Palau is a destination like no other in Micronesia. The chain of islands is small and remote, but developed for comfortable, western style tourism. Palauans are strict guardians of the island’s pristine and delicate terrestrial and aquatic ecology. What has coalesced at 07°20 north of the Equator is nothing short of phenomenal. Locals are quick to boast about the island’s ecological charms, often rhapsodizing about its unique beauty.
Just minutes away from the record-breaking Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall (largest in the world), is Dubai Creek — a throwback to Dubai’s origins as a port of trade. Wooden vessels still ply the working creek and a bustling spice and gold souk awaits visitors and residents in the mood for something, well, a little more authentic.
The newly built, old-style Souk Madinat Jumeirah was one of my favorite spots in Dubai, even if it screamed “Epcot.” Lusting over turquoise from Afghanistan (expensive), admiring the Burj Al Arab in the distance, and gazing at gondolas gliding up the canal was a perfect way to spend a hot and lazy afternoon. This attraction is just one more example of how Dubai tempers materialistic extravagance with retro-leaning regional motifs. Color me impressed.
If you love architecture, you’ll love Dubai. Riding the metro through the heart of the city feels a bit like being on the set of “Star Wars” (that is, if it wasn’t all CG). It was unreal. As you can see, the construction has a global feel with a dash of Big Ben, Chrysler Building, a taco (okay, that’s probably supposed to be a boat), and even dolphin- and candy bar-shaped buildings.
Abu Dhabi, the oil rich capitol. Abu Dhabi is a little less glamorous and populated than Dubai, but a lot wealthier and older. We saw gorgeous one-of-a-kind tapestries at the women’s craft village, got up close and personal with a camel, and even saw wild camels galloping through the desert.
Music by Rachid Taha
Exploring the iconic Tokyo neighborhood
After traveling for two hours on the Tokyo Metro, we finally arrived at the double-venued Chiba Stadium. It took another hour to figure out where all the good bands were playing. Thankfully, not in the open air stadium under a vengeful August sun.
People say that the best time to visit Saipan is when the flame trees are blooming—April through August. We somehow missed that memo. And while that sounds breathtaking, we are of the working class and found it far more convenient to go during the holidays. With that said, we were delighted with our four-day excursion.
Welcome to Tokyo, Japan — one of the most navigationally challenging countries I’ve experienced. Thank goodness we were staying with friends! They picked us up in Shibuya, a hip and electric ward of Tokyo.