The most beautiful lake in the world

The Pearl of Siberia It’s known as The Pearl of Siberia. Really, it’s the pearl of planet Earth. As much as I’ve traveled and as much as I’ve seen, only a handful of places have struck such a lasting chord with me. Lake Baikal, or “Ozero Baikal” as the Russians pronounce it, is one of those places. Holding 20% […]

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Some trips stick with you.

How long does a vacation really last? There have been several articles which claim that the benefits of a vacation fade quickly after it’s over. While I’ve found that to be true for short, easy trips, I’ve also found longer and more challenging trips stick with me for far longer after I return home. I think that’s because the more difficult trips force us to […]

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4 ways to keep your sanity in India

When people ask me, “did you like India?” I answer honestly: I say no. No, I did not like India. I did not like the dirt and the grime, I did not like smelling rivers from blocks away, I did not like seeing piles of trash accumulating on the corners of city streets, and the […]

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Memories from Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit

Finishing I remember reading about trekking the Annapurna Circuit online last year. “Trekking? Pfft,” I thought, “trekking’s just another word for walking. Anybody can walk, right?” But as Bill Walker bluntly puts it in his book Getting High: The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, “You simply can’t fuck around with the Himalayas.” I should have taken that advice to […]

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Why You Should Go to Siberia This Year

A Winter’s Journey to… Siberia? While most of your traveler friends count the days to their tropical island getaways this winter, you might consider bucking the trend and heading somewhere that’s completely off the beaten path. Siberia might not top anybody’s list of winter travel destinations, but it holds untold rewards for those willing to […]

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The Fascinating Towns of the Himalayas

Teahouse Trekking Although the terrain is at times harsh and unforgiving, trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal is not exactly “roughing it”.  Towns are scattered throughout this area, and it only takes a few hours of walking to pass from one town to the next. The towns themselves are as varied as the terrain, but […]

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The Unbelievable Beauty of Nepal

Navigating harsh, high altitude terrain; occasionally soaked from rain, at other times sweating from exertion only to end up shivering from cold soon after; exhausted from walking for hours on end, heavy packs on our shoulders and with one bad knee in tow. None of that mattered. The challenges of the Himalayas were muted and […]

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Planning the Annapurna Circuit

Why Go? It’s daunting at first glance. And then you look closer and you realize it’s not just daunting; it’s also ridiculous and crazy and a downright rough way to spend a month long holiday. After all, aren’t holidays meant to be spent on the beach, stiff drink in hand and with no worries to […]

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High Spirits and then a Snag in Kathmandu

A Memorable Flight I’m mesmerized by the view from our plane’s window as we near Kathmandu. It’s only an hour flight from Delhi, but the haze has already faded and I’m seeing thunderstorms on the horizon as we begin our descent. I catch my first glimpse of the Himalayas. The mountains and storms glow pink […]

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A Layover in Delhi, India

A Culture of Chaos Walking past the designer brands in the airport and driving past the Canon sign on our way into the city, I’m reminded yet again that Delhi is a place whose modernity defies its present day culture of chaos. Fighting fatigue from our long 15hr flight from Newark, New Jersey, I look up […]

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A Change in Perspective

I’ve just landed in Japan. It’s my first time here and it’s raining on this night. It’s late December and the rain is cold. I know where I’m supposed to sleep but all the signs are in Japanese and I’ve seen bowls of spaghetti with more organization than this metro map which I’m presently trying […]

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A Day in Bangkok

“Only 10 bhat tip? Give me more. You give me more!” Thus began our day outside of the Wat Po temple complex in Bangkok, Thailand. We had already massively overpaid for the short tuk tuk ride, but most drivers refuse to carry tourists for anything less than some multiple of the local price. It’s possible […]

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Why Bangkok Works in the Land of Smiles

Stay the hell away? Bangkok overwhelms in every possible way. The heat, traffic, crowds, noise, the constant assault of street food on your olfactory receptors. The polluted air and intense, near-equatorial sun lend a heavy feeling to being there and there’s no escape. Every single street corner is a barrage of concrete, electrical wires, idling […]

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Breathing in Northern Asia

A short story to cool you off It’s late July, North America’s just endured its worst heat wave of the year so far, and I can’t wait for things to cool off. If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you already know my affinity for cold weather. Otherwise, “The Polar Route” says it […]

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How to Lose a Tail in Goa

“Hey man, I think those guys are following us.”   We had just arrived in Goa, India. I was traveling with two of my friends, and we were beginning of our third week of South Asian travel. We did what all reasonable travelers do on arrival in Goa, we found a place to stay and […]

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You Should Go To Sri Lanka.

Just go there. It’s cheaper, more exotic, prettier, more laid back, and better than just about every other beach destination on Earth (yeah, even Thailand). Have your doubts? I’ll prove it to you.   It’s cheap Where else can you stay at a “Hilten” hotel for $9 USD a night? Okay, so it’s not THE Hilton, […]

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New Destination Gallery: RUSSIA

Twelve Cities, Six Weeks Worth of Travel The new Russia gallery is the culmination of about six weeks of travel through Russia on two separate trips. Cities included St. Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Tyumen, Tomsk, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Listvyanka and Lake Baikal, Khabarovsk, and Vladivostok. Travel between each city involved a cumulative 16 days worth […]

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Istanbul: A Photo Essay

Last month I spent the better part of a week in the incredible city of Istanbul, Turkey. I was caught off guard at what a lively city it is – the people are passionate above all else. They’re proud of their history and they have an active and vested interest in their future. It’s plainly obvious […]

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What’s Your Favorite Country in the World?

One of the first things I’m asked when people find out I travel is, “what’s your favorite country?” Most travelers I know can’t answer this question, and I never could either. There’s far too much awesomeness out there to pick just one place. And then I went to Mongolia. Mongolia is my favorite country in […]

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Tasting Istanbul

A tour for someone who hates tours Istanbul is a food lover’s dream. There are so many food options and so many flavors in the city that it’s absolutely overwhelming. It’s like being in a maze without a map, without a sense of direction, and with no idea of where to even begin. It’s a perfect […]

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Film Pictures from Istanbul

Last week I spent a quick 5 days in Istanbul. I had mostly good vibes about the city. I loved it’s food, architecture, history, markets, and culture. But WOW are there a lot of people! There were long lines for the touristy things, and the non touristy things had tons of people too. I wouldn’t […]

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Video! Welcome to the Trans Siberian Railway

Welcome to my first video! It’s a summary of Trans Siberian train travel covering two separate trips – once westbound in late fall on the Trans Mongolian route from Shanghai to Moscow, and once eastbound in winter on the classic Trans Siberian route from Tallinn to Vladivostok. The video’s best watched in full screen (click […]

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Just How Cold is Siberia in Winter?

I just finished my second trip on the Trans Siberian Railway, an epic journey that took me from Tallinn, Estonia to Vladivostok, Russia by land. I went in late fall the first time across, and although it snowed in every Russian city I visited I was left wondering just how cold it gets in the […]

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Embracing the Challenges of Traveling Abroad

Regardless of where you are in the world, traveling challenges in unexpected ways. It’s how we deal with those challenges that make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful trip. I’m in Tyumen, Russia, halfway around the world and twelve time zones away from my home in Chicago. Two months ago I’d barely even heard of […]

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Why Would You Want to Travel HERE?

Welcome… to Siberia It’s rare that the mere name of a place evokes the sort of visceral feelings that “Siberia” is likely to conjur. For me it’s a wide ranging mix of sentiments: amazement, wonderment, fascination, a little bit of fear, and a lot of respect. Far from anywhere and sparsely populated, Siberia is the […]

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Running Across Lake Baikal

Running… on a lake? By volume, it’s the largest freshwater lake in the world. It’s also the world’s oldest and deepest lake, and it holds some of the clearest and cleanest water on earth. And it’s cold. The lake freezes over every year thanks to Siberia’s brutal winters, and every March a marathon is run […]

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The Traveler’s Spirit

Travel breaks up the routine. It allows us a glimpse of what life is like somewhere else, it humbles us and makes us appreciate the things we take for granted. And it’s sooo much fun. I travel for all those reasons, but most of all I travel because it’s the closest I’ve ever come to fully, […]

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Northern India Travels

Arrival. I’m alone, it’s midnight, and I’ve just arrived. My last 24 hrs were spent either on an airplane or connecting to the next flight. Chicago, Detroit, Amsterdam, and now, finally, Mumbai. I cant wait to grab a cab, get into bed, and sleep for as long as my jetlagged body allows. But first, I […]

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Thailand Travels Part 1: Bangkok

Thailand Travels So you’ve seen The Hangover 2. Or The Beach. Or maybe you’re the one who watched Bangkok Dangerous… And now you want to travel to The Land of Smiles. Let me tell you all about it.   Getting there If you are traveling to Thailand from anywhere far, you will almost certainly arrive […]

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Around the World in Two Weeks

View a high resolution version Around the World in Two Weeks You know those taste test kiosks at the grocery store, the ones that give you just a bite so you can see if you like it? Speedpacking is the travel equivalent of that. It’s ideal for people who don’t have a lot of time […]

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Southern India Travels

In January – February 2012 I spent 2 crazy weeks traveling through southern India. We took trains, busses, planes and rode motorbikes from Chennai to Mumbai. If you are thinking of traveling to India or just want to do a bit of armchair traveling, read on…     Prepare yourself India is not for the faint of heart or […]

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Trans Siberian Railroad

I’ve finally finished blogging the Trans Siberian Railroad, a journey that took me from Shanghai to Moscow by train between Oct-Nov of last year. If you want to jump right in, start with my post on Shanghai. Otherwise, read on! I’ve traveled a lot over the last several years. I mean a lot. And despite all my […]

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The Southern Beaches of Sri Lanka

Jan 18-29, 2012 I sometimes get my heart set on going to a place but can’t go there because I don’t have the right combination of time off, money, or travel buddies. Sri Lanka had been one of those places for years – I was so curious about the culture, the people, and the place […]

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Trans Siberian Railroad: Omsk, Russia

Nov 5-7, 2011 Omsk. Nearing western Siberia and close to the boarder of Kazakhstan, it’s about as central it gets in Russia. Omsk doesn’t offer much for the tourist. It’s as big a city as you’ll find in Siberia, but the guidebooks give it simply a passing mention. It’s just another stop on the way […]

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Trans Siberian Railroad: Beijing

Oct 20-24, 2011 After 3 days in Shanghai I took a high speed train from Shanghai to Beijing. It’s a 1318km / 819mi journey that takes just under 5hrs at about 180mph (300kph.) By comparison, the Beijing-Ulaanbaatar train is about the same distance, but takes 29hrs! Pollution started getting bad as the high speed train […]

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