Bowled Over by Japanese Cuisine

GeoEx Japan tours

I’d been in Japan for only a day when I started taking pictures of my food. I won’t lie: I felt awkward pointing my camera at my plates in restaurants, but I had no choice. I couldn’t believe the gorgeous presentations of even the simplest items, fueled by rich culinary traditions. I only wished that my photographs could capture the wonderful flavors that my taste buds were registering. Revelation struck the night of my first dinner in country. We sat at the bar of a charming, tucked-away eatery in the Gion district of Kyoto, chatting with the chef, nibbling on melt-in-your-mouth sushi, drinking deliciously foamy Kirin out of pottery cups, and grilling super-thin slices of beef on a mini ceramic stove. I pulled out my Canon to document the moment, realizing that I may have underestimated the culinary experiences we’d have on this 12-day cultural journey from Kyoto to Shikoku...

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The Magic of Travel: Bringing Namibia Home

I just returned from a week in Namibia. I spent five nights sleeping in the bush, sometimes in simple tents on the ground, sometimes in permanent tented camps. When you sleep in the bush, your ears become keenly attuned to the sounds of the night. Two nights ago, an hour or two after midnight, I heard a progressive crunch-crackle-scuffle, crunch-crackle-scuffle as a herd of something – hartebeest, wildebeest? – filed nonchalantly by, a stone’s throw from my sleeping bag. The night before that, I was transported by baboons babooning away in the blackness of the valley below. Two nights before, I awoke to lions to the left of me, lions to the right of me. Last night I was sleeping in my own Northern California bed for the first time in a week. My neighbor has an elderly dog that sleeps outside every night. The dog has a habit of waking up in the middle of the night and making a kind of snuffling, scruffling, wheezing...

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Report from Bhutan: An Auspicious Beginning

"Expect the unexpected in Bhutan," advised trip leader Tsewang upon picking up our Hiker's Paradise group at the Paro airport. Within 20 minutes, almost as if he'd arranged it especially to illustrate his point, we found ourselves amidst a spectacular, unusual, and hard-to-predict Buddhist ceremony. Tsewang had just caught wind of it before our arrival and whisked us straight from the airport. Joining the crowds of locals, decked in their brightly colored traditional gho (for men) and kira (for women), we zigzaged our way up a prayer flag-lined path to the massive Paro Dzong and then across the hillside overlooking the Paro Valley to the center of activity. A five-story tall and equally wide thongdrel (a cloth-on-cloth appliqué work) was being unfurled and...

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Serendipity's Sketchbook: Fantabilities in Jaisalmer's Fort

Candace Rose Rardon is an American writer, photographer and artist currently living in India. 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. Recce will be presenting her on-the-road sketches-and-stories -- her sketchbook of serendipities -- in the months to come. There are a few things this sketch shows: the palace’s intricate cupolas and balustrades, nearly impossible to capture in full detail on paper; the pigeons perching like hideaways among the eaves; and the monochromatic shade of gold that cloaks all of Jaisalmer’s hilltop fort, positioned at the far western edge of India in the Thar Desert. But what it doesn’t show is my own perch on the terrace of 8 July...

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A Fresh Feast in Saigon

GeoEx staffer Alexis Bowen recently returned from a journey through Vietnam. One highlight was a nighttime Vespa tour of Saigon's festive food scene, with stops in markets and local cafes and samplings of snails, frogs, eels, and more. This photo shows some of the fresh delicacies that were on display -- and on the plate.  For more information on GeoEx journeys to Saigon and beyond, visit our Vietnam page. Photo by Alexis Bowen

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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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