For the longest time at work my desktop background was the following…
The silhouette of Angkor Wat at sunrise.
Nothing else so purely symbolized travel for the 3 years I sat at my desk in Baltimore than this very scene. I envisioned waking up in the darkness, making my way through dense, steamy rainforest to finally break through a clearing and have this majestic scene stretch out in front of me.
Now that we had landed
Having our previous two hiking attempts foiled – the first in Nepal and the second in Yogyakarta after the trail we were supposed to take up a volcano was closed because a local fell in (yes, fell into the volcano) – we were determined to get back into the wilderness.
In KL we had done some reading on that country’s crown jewel of National Parks – Taman Negara – and decided that’s where we’d end the
After our wonderful stay in Indonesia we hopped on one of Air Asia’s delightfully cheap flights destined for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s shiny, ultra-modern (oil funded) capital city.
We spent a couple days in KL wandering around its glitzy shopping malls and pristinely manicured parks. One afternoon our bus was accosted by a man who appeared to be the Muslim equivalent of the Westboro Baptist Church – his ranting was in Malay but based on the fact
Our last day in Hanoi and I can say without hesitation that it was the most meaningful stop in Vietnam – and without a doubt the reason is the people.
Why we would go back to a sightseeing type of trip, I have no idea.
To live with locals and experience life with them, even for a short period, is where the magic of travels lies. Not in Lonely Planet’s top sights. Not in a hostel
About 5 years ago my Uncle Dennis met a woman named Shanti. They clicked immediately and chatted at length nearly every single day – both of them felt there was something special about the situation.
But there was one minor obstacle to be overcome; Dennis lived in Vermont and Shanti lived in Yogyakarta, the second most populous city on the island of Java in Indonesia…nearly 10,000 miles away.
To make an incredibly long, almost unbelievable story
After finishing our three week whirlwind tour of Japan, our next stop was the only one we had decided to plan before leaving home; a 16-day trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
It was supposed to be a dream hike through the Himalayas culminating in the shadow of the world’s highest peak, Mt Everest. We were going to make our way through the storied towns that fans of mountaineering literature (see: Krakauer) knows well.
This was the entire reason we stopped in Hiroshima but nothing could have prepared us for what we were going to experience. As we turned the corner adjacent to the Peace Park Memorial we were greeted with a grizzly scene that set the mood for our visit:
This building, formerly the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall but now known as the A-Bomb Dome, was the only one left standing near the epicenter of the first of
The Hiroshima Carps! The city’s beloved professional baseball team just happened to be playing the night we arrived and to our further delight, the stadium just happened to be a 10 minute walk from our hostel! Game on!
So we headed off with the hordes of Carpheads (just made that up) toward the field donning a pair of plastic bats hung around our neck (thanks to our hostel staff) meant for clapping together to cheer the
So as we continued down the uber-touristy path set for us by Japan-Guide.com (which is a phenomenal site for a first-time Japan visitor – and whose suggested itinerary I followed almost to a T…) we headed south of Kyoto to the mountain town of Koyasan where we had booked a once-in-a-lifetime, one-night-only, tell-your-grankids-esque stay in a Buddhist temple with a bunch of real life monks! Woo!
Hopefully you’re as excited as I was. If not, then
It’s 4PM and I’m sitting at the same common room table at Singapore’s The Hive Hostel where I was found 7 hours ago. The weather was beautiful today – hot, but beautiful – and we decided to let today go without doing anything one would normally attribute to travel.
Yet what I did today – which was sit, read Harry Potter and drink coffee – is vitally important to sustaining a trip of this length.