Most of the photos are from my domestic and international travels during grad school; however, I did continue traveling after I moved back to California, but the growth of my photo collection has slowed down after I became locked down behind a desk. When I travel, I like to capture the contrast of light and dark, mostly the subject of what the light captures in the moment of space; thus, “capturing the light around the world.” It also entails, capturing the light or glory of God’s creation around the world.
My stay in Calgary was for a short span of time, summer mainly, to volunteer at a non-profit organization that performed engineering and architectural services for impoverished communities around the world. I was placed in a home located in the hills of Calgary, close to slides that were used in the 88′ Olympics. It was a lovely neighborhood full of greenery and plants, good for short hikes with views of the river and downtown Calgary.
Toronto was an even shorter trip, a span of two weeks, mainly to visit a friend from college. Touring was mostly done by foot, except for the drive to Niagara Falls.
London, England was mainly a stop over for a day and a half before my flight back to the States. Fortunately, the sky was blue for most of the day as I toured the city by map, on foot and metro. The most beautiful sites were along the Thames River. By night, I walked to the Buckingham Palace from the Metro, through a dark, poorly lit park. I wasn’t comfortable with the situation one bit, but as I walked in the dark, praying for God’s protection without a person in sight. All of a sudden, I heard voices close behind me, which was strange because they were not there just seconds ago. They couldn’t have caught up to me that quickly. I thought they were a couple at first, but then they seemed to be friends, man and woman. Seeming friendly, I decided to speak them, then walked with them to the front of the gate. I recall them telling me that they were on their way somewhere out of my direction, but at the end, we went the same way, to the front of Buckingham Palace and back to the train station. Another strange thing about it was how the girl I spoke to jumped backwards into the train right before the door closed. Sometimes I wonder if they were angels that appeared as strangers. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.“
The study-abroad semester started in Paris, mostly walking around to different areas from the old Paris to the modern. Many of the buildings are filled with reliefs that altogether bring about a dramatic feel. The city is never dark as the buildings are lit up and the Eiffel Tower sparkles with blinking lights that change motion and or color. As boats with lit decks filled with tourists pass underneath the bridge, locals watch from above while enjoying wine and cheese. One can catch an amazing view of Paris from the rooftop of the Arab World Institute or the Sacré-Cœur.
From Spain, we flew to Berlin in casual Fall temperature clothing, but the day after we arrived it started to snow while we were on a walking tour. I have never been so grateful about a clothing purchase since, as the day before, I bought a new winter jacket. After the snow stopped, the sun came out and the light from the clouds created a glow of light right on the face of the Berlin Cathedral.
My tour of Ireland was short lived, only three days. The first night included bar hopping through the Temple Bar area. There I learned what pissed means to the Irish, not mad, but drunk. The second day was a walking tour through Dublin, which ended with lounging on the ninth floor of the the Guinness Storehouse, Guinness in hand, included in the tour.
The first time in New Delhi felt surreal. There was an Elephant walking on the street beside the cars and motorcycles, while monkeys were hanging on electric wires.
The study-abroad semester ended in Italy, first Genoa, then Florence and finally Rome. The museums in Genoa contained many famous historic pieces of art. The streets of Florence were well decorated for the Christmas season, yet on any hilltop, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore stands out as the dominant structure over the city, night and day. While walking through the streets of Rome, it is difficult to see the horizon, but easy to see the next tasty display of gelato. The streets are pedestrian friendly, some too narrow for any car. Ruins and other beautiful monuments are scattered throughout the city, which motivates the tired explorer to continue walking.
There’s a big difference in topography from one part of Lisbon to another. Walking between buildings usually involves walking up or down exterior stairs, but along the path, there are beautiful views of the city and the Tagus River. Pedestrian walkways are lit up at night and sun sets perfectly by the Belém Tower.
Amsterdam was a short stop over before heading to Uganda. We took the train from the airport into the city, mostly to see Ann Frank’s house. That was the smoothest train ride I have ever experienced. The views of all the farms and windmills made the ride more enjoyable. For the first time, I saw a bicycle parking garage, an actual garage full of bikes, no cars whatsoever. I thought finding my car in a huge parking garage was hard, how much harder would it be to find a bike?
The famous piece of architecture would be the Marina Bay Sands Hotel with the boat shaped structure at the top holding the lengthy swimming pool, but there are other interesting structures around the city.
Barcelona was the main city in Europe where most of the abroad-study took place. While in Spain, we also toured other cities, such as Bilbao for the Guggenheim Museum or San Sebastian for the Chillida-Leku sculptures. Other times, on our own, we traveled to Granada and Cordoba by train. Located in Southern Spain, the architecture of Granada has Roman fortification with Moorish influence. Arabic script and floral patterns are found embedded on parts of the Alhambra walls.
While on the train, there are many captivating views of small towns between Neuchâtel, Zürich, Dielsdorf, Bern, Basel and or Geneva developed on the hillside or right along the lake. While walking through the old towns, one can spot the dominant clock tower amongst the rest of the buildings. Historic architecture is well preserved and there are places on top of the hill with panoramic views.
Mukono was the destination for missionary work that involved designing a clinic for the elderly. We arrived in Kampala, then drove to Mukono shortly after. The landscape was mostly covered in greenery and in-between, rich red soil, perfect for brick. It was difficult to sleep that first night. The mattress was very crinkly, reminding me of old backyard furniture wrapped in plastic. I was up all night and as soon as I saw light coming through the window, I walked out to the front of the house and saw layers of landscape in hues of purple.
United Arab Emirates
A close friend, one I practically grew up with around the family, lived in Abu Dhabi. While visiting her, I searched for opportunities to work in Dubai, hopefully becoming an expat. While driving to her house from Dubai, I pulled over to the side to make sure I was going the right way. I could feel the dry heat immediately after shutting off the car. The thought of being stuck out in the hot desert crossed my mind. It was constantly hot, even at night.
Northern California has much to offer. Some enjoy visiting the headquarters of huge tech companies, but beyond buildings and corporations, there are beautiful sites to see. One can watch the sunset at the beach with a warm jacket or drive up and down the coast to Big Sur or Sea Ranch.
Chicago has a rich culture in architecture, which is why I chose to study there. From the studio, I could see the tallest buildings in downtown Chicago and when hungry, I could walk to Greek-town for a spanakopita or little Italy for pasta. There’s so much to see in downtown Chicago and it’s easy to walk around or find your way just by walking along the canal or Grant park.
Locals don’t say “Hang Loose” for nothing. It’s so easy to loosen up when the beach and palm trees are so close by. Some wear slippers to work. I went straight to the beach right after work. It was almost like going on vacation at the end of each workday. When walking to work, you can have vacation on your mind until you walk through the front door. Everyone is relaxed and in a good mood, except for anyone from NY, even after many years, still uptight.
There’s a big expanse of land with a small population. It’s one of the biggest states and one of the least populated. Wherever we drove, there was no traffic. Whenever we went to the grocery store, there was never no more than three people in line, most of the time, not even one person. When floating down the river, we saw people fly fishing, birds feeding their young, deer and schools of fish.
USA, Washington D.C.
There’s power in air in D.C. I was sent by work to attend a conference. In between sessions I visited the monuments. I noticed the pool of water in front of the Lincoln Memorial was a breeding ground for mosquitoes as I kept being bitten while walking towards the monument.
On my way to Calgary, Canada, I stopped by Seattle to visit friends who happened to work for Microsoft. I got to tour the visitor parts of the office. The next day, I saw the original Starbucks, saw the city from the Space Needle and got a view of city at night.
Yellowstone National Park is a beautiful place with many wild animals. The last time I was at a picnic in the woods, I saw a huge grizzly bear digging through a garbage dumpster.