Granville Island - Vancouver, BC

Several weeks ago I had the opportuntiy to head north for a few days to attend a photography workshop in beautiful Vancouver, BC.  While I didn't have much time for sightseeing, Carolyn and I did manage to make it out one afternoon to explore one of our favorite tourist spots - Granville Island.
Situated near downtown Vancouver, BC, Granville Island is both a locals’ favorite and a huge draw for visitors. It is centered around the Granville Island Public Market, which consists of over 70 merchants selling a variety of fresh produce, gourmet foods, baked goods, seafood along with numerous other commercial vendors. Locals come here to get started on whatever lunch or dinner menus they are working on, and visitors come to get lost in a dizzying array of fresh smells and lively vendors. 

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In addition to the market, Granville Island has a multitude of small shops, galleries and co-ops. Is a veritable real-life Etsy marketplace -- where you can touch and feel unique, handmade goods in person. 
During our visit we had the opportunity to tour a printmaking facility and talk with some of the resident artists while they were working on their various projects.  (I absolutely love this kind of thing and I think that even Carolyn enjoyed herself!)

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We have had the good fortune to visit Granville Island a hand-full of times over the years and each time I see something different that completely fascinates me.  This time it was a man who sat on a bench for hours allowing pigeons to perch on top of him.  If we didn't see it for ourselves we would have never believed it.  Believe it people.  

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Here's to whatever adventure awaits upon on our next visit to the land of the Canucks!

 

Singapore

To say that I enjoy visiting Singapore is a huge understatement...I absolutely love it! To me, Singapore is one of those places that offers nearly everything that I could hope to find in a city/country, and then some. It has; warm and friendly people, a community that consists of of multiple cultures, has breathtaking sites, interesting architecture, is politically friendly, is clean, has a lot of sunshine and is surrounded by water and above all - is safe to walk around in day or night. All of this (and much more) make this an ideal place to visit.
Tourism in Singapore is a major industry and contributor to the Singaporean economy, attracting 13,171,303 tourists in 2011, over twice Singapore's total population.  It is also environmentally friendly, and maintains natural and heritage conservation programs. Along with this, it also has one of the world's lowest crime rates. Singapore also has nearly every type of attraction you can imagine; Universal Studios, Underwater World (similar to Sea World), the incredibly beautiful Gardens by the Bay, the world-class Esplanade concert hall (where we have seen the likes of Natalie Cole, k.d. lang and the Count Basie Orchestra, Jurong Bird Park, the famous Night Safari (a zoo that you visit by train at night), a botanical gardens that has one of the largest collection of orchids in the world, the Singapore Flyer the Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino and many more that we have yet to see.      

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One of the things that I most love about Singapore is that it truly is a melting pot of many cultures throughout the world and therefore, has a lot of diversity that consists of nearly 5 million people which is made up of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Caucasians and Eurasians (plus other mixed groups) and Asians of different origins. During our visits over the years we have met some incredible people from literally all over the world who are each contributing in one way or another to the overall makeup of this beautiful country.

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When we first arrived we spent a quiet weekend on the small island of Sentosa - which is still considered to be a part of Singapore and is accessible via a single, long-narrow bridge that connects the city and this small resort island.  Our hotel was located in Sentosa Cove and sits directly in the heart of a neighborhood of multimillion-dollar homes built around an upscale marina.  Each morning we would take a walk around the area and marvel at the the sites of some of the most luxurious boats and homes that we have ever seen. We are talking about a true high-rent district! In fact, we learned that a 2-bedroom condo starts at $30 million (US) dollars. Yes, you read that correctly! Seriously, where do these people get their money?

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From there we moved over to another marina area - this one situated in Singapore and near many of the attractions that I listed above. (Below is a view of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Marina district from our hotel room.)

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In-between meetings we were able to get out for a bit each day to see and experience some old and new sites. One of our favorite "new" adventures was a visit to the Art & Space Museum. The featured exhibit was Rae & James Eames. While we were familiar with the name Herman-Miller, we had absolutely no idea as to who Rae & James Eames were and their impact on the design world.  Both Rae and James were talented artists and designers in their own rite, but it was their combined efforts that made legendary contributions in the areas of design, photography, film and textiles. Here is a link to the exhibit if you are interested in learning more about this incredible couple.
After an amazing week in one of our favorite places, it is now time to make our way back home.
Next stop - Las Vegas were we will spend some time visiting my family and slowly ween ourselves into winter and the ensuing cold, wet weather that awaits us in Portland.  If you are interested in seeing a few more photographs of our time in Singapore click here.

Taipei City

On the surface Taipei City appears to be "another big city" inhabited by millions of people who are all confined to a very small space.  There are motorcycles, bicycles, cars, cabs and pedestrians everywhere and they all appear to be going somewhere in a hurry.  (I was nearly run over by a bicycle while standing on the street corner!)  Beneath the surface though, Taipei City is a thriving community that is made up of generous and kind (albeit, shy) people who are very proud of their country.
Founded in the early 18th century, Taipei is a country rich with culture which stems from a blend of Chinese and Japanese occupation over the years.  Taipei City is the capital of Taipei and considered to be the political and cultural center of the country.  It is not only home to the famous Taipei 101 (which what used to be the tallest building in the world - now that honor goes to a city in Dubai), but also many spectacular palaces, galleries and art museums.  While I didn't have time to visit it this year, the National Palace Museum is by far, one of my favorite museums to spend time in.  (It house one of the world's largest collections of artifacts from ancient China and is filled with some of the most beautiful pieces of art, china, jade, sculptures, etc. that I have ever laid eyes on.)
Taipei itself is a democratic country with a LOT of varying political views.  (Sound familiar?!)  It is refreshing to me that nearly everyone that we meet is free to openly share their views on how the government should be run as well as their feelings about the future of not only their country, but the world as a whole.  
While I could spend a great deal of time sharing my view about Taipei City (and the surrounding area)  - suffice it to say that I truly enjoy traveling to this unique and beautiful part of the world and look forward to my next visit!
If you would like to see a few of the pictures that I have taken during our visit you can see them here
Next stop - Singapore! 

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Good Bye Hong Kong - Hello Taipei, Taiwan!

It's hard to believe that our time here in Hong Kong is about to come to an end.  (It truly does feel as though we just got here...maybe it's the jet lag!)
The five days have gone by quickly and yet, I feel as though we have packed a LOT into what time we were here - from walking around the old markets on Graham St. to strolling along the scenic boardwalk on Victoria Harbour to hiking up to see the 10,000 Buddha Monastery to exploring the old antique markets on Hollywood St. and through it all, experiencing what it is like to be in a city that houses over 7 million people in roughly an area that is 1/2 the size of the state of Maine.  Wow!!
I have put some of the photographs that I made during our visit.  If you are interested in seeing them - you can find them here. (Note - the cat is sleeping and is not for sale.  You'll see what I mean if you check out the photos.)
Next stop - Taipei, Taiwan!

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