Wow Place #88: Hiroshima, Japan

“If you’re never able to tolerate a little bit of pain and discomfort, you’ll never get better.” –Angela Duckworth It’s a rainy day in Okayama, Japan. My buddy, Adam, and I had been planning to visit the art island of Naoshima (Wow Place #61) that day, but who wants to tour an outdoor art installation […]

Wow Place #87: Three Pagodas Pass

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” Ralph Waldo Emerson For most of my childhood, I was afraid to dive. Oh, I could swim just fine. But throwing myself head-first into a pool was absolutely beyond me. For years, I avoided diving, not so much because I was afraid to belly-flop, but more because […]

Wow Place #86: Varanasi, India

There are almost 100 ghats in Varanasi – wide sets of stairs leading down to the river Ganges. Some feature hotels, some feature markets, some are for bathing, and a couple are designated specifically for cremations. Finding a quiet ghat in Varanasi is a challenge, but I think at last I’ve found one. As I […]

Wow Place #85: Shimonoseki, Japan

Me: “This plate of sashimi is really beautiful. What is it? Mr. Inoue: “It is fugu. Japanese blowfish. Very expensive.” Me: “Wait, isn’t that poisonous?” Mr. Inoue: “Sometimes. But perhaps today we are lucky.” When it comes to food, I’m not really into Russian roulette. But that’s exactly the experience you sign up for when […]

Wow Place #84: The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia

Let’s get something clear: I don’t like oceans. Oh, I LOVE looking at them. I’m perfectly okay splashing in the surf on a secluded tropical beach. I just don’t feel very comfortable swimming in deep ocean water. Maybe it stems from the time I stepped on a sea urchin in Bali (Wow Place #26). You […]

Wow Place #83: Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal

Growing up in Millbrae, California, a suburb 20 miles south of San Francisco, I never really imagined that I would travel to exotic places. Just going into “the City” for a rock concert seemed like an edgy, scary move. But as we travelers all know, the more you travel, the more confident you become; the […]

Wow Place #82: Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

“It’s not that impressive from up close is it, Jen?” “Yeah, you can’t even see the top.” Standing at the base of the Great Pyramid of Giza with my partner Jen, it’s easy to wonder what all the fuss is about. Aren’t you supposed to at least be able to see a pyramid shape! I […]

Wow Place #81: Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily

“Hey Jen, I’m thinking about going to these catacombs. The guidebook says they’re really interesting.” “Have fun, Dave.” To be clear, there’s nothing “fun” about visiting the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo in Sicily. As anyone who has visited the Catacombs in Paris can attest, catacombs are super creepy. Lots of bones, lots of skulls. But […]

Wow Place #80: The Vine Bridges of Iya Valley, Japan

Whether the action movie is Indiana Jones, Jumanji or Lord of the Rings, there’s always a precarious rope bridge for the heroes to cross, isn’t there? Needless to say, the movie bad guys will inevitably cut the ropes, forcing our heroes to hang onto the bridge for dear life. Fun stuff! But would you want […]

Wow Place #79: Place St. Michel, Paris, France

Me: “You ask him, Chris.” Chris: “No, you ask him, Dave.” Me: “Fine! (sigh). Excuse me, Monsieur, may I have a pizza?” Pizza guy: “I do not speak English! Speak French!” Me: “Okay. Puis-je avoir un pizza?” Pizza guy: “C’est UNE pizza! Au revoir!” Not all Parisians are rude. For the most part, if you’re […]