Sunday, November 7, 2010


November 5

In coming to Prague, I’ve returned to former communist territory. In fact, Vienna was the first place I’d been to since leaving Thailand for Cambodia that haven’t had a communist past (except for my brief visit to Helsinki, although some might argue that Finland has a communist past and present too). Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic are all former communist countries. Perhaps I should say ‘former or current’ communist countries since China (and Vietnam) are still in theory communist, however China to me seemed so capitalist that it is more accurate to describe it as formerly but no longer communist. It’s been interesting traveling through the countries that had a go at the great social experiment of the twentieth century. Without exception the experiment was a failure and those countries today are trying to catch up with lost time. The only one that is really flourishing today seems to be China and that’s probably because it has gone for capitalism with more enthusiasm than the rest. As can be seen in the picture, the Czechs’ experience with communism is not looked back upon with any fondness. I didn’t actually visit the museum because I’ve had enough of seeing similar places in other countries.

In fact I’m getting a bit weary of historical museums, churches, and art galleries so I’m trying to find more unusual places to visit. In Vienna there was a Museum of Globes which included a globe from the 1500s - New Zealand was absent of course. In Prague I visited the Franz Kafka Museum one of the highlights of which was a windy corridor file cabinets and I also visited a Toy Museum. Below is a tin toy from the late nineteenth century which surprised me with its gruesome violence.

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