Bulgarian Retro Commie Showroom

Yep. You read that title right. On the way to Rila, in Southwestern Bulgaria, there’s a coffee-fueled passion for collecting communist era relics.

A visit to this place feels a lot like being cast into a whitewashed, concrete room with grayscale machines and being interrogated by the KGB – but with pleasant people offering coffee. It is either the perfect scene for a horror movie, or the burial place of Lenin’s TV double.

And before you say it, guys, yes. I know that the big picture I referenced here was actually not Stalin. Mixing a-roll and b-roll can be problematic sometimes. But thanks to those brainiacs out there for picking up on that and being fastidious, helpful viewers and pointing it out!

To find this place, just head toward Rila. It’s on the main road.

Finally Back Out In the World!

Oh, how I have missed you all these past two years. And also missed journalism. And traveling. And making neat, little travel shorts. I think the last time I actually sat down and wrote a blog was before I went back to the states in 2014 to start my latest of two graduate degrees – a terminal master’s in Intermedia, at the University of Maine.

It’s been a whirlwind adventure with plenty of ups and downs and lessons big and small. I am proud to announce that I have completed all of my coursework and have actually been offered a full time professorship at UMO’s sister campus, the American University in Bulgaria, which they helped open in 1991 (and are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year). The ties that I have built at the University have grown so strong that I’m even planning to complete my PhD studies through UMaine while I’m here!

To put it lightly, I couldn’t be happier. I am living in Bulgaria and enjoying a splendid little corner of Eastern Europe. I have plans to be filming in Serbia and Macedonia soon, having already traveled throughout Bulgaria and Greece for some great photo opportunities so far. So this note is to let you all know that I am back out in the world, boots on the ground, camera in hand and creating more content for you to read, hear, watch and enjoy of my humbling journeys around the globe.

Here’s a short video of the trip to Thessaloniki this past weekend, with the promise of more to come.

TravelCast with Mark Defant, Podcast #31

In this Travelcast, Marc Defant, co-founder of WikiPlaceMarks, talks about the amazing new platform he (and his team of Hungarian programmers) has been working on which has the potential to literally index the entire planet.

Keep an eye on this new technology. It’ll be no time at all before we’re using it everyday. It combines the essence of Google Earth and WikiPedia, and open-sources it to the everyday geniuses that know the most about their very own back yards. The result is the most profound global cataloging system the world has ever known.

This new design has the potential to change the world as we currently think of it, catalog it and access the information within it. And I had the profound pleasure of speaking with Marc in-depth about all of that and more.

For all those geeky, global, techie superfans out there: this is a conversation you will want to get in on.

You can check out this amazing new platform at WikiPlaceMarks (permalink: http://www.wikiplacemarks.com/)

Travel Geek: Documentary Penang (Full HD, Feature Length)

In the heart of Penang lies a recent but rich history of colonial British culture. And through it, I explore in style and with a long time local.

This film is part two of the Travel Geek: Documentary Malaysia series.

So stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to get the videos when they are released!!

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For all the extras from Travel Geek: Documentary Malaysia, visit http://www.MovingStillsMedia.com.

Friend me on Facebook: facebook.com/thetravelgeek

Read the blog at http://www.cyleodonnell.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @cyleodonnell

Travel Geek Short: Documentary Malacca

In this short documentary, I explore the culturally and historically rich port of call after which the Strait of Malacca was named. Talking with locals and exploring the city, this short follows me as I get in touch with the real Malacca that is seldom seen.

For all the extras from Travel Geek: Documentary Malaysia, visit http://www.MovingStillsMedia.com.

Friend me on Facebook: facebook.com/thetravelgeek

Read the blog at http://www.cyleodonnell.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @cyleodonnell

Travel Geek Update, Penang, Malaysia, December 19, 2013

I arrived in Malaysia yesterday and took the afternoon to relax, read my book and escape the dry heat in the paradoxically located “dry heat bubble” of Penang, a small island and financial capital of the country’s northern state of the same name.  And if you don’t know (or haven’t read the gobs of other blogs about my visits here since 2009), it’s just off the coast from the mainland industrial shipping complex of Butterworth.

But today’s little jaunt through Penang offered me the same thing I get every time I go there: an amazing peek at a new side of the city. I rented a bike and finally rode throughout the day as I’ve wanted to do for so long.

But why would I want to ride through an arid city center in the hottest time of the day, you might ask? Well, Penang is located on the westernmost side of Malaysia. So the sunrise, and all it’s “golden hour” light is robbed from it by Malaysia’s central mountains. And then, because of the city is located on the eastern shadow of the largest and most prominent mountain on the island, Penang Hill (as it’s colloquially known, or Strawberry Hill as it’s historically known, or Bukit Bendara as it’s officially known), there’s also no sunset.

Why is this so important? Well, if you’re not a photographer, it’s probably not — especially since the only beaches, which might otherwise make it’s emerald-green seas enjoyable, are shored by polluted waters. The removal of just a few hours on either side of the mid-morning and late-afternoon sun, the light that photographers live for, makes for harsh shadows and bitter, wincing faces, and pale, shallow color pallets, and generally unattractive shots all around.

But, knowing that going in, it makes exploring and taking risks as a photographer much more amicable. And even in the stark heat that beats down on this island city, it’s actually winter here. So it would still be much worse in the northern hemisphere’s summer months. So what better time, I figure.

In any case, I rented a bike and made my way down Beach Road to Midtown, where I found a construction crew had left the gate open to the property they had been charged with cleaning. So, naturally, I welcomed myself in and began filming and photographing.

A note about this video: This would be the first actual time that I am using my DSLR to make a video that I intended on uploading to my YouTube channel. So you might notice that the focus is off on the A-Roll sections of the film. That’s because I had the focal length set on what I thought was my head. Being along and having no one to set it on me in-frame, this was the result.

I’ll have to work on that. But I must say, I did enjoy only carrying around one camera body and getting all my photography as well as my video content for today’s blog. Quite exciting. So perhaps look for more of that in the future. I do like the versatility. But the constant focusing was driving me a bit nuts. No tripod either. Again, just went out shooting for an update. Nothing special!

Coming soon, I’ll write up my experience with the visa scam situation (and what to look for, as well as how to minimize your costs) and watching the transvestite hookers at work. Interestingly, the Indian guys really seem to like them. Who knew!?

The album from today, as well as from when I was here earlier this year, should be coming out soon on http://www.cyleodonnell.com.