Friday, April 28, 2017

Dubai by Rail and Foot

I checked in to my Dubai hotel at 2:00 a.m. this morning, fresh off an eight-hour flight from Guangzhou.

In the lobby, people were still enjoying the night. Two thirtysomething expatriate women emerged from the pub in summer frocks, looking like they were on their way to an English garden party.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Five South Korean National Parks

Wolchulsan National Park
South Korea is a nation of hikers. On the trails old, young, hip, dowdy, they love to hike. It's no wonder: Korea is mountainous, but the population is concentrated on relatively small plains. The mountains beckon.

During my current stay in South Korea I've hiked in five of South Korea's twenty-two national parks. I guess I fit into the category old and dowdy, so I'm right at home.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Descending Lifelines and Other Korean Oddities

I'm still trying to figure out why I needed two stylists to blow-dry my hair with their duelling dryers in a Seoul salon.

That's the joy of travel. Even everyday situations can surprise. When something is "not like back home" that is to be welcomed.

Anyway, here's my list of some Korean oddities I've encountered this past week.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Time I Was Denied Entry to China and How I Got In

I'm in Shanghai's Pudong Airport about to board a Korean Airlines flight to Seoul.

It's not my choice to go to South Korea today. I would rather go to Japan.

I actually have a ticket to Japan (Fukuoka), leaving at about the same time as my Seoul flight. But if I try to board the Fukuoka flight, I will run afoul of the Chinese authorities. I have been warned not to even think of doing that.

Besides, my boarding pass was stamped by an immigration official after she looked me up in the records. I didn't think she would stamp two boarding passes.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Shanghai Urban Hike

I deliberately chose a creaky 1920's era hotel for my base in Shanghai, which made it all the more shocking to emerge into 21st century Shanghai.

"Do you need the company of a woman?" asked a conservative-looking thirty-something woman, pacing the street outside.

Today, I walked a twelve mile, somewhat random loop from my hotel. The billboard at the top of this post confronted me early in the walk. It would have brought death to the perpetrators in the Mao era. 

Today, old Shanghai, the Shanghai where families had one room apiece, is quickly fading under the wreckers' ball. My first priority was to catch that world.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Eight More Maui Hikes

Last week I posted our first six Maui hikes. Since then, we've hiked eight more trails, ranging from gentle strolls to energetic scrambles.

The photo at the top of this post shows me on a ridge section of the Halemau'u Trail, Haleakala National Park. Dwight is manning both the camera and backpack.

The hike started above the clouds at 8,000 feet, then we zigged and zagged to the bottom of a crater.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Hawaiian Junk Drawer

Hawaii has a lot going for it. Billboards are illegal, healthcare is almost universal, and the British Union Jack on the Hawaiian flag harks back to a time when these were the Sandwich Islands.

Hawaiians consume more Spam than any other population in the world. You find it on "mixed plates" throughout the state, accompanied by chicken or pork or fish, and scoops of rice and macaroni salad.