Alex n Day Yann

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Archive: ‘Travel’

Guan Gong

Friday, June 25th, 2010

On June 24th, in Penang, Malaysia, we went for various Guan Gong celebration.

In the West, the few who know Guan Gong sometimes call him the God of War. This idea comes from the fact that Guan Gong is easily the most famous general from Chinese history. In battles he invariably dominated the field as the most powerful, most skillful and most courageous warrior, as well as an able leader and tactician.

Every year, on the twenty fourth day of the sixth month on the lunar calendar (legendary birthday of Guan Yu, Emperor Guan was actually born on the twenty second day of the sixth month of the year 160), Chinese celebrate him.

Several Buddhist temple in Penang held some celebration, like lion dance or praying.

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Banda Aceh

Monday, May 10th, 2010

We were in Banda Aceh, in Apr/May 2010, for 3 weeks.

I’m sure that all of you remember Banda Aceh. In December 2004, this city of North Sumatra, in Indonesia, was hit by the tsunami, and hundred thousands of people were killed or missing.

Our goal during this travel, was to see, and report, how is the city, 5 years after having being destroyed by the tsunami; and of course, volunteering, as there are still a lot of nonprofit organizations which are working there.

Banda Aceh looks good today, and people are just… living their life. Some places, or symbols, touched by the tsunami, are preserved for tourism, and the city built a brand new tsunami museum, designed by famous Indonesian architect Ridwan Kamil.

So, at a quick glance, everything looks good here. But, when you dig further, you will see that a lot of problems are still exist.

That’s why, as we love to help, we wanted to volunteer here.

But volunteering is never an easy task… big organizations, from foreign countries, have their rules, and the ones who work there, don’t want to be disturbed during their “days” spend at the beach and finished at some “underground” bars where they can drink some beers. So we ended up, as what we love, to volunteer for small local NGOs.

Usually, based on my experience in several countries, local NGOs are lack of funding, but they seriously do the ground work. Big International NGOs have the money… but, often, the fund is spent more on big 4×4 trucks, big offices (for the rental), and incomes of personnel who spend (usually, not all) more time on the beach and bars, than really helping locals, leaving the job to local little NGOs, which have no fund, but really do good jobs. However usually nobody say anything, because before leaving the place, big NGOs (trying to show off and look nice), offer the vehicles, or computers, to local NGOs. Nice gifts, but usually, computers are old and full of virus, so they prefer to give away cars; it’s more visible, as they “marked” on each side of the car with the words “donated by…”

For all these reasons, we always like to volunteer for small local NGOs, publish their names and contact info. If ever you want to donate, honestly, choose small local NGOs, than a big international one, your money will be used in a better way, and will really help the local people.

The one which touch me the most was a school, near the Banda Aceh Airport. It is a school for disabled children. I was there to take photos of them, because the organization which takes care of them wanted to set up a website fo fund raising, and they needed photos.

Norman, the Director of this organization, really takes good care of the kids. He visits them at least once a week to talk with them, play with them, have interactions with them… I could strongly feel his love towards the kids…

Norman just finished his university from medical school. However, he is not interested to be a doctor. His passion is to take care of these kids. I spent quite some time with him, and he is a guy with a big heart.

The kids in the school were awesome. I love them. They are very motivated to learn a lot of things despite of their handicap, especially playing music. If you could have a chance to meet them, I’m sure you will be amazed, just like me.

I will remember them all my life.

Apart from this, I also gave photography classes to the Tsunami and Disaster Mitigation Research Center, as  part of my volunteering. I had about 10 students, for 2 days. First day to explain some photography techniques, and the next day about post processing.

For another organization, Nusantara Indah, we took photos of counseling session for their new website. The goal of this NGO is to give free training classes to counselors in school, so that they can guide the young to develop their life.

Volunteering in Banda Aceh was a nice experience. People are very friendly, and we could make good friends too.

Beside volunteering, we also took some nice photos such as the wonderful Raya Baiturrahman Mosque.

In the heart of Alex : Aix en Provence.

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Town of water, town of art… Everyone knows that Aix was built and has developed around this dual identity.

Aix en Provence is a city in the South of France. In the well-known and beautiful Provence. Aix en Provence is also Alexandre’s hometown. We were there in June 2009, and brought some photos and wish to share them with you.

Aix en Provence is a very beautiful city, and very old too. Aix (Aquae Sextiae) was founded in 123 BC by the Roman consul Sextius Calvinus, who gave his name to its springs.

Aix passed to the crown of France with the rest of Provence in 1487, and in 1501 Louis XII established there the parliament of Provence, which existed until 1789. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the town was the seat of the Intendance of Provence.

Aix is often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains. Among the most notable are the 17th century Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins (Fountain of the Four Dolphins) in the Quartier Mazarin, designed by Jean-Claude Rambot, and three of the fountains down the central Cours Mirabeau: At the top, a 19th century fountain depicts the “good king” René holding the Muscat grapes that he introduced to Provence in the 15th century; half-way down is a natural hot water fountain (34°C), covered in moss, dating back to the Romans; and at the bottom at la Rotonde, the hub of modern Aix, stands a monumental fountain from 1860 beneath three giant statues representing art, justice and agriculture. In the older part of Aix, there are also fountains of note in the Place d’Albertas and the Place des Trois-Ormeaux.

Here, all is colour and sensation: the light of the sky, the golden stone of the facades, the transparent green of the fountains, the shade of the plane trees,…

Aix en Provence is also famous because of Paul Cezanne, the painter, and the Montagne Sainte Victoire (Holy Victory Mountain). Almost from everywhere in Aix en Provence, we can see the mountain. Now, the area is well-known for its hiking paths. All around, we can admire the famous Cezanne’s landscapes, who painted them hundreds times.


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