City of Chicago: 2017 Year of Public Art

Arriving back into Chicago again was exciting, and a big contributor to that excitement was a small billboard I saw on the train from the airport into the city; it was letting me know that 2017 was the Year of Public Art in Chicago = a whooole lot of street art to be found around the city!

I checked out the City of Chicago website for a little more information…

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have designated 2017 the “Year of Public Art” with a new 50×50 Neighborhood Arts Project, the creation of a Public Art Youth Corps, a new Public Art Festival, exhibitions, performances, tours and more — representing a $1.5 million investment in artist-led community projects.

There were some incredible pieces scattered around, and I’ve added a few of my favourites below, but they’re helpfully created a few hashtags for you to follow if you’d like to see some more – follow #2017isYOPA or #ChiPublicArt for all of the art work!

 

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Through my eyes: Bangkok street art

I was looking through some photos I have stored on our computer from our last trip to Thailand, in 2014, and came across this one…

Husband and I had been walking through the streets while the Shutdown Bangkok protests were in full swing. We were seeing people camped out on the road sides, simple food sold from the backs of motorbikes, and locals walking around in torn tshirts and bare feet.

Then, we turned a corner, and found this brightly coloured, fun, modern piece of art. In complete contrast to everything going on around it, and ee both just stopped and burst into laughter. That’s why I love Bangkok so much; you really never know what you’re going to stumble onto!

Top 10 Things To Do in Hanoi

1. Shop at the Dong Xuan Weekend Night Market

Where? Dong Xuan and Hang Chieu Streets, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Why go? Fantastic street food, crazy-cheap shopping, and the bat-sh#t crazy atmosphere that makes Asian street markets so much fun!
How long will you need? Get there around 7pm, and stay until you’re shopped out.
Cost? Everything is pretty cheap, but be prepared to barter so you’re not getting ripped off.
Read more:
– Dong Xuan Night Market, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

2. Visit the “Hanoi Hilton” – Hoa Lo Prison

Where? 1 Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Why go? The prison was originally built by the French in the 1880s to imprison Vietnamese political prisoners, but when the French eventually left Vietnam in 1954 after their defeat at Dien Bien Phu, the prison was taken over by the North Vietnamese Army who used it to house, interrogate and torture American prisoners of war. It was the American prisoners who sarcastically nicknames the prison the “Hanoi Hilton,” in honour of the horrible conditions they faced in there. While it is obviously well known that the Americans suffered just as horribly to the Vietnamese as the Vietnamese did to the French, the exhibits in the museum focus mainly on the torment suffered by the Vietnamese under French control. And they are truly horrific.
How long will you need? 1-2 hours.
Cost? Around AUD$1.50 per person
Read more:
– Hoa Lo Prison – the “Hanoi Hilton”

 

3. Stroll the through beautiful grounds of the Temple of Literature

Where? 58 Quốc Tử Giám, Văn Miếu, Đống Đa, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Why go? The Temple of Literature in Hanoi is dedicated to Confucius , and was the site of Vietnam’s first university, dating back to 1076. Back then, only those of noble birth were admitted, but the mid-1400s brought about a new age, where gifted students from around the country were allowed. Now, it’s a stunning public space where you’ll walk around with a slack jaw and constant camera clicking…
How long will you need? 2 hours
Cost? Around AUD$1.20 per person
Read more:
– Photo essay: The Temple of Literature, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

4. Ignore the overcautious and pretentious travelers and eat street food!

Why go? It’s not dirty or gross, it’s not going to make you sick, it’s not something to turn your nose up at. The food being made by the sweet little old ladies on the back of a motorbike cart is some of the best food in the city, so drop the ego and get eating!
Cost? It’s cheap – the spread about cost us about AUD$6.00 each, and we got nowhere near finishing it!
Read more:
– Eating the city: Hanoi, Vietnam

 

5. Eat ice cream and people watch by the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake

Where? Literally in the middle of the city, you can’t miss it.
Why go? Hoan Kiem Lake is the centre of the city, and the place where so many social events are held; at any time of the day or night, you’ll see people gathering for a picnic, to study, to practice tai chi, or just for a bit of a gossip session. When the heat starts to get to you, grab an ice cream, park yourself in the shade of the trees that circle the lake, and just take it all in…
How long will you need? As long as you want 🙂
Cost? Ice cream is pretty cheap, and the view is free!
Read more:
– Hoan Kiem Lake & Tortoise Tower, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

6. Get educated on the Vietnamese point of view at the Vietnam Military History Museum

Where? 28A Điện Biên Phủ, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Why go? The grounds are piled with discarded planes and bomb shells, the buildings full of photos and more pieces of history. It’s a sombre atmosphere, and you can’t help feeling enormous respect for this small but courageous nation of underdogs. While you could never understand what they have been through, you start to understand just why they’re so fiercely proud and patriotic, and it’s a great way to take in a serious history lesson.
How long will you need? We were there for a few hours.
Cost? Around AUD$1.20 per person
Read more:
The Vietnam Military History Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

7. Take a day trip out to Ha Long Bay

Why go? It’s not hard to see why Ha Long Bay was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. The bay includes, I believe, almost 2000 islands and islets, and is just breathtakingly beautiful, especially when you’re floating through it on a boat, without a single care in the world…
How long will you need? All day long for a day trip, but if you have a few nights to spare, you can spend a few nights on the water.
Cost? We took a day trip with Intrepid, which was amazing – cost around AUD$120.00 per person (though I believe that’s done up a little now), and worth every cent.
Read more:
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
– Thiên Cung Cave, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

 

8. Indulge in one of the city’s favourite dishes, bún chà

Where? Literally everywhere from the street corners to the markets.
Why go? Vermicelli noodles. Meat. Peanuts. Spring onion. And a delicious sauce to pour over the top. Like you need any more convincing!
Cost? You can get a bowl for a few dollars almost anywhere in the city!
Read more:
– Eat here: Bún Chà Nem Cua Bê, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

9. Take in the patriotism and national pride at the Hi Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum

http://www.baotanghochiminh.vn/tabid/528/default.aspx
Where? 19 Ngách 158/193 Ngọc Hà, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Why go? Ho Chi Minh (or Uncle Ho, to the Vietnamese) fought for Vietnamese independence, bringing the North and South together under one rule. He was a popular man, and his mausoleum brings in hundreds of visitors every day, mostly locals actually, paying their respects. But the tourists come in by the bus load too, often making their way on to the museum, like I did. The museum is quite big, and incredibly interesting – it actually makes history interesting, for those of you who aren’t history nerds like me 🙂
How long will you need? 2-3 hours.
Cost? Around AUD$1.00 per person
Read more:
– Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum & Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

10. Finish the day with a drink up on Café Nola’s umbrella-covered rooftop

Where? 89 Mã Mây, Quan Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Why go? Rooftop bar. Great cocktails at cheap prices. Delicious food to nibble on. And they have the cutest collection of umbrellas dangling above you. Best way ever to finish a big day in Hanoi!
How long will you need? Spend a long afternoon there, trust me 🙂
Cost? Cheap enough that I don’t remember!
Read more:
Eat (& drink!) here: Nola, Hanoi, Vietnam

Modern Map Art – prints for wanderlusters

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that sponsored posts are very few and far between on here. That’s because
a) I’m not enough of a big-name blogger for people to want to send me free stuff, and
b) if I wouldn’t buy the product with my own money, I won’t endorse it.

When Jennifer from Modern Map Art contacted me with a offer to test out her new business, it was a case of perfect timing; I’d actually been looking for a map of Melbourne to frame and display in my home for months, and couldn’t find anything that I liked and was also reasonably priced.

After a round-the-world honeymoon in 2016, Jennifer decided to combine her life-long love of maps with her new found appreciation for the cities she visited into something special that other people could enjoy, too. Now, she has a gorgeous line of not only print maps, but also throw pillows (!!!) and phone cases, featuring maps of your favourite locations – and if she doesn’t have what you want in her catalogue, she’ll gladly put a custom design together for you!

I received my posted wrapped in tissue paper and packed safely into a thick, cardboard tube – it was in perfect condition when it arrived from the US to my front door here in Melbourne, Australia. I was really impressed with the quality of the paper used – as per the information on their website, “the posters are made from a museum quality matte paper, and Ultrachrome ink.  The ink is rated to last over 100 years, and 200 years if properly framed and maintained.”

And it looked amazing set in a simple, bold, black frame, up on the wall with some black and white Melbourne photographs a close friend gave me a few years ago 🙂 I couldn’t be happier with the finished product, and I dare say we may end up with a few more maps on our walls after our big upcoming trip!

I also wanted to ask Jennifer a few questions about her brain child, so before you head over to her store (signing up for their mailing list will score you 10% off, by the way),  get to know her a little better..

 

 Hi Jennifer! Tell us about your business – what exactly do you do?

Modern Map Art takes ordinary street maps and turns them into wall art.  We use open source maps and alter the colors and add text to create beautiful pieces.  Recently, we also launched custom.modernmapart.com, which allows people to create their own maps.  You can choose from building maps, street maps, or topo maps and create your own pillow, poster, phone case, or t-shirt.  We then print and ship the item to you within a few days.


What gave you the idea to actually start this business?

I’ve always been passionate about maps since I was little, and wanted to create some maps to represent the places that I’ve traveled to display in my own home.  People love them when they came to visit, so I started selling them to friends and family and then online.


You have so many maps in your catalogue! Which ones are your favourites?

Personally, I like the ski maps.  I think they’re a good representation of taking something complicated and making them very simple.


There are quite a few map prints starting to find their way onto the market now; what makes your product different?

We print on museum quality matte paper and have over 500 cities available.  We’ve also got a lot of variety with our pillows, country maps, phone cases, and a lot of other great products on the horizon.

 

You must be getting idea for your maps from somewhere.., where are you off to next?!

Greece!  I’m off in a few weeks and I’m very excited.

 

 

* Disclosure: While Modern Map Art generously gifted one of their maps to me,  the opinions contained herein are entirely my own, based on my experience with the company. *

Through my eyes: walking through Hanoi, Vietnam

Melbourne’s been sweltering. And I’m not a summer person. I don’t like extreme heat or humidity.

Unless I’m in Vietnam…

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Parts of Hanoi are tourist-friendly “big city,” while other parts, like the produce markets, are still so simple and local. There’s such a huge mix of people – tourists and locals, students and manual labourers, restaurant workers and street food vendors, and they all somehow fit together in perfect harmony…

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Through my eyes: making tracks in Hanoi

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I’ve seen some odd things on my travels, and tend not to be too surprised anymore when I see people doing things that are really different to how we do things at home, but this one still took my breath away.

The rail tracks that run through Hanoi literally run through Hanoi. As in, they’re set in what just looks like a slender alley-way between rows of homes and shops, with very little room to move on either side. That was all well and good, until I skipped my way across the tracks to take some photos, and noticed a family finishing up their breakfast. In the middle of the tracks. I’m talking, little plastic stools and table set up with bowls and chopsticks actually on the tracks, and small children running back and forth across them, and no one batting an eyelid.

We crossed that railway several more times during our stay in Hanoi, and I got less and less worried about oncoming speeding trains each time I guess you can get used to anything…

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Travel art journal: Vietnam 2016 – eating & drinking

“So what did you guys do in Vietnam for two weeks?!”
“We ate. And drank. A lot…”

 

Our answer to that question is met with either “umm… Ok…” and raised eyebrows (people who haven’t been to Vietnam) or “ohhh my god, you’re so lucky, that must have been amazing!!” (people who have been to Vietnam).

 

Given how powerful food can be in bringing back memories, I decided to draw some of the food and beverage stops we took, rather than just snapping quick photos…

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