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Wrynose Pass, Lake District National Park

These 3 photos were taken at Wrynose Pass, Lake District National Park in England.
The Wrynose pass is a mountain pass between the Duddon Valley and Little Langdale that reaches an altitude of 393m.
At the top of the Wrynose Pass is the Three Shire Stone, marking the meeting point of the historic counties of Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland.
Wrynose is part of the old Roman road named the 10th iter. It served the troops stationed at Hardknott Fort, and bits of the old road remain running alongside the present one. The unusual name, Wrynose, comes from 'pass of the stallion' and referred to the fact that the steep gradients (up to 1 in 3) needed a well-muscled horse to attain the top (today still one of the steepest roads in England).
The descent into the Duddon Valley or Wrynose Bottom is an unremitting sequence of steep hairpin bends, but the view in front is quite stunning. The road continues over Hardknott Pass and on into Eskdale.


Sunrise on Angkor Wat, Cambodia

This photo was was taken in Angkor in Cambodia, and is showing a sunrise at Angkor Wat, the prime example and most known of the classical style of Khmer architecture, and the world's largest single religious monument. Angkor Wat was built for King Suryavarman II, king of the Khmer Empire, in the early 12th century, which he dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. It was designed as a pyramid representing the structure of the universe: the highest level at the center of the temple represented Mount Meru, the home of the Hindu gods, with the five towers on the highest level representing the five peaks of the mountain. The broad moat around the complex represented the oceans that surround the world.
After Angkor was sacked in 1177 by the
Chams, the traditional enemies of the Khmer, the empire was restored by a new king, Jayavarman VII, who established a new capital and state temple in Angkor Thom and the Bayon (see other post on Bayon, Angkor Thom on this blog).
In the 14th or 15th century the temple was converted to Theravada Buddhist use, which continues to the present day.

Angkor Wat has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag and is a source of great national pride. A depiction of Angkor Wat has been a part of every flags of Cambodia since the introduction of the first version circa 1863.

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Samuel Beckett, Blenheim Crescent, London

This is a photo of Samuel Beckett's mural portrait, that can be found on Blenheim Crescent in London (close to Portobello Road). The drawing is from Alexander Martinez, and based on Jane Bown's famous photo made in 1976.


Himba Tribe, Kunene, Namibia

These photos were taken in the north west part of Namibia, in the
Kunene (Kaokoland) region. The Himba are an ethnic group of about 20,000 to 50,000 people living in this area; they are nomadic, pastoral people, closely related to the Herero, and speak the same language.
The Himba breed cattle and goats. The responsibility of milking the cows lies with the women. Women take care of the children, and one woman will take care of another woman's children. Women tend to perform more labor-intensive work than men do, such as carrying water to the village and building homes.
The Himba wear little clothing, but the women are famous for covering themselves with a mixture of butter fat, ochre, and herbs to protect themselves from the sun. The mixture gives their skins a reddish tinge. The mixture symbolizes earth's rich red color and the blood that symbolizes life. Women braid each others hair and cover it in their ochre mixture.

Because of the harsh desert climate in the region where they live and their seclusion from outside influences the Himba have managed to maintain much of their traditional lifestyle.
The Himba's history is wrought with disasters, including severe droughts and guerrilla warfare, especially during Namibia's quest for independence and as a result of the civil war in neighboring Angola. In 1904, they suffered from the same attempt at genocide by the German colonial power under Lothar von Trotha that decimated other groups in Namibia, notably the Herero and the
Nama (in older sources also called Namaqua). In the 1980's it appeared the Himba way of life was coming to a close. A severe drought killed ninety percent of their cattle and many gave up their herds and became refugees in the town of Opuwo living in slums on international relief.
But Since the 1990's, the Himba have been successful in maintaining control of their lands and have experienced a resurgence. Many Himba now live on nature conservancies that give them control of wildlife and tourism on their lands. They have worked with international activists to block a proposed hydro-electric dam along the Epupa Dam that would have flooded their ancestral lands.
The government of Namibia has provided mobile schools for Himba children. Their life is still the same, but the children can read and write.

See also this interesting article :
National Geographic : Romanticized by tourists, Namibia's Himba struggle to maintain control of their life and lands.


Paris Plage (Paris Beach)

The annual summertime event has started last week in Paris : Paris Plage (Paris beach). The operation (see Paris Plage on sets up beaches along the river Seine. Every July and August, roadways on the right bank of the Seine are blocked off and host various activities, including sandy beaches and palm trees. Instigated in 2002 , Paris-Plage has proven a major success, by providing a summer hangout for Parisians unable to head to the beach for their holiday. The number of visitors has grown each year and topped 4 million in 2007.
Every season, new features are added. Some are practical, like a shuttle linking the two riverbanks, a floating pand a second beach area at La Villette, at the northeast corner of the city. In 2006, a floating swimming pool was even set up on the river (swimming in the Seine is also not permitted !... and unlike many beaches in France, topless sunbathing is not permitted either).

More images on Offical Website. Many other towns in France (Saint Quentin was actually the first town to organise such an event back in 1996) and in the world have followed, like Berlin, Brussels, Budapest or Prague.


Elephants at water hole, Etosha, Namibia

This photo was taken at Etosha National Park, in Namibia. Through the action of topography, water collects to make mud pits in low areas in veldt regions that also play host to elephants. Elephants turn these damp low spots into muddy wallows, and through consistent use carry off more of the earth from the low point, deepening it steadily until it holds open water.


Coeur Défense, Paris La Défense

This is a photo of Cœur Défense, an office skyscraper in La Défense, the high-rise business district west of Paris, France. With 350,000 m², it is the building with the most floor space in Europe along with the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest. The Cœur Défense ensemble was designed by the architect Jean-Paul Viguier, and was built in 2001, replacing the former Esso Tower, the first building of the old generation to be destroyed in La Défense. Cœur Défense is a large complex made of 2 main bodies connected to one another by a smaller body and seating on a wide basis made of several smaller bodies. The edges of all bodies are rounded. The cladding is white, with large windows. An electronic system monitors white blinds which can be drawn or opened all together at the same time.
The two main bodies are 161 m tall each. Both of them are relatively thin as their width is only 24 m, and they are out of line with each other, so that sunlight can reach all parts of the building.


Saint-Martin-du-Canigou abbey, France

This is a classic view of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou, a monastery built in 1009 in the Pyrenees on Canigou mountain, southern France near the Spanish border.


Bayon, Angkor Thom, Cambodia

This photo was taken in Angkor, Cambodia, in the well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple of Bayon. The similarity of the approx 200 gigantic faces on the temple's towers to other statues of the king has led many scholars to the conclusion that the faces are representations of Jayavarman VII himself, who was the Mahayana Buddhist King of the Khmer Empire (1181-1215).


St Helen's Place and The Gherkin, London

This photo was taken from the entrance of St Helen's place, the location which gives this singular perspective to the The Gherkin, the iconic building in the City of London.


Orgues, Ille-sur-Têt, France

This photo was taken in Ille-sur-Têt, a village of Pyrénées-Orientales, Languedoc-Roussillon, in France famous for its geologic site. The ‘orgues’ (organ pipes) are amazing rock formations produced by more than 5 million years of geological history; these natural chimneys are made up of columns of soft rock, eroded by rain, and overhung by harder rock which has resisted erosion. The combination of earth, water, wind and sun has given birth to a symphony of forms and colours that fire the imagination : centuries-old stone paths bordered by herb-covered slopes leads to the the amphitheatre, a mineral gem created by nature, surrounded by green pastures.


Lines & Curves, Sydney Opera House, Sydney

The second of a entire series (see first post). This specific photo has been selected at Onexposure.
This is a photo of the Sydney Opera House, New South Wales, Australia. Designed by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the project was built in three stages : 1959–1963 consisted of building the upper podium; 1963–1967 saw the construction of the outer shells; 1967-1973 consisted of the interior design and construction. It was formally opened in 1973 by Elisabeth II, and in 2007 was made a UNESCO World Heritage. To know more about it, please refer to following Wikipedia web page Sydney Opera House.


Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF)

This is a photo of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), designed by architect Dominique Perrault, and opened to the public on December 1996. This is one of the largest and most modern libraries in the world, does cover all fields of knowledge (with approximately 13 million books and publications) and use the most modern data transfer technologies (consultation from a distance, collaboration with other European libraries : in 1997 the digital library was established for online users, and as of April 2006, Gallica made available on the Web: 90,000 scanned volumes, 1,200 full-text volumes, 500 audio documents, and 80,000 images). See also


Uluru, Ayers Rock, Australia

Everyone will have probably recognised Ayers Rock (Uluru), this large sandstone rock formation (inselberg, literally "island mountain"), listed as UNESCO World Heritage site and undoutedly Australia's most recognisable natural icon.


Feb 23rd, 2002 - July 2nd, 2008 : free at last

This photo was taken in front of the Hotel de Ville of Paris. Since 2004, it was holding a large poster for Ingrid Betancourt, hostage in Colombia since February 23nd 2002 and made honorary citizen of Paris. Posters for several hostages in the Middle East were also hung on the building. They were removed when they were freed. Only Ingrid Betancourt remained, but at least it will now be removed.