Wow Place #78: Wat Phra That Cho Hae Temple, Phrae, Thailand

“Dave, we’re not riding these bikes to the Tiger Temple without helmets.” “Oh, come on, Donica. No one wears bike helmets in Thailand!” “Well, we do!” Although I haven’t known my sweetie, Donica, for long at this point in our relationship, I’ve come to understand that No most definitely means No when it comes to […]

Wow Place #77: Unpenji Temple, Japan

“When twins are separated, their spirits steal away to find the other.” – Jandy Nelson There’s a tale that everyone who visits Unpenji Temple, in Shikoku, Japan, can find a look-alike statue. I don’t know about that. I walked up and down that temple, peering closely at the 500 extremely-expressive Arhat (statues of Buddh’as disciples), […]

Wow Place #76: La Pergola restaurant, Rome

Have you ever opted out of a peak travel experience because it was just too much money? I certainly have, especially during my 20s when I was backpacking around the world on a very-tight shoestring. Entering the Topkapi Palace museum in Istanbul? That’s $12, too much! Enjoying high tea at Harrod’s in London? $75/person. Not […]

Wow Place #75: Sukhothai, Thailand

Me: How much to the airport?” Taxi driver: “700 baht” Me: “That’s $20. Come on man!” Taxi driver: “The airport is very far.” “Me: “Forget it, we’ll walk.” And so began one of those stupid travel mornings when you just don’t feel like getting “ripped off,” so you stubbornly spurn the local vendor and declare, […]

Wow Place #74: Kamakura, Japan

No visitor to Japan should miss the Great Buddha of Kamakura, only an hour outside of Tokyo. The first time I saw it, 35 years ago, I could swear it was about to reach out and grab me, that’s how graceful and life-like it is. Depicting Amitabha, the Buddha of Eternal Life, the statue is […]

Wow Place #73: Goreme, Turkey

I’m staying in a little hotel in Goreme, Turkey, at the center of the Cappadocia region, enjoying a little lunch in the café, when an old gentleman in the corner asks, “Do you play backgammon?” “Well, I know how the game works.” “Let’s play!” How could I say no? This is exactly why you travel […]

Wow Place #72: Bizarre Bath

“I’m going to tell you a lot of stories today. None of them are true.” If your guide told you that before a walking tour, how would you react? Nine times out of ten, you’d run in the opposite reaction. I mean, how can you trust a guide who is blatantly, unrepentantly lying to you? […]

Wow Place #71: Ritsurin Koen, Takamatsu, Japan

What’s the opposite of a green thumb? A black thumb, perhaps? Red? Puce? Whatever it is, I’ve got one. Although I can’t garden to save my life (or my plants), I do appreciate a good garden. And I really appreciate a great garden, like Ritsurin Koen, in Takamatsu, Japan. Originally created in the Edo period […]

Wow Place #70: International Antarctic Center

The first thing you notice upon stepping into the Storm Dome is your difficulty breathing. The next thing you notice is how hard it is to move. Or to think. I shouldn’t have been surprised. The sign outside the room warned that temperatures could drop to minus 8° Celsius, with a minus 18°C wind. That’s […]

Wow Place #69: Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona

“Dave, can you help me secure my tent?” “I’ll try, Astrid. It’s super windy up here on the rim.” “Dave can you help me with MY tent?” “I’m doing my best, Johann. Ask Katrina to help you.” “Dave, my suitcase just slid down into the valley!” “Really Katrina?!!” What a ridiculous situation I’ve put myself […]