Travel

Saying Nothin’ but Thanks: Getting Back to Roots in the East Bay

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Posted from: San Francisco, California

One Valentine’s Day in the nascent months of World War II, and not long after the opening of his flagship furniture store, young Sol Wiseman’s marriage to Bay Area debutante Elizabeth Wolfe was announced in the society pages of the Berkeley Gazette. Just two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, as the rest of the world was going to shit, he celebrated yet another blessing: the birth of his first-born son. His second son, my uncle Richard, followed two years later. (more…)

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Typhoons in Taiwan: from the Da’An Tea Gardens to the Yongchun Hills

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Posted from: Taipei, Taiwan

The national weather service tells me that Typhoon Chan-Hom is unlikely to make critical landfall near northern Taiwan, and will slam instead into the Shanghai coast. I stocked up at 7-11 anyway – water, salad, douganr, weird Haagen-Daas flavors – and now I wait for the storm warning to pass. (more…)

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VOX 10th Anniversary: A Jaunt Down to Wuhan

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Wuhan, China

I realized as I sat next to it with a bowl of reganmian that I’d never actually seen the Yangzi. It’s muddy. We were down in Wuhan for the 10th Anniversary of punk scene mainstay VOX Livehouse, co-founded by a close friend of mine who’s since moved on to greater things. We spent a day confirming that East Lake is, in fact, very large, and two nights holed up on VOX’s second floor balcony with a crew of Beijing music diehards and ne’er-do-wells. (more…)

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The Devil’s Sweet Seat: Pamukkale & Antalya

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In Turkey, there’s a mountain made of bone. It rises right out of the valley, a few dozen miles of grapes and dirt and then this out-of-place colossus. The guidebook said its color was due to a mineral spring heavy on the calcium deposits, but sweetie, please: those are the powered bones of the damned, and Pemukkale is the view from Lucifer’s living room. (more…)

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Bosphorus Gluttony and Cannibal Penguins: First Tastes of Istanbul

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Istanbul, Turkey

Everyone warned me this would happen. They told me over and over, and yeah, I was kind of excited, but I just didn’t understand. Pete, Lauren, My Khanh, Nancy: you were right. I don’t care about culture. I don’t care about hamams, or buying carpets, or hand-painted mosque tiling, or the stupid billowy Mediterranean breeze. Siege of Constantinople? Whatthefuckever. I just want to eat. (more…)

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The Ides of May: A Village Wedding in Xiongxian

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Xiongxian, China

“Local XiongXian Man Marries Beautiful Swedish Bride, an International Romance is Consummated”. I didn’t notice any reporters in the ravening fracas of 400 wedding guests, but there was the headline, writ large. And pictures of all fifteen of us, overdressed in the plaza. (more…)

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A Season for Two: Christmas and New Years in Bali

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Bali, Indonesia

Three days into what has turned out to be the most scrumptiously adventure-free trip I’ve ever taken, Kyle and I had a conversation about the differences between traveling and being on vacation. Travel, we decided, involves night market tasting excursions and the word “intrepid” and when you read then immediately forget the entire Wikipedia entry about the Dutch occupation of whatever pile of picturesque stonework you’re staring at. Vacation is when the only way you can tell whether it’s Monday or Thursday is by trying to tally up how many times you’ve had to tear your sticky fingers out of the mango bowl long enough to open the door for the champagne delivery guy. I guess we’re on vacation. Hashtag tropicalxmas, bitches.
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In Photos: Surprise! 24 Hours in Hongdae

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Seoul, South Korea
A friend of mine recently told me that no one had ever thrown her a surprise party. She’d never been to one, either. “That’s such a movie thing,” she said, baffled. “Does that actually happen?” Yes, yes it does, and whenever I hear someone say that, I have to suppress a giddy urge to break into their house and jump out from behind a potted plant with a cupcake. (more…)

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No Shit-ism: Chardonnay with a conscripted Soviet army bomb tech, among other oddities

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Prague, Czech Republic

I might be looking in all the wrong places, but after four weeks, I think I’m ready to proclaim that Prague isn’t much of a party city. Unless your platonic ideal of the perfect night out involves gyrating to Ibiza trance in a sea of barely-legals, in which case you may count your bases scantily covered. Considering the most original vibe we could find in the music clubs was kinda avante-guard-Applebees, I’m gonna stop trying to avoid sounding condescending and really run with it: Czech, maybe *wince* this is just not your thing? (more…)

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So you were all totally right and Berlin is the promised land

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Berlin, Germany

Trains and I have been romantically involved since before I could hold a pen. In the game of “do you love me more than…?” my nanny usually won out against all comers, but I couldn’t in good conscience say I loved her more than trains. She laughed about that story for years. Hey, everyone has priorities. (more…)

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