Kyoto, Japan: Forests of Bamboo and Shrines to Buddha

Kyoto is often referred to as the cultural capital of Japan. Its historic place as the former capital of Japan is only surpassed by the massive number of temples that cement its spiritual importance. About 3 blocks from the train station, locals and tourists queued outside of two small shack-like buildings. The ramen in Kyoto … Continue reading Kyoto, Japan: Forests of Bamboo and Shrines to Buddha

Planko Parlors, Billikens, and Bowls of Ramen: Osaka Japan

Our flight landing in Osaka, Japan was nerve rattling. I watched the shimmer of the water reflect the intermittent flashes from our plane’s lit wing tips. At any moment I thought the wheels would touch water to a disastrous end. On the edge of my seat, I saw a strip of land appear just below … Continue reading Planko Parlors, Billikens, and Bowls of Ramen: Osaka Japan

Taipei, Taiwan: Night Markets and the Lunar New Year

Taiwan is an island country/state. At best, its existence in the international community can be described as politically ambiguous and in indefinite limbo. During the Chinese Civil War between 1927 and 1949, the 'Republic of China' withdrew from the mainland, retreating to current day Taiwan, while the Communist Party of China took control of mainland … Continue reading Taipei, Taiwan: Night Markets and the Lunar New Year

The Subway Palaces of Tashkent, Uzbekistan

As our journey into Central Asia slowly ended, Tashkent was our final stop. We thoroughly enjoyed the exotic and surprising nature of Uzbekistan, but also grew weary of challenges. Finding marts and grocery stores for water or any food was a constant struggle, which left us frequently hungry and dehydrated. This cut into the experience … Continue reading The Subway Palaces of Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Green Tea and Tamerlane’s Tomb

Rapid, loud Uzbek voices echoed loudly off the ceiling and pillars of the Samarkand bazaar. White cakes and opaque candy treats contrasted with the weathered and cracked brown hands of the locals offering a sample. Several moments later, Hannah and I walked away with some sesame seed covered peanuts and bright yellow sugar crystals meant … Continue reading Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Green Tea and Tamerlane’s Tomb

Bukhara, Uzbekistan: I Am So Hungry, I Could Eat a Horse! (and did!)

Our first 24 hours in Uzbekistan was by far some of the most challenging on our trip. We had experienced language obstacles before, but Hannah and I typically had enough command of Spanish, French, Greek, and English to navigate the issues. The lingua franca in the former Soviet countries is Russian or the native language, … Continue reading Bukhara, Uzbekistan: I Am So Hungry, I Could Eat a Horse! (and did!)

Azerbaijan: Christmas Between the Caucasus and Caspian

Prior to our travels, I could not have found Azerbaijan on a map without a bit of effort, but the country and region have a rich history reaching all the way back to the Paleolithic period. Much of the country was frequently traversed by Silk Road merchants during the hay-day of overland trading. This resulted … Continue reading Azerbaijan: Christmas Between the Caucasus and Caspian

Tbilisi, Georgia: A Foodie’s Paradise in a Former Soviet Republic

The transition from opulent Dubai to the post-Soviet landscape of Tbilisi was a massive culture shock. Red rusting steel and bulky concrete apartment blocks popped in and out of my view as our driver took us from the airport to our Airbnb. Our home for the next 5 days was in need of major repair. … Continue reading Tbilisi, Georgia: A Foodie’s Paradise in a Former Soviet Republic

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE): A Paradox of Decadence and Austerity

Hannah lived in Dubai when she was younger while her family lived and worked overseas. Her father had returned several years before our visit and described it as “something out of the Jetsons”. I found his description fitting and appropriate, Dubai truly seems to epitomize “modern” and almost appears space-age. Dubai held a tense austerity … Continue reading Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE): A Paradox of Decadence and Austerity