By Alejandro Martinez-Inzunza
Contributing Writer

This is the fourth article in our 2014 Week of Photo Journals: Changing Perspectives. Check back each day this week to see more beautiful photography and travel accounts from UC San Diego students.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Dating back to the 12th Century CE, Angkor Wat is the world’s oldest and, at 400 square kilometers, also the world’s largest religious site. The complex lies in Cambodia, where it first served as the religious center of the Khmer Empire. While access to the site was limited for decades by the Khmer Rouge, the complex has begun to welcome visitors, who especially flock to the main temple, pictured here.

Guanajuato, Mexico

The city of Guanajuato lies in the middle of a valley in the middle of Mexico. The city, pictured here, houses over 100,000 residents and serves as the capital of Guanajuato state. Visible in the photo are the University of Guanajuato, identifiable by its Neoclassical architectural style, and the church on the Plaza de la Paz. Contrasting with these aged buildings are the dwellings rapidly spreading across the hillsides.

Wat Mahatha

Thailand boasts numerous impressive Buddhist monuments, and this statue, residing in Wat Mahathat, a temple complex in Ayutthaya Historical Park, is no exception. Constructed centuries ago, the head of Buddha has been nearly entirely ensconced by a tree’s roots.

Marina Reservoir, Singapore

A series of structures called Supertrees now tower over the Gardens by the Bay, a newly-constructed garden complex in Singapore’s Marina Reservoir. Connecting the man-made trees is a pedestrian skybridge. The “trees” themselves are also gardens, full of ferns, orchids and the like.

Puebla, Mexico

In the historic center of Puebla, Mexico runs the Avenida 5 Oriente. The architectural style of the city is encapsulated by the small section of wall depicted here: the historic center of the city is all bright pastels occasionally punctuated by colorful ceramic tiles.

Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand

When traversing rural Thailand, elephants serve as effective transportation. In this picture, the elephants are trundling through the valleys of Kanchanaburi Province on their way to the famed Tiger temple, with several curious students in tow.


A Cambodian farmer tends to his rice paddies. His land lies adjacent to some of the infamous Killing Fields, a series of sites where the brutal Khmer Rouge regime murdered and buried more than one million victims.


A parachuting paratrooper leaves a bright streak against the Singapore sky. This descent was a part of the 2012 celebration of National Day, which commemorates Singapore’s independence from Malaysia, and was accompanied by a military parade through the city.

Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba

One of the classic cars so closely associated with Cuba drives in front of a sculpture of national hero Che Guevara in Havana’s Revolution Square. The text below roughly translates to “Until victory, always.”

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

An up-close look at one of the aged statues in Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex reveals the toll the elements have taken on the statue, but also how the statues were constructed and the intricate detail that went into each one.


By Ellyette Iverson
Contributing Writer

This is the third article in our 2014 Week of Photo Journals: Changing Perspectives. Check back each day this week to see more beautiful photography and travel accounts from UC San Diego students.

Cusco, Peru. The location has been surrounded with an air of mystery, adventure and exoticism since it was made famous by Hiram Bingham’s ‘discovery’ of Machu Picchu in 1911. National Geographic later published photos from his voyage, which introduced readers around the world to a new sensational imagery. Today, the obsession continues, and tourists flock to Cusco in order to experience the wonder and awe brought forth by this discovery made over 100 years ago. But is it the same? Not quite. Cusco, which was once the capital of the great Inca Empire and one of the most powerful cities in the world, has become a place of rapid modernization and pop-up tour agencies, often hiding the magical wonders that quietly exist outside of the “tourist circuit.” As a student living in Peru, I had the opportunity to observe and discovery the other Cusco—the one filled with both modern and ancient stories. It was this Cusco that introduced me to the true Cusqueños who live there and let me see the wonders that were not so obvious at first glance.

Ceremonial rising of the flag. Plaza de Armas, Cusco.

Every Sunday, local government officials gather in the main square to honor various groups and organizations, as well as raise the cities flag with pride. Ironically, the city shares the same flag as the Gay Pride movement in the United States, and this connection has not been received well by the dominant “machismo” community of Cusco. Here, the rainbow signifies the origin of the Inca Empire, when, according to Inca myth, the founding emperors chose to settle in the valley of Cusco after a thrown staff sank deeply into the fertile grounds and a rainbow appeared overhead.

Commuter Bus, Sacred Valley (2 hours outside of Cusco)

One of the most entertaining subjects among travelers is the Peruvian dependence on buses for almost all transportation needs. In town, kombis, or small buses, are often packed to the brim with locals. While convenient and cheap, some of the buses can be extremely uncomfortable and at times dangerous. Nevertheless, bus rides always tend to be colorful experiences. Unlike our dreary public transportation system in the United States, bus drivers in Peru take pride in their vehicles, and often go to great extents to decorate and customize them with religious symbols and soccer accessories.

Glass Shard Balustrade. San Blas, Cusco

As you climb further into the hills surrounding the city of Cusco, the views become more spectacular while the architecture becomes less appealing. These barrios, or “neighborhoods,” tend to consist of the most basic homes with people often reusing materials for construction purposes. Broken glass bottles are often found atop walls. The other popular security measure is to plant cactus directly into the mud brick walls. While somewhat crude, these uses can be effective and at times even beautiful.

Dia de Los Muertos Flower Market.

While Americans busy themselves with preparations for Halloween, Peruvians begin preparing for two national holidays which take place on Nov. 1 and 2—Dia de Los Vivos and Dia de Los Muertos (the Day of the Living and the Day of the Dead). These holidays are meant to celebrate the cycle of life, starting with a celebration of life and ending with a remembrance day for those who have passed on. During this time, it is very common to see flower markets appear along the streets and plazas, with almost every local purchasing floral offerings for their deceased.

Peruvian Tuk-Tuk. Sacred Valley.

Just outside of Cusco lies the Sacred Valley, a lush agricultural area that sits along the bottom of a magnificent valley. Small towns dot the countryside, and transportation ranges from the public buses and taxis to the tiny tuk-tuks, or covered motorcycle cabbies, which act as the main traffic in the small roads crisscrossing through the towns. These can get especially colorful because drivers often compete for best designs in a unofficial competitions.

Hylephila peruana, Parque Privada de Santa Maria

As the city of Cusco grows at an increasingly rapid pace, ecosystems in the vicinity of the city have quickly disappeared. Places like the Parque Privada de Santa Maria have attempted to conserve sections of wildlife space in outlying neighborhoods. However, these areas are constantly faced with financial problems and lack of resources, holding their position as the only conservation park in Cusco on very shaky ground. This area is home to a variety of plant and animal species endangered in the area, including this moth, whose larvae was once eaten as a delicacy by the Inca nobility.

Huaca Cinca, Cusco.

Throughout Andean history, natural formations have held very important religious roles among the people. The fact that so many were dependent on the land for survival made certain landmarks very obvious places of worship. When the Spaniards arrived in Cusco, they calculated that the Inca Empire oversaw at least 3000 of these “shrines,” which ranged from fresh water springs to massive rocks and large obscure trees. Today, many of the huacas have been forgotten or destroyed. But some have lived on, such as this boulder that overlooks the city. While these historical sites are virtually unknown to tourists, they are carefully looked after by the local Cusqueños who live around it and hold as a very important place in the history of Peru.


By Natasha Azevedo
Contributing Writer

This is the first article in our 2014 Week of Photo Journals: Changing Perspectives. Check back each day this week to see more beautiful photography and travel accounts from UC San Diego students.

A Sunny Day on Lac Léman

A Sunny Day on Lac Léman

The Swiss Alps frame Lac Léman (commonly known as Lake Geneva) on a bright July afternoon. Trains in the southwest of Switzerland run along the lake, making stops at small lakeside cities such as Montreux in the Canton of Vaud. Known for its charming jazz festivals and scenic walkways, dozens of docks line the French-speaking city, serving as ports for local fishermen and sailors. I captured this photo on a three-hour walk along the lake with friends from Moldova and Ukraine.

Sunrise at Rochers de Naye

Sunrise at Rochers de Naye

During a summer internship in Switzerland, I hiked a well-known mountain called Rochers de Naye in the Swiss Alps. While tourists normally ride a train to the top of the mountain, my fellow interns and I decided instead to hike for six hours to reach the top before sunrise. With an overly-eager Romanian friend leading us and a single iPhone flashlight to light the way, my four friends from Egypt, Germany, China, and Thailand joined me as we hiked through forests and rocky cliffs in the pitch black. After a few bloody knees and breaks to watch the stars, I captured this photograph at the summit just in time for the sunrise.

Fribourg, Switzerland

Fribourg, Switzerland

After taking a train to Switzerland’s capital I decided to make a pit stop at a small city called Fribourg. This quiet city has dozens of picturesque scenes such as the one captured here. Houses are built into the mountains and charming wooden roofs sit atop shops lining the Sarine river. The city is small enough to walk through on foot and provided a nice contrast to the bustling streets of Bern as the town seemed less privy to tourists. Rather, it exuded authenticity and quietness; a hidden gem along Switzerland’s borders.

Caux Palace at Sunset

Caux Palace at Sunset

This photograph captures the Caux Palace, often referred to as the ‘Mountain House.’ It is situated near the top of the Alps overlooking Lake Geneva and is said to have inspired the castle in Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Every summer it hosts a conference for Caux: Initiatives of Change where global leaders, diplomats, NGO coordinators, and international economists gather to discuss global conflict and cooperation. A subsidiary of the United Nations, the European Union-affiliated organization hosts a seasonal internship where 36 interns from across the world participate in global leadership programs. I had an opportunity to live and work as the youngest intern and only American at the Mountain House for the summer and spent evenings trying to capture the beautiful sunsets near the castle.

Big Ben at 6:18

Big Ben at 6:18

This image captures one of London’s most iconic landmarks. During one summer in the UK, I captured the clock tower surrounding Big Ben in Westminster. I took this photograph from a boat on the Thames at dusk. The clock tower is one of England’s largest tourist destinations.

Bern at Bird’s Eye

Bern at Bird’s Eye

After climbing 300 steps up a small tower in Bern’s largest cathedral, I was able to capture Switzerland’s capital in a new light. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city was once the workplace of Albert Einstein and is the home of the attractive yet controversial “Bear Parks.” Bern is a primarily German-speaking city and has been ranked as one of the world’s top cities for a positive quality of life.

All images by Natasha Azevedo, Prospect Contributing Writer