Quote from the sixth-century Chinese philosopher, Lao-Tzu, founder of Daoism: "A
good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving."
When I was in the first grade I drew a picture containing all of the world's most famous monuments (as of 1972). The Eiffel Tower, Roman Coliseum, Taj Mahal, Sphinx, Pyramids, and even the twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City which were under construction at the time. I had learned about them in school, by watching television and by looking at pictures in books and magazines in the school library. Since that drawing I have always been fascinated by the prospect of visiting those places personally....and now my dream is coming true! My parents were immigrant working-class people who could neither afford nor had the motivation to take me to visit those places. So it wasn't until age 27, after graduating from University and working and saving for a few years that I had the financial resources to pursue my dreams. My first overseas adventure was a booking at the University of British Columbia's student travel office that advertised "Europe for $59 per day including airfare!" which was Contiki Holiday's 37 day European Adventurer tour. I had an absolute blast!!!! (notwithstanding those two young white Australian asshole boys but that's another story). I have been travelling ever since. I generally like to travel overland by ferry, trains, buses and even jeeps so that I can see and photograph the landscape in person - can't do that from 40,000 feet! I particularly enjoy meeting the people and experience their food, art, religion and culture. I have found people all around the world to be friendly and welcoming. I have found travelling to be quite safe, even to hot spots like Pakistan and Kashmir. I have never been robbed or mugged (and have suffered from more crime in my home town of Vancouver Canada). I normally travel with what would be considered fairly fancy camera equipment and often carry cold hard US dollar cash in my wallet. Also being Chinese has it's advantages in many parts of the world where "white westerners" would be despised by some of the locals. When I am asked "Where from?", I reply "Hello. I am from Hong Kong in China." and they most often scratch their heads with that hmmmm....look, as if they were trying to think about any cultural or foreign affairs issues, unlike Americans, British or other European colonizing countries and the history associated with them.
From Andorra to Zambia - Been there. Done that. Tried the local food. Stayed at usually the cheapest hotels and hostels. Took the cheapest and most adventurous overland transportation I could find. Always smile and shake hands and NEVER discuss politics or religion. I have always found that the easiest way to avoid politics when asked where I'm from is to say that I am from China but educated in Canada.
Woo hoo!! 2013 visit to the Star Wars Rebel Base on planet Yavin
(Well it's actually the UNESCO designated World Heritage Site ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala in Central America, with thanks to Toronto Canada based G-adventures.)
Frankfurt, Germany, January 2012 in front of the famous Euro Sign (which might not be around for much longer) at the European Central Bank Headquarters which was being "Occupied" at the time by the "99%".
Turkey - Istanbul 2012 visiting all the famous sights and attractions in the city that straddles Europe and Asia.
Cape Town, South Africa, January 2012 with the famous "Table Mountain" geographic feature behind. Photo was taken on a ferry ride out to visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was a held as a political prisoner for 22 years before he was set free and elected President of South Africa. One of the few places I have visited where the streets are actually dangerous to walk at night....
Namibia - Kalahari Desert - Dawn standing on the 80 meter high "Dune 45" sand dune near the town of Sossuvlei January 2012. It was recommended to get up at 5 am and be driven the 20 km or so out to the sand dunes where we trodded up the steep soft sand in the cold morning air but it was worth it!
Walking across Victoria Falls Bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) with Victoria Falls and the Zambesi River in the background, February 2012. The British-built steel arch combined road and railway bridge was a major feat of 19th century engineering and is now used as a bungee jumping platform.
Crossing the Earth's Equator in Uganda on the Nairobi-Kampala Highway, March 2012. Uganda is most famous for it's US$500 trekking safaris into the dense jungles looking for elusive silverback mountain gorillas. The current generation of citizens has pretty much forgotten about the 70's dictator Idi Amin but nowadays the hunt for Joseph Kony is on everybody's mind.
Turkey - Troy (Truja) at the 5000 year old Ancient Lost City of Troy standing in front of the Trojan Horse statue, March 2012.
Dar Es Salaam (Arabic for "Haven of Peace") in Tanzania in East Africa Union on the Indian Ocean coast. Taking fast water jet-powered hydrofoil ferry out to Zanzibar Island. March 2012.
December 2009 - Visiting the mysterious stone heads at Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about 3000km west of Chile. These 5 meter tall, 5 ton stone heads are believed to be carved about 400 to 500 years ago by Polynesian settlers using basalt stone hammers. It is believed those settlers eventually destroyed themselves through environmental destruction and tribal warfare. The main source of stone is at the base of a volcano called "Rano Raraku" from where they were hauled all over the island by physical labour. Several partially finished stone heads can be see at the quarry and the heads often broke during transportation. It is a 6 hour flight from Santiago Chile to get here and food, accommodation and activities cost 2 to 3 times more expensive than on the mainland because everything is flown in and the main economy is tourism. Easter Island is best visited over 4 or 5 days with a rental car in order to be able to see the amazing sights like the stone "Moai" head above. Also there are some fantastic day-hikes up to the top of extinct volcanoes as well as activities like snorkeling and scuba diving.
Dec 2009 in Ushuaia, Argentina - the southernmost city in the world at "Land's End" in Tierra del Fuego South America. Cruise ships depart from here to Antarctica. I got here by a 16 hour bus ride from Puerto Natales in Chile. Ushuaia is relatively unspectacular other than for the fact that it is the southernmost major city on Earth at 52 degrees South.
Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, South America, December 27, 2009 with some Magellanic penguins. I booked a day tour out of Ushuaia. The cute squashy little birds live in burrows in the ground and are not afraid of humans. I'm told they don't taste very good because of their fish diet.
Standing on top of Volcan Villarica near Pucon in Chile, December 2009. I got up at 5AM to and trekked up the steep snowy slope to be on the mountain for sunrise. The local guides in Pucon charged around $75USD for a guided hike up the active volcano. Once at the top one can look down into the smoking crater, knowing that the bottom is a long way down and there is a pool of molten lava down there...somewhere.
London Eye, United Kingdom, February 2008. The 15 quid to go once around on the big wheel was a bit steep but I'd recommend it once in a life time.
Lon's famous Tower Bridge across the Thames River, England, January 2008
Amsterdam, Netherlands at the infamous RED LIGHT DISTRICT where half naked women stand in shop windows trying to attract "customers"! , April 2008
November 2007 visiting Ho-Chi-Minh's Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam. Unfortunately "Uncle Ho" was not there at the time as his body is shipped to Russia each year for maintenance.
October 2007 visiting Tiger Temple near Bangkok, Thailand. Buddhist monks raise exotic wild animals like tigers and Asiatic bears that were abandoned or orphaned by their natural mothers.
Me at the Pyramids of Egypt on the Giza Plateau, October 2003. Constructed almost 5000 years ago to store the mortal remains of ancient Egyptian Rulers, it remains controversial as to exactly how the ancient Egyptians moved 2 million stone blocks, some weighting 2 tons to build these things with such precision that you cannot put a knife blade between the blocks (I tried and failed!). This fulfills one of my lifelong dreams to see one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The following day I actually went *inside* the big Pyramid of Khafre in the background and viewed the pharaoh's stone sarcophagus. I did note, however that this place is highly commercialized: There is a McDonald's and KFC just over the hill on the other side!
Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet, China June 2006 Ticket prices were 100 Yuan for tourists, 1 Yuan for Tibetans! The Potala is the traditional home of the Tibetan government and houses Stupas containing the remains of previous Dalai Lamas (in the red structure, but photos are not allowed!). It was nearly destroyed by the Chinese Communists during the Cultural Revolution in 1960.
Afghanistan-Pakistan border Aug 22 2007 with a security guard and guide Faisal hired out of Peshawar. After spending an hour at the Northern Areas Home office in Peshawar getting me the necessary travel permits we drove in a minibus for 3 hours passing through some incredible places. There was a continuous stream of trucks including some that were obviously carrying military cargo to the current occupation forces. The area is also known as the "Federally Administered Tribal Areas" and is ruled by local warlords, living well in high walled homes, who make money by smuggling goods, arms and drugs. (The same tour guide also offered one week tours of Afghanistan but the $1400USD price tag was just a bit too rich for me!!) For a souvenir I exchanged $5 USD for 11,500 Afghans currency - neat! (with thanks to Toronto-based GAP Adventures and their now discontinued Beijing to Lahore western China overland tour)
New York City Manhattan (minus the World Trade Center Towers), 2005 from Statue of Liberty Island. This city is gripped by fear of terrorism since 9/11 and there are heavily armed security and roadblocks everywhere still. One needs to go through a metal detector and security pat-down just to get on the ferry to Liberty Island and tourists are not allowed to go into the highest part of the Statue of Liberty anymore. I spent several hours at Ellis Island studying the immigration history of the American people also.
June 2006 Checking out the Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. Also took that "Maid of the Mist" boat down below to the base of the waterfalls - got wet! The opposite side is New York state in the United States. It is quite amazing to know that people have been swept over the falls and survived. I paid $50 to take a day-trip out here from Toronto.
Shanghai, China, July 2007 - Amazing! I went up to the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower too! One can also cross the Wangpo River by a made-for-tourists passenger rail car that goes underneath the river or by ferries at the Bund. Up until twenty years ago, the area shown was mostly rice paddies and has seen explosive development.
Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor, June 2007 just before the 10th anniversary of the surrender of Hong Kong back to China by the White Anglos. The International Financial Centre No. 2 Tower is prominently located on the waterfront. There is a fascinating "Monetary Museum" on the 55th floor. I stayed at the Garden Hostel in the "Mirador Mansion" building Kowloon - a totally "dodgy" place but it was quite cheap!
Somewhere on the road in Kashmir between Srinagar and Kargil near the India-Pakistan border, October 2007 We stopped here for rest and some food (I ate a boiled Maggi instant noodle if I recall) and tourists are required to register their passports with the local security forces as this is a "sensitive" area. This high mountain pass is closed from November to June.
October 2007 in Leh, elev. 11,000ft, a Tibetan refugee city in Ladakh region of Kashmir, India near the China border. The people here are predominantly ethnic Tibetans although they are "administered" by India thanks to the British Expeditionary Forces of the 19th century. I got here by taking a shared jeep from Srinagar and Kargil which passed over some spectacular mountain terrain. The trip out of here to Manali was even more amazing....see below:
Tanglang La Pass in Kashmir at -15 degrees celsius, 17,582 feet altitude, Oct.17 2007 in Ladakh. Touted as the "Highest Motorable Road in the World", this 475 km road from Leh to Manali crosses 5 mountain passes which are over 15,000 ft elevation. Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags blow in the freezing wind here! I got to this spot after a 3 hours in a shared 4x2 diesel jeep (9 passengers and driver) from Leh (11,000 ft Elevation) starting at 4:30 in the morning. I had bought the green Indian Army head cover in from a small army surplus shop Leh for 50 Rupees (about a dollar) on the previous before because it was so bloody cold and it did the trick here nicely!
Mysterious Angkor Wat Hindu Temple ruins at Siem Reap in Cambodia, Sept 2007 It costs $20USD for a one day pass or about $60 for a 3-day monument pass. These temples were originally constructed by Hindu religion practitioners around 500 years ago and then fell into ruin and disrepair. They are currently being used by Buddhists who have converted parts of it into a Buddhist shrine but evidence of Hinduism are everywhere including a huge statue of multi-arm the Hindu God Laxmi.
The magnificent Taj Mahal at Agra, India 2007 built by Persians who invaded India in the 14th Century, it is actually a mausoleum containing the sarcophagus of the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Entry is 10 Rupees for Indian citizens and 250 Rupees for tourists. It is accessed by a half day train ride from New Delhi to Agra where train station taxi drivers mob everyone who looks like a tourist to take you here.
Checking out the amazing temples of Bangkok, Thailand October 2007 This place is a magnet for tourists. The Temple is conveniently located next to the Royal Palace which is conveniently located close to Khao San Road famous for it's night-life and "boom boom". ;-)
Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China June 2006 where the Emperors prayed for good harvests.
Mr. Maw and Chairman Mao at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China June 2006. I stayed at a hotel near the East Gate District of Beijing and rode a rented bicycle out here every evening.....The only way to see Beijing is by bicycle.
Amritsar India at the Sikh Golden Temple, October 2007. This place is the world wide seat of the Sikh Religion. Inside the Golden Temple are three Sikh Gurus who spend the day playing Indian musical instruments and reciting verses from Holy Scriptures that are stored within. Sikh pilgrims visit the Golden Temple all day and all night. The lake water contains large carp fish. Sikh pilgrims bathe in and drink the lake water which is filtered. I arrived here by a grueling 16-hour bus ride from Dharmsala which was so full that I had to stand all the way. I stayed 3 days before taking a early morning 5 hour train back to New Delhi.
Watching the sunrise over Macchu Picchu in Peru, South America Andes, May 2007. I climbed the Huayna Picchu peak, 2720m, in the background too! I got here after leaving my hotel in Aguas Caliente at 3 AM to see the sunrise which is what all the other tourists are doing as well. This place is also the end of the Inca Trail and I would have liked to do it except that I could not get a trail permit in time.
Standing on top of Huayna Picchu looking back at Macchu Picchu. April 2007. The famous Inca ruins are way down below above my thumb! The mountain peak behind is what is actually known as Macchu Picchu, not the settlement. It was a long and strenuous climb up steep and stairs and ladders to get here! This is the view from on top of the peak that is in the picture above!
Mugging with the Inca King in Aguas Caliente on the way to Macchu Picchu Peru, May 2007
Taking a slow boat down the Li River among the Karst Limestone hills in Gui Lin China, July 2007. I arrived here from Hong Kong/Shenzen by overnight train. My Italian friend Bruno whom I met in Hong Kong is sitting on the bow of the riverboat. Other local attractions not to be missed are the "Water Caves" limestone caverns and the amazing albeit somewhat long evening "Light Show" Also it is fascinating to watch the local fisherman use cormorant birds to dive into the river to catch fish.
Visiting the Ghana Independence Arch the capital city Accra, February 2008. This was the place that the Ghanaian people celebrated their independence from British rule in 1957. The American Martin Luther King was here for that ceremony. Ghana was formerly known as the "Gold Coast" was the the center of the brutal slave trade in addition to gold mining and coffee trade. Unfortunately the biggest tourist attraction on the Ghana coast are the slave-trade castles built by the European colonialists. The current Presidential Palace is built at Osu Castle which was formerly a slave-trade facility. Many black people living in the Americas (United States, Carribean, Brazil) today have an ancestor that was processed through the "Door of No Return" at the slave castles. United States President Barack Obama visited this place in 2009 and George W Bush visited here in 2008.
Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean in Ghana at Kokrobite Beach at Big Milly's Back Yard April 2008 around 27 km west of the capital city of Accra. The Atlantic Ocean here is refreshingly free of sewage and garbage, especially black plastic bags however I was advised not to go too far down the beach as there are "bad guys" down there....
In Ghana's exotic Market Circle in Takoradi on the central Atlantic coast, April 2008.
Hanoi Vietnam Military Museum, Nov 2007 showing the crap that the United States of America left behind from it's brutal campaign of indiscriminate bombing and chemical warfare. Among the notable wreckage assembled here are B-52 and F-111 that were shot down by Soviet supplied Surface to Air Missiles (SA-2) which were also on display as well as a military history exhibit showing Vietnam's military conflicts ending in the Chinese invasion in 1979. This is one of Hanoi's "must-see" tourist attractions!
Hanoi, Vietnam "Maison Centrale" better known as the "Hanoi Hilton", Nov 2007 Most of the compound is now demolished and a modern office building built on the site but they saved the facade and turned it into a museum. John McCain was here too!
Shooting a captured American M-16 automatic assault rifle at the Cu Chi Tunnels near Saigon, Nov 2007. Tourists can choose from M16's, AK-47's, and even an M60 machine gun. You just pay for the bullets. The weapons are fully automatic and at US$1.30 per bullet it was easy to blow $20 worth of ammo in a few seconds!! Another exhibit at this museum explains the reckless military-industrial technology based brutality and carnage caused by the United States of America against the innocent civilians of South East Asia for almost a decade including napalm, cluster bombs and Agent Orange that was mainly used to attempt to destroy the rice crop to exploit hunger as a weapon of mass destruction against the civilian population.
Chilling out with "Charlie" at the Cu Chi Viet Cong Tunnels November 2007. The (wax) dudes are playing with B40 rocket propelled grenades.
Going into the Viet-Cong tunnels at Cu Chi near Saigon, Vietnam, Nov 2007
Crossing the border from Cambodia to Vietnam at Bavet to Moc Bai, Nov 2007
Monivong Boulevard is the main road in Phnom Penh Cambodia, Nov 2007. Cambodia is surprisingly well-developed and modernized and one can buy just about any modern goods here including the latest computers and electronics. The restaurants and nightclubs are not to be missed in the evening. I stayed at the Mittapheap (meaning "welcome" Hotel for about $20 USD per night.
Cambodia's infamous Tuolsleng torture prison in Phnom Penh, Nov 2007
Investigating Cambodia's "Killing Fields" at Choeung Ek Genocidal Center
Cambodia's Mysterious Bayon Temples near Siem Reap, Nov 2007
Passing through Vientiane in Laos ! Nov 2007 on my way to Cambodia.
Along the Mekong River at Pak Beng in Laos, Nov 2007. Tourists take the river boats in the background and stop here for an evening. Great food and incredibly cheap prices!
Watching the famous Sunset Border Closing Ceremonies between Pakistan and India at Wagha in the Punjab (Land of Five Rivers), Oct 2007. This is the most famous land border crossing where Pakistani and Indian soldiers face off each other, lower flags and slam the gates shut at sunset every day. A real tourist spectacle.
Pakistan - Lahore's famous Red Mosque, August 2007
Pakistan - Islamabad National Monument Aug 2007
Legendary Shaolin Monastery Kung Fu temple, China ,July 2007. Everybody's Kung Fu Fighting! Tourists can get Kung Fu training and accommodation here for US$10 per night. The original Kung-Fu School!
Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Nov 2007
Taking a morning row boat down the Ganges River at Varanasi, India 2007
200 Rupees buys an hour of this guy's rowboat time although he tried to rip me off by asking for $400 but I waited him out!
With Hindus bathing and burning their dead on the shore of the Ganges River, Varanasi, India 2007
Terra Cotta Warriors, Xian, China, August 2007 Monument to the first Emperor of China.
Central Asia International Grand Bazaar at Kashgar in western China, Aug 2007
Tiananmen Square, Beijing, July 2007
China Beijing Military Museum, July 2007 on the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of the People's Liberation Army.
Dal Lake at Srinagar in Kashmir India, Sept 2007. The small water-taxis in the background are to ferry people and goods onto houseboats where I stayed for around 800 Rupees per night including all meals.
Western End of the Great Wall of China at Jiayuguan (Chinese for "The Farthest Gate"), August 2007. This place was the limit of Chinese Civilization during the Ming Dynasty and many Silk Road travellers had to pass through Jiayuguan. I got here by hiring a taxi at the hotel.
Amber Fort in Jaipur, Rajastan, India, September 2007
Elephant rides at Amber Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India 2007
Lowest spot in Asia, 154 meters below sea level near Turfan, China in the Gobi Desert
No photos allowed with Big Buddah at Thiksey Monastery near Ladakh in Kashmir, India 2007
Somewhere up in the Kashmiri Himalayas near Pang in Kashmir, India, 2007
Beautiful mountains of Karakoram Highway near Taxkorgan in China, August 2007
The China-Pakistan Road (a.k.a. Karakoram Highway) at Taxkorgan, China, August 2007
Khunjerab National Park at the China-Pakistan border in the Karakoram Mountains on the Karakoram Highway, August 2007
The China-Pakistan border at Khunjerab Pass on the Karakoram Highway, August 2007 This is claimed to be the "highest international border crossing in the world." Note that the smoothly paved Chinese highway ends right at the borderline and I'm sort-of standing on the Pakistan side.
The Ladyfinger Spire of the Karakoram Mountains in Pakistan Aug 2007. Many climbers are killed attempting to climb it.
On the Karakoram Highway at Besham in Pakistan, August 2007, on the road to Abbottabad where where it turns out Osama Bin Laden was hanging out too, but I didn't know that.... (Bush knew and it was an Inside Job)
On the beaches of Goa on the Arabian Sea in India, September 2007 These beach hawker women just wouldn't leave me alone although they were very pretty!
Lantau Island Big Buddha, Hong Kong, China, July 2007
Macau Ruins of Saint Paul's Church, July 2007
Grand Lisboa Casino, Macau, China, July 2007
Sunrise in front of the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai (Bombay) India October 2007
India Gate on the Mumbai Harbour, October 2007
This was the place where the British ships would land and then take the road routes to New Delhi
With Hindu God Vishnu in the Elephanta Caves near Mumbai, India, October 2007
Second Class train ride somewhere in Rajasthan India, Sept 2007
Bombay (Mumbai) on the shores of the Arabian Sea, October 2007
Crossing the Houghly River Bridge in Calcutta India October 2007
Calcutta India October 2007
Tiger Temple near Bangkok Thailand, October 2007
Bangkok Floating Markets, Thailand, October 2007
River Kwai Railway Bridge, Thailand 2007 is now a big tourist attraction.
Ayutthaya Buddhist Temple, Thailand, 2007
The erotic Hindu Temples of Khajuraho in Rajasthan India 2007
Hiking along the Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling, June 2006
Inside the Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet, China June 2006. The monastery building behind houses the remains of the previous Dalai Lamas but photography is forbidden inside.
Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet, China June 2006
Jokang Monastery, Lhasa, Tibet, China, June 2006, is probably the second most amazing monastery complex where Tibetan Buddhist religious ceremonies can be seen.
Ayer's Rock (Uluru) summit monument, Australia, 2004. The famous geological feature is rightfully controlled by the Aborigines who consider it sacred and discourage tourists from climbing it, but at the end of the day they worship the "almighty dollar" that those same tourists bring, in addition to educating foreigners about their culture and traditions.
Sunset at Uluru (Ayer's Rock) Australia, 2004
SCUBA diving with the fishes in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, 2004. I got stung across the chest by a jellyfish but didn't know it until a day later....
Sydney, Australia, 2004. I still regret not paying the AUS$150 to do the "Sydney Bridge Walk"
On the Beaches of Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia, 2004
Checking out the Crocodile infested Anbangbang Billabong in Kakadu National Park, Australia, 2004
Blue Mountains Zoo in New South Wales, Australia, 2004
Taking in the views at Yosemite Point, California, USA, after a long hike up, Sept 2002
Kicking the giant stone blocks of the Great Pyramids of Egypt, Giza near Cairo, Egypt, 2003. They allow 150 tourists to enter the pyramid daily so one needs to queue up early in the morning to get a ticket.
Tutankhamen's Tomb in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt, Oct 2003 - it was bloody HOT~! 45C and it actually houses the mummy of King Tutankhamon although his two outer sarcophaguses were removed to museums.
Riding a camel in front of the Sphinx, Giza, Egypt 2003. US $20 to ride a camel.
About to climb the ancient Mayan Teotihuacan (Temple of the Sun) near Mexico City 2004
Me and Buddha on Lantau Island in Hong Kong, July 2007
April 1995 on top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Did this trip with Contiki Holidays for 18-35s!
Acropolis in Athens Greece, 1995
Naked swimming in Corfu Greece on the infamous "George's Boat", May 1995. Note the topless girls on the bow. Their bras were strung on the ships mast!!!
Florence, Italy 1995 first trip with Contiki Holidays
May 1995 in Lucerne Switzerland
See my related web pages about all the sometimes strange foods that I ate!
BACK TO INDEX