June 28, 2012

Smoker's Area

It seems to me that in most developed countries, smoking cigarettes has to a large extent lost its appeal. Not only is there now strong social pressure against it, prohibitive taxes and legal proscriptions have made the habit inconvenient.

In Asia, many people still smoke. While bans on public smoking are increasingly being introduced, in general nonsmokers remain quietly tolerant of the smoker. The culture values group harmony over personal rights.

And yet, perhaps it's just a matter of time... Here's a fun mixed message I saw at our humble tennis club this week (more fun enlarged):

 Manila, 2012

Earlier this week I saw this advertisement to encourage smokers to quit. Pretty effective, don't you agree?

This joins other fun, creative and interesting signs over at Signs, Signs.

June 25, 2012

Lao Temple: Mural and Burial Stupas

Most of the temples we saw in the Buddhist nation of Laos were noticeably less ornate and decorated than the many I've seen in Thailand. I found them serene and appealing.

The first photo shows you the intricately carved door of a small unassuming neighborhood temple we walked by in Vientiane, the nation's capital. I failed to find out its name (and googling came up empty).

I also regret cutting off the bottom of the door in this photo; my focus back then in 2002 was clearly on the wonderful mural (better seen enlarged) painted directly onto dry stucco. I've learned since that this mural most likely depicts scenes from the ancient Jakata Tales that Buddhist monks tell to develop the moral values of their listeners.

Vientiane, 2002 

Near the temple were a cluster of typical burial stupas. We saw many of these in Laos; around temples, in nature along the road we traveled, and in the gardens of private homes. And yet I was not able to discover any information at all about them.

Upon death, Lao people are generally cremated following Buddhist rituals, and so these would not be graves for bodies in coffins the way we often bury our dead in the West. I conclude, until I learn otherwise, that these funerary stupas are memorials erected for loved ones.

The only view of the entire temple building I photographed was this one from the back.

I am linking with the blogging communities at Monday Mural and Taphophile Tragics.

June 15, 2012

It's Been a Wet Week

Wuchuan, 2012

Bicycles aren't as popular as they once were in China. But my guess is that bicycling as a sport, or even as a prefered form of transportation, will catch on here eventually like it has in the West in recent years.  

Myself, I like riding, if the way is not overly strenuous, but I haven't really done it as often as I'd like. And you? 

Yellow Blossoms in Wuchuan

After a hard week's work my eyes craved to look at something pretty. So I collected a series of yellow blossoms I captured on my walks to and back from the office I occupy here in Wuchuan this spring.

As usual, I haven't a clue what these plants and trees are called. I'll stick my neck out and guess that the first are watermelon blossoms. Am I right?

Wuchuan, 2012

These are linked with others who adore flowers at Floral Friday Foto, Flowers on Saturday, Today's Flower and Weekend Flower.

June 4, 2012

Face on the Fence

Cebu, 2011

This face was painted on the same metal fence as the whimsical double-headed ostriches last week, but I felt it deserved a post of its own. It doesn't look to me like it was created by the same artist; does it to you?

This is for Monday Mural.

June 1, 2012

Ponte and Castel Sant'Angelo

This is a section of the beautiful Ponte Sant'Angelo in Rome spanning the Tiber River.

Rome, 2007

Emperor Hadrian had this bridge built in 134 AD to give access from the city center to his grand mausoleum. The ten Bernini-designed angels lining the bridge were added much later, in the 17th century (unfortunately I did not cross over to get close ups of them, but images can easily be found online).

About Hadrian's tomb, from Wikipedia:

The tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian, also called Hadrian's mole, was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 135 AD and 139 AD. Originally the mausoleum was a decorated cylinder, with a garden top and golden quadriga. Hadrian's ashes were placed here a year after his death in Baiae in 138 AD, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138 AD. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217 AD. The urns containing these ashes were probably placed in what is now known as the Treasury room deep within the building.

More about Castel Sant'Angelo from Wikipedia:

Legend holds that the Archangel Michael appeared atop the mausoleum, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590, thus lending the castle its present name.

Today the building is a museum.

My images today are offered to the blog-hop communities of Weekend Reflections, Sunday Bridges and Taphophile Tragics.