Wow Place #172: Ronda, Spain

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” –Ray Bradbury There’s a special kind of wonder you feel at about age 21. It’s different from childhood wonder, when everything is new and playful, but […]

Wow Place #171: Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, London

Until visiting the Otsuka Museum (Wow Place #4) in Naruto, Japan, I thought it was a fairly ridiculous idea to display copies of famous artwork in a gallery. Why see a fake when you can travel to the actual museum to view the original? The Otsuka, however, won me over with its accurate ceramic copies […]

Wow Place #170: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong

“This place is SO small, Dave.” “Yeah, but it’s cool, isn’t it, Yumiko?” “Does cool mean small?” Our hotel room at the Chungking Mansions is perhaps the smallest room I’ve ever stayed in. You can literally stretch your arms wide and touch opposing walls. However, at the time (~1987), a stay at the Mansions is […]

Wow Place #169: Fort Funston, San Francisco

“Tim, are you sure about this?” “No problem. I’ve paraglided plenty of times.” “Yeah, but look at those cliffs. They look pretty steep.” “I got this, Dave.” As my friend Tim launches off the cliffs of San Francisco’s Fort Funston, I hold my breath and cross my fingers. I’ll give him this – Tim’s flight […]

Wow Place #168: Borobodur, Indonesia

In spite of its significance and world impact over the last two millennia, Buddhism isn’t the majority religion in very many countries these days. Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mongolia and Laos – that’s about it. Seven countries. Nevertheless, the Buddhist empires of yore have left their mark. A trip to Southeast Asia […]

Wow Place #167: Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia

As the wave accelerates past me and angles sharply towards the shore, I start swimming as hard and as fast as my arms and legs will propel me. Before I know it, I am up high on the crest of the swell, body-surfing the biggest wave of my life. The feeling is absolutely exhilarating! I […]

Wow Place #166: The Golden Gate Bridge

When alien monsters attack the United States, what three landmarks will they surely target for destruction? Obviously the Empire State Building in New York. Irresistible! Maybe the White House, a la Independence Day. How about Mount Rushmore? For my money, the first place that galactic invaders will obliterate is San Francisco’s prized monument: the Golden […]

Wow Place #165: Himeji Castle, Japan

I’m not sure what to make of castles. On the one hand, if you live in a war-like age, with enemies all around, it makes sense to live behind walls and fortifications. On the other hand, we’ve all seen fantasy movies like Lord of the Rings. The invading forces *always* manage to win. Always. They […]

Wow Place #164: Twin Peaks, San Francisco, CA

Mark Twain once wrote, “Distance lends enchantment to the view.” I love this quote because it has a cool double meaning, both physical and psychological. When you physically pull back from something, you get a broader view, a deeper perspective. Metaphorically, when you have mental distance from something, it can look rosier in retrospect than […]

Wow Place #163: Goat Rock, Sonoma Coast, California

“Are you kidding me? They pay you to write this crap!!” Some years back, I found myself incensed while reading an article in which the author suggested that we should all just stop traveling. His argument wasn’t about the carbon footprint of air travel (which actually is a pretty decent reason to manage our wanderlust). […]