Yokohama, Japan just outside of Tokyo has the largest Chinatown in Asia. We were fortunate to be staying near Chinatown during their Lunar New Year’s celebration. Walking to dinner in Chinatown, we unexpectedly encountered many loud celebrations involving firecrackers and drums.
Japanese macaque monkeys inhabit Iwatayama Monkey Park.
These macaques are cute, but before we visit the monkeys we must visit one of the most famous Shinto shrines in all of Japan, the Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto. Inari is the patron God of business, prosperity, rice and sake. Continue reading →
The Wat Arun Temple was a fun night of photography. The vantage point for this photograph was extensively researched on the internet in advance. I’m sitting on the second floor of a bar having drinks using a special low profile tripod (Platypod) which fit perfectly on the wooden railing along the perimeter of the bar. I never made the journey across the river to actually visit the temple.Continue reading →
The Patara Elephant Sanctuary allows you to get up close and friendly with elephants of all sizes. The sanctuary’s advertisement says you can be an elephant owner for a day. With the elephants walking around freely, our first task was to scrub the mud from their tough skin, then walk them to a large pond and give them a bath.
A Buddhist monk motions to a pet dog during traditional chanting.
Wanting to see more of Thailand than the typical iconic Buddhist temples crowded with tourists, I made a special request of our guide, Lucky 8. This day was to be spent out in the Thai countryside where there would be neither tourists nor admission tickets. It was by coincidence that we happened upon a Buddhist funeral in Lucky’s home village. Yes, this entire blog will be about attending a Buddhist funeral in rural Thailand.
When traveling in Europe I try to blend in as much as possible. Clearly this was not going to be possible in Thailand. Arriving Sunday afternoon hungry and tired, we thought it best to jump into the Thai culture by eating street food for dinner at a nearby weekend night market. Ordering our food through gesturing and fumbling with the Thai baht currency, we had fresh spicy food on a stick served by friendly people all willing to help out. Our Thai experience only got better and better.
Singapore is sometimes referred to as Asia Light or Asia 101. Everyone speaks English, you are statistically safer here than anywhere in the world, the food is wonderful, cabs are cheap and plentiful, trains are always on time and the airport is rated the best in the universe. Above all, if you are over the age of 50 you cannot be sentenced to a caning as punishment. Continue reading →
Darwin is the most northerly city in Australia. In April it is just too hot and humid for words. April is the wet season and is characterized by high humidity, monsoonal rains and storms. I learned of this just now while writing this blog, not as we planned our trip. Darwin can receive 17 inches of rain in January and zero in June. This is a land of extremes. Continue reading →
We are finally headed to Uluru. But first we need to make a brief stop in the much less famous Glen Helen. Why? Because some Internet guidebook told me we should drive there immediately after landing in Alice Springs. I took their advice. Glen Helen may be a more fun spot in less severe heat. Also for those who love to hike. However, the one night we spent there was plenty… Continue reading →
Mangrove trees at low tide near Port Douglas, Australia
Travel plans were once again befuddled by the South Pacific cyclones. This time it was Marcus, which turned out to be the strongest, most destructive cyclone to strike Australia in over ten years. Huge trees were toppled in Darwin, north of us. We only suffered from severe rain. Fifteen inches of it, in a single day. That was enough to cancel all tours to the Great Barrier Reef. Continue reading →