Exploring Coron Island by Kayak

Thomas Kayaks near Coron Island

Sitting in our stilt house recovering from our spectacular wreck dives, the second major reason to visit the Philippine Island of Busuanga is clearly visible on the horizon. Dramatic and mysterious, Lonely Planet describes mystical Coron Island best when it says, “It wouldn’t be out of place in a King Kong film.”

Ominous walls of jungle-covered black karst erupt from the surrounding turquoise seas. Jagged and spectacular, Coron Island is the ultimate karst showpiece. As mountainous as Yangshuo, as labyrinthine as the Stone Forest, mid-ocean like Halong or Pang Nga, and as razor-edged as the spiky tsingy of Madagascar, Coron trumps them all. The place is Continue…

Makech – Beetles Worn as Living Jewelry

makech

We’ve seen some crazy jewelry over the years: neck rings, lip plates, ear plugs made with empty film canisters. But up to now, none of it has been alive. Makech (also written maquech) just might be the craziest piece of jewelry we’ve ever encountered. These giant bejeweled beetles are traditionally worn by Yucatec Mayan women for a night out on the town.

Thomas was so intrigued that he had to try one on for himself. Honestly, I don’t think it works with Continue…

Camping in Antarctica

If there is one thing that’s guaranteed in Antarctica, it’s that there are no guarantees. We knew this when we booked our trip to the ice continent: all activities are very weather dependent. Mother Nature rules down here with a very raw sense of humor, and she sometimes likes to put humans in their place. Zodiac outings, landings, penguin viewing, hiking, every Antarctic activity listed in the brochures comes with an asterisk next to it clearly adding “subject to weather conditions.”

Everybody on board knew this, and we knew the most weather dependent activity of them all was camping in Antarctica. There were two designated days where the overnight camping excursion was possible. When we were told camping was not possible on the first night due to wind and rain, we all held our breath and prayed for Mother Nature to cut us some slack. Those prayers were answered the second night when it was announced that the camping excursion WAS ON! Cheers Continue…

The Red Spider Lilies of Kinchakuda

japan-spider-lilies-2

No, we didn’t come to Japan during the cherry blossom season. 🙁 But it turns out that Japan has a whole lot of surprises up is floral kimono sleeves. We just randomly stumbled upon this little known (outside Japan) event, the blooming of the red spider lilies of Kinchakuda (巾着田).

Located a mere hour outside Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture, Kinchakuda Park lies on a forested bend along the shores of the Koma River. For about 8-10 days each year, a spectacular red carpet of lilies forms beneath the trees creating a fairy tale scene unlike anything we have ever encountered before Continue…

Trujillo – Pyramids, Plazas and Playas

Huaca Arco Iris

As we mentioned in our post on Caral, much of northern Peru is gloriously neglected by the country’s mass tourism. It’s a vast area filled with colonial towns, great food and the crumbling remnants of unknown ancient cultures. It’s an adventurer’s paradise waiting to be explored.

As we bused north on the paved Pan-American highway to Trujillo, the number of seductive dirt tracks luring travelers off the road to remote archaeological sites was almost too much to bear. We passed a number of remote ruins which I would have loved to visit including Paramonga, the fortress of Chanquillo, and Sechin. Thank god for visa limitations, or Thomas and I would be here for another six months combing the desert, side valleys and mountains for hidden treasures.

But it’s just a fact of life, there is no way to see everything in Peru because this country is overwhelmed with world-class Continue…

The Best Beaches in the World

Boracay Palms

Dreaming of sun and sand? Stuck in a cubicle with cold winds lashing against the frosty windows? Or do you just need a few tips to help you plan your next beach trip? We are putting together our ultimate “best beaches in the world” list. Unlike other lists out there, this is no mass-produced product thrown together with stock photos. We have personally been to (and totally loved) each of these extraordinary beach destinations and snapped the photos ourselves. Enjoy! Continue…

10 Attractions of Beautiful Tuscany

The Duomo in Florence, Tuscany

Tuscany is one of those destinations that is so beautiful, so historic, so filled with world-class attractions that some may initially dismiss it as something of a travel cliché. Guess what! It isn’t.

Birthplace of the Renaissance and home to some of the most magnificent art and architecture on the planet, Tuscany is an obvious choice for culture fans like us. But even if Michaelangelo and Boticelli mean nothing to you, the food, the romantic country hikes, and the sheer beauty of this Italian region will make you want to book a flight to Tuscany immediately. Here is a taste of what you’ll discover when you step off the plane. Continue…

Trekking Mount Kailash

Tony backed by Mount Kailash

The following post was written when we visited Tibet in 2007. In the last decade, much has changed. The roads leading to Mt. Kailash have been paved, Chinese guides must accompany tourists, and the once isolated region sees more visitors.

We were still half a day’s drive away from Darchen, the town at the foot of Mount Kailash and the starting point for our trek, when we caught our first glimpse of the snow-covered peak in the distance. After ten days bumping up and down on a series of increasingly deteriorating dirt rodes, Tibet’s holiest mountain was within sight.

The tension had been building for days. Rumors had been circulating that the Chinese military had moved into the area to clamp down on unrest resulting from the construction of an unapproved Buddha on the slopes of the mountain. Conflict had broken out between the soldiers and Tibetan pilgrims doing the Kailash kora. We had met several foreign trekkers and travelers who had been turned back by the troops. As we silently bounced our way towards our destination, we were all asking ourselves the same question: would we be allowed to trek Continue…

Adventures in Textiles

Textile Guide

We have a great travel guide recommendation for visitors to our site. Cynthia LeCount Samaké has written A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Peru and Bolivia, which highlights everything a dedicated textile enthusiast needs to explore the two countries.

The book is filled with fascinating information on Bolivian and Peruvian textiles and beautiful photography including two of our images from the Colca Canyon region. In fact, the first full-page photograph in the book is our image below of a woman wearing an intricately embroidered hat and collar. Continue…

Notre Dame de Paris

Today the world’s most famous church went up in flames. I turned on the news in the morning to discover the fire had just broken out. I sat in silence watching the Gothic masterpiece slowly be devoured by fire. It was completely shocking – 859 years of history gone in a single day.

Over the years, I have been to Notre Dame over a dozen times. And I would have gone another dozen had it not been destroyed. It was the first cathedral I ever saw in my life – as you can imagine, that set the bar for cathedrals a bit too high. Continue…