When Places Vanish

One of the strangest experiences as a traveler is to visit a place that later vanishes. I’ve visited two countries that no longer exist: West Germany and Czechoslovakia.

Uwe and I once stood on a part of the summit at Mount Etna on Sicily. A few months later a flow of erupting lava buried the very spot where we’d stood. It’s in the nature of Nature to be transitory. Nothing lasts forever.

Maybe that’s why Sicilians pray when they drive by spots where the lava flow stopped just short of towns. Every single time an Italian car passes, the driver makes the sign of the Cross. I laughed – but they sure know something about life’s fragility.

Some changes are somber. In 2009, before Myanmar briefly opened up to the world, Uwe and I spent a month exploring the country. Once known as Burma, Myanmar was closed off to the outside. We needed special permits to be allowed into several places.

We explored spots that seemed to have sprung out of fairy tales, like this market in Sittwe.

Market, Sittwe

We took off our shoes to enter temples.

Those areas of Myanmar are shut tight again. It feels like a book of fairy tales that has been closed and locked away. All the mysterious creatures can’t be seen anymore. But the ogres and demons and the special people with their magic remain…

Pa-O guide to Kakku Pagoda Complex, Taunggyi in the heart of Shan State
Inle Lake
U-Bein Bridge
Mrauk U
Chin village elder

When places vanish from our consciousness, they aren’t really gone. Sometimes, they are simply hidden.

As you drive past the spot where they were once visible, be sure to make a sign to ward off bad fortune. And make sure you acknowledge the spirits now unseen…. but very much still there.

Bagan

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see Uwe’s photos from our trips go to viewpics.de. GO TO MY BLOG jadicampbell.com TO READ MORE POSTS.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was honored as 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network, and American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts, and named a Finalist for Greece’s international 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Kyoto the Opaque

Uwe and I visited both China and Japan on a trip. We were startled when Japan felt  much more foreign than China. For a First World country, Japan is opaque and surprisingly difficult to grasp.

Huh?

Huh?

We made sure we had plenty of time in Kyoto, traditionally Japan’s cultural heart.* Tokyo is modern and young and moves swiftly. Ancient Kyoto also seemed to have an older population, although the Kyoto train station was by far the most wonderfully futuristic we’ve ever visited. Our autumn visit coincided with the Jidai Matsuri, or Festival of Ages, held every year on October 22nd.

For a millennium Kyoto was the country’s capitol. In 1868 the emperor moved his imperial court to Tokyo. The Kyoto Prefecture was afraid that Kyoto’s thousand years of history would fade from memory. To make sure this didn’t happen they built the Heian Shrine to house the spirit of Emperor Kammu, who founded Kyoto in 794. The Jidai Gyoretsu, a parade for the Jidai Matsuri, was first staged in 1895.

Chairs are set up along the parade route and reserved well in advance. The parade  started at noon at the Imperial Palace. We positioned ourselves on the grass 4.5 kilometers away, not far from the giant red torii gates of the Heian Shrine where the parade would end.

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D30_8390_DxO8The parade commemorates the continuous ages of Kyoto history with truly spectacular costumes and objects. It begins with participants dressed in the styles of the Meiji Era (1868-1912) and then goes back in time to the Heian Era (794-1185). Musicians and buskers, riders on horse back and flag carriers all march.

D30_8375_dxoThe outfits are accurate from the samurai warriors’ headdresses and armor down to the last dot of face make up. Every detail has been researched.** Over 2,000 people take part in the parade.

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D30_8295_dxoThe procession lasted for hours and Uwe took hundreds of photographs. Occasionally I made a run for bottles of water and snacks. We fell in love with onigiri, an ingenious salmon and rice treat wrapped in seaweed. It comes in a deceptively simple looking package that holds all of the ingredients separate until you open it.

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D30_8404_DxO8I’ll need a separate post to talk about the shrines and temples we visited and the geishas we saw. Or to describe the cloths and scarves I bought, each with its special weaving technique and materials. Or the lacquerware bowls I fell in love with, first developed by monks as the perfect receptacle for rice…

NOTES: *Kyoto contains 17 World Heritage sites and is a UNESCO World Heritage City.

**The methods used to make the costumes are traditional, too.

(All photographs can be enlarged by simply clicking on the image.)

Uwe’s photos of our trip to Japan and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de. Go to my earlier post 8:15 A.M.to read more about our visit to Japan.

Additional information: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/japan/travel-tips-and-articles/77406#ixzz2zEtAXf7i

http://www.kyotoguide.com