Highlights of the South Pacific Islands: From Polynesia to Micronesia in Two Months

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Two months is barely enough time to scratch the surface of traveling through a huge, spread-out and diverse region that consists of hundreds of inhabited islands, thousands of uninhabited islets and hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean. Transportation is challenging. Some destinations are served by only one or two flights per week and [Read more …]

Corregidor Island, Phillipines

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At the end of our Manila trip to the Philippines, we took a day trip to Corregidor Island. This is the largest and most strategic island in Manila Harbor. As one of the four fortified harbor islands, it had the most formidable defenses, with 42 large coastal guns and mortars, 72 anti-aircraft guns, a large [Read more …]

Manila Philippines

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Manila Manila, the largest city and capital of the Philippines has only a small percentage of the population (1.8 million) of the metro area of about 13 million. However, it seems to have about 20 million cars—all of which are out at the same time causing immense traffic jams. Manila is not a tourist mecca. [Read more …]

Visiting the Taipei Treasures of Emperors in San Francisco

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San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum for the Emperor’s Treasures exhibit was in town so we had to go explore it. This is a collection of masterpieces that were commissioned, owned by, and in some cases, even created by Chinese emperors and the royal families from the Song through the Qinq Dynasties. These treasures, which are [Read more …]

A Tale of Two Ryokans in Kyoto Japan

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We have always wanted to stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese guesthouse where rooms are separated (or at least decorated) by paper screens, rooms are decorated tastefully, yet sparingly: floors covered with tatami mats, low dining tables at which you sit on cushions on the floor, mattresses that (after dinner) are laid directly on [Read more …]

Kyoto Restaurants and Food Markets

Kyoto has a lot of wonderful restaurants and food markets. We tried our best to sample as much as we could. Our ryokan dining experiences were special experiences that we will talk about in our upcoming blog on Kyoto Ryokans. Nishisaka, which is in the heart of Gion, specializes in Shaba Shabu, but offers [Read more …]

Exploring the Mysterious Gion District in Kyoto Japan

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No trip to Kyoto Japan is complete without a visit to the Gion District. Originally developed in the Middle Ages for travelers and visitors to the Yasaka Shrine, the area evolved to become one of the most well-known geisha districts in all of Japan. We wanted to learn more about this lovely and mysterious [Read more …]

Kyoto: Temples and Castles and Gardens…Oh My!

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The first and last time we were in Kyoto was special. Warm April days and evenings during Sakura (Cherry Blossom) celebrations, where Japanese humbly invite Westerners to join their celebratory picnics (with sushi and sake) as a favor to them–so they can practice their English. This, combined with the majesty of the temples, the serenity [Read more …]

Nagoya Japan as Destination City: Toyota Bound

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We have some wonderful memories of our last trip to Nagoya Japan. Although we didn’t specifically select it as a destination, it was a convenient two-night stop for a day trip into the so-called Japanese Alps where we went to the Takayama festival, where men carry dozens of ornately carved, gilded, 17th-century floats around the [Read more …]

Nara Japan

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Nara, which had its beginnings as the end of the Silk Road, became Japan’s first real capital in 710 AD. Since the capital moved to Kyoto prior to an era of conflict, it escaped many of the ravages of war, and was, therefore, able to preserve many of its temples and and shrines. While the [Read more …]