A Day in Ho Chi Minh City: Ghosts of Grandeur & Ghosts of War

January 14, 2024Vietnam

“I’m going to quickly take you from the Stone Age to 1858, when the French took over control of Vietnam,” our tour guide Thang was telling us. We are standing outside Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City, site of the Fall of Saigon in 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its … Read More

Naha, Okinawa, Palm Trees, Pottery & Bukubuku Tea

January 2, 2024Japan

At first glance, Naha, Okinawa, didn’t look much like the images of Japan that had been imprinted on my mind while exploring Tokyo, Kyoto and Kōchi. Japan’s smallest and southernmost island seemed a world away from its northern counterparts, with palm trees, a beachy vibe and a main street that shouts instead of whispers. Any … Read More

One Day in Kyoto: A Wonderful Whirlwind Tour & Taking the Bullet Train

December 17, 2023Japan

“This place and this moment Never cross again. Each and every memory Of good encounter, however, Lingers on Like the sound of a temple bell.” ~Yoshihisa Tashiro, Interpretation of Buddhist phrase, Ichigo Ichie One day is clearly not enough time to spend in Kyoto. Japan’s former capital city is rich with more than 1,600 Buddhist … Read More

Mystical Mt. Fuji: Playing Hide & Seek with Japan’s Sacred Mountain

December 14, 2023Japan

“A wise man will climb Mt. Fuji once; only a fool will climb it twice.” ~Japanese Proverb Mt. Fuji can be an elusive creature. Japan’s tallest mountain and active volcano is notorious for revealing picture-perfect views of its snow-capped peak one minute and then disappearing into a fog-shrouded outline of itself the next. It’s as … Read More

Tokyo Day 3: On Religion, Making Wishes & Moving On

December 12, 2023Japan

“The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form.” ~Shinto Saying Japanese people do not shy away from the topic of religion. In fact, they seem to thrive on the subject, eager to share their philosophies and explain how two coexisting faiths define their culture. Our three tour guides … Read More

Tokyo Day 2: Sensō-ji Temple, How to Get Goshuin & A Crisis Averted

December 10, 2023Japan

“The temple bell stops, but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.” ~Matsuo Bashō Rain was threatening the early morning sky as we began our second day in Tokyo. Herb and I were headed with our tour group to the city’s old town district called Asakusa and its Sensō-ji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest … Read More

Tokyo Day 1: First Impressions, National Museum, Ginza & Shibuya Crossing

December 5, 2023Japan

“Be a traveler, not a tourist.” It’s a sunny November morning outside a banquet room at the Tokyo Hilton Shinjuku, where tour director Theo is sharing stories about life in Japan. Tours weren’t departing until 9 a.m., but people had been dribbling in for more than an hour, having succumbed to jet lag’s unwelcome 2:30 … Read More