Sacred Africa

This article on the Ethiopian rock-cut churches in Lalibela ran in Budget Travel. It’s archived below.

November 2007
Sacred Africa
Nearly eight centuries ago, 11 churches were carved into the Ethiopian earth. You don’t have to be a believer to be intrigued by their mystery or awed by their majesty.

By Stephan Faris

The pageant overfills the dusty road. Under the hot African sun, a knot of clergy in maroon, peach, and royal blue robes raises parasols and brass crosses. When the parade pauses, a cleric wipes the foreheads of two high priests, wrapped in velvet and balancing replicas of the tablets of Moses on their heads. A loudspeaker pulses a tenor’s chant, and 20 men form two lines for a swaying dance to the jangle of handheld brass rattles.

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Forgotten Kingdom

This story on the Chinese village of Lijiang ran in Budget Travel and is archived below.

October 2006
Forgotten Kingdom
In China, preservation often comes as an afterthought, if at all. For a glimpse of what life was like long before Shanghai built the world’s most futuristic skyline, Stephan Faris heads to where the Chinese go to see old China, a city called Lijiang.

By Stephan Faris

When the Communists took power in China, Beijing’s once-famous city walls were knocked down for construction material. In their place now runs a traffic-clogged road. In the center of the magnificent Forbidden City, just beyond the last colossal door before the emperor’s private quarters, a Starbucks has opened. At a Buddhist temple outside of town, a roller coaster runs in between mountaintop pagodas.

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