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United Kingdom • London






Mexico • Tijuana



-2 -3 -4 -1




time zone +



Iran • Tehran





Chile • Santiago de Chile



Ecuador • Quito United States • New York City



France • Paris Czech Republic • Brno

+6 J • +10








Ukraine • Kyiv Turkey • Istanbul





Australia • Melbourne

+11 timezone







+7 F +8



China • Guangzhou



• Suva


“Urban Mysteries”

is the theme of this inaugural issue. We prefer not to discuss all the details of the complex and painful deliberations which led us to this choice, and nearly caused the untimely demise of a hamster in the heat of a fierce debate. Suffice to say we considered both words to be rather exciting and inspiring, at a time when the cities have become the major backdrop against which are played our lives, hopes, and fantasies. In short, this first issue of the Meridian Magazine is about the secrets, dreams and surprises which have left each of our contributors some deep, and even unforgettable memories. Most of the content here comes from creators whom we met through various social networks on the Internet, and who were interested in partici-

WELCOME! Since you’ve already opened this magazine, you probably have an idea of what this is all about.

But then again, maybe you were told to read this by a dear friend whose taste you deeply trust, but who suffered a fatal stroke before having the time to say why, exactly, they recommended it with such enthusiasm. Maybe you were actually browsing the Internet or a pile of sundry magazines, resolutely set on your way to find and read something completely unrelated and extremely well-defined in scope — such as detailed statistical data on the summer mating patterns of the blue emu in north-western Australia, or a scientific explanation about the decisive influence people named ‘Günther’ have had over the outbreak of revolutionary peasant uprisings throughout the history of mankind — but you actually landed here, through one of these extraordinary chain of random events which the universe is quite fond of throwing upon us, and for which we love it so. Or maybe you just forgot. In any case, we still are going to sum up for you what the Meridian Magazine is - and what it is not. The Meridian Magazine is an electronic publication, first and foremost, presenting the work of talented people from all over the world — from all 24 time zones of the planet, actually, as much as possible. Each issue focuses on one theme in particular, about which we ask our contributors to submit their works; our intention is to give a glimpse of the amazing diversity and similarity of people’s experiences in different parts of the planet, relatively to a given topic.

pating, as well as from personal friends of ours. Those “featured articles” include some key elements of information about the city at the heart of the article, and about the authors themselves: after all, one of the major aims of our magazine is to enable our contributors to build new links with their readers. Other great photographies are sprinkled within our pages, direct from the “photostreams” of Flickr® users who agreed to let us showcase their work. We express here all our thanks to everyone who helped this magazine see the light of day, and hope to see more and more people participating in this project — and in the other ones organized by the Meridian Organization! Please visit our website for more details on life, the universe and everything. Sincerely,

The Meridian Team




elcome to Wimbledon. A part of London best known for its globally respected annual tennis competition. A state-of-the-art tennis stadium positioned in an affluent area surrounded by luxury homes and an exclusive golf course. Strawberries and ice cream get washed down with a glass of champagne as the tennis plays out to a full house.

Location: United Kingdom. Population (2011): 7,8 million (city), 14 million (metro.) Founded: 43 AD (as a permanent Roman settlement)

London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the country, and one of the largest urban zones in Europe. Located on the river Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia.

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Greyhound races have been hosted here since 1928, and while the stadium has seen many facelifts over the decades, there is still a sense of going back in time when approaching the stadium (at least by a decade or two). A sobering walk through a deserted car park leads you up to the entry turnstiles. A man clad in a fluorescent safety jacket guides the new arrivals to the entrance, informing every willing listener of his twenty loyal years doing this exact job. Once the six-pound entry fee has been paid, and the race card, explaining the forthcoming evening races, has been given, the freedom to drink, eat and gamble lies ahead. Cheap burgers and chips are the favourites here. Alcohol for the brave-hearted, tea for the focused. Fruit machines lie in the corners of the main room; there to fill the fifteen minutes wait between each race.

By Sasha Alexander Lewis

London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence. It is the world’s largest financial centre alongside New York City.

But let’s not forget the other stadium that Wimbledon hosts. On the border of Wimbledon Park and Tooting, in an industrial estate, there resides Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium. A stadium that has not enjoyed the constant attention of millionaire architects tending to its every need. There is no strawberries and ice cream stand awaiting the punters outside the stadium, although it does boast a burger-van across the road stationed in the car park of a wellknown builders trading shop.

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And they’re off…

A clear leader emerges, but there are still two laps to go

Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium

London’s last surviving greyhound racing stadium

Sand off the track flies into the faces too close to the action

A photo-finish. Take a breather while the judges confirm the winner

The bookies prepare to take your bets

Success and failure await both dog and customer

Get the teas in to calm the nerves

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Off to see a man about a dog.

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The night consists of thirteen races per night. Six dogs compete in each race, racing two laps of a 408 metre course. Each dog seems to have been carefully trained by his or her owner. The dogs are shown to the punters before each race, in order to aid the choosing process when betting. At every location in the stadium, a bookie lurks, tempting you with a more attractive set of odds than the next. Time to see a man about a dog. Small bets are common, especially with the newcomers, yet large amounts of cash can be seen passing hands between punter and bookie. Guess the winner and you can expect a nice return, enough to brag about to your friends who stayed at home, scared of the risks involved. However guessing the first, second and third dog of each race is how the real enthusiasts gamble their hard earned cash.

Each dog embodies pure speed; no other dog can display such agility that a greyhound is born with. The dogs glide through the course, racing at speeds exceeding 45mph. An electronic hare provides the spark to set the dogs off, and these dogs love to run. Yet they are not racing, but chasing a dream of being the first to chew on a juicy rabbit. The lucky winner has his or her picture taken on the podium while the others are whisked off back to their pens, with the race all but a fading memory. However for the audience, another race lies in store only fifteen minutes away. The real enjoyment lies in rubbing shoulders with the regulars and the newcomers inside the compact stadium. Men about to be married experience their last few nights of supposed freedom, downing beer in plastic cups, and getting their picture taken page 12

with the winning dog that rewarded them with more funds to gamble with. Families sit indoors, discussing loudly the merits of each dog, whether to bet on the dog with the best odds or simply the dog with the best name. And lastly, the old men and women who have enjoyed a night at the dogs more times than they can remember, sipping on tea, quietly placing their bets and going home with more than they came with. The last greyhound stadium in London, one of the few places in London that seems to be out of touch with this progressive and fast-paced city, yet deserves more than to be forgotten. Nevertheless it still provides simple and pure entertainment to those who still know where the real stadium of Wimbledon lies. page 13

Sasha Alexander Lewis

British. Currently living in London, United Kingdom [0]

Personal Description: “Londoner, a traveling sound engineer, aspiring to be a writer.�

Couchsurfing ID: Sasha_1981 E-mail:

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+11 New Caledonia •



Freestyle Compétition de freestyle, Promnade Pierre Vernier, Nouméa, 19 décembre 2009.

By Christophe / Saturnino Iaïchouchen

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+1 Czech Republic

Location: South Moravia region, Czech Republic. Population (2011): 403,379 (city), 729,510 (metro.) Founded: 1243

Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic (eastern Europe). It lies at the confluence of the Svitava and Svratka rivers and is surrounded by hills from three sides; a significant part of the area of the city is covered in forest. Brno is the Czech capital of judicial authority, as well as an important centre of Czech higher education, with 26 faculties of 11 universities. Brno was formally recognised as a town in 1243 by Wenceslaus I, King of Bohemia, but the area had been settled since the 2nd century. In 1939, Brno was annexed by Nazi Germany along with the rest of Moravia and Bohemia. After the war, and the reestablishment of the Czechoslovak state, the majority of the ethnic German population was expelled to Germany or Austria. The expulsion of some 20,000 Germans is referred to as the Brno Death March.

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IN THE GUN FACTORY By Klaudia K. Krupa


came to Brno by accident. I didn’t know a lot about this city before, but I think I quite liked it.

I always prefer to travel without a plan. It makes me more sensitive to new places, ideas and feelings. I believe that at the right moment, I will choose the right direction. Despite this city being full of mysteries, I want to describe one which is hidden in the very centre of it. Brno-Żidenice, Lazaritska 1 Zbrojovka (“gun factory” in Czech). When my Couchsurfing host took me there, I didn’t expect to find in the city centre a place so huge, full of possibilities, and now standing completely empty. During our visit, I realized how much industrial areas provide possibilities for artistic creation. The graffiti covering the walls proved I was not the first to think about this…

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“We have to be quiet, there is a guard keeping watch�, she told me. However, nobody disturbed us during our walk through the long corridors and up to the roof, where I took a little cigarette break.

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One of these rooms appeared quite special to me. The floor there was covered in old postcards, all identical. While travelling, you always think about the people waiting for you, back home. All these postcards were blank, and seemed like they were simply awaiting for someone to take a pencil, write down something on their back and send them somewhere. A great place for making a movie.

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Sitting and smoking on that roof, between old chimneys, awoke my imagination. Maybe the people who used to work in this place, years ago – the factory was established in 1918 – also went up to this roof to smoke. They had their lives, wives, children, duties, plans, dreams, salaries. They lived in a time I only knew from books.

But then again, maybe not only… Sitting on this roof, I felt like both time and space were the same. Maybe this is exactly the kind of thing people call “travelling”?

Klaudia K. Krupa

Polish, Currently living in Lublin, Poland (UTC +1) Personal description: “I was born 20 years ago in eastern Poland. My family came to Poland in the 17th century from the Czech Republic. Now, I’m studying litterature in Lublin, and don’t know what to do with myself.” Couchsurfing ID: Kelebrian E-mail:

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+4 Afghanistan •


Diving Board There’s a swimming pool on the top of a hill in town. Built by the russians it was never used because they could never get the water up the hill. Quite a strange thing to find as there is nothing around, no buildings, no infrastructure at all, just dirt. I took a lot of photos, including one that I thought was a rather good one of myself. Then I found out that during Taliban times this was a popular place to kill women. Nothing like the reality of a place to set one’s attitude straight.

By Ryan Whitney

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-4 -4 Chile •Santiago

Location: Chile

Population (2009): 200,792 (city), 7,2 million (metro.) Founded: February 12, 1541

Santiago, also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation (Greater Santiago). It is located in the country’s central valley, at an elevation of 520 m above mean sea level. Although Santiago is the capital, legislative bodies meet in the coastal town of Valparaíso, 120km to the west. Santiago was founded by Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia on February 12, 1541 with the name Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura, as a homage to Saint James and Extremadura, Valdivia’s birth place in Spain. The founding ceremony was held on Huelén Hill (later renamed Cerro Santa Lucía). Valdivia chose the location of Santiago because of its climate, abundant vegetation and the ease with which it could be defended—the Mapocho River then split into two branches and rejoined further downstream, forming an island.

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JOjO And His City I

moved to Santiago de Chile in the summer of 2009. Chile is in fact a very interesting nation; one of those places struggling between its past and its present. The country came out of a very brutal military dictatorship in 1990, however, despite being one of Latin America’s most prosperous and free-minded countries of today, the social and cultural gap between the old and the new Chile is at times irreconcilable – let us not forget that divorce was illegal until 2004. Santiago de Chile is grey and polluted. Moreover most people in the streets wear dark and dull clothes – apparently nobody wants to stand out of the crowd. In the beginning I found the city a bit sad, in fact Chileans are considered the most timid people of Latin America. It was only when I met local painter Jojo Salazar when I got to discover the city’s magnetism. His messy curls and passion for colourful clothes make Jojo a very unusual character. But he was not the only one adding colour to Santiago. Jojo’s apartment is the meting point for a large community of young artists. His place was big, cold and chaotically organised. “One of the walls in my room was totally broken down by the last earthquake, it was nice, I had a very good panoramic view of the street”, he told me using a humoristic tone.

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Jojo’s bunch is a surprisingly active group, always involved in exhibitions, concerts and various kinds of performances. However there is a big difference between the artists I know in Europe – where I am originally from – and those I met in Chile: there is nothing glamorous about being an artist here. One of the main purposes of art is to communicate. However there does not seem to be many people here willing to hear what Chilean young artists have to say. The old Chile, a very religious-traditional society, is still very influential in this country, and sometimes the new Chile, represented by people like Jojo, is perceived as immoral and defiant. Chile seems to be ready to take the next step and become one of Latin America’s leading countries. However, it looks like both the old and the new Chile should come to an agreement if they want to make sense of their future. page 30

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-8 Mexico



In A Corner Location: Baja California, Mexico. Population (2010): 1,3 million (city), 1,8 million (metro.) Founded: July 11, 1889 Nicknames: “TJ”, “Gateway to Mexico”, “A Heart Between Two Seas”. Motto: “Aquí empieza la Patria” (“The Homeland Starts Here”)

“TJ” is the largest city on the Baja California Peninsula, and center of the Tijuana metropolitan area, on the “Gold Coast” to the west of Mexico. An industrial and financial center of the country, the city exerts a strong influence on economics, education, culture, art, and politics. It is located on the United States border, and is part of a large international metropolitan area including its sister city of San Diego (California). Thanks to its location, Tijuana is the most visited border city in the globe: the two intercity border crossing stations account for approximately 300,000 daily border crossings.

Source: Wikipedia

Tijuana’s economy is centered on its industry. Numerous “maquiladoras” (assembly plants) and relatively inexpensive workforce, along with the North American Free Trade Agreement, have made the city attractive to a number of large international firms. Tourism is nonetheless another large source of revenue for the city. Many Americans, in particular, cross the border to enjoy Tijuana’s beach resorts, bars and dance clubs, but also visit the “red-light” district of Zona Norte, or even certain pharmacies: many of them sell pharmaceutical drugs without prescriptions, and at lower costs than in the US.

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of Mexico... By Alejandra Rodriguez Rivera


n the corner of a country lies a city known to be a place of pleasure, business, encounters, and especially a place of passage to a new life.

This city is filled with thousands of people living around the clock, struggling with the corruption, the chaos of traffic, contamination and the never-ending story of those come from afar, who wish to travel even further but never get there, and remain piled up here, invading every inch of the spaces that were meant to be green areas, schools or sports grounds. That city which is said to be falling apart in every newspaper, in the whispers of every travel agent, in the words of everyone who dares speak of it in songs, poems, books — that very city hides the most interesting secrets. Not of the creepy or terrifying kind, but secrets reminding you how wonderful it is to remember the good of human kind. Presenting only one of those secret places is not easy, but we must start somewhere — and everything is better by the sea.

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n the corner of a country lies a city known to be a place of pleasure, business, encounters, and especially a place of passage to a new life. This city is filled with thousands of people living around the clock, struggling with the corruption, the chaos of traffic, contamination and the never-ending story of those come from afar, who wish to travel even further but never get there, and remain piled up here, invading every inch of the spaces that were meant to be green areas, schools or sports grounds. That city which is said to be falling apart in every newspaper, in the whispers of every travel agent, in the words of everyone who dares speak of it in songs, poems, books — that very city hides the most interesting secrets. Not of the creepy or terrifying kind, but secrets reminding you how wonderful it is to remember the good of human kind.

While walking on the side of the road, one eventually finds an artistic, creative wooden house; behind it, another house, and below is a café: the Latitud 32.

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Presenting only one of those secret places is not easy, but we must start somewhere — and everything is better by the sea. Between the Wall of Shame and the old condos is a pier, followed by a number of coconut stands, a gym, restaurants serving seafood and Italian specialties, bars in between houses of all sorts and colors, with balconies and stairways decorated with care. While walking on the side of the road, one eventually finds an artistic, creative wooden house; behind it, another house, and below is a café: the Latitud 32. In this café are served both common and exotic coffee drinks, frappes, hot chocolate, desserts, herbal teas, infusions, among other delights. The walls are always changing, various artists display their photographs,

Alejandra Rodriguez Rivera Mexican, currently living in Tijuana, Mexico (UTC -8) Couchsurfing ID: Facebook ID:

MapachitAnti MapachitAnti

E-mail: Website:

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eral versions, but the best one is the one that identifies you with it. Another urban mystery this city offers is, probably one of the greatest mysteries of modern day: how can a city co-exist with the largest international land-port of entry in the world?

Picture This! By Santiago Cardenas Valle


man slumped against a cactus, wearing a large flat hat (sombrero) and a cloth poncho (zarape), clutching a bottle of tequila and taking a nap… What do you think of? Mexicans. That description is practically a Mexican archetype. For some people this might sound absurd, others know how insulting it is, most still wonder if that’s how people are in Mexico and few actually believe it’s true. Back in the mid 1800’s, at the very north of the Mexican territory was a city on the rise, called Tijuana, located exactly at 32° 32’ 0” N and 117° 1’ 0” W. Some of the first interactions that ever took place between Americans and Mexicans after the Mexican-American War of 1846 happened there, due to its proximity to the soon to be booming State of California. In those days, the south of California was a legendary oasis of irresponsible fun, gambling, corruption, alcohol, sex and drugs. And little by little, more foreigners started coming to Tijuana, and the legend tells of how most locals used to sit page 36

on the ground, leaning against cacti, wearing a blanket-type cloth with a hole in the middle over their shoulders and the typical exaggerated big mariachi hat, still clutching a bottle of tequila, hung over because of the party from the night before. And that is how this typical Mexican stereotype was born. There are no actual records or facts to establish the amount of fact or fiction behind this myth. But more than 150 years later, what is incredible is that the legend is still alive and running. And in the midst of the 21st century, some people from all over the world believe that an urban metropolis with a population of almost 2 million people, and the 7th largest and richest city in the country, could be what it is if this urban myth where still true. Nonetheless, this is a city still full with mystery; behind every corner, within many buildings and in the hearts of all those who call this land their home, there is a mystery waiting to be discovered. One of the most famous examples is a small hotel located in the heart of downtown Tijuana, where the famous Cesar Salad was created. And like many other mysteries, it has sev-

Over 17 million motor vehicles and over 50 million pedestrians cross the border between Mexico and the United States every year. This means that on any given day, you may count over 45,000 vehicles and over 136,000 human beings going about their daily routine in-transit from one city to another. And this does not include the millions of people living in each of the two cities on either sides of the border, and who go about their daily routine just as well. It’s just one of the many headaches city dwellers deal with. Just to give an idea of how important to the economy of both cities this port of entry is, there are several television channels whose sole purpose is to broadcast a live feed from fixed cameras to inform residents of the current quantity of people going through; not to mention radio stations, websites and automated telephone assistance. A word of advice, if you plan on doing this otherworldly odyssey, avoid major holidays and Christmas time, or plan to wait in line for over 4 hours. In the end, this particular spot on the planet is full of mysteries good and bad, and the only way any one can truly appreciate its authenticity is by getting to know it, and deciding for oneself. Located within time zone “UTC-8”, Tijuana is an urban centre that was forged by foreigners from all over Mexico and other countries; most of them were “just passing through” at first, but then were captivated by a unique atmosphere born of this clash of cultures and ideologies in one of the most active and stable economies in Latin America, and rich with truly warm-hearted people who understand what it’s like to be a newcomer in Tijuana, Mexico. To have come with nothing at all but your bare hands and a dream of a new and better beginning in this land that promises hope. And this is the most treasured urban mystery a human being could want to explore:

In the words of musician Manu Chao, heard all around the world, there isn’t much left to say but

“Welcome to Tijuana”! there are cities who welcome you with open arms, without any discrimination of race, citizenship, religion, age or sex. Cities giving you the hope that your life can always get better. All you need is a strong conviction, hard work and love for your life. In the words of musician Manu Chao, heard all around the world, there isn’t much left to say but “Welcome to Tijuana”!

Santiago Cardenas Valle Mexican, currently living in Tijuana, Mexico (UTC -8) Personal description: “I work as an Industrial Quality Engineer for a manufacturing corporation leader in renewable energy devices (solar). I also love to travel around the world or around the corner and analyze, compare, observe and enjoy other lifestyles and landscapes.” Couchsurfing ID: INGSMURF E-mail: page 37

+7 Indonesia

• Jakarta


Dying Umbrella 1970s was the beginning of the end of her heyday. That’s when modern umbrella was introduced. Mak Tjitjih, now in her 84, is one of the remaining “juru ngembang”, the painter of Tasikmalaya’s traditional paper umbrella. Though the umbrella is beautiful, sales has never recovered when this once in a while everyday-tool became nothing more than a decoration.

By Rian Afradi

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France +1


Location: Île-de-France region, France. Population (2008): 2,2 million (city), 11,9 mil lion (metro.) Founded: 3rd century BC Nicknames: “La Ville-lumière” (“The City of Light”), “Paname”. Motto: “Fluctuat Nec Mergitur” (“It floats but does not sink”)

Paris is the capital of France, and its largest city, situated on the river Seine. It has been proven a permanent settlement from approx. 4000 years BC until today, under various names. The Paris of today is a tale of two cities. One of them is above ground, with its beloved Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe – which is the city the world sees. And then there’s the city very few us will ever see — an underground Paris, the souterrain. Below the city, concentrated on the south bank of the river Seine, hidden limestone quarries dating back centuries provided the stone for Paris’ great monuments like Notre Dame. The mining left behind a labyrinthine maze — at least 180 miles of abandoned tunnels, secret rooms and caverns, odd wormholes barely big enough to wriggle through, running directly below some of the best-known city streets. Exploring the Parisian underground is, of course, a French history lesson. On stone walls, there is graffiti from the French Revolution. More recently, there are former Nazi bunkers — and a few feet from them, hideouts for the French resistance

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Voitachewski French & Swiss, currently living in Paris, France (UTC+1) Personal description: “Born in 1979. Draws comix as much as possible and writes critics on the website Basically, that’s all.” page 42

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-9 USA

• Anchorage Alaskan Aircraft

Alaskan Aircraft It is weird having to stop for airplanes crossing the road.

By Cycle For Water (Joost Notenboom & Michiel Roodenburg)

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Kyiv Київ +2 Ukraine

Location: Ukraine. Population (2010): 2,8 million (city), 3,6 million (metro.) Founded: 5th century AD

Kyiv (Kiev) is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. It is an important industrial, scientific, educational and cultural centre of Eastern Europe. It is home to many high-tech industries, higher education institutions and world-famous historical landmarks. Kyiv is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe. The origin of the city is obscured by legends, one of which tells about a founding-family consisting of a Slavic tribe leader Kyi, his brothers Schek and Khoriv, and also their sister Lybid, who founded the city. According to it the name Kyiv/Kiev means to “belong to Kyi”.

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Mental House for Everyone

By Svetlana Sokolova

Pavlov Psychiatric Hospital No.1, Frunze street - 103, Kyiv, Ukraine


his place has quite a rich history, and has seen many famous personalities. A monastery, then Cyril Church were built here in the first half of the 12th century, in what was at that time a distant suburb of ancient Kyiv.

In the early 19th century, city officials set up a hospital for the insane here. In those days it was very poor and dirty, and yet popular among wealthy people as a form of... extreme entertainment. page 58

It was once a place of amusement and curiosity for the upper classes. They went there to stare at the crazy, and laugh at “their jumping and stupid chatting�– in the words of a 1864 newspaper.

Now this kind of going out has become less popular, but no less fascinating. The walls of the hospital are inscribed with colorful murals, strange people walk around, sometimes still jumping, and maybe saying things more stupid than ever. page 59

World-famous Russian artist Mikhail Vrubel worked on the restoration of St. Cyril’s Church during his young years; by the end of his life, he had become one of the psychiatric patients.

Sometimes the boundary between the visitors and the patients starts to fade, it becomes hard to tell who is who.

Svetlana Sokolova / Светлана Cоколова Russian, currently living in Kyiv, Ukraine (UTC +2) Personal description: Actress, model, dancer, drawer, photographer, producer, traveler.

E-mail: Website: page 60

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-6 El Salvador •

San Salvador Working Childhood Portrait of working childhood, Luis Barahona, 12 years old, works picking metal trash. The religious portraits in his home entrance come from the rubbish of the rich.

By Ă“scar Leiva Marinero

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TOKYO / TŌKYŌ / 東京 Location: Kantō region, Honshu island, Japan Population (2011): 9 million (23 “special wards”), 13,2 million (metro.) Founded: Kamakura period (1185-1333) Tokyo is the capital of Japan, and center of the Greater Tokyo Area. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family. It is the largest metropolitan area of Japan, and part of the world’s most populous metropolitan area, with more than 35 million people; it also represents the world’s largest metropolitan economy, with a GDP of US$1.479 trillion at purchasing power parity in 2008, ahead of New York City.

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f you are travelling in Tokyo, there will come a time when, exhausted by the city, you will need a quiet neighborhood and a nice long walk. That’s the time when you will have to think of Kita Senju. If you give it a look on Google Maps, you will notice it is like a small island trapped between the well-known Arakawa and Sumidagawa rivers, in the extreme north of Tokyo, even further than Ueno but still on a subway line: the famous Hibiya line. You can even spend quite a few days only travelling

along this line, starting in south-west Tokyo with Ebisu or Hiroo (select shops, cosy restaurants), keep going to Roppongi (museums, nightlife for foreigners!). Next stop, Ginza (money money!), and Tsukiji (the fish market) follows, before you get to Akihabara (temple of video games and manga), onto Ueno (great park, narrow streets, funky restaurants) and end up (finally!) at the last stop of the line, in north-east Tokyo, at KitaSenju, after having crossed the whole capital, and having enjoyed all the diversity that Tokyo can offer. page 65

There, no manga, no great park or anything that might look like a tourist spot, just a normal neighbourhood with some old houses (which will never beat Kyoto’s, admittedly), and nice restaurants.

Yes, Japanese people don’t necessarily go shopping during their free time. They also go for long walks along the rivers, mothers take their kids to baseball training, they play frisbee-football (there is a team playing every sunday there), couples walk hand in hand, and some people also play music! You can walk for more than two hours there (you’ll still have to go back if you want to catch the subway at the same station!), and will really get the feeling of having left the city behind you.

Go out through the west exit, straight ahead on the main road in front of you with partially covered shop alleys (if you have ever been to Osaka, you will understand the pleasure to find some of them in Tokyo!) and at the second or third crossroad turn right, heading north. Going straight ahead you can’t miss the Arakawa river, which is crowded on Sundays. Here you’ll see what a lot of people miss: Japanese daily life on a Sunday.

On the way back you can make a stop at some little restaurants you spotted on the way to the river (there is a super-tasty burger place,

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not that easy to find, if you miss foreign food). If you feel a little bit adventurous and before catching the last train, you can have some local drinks near the station, in this narrow street you may not have noticed if you came by during daylight. It looks like a little countryside version of Shinjuku district, with interesting bars and welcoming staff (even if sometimes they don’t smile that much, as you can expect from a bartender in this country), where you

will have a talk with some drinking Japanese salary man, all of a sudden almost able to speak English - as often happens in Japan.

Osaka Chris French, currently living in Beijing, China (UTC +8) Website:

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Leaving the place, you will feel happy to have discovered a quiet place in Tokyo, and maybe you’ll now be wearing a pair of those traditional Japanese flip-flops, bought for a cheap price at one of the old shops around Kita-Senju station.

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-7 Canada



Edmonton Parkade What can you say about this? It’s just one of those things that really catches my eye.

Author:Nelson Webb

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Location: Marmara region, Istan bul province, Turkey. Population (2010): 8,8 million (city), 13,3 million (metro.) Founded: 7th century BC

Istanbul, located on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait (between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara), is the largest city of Turkey. It is a megacity representing the third largest metropolitan area in Europe, as well as the cultural, economic, and financial centre of Turkey. During its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The historic areas of the city were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.

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+2 Turkey

istanbul page 73

Istanbul is a city that releases all


By Stéphanie Berton


am old and I see people coming from places or going to others. I am alive, I hurt, I feel and I breathe the same air as all those things, those people, those places… This is an impersonal journey through a background of lives, an urban mystery.

it is cluttered with people to meet, places to go and things to see. At other times, it is brilliant, and fast and risky. It feels like it’s not the same anymore, I have lost a feeling, I have forgotten somebody, somewhere. But I am not worried, I discover new feelings when I am detached, this is how I live and resist through evolution. It’s easy this way, I don’t need to attract people, they come to me. I don’t think about places to go, I am already there. I am the queen

What can be seen, whom can be met, what can be done. The confusion and the excitement of a moment fossilize themselves in a dream, a long and wavy dream. At times,

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of those waters and the guardian of these gates.

many bridges have been built on my rivers. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don’t, and I get rid of them. I am controversial, maybe because I am neither an entrance or an exit. I am in-between or on top of many worlds. I can’t decide and for some reason, I never could.

The air is full of memories; contrasted with threatening dark clouds, like the ones you see just before a storm, a butterfly flutters around, unaware of its mortal future, like in a dream, scattering away the reality.

I am İstanbul, in all my splendour and harshness.

I am a book of stories about people. I have seen many battles and many sultans,

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Stéphanie Berton French, currently living in Istanbul, Turkey (UTC +2) Personal description: “I have chosen to live in Istanbul after a short visit a couple of years ago, and she blew me away. I picked up her energy through my senses and kept it in my heart. I promised the Bosphore I would be back to explore its long coast-lines. And so I did. I travel where my feet and heart take me. I teach English and I write and take pictures.” page 78

E-mail: Websites: page 79


-11 Niue •Niue File:Niue on the globe (Polynesia centered).svg - Wikipe...

File:Niue on the globe (Polynesia centered).svg From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

By Adrian Turner

Caption: The vanished dreams of a national airline. Anyone wanting the down side of South Seas paradise should visit Niue, which lies between Full resolution (SVG file, nominally 861 × 861 pixels, file size: 671 KB) Tonga and the Cook Islands. One of the world’s largest coral islands and perhaps the world’s smallest nation state,asNiue hanging on 500px, for survival, wholly dependent on aid from This image rendered PNGisinbarely other sizes: 200px, 1000px, 2000px. New Zealand. Economic woes and cyclones have devastated the island, leaving it looking like a shanty town, with huge numbers of abandoned or wrecked houses and those houses that This is afrankly file from thethe Wikimedia Commons. Information from itscatastrophically description page there are still inhabited look same. The population has dropped from is shown below. around 10,000 to less thanCommons 1500 today. As a nation it is obviously unviable and as a tourist is a freely licensed media file repository. You can help. destination it can’t possibly compete with its neighbours as it has no beaches, just an inhospitable, razor sharp coral crust. A sad experience. Description Deutsch: Lage von XY (siehe Dateiname) auf der Erde. English: Location of XY (see filename) on the globe. Date 6 May 2011 Source Own work

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This vector graphics image was created with Adobe Illustrator.

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+10 Australia

Location: Victoria state, Australia. Population (2010): 4,08 million Founded: 30 August 1835

Melbourne is the state capital of Victoria, located in the south-east of Australia. It is one of the country’s largest cities, and also one of its most diverse. Melbourne is many people of many colours in many languages - it has the 3rd largest Greek-speaking population of any city in the world and about one third of Melbournians are born overseas. It is also host to much of Australia’s urban culture. Arts, sport, music and many and most things in between are concentrated in the green spaces and back alleys of this expansive place. Complementing well this diverse human culture is one of the most varied climates around, and Melbournians can often be heard saying ‘if you don’t like the weather, not to worry, it’ll change in 5 minutes’. Perhaps it is thanks to this constant potential for rain and cold that Melbourne has developed a strong café culture - specializing in the funky-little-place-down-that-alley variety - thus creating its own southern variety of the inevitable Australian easy-going attitude to life.

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By Cam Norton


redbrick, somewhat Gothic building attached to it. These, and a number of other small and decrepit buildings, circle a large courtyard space.

his place is somewhere you can see from a distance at many points in Melbourne’s inner northeast, but it was a long time before I discovered it. Like all good mysteries, the closer you get the more difficult it is to find.

Outside it is all concrete and weeds, rot and mess. Piles of debris. The local graffiti community has laid claim to all and any bare surfaces and standing in the courtyard is like being in a high-end gallery for local street art. Impossibly high up on one silo someone has painted “look how long my arms are!”

In a former industrial area, most neighboring buildings have long ago been transformed into residential complexes, but somehow this one place remains untouched by the ever-growing hand of development. There is a troop of silos – each of them over 100m tall – that constitutes the main thrust of the place, then a large

The interior is dotted with old rusted mapage 84

chinery, still and silent like exhibitions in a museum. Holes in the floor wait to swallow you up and dislodged steel pylons make you wonder how much this place can take before it’ll decide to take you down with it. Many would dismiss this as somewhere that once served a practical function, and is now just polluting the landscape, but there are various shades of beauty here that can easily go unnoticed. A factory is a system. It is thoughtful design and strategic implementation and numerous components working together. It has a function and purpose, and to judge it on appearanc-

es only is to misunderstand its true meaning – its primordial beauty. And when man abandons something mother nature tends to take up the rains. Plants grow, steel rusts, clay crumbles and a place regains that patchwork quality of nature. Everything seems to relax, like that moment when a piece of clothing becomes ‘yours’. This is the aesthetic beauty that we all recognize, that artists and romantics chase, and spending just a little time here is enough to appreciate that.

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Finally there is the beauty of process. In one building here the roof has completely fallen in, thus creating a new floor – this is not only decay, but also creation. Materials gain new functions. A piece of old machinery is now home to a family of possums, walls are now canvases and as they too crumble they contribute to the art. There is no sadness here. No tragedy. There’s a beauty of change being a small part of that process. I hope that people can find a way to allow places such as these exist without feeling the need to preserve them, thus tainting what makes them special, or knocking them down only replaced with something new and shiny. New and obvious. This place is a beautiful testament to the interacting forces of man with his machines and nature with its power and should be recognized as such.

Cam Norton

We used to climb the silos to see the sun rise after long nights out until they blocked up all the entrances to all the buildings. Now you can only walk around outside and wonder what sort of changes are happening inside with no one to witness them. Even at a close distance there’s much to be discovered.


Australian, currently living in Beijing, China (UTC +8) Cam Norton works in education technology in Beijing. Apart from his occasional writing, he also dabbles in the art of sounds, as can be heard on his personal website.

Address: Yorkshire Brewery 1-21 Robert st, Collingwood, Melbourne, Australia

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-1 Greenland •

Ittoqqortoormiit Still Night Ittoqqotoormiit is also beautiful by night... at least when the weather allows you to wander around. As I was listening to the howl of the sled dogs and thinking about the polar bears that might show up every minute, I felt very much alive...

By Hrund Thorsdottir

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• Guangzhou +8 China


GUANGZHOU / CANTON / 广州 Location: Guangdong province, People’s Republic of China. Population (2010): 11 million (urban), 12,7 million (subprovincial city) Earliest recorded history: Qin dynasty (221-207 BC) Nicknames: “羊城” (“Ram City”),“穗城” (“Rice-Ear City”), “花 城” (“Flower City”), among others.

Guangzhou (Canton) is the largest city in southern China and the third largest city in China. It is located within the Pearl River Delta urban region, of which the population is estimated to reach around 120 million people - well on its path to become the world’s first Mega-region. Guangdong province is one of the first regions in China to have adopted a market economy, thus attracting huge flows of immigrants - both national and international - and businesses. Many international companies set up their factories in the Pearl River Delta region, including in Guangzhou, making it an important base for “made in China” products. A huge wealth gap and rapid urban development have made Guangzhou a restless and agitated city, with an increasingly high rate of violence.

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“FIGHT CLUB...........................” By Liu Qiongxiong


t night, a city can be violent in many different ways.

These people come from all corners of Guangzhou, and gather after sunset. They find a place somewhere, and throw themselves at each other, bare-chested, punching and kicking. None of them will go home before some fighting has taken place. They all belong to the Guangzhou Fight Club. Their membership, location, purpose and organization are all uncertain; but their ideal is sublime. Witnessing the Fight Club

somewhat upright and proper identity during the day.

We participated in the Fight Club three times in all. Two of these nights, under the Yanjiang Road tunnel, cars blasted past us one after the other, and the tremendous roar at times made our eardrums numb; the yellow-orange street lights had a dreamy quality about them. It was there that Zeng Yicheng (the photographer) and I each punched someone for the first time. We both had as opponent a man we’ll call Winson — he prefers not to have his real name disclosed, since he needs to appear under a page 92

The Fight Club has no strict rules, it runs in a relaxed atmosphere, and everyone in there is free: participants can look for an opponent to fight for a while, but they can also stand by and watch. At first, newcomers are all like me, they stand there curious and excited, watching others box; most of them will hesitate a very long time before accepting to move into the ring. In my opinion, it would be much more interesting if they had to follow ‘Rule #8’ as expressed in the movie Fight Club: “If this is your first night, you have to fight!” But according to my initial investigation, among the people there, about half of them have never seen that film. page 93

A- Biao A-Biao, founder of the Fight Club, likes to keep a low profile. He comes every time rushing on a mountain bike, carrying a big bagpack. A man of few words, he is the most devoted fighter in the club. At the time he started the Fight Club, ABiao had never seen the eponymous Hollywood film. “Back then, I had just finished learning wushu (Chinese martial arts). I wanted to find some people to have fun, and gain some ‘real combat’ experience.” However, after seeing the movie, he did not completely identify with it: “I really like this film, but we’re different [from the characters in that story]. The film touches upon philosophical issues, but for most of us here it’s more about body fitness. Not for me, of course — I also have some spiritual pursuit.”

what it is about society he is most dissatisfied with, he slowly replies: “Lack. Of. Love.” A-Biao studied vehicle maintenance and repair in a vocational high school, and went out to work without graduating. He started his career at an outdoor sports company on the verge of collapse.

“It’s unusual for a ‘fight club’ to appear anywhere. The only reason for the existence of this one is me.” A-Biao says he started learning martial arts because he used to be weak and in poor health all the time, and often bullied by others. When I ask him

A-Biao thinks we should not always reject pain, because pain and pleasure, just like heat or cold, are mere bodily sensations: “The strongest person is not the one able to knock down the greatest number of people, but the one able to withstand the greatest amount of pain and mental pressure.” page 94

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Wang Liang

Wang Liang Tonight is also the first time for Wang Liang, the thinnest guy in our whole group, to join the Fight Club. As we’re watching a fight together, we exchange impressions. “People here are more polite than I expected, and there is even protective equipment!” Many newcomers say they cannot fight, having never received any training, and that they would feel embarrassed to hit other people, especially those they know. But after having raised their fists and punched their first punch, they discover they can overcome that mental barrier, and that it is nothing but another sport, just like running or table tennis. I believe that the members of the Club do not pursue blood and violence, but unique experiences — something to ‘elevate the spirit and strengthen the body.’ A very individual kind of enjoyment. A-Biao, who fights from the start to the end of each session, says he is always looking for someone stronger who could defeat him, so that he could then stand up again. Maybe sometimes, fighting is a way to gain self-confidence, and to be reborn.

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Guangzhou In any account, the Fight Club is not “just a simple sport”. The fact that it exists in this city is certainly quite significant in itself. Under a bridge around the future ‘Guangzhou Zhujiang New City Central Business District’, there is an underground square, abandoned because of excessive realestate development. It is one of the Fight Club playgrounds, and there I saw the most huge and wasteful flight of cement stairs in all of Guangzhou. Elsewhere in the expansive CBD lies a tunnel, closed on all sides, into which the Fight Club members descend using rock-climbing equipment, to undertake their activities.

In A-Biao’s words, “We choose to fight at night because of the enormous pressure that society puts on such activities. If we fought on the street in broad daylight, lots of people would see us, and it would affect their lives; therefore, we try to keep this impact to a minimum. Besides, this kind of sport can easily be associated with bad things, such as gang wars, illegal prizefighting, etc. And actually we don’t have any way to prove that we have nothing to do with this, do we? (laughter), so it’s the only way for us to keep this going.” A-Biao says the police and security guards often appear, “but when they see we have protective equipment, the police just lets us be, while the security guards usually join us to have some fun.”

These forgotten corners of the city, devoid of people, with plenty of light, in the gritty modernity of reinforced concrete, are ideal areas for the Fight Club, which brings them a layer of magic and mystery.

On these few nights of joining the Fight Club inside the tunnel, each time I got back into the open, it seemed to me this city was more open, more enticing than it used to be. Maybe the deeper you go beneath the surface of a city, the more of its quintessence you absorb…

80% of the people participating in the Fight Club never received any training. 20 to 30% of them seldom exercise, let alone fight. According to A-Biao’s reckoning, over 3 years’ time, 40 to 50 people have joined the Club, with various degrees of involvement: some of them come every time, some only ever came once.

A Fight Club brings vigour and vitality to the urban night, and toughens it up too — it’s not all just bars and TV anymore. It is a great chance to live in a city that has this sort of power, a power that makes everything about it unpredictable to you.

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Liu Qiongxiong 刘琼雄 Chinese, currently living in Guangzhou, China (UTC +8) Vice-Editor in Chief of City Pictorial, a lifestyle magazine for young Chinese urbanites. More than 13 years of experience in the field of China youth cultural media. Also the founder of various NGO projects for the promotion of Chinese youth culture, such as创意市集 (iMART),乐创益 (iFAIR),荒岛图书馆 (Island Library), etc. E-mail: Website: THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Zeng Yicheng 曾忆城 Chinese, currently living in Guangzhou, China (UTC +8) E-mail: Website:

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Howland Island

Day beacon “Earhart Light” on Howland Island, in the Pacific Ocean. Howland Island is an uninhabited coral island located just north of the equator in the central Pacific Ocean. The island lies almost halfway between Hawaii and Australia and is an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the United States. The day beacon on this photo, now slowly crumbling, was established and named in the memory of Amelia Earhart, preeminent American aviation pioneer. According to some of Earhart’s biographers, the first plane runway on the island was built specially for the circumnavigational flight of the globe she attempted in 1937, as one of the many favours she obtained from her close friend First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. During her journey, Earhart disappeared over the Pacific, near Howland island, without having ever reached it. Her plane was never found.

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By Joann94024

-5 United States •


NEW YORK CITY Location: New York, United States.

Population (2010): 8,2 million (city), 18,9 million (metro.) Founded: 1624 Nicknames: “The Big Apple”, “Gotham”, “Center of the Universe”, “The City That Never Sleeps”, “The Capital of the World”... Motto: “Excelsior” (“Ever Upwards”) [motto of the State of New York]

New York City. Needs it still an introduction? Now the most populous city of the United States, in the middle of one of the most densely populated metropolitan areas of the world, NYC started as a small Dutch settlement in 1624, and was called New Amsterdam before it fell under the control of the English, from whom it received its current name. Other crucial facts about New York City : • The Dutch traded New Amsterdam (a.k.a., New York City) to the British in the 1667 Treaty of Breda in exchange for Pulau Run, an obscure tiny Indonesian island once known for its nutmeg . • The first American chess tournament was held in New York in 1843. • The Federal Reserve Bank on New York’s Wall Street contains vaults that are located 80 feet beneath the bank and hold about 25 percent of the world’s gold bullion. • The average daily room rate in New York hotels in 2006 was $267. • Joseph Gayetty of New York City invented toilet paper in 1857. • It is against the NYC laws to throw a ball at someone’s head for fun. page 102

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a bus and head to a new world, a completely different space, far from the crowds. Those boats have been there for a long time, in the mud. It is not easy to get there, but it isn’t a hidden place. Those old boats, which might have once traveled far away, retain their own secret stories. They are now broken, and birds come to nest on them. Iron, wood, pieces of engines, a lot of trash, beautiful in its own way, silent, simple, full of memories. Who would think of them while visiting New York...

had the chance to spend a few months in New York. This city has always been an inspiring place for filmmakers, photographers, artists and travelers in general, and so it was for me too. I loved to discover that, beyond the well-known crowded streets, night lights, busy avenues and high builings, there were other kinds of spaces - so quiet, so intimate. One of those places is this boat graveyard in Staten Island. One ferry away from Manhattan, just jump on

By Laura Soriano page 104

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Laura Soriano

Spanish. currently living in: Valencia, Spain (UTC +1) Personal description: Spanish photographer. Loves to travel and meet people from everywhere, visual arts and projects involving common spaces or different techniques. Loves to explore both natural places and cities. E-mail: Website:

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File:French Polynesia on the globe (French Polynesia c...


File:French Polynesia on the globe (French Polynesia centered).svg From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

-10 French Polynesia •

Vahine Island Full resolution (SVG file, nominally 799 × 799 pixels, file size: 1.41 MB)

Tahaa is an island located among the Society Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of FranceThis in the Pacific Tahaa 70-80%200px, of all French vanilla, which is a image rendered PNGproduces in other sizes: 500px,Polynesia’s 1000px, 2000px. prime economic resource in the area. Because of the pervasive aroma of vanilla, Tahaa is known as the “Vanilla Island

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. Information from its description page there is shown below. Commons is a freely licensed media file repository. You can help.

Description Deutsch: Lage von XY (siehe Dateiname) auf der Erde. English: Location of XY (see filename) on the globe. Date 22 June 2011

By Carlo Malagnino

Source Own work This vector graphics image was created with Adobe Illustrator.

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This file was uploaded with Commonist.

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• Suva

Secret Suva:

Getting Around the Fiji’s Capital City By Leon White

in Style F

iji was my home for most of 2006 and 2007, and although I lived very close to the university where I worked, I also got out of the city most weekends. Fiji is a developing country, and most people do not own cars – the only way to get around is by a variety of buses. The old city buses are my favourite, they don’t go very far and they are really slow but there is a really social atmosphere on board…

Location: Central Division, Viti Levu island, Fiji Population (2009): 88,271 (city), 175,399 (urban)

The Republic of Fiji is an island nation located in Melanesia, South Pacific Ocean, about 2000km northeast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Picture the oldest vehicle you have ever had a ride on. These buses are third hand imports, first from the UK to New Zealand or Australia, and then later brought to Fiji where they are kept running through a mixture of duct tape, spare wire and the willpower of everyone on board. Everything is old, noisy and rattling, often you can see the road underneath you through holes rusted straight through the floor! But one thing on the bus is absolutely brand new:

Fiji was a British colony from 1874 to 1970. Because of the abundance of forest, mineral, and fishing resources, the country is one of the most developed economies in the Pacific island realm. Today, the main sources of foreign exchange are its tourist industry and sugar exports. Suva is Fiji’s political and administrative capital. It’s also the largest and the most sophisticated city in the South Pacific (excluding New Zealand) and has become an important regional centre; students from the Pacific region and

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Married Fijian women with enormous, perfectly spherical haircuts and enormous bags of fresh taro, and clean cut Indian students with stacks of schoolbooks would mix together with the occasional foreigner, everybody relaxing on the way to work, to school, to do the shopping or just visiting friends. And me in the middle of it all, at home but away from home, living in the moment and loving the cheesiest music mix in history. An absolutely unique experience!

the 8-speaker, 600-watt stereo system. It runs at full volume, unremittingly loud but also a powerful demonstration that this was not just an old bus, this was a way of life, a statement about priorities and a lesson against stress! For me this was the most unexpected and enjoyable thing about my everyday life in Fiji. I would pay the 50 cents to get the bus anywhere in the city, lean outside the bus (of course, there are no windows in the tropical heat), and enjoy reggae hits from the 80s, UB40 and Backstreet Boys like never before. It took three people to operate the bus: a crazy driver, capable of getting through any traffic obstruction and over any rickety wooden bridge with impossible speed, a boy sitting on the engine to collect money and give change to passengers, and another boy in the seat behind the driver to operate the stereo system, change CDs and even take requests!

Check out a few videos to see what I mean: THIS ONE, or maybe THAT ONE...

Leon White New-Zealander and German, currently living in Beijing, China (UTC+8)

Personal description: “I learnt most pretending to be a journalist for 2 years, and I have dual nationality, which was a great start in Europe, which I have also travelled through a lot. And I hate shoes.� E-mail: Website:

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+5 India

By Jordi Boixareu

Ganges River Jumping Photographs taken in the city of Benares, officially called Varanasi, north India’s Uttar Pradesh state. One of the oldest cities in the world, on the banks of Ganges River represents an explosion of all the adjectives that attempt to describe India. Holy City, the annual target of thousands of Hindu pilgrims, where life and death walk hand in hand.

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+3 Iran

TEHRAN / Location: Tehran province, Iran Population (2010): 9,1 million (city), 13,4 million (metro.) Earliest recorded history: 8th century AD Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. It is also Iran’s largest urban area and city, and one of the largest cities in Western Asia. The native language of the city is the Tehrani dialect of Persian, and the majority of people in Tehran identify as Persians. In the 1920s and ‘30s, the city was virtually built anew under the rule of the Shah of Iran. Reza Shah Pahlavi ordered that many ancient buildings, among which large parts of the Golestan Palace, the city fortifications and the old citadel, be systematically destroyed, and replaced with modern buildings and wide avenues. Being partly surrounded by mountains, Tehran has a tendency to concentrate air pollution, and be often covered in smog. It is estimated that about 27 people die each day from pollution-related diseases. Throughout 2009, Tehran experienced immense public demonstrations against the government, in reaction to the heavily rigged presidential elections which reinstated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the head of the state.

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The air in Tehran was so hot, dry and stifling, so saturated with exhaust fumes and sand, that it felt just like Beijing. Apart from the fact that in this month of fasting, nobody was allowed to drink or eat anything in public until sunset, for fear of imprisonment, or worse. Soofi and I wandered along the dusty streets of, seeking the meagre shade of walls scribbled with words of anger, green ribbons sometimes still hanging from the trees. Cars, trucks and motorcycles invaded every inch of the city space; metal, honking horns and burning oil. We walked in silence, because of the noise, because it felt too thirsty when we talked, because of the weight down in our chests.

Haven By Dorian Cavé

+3 September 2009.


t might have been before the large tazahorat, the protests against the government. Or maybe afterwards.

Me walking with the two Kurdish brothers hosting me, holding arms, walking with them among the galvanized crowd and refusing at first to shout the slogans, “Down With the Dictator!”, “Ahmadi’, you liar!” — telling them this was none of my business after all, it wasn’t my fight, I was there just out of sheer curiosity and maybe a little solidarity. And then the tear gas, this smell of burnt hair, then the running and

the stone-throwing, the bearded, fierce-looking men on motorbikes in the distance – and after that I started shouting the slogans. Ironically, according to certain religious experts, throwing tear gas at people on that day should have been illegal, for it was Ramadan, and in that time the human body must remain absolutely pure and unaffected. But the government apparently listened to other “experts” instead. page 120

She finally pushed open a nondescript metal door, at the end of a narrow alley, and I followed her into a little courtyard behind. As soon as we closed the door, I was struck by the silence and the peace. From the agitation and the violence of the outside world only remained sparce, faraway echoes. The courtyard was planted with trees. Though the walls were probably but a few decades old, they felt as though they had been built and sculpted with love and attention, unlike most of the horrendous modern buildings around the city. page 121

In a corner stood large elevated metal plates on which to place candles, covered in years of melted wax, dribbling shapes of difformed, melancholy monsters. Nearby, a metal hand, inscribed with mysterious lines unfathomable to me. We were in a Sufi shrine. A sanctuary dedicated to a prominent poet of old, whose portrait hung from a wall, and whose body lay buried nearby. Led by a whispering old lady clad all in black, we took off our shoes, and entered the prayer room. A man was kneeling there on the deep blue carpet, meditating, in a world of his own. The room, including the domed ceiling, was covered in small pieces of broken mirrors, each of them set at different angles. Any movement brought about an infinity of reflections on all sides, placing the visitor at the heart of a vividly live universe; and yet, one would never see more than tiny fragmented pieces of one’s own image. I sat on the floor, my back against a wall, and let myself disappear into the dark, colourful, eerily silent space around me. I let myself forget about the noise and the heat and the thirst, and the questions that ate away at me. Then, slowly, the air all around us started to ring with a low, poignant chant, which grew increasingly resounding and powerful. And I bathed in it as in a cold mountain stream.

Dorian CavĂŠ French and British, currently living in Beijing (UTC+8) E-mail: Website:

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Shymkent +6 Kazakhstan

Man Resting ... on a weird gas tank or whatever it is.

By Jody Mcintyre

By Maria Golovnina page 124

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QUITO Location: Pichincha province, Ecuador. Population (2011): 2,7 million (city), 3,3 million (metro.) Founded: December 5, 1534 Nicknames: “Luz de América” (“Light of America”), “Carita de Dios” (“God’s Face”).

Quito is the capital of Ecuador, in South America. The city lies on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains. The central square of Quito is located about 25 kilometres south of the equator; the city itself extends to within about 1 kilometre of zero latitude. A monument and museum marking the general location of the equator is known locally as “la mitad del mundo” (the middle of the world).

While the modern city was established in the 16th century, Quito’s origins date back to the first millennium AD, when the Quitu tribe occupied the area and eventually formed a commercial center. According to Juan de Velasco’s 1767 book Historia del Reino de Quito, the Quitu were conquered by the Caras tribe, who founded the Kingdom of Quito around 980 AD. Ecuador is a representative democratic republic which became independent in 1830, after having been part of the Spanish colonial empire and the republic of Gran Colombia. It is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.

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-5 page 127


A Day at


Natural Park By Francisca (Diana) Galarza

Location Cotopaxi is a volcano located in Ecuador, 50 km south of Quito. With an elevation of 5897 meters, it is the second highest in the country (after the Chimborazo), and one of the highest active volcanos in the world.

Mystery A mystery is something that cannot be explained. For me, the attraction caused by the beauty of the landscape, in a given region, is a mystery. Is beauty there just to be admired, worshipped, studied, or does it bring with it unknown messages or metaphors that enrich our daily actions? The Cotopaxi and other natural wonders have something peaceful in them. Despite being an active volcano, holding such intense fire and chaos within its heart, life in the surrounding area remains calm and unwavering. How can something that is beautiful, one day, disappear? page 128



he night preceeding our visit to the Cotopaxi was cold and rainy. Nonetheless, trusting in the fluctuating weather of the previous months, I suspected that on Sunday the sun would rise and the sky would clear. And indeed, that morning, my guest Julie felt the burn of a radiant sun on her European skin.

The sky opened up little by little, letting us gaze at the colossus of ice. A number of white veins encircled it in the middle, as it stood under the light caress of the clouds. The wind blew over the plants, swaying them and turning them into merry weathervanes. Flowers tinted everything in sight, inviting us to capture the moment in a photo.

We left at 8:30 am, heading towards the south and the Valle de los Chillos. Christian, YadIand AndrĂŠs were to be our guides. We travelled over 20 km in the company of the sun, but we met rain and fog on the 4 km remaining before our destination. Our spirits were lifted again, despite it all, as we rejoiced in knowing we would soon set eyes on the beautiful scenery that awaited us. And so it was.

We reached the ticket control of Cotopaxi National Park, where we paid a dime to enter; a few minutes later, we had arrived at Limpiopungo Lagoon. While the sun seemed intent on melting the snow on the volcano, the wind competed with it, producing gusts of wind that gave the clouds a desire to cry. page 129

We traveled around the lagoon in the midst of this unusual phenomenon, which dampened our clothes on our shoulders and legs, while we stayed dry on the front. But what of it? The trip was so worthwhile, thanks to all the beauty that met our senses...

wall of stones which we found in the middle of the pajonal. Birds seemed to live there, among which were the owls we were looking for. Julie relished the peace of the mountain. Everything was calm and silent, except for the birds singing, and the “oo, oo” of the owls. YadI quickly tried to light the fire. It was a difficult task, for the humidity affected even the driest twigs. The sound of the owls and the continuous visits of a sparrow-hawk caught the attention of my companions, who decided to look for the nest.

Suddenly, at last, between the mountains, I spotted a huge bird, which I suspected was a condor; yet at the same time, I thought it could not be, for it is very rare to see them flying over this area full of tourists and travellers. I told Andrés, who was carrying a camera with a zoom function; and only after seeing what his machine had captured that it was confirmed: observing us from high above was indeed the master of the Andean sky.

The day went by slowly, and though we did not want it to end, we had to go back to city life. We abandoned the territory of the birds with regret, while in our backs the snowcovered one cleared away its clouds, and treated us to a rainbow. The light of the afternoon continued revealing more and more secrets to us, as we drove back home. If only my home was the mountain!

We celebrated this unexpected encounter by having some tea, eating chocolate, drying ourselves up and lying on the ground. We had reached an altitude of 3891m above sea level, and were surrounded by birds from various species: Andean gulls, Andean ducks, water hens, and gligles. There were also wild horses, deer, hares, and countless plants from the páramo (high barren plains), as well as flowers, shrubs, trees, moss, and pajonal (tall grass).

Francisca (Diana) Galarza Ecuadorian, currently living in Quito, Ecuador (UTC-5) Personal Description: “I do graphic design, photography, and plastic art.” E-mail: Website(s):

With the altitude weighing on us already, we needed to recover some energy, so we decided to light a bonfire and eat under a page 130

page 131

-3 Brazil


Brasilia Now and Then These photos series are getting quite some attention. A lot of people have asked if the “old photo” is real or if I had manipulated the photo to add them. The answer is yes, they are real. Those “old photos” are real large posters. They are part of an urban artistic intervention (a very clever and thought provocative one IMO). As far as I can tell there were 4 of these posters on the same region. I have taken photos of three of them. The fourth was already destroyed when I was doing this photos. This photo was taken on October 25, 2010 in Brasilia, Distrito Federal, BR, using a Nikon D300. By Leandro Discaciate

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A Few Last Words... About Us

About the Meridian Magazine

Get In Touch!

Meridian is the fruit of a cooperation between a small group of friends, mostly based in Beijing, but not only. Currently, our editorial team includes Momo, a freelance writer and journalist, Xiangdong, entrepreneur, Effy and Li Ying, stars of the newspaper world, Lloyd, web designer, Liu Gang, head of a publishing house in Beijing, Dongzhe, graphic designer, Dorian, part-time editor... But it's growing fast! To learn more about us, please visit our website:

This magazine is to be published as frequently as we can, but at this moment it is still difficult to plan on regular release dates, given the amount of work necessary to make things properly. However, news will be posted on our website, including the new themes selected for future issues. An "app" version of the magazine is also in the brewing -- stay tuned!

We invite all our readers, and everyone else, to communicate with us as much as possible through the "Contact & Participate" page of our website — you are all welcome! A newsletter will also be created, and people will be able to sign up if they wish.

The next issue——


Thanks for you attention!

Photo By/Diana Susselman Source:

Meridian Magazine - Issue #1  

First issue of the Meridian Magazine. The Meridian Magazine is the fruit of a collaboration between creative minds from all over the world...

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