Landing Among Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto
Springtime in Japan with GeoEx

Arriving in Kyoto long after nightfall, I have no idea what is afoot. My deadened senses offer no help: 36 hours of subways, airplanes, and buses to get me to the Kyoto train station have left me able only to climb into a taxi and present the name of my hotel in the Hiyagashima district. Luckily for me, my gracious driver—who wears wonderful long white gloves (the norm, as I will discover) and speaks excellent English (a rarity)—chooses the route carefully to give me a taste. “They’ve just come out,” he explains, “and everyone is here to see them.” He means the cherry blossoms, my foggy brain registers, and a flash of excitement breaks through my exhaustion. He slows our progress along one of the city’s narrow lanes so I can catch my first splash of pink, glowing in the warmth of the street lamps, a crowd hazily silhouetted below. “You timed your trip just right,” he adds. I smile, still not grasping what is in...

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Extra Hours and Unexpected Encounters in Vientiane, Laos

Candace Rose Rardon is an American writer, photographer and artist who recently returned to the United States after ten months living and traveling in Asia. She sketches as she travels, and these sketches, combined with the stories behind them, charmingly capture those fleeting, layered moments that are the stepping stones of travel. Wanderlust will be presenting her on-the-road sketches-and-stories -- her sketchbook of serendipities -- in the months to come. After a long weekend in Luang Prabang, my friend Carter and I descend from...

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Ko Samui and the Paradise Principle

People have been lamenting the degradation of chosen places ever since Adam turned to Eve and said, “You think this is Paradise? You should have been here yesterday.” It’s the Paradise Principle: Every great place you ever go was oh-so-much-better five years before. A few summers ago I went to Hong Kong for a conference and then on to Bangkok to see some old friends. I had a few free days in Thailand – I’d been to Chiang Mai and Phuket 20 years before, but the rest of the country was a palmy blankness on my map - so I canvassed fellow travelers for recommendations on where to go. “Go to Ko Pha-Ngan,” said some worldly friends. “No, no, don’t go there, go to Ko Tao,” others advised. “No, those places are already ruined,” others intoned, “go to the islands of Krabi.”

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In Search of Belonging on Turkey's Büyükada Island

Candace Rose Rardon is an American writer, photographer and artist who recently returned to the United States after ten months living and traveling in Asia. She sketches as she travels, and these sketches, combined with the stories behind them, charmingly capture those fleeting, layered moments that are the stepping stones of travel. Wanderlust will be presenting...

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Jayavarman VII: Angkor’s Greatest King

It’s his face that is the striking visage at Bayon, arguably the most impressive of Angkor Wat complexes. Jayavarman’s features are inextricably mingled with those of Avalokitesvara, and with purpose: the king’s greatest wish was to be reborn as this Buddha of Compassion. And one version of this face points in each direction, its peaceful gaze not missing any purview. The four faces have another meaning: each represents a form of compassion, whether it is mercy, pity, sympathy or love. Originally, 54 of these Bayon structures were built to represent each province of the kingdom at that time. The king is credited with extraordinary royal feats, from hospitals and libraries created throughout the land to new forms of martial art for combat. And his aspirations of kindness did not limit his ability to trounce border incursions by Angkor’s enemies. At Bantay Chhmar, his last architectural feat, the carved display of his hand-to-hand combat victory...

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Don George, Editor

Don George is Editor in Chief of Wanderlust: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler. He has been Travel Editor for the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle and Salon.com, and Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet Publications. Don has published eight books, including Travel Writing, A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, and Tales from Nowhere. E-mail him at [email protected]

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