Thursday, September 28, 2006

Camel Soldier

The good old times of Switzerland's bicycle infantry ended in 2001 but the camel soldier survived all these centuries. We usually see high tech soldiers on CNN and other 'instant message channels' but the real truth of the army is quite ordinary as shown on this picture from yesterday taken on Herat's airport in Afghanistan.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Costs of War

In Afghanistan the costs of war are still 'visible'. Once you travel around you will always see tanks, artillery and whatever killing device. Often tanks still block main roads as shown in this picture taken close to Bamiyan. Other costs include the loss of almost two generations in Afghanistan not measured in victims but in inadequate education. I don’t plan to go into all costs, I rather mention others which are less visible but still highly destructive. Today while leaving Herat I met a team from Handicap International which was on their way back home after having destroyed 303,700 landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) in 18 months with a team of 26 persons in the region of Herat. I asked the team about their estimates on how many landmines and UXO are still left around Herat and the team leader answered that this was just the beginning and that much more is still left and continues to be a major impediment of development. He also mentioned that their project is now over and that there is a fatigue in giving donations for their work. I hope the latter is not true but if it is true then Afghanistan’s costs of war will continue to rise in the upcoming years. Landmines cost as little as $3 to deploy, but up to $1000 to remove by conventional methods....

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Cycling outside of Kabul

After having proposed a Tour d' Afghanistan we have to consider the difficulties if bikes are getting damaged. Expect all kinds of help!

Photo taken along the road from Kabul to Bamiyan on 22 September 2006.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Don't feed the animal

'Don't feed the animal' were Alex famous first words after he woke up from my camera’s flashlight.

The picture was taken two days ago in the guesthouse ‘Roof of Bamiyan’ after an exhausting but spectacular trip from Kabul to Bamiyan. Bamiyan is famous for its caves and its two giant Buddhas. As we all know the two Buddhas were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.

However, it is said that a third Buddha, the sleeping Buddha, is not yet excavated. As the picture shows we seem to follow the right trail. Only the relation or is it an incarnation to the 'animal' is not quite clear.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cycling in Kabul

The Tour de France is getting kind of boring. Would propose a Tour d'Afghanistan.

Photo from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sightseeing in Dubai

People told me that there is a construction boom happening in Manila. You better don't travel to Dubai to put Manila's construction boom into perspective. Here in Dubai (see picture on top) it almost feels like Shanghai or any other Chinese city these days. Quite different from Manila....

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Weak bridge

There is nothing to add: Get all passengers out of the car and let them carry their luggage.

Bridge close to Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines in February 2003.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cleaning jobs in Manila

The picture from November 2005 shows Pacific Plaza Towers, one of Manila’s most stunning buildings.

By the way, windows are cleaned twice a year. It's always good to realize that Manila is such an unpolluted

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Boracay: Man with four Eyes

Sorry, wasn't able to take a picture of his other set of eyes.

Photo from Boracay, Philippines (January 2004).

Is he still partying in Boracay?

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Confused Dogs

Besides the swineherd who walked his huge pig along Biga Beach (Laiya, Batangas) every day it is worth introducing some other stars of the beach: Brownie (yes, it is the brown dog), and Van Damme (sure, it's the one on top).

....but sometimes they are just confused.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Best Filipino Haircut (Part 1)

On this weekend I spent some time to dig out older photos and came across the one which is showing the ‘swineherd’ of Biga Beach, Batangas (Luzon, Philippines).

The swineherd usually walked his huge swine along the beach. I never took a picture of him with the pig because it just happened all the time when we were passing our weekends at Biga Beach.

Now the swineherd is gone but his great haircut will be remembered forever.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Holy Holy Child

The Divine Child (i.e. little Jesus) is worshipped in different countries in different ways. We have the Infant of Prague, worshipped not only in the Czech Republic but also in the Philippines since the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan brought a copy of the stature of the Infant of Prague to Cebu. You will hardly find a Filipino home without an image of El Santo Niño providing you with all the blessing which seems to be needed.

Another holy child comes from Italy as Santo Bambino di Ara Coeli. Santo Bambino is of pagan origin and was already worshipped by the Romans. Anyway, the (current) Baby Jesus was carved in the 15th century in Jerusalem and fell over board on its way to Rome. Baby Jesus’ journey ended at Livorno, at the feet of a Franciscan who was awaiting its arrival and the stature now stands in the Church of Santa Maria di Ara Coeli on the Capitoline Hill. Not all miracles last forever because the 15th century carving was stolen in 1994 leaving only a copy (as what we have in Cebu) to the worshippers.

As mentioned above, in the Philippines El Santo Niño seems to be everywhere. Quite a number of churches are named after Santo Niño and statutes, paintings, amulets with Santo Niño can be found throughout the country.

The most interesting ‘amulet’ can be found in the streets of Quiapo (part of Metro Manila) which shows Santo Niño’s right hand blessing while his left hand is holding the globe surmounted by a Cross (see picture on the left). The globe with cross is symbolizing the world and the Child’s Kingship. What the blessing is all about is not quite clear. To me it is also not clear why such a kid (5/6 years old, I guess) is having a stiff dick. There must be something really holy about this child.

Besides this pre puberty miracle I do not understand the meaning of this amulet. In my understanding an amulet is an object that protects a person from trouble. What trouble? Stiff dick, holy (underage) child, globe, cross, blessing…..?

Photo from September 2006.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Makati under the rainbow

Photo from this morning right after opening the curtains (Makati, Manila).

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Wow Philippines! Leah Beach, Batangas

The picture above was taken in March 2003, the one below in August 2006. Both pictures show Leah Beach, Batangas (110km south of Manila) the 'hub' for getting bancas to Puerto Galera (Mindoro Island). The difference of both pictures is quite striking. It’s surely not what is intended under WOW PHILIPPINES, the official tourist website of the Philippines which tries to lure more vistors into the country.
However, getting a banca these days on Leah Beach gives you an unforgettable impression about governance and the rule of common sense.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Manila's best parking spaces

Oupps! But that happened to me the other night. My car can be found somewhere at the very left of the picture. Took 15min to dig it out.

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