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March 18 2012

Chenzhuang Village (Wonderland), China

Today’s destination is a slight deviation from the usual entry. Behold, Wonderland! Once billed as what would be the largest amusement park in Asia, this 100 acre plot just 45 minutes outside of Beijing seems to have met a different fate. Construction work at the park stopped in 1998 after disagreements over property prices between the local farmers and government.  Today, the ruins of a partially built ‘Wonderland’ sits near a highway and is overrun by corn fields, daring tourists, and stray dogs. Perhaps the only bright note in this particular tale: the farmers who were originally displaced from their land for the project have returned and begun growing crops again in the shadow of the ruins.

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Wonderland Castle || [David Gray - Reuters]

Walking further, I came across a rather farcical sight of some farmers digging a well next to a castle; a moment I will always savor as a photographer in a place like China where castles are not in huge supply. I explained this to the farmers and they just shrugged their shoulders, oblivious to a photographer’s happiness. I asked them what happened, and they simply answered the developers ran out of money, and they are getting back to doing what they do best. They are even slowly starting to plant trees and build shelters near the buildings, adding they think it is now safe to think the developers are never coming back. This I can believe, as the absence of any security (something very rare in China) leads one to think that even the developers have given up on what is already there.”

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Wonderland Entrance || [David Gray - Reuters]

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Wonderland Castle || [David Gray - Reuters]

A farmer carries a shovel to tend to his crops.

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Wonderland Playground || David Grey

Writing on a gate tells people to “be responsible for your actions” when entering an abandoned building

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Wonderland  || [David Gray - Reuters]

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Wonderland Castle || [David Gray - Reuters]

A sign warning people about potential poisons in the soil

All these structures of rusting steel and decaying cement, are another sad example of property development in China involving wasted money, wasted resources and the uprooting of farmers and their families

March 06 2011

Tromsø, Norway

1,200 miles from the North Pole, Tromso is the 7th largest city in Norway. The area has been inhabited since the end of the ice age, and still retains the Sami culture. Tromsø boasts some of the highest levels of Northern Lights activity on earth, making it the perfect destination to spot the Aurora Borealis. Few cities in northern Scandinavia can provide such diverse selection of sights, attractions and activities.

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Midnight sun over Tromsø | Tromsø, Norway [Bård Løken] 

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Tromsø, Norway [Forrest Lanning]

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Wooden Houses | Tromsø, Norway

The city centre of Tromsø contains the highest number of old wooden houses in Northern Norway,

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Aurora Borealis|Tromsø, Norway [Karl Johnson]

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The Old Harbor | Tromsø, Norway

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Tromso cable car | Tromsø, Norway

Standing 421 metres above sea level, with a view across the Island of Tromsø and the surrounding waterways and mountains, the four-minute ride up in the cable car provides a staggeringly scenic panorama. In summer, this is a favored location to watch the Midnight Sun, while in winter some fantastic Northern Lights can be viewed.

Reposted bymetalfairy metalfairy

November 28 2010

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