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). […]

Wow Place #162: Motown Museum, Detroit, Michigan

My Papa was a rolling stone. Sometimes I’d ask him, “What’s going on?” and he’s just say, “It’s a heat wave, Son. You gotta stop that superstition.” “Oh Dad, you keep me hangin’ on. Don’t you see the tracks of my tears?!!” “Ain’t no mountain high enough, boy!” “I second that emotion, Dad.” The list […]

Wow Place #161: Yunomine Onsen, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan

I’ve talked quite a bit in these posts about Japanese hot springs (Wow Places #28, #61 and #159), which I absolutely love. One of the most unusual I’ve experienced, Yunomine Onsen, enjoys a prominent position on the famous Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route (Wow Place #25). Located near Hongo Town in southern Wakayama Prefecture, Yunomine is […]

Wow Place #159: Goko-Yu Onsen, Kyoto, Japan

While living in Tokyo, Sundays were always my favorite day of the week. Just after lunch, I’d put on my shorts and running shoes, take the train to Yoyogi park and, for the next 4 hours, I’d play vigorous ultimate frisbee with my Tokyo ex-pat friends. Afterwards, we’d head out for dinner – often at […]

Wow Place #158: Kanchanaburi, Thailand

According to Wikipedia, “FOMO,” or “Fear of Missing Out,” is “the feeling of apprehension that one is either not in the know about or missing out on information, events, experience, or life decisions that could make one’s life better. FOMO is also associated with a fear of regret, which may lead to concerns that one […]