Tag Archives: Travel

One Secret Beach

I have a secret beach that is not known to everybody. Well, to put it clearly, people pass by it but a seldom passerby will actually sneak into the beach itself and walk it through.

This secret beach exists only during winter season — as soon as May, no, even April, hits, this beach disappears. All its calamity, its boldness and whiteness is gone. Its silence is swept away along with its unwelcoming winds. Another beach, sunny and noisy, takes its place filling up the whole air with laughter, cries, running-jumping-bathing children and rows of lazily spread naked bodies.

I don’t really know why, but I prefer the first beach. Even though it is unwelcoming, especially in the freezing evenings, it holds some mystery and calming solitude. And even though I do prefer sun and sunshines gently stroke my face, I feel more welcomed and in a way comfortable on my secret beach…

Just another evening I glanced in the window of my apartment and, after seeing a beautiful clear crispy sky and realizing soon-would-be-moment of the beautiful sunset, rushed over to the Woodbine beach. Would make way even further to Scarborough Bluffs, but time was clicking.

So, 10 minutes before the official sunset, I parked the car, grabbed the camera and made my way into the blueish snowy beach..

The cracked path between parking was lit by setting golden sun. Incredible views, especially with reflections in water and snow.

Well, didn’t think I would last long in such freezing cold that eats you inside out. But somehow, more out of amazement before the nature tricks, I made it:)

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As soon as you step on the crispy snow, the whole city moves away from your sight and — as if from your mind. It’s like pulling a blanket over the head, same perceptions. I hear nothing – except of furious waves and hight pitch of the tiny helicopter model making round after round in the air. Those two who had the remote control, were quite persistent in making it go round after round after round above their heads. And this persistent prrr-prrr-prrr.. This just added surreal touch to the otherwise empty beach.

Empty. I made my way all the way to the beach edge, to the splashing waves which, despite their heavy sound, did not appear accordingly large or in any way profound. The lake is coloured in this dark green cover, bringing vague nostalgia of the ocean.

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The striking contrast of the colours and the whole state of nature — just minutes earlier the sky was still bright and played with gentle light pink feathers…

I am sure you have your own secret beach. Secret park. Or small trail. When you pass it by next time, take a time and sneak in. Nature is beautiful no matter season, no matter winds and urban presence nearby. I recently stumbled upon narrow trail literally within a city, going for 5 km. In the beginning it did not seem at all pleasant or interesting — however, it brought me unforgettable moments and discoveries. So take a time and step inside — you never know what mysteries this place will hold up that particular moment.

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Chicago Style: Through Prism of Phonetics, Colours, Rail Tracks.. and Sparrows

When I visited Chicago just couple weeks ago, for the very first time, I went through two (non) cultural shocks.  that and annoying hungry sparrows. 

1. It is pronounced [Shi-ka-go], as if the old lady who can not make any harder sounds tries to pronounce it. Not sexy, bold, appealing [i-ka-go] like in chess..

just realized how exhausting it will be to express phonetical frustration on paper. 

anyway, it is quite interesting how sounds and phonetical elements of the word are glued so intense into our minds that it is almost impossible to accept new ways of pronunciation. so I guess i will continue Italian gang style, chicago:)

2. Who said Chicago is like New York  (or rather, visa verse but doesn’t really matter)? “Ah, you love NYC? You will love Chicago even more!! ” Nope. The first 5 hours I was there I was jumping, happy-go-lucky, with wide eyes and not less wide open mouth– architecture heaven, same narrow streets with reach-the-sky churches and yay, I found another NYC for myself!! Taking into account I lived in NYC for almost 6 months few years ago, you have all the rights to lift the brow (no, do both of them) onto such statement. Yes, the second half of the very same day I devoted to a very slow realization that Chicago is not the same. It is gangster, mob city. And it is the city of neighbourhoods (maybe 2-3 in total you would want to visit) which are limited to just dozen blocks. 

But I still would love Chicago as any city which forces me to look up and up..

 

Chicago has an open train system- mostly above the ground. This offers fantastic views– not only on the city itself, but also on the whole composition of the city along with rail tracks. Somehow this old, ugly, rusty reddened massive ironmongery blends into the city landscape very harmonically. The lines of skyscrapers, the whole beautiful geometry of colours and styles would just collapse without those rail tracks…

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How about some crazy colours splashing over Chicago? With nice weird effect of prism filter. Although, using colours, I honestly transferred my cheerful coming to terms with the city, yet I could not stop gut feeling it was deserted. Maybe it was part of the long weekend, maybe hot summer days..  I would never imagine Chicago as ghost town– although quite often it felt like one. Some say, it’d file for bankruptcy like Detroit. So not sure if this was just very obvious result of yet another crisis in the row. 

 

Now: Why Lincoln statue has a chair?.. Anyway he stands, so why it was so absolutely necessary to put up the chair there? I understand when the ‘greatest ones’ are featured in work of art with some element they always carried along– hat, glasses, book, naked angry cat — but chair…???

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Well, and least but not last… Meet Chicago real local mob:))

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Desert: a non-sense of place

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As soon as you step into desert, no matter its size and its flora& fauna numbers, you feel completely different vibe and atmosphere. Project_20130324_0001  As if you entered an unknown room and closed the door after yourself. You do not remember roads full with speeding cars nearby, tine towns scrambled around or the life as it is outside. You shut the door and you breathe different air, walk through different time and stand on different ground.

Although the place I hiked through, Joshua National Park, includes desert only partly (actually, parts of two desert, Mojave and Colorado one), it brought the same feeling.

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The time almost stops there. You are blinded by bright sun, unbearable clean blue sky and light but guileful wind. Myriad Joshua Trees look like people’s shadows clinging onto the ground against stormy wind. And of course, the most of scenery is made of gigantic rock formations each having a nickname appropriate to the look and shape. Few times I had this feeling of dreaming, such unrealistic vision was in front of my eyes.


I always loved desert. Like mountains, the desert offers that pure loneliness and tranquility.  It possesses (dangerous) beauty. It possesses silence.

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Saint- Exupery, my favourite author-influencer of my childhood, so to say, had a striking connection with desert. “One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…”

Looking into the daylight blue sky, I see white plane crossing over the ghost-like white gigantic moon. Time blends into the silence.

Singapore Tales II: Macaques

IMG_3101-86This post will be devoted to the Monkey world that I fully discovered in wild, while conquering Singapore. The commonly encountered type there is Long-Tailed Macaques. Well, I certify, tails are astonishingly long and strong. Oh, wait, that is the case with all monkeys. Turned out, their original habitat was in mangroves and sometimes they are still called Crab-eating Macaques (!). Would love to learn from them, so far all my attempts to eat crabs failed quite pathetically.

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They are cute when they do their favorite activity, grooming; they are very cute when they are doing their second favorite activity, eating. They are cute and make you a bit worried when they try to unzip (and actually succeed in this!) your camera bag, attempting to steal your sweater. IMG_3110-8223They stop to appear cute and start to be really scary when they snarl at you and show a row of myriad perfect tiny sharp teeth. I guess stumbling on hikers is not one of their favorite activities. Well, as the signs point everywhere, You do not touch them, They do not touch you. However, it is not a “scary walk-through” in some Adventure Park. Sometimes there are misunderstandings and there are occasional attacks of macaques on the passers by. The animals, too, can have anger management issues.

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Mostly macaques just sit and groom each other, which helps them to develop social and networking skills. Sometimes they do it in a completely inappropriate spot (that is for us, humans: for them the whole area is appropriate, of course). While walking through Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, I stumbled on the following romantic picture.

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Besides favorite grooming, they are, of course, occupied with searching for food and/or consuming it. It is amazing how logical is their behaviour: choosing the right shape of stone to crack the nut; dusting off nut/fruit before eating and rubbing it between palms like we do. He is doing it almost automatically like we do, not looking directly at action but rather observing environment around him.

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Hikers carry sometimes lots of food with them. Sometimes it is yummy junk food. And the macaques know that very well. So the whole row of macaques wait for you patiently in the parking lot, strategically choosing spots nearby cars. That’s when this monkey actually managed to unzip my camera bag while I was taking pictures. Why he needed my sweater, I’m not sure. Maybe it is his favourite style and colour, dunno. Or was it customs check for border crossing?

M'am, anything illegal transferring through border...?

The parking lot is located at the bottom of Nature Reserve (I think, the following is from Sungei Buloh, but not 100% sure).

In front of the parking lot there are few family houses located on each side of narrow pavement road. During half an hour we spent there, we saw only one person, woman hanging clothing to dry, and dozens of macaques wandering on the roofs, playing and quarreling with each other, falling onto the cars, grabbing-dropping-chasing food. Gush, that much noise and activity I haven’t experienced since the last time at bazaar markets in Moscow..

Getting ready for jump!

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That one was strange to observe: macaques found the Halloween skeleton (yes, Singapore was full of Halloween preparation!) and apparently considered it as unusual food supply. Another funny moment occurred with poor dogs teased by monkeys on the fence.