Wow Place #118: Salvador Bahia, Brazil

Sometimes all it takes is an invitation. “Hey Dave, you should come down to Brazil and visit me in Rio de Janeiro.” “But I don’t speak Portugese.” “That’s okay, I’ll be here to translate for you.” That’s how easy it is to find yourself traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language. In […]

Wow Place #117: Ryogoku Sumo Neighborhood, Tokyo, Japan

As an extrovert who loves talking and interacting with people, living in the small, Japanese town of Shimonoseki at age 23 – without a shred of foreign language skills — was not an easy experience. There many times when, sitting alone at home in my 1-room, 6-tatami-mat apartment, I wondered what in the heck I […]

Wow Place #116: Foster’s Donuts

As much as I like novelty and variety, there is something comforting about ritual and tradition. For example, when one of my college buddies called for a “Foster’s Run,” I always knew the drive to our favorite donut place would involve a familiar, comforting liturgy, like: • When we pass by the Bob’s Big Boy […]

Wow Place #115: Abras of Dubai

There’s a series of photos going around the internet, showing different old-masters paintings in which one of the characters is holding a cell phone. The claim is that these newly-discovered artworks prove that time travel exists! Wouldn’t that be wonderful, if someone from our time traveled back to, say, the 17th century and posed for […]

Wow Place #114: “Hey guys, that’s the Venus de Milo”

There are places that are great for the place itself, and then there are locations notable for the activities you do there. For example, in Wow Place #72, I wrote about the hilarious comedy walking tour you can find in Bath, England. Don’t get me wrong: with its sterling architecture and ancient Roman ruins, Bath […]

Wow Place #113: Sala Keoku Temple, Nan Khai, Thailand

I have to admit I like a good roadside attraction. It there’s a Stonehenge made of cars, a giant statue of the Jolly Green Giant, or a palace made of corn, chances are good I’m going to stop there. That’s why, on my trip around Eastern Thailand, I make it a point to visit Sala […]

Wow Place #112: Mt. Tsurugi, Japan

“Don’t look up at the summit or the mountain will beat you.” That was my friend, Jim’s, advice the first time the two of us tried to bike up Mount Tamalpais in Northern California. Jim’s counseling proved to be very insightful; Mt. Tam’s summit just never seemed to get closer, no matter how long we […]

Wow Place #111: The Davd

“It’s a good place when all you have is hope and not expectations.” –Film Director Danny Boyle When it comes to the “great sights” of the world – the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal, etc. – I try to keep my expectations low. After all, what are the chances […]

Wow Place #110: Blindfolded at the Grand Canyon

“We’re almost there, Dave. Now put on that blindfold.” Calm down, folks. This is not that kind of story. But there is something about blindfolds. In spy movies, our hero always needs to wear a blindfold before meeting the kingpin in his hidden lair. Blindfolds ensure that secret places remain secret. They also increase the […]

Wow Place #109: Ziplining in Monteverde, Costa Rica

“Life is too important to be taken seriously!” — Oscar Wilde If I was a serious person, I wouldn’t be on this platform, 100 feet above the ground, preparing to zip across a Central American cloud forest. Serious people understand the importance of life (and limb). Serious people don’t do dangerous activities where there’s no […]