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A wedding anniversary shrouded by death

I don’t imagine many American couples celebrate their first wedding anniversary in Varanasi, India. We certainly didn’t plan to, but we honestly didn’t spare much thought to the occasion because we had a single objective on our minds: exiting India as quickly as possible. After just two weeks, we were physically and mentally exhausted by…

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Adventures in India train travel, Part II: A stampede

I hear India train travel can be luxurious. We never experienced that kind of travel. Luxury, to us, was the air conditioning units within the stuffy, submarine-like train cars that ferried us between New Delhi and Agra and later, between Agra and Khajuraho. We rode both routes 3AC, meaning our doorless nooks within the cars…

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You look like an idiot pinching the Taj Mahal’s dome (and other observations from Agra)

There were only two occasions on the World Trip during which I felt my life was actually in danger. One of the incidents took place during our Everest Base Camp trek (more on that later). The other took place in Agra. We arrived in Agra after a two-hour train ride from New Delhi, our inaugural…

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Adventures in India train travel, Part I: Shit on the tracks

The New Delhi station was swarming with people and stray dogs, and the smell of sewage was pervasive. I assumed the stench emanated from the bathroom (perhaps an overflowing latrine?) – until I watched a man suspend his son over the tracks and followed the stream to the rails below. Yep, there was shit on…

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10 aspects of traveling to India that may surprise you

So you’re headed to India! (You hardcore traveler, you!) There is very little a traveler can read, see or hear to adequately prepare for a visit to this vast, colorful country. One must simply go and experience it. But to provide a hint of the vast wonders and frustrations in store for you, here are…

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My karaoke career began and ended in Tokyo

I shoved the microphone at Him and took two long strides toward the door. “I gotta go!” I said. “I’ll be back.” Perhaps it was the sight of those frosty Suntory beers on the table. Or maybe it was simply the excitement of reenacting a scene from one of our favorite movies. But within five…

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Making furry, fuzzy friends on Miyajima Island

According to “Nihon Kokujisekikou” (“Observations About the Remains of Japan’s Civil Affairs”), Confucian scholar Shunsai Hayashi’s painfully titled book chronicling his 17th century travels through Japan, Itsukushima ranks among the country’s three most scenic spots. Our own travels did not include the other two locations – Matsushima and Amanohashidate – but we’ll give Hayashi the…

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“Doing” Japan (Because Dave Barry recommended it)

While in Vietnam we convinced ourselves to backtrack and add Japan to the itinerary. There were two deciding factors: The first was we wanted to visit my friend and former co-worker, Charlie Reed, who lives outside Tokyo. The second reason was that Dave Barry recommended it. Yes, I’m referring to Dave Barry, the former Miami…

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When Hanoi annoys, head to Ha Long (and beyond)

If you’ve been to or planned a trip to Vietnam, chances are you’ve heard of Ha Long Bay, a group of some 1,600 picturesque islands and limestone pillars in the Gulf of Tonkin. But you may not have heard of Bai Tu Long Bay. This protected World Heritage site occupies three-fourths of the bay area…

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Hanoi: A not-so-friendly bunch of commies.

Our impression of Hanoi started at poor and rapidly deteriorated from there. The problem was that the residents of Vietnam’s capital city possessed an uncanny ability to make us feel like walking ATM’s – complete with flashing, neon targets on our backs. The city loomed gray, wet and hazy from pollution as our taxi from…

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