Return to Ryoanji

Return to Ryoanji Japan by GeoEx

I first visited the rock garden at Kyoto’s Ryoanji Temple in the fall of 1977. Just out of graduate school, I had moved to Tokyo to teach for two years on a fellowship. For my first venture outside the modern capital, I chose to visit the ancient Japanese capital, in search of the heart of Old Japan. I loved Kyoto’s neighborhood temples, narrow alleys, tree-framed canals, and exquisite closet-sized crafts shops—but of all the city’s treasures, Ryoanji’s karesansui dry landscape garden, an intricately designed Zen puzzle of rocks and pebbles and moss, was the one that moved me most deeply.  What did I find there? A living koan. As I wrote in a recent column for the National Geographic...

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Two Angels in Anatolia

Two Angels in Anatolia Turkey by GeoEx

Sometimes the most poignant gifts of travel are the most unexpected, and sometimes innocence is the key that unlocks a transformative travel experience. This premise is at the heart of Lonely Planet's engaging anthology An Innocent Abroad, which presents 35 tales of life-changing trips by acclaimed and emerging writers. In the coming months, Wanderlust will be presenting a series of excerpts from this collection, beginning with today's poignant tale of fear and redemption on a rural road in Turkey, written and illustrated by world-wandering writer and artist Candace Rose Rardon. When I decided to walk the Evliya Çelebi Way, a 220-mile trail across northwest Turkey, named after the 17th-century Ottoman traveler whose pilgrimage to Mecca it follows, I didn’t exactly stop and consider whether doing...

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An Unforgettable Journey in Chau Doc, Vietnam

Experience Chau Doc Vietnam by GeoEx

Boats appear like spirits through the mist, their bows painted with Buddha eyes to guide them through the velvety morning haze that coats the Mekong River like a gauze curtain between us and the jungle. The humidity hangs on us like a drooping blanket and whenever our boat slows, swarms of insects invade every bodily orifice.  In a shoreline eddy, I watch a boil of catfish compete for breakfast, and the sunrise, filtered through a thousand coal fires, blurs all the edges, as though we are sailing through an Impressionist painting. On this, our third day of chugging northward from Saigon, our tiny boat pulls into Chau Doc, the northernmost outpost in Vietnam before the Cambodian border. During the time known locally as the “American” war, this little village was a United States Special Forces base charged with operating heavily armed river patrol boats. ...

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An Eye-Opening Serengeti Safari

 Serengeti Safari Wonders in Tanzania by GeoEx

Eli has a smile that would shame the noonday sun. It breaks through the morning darkness; I recognize him before I recognize anyone else at the early campfire. “Good morning, Eli,” I say, and he says the same thing, always, “Are you ready? Good to go?” sweetly, in his Tanzanian accented English. We get up early in the Serengeti in Tanzania; it is barely light. If you have neglected to set your alarm, it does not matter; you will wake to the unzipping of tents and the voices of your neighbors. “Could you hand me my flip-flops?” “I need to help with breakfast, I’ll see you there.” We are camped in a close semicircle; we know who is snoring and who is giggling in the night. I know that everyone will hear me when I get up to look at the moon casting shadows between the evenly spaced acacia trees. They will hear me rustling in the grass as I use my...

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Sharing in the Wonder of Angkor Wat

Candace Rose Rardon is an American writer, photographer, and artist who recently returned to the United States after years of living and traveling in Europe and 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. In the pre-dawn darkness of a still-cool Thursday morning, I hit the streets of Siem Reap, alone on a rusty yellow bike. Behind my decision to cycle to Angkor Wat was a desire to feel, for even a few seconds, a sense of exploration, to try to channel the sublime thrill French explorer Henri Mouhot must have felt in 1860, when he pushed through dense jungle overgrowth to discover the largest religious monument in the world.

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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 Salon.com and the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle, as well as 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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