My favorite kind of “travel writing” — or I suppose writing about place — embarks on an inner journey, and uses a physical location as a diving board into one’s depths, into their mind.
I recently had a long layover in Seoul and took the train into the city to wander for the day. With twelve hours, I did what I love most: explored a new city on my own, wandered down alleyways, hunted for street art, and got lost.
I returned to Hanoi and Halong Bay, both in the north of Vietnam. As you linger in Hanoi, you become one with it — the pulse of the street, the ebb and flow of traffic.
I remember then feeling I had to rise against it, that Hanoi was something to be conquered. Maybe I wasn’t in the right place; maybe it wasn’t the right time. You never really know with cities. They’re like people, and you don’t always hit it off.
August was a busy month — weddings, time with family and friends, and exploring cities we’ve never been.
Somehow, I’ve entered a special dimension — that space only accessible in these sorts of moments — where time truly reveals itself. Where time is more than the past, present, and future; and more than here and there and the line that connects them.
I present to you my past month’s adventures in England and Scotland, via iPhone 4. With the exception of a handful of shots, most of these are Instagrammed.
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Yes, I write about not knowing where or what home is.
That something is missing, that here isn’t quite right.
Then I walk around. I explore where I live.
And I’m reminded that things, truly, are fine.
Hong Kong is best enjoyed by foot. So I walked. And as I walked, I discovered a city full of street art—slightly deviant, always creative—expressing the exuberance of a young and modern city.
I’ve been in Istanbul for a week and have neglected my Canon G11, which has taken 95 percent of the photos you see on this blog. (A handful have been shot with my Nikon, which I rarely use.) I’ve mainly used my new iPhone to take photographs here. I was […]
The Watts Towers loom over East 107th Street in a neighborhood of Watts, California. The sculptor of these towers, Simon Rodia, wanted to build “in the direction of the sun.” Last week, during a hot spell in Los Angeles, I saw the towers under a bright, persistent sun—a setting I think […]
When I roamed the streets of Berlin earlier this year, I kept returning to Prenzlauer Berg, a neighborhood in the Pankow district in northeast Berlin—I was drawn to the cute boutiques of local designers, the vintage and secondhand markets, the bars and cafés, and the street art and graffiti. It’s leafy. […]
Just before I went on a trip to Las Vegas, I was in Egypt. I’d been in Egypt for most of October and into the first week of November, then flew to Vegas for 11.11.11. In Egypt, I spent a bulk of my time in Cairo and escaped to the Sinai and Red […]
While my past three or four trips into the glittery desert have centered on pure debauchery, I’m slowly learning that Vegas isn’t just about the cards and the cocktails. (Or perhaps it is, but you need those little journeys off the Strip to reset from the night before. To breathe. […]
My feet. Always dirty. And my soles? Cracked. They have turned hard from being exposed each day. My nose is overloaded: traffic fumes, cigarette smoke, cherry-flavored shisha tobacco, incense. I hear sounds in the middle of the night: the prayer on a loudspeaker, the voice haunting and mesmerizing. A cat’s […]
The final post of photo selects from Egypt, focusing again on Cairo: mainly scattered sightings of street art on Gezira, the island west of downtown Cairo, on the Nile. I came upon these walls as I was walking from the Opera House metro station to the Cairo Tower, along Al […]
I overdosed on temples and tombs in Luxor over two swift afternoons. The temples of Karnak and Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, Medinet Habu . . . The dusty slides from my high school and university courses were brought to life in Luxor, and while quick, this side trip […]
We left Cairo on an overnight bus to the Sinai. Seven or eight hours of interrupted sleep later, I opened my eyes to a perfectly round, robust, and bright orange sun, sitting low in the sky of the Egyptian desert. Layers of jagged golden rocks and mountains hugged the winding […]
Hello! I apologize for being so quiet here the past several weeks. Here’s the first of numerous photo posts from Egypt. I’ve been here for about three weeks: I started off in Cairo, then escaped to a beach on the Sinai Peninsula, returned to Cairo, and am now in Luxor. […]
Branches and bricks in Old Town. The window of Kenny and Zuke’s, a deli and dining spot on SW Stark. Bagdad Pub on Hawthorne Boulevard in Southeast Portland. Signs at Pioneer Courthouse Square. A guest room at the Ace Hotel downtown, near the Pearl District. The lobby of the Ace […]
In the spring, after my winter trip to Europe, I wrote about the evolution of friendship in a virtual world, and how I had an increasing number of online relationships, most of which were born on and have sustained through Twitter. I live far away from these people, who are […]
I spent the past few weeks in England, sans BlackBerry. I always travel with my phone and, after a Twitter press cruise to the Caribbean in 2009, picked up the Oh-my-god-that-is-so-cool-I-need-to-tweet-that-immediately habit and have been über-plugged (and plagued?) ever since. I’ve formed a USB port on the back of my neck […]
Murals of gigantic birds and squirrels. Street art commenting on Facebook and Twitter. Random thought bubbles positioned over cartoon characters. Whimsical stick figures painted on garage doors. Welcome to Brick Lane. One afternoon in London a few weeks ago, I wandered into Whitechapel, Shoreditch, and finally a concentration of Bangladeshi […]
I stumbled upon Blu murals on my last two trips to Europe. While I love Blu’s mind-blowing wall-painting animations like Big Bang Big Boom and Muto, it’s cool to come upon his still images—and remnants of his animations—on facades around the world. Especially when you’re not looking for them… City: Berlin // […]
One afternoon, I took the tram from Lisbon to nearby Belém, about 15-20 minutes from the city center. The location from where Portuguese voyagers set off to explore the world, Belém packs a lot of history—and grand sights—within its borders. My day trip, in photographs: The Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a statue […]
Random moments from the streets of Barcelona: sights, food, and art. A night shot of graffiti in Gracia. Baked goodies through a window. Peeps on a wall in Barri Gòtic. A view of Passeig de Gracia from the rooftop of La Pedrera. A colorful facade in El Raval. Cargoles de […]
In the whimsical world of Antoni Gaudí, buildings take on a life of their own. Fancy, slightly phallic sculptures on the rooftop of La Pedrera. Mosaic-surfaced masterpieces atop La Pedrera. A colorful staircase inside La Pedrera. A reflective, amoebaesque facade of La Pedrera. An exit of La Pedrera, leading to […]
My best friend has family in Taipei, so I tagged along with her for a few weeks during Chinese New Year. These photographs (taken with an old Canon Powershot) are from 2005. Taipei 101, the iconic skyscraper in the Xinyi District. Yellow lanterns for Chinese New Year. Philosophy on the walls […]
This week in Brooklyn, I’ve spent most of my time in Ft. Greene and Park Slope. New York City has been rather lovely, and today’s forecast calls for a 75-degree day. I plan to lounge for a few hours, then meet a friend who’s working on a mural in Carroll Gardens. […]
Thursday afternoon 2.24 Security gate at the Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) terminal. Thursday evening 02.24 A dim alley in Chinatown in London. Along the Thames River, en route to Gordon’s Wine Bar, the oldest wine bar in London, near Embankment tube stop. The London Eye. Friday afternoon 02.25 [A bit hungover […]
The outdoor East Side Gallery, free and always open, is a 1.3-kilometer section of the Berlin Wall. While you can start your stroll at either end, the gallery begins on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain, a short stroll from the Oberbaumbrücke bridge. Reach it via Warschauer Straße station, then cross the River Spree. The East Side Gallery’s […]
I was overwhelmed by all the things to do and see in Berlin, and was particularly moved by the Holocaust Memorial and the Jewish (Jüdisches) Museum, two of the city’s major sites of Jewish history and culture. A dose in photographs: Holocaust Memorial Designed by architect Peter Eisenman, the Holocaust […]
As our Vueling jet descended, I saw clusters of orange rooftops, hilly neighborhoods, and a sparkling blue sea. After we landed, I turned my phone on and posted the obligatory location-based update on Facebook. Just landed in Lisbon! I wasn’t even off the plane when my BlackBerry light started blinking. […]
I left London on Monday. My body is back in Northern California, but my mind, stubborn, remains in Europe. Right now, it’s probably vegging out in a warm, cozy pub in Islington, or strolling down a street in Covent Garden, where I stayed (thanks to my dear friend Nick and […]
In Berlin, I posted photos of the dark, creepy interior of the five-story Kunsthaus Tacheles in the Mitte. The building, once part of a shopping complex and later used by the Nazis as an administrative office and prison, was partially destroyed during WWII. Today, it’s a center for artists, and open […]
A mother and son sat across from me on the U-Bahn yesterday. She wore a long red coat, a small Nike backpack, a bulky Canon dSLR around her neck. He had a fluffy windbreaker on. And unlaced sneakers. They whispered to each other every now and then, the boy looking […]
One Sunday afternoon, I meandered over to leafy Prenzlauer Berg. Colorful facades and 19th-century townhouses. Graffiti and club flyers. Students, bar-goers, and couples with strollers wander the sidewalks. A lovely neighborhood to explore, especially if you’re looking to rummage the racks of its markets, like Flohmarkt am Arkonaplatz. Berlin in the winter […]
When you get there, there isn’t any there there. –Gertrude Stein When I was 19, I moved to the French Riviera. A screenwriting major, I chose to study in Cannes—over Florence and London—so I could intern at the Cannes Film Festival and taste the industry, all glammed up. And I […]
I love getting lost. Today, I was on my way to check out a place I had read about, but got off at the wrong U-Bahn station, Oranienburger Tor, in the historic Mitte. Instead of getting back on the train, I wandered in the neighborhood, hoping to find something. And […]