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Monday, July 23, 2012

Impressions of Home: Istanbul, Honolulu, Dubai

In my travels, what always fascinated me the most was where and how people lived.  Yes, visiting national monuments, heritage sites, ancient ruins, beautiful cathedrals, weekend markets, pulsating arts districts, and Grimm fairy tales villages are de riguer for when I'm visitng a new destination, but I'm also that type of tourist who like shlepping through residential neighbourhoods, checking out the architecture details (more of than not, they don't have the expensive, high-profile stamp of rah-rah celebrity architects on them,) getting glimpses of regular, day-to-day life (generally by eye-balling people's homes from the street, car, train or bus,) pondering real estate ads in storefront windows and trying to visualize the living spaces, and play-pretend that I'm a local, even for a few minutes or hours.

To that end, I suppose it's inevitable I've put together a series of images comprising of my own personal, extremely subjective, impressions of "home" in some of the cities I've visited (and those that I've actually lived in) from the past. 
Here are Istanbul, Honolulu and Dubai.

Where a tiny portion of the 13 million Istanbul residents live, on undulating hilly terrain and
overlooking the Golden Horn (the inlet of the Bosphorus that divides the capital.) 
Photo taken from the north-eastern part of the city.

I must admit, I'd totally fallen for that romantic and very wrong notion that everyone lived beachfront in
Aman-like villas in Hawaii, with bougainvilleas and coconut trees in every garden. 
The reality is way more shabby, weather-beaten and, well, industrial, than the fancy imaginings I had.
Oh, and expensive too.

Dubai Marina - the largest in the world (of course it is...it's Dubai, so why not?)
Flanked by the one-mile long Jumeirah Beach Residences in the background and the Arabian Gulf beyond.
I still have friends and relatives who believed I lived in some sort of Bedouin tent during my four years in Dubai. You know, going to work on a camel, determinedly plowing my way through sandstorms, that sort of thing. But I have to say, this Middle Eastern marvel-city was the most comfortable place I've ever lived in. Yes, really.  And on top of that, it's shiny, new, glassy, in-your-face, and unabashedly OTT - like Vegas, only less jaded.

(All photographs by Weng Ho.)
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