I have travelled to China a number of times, but always on business. Business travel involves plane > cab > hotel > client/office > hotel > plane. Maybe a restaurant in between. I never make time for personal travel while on the road.

But China was on the bucket list and we finally got there. Posts to follow … But I had to put this picture up from when we hiked an abandoned part of the Great Wall.  It captures the moment well. Just us, our guide and the wilderness.

 2014 06 18 Great wall of China _-41



We took our March break in Phuket this year. The Le Meridien is a great stop; outside of the hustle and bustle of Phuket but still accessible with a great private beach.

The waves would kick up some mornings, making for some great shots. Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm f/2.8 USM.

2014 03 27 Phuket_-29

2014 03 27 Phuket_-31

2014 03 27 Phuket_-33

A contrast to a calm sunset.

2014 03 28 Phuket_-2


I have had Palau on my bucket list for a long time for two reasons; Jellyfish Lake in the Rock Islands and Peleliu, the island the US/Japan fought a vicious WWII battle.

2013 08 01 Palau_-60

For those of you who do not know Palau;

Palau (Listeni/pəˈl/, sometimes spelled Belau or Pelew), officially the Republic of Palau (Palauan: Beluu er a Belau),[4] is an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is geographically part of the larger island group of Micronesia. The country’s population of around 21,000 is spread across 250 islands forming the western chain of the Caroline Islands. The most populous island is Koror. The islands share maritime boundaries with Indonesia, Philippines and theFederated States of Micronesia. The capital Ngerulmud is located in Melekeok State on the nearby island of Babeldaob.

It is a breathtakingly beautiful set of islands, with the friendliest of people and an interesting history. First colonized by the Spanish, then sold to the Germans, occupied by the Japanese in 1914 and now supported by the US as a United Nations protected territory, Palau has seen its share of foreigners.

Like many islands, the buildings are crumbling with the people surviving on a mix of subsistence farming/fishing, tourism and international aid which allows the government to employee roughly half of the population. The US is at the forefront of that aid, providing a $250M package in 2010 and remains in a tight military compact with the island (although the only US forces in Palau are there to support civil projects such as school and road construction).

The reason why so few have heard about it is due to the location and a coastline of mangrove swamps that do not allow the country to compete with the beaches of Hawaii or Tahiti. The airlines don’t help either, our flight from Tokyo was one of the only directs and the return flight left the island at 4:20am (less than ideal). But a bucket list is a bucket list …. and so we went. Glad we did, it is a truly unique place.

When you get there, the island culture starts to seep into you. It is a beautiful island and despite a week of way too much rain, we had a few great adventures .. which will kick off a few posts.

All of that being said, the view from our hotel, the PPR, was fantastic.

2013 07 28 Palau_

2013 07 28 Palau_-8

The problem with traveling to Asia in the summer? It is the wet season. It was very wet … all week unfortunately.

2013 07 28 Palau_-9

View from the hilltop.

2013 07 30 natural trail-8

Beautiful place. Maybe we need to sell everything in a decade and go live near a beach …. there are definitely worse things in life.


On our second day in Crete, with the wind blowing and the sun ‘not quite hot enough’ we packed up and headed into the hills and the town of Kritsa, a haven for Cretan linen with a few cool sites on the way.

Our first stop was the abandoned town of Lato:

Lato (Ancient Greek: Λατώ[1]) was an ancient city of Crete, the ruins of which are located approximately 3 km from the small town of Kritsa. The city was built in a defensible position overlooking Mirabello Bay between two peaks, both of which became acropolises to the city. Although the city probably predates the arrival of the Dorians, the ruins date mainly from the Dorian period (fifth and fourth centuries BC). The city was destroyed ca. 200 BCE, but its port (Lato Etera or Lato pros Kamara), located near Agios Nikolaos was in use during Roman rule. This has led to the confusion, repeated by Stephanus of Byzantium quoting Xenion, a Cretan historian, that Kamara and Lato were one and the same. Modern scholarship distinguishes the two.

Over the last year, we have found that we are a hiking family, especially the boys who are boundless in energy and fly up the hills. So out of the car and up the mountain we went. The pictures below give you an idea of how the town stretches over the mountain, built into the hills and spreading out over miles. There is something very cool about crawling around and climbing over a village that is thousands of years old. Nestled into corners you see stone wash basins and small rooms and wonder, what was life like so long ago? What possessed them to build right up on the top? We will never know.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (78)

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (81)

This gives you a good idea of the slope of the hill that the town is built on.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (104)

Notice the sky. Turn one way and it is black. Turn the other and it is clear and blue.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (5)

One advantage of building a town at the top is the view of the mountains, olive groves and valleys. Breathtaking.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (54)

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (35)

The only man left in Lato.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (76)

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (85)

This gives you a good idea of how steep and rough the hike was. Narda did it with a sprained ankle.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (90)

We jumped back in the car and headed into Kritsa. I had to stop and take this picture. In Crete, the old way of life remains.

2008 Oct 23 Road to Kritsa  (2)

As we walked through Kritsa, this sight caught my eye. Old meets new.

Oct 22 Kritsa Crete  (4)

Like all the towns, it is nestled into the hills and I am left to wonder how they survive. Two industries seem obvious, agriculture and tourism. But nothing else. Note the church on the left, one of many. Kritsa is described as one of the most picturesque towns in Crete:

Kritsa is one of the oldest and most picturesque villages in Crete, Greece, built amphitheatrically on a rock hill, named Kastellos, surrounded by olive groves, at an altitude of 375 m. It is part of the municipality of Agios Nikolaos. During the Middle Ages, it was thought to be the largest village in Crete. Kritsa has been destroyed many times during the last centuries because it participated in all of Crete’s revolutions. It is located 10 km from Agios Nikolaos and has about 2200 inhabitants who live in different neighborhoods named Palemilos, Koukistres, Christos and Pergiolikia.

Oct 22 Kritsa Crete  (2)

And  as promised, it was a great little town filled with linen shops. But beware the grandmothers, they suck you in and sell you like the hardest used car salesman around.