Surprisingly, New York City is loosening its grip on me

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The Oculus, imposing portion of New York’s transit hub cum shopping mall that I photographed near One World Trade Center (also called Freedom Tower) in downtown Manhattan.

Thirty-five years.

That is how long I had made my home in New York City — only in Manhattan, from Washington Heights to Greenwich Village — in two long periods before moving to Phnom Penh toward the end of 2013.

How I loved New York over any other place I had lived such as Boston, San Francisco, Hartford and the Washington, D.C. area, where I went in my relative youth to work in the Pentagon and again, in 1995.  At that time, I worked in the U.S. Treasury Department before heading back to Manhattan in 2006 after having transitioned to real estate sales.

To my mind, Manhattan’s highlights run the gamut of the many clichés that you know as well as I do — energy, diversity, cultural opportunities, Central Park and, among so many other attributes, paradise for a food lover.
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Things don’t always work out, but I remain optimistic

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The other passengers have just finished eating delicious food. I didn’t even start.

A brothel, a baboon and a bone-rattling drive have been some of the lowlights of travels you can read about in my previous posts.  In this one, you’ll discover how this scuba diver was led to water and left mostly high and dry.  After my trip to Bhutan, you’ll see how the drawbacks of climbing every mountain became clear to me and will be evident to you as well.

Last of 4 Parts

Travel insurance definitely would have eased the financial pain of one my most recent travel disasters, a scuba diving break.  Logistics forced me to take three airplanes each way from my home in Cambodia and spend two overnights at hotels in Indonesia both before and after.

Given that I parted with an unholy amount of cash for the five nights of diving from an exceptional liveaboard boat that cruised from the island of Flores, I conceivably should have considered that something could go wrong.

What went wrong, to put it mildly, was Continue reading

Airports often confound, and 2 in Moscow led us astray

In the previous post, you can see what happened to me in Morocco, France, Suriname and South Africa.  Below, my experiences were. . . different.  A rocky road, sex acts on a temple and an odyssey between two airports in Moscow make clear how travel to foreign countries inevitably delivers surprises.

Part 3

mt-everest-base-campOn a trip to Nepal in the late 80s, two of us thought it would be a good idea to hire a car and driver to visit Pokhara, the country’s second largest city 125 miles from Kathmandu.  After the Siddhartha Highway was completed in 1968, the city became a popular tourist destination.

According to Wikipedia, most of the tourists visiting Pokhara trek to the Annapurna Base Camp and Mustang.  A longish walk far short of a trek sounded like fun, though Continue reading

Baboons fascinating and. . . stubborn as some mules

Morocco- BBC- Credit- Zakaria Aït Wakrim)

Morocco: (Source: BBC/Zakaria Aït Wakrim)

In Part 1, I chronicled my “adventures” in Mexico and Nova Scotia.  Here, a three-star restaurant dining experience in France is beyond disappointing, a baboon is more than fascinating, and a revolution is less than terrifying.

Part 2

My next mishap took place in France.  We had eaten well in Rabat, Fez, Marrakesh and Agadir in Morocco, sampling a stew of camel meat and other food of unknown provenance.  So far, so good, literally good.

My wife at the time and I then took a short flight to Lyon, where I had long before made a reservation to have dinner at a three-star restaurant that same evening.

We ordered a bit recklessly, and an extravagant feast was laid before us with ceremony unaccustomed to us.  At the moment the first course appeared, Continue reading

An Optimist’s History of Disappointment and Denial

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See all those scuba divers returning to our five-day live aboard after seeing glorious sights under water.  I’m not among them.

When it comes to vacations, there is an essential truth in hoping for the best and expecting the worst.  Yet I never imagined that the worst would occur so persistently over the decades in my travels around the world—from Suriname to Singapore and Kenya to Kazakhstan—for work and pleasure.

Part 1

Despite a string of mishaps, I see nothing like travel as a source of stimulation, respite and new perspectives.

What inspired this fit and healthy older guy to assess the odds is the debacle of my trip to Indonesia in October 2015.  But let me begin at the beginning. . .

Equipped with Continue reading

Bhutan is a destination worth adding to your bucket list

275Bhutan is everything wonderful you may have heard about the landlocked country that celebrates its “Gross National Happiness.”  It also is a bit less.  

What’s I mean by “less” relates to
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If you think Pattaya is only about sleaze, think again

(Reposted because of its mysterious disappearance from my blog)

IMG_5383Many folks familiar with Southeast Asia perceive Pattaya as a city with a dirty beach on the Gulf of Thailand, streets lined with hookers, ready access to illegal drugs and frequent brushes with violence.

Yet such a broad brush overlooks and, I think, overstates Pattaya’s proximity to Bangkok (a two-hour, $3 bus ride from the capital city), and its plentiful positive aspects.  I have managed to sample only a few of them on two visits this year .

When I tried the ocean, Continue reading