was huge, I found myself imagining what it was like back then during WWI and WWII, the soldiers marching in. The image must have been magnificent.

However, as my stomach start rumbling, I decided to head home for dinner. Next thing I know, the closest Vannerie Metro was blocked. I wonder what happen. I looked around. People were holding flags with pink letters “La manif pour tous” printed on it. “Oh no, it must be one of those anti-gay marriage protest again.” I thought to myself. So this is what happen, I ended up walking around with a bunch of people for almost an hour looking for a metro that is open. There were french police everywhere patrolling the area. I remember talking to a french girl before about this gay marriage law going on in Paris. “I don’t really care” she responded. I feel that it’s saddening for someone to say this because it is her country, her people. So finally, after my long walk, I hop on Duroc metro and headed home to my cozy bed. Nevertheless, it was actually pretty fun seeing all these people so energetic!

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Interview with cultural photographer; Daniel Nahabedian

The other day while browsing through the web for travel blogs, I came across Daniel Nahabedian, blogger at Canvas of Lights. There was something about the photos he takes that left me flipping through his blog page after page.For those whom loves photography, he gives some tips and tricks on his website. So without much further ado, I introduce to you- Daniel Nahabedian!

Why hello there Daniel, can you briefly introduce yourself and your blog?

My name is Daniel Nahabedian, an Armenian-French-Lebanese Travel Photographer and Photography workshop instructor living currently in Spain. I also run my personal photography website ‘Canvas of Light’ where I share stories and images about travel and culture, as well as photography related content such as tutorials and reviews.I started photography only recently in 2008, after buying my first DSLR and discovering a new passion. 

In 2010, after traveling in countries such as Iceland and walking across Spain, I decided to quit my HR job in the UAE and become a full-time freelance travel photographer. I decided to settle in Chiang Mai in Thailand while working on my new website and building my freelance business from the ground. Now, I have been published in different online publications, work as a private photography instructor, teach about the business of Travel Photography at MatadorU online university and enjoy my new life in the South of Spain.

I see on your blog that you have a passion for photography, how do you create a certain emotion through your photographs?

Photography is visual storytelling. It is a powerful medium to document life around us without the use of words. But, in order to create a certain emotion in your photos, it is important to really experience yourself the story that you are documenting. You have to immerse yourself in the story, live it, understand it and then document it. You have to be patient and wait for the best time to press the shutter.

If the story is about people, you need to spend time with them, understand their life and gain their trust. If it’s about landscapes and locations, you need to revisit the place different times of the day to see how the light changes and what’s the best angle to capture the scene. Patience is one of the most important tools in a photographer’s set.

You briefly mentioned before that you have moved from Thailand to Spain. How did you cope with this transition and culture difference?

Moving from Thailand to Spain was an interesting transition after living 3 years immersed in Asian culture. My wife and I purposely chose a city (Granada) that has the same ‘vibes’ as Chiang Mai since we were happy with our life in Thailand. We wanted a city that was not too big or too small, and had a certain ‘laid back atmosphere’.It was actually a little more difficult to transition from the UAE to Thailand than from Thailand to Spain. Life in Thailand is much slower-paced and people have a “mai pen rai” (no worries) attitude that is not found in big cities like Dubai or Abu Dhabi. So far we are integrating well in Spain and since I already speak the language, it’s not as hard as we expected.

What are some of the most important things you have learnt so far from your travels to different countries?

There are many things one can learn from traveling in various countries. The most important thing is to realize that other places are not much different than your own neighborhood. People just get on with their daily lives just like everywhere else and the dangerous world portrayed by the media is false.But certainly the most important things I have learned after traveling for a long time are all about self discovery and understanding. I have learned to know my strengths, my weaknesses, my passion and try to control my fears (doesn’t always work!) 

I traveled across the world not only to discover different cultures, but also to completely rediscover myself.

Tree Silhouette at Dawn in the Sultanate of Oman.

You can follow him on www.canvas-of-light.com orTwitter @Canvasoflights or Facebook 

(Photos in this post are taken by Daniel)

Saint Etienne du Mont

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Built between 1492 and 1626 as the chapel of an abbey dedicated to the patroness of Paris, St. Geneviève. This church left me gasping for air when I entered it. I always had a love for Gothic architecture.

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Saint Étienne du mont displays a mixture of Renaissance and Gothic styles. The vaults were built in 1491, reminding me of the human veins, spread out in different directions.  

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The spiral staircase on either side of the bridge is a unique feature of this church. Inside the church is a huge organ, I wonder what it sounds like when it’s played. You can hear an example of it here. Beautiful melody. 

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Rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, Paris 75005, France