Monthly Archives: May 2015

Birds of Ayutthaya

I love birds – as a child, I used to spend hours and hours studying bird encyclopedias and trying to recognize them as I see them. Birds used to be my favorite subjects for drawing, especially orioles, nightingales and pigeons. So a two-day stay in Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand, made me really regret I did not have a proper camera to take photos of all the interesting birds there. There is a huge park right in the center of the city, and birds there seem to really feel free to go about their business regardless of tourists. For identifying the species, I used Peter Ericsson′s very informative database of birds in Thailand.

Let′s start with water birds, of whom little egret is probably the most gracious. Continue reading

Egypt diaries: Alexandria

Why am I writing about my old trip (2011) to Egypt? I explain here.

[Diary] “This used to be a marvelous city,” everyone tells me, and it seems that locals here are more adequate to their environment, more natural. Signboards still remember what it used to be like, some streets have their names still written in French, and the place sort of reminds me of Istanbul. Unpretentious Roman ruins have been rebuilt. People come to the library to use computers. The library staff keep thinking how to showcase its riches better. Movies about Egypt receive disproportionate attention. There is a smell of fish lingering by the shore.

Alexandria library

Alexandria library

[Reconstructed from memory] Alexandria was my friend′s favorite city, and he seemed to take delight in showing it to me. There were lots of ′colonial′ details around there, with the French street names and all. I saw lots of graffiti and remembered reading that some of the main clashes of the revolution happened precisely there. Alexandria felt youthful and cosmopolitan. Its amazing library is a museum and a working hub in the same space. As a visitor, I took time to look at its historical artifacts, but it was just as interesting to observe how locals used the library.

As I took note in my diary, Alexandria reminded me of Istanbul, but the port also looked like Akko, Porto or other Mediterranean cities I have visited. Indeed, going between Alexandria and Cairo one can notice how a Mediterranean feel slowly morphs into a Middle-Eastern one.

Before returning to Cairo, we sat for coffee at a Brazilian-themed cafe.