Travel Tales in the Press

On a recent visit to Portland, Oregon, The Conium Review’s editors James Gapinski and Uma Sankaram sat down to talk with me about Travel Tales and the current transformation it’s undergoing.  To learn more about the magazine and what we’re looking for in submissions, listen to the podcast below.

The podcast is also available in the iTunes Store, where you can download it for free and subscribe to The Conium Review’s podcast series.

For further details on submission requirements, please read our earlier post:  Calling All Travel Writers.  We look forward to reading your submissions!


Have a great travel story of your own that you think others would enjoy reading?

…then maybe you should consider submitting it to Travel Tales!   Travel Tales is currently being transformed from a blog into an e-zine (with a quarterly pdf version as well as an annual collection of the best stories published in print form) that features travel stories from people all over the world.  We are always looking for talented storytellers, regardless of their publishing experience. In addition, we are looking for guest bloggers, photographers and a guest editors.

Submissions should be no more than 2,000 words in length and fit into one or more of the following categories: expat living, first trip abroad, outdoor adventure, luxury travel, romance/love, friendship, bridging cultural gaps, wisdom of the road, healing, spiritual awakenings, self-discovery and travel debacles.

Please submit all work to submission(at)travel-tales(dot)com – Please note that the parentheses within the email address are to prevent spammers.  Submissions deadline: October 1st 2012.  Should you wish to apply for guest editor or blogger position, please inquire by emailing us at the above address.  We look forward to hearing from you!

(Message to all writers and photographers:  We believe that writers and photographers should retain the rights to their work, therefore we only ask non-exclusive rights to publish your work.)

Mahalo & Aloha for Now

As many of you know, I’ve slowed down my traveling ways over the last five months.  Maybe not forever, but the days of hopping on a plane or train once every week or two are gone for now.  This is something that life had been demanding of me months before I accepted it as my reality – and for various reasons, too.  The most significant is that I need to root myself in one place long enough to bring some of my other writing projects to fruition.

Traveling and writing about all that I’ve seen and experienced has not only given me countless stories, a deeper understanding of others and the way they live, and moments of profound joy, it has also fueled within me a tireless pursuit of self-inquiry.  So it is with the deepest gratitude that I thank you for sharing in my writing – and yes, my life.

Travel Tales is not coming to an end – it is merely being put on hold so that, like me, it too can be re-birthed in another form.  Check back in mid-2012 to see it in its new incarnation.

Paris en Hiver

Notre Dame and the Seine

Up in the attic

Flower Market Along the Seine in the 1eme

My Hideaway on Rue Jacob 6eme

La Tour Eiffel

Shakespeare and Co.

Mountain Hideaway

I know I haven’t been very consistent on the writing front as of late.  However, I can assure you that it has little to do with my lackadaisical ways and everything to do with the fact that I’ve been having a lot of fun – albeit, not all travel related.  And yes, I am still in Hawaii.  A few months ago, I would’ve told you I’d be off somewhere in the Alps or in South America, but I’ve changed my tune and happy that I have.

With winter nearing, there are few places I’d rather be than Hawaii.  The sun shines almost perpetually, the water’s still clear as crystal, and who can complain about surfing in December without a wetsuit?  So while half the globe is starting to layer-up, I’m happy to be stripping down to my bikini.  But aside from hitting the beach, I find there’s no better way to pass the winter days than by hiking.

The Hawaiian Islands are packed with hikes boasting jaw-dropping views and exquisitely lush landscapes, and this becomes evermore true in winter, when rainfall increases drastically.  And so to answer the question that’s inevitably about to leap from the tip of your tongue: yes, hiking in Hawaii can be quite a muddy affair – especially as February rolls around.  But for me, getting dirty is half the fun.  The other half is trying not to fall and slide down the entire trail on my derrière.

A very muddy hike, which happens to be one of my favorites on Oahu,  is about a 5-minute drive from my place in Hawaii Kai.  It’s not a terribly intense hike or even very long, for that matter – 1.5 hours round trip for someone in-shape and wants to take their sweet old time – but it’s a great workout and a quick escape into solitude.  For those of you who live in the area, you’ll most likely recognize the trail from my photos below.

The best thing about it, though, is that it’s not in any of the guide books, so the trail isn’t overrun with people.  And out of respect for everyone in the neighborhood, I won’t post directions or the name of the hike here for the whole world to see.   But since this is a travel site, I won’t completely withhold the information.  If you’re genuinely interested, email me for details:

Happy hiking!



Red Dirt Country



Waimanalo and the Mokulua Islands in the Distance



Regal as a Crown



Overlooking Waimanalo


Sailing in Hawaii

Until yesterday, it had been nearly a decade since I stepped foot on a sailboat.  And as someone who normally travels by plane, train, car or bike, I have to say it was a nice change of pace.  I’ve also decided that – aside from hiking – it is quite possibly the best way to indulge in the beauty of Hawaii.  The photos below are of the Gold Coast – Waikiki and Diamond Head.

Waikiki Shoreline

Diamond Head at Sunset

Loved their sail


Another gorgeous sunset


After working a bit too hard over the last couple of weeks, I finally made it to the beach this morning for a swim.  I also got a bit camera happy while I was at it.  Enjoy.  It’s another perfect day in paradise.

Sandy Beach - Shorebreak

Bodysurfing bliss

High tide

Sandy Beach

Swept away with the tide

Crystal waters

Home Cooking with a Twist of Chic

Peace Cafe logo

Wandering around downtown earlier this evening I stumbled upon one of Honolulu’s best kept secrets: Peace Cafe. With a colorful well-appointed shop front, it was hard not to notice this chic little eatery amidst the grit of King Street.  A quick peek through their windows allowed my curiosity and empty stomach to get the best of me.  After contemplating the menu for far too long – everything sounds delicious! – I took a seat at a stunning, communal-style wooden table and sipped a glass of lemon-mint iced water.

Peace Cafe snaps

Peace Cafe prides itself in serving only vegan cuisine, which means that all of their food is free of processed ingredients and animal products (eggs, dairy, meat).  The menu boasts succulent dishes such as Morrocan stew, carrot and pumpkin miso soup, and cilantro hummus sandwich on freshly baked ciabatta bread.  Awakening the taste buds and defying the negative stereotypes about vegan food,  Peace Cafe’s offerings are rich in flavor – so much so that they attract a clientele which is diverse in age, character, and diet.

For those of you who are not up for a full meal, you can linger over an iced matcha latte or an exotic kinako latte – which tastes a lot like peanut butter even though it’s soy-based.  Or why not try a cup of Kusmi Tea from Paris?  Whatever you choose, be sure to try one of their many sweets.  Don’t worry, it won’t go to your waist – it’s vegan!

Even with such scrumptious food and a décor that oozes love and comfort, Peace Cafe offers yet another great touch: music themes for each day of the week such as Jazzense, Indie Express, BossaNova Playas, or Girl Power.  Today was Girl Power Friday, which meant Björk and Frou Frou were the soundtrack for my dinner.  Some other artists on Peace Cafe’s playlist are Wilco, Medeski Martin & Wood, Sergio Mendes, Manu Chao, the Beatles and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Although it took far too long for me to choose from their enticing menu, it took only a few seconds to realize that Peace Cafe is the perfect urban oasis.  Its icterine yellow walls, ambient music, careful selection of handcrafted furniture, half dozen potted plants and flawless lighting – Etsy, no less! – make it the coziest cafe on the island.  Regardless of whether you’re a vegan, Peace Cafe is not to be missed.

*Peace Cafe is open from 11am – 7pm on weekdays and 12-4pm on weekends.  Click for directions.   Photos are – although great, don’t do the place justice! – from Peace Cafe’s website.

Photo Diary: Seoul

Here are a handful of choice photographs from the year I spent living in Seoul.  Seoul may quite easily be one of the most fascinating and amusing cities in the world.  If you haven’t visited yet – go!

Free Hugs from the Police in Gangnam, Seoul

Western toilets may be gaining popularity, but squat pots are still everywhere

A public garden near my apartment in Gangnam

Butt pads: I asked one of my students about this and she mimed the shape of Jennifer Lopez's backside

Seoulites love color, especially the ajumas (older married women)

Bean Pole is a HUGE brand in Korea - not sure they know what it means

A gorgeous vegetarian meal - costs less than US$5

Uni-sex (no joke) sleepwear for adults

Autumn in Olympic Park

The famed Urban Hive building - superb café, Take Urban, on the ground floor

All of this headgear is not uncommon

View of Samseong from my tub at the Park Hyatt

Traveler Profile #1: Martin B.

Martin in India

Martin B is one of my dear friends whom I met years back when we both lived in London and spent our weekend afternoons sipping perfect soy lattes in Brick Lane coffee shops or laying about in his front garden, which happened to be the oh-so lovely Primrose Hill.  We both left London for different reasons, but our mutual love for the unknown, adventure, and new cultures took us to exotic places.  While I went off to Seoul, Martin went to Melbourne to fill his wallet before embarking upon a year-long odyssey of hiking, exploring, and working on organic farms across the globe, commencing in October of ’09.  Starting in SE Asia and making his way through most of Asia, India and Europe, Martin is finally resting his feet at his sister’s place in New York  and thus, was able to answer a few of my questions for this profile.   Martin will soon be departing to explore Argentina – the land of tango, breathtaking landscapes, outdoor fun, and yes, delicious malbec.

JCG: What is your approach/attitude towards traveling?

MB: I don’t plan my trips down to the last detail.  I usually have a game plan and a general direction in my head, but for the most part I have a “go where the wind blows” sort of attitude.  Wherever I go, I enjoy myself to the fullest, but I don’t want give the impression that it’s all fun and games on the road.  Yes, the experiences are fantastic and yes, it is fun, but sometimes headache and heartache find themselves buddying up with stomach ache and backache after a bad curry or a bumpy n-th hour at the back of a bus.  It’s a good idea to keep those things in perspective when I say I’ve been more or less living abroad and traveling since 2004.

Regardless of the challenges, this has been the best choice I could have made for my own life.  It’s pretty cool the things you get to see and do when you’re as feckless as I tend to be about career, future and the 401K hoo-ha.  When someone asks me, “How do you do it?  How can you afford to travel as much as you do?” I just wonder “How can I afford NOT to?”  We are only young once.  We are only promised today – the now.   And don’t worry, work can be found in all sorts of ways, be it the good old fashioned work for your meal sort of deal or the odd dash-o-cash under the table suits when you need it.  Hitching for rides and early bookings on flights keeps travel costs down.  Sell off the things in your life that you don’t need, buy a good backpack, a good pair of trekkers, and go!

JCG: What has been your favorite travel experience?

MB: That is the killer of all questions.  There have been so many beautiful people and wonderful experiences along the way, but I’ve got to say that the ultimate traveler’s destination for me thus far has been India.  It has it all: amazing food, intoxicating culture, and an other worldliness about it that us wayward wanderers are often seeking.  From the lush backwaters of Kerala, and hugging gurus to the Himalayas, there’s so much packed into the Indian subcontinent it’s difficult to not find something you’re interested in.

I have to admit, India had always been a destination I was a bit afraid of, largely because of other travelers’ stories about poor hygiene and overt class differentiation.  But when I arrived in the southernmost state of Kerala with no idea what I was getting into, I immediately fell into the rhythm of India.  That first evening, there was a procession – complete with elephants and a bandstand – for one of the many Hindu deities.   Wafts of incense filled the air and brilliantly colored celebrants filled the streets.  Having spent the previous few months in SE Asia helped to make this more of a feast for the senses rather than a shock.

The one thing that made India special for me was the people.  On my second day, I was at a market in the town of Thiruvananthapuram and a fella I barely spoke two words to invited me to his wedding.  Going against my inner-wiring to say “no,” I said “YES” and was allowed to witness one of the most special and important ceremonies in the life of an Indian.  India and her people are incredible.

JCG:  And with that, I can’t help but ask: what do you love most about traveling?

MB: I love the promise of the unknown.  I think I may be addicted to the sensation I get when I take off on an airplane, board a bus, a train, or a boat going somewhere for which I have no mental image.  I like it when my mind is clear of expectations and my senses paint a fresh canvas of a new destination.  It’s also fun to reminisce and flip through those countless mental canvases when I’m grounded for a while.  That way, I’m always traveling – even when I need to stay put to earn a little more money for my next epic journey.

JCG: You and me both, Martin.  You and me both.

On that note, I leave you all with a quote from the late, great Kurt Vonnegut:  Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God. Martin, may you keep on dancing…

Yours in travel,