Home Bolivia & Peru Cambodia Canada Chile China Cuba Czech Rep. Ethiopia Euro. Microstates France Guatemala Iceland India Ireland Italy Kalmykia, Russia Karakoram Highway Laos Madagascar Mali Morocco Myanmar (Burma) Papua New Guinea Poland Spain Turkey UK USA Yemen Guestbook
Page 1 [1-19] Page 2 [20-38] Page 3 [39-57]
My Dear Friend,

                    Coming out from the east end of the Verdon Canyon, when the river meets the lake, we were simply amazed by the scene in front of us: a village was dwarfed and embraced in semi-circle by a massive rock which was seemingly touching the cloud. This was unmistakenly the classic view of Moustiers-Ste-Marie.
Moustiers is no stranger to us, since it is quite renowned to the world for its potteries, porcelain and tiles. Even with some 500 residents, it's a very bustling village filled with tourists and cars. Café, shops and restaurants all made Moustiers like Paris compared with Rougon.
We didn't hang around in the village except admiring the 8th-century Chapelle de Notre Dame de Beauvoir. Instead, we were busy up and down the hill and ravine in hope of finding the best view of the village. And voilà, I'm proud to present you the most spectacular scene we found! Notice the gold star hung high in the sky between the rocks.

                    Your friend, L.G. 07/07/06

To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,
If the last postcard only shows you the grand view of Moustiers-Ste-Marie, here is a more closer look. Up to this scale, the village is charming in all means. However, one has better to stop here, because when you look further microsco-pically, the scene isn't always pleasant.
Now please cover your nose before I tell you a small piece of bad news today: paying too much attention to the street scene, I unknowingly stepped on a pile of dog shit. Merde! As the French say. But that describes exactly the situation here.
Dog shits on the streets are normal. "You obviously haven't lived in Paris", insisted Emilia. I know, Paris even has a kind of vehicle that sucks up the disgusting piles all over the city. Perhaps this is what you call cultural difference. Things are perfectly OK in a country full of etiquettes might not be acceptable in another. In Canada, if you don't clean up after the dog, you are probably the rudest person in the world and even subject to fine!
You may now breath easily.
Mischievously yours L.G. 07/07/06
To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,

                    I hope I don't bore you with my serious of lavender pictures. We have said good bye to Rougon and Moustiers in the highland, and have to get back to Roussillon in Luberon by the end of today. I'm writing to you from the lunch in Valensole, roughly the midpoint between the end points.
For the first time in several days, we have missed the green mountain we loved. Valensole is situated in a wide-opened plateau. It's considerably hotter and drier, like what is implied in its name meaning sun valley in Latin. Perhaps this is exactly the climate lavender growers hope for. Along the highway are endless lavender and harvested wheat fields littered with hey stacks. Hot wind penetrated into the car, carrying a pleasant pastoral aroma.
The town is very quiet in high noon. Only a modest marriage ceremony in the city hall created some sign of liveliness for us the passers-by tourists.

                    Ever yours, L.G. 08/07/06 Valensole

To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,

                    It looks like that I can't show pictures of Provence without including at least one for sunflowers. Like lavender, sunflower has become synonymous to Provence.
In reality however, sunflowers can't always be spot anywhere in the region. They seem to be more common in the area around Arles, St-Rémy and Villeneuve-les-Avignon. But going east to Haute Provence, they become rarer and rarer.
So near the end of our trip, we were desperately looking for a sunflower field, as if we couldn't complete the trip without one. We finally fulfilled our wish outside the village of Roussillon, although the scene wasn't exactly spectacular. Moreover, the flowers seemed to shy away their faces against us.
Nevertheless, I wish you like this one and only shot of sunflowers from Provence.

                    A friendly handshake from Roussillon. - L.G. 09/07/06

To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,
From Rougon in High Provence this morning, to Roussillon in Luberon this afternoon, even they are not a world apart, the transition was obvious. Gone are the high mountains and mild weather, come are the densely populated villages and busy traffic, much more tourists, as well as the scorching heat wave. This change did create a sense of 'back to civilisation'.
Roussillon is dubbed one of the most beautiful villages in France, like every other village claims. If nothing else, the village is sitting on top of the world largest ochre (a type of soil used as pigment in ancient time) deposit. Having seen enough red soil in American west, I wasn't exactly excited by the ochre alone. Yet it could be a pleasure by taking a walk in the middle of the ochre quarries and cliff, appreciating the fine shades of of soil in different subtle colours, or simply enjoying the vivid contrast of the blue Luberon sky, the green pine trees and the colourful ochre houses. If you take a day trip from Avignon, you may also include nearby villages like Gordes and Lourmarin and the Abbeye de Sénanque.
I wish I could send you a pitch of ochre. L. G. 08/07/06
To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,

                    You may have seen this architecture multiple times, thanks to the photogenic lavenders in its front that make it one of the symbols of Provence, appearing frequently on the covers or centre pages of many brochures and guide books.
Well, this quaint 12th-centuryabbey is called Abbaye de Sénanque. It is situated not far from Gordes, from there a narrow one-car road descends steeply to the valley.
Personally I find the site a little over-rated, although the abbey's celebrity-like status attracts hundreds of thousand of tourists each years. The parking lot is full of traffic from dawn to dusk. Guided tour is the only way to see the abbey's interior, which is known for its intricate cloisters. In the summer it is often full. The monks in the abbey have become entrepreneurial. You can buy lavender essence, books and CDs in their shop.
The Sunday mess is still opened to public. We took this opportunity to take a glimpse inside of the mysterious cylindrical chapel, before we moved on to Loumarin and Pont du Gard.
Yours truly L.G. 09/07/06 Luberon

To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,

                    You may find this picture a little dramatic, and wonder how a scene like that could be possible with a person in a rare ethnic costume in front of an ancient French architecture. Well, there is a story behind it.
The bridge in the background is called Pont du Gard, or the Bridge of Gard, only twenty-something kilometres west of Avignon. The bridge is probably another symbolic landmark of France having the same level of fame as the Eiffel Tower or the abbey in Mt. St-Michel.
To impress you, the bridge was built by the Roman more than 2,000 years ago, purely by sandstones held together with iron clamps, with a dual function of aquaduct (top) and road bridge (first level) for horse carriages. The intent was to transport the spring water from the nearby village of Uzès to the city of Nîmes. It spans across the River Gard like a giant taller than 16 storeys and wider than two football field.

                    [...continues to the next postcard]

To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

[...continued from the last postcard]
Pont du Gard is one of the most popular destinations in France. Huge parking lots have been built in front of the modern visitor centre. Admission is still free (although parking is not). If you come here in the summer, bring a canoe, a kayak or simply a piece of swimming suit. You would have a lot of fun.
Pont du Gard wasn't in our original visiting plan. We went there with the remaining time in the afternoon after arriving Avignon, and found ourselves admid of thousands of visitors. But just when we returned to the parking lot, we encoutered face to face a group of young people in ethnic costumes strolled casually toward the bridge. They laughed, chat and occasionally stopped to take a few snapshots of their own. The picture in the last postcard wasn't a theatrical but my instinct during their photo moment.
Yes, I felt myself being a bit of a paparazzo, as we followed the team all the way, virtually recycled the paths we had been. But the subject of such folk costumes with a background of Pont du Gard was simply too tempting to be a paparazzo even for one and only time. [continues to the next postcard...]
To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

[...continued from the last postcard] Not recognising the costumes, we enquired the team manager The young people were from Cuba and Georgia (Tblisi not Atlanta) respectively. As dancing troups, they were part of the cultural exchange programme between France and the countries. They were here to perform for the villagers in Vers about 2km from the bridge. Apparently a pre-performance visit to Pont du Gard would help relax themselves from road fatigue.
We quickly scanned the map, and raced with their tour buses to reach the village of Vers. The stage had been set, the local folks had gathered, and the troupes were ready.
It was not at all easy to take pictures of the dances. It was already 6pm. Sunlight could only reach the walls in the background, not the stage under the lush platanus trees. This extreme contrast of lighting forced me to boost the ISO setting to 1600 in order to avoid shaking and movement blur.
I must tell you an interesting story: upon my arrival in the village, I was approached by an elderly man who was attracted by my seemingly sophisticated photo equipment. He appeared to me as the head of the village, who [continues to the next postcard...]
To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

[...continued from the last postcard] was interested in a distant country. His face filled with excitement, as soon as he learnt about my "chinois" background. You must come and meet another "chinoise" in the village, he said eagerly. Alas! The village head was referring to a young Chinese lady who settled in the village of Vers by marrying a local French man. Who could have thought of meeting a compatriot from the same home city in such circumstance? The poor lady might not have spoken her native language for a long time, since she was equally as excited as the old man. It was a pity we had to leave the village early to return our rental car. But it was quite interesting to experience the naïve and innocent side of the rural French.
Well, there have been so many things happening within a few short hours this afternoon. Our unplanned visit to Pont du Gard has accidentally brought us a rare potpourri experience of historical monuments, rural French life, exotic ethnic costumes and dances. Should we not be in a hurry, we would definitely spend a night in the village. But now, we have to rush back to Avignon for the festival venue.
truly yours, L.G. 09/07/06 in Vers nearly Pont du Gard
To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,
The main agenda of my Provence visit is neither lavender nor sunflower but the annual theatre festival held in Avignon.
When Jean Vilar started "A Week of Dramatic Art in Avignon" in 1947 to celebrate William Shakespeare's spirit, he probably never envisioned what his brainchild could have evolved to today: it has now become one of the world's most important and broadest theatrical events, including workshops, cinema, reading, experimental, music and so on. Each year, it attracts a hundred thousand professionals, professionals-want-to-be, amateurs and simply theatre-goers like me, and offers them not only the current state of modern theatres in this planet, but also the direction of the future theatrical evolution.
And no city is better than Avignon in catering such cultural festivity, for city's atmosphere and the Pope's Palace offer a grandiose backdrop and natural stage for the event. Official venues can never accommodate every performing group or individual who wants to prove its artistic value to the world. Thus numerous smaller and unofficial theatres, as well as the public squares and streets in Avignon have turned into a grand stage [continues to the next postcard...]
To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

[...continued from the last postcard] mingled with performers and spectators. Unfortunately my talent isn't in performing art, or I would certainly take a plunge on the streets of Avignon next summer, like hundreds of others.
Getting to be known is probably the most challenging task facing everyone except a famous few. Thus advertising flyers are filling every corner of the city like snow flakes. Unlike the commercial advertisers, the volunteers could spend as much time as you want selling their performances. After a 15 minutes coffee break, you table would be covered with theatre ads - definitely a waiter's nightmare.
Fierce competition makes everyone desperate in attracting public attention. Some try to dress classic, other sexy or exotic or eccentric. Some sit on top of the bus, some laid on the street, or bury themselves in the trash bins. They all have an end goal to get you to watch their performances!
Avignon, especially during the festival period, is such a dynamic and vibrant city for artists and art lovers alike. I'm already planning a return next year!
Euphorically yours, L.G. 09/07/06 Avignon
To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,
As you see in my last postcard, a majority of performers are struggling for publicity. But there are always a few elites who enjoy the privilege of showing their works to the world at the best possible location.
Performing in the inner coutyard of the Pope's Palace has been a tradition since day one, and the venue is always reserved for the most prestigious theatre group. Tonight in the Court of Honour, we were joining the performance called Asobu directed by the festival associate Josef Nadj, the charismatic Slovenian-born artist (centre in the picture). Asobu is the word play in Japanese. The entire play was a show of absurdity based on a gray tone, starting with a score of robotic gray characters carrying a dummy, and followed by some absurd motion pictures projected on the old palace wall. Such avant-garde performance certainly is definitely not for an average theatre goer like me. Nevertheless, participating in an art show in the Pope's Palace with the best seat one could ever have (Emilia calls it the Pope's seat, see page 54) would remain as a life time experience...
Your friend L.G. from the Palais des Papes, Avignon 09/07/06
To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

"...Sur le pont d'Avignon, On y danse tous en rond..."

                   My Dear Friend,
If the above line does not evoke your memory of early childhood, it certainly does for the French, because for centuries, most of them grew up with this nursery rhyme. Part of the reason is that it has a very simple rondo-like repetitive melody, and the singer also has to mimic the characters in the song - les beaux messieurs, les belles dames etc. Emilia, who was once a babysitter, would demonstrate how it should be properly done.
The bridge mentioned in the song is more properly called Pont St-Bénezet who, according to legends, was commanded by angel to build the bridge. This medieval bridge on the River Rhône has become one of the signature landmarks of Avignon. Since its completion in 1171, it has been destroyed and reconstructed over and over again, until 17th century when people finally gave up their attempts. Today, only four arches are preserved over the original twenty-two, and the bridge has become a must-see for everyone who visit the city.
A warm greeting from the bridge of Avignon. - L.G. 10/07/06

To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,

                   It is now nearly 9pm, but Avignon is just entering its golden hours. Just look at the outdoor cafés in front of the Palais des Papes (the Palace of the Popes).
Avignon is an city of unusual history value. Today's old city is still surrounded by the well preserved gates and rampart. It is also known as the City of the Popes. When Pontiff Clement V fled from the violence in Rome in early 14th century, he acquired the city as his residence, and started constructing the city wall as well as the palace - the immense Gothic fortification with walls more than five metres thick built on a natural spur of rock. The project was continued by six suceeding popes, spanning over entire century. During this period of this Avignon Papacy, the city had become the political, religious, artistic, literary and economic capital of the Christian world.
Jean Froissart, the 14-century French chronicler once called the palace "the most beautiful and strongest house in the world". And I have to agree. Moreover, the statement is probably still quite true in the 21st century. [continues to the next postcard...]

To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

[...continued from the last postcard] Along with the St-Bénezet Bridge, it has become yet another eternal symbol of Avignon.
One has to reserve a few good hours in order to admire such massive 15,000+ m2 architectural wonder, inside which are lofty and lavishly decorated towers, cathedrals, cloisters, bedrooms, dinning halls and so on. Unfortunately, the freedom of movement in the palace is rather restricted. A visitor can only follow the fixed path in one direction. No photograph is allowed indoor (the picture on the back was a quick turn-around snap under the nose of the guarding staff, because I really wanted you to admire how this stone cathedral could be built above the ground floor).
The picture on the right is the daytime view of Cour d'Honneur (Court of Honour) where we watched the Asobu last night. You may now see how the lighting, seating are arranged, and where my only red seat in the third row is. This festival venue has not changed over the years. If you are interested, it's not too late to book a seat for next year!

                   A warm greeting from the Pope's Palace L.G. 10/07/06

To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,
Look at the back of this postcard, even a waiter couldn't help himself in taking a pause for a World Cup moment.
"Allez les Bleus" is similar to "Go Heats go" kind of sport cheering. Last night was the World Cup Football final game with France facing Italy. The already-full Avignon street cafés had added extra customers gluing in front of the TVs. High number of police were present, but they seemed doing nothing else than watching the game along with other folks.
We still managed to watch half of the game, as the show we watched didn't start until 22h00. To tell you the true, my mind wasn't completely concentrated while watching the Asobu inside the courtyard of the Palais des Papes. The high wall of the Palace could not screen wave of cheers from outside. But 45 minutes had passed. I heard no firecrackers, no louder cheers. I sensed the result. By the time we came out from the show, the street cafés became half-empty. I felt sorry for the youths in Zidane's or Henri's jerseys loitering in the night streets in confusion. This is quite difference from what they were this afternoon...
How did the team of your country doing?
- L. G 10/07/06 from Hotel Regina, Avignon
To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,

                   This postcard finally concludes the series I have been sending you from France. Everything, no matter how wonderful, would have an end. I only allocate a quarter of a day in Paris prior to my departure, not because Paris doesn't deserve my time. Just that Provence is the main theme this time.
We arrived in Paris around 5pm. There was still time for a brief stroll in Montmartre, and a nice diner at the Left Bank near Sorbonne. Of course, the city hall, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower seem to be mandatory even for visitors like me.
Thousands of tourists still filled the square in front of the Eiffel Tower near midnight. The entire square was unlit, which was unusual, Emilia would tell you. But this in fact created a better foregroud for the Tower and the full moon from the distance. Paris is such a charming city which anyone would fall in love with even in the first sight. I promise I will come back many times. It's already one hour past midnight. Good night and best wish from the sleepless Paris. Do wait for my postcards from my trip!
L.G. 12/07/06

To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................

My Dear Friend,

                   No, this is not an ordinary kind of postscard you can find in souvenir shops.

                   Have you ever heard about Google's API for their maps? With this wonderful tool, you can now embed Google's topological or satellite maps in your web page, with all the moving and zooming features. What's more, you can add your own annotations on to the maps.

                   The map on the back side is essentially a recap of our ten-day trip to this beautiful area. If you put the mouse on the red dots, you would see small pictures reminding you the place I (and you, on this web site) have visited. Enjoy and I'm looking forward to telling you more stories.

                   L.G. 12/07/06

To: My Friend
.......................
Any City or Village
.......................
Any Country
.......................
the World
.......................