Places

Discovering Places

Gilded in Black Gold: Six Gaudy Projects of the Petroleum Gulf

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It’s not a surprise that the Gulf region contains some of the world’s more curious construction. Northwest to southeast Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the U.A.E. and Oman share more than just a shoreline along the world’s most politically charged body of water. These desert regions were for centuries populated by nomadic Arabian shepherds and traders, seasonal migrants. Fossil-fuels changed everything. Today the grandchildren of  the last  generation of nomads occupy some of the world’s most densely-populated urban areas...

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Five Natural Places to Love in Post-Tsunami Tohoku, Japan

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I’m letting the secret out: Tohoku, a region in Japan most widely recognized for the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated its eastern shore in 2011, has another reason to be known: for its outdoors. Dotted with mountains, gorges, waterfalls, lakes, and fields, this northern area of mainland Japan offers a superabundance of scenic pursuits for any nature-loving soul. Call me biased (this region has been my home for the past 1.5 years), but Tohoku has some of the most beautiful and at times most surprising nature a person...

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Defining “Thin Places” for the Traveler in Search of Transcendence

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What is a “Thin Place”? Despite having travelled extensively for a variety of purposes, the idea of a “thin place” was entirely new to me when I came across Eric Weiner’s article “Thin Places, Where We Are Jolted Out of Old Ways of Seeing the World,” in The New York Times. The term “thin place” derives from the Celtic Christians. Initially, the Celtic Christians believed that there was a significant distance, or border, between Heaven and Earth. At certain places, this border was significantly thinner, allowing people to...

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6 Experiences Not to Miss While Traveling in Cambodia

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When I tell people that Cambodia is one of my favorite countries I usually get a very strange look of confusion and bewilderment. A lot of people still view Cambodia as this terrible, violent, land of rubble and danger. But the opposite it true. Cambodia has an amazing, vibrant, unavoidable soul and it rubs off on every person that goes within the border of this beauty filled country. Whether you grew up there as a child or you’re just traveling through, the excitement of everything is overwhelming. It’s a true land of smiles, with a true...

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6 Ways Egypt Confuses the Heck Out of Travelers

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1. The Time Issue Egyptians are not known for being prompt. One of the most perplexing aspects of Arab cultures for Westerners is their sense of time. When you’re meeting someone out on the town and they say 8, expect to see them around 10. When someone tells you they’ll get back to you at 1, it can be at 2, or 3, or maybe even the next day. “Give me five minutes” means “I need a little time,” “Give me an hour” means “I need a lot of time,” and “I’ll get it to you tomorrow” means you should plan for next week. And if...

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A Day in the Life of an American in Cairo

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Sunrise on the Nile No matter what time it is, the sun has been shining on us for too long. The bed directly faces the folding set of glass doors to our balcony overlooking the Nile and Cairo’s eastern sky. Our entire room is illuminated once the sun comes up around 5am. I usually spend the next two hours rolling around trying to pretend it isn’t there. If I’ve managed to sleep through the car horns, the sunlight, and Casey jumping around the room, the alarm goes off at 7 and I pull myself out of bed. I’m in charge of breakfast, but...

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Egypt Before the Revolution: It’s Either the Mubarak Way or the Mubarak Way

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The small lounge was as smoky as it was loud, and the music was blaring. My girlfriend and I sat at a table against the wall with a two of my Egyptian co-workers and a few friends of theirs. It didn’t take very long for the revolution to come up. We leaned toward the middle of the table to hear one another. “Mubarak is shit.” Ibrahim answers my question regarding the ousted dictator. I wasn’t surprised. His opinion is not unique among young educated Egyptians. They were the first Egyptians to grow up with extensive exposure to...

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An American’s Guide to Oktoberfest

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A great article from our friend Casey at CaseyFrolickingAbroad.com! Casey describes her experience at the 2011 Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Having spent the evening prior on a Brewery Tour of Munich, Kelley and I dragged our lifeless zombie bodies to Oktoberfest. Upon reporting for duty at the Oktoberfest Fairgrounds, we scouted out the scene.  After we assessed our combined knowledge of three German words and walking through two intimidating, clearly German tents we headed to the place most tourists head first, the Hafbrau house. We...

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The Cliffs of Moher

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As I stood at the edge of the cliff and looked down upon the flying birds and crashing water, a soft wave of salty wind blew across my face.  One more step and I would have been at one with the ocean, slamming into the jagged wall of rock with the frothy white tips.  I leaned over but kept my footing, as I watched the gulls glide effortlessly with the energy coming in from the deep open ocean.  From far away the ocean seemed to move in slow motion with surprising force, but upon closer inspection the sheer power is more natural than the...

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Discovering Tarifa, Spain

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When making your way into the port-town of Tarifa, Spain, do: take the bus from Algeciras (it’s 2 euros), don’t: hire the local drunk hanging out at the Tarifa bus station to take you the rest of the way to your hotel. Maybe it was the salty air and languid mood of our surroundings that had us at ease, either way Carolyn and I found ourselves helping a weathered old man pile our luggage into a two-door hatchback missing its wax. I paused uncomfortably before carefully moving over a double-barrel rifle lying across the backseat. I sensed...

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