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Alex Stoen
32,846 followers -
World traveler, explorer & photographer
World traveler, explorer & photographer

32,846 followers
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The sadhus of Benares (Varanasi, India 2015)

I captured this portrait of a sadhu in Varanasi, on the steps leading to the Bhonsale Ghat, right after sunrise.

In Hinduism, a sadhu is a religious ascetic or holy person. He is solely dedicated to achieving liberation, the fourth and final stage of life, through meditation and contemplation of Brahman. Sadhus often wear saffron-coloured clothing, symbolizing their renunciation, leaving behind all material attachments.

Living as a sadhu is a difficult lifestyle. Sadhus are considered to be dead unto themselves, and legally dead to the country of India. As a ritual, they may be required to attend their own funeral before following a guru for many years, serving him by doing menial tasks until acquiring the necessary experience to leave his leadership.
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In Memoriam (London, United Kingdom, 2016)

Words cannot describe how I feel today. Another terrorist attack, so many innocent lives taken. I feel sad, I pray for all of those affected. I feel anger against those who have gone out of their way to carry out such brutality, against... children? Why?

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Saigon's Cho Ben Thanh market (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 2009)

Ho Chi Minh City, commonly known as Saigon, is a city in southern Vietnam famous for the pivotal role it played in the Vietnam War. It's also known for its French colonial architecture, including Notre-Dame Basilica, made entirely of materials imported from France, and the neoclassical Saigon Central Post Office. Food stalls line the city’s streets, especially around bustling the Cho Ben Thanh market, an incredible place where I just loved to get lost for hours, wandering around the different stalls selling anything from food to cheap t-shirts and colorful handbags.
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The Emirati Bird of Prey (Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, United Arab Emirates 2017)

The falcon is UAE's national bird and is a symbol of force and courage. Falconry has a special place in Emirati culture. In the old days, falcons in Europe have always been a sport of the kings, of the aristocracy, but in the Middle East, falconry has always been a necessity for the Bedouins to survive in the desert. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are located on one of the main migration routes for falcons. During the fall season, the Bedouins captured the birds and use them to hunt for meat during the winter. They'd be released back into the wild in spring. Falcons meant survival. Even Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE and its first president, was a very passionate and avid falconer. Did you know that the United Arab Emirates even issues passports for its falcons (to combat smuggling)! I captured this at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve while on a photo expedition with +National Geographic Travel.
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Lifeless Solitude (Vall de Gallinera, Spain 2012)

Long exposure of a lone burnt tree, in what was once a lush forest in the maintains surrounding Alicante. A devastating fire raged through a few years before, and this tree was somehow left standing, perhaps a reminder of what once stood on these slopes. It's so unfortunate and upsetting that many of these fires are intentional to profit from the land reconversion, a crime that usually goes unpunished.

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The Ritsurin Garden Teahouse (Takamatsu, Japan 2015)

Dating back over three centuries, Kikugetsu-tei is a traditional Japanese sukiya-style teahouse that was used by successive generations of feudal lords. The origin of the name derives from a line in an old Chinese poem: "When I scoop up the water, I hold the moon in my hands.” This teahouse is the central building of the whole garden, and the view of the South Pond, as seen from the rooms of this teahouse, is a magnificent scene that can be experienced nowhere else…

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Walk Sprightly Like A Pigeon (London, United Kingdom 2016)

Another photo of Westminster from a walk along the Thames' Southbank last fall. The sun was still too bright for a sunset, but I couldn't resist capturing this pigeon's walk, undisturbed from everyone passing by. This was one of those street photography situations warranting a quick reaction to capture a peculiar moment, which was only going to last a few seconds.

The title is based on one of the secrets to longevity, according to Li Ching-Yuen, a Chinese herbalist who had claimed to have lived 256 years old.
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Les Traboules de Saint Jean (Lyon, France 2015)

Saint Jean is one of the first quarters in France to be classified of cultural interest and come under the protection of the Malraux law in 1954. The quarter dates back to the Middle Ages where is was the focus of political and religious power. This is also when the first traboules were built. Derived from the Latin trans-ambulare, meaning to pass through, traboules are corridors through buildings and their courtyards, connecting one street directly with another. Exploring these secret passageways is sometimes the only way to discover the unique architectural heritage of galleries and spiral staircases, mostly hidden from public view. Every time I'm in Lyon, I just love to get lost in these streets, in search of more traboules...
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Monks at the Chaukhtatgyi Monastery (Yangon, Myanmar 2013)

Myanmar is the most religious Buddhist country in the world, with somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of the population practicing Buddhism. From as young as seven years old, the boys of Myanmar train as novice monks. Growing up together in their ancient monasteries they form a brotherhood of close connections. They eat, pray, become educated, play and live together, for what will become decades as they form a new family that spans many generations.

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Sunrise over Ha Long Bay (Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam 2009)

One of my all time favorite places, Ha Long Bay.

In ancient Vietnamese, Ha Long literally means “descending dragon” and it is originated from a legend of this ancient land.
The legend says that during the old time when the country was newly formed, Vietnamese had to fight against fierce invaders coming from the North through the sea. Feeling sorry for the country, The Jade Emperor sent the Mother Dragon and her children descending on earth to help ancient Vietnamese people defend the country.

While the mighty enemies were attacking the mainland, The Mother Dragon and her children suddenly appeared and incinerated the enemies with their divine fire and giant emeralds. The emeralds from the dragon’s mouth were scattered around the battlefield on the sea and formed an invincible defensive wall that left enemy battleship fleet sinking. Thanks to the dragons, the Northern invaders were finally swept away and the peace finally came back the South East Asian country once again. After thousands of years, the wall of emerald turned into island and islets of different sizes and shapes.

Vietnam is such a unique and amazing country. A land rich in colors, incredible food, and friendly people. I can't wait to get back and discover more of its hidden treasures!
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