Experiencing Fushimi Inari: an illustrated walkthrough

Near the top of the mountain, we walked into a perfect view of Fushimi Inari’s torii gates. We turned a corner, and there it was waiting for us, with no tourists or anything. A long tunnel of vermillion was being illuminated by a perfectly angled sun, turning every gate a different shade of bright orange, deep and rich in front of us, and golden at the end.

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Ha Long Bay: an illustrated guide

Jeff and I were sunbaking under the hot Vietnamese sun, passing a large plastic bottle of clear liquid around the deck of the boat. Inside was tonic, with a considerable amount of cheap gin, and we were sharing it with the other passengers to celebrate my 26th birthday. What better way to celebrate than to visit majestic Ha Long Bay!dav

The junk, one of hundreds of identical boats that cruised around the bay, was like a big, white, creaking wooden hotel. The cabins were downstairs, a main dining room/bar on the second level, and a lazy open deck on the top had long lounge chairs to enjoy the sun. Steel masts stretched upwards from the deck, but she rarely unfurled her distinctive sails. It’s old wooden hull protested and groaned as we sailed calmly around the bay, and shuddered with alarming splintery cracks when we docked alongside other junks.

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New York City: A first-timers impression

I was bouncing up and down on my seat when the bus arrived at New York City’s Port Authority bus terminal, like a restless dog who just found out he was about to be taken for a walk. I cleaned the drool off the window as the city came into view (OK, maybe I didn’t drool, but you get the idea). Cindy and I had taken the bus all the way from Montreal, an overnighter that left from Berri-UQAM bus station in Montreal at about 10:45 at night. The 7-8 hour journey is a red-eyed, bleary and broken one, starting with a border crossing around midnight. Ahead of us at the border was a line of other buses, systematically dropping passengers off, and picking them up when the stamps were stamped. All in all, quite a smooth crossing. And only $3.

The new New York City taxi, in all shapes and sizes

As we approached the city, clichés of American society flashed past the window. Burger king and Dunkin’Donuts and Walmart, ‘adopt-a-highway’, Stop-n-Shop. In the city’s outskirts, bad traffic. A garbage truck with the statue of liberty painted and peeling on the side. Truckers and commuters and police cars and cabs. In the distance, visible through a web of steel and concrete, Manhattan glimmered in the rising sun.

Liberty City garbage truck

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