[ 29 Jan 2013 | Comments Off ]
BlueMosque

Why do we travel?
To escape? To discover? To relax?
Most of my recent travels centered around work, hopscotching the country from Maine to Colorado – 13 states in all during a grueling year on the campaign trail. In the first three months of last year, I slept in my own bed fewer than a dozen nights.
Airports were once gateways for getaways, perhaps to some faraway paradise. Instead, traveling had become my dread.
Sure, the beds at the Marriotts in which I slept were plusher than the stiff slab of foam at home …

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Africa/Middle East

Travels in the Middle East and Africa. (One of these days.)

Asia

Trips to Asia

Europe

Trips to Europe

Latin America

South America, Central America, Mexico and the Carribean

Home Sweet Home

Trips across the USA

ICFJ Reporting Fellowship »

[ 28 Apr 2011 | No Comment ]
Death in the hills

The clouds hung low, mist sweeping into the trees. A light drizzle fell, turning the soil crimson. For one family in the Hmong village of Chom Chieng, the day couldn’t be any more somber.
A queej, a bamboo wind instrument used by the Hmong tribespeople to channel the spirits, enveloped the hills with its melancholy sound.  A drum banged. [Watch video.]
The girl was dressed splendidly, in traditional Hmong garb, her body at rest atop an altar above the bare earthen floor of her family’s hut.
The girl was still alive the last time …

Asia, ICFJ Reporting Fellowship »

[ 15 Apr 2011 | No Comment ]
In search of a shaman

The trip into the highlands north of Luang Prabang consumed more than a day by motorbike. The sticky heat was stifling at times, made worse by the rain jacket I wore to protect against the dust and scorching sun. It had rained ferociously during the night, but the puddles had quickly evaporated.
My motorbike strained uphill beyond countless peaks until we reached a small village inhabited by Hmong.  Here, my guide told me, we would surely find a shaman.
What we found was a handful of New Zealanders who had planned to spend …

Asia, ICFJ Reporting Fellowship »

[ 11 Apr 2011 | No Comment ]
Running for cover

It’s that time of year to run for cover if you’re anywhere near Laos, Cambodia, Thailand or Myanmar. The water guns are out. Pails are filled to the rim with liquid ammunition. And children line the streets to soak the unsuspecting
The annual water festival ushers in the New Year for a handful of Southeast Asian countries. In Laos, the New Year begins April 15. Some people observe the holiday with solemnity and piety. Others, not so much.
In Luang Prabang, tourists duck into alleys to avoid a drenching. Or they raise …

ICFJ Reporting Fellowship »

[ 10 Apr 2011 | No Comment ]
From the beginning

I’ve started this blog in midstream. Perhaps I should return to the beginning and explain why I’m on my current journey.
I’m now in Luang Prabang, Laos, as part of a journalism fellowship awarded by the International Center for Journalists. I will spend nearly three weeks in Laos to do a story on traditional Hmong medicine and the tensions between modern medicine and the old ways, and how each is adapting to the other. The story, of course, is still evolving.
This trip is not only about a journalism fellowship. It’s a …

ICFJ Reporting Fellowship »

[ 5 Apr 2011 | No Comment ]
Haze begins to clear

The plane descended from the clouds into a thick, dreary haze, patches of fire shimmering through billowing smoke. The passengers aboard the near-empty flight murmured, their voices hushed by the scene below. My heart sank.
I had come to Laos in April to avoid the rainy season that usually starts in May. Who knew that fire and smoke would put a damper on my excitement?
Travel books describe Luang Prabang as one of Southeast Asia’s grandest jewels: ancient temples, verdant mountains, waterfalls, rivers and creeks gurgling through a modern-day Shangri-La, and monks …

Latin America »

[ 8 May 2010 | No Comment ]
Falling in love again in Argentina

IGUAZÚ FALLS, Argentina — Two years ago, I fell madly in love with Buenos Aires and could not bear to leave the sultry den of tango and its hip-as-Paris vibe.
It was love at first sight, and I intended to use every minute exploring the playground that is Buenos Aires — its leafy streets, teeming avenues, bountiful (and inexpensive) restaurants and cafes, and pulsing night life.
But as in many love affairs, there had to be sacrifices. One of them was spurning a trip north to behold the grandeur of Iguazu Falls, …

Asia »

[ 4 May 2010 | No Comment ]
In Vietnam, you can’t be chicken to cross the road

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — A look of panic overcame the hotel concierge when I confessed I had never driven a motorbike. Yet, here he was scurrying to arrange a rental.
He offered a driver. I declined.
I preferred to ride solo. I don’t like being tethered to guides, I explained.
He glowered, turned to a bellhop and barked out in Vietnamese before his eyes again darted in my direction.
The deal was off, said Dao Cong Lap, the concierge at the Giant Dragon Hotel, which provided us comfy and inexpensive accommodations in …

Africa/Middle East »

[ 6 Nov 2007 | Comments Off ]
The other Iraq

From Nov. 6, 2007
For the past week, I’ve been traveling through Iraqi Kurdistan — the “other Iraq,” as the region touts itself. It is a semi-autonomous region mostly populated by Kurds. It has its own government, much like a state does in the United States. It flies its own flag and has its own militia.
Folks here are not Arab. They are Kurds, a proud population that speaks its own language and has long been proud of its ethnic identity. Saddam Hussein had oppressed them, even using lethal gas against the …