Two Roads to China

First published in Dreamscapes magazine, 2012

climbing the wall sA Chinese woman strokes my face with a delicate finger and says something. I glance curiously at my guide. “She says she thinks you are beautiful,” says Hong, our guide. We smile and I say, “Xie xie,” thank you. But a moment later the connection is lost as the crowds of people, all anxious to see the Forbidden City, push us apart.

There are two roads by which to approach China, a vast country with a dauntingly large population. One could stay aloof from the teeming throng surging along the avenues and pressing around everywhere one goes. Or one can embrace the experience of simply being in a country where being alone for long is not an option. Continue reading

Virginia is for Lovers

Nestled in the valley, Roanoke enjoys spectacular views of Virgnia's Blue Ridge Mountains.

Nestled in the valley, Roanoke enjoys spectacular views of Virgnia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

The license plates say: Virginia is for lovers. They could have added: of history, of wine, of nature, and so much more. And nowhere are all these brought together more forcibly than in the Roanoke Valley.

In the heart of the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains, this valley was a hub of travel for trail blazers like Daniel Boone who chopped their way through the wilderness to Kentucky, as well as for the earliest pioneers crossing the wide expanse of America on the Great Wagon Road, in search of a better life. A young George Washington passed this way in 1776 to inspect the frontier forts. Continue reading

Fredericton, Ever Been?

Walking by the St. John River, the water is so still reflecting the sky that one might almost flip this picture upside down

Walking by the St. John River, the water is so still reflecting the sky that one might almost flip this picture upside down

It’s been named one of the top ten cities in which to live in Canada. But Fredericton, New Brunswick should also be named one of the top ten to visit. And I have ten reasons why.

Number one is an eco-friendly network of 85 km of walking and cycling paths extending along the St. John and Nashwaak River.

bikes on the bridge s

The walking and cycling bridge connects the two sides of the river. Stop in the middle for spectacular views. Continue reading

Hunting Alligators in the Dark in the Florida Everglades

Paddling into dusksIn the Florida Everglades, the sun slowly sinks below the tall trees and gnarled mangroves. Birds are returning to their nests for the night; a graceful egret flaps past, way up high, and a hawk effortlessly lands on a nearby stump. The lazy anhingas which sat a little while ago with wings spread to catch the sun, have disappeared from sight. Is it because their black feathers make excellent camouflage or have they too, gone home elsewhere?

egret coming home s

What have definitely gone home are the airboats which roar around the channels, taking visitors to see alligators. Blessed peace – punctuated by the sounds of water and nocturnal animals – descends upon the Everglades. It’s time to hunt alligators – in the dark. Continue reading