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Showing posts from July, 2009

Field of Colors

For the last month I've been passing through this field of colors in Gilroy on my way to work. Last Monday I could no longer resist the view so I finally stopped to take this picture. Thank goodness this field has not withered under scorching temperatures but the sunflowers down the road sure did. I took too long to take a shot of that. Time takes it toll.

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Image by Charie

Last Call

It's 1:30 p.m. and we are waiting for the rest of our party to join us. The buffet bar is closing in 30 minutes and all the food will be taken away. The image above shows our panicky response to last call.

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Image by Charie

How to be a good tourist

In the latest survey of 4,500 hotel owners around the world conducted for Expedia, French tourists were ranked the worst tourists for the third year in a row. So what went wrong? Survey found the French arrogant, rude, stingy tippers and the least likely to speak another language. The French were followed by the Spaniards and the Greeks.
On the other hand, Japanese tourists were rated the best tourists by those surveyed because they are polite, clean, quiet and least likely to complain. American tourists were most likely to complain among all groups but were ranked in the Best Tourists category because they are generous tippers and big spenders. Americans however ranked poorly in tidiness and grooming.
Let's count the ways to be a good tourist: 1. Be polite 2. Be clean 3. Dress carefully and appropriately 4. Don't be loud 5. Try to speak at least a few words in the language of the country you are visiting 6. Tip reasonably (Check Conde Nast Traveler tipping guide by country) http://ww…

What's in a bento box?

I was invited to lunch recently at Dashi Restaurant in Menlo Park. I ordered the saba shioyaki bento lunch and here's what I got: miso soup, green salad, fried tofu, california rolls, steam rice, grilled mackerel (saba shioyaki) and a slice of orange. I ate everything but the salad. Why? I'm not fond of lettuce. The orange is for cleansing the palate. But after eating fish, I needed to brush my teeth anyway.

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Photo by Charie

The Wooded Hills of Kamakura

Daibutsu

The Kamakura countryside is within an hour by train from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo but is so far removed from the trappings of the big city. Set amidst a backdrop of wooded hills and sea, it is the ideal place for prayer and meditation. A small train chugs along the Enoden line from Kamakura to Hase where we got off for the short stroll to see the Daibutsu or Great Buddha. Measuring 37 ft. in height and weighing 93 tons, it is the second largest bronze statue of Buddha in Japan. I could see its face through the wooden slats which made up the gate enclosing an area where a temple once sheltered the statue. That temple was washed away by a tsunami in 1495, exposing the Daibutsu to the elements for the last 500 years. But this has proved to be a godsend because visitors can see the Amita Buddha in full view, serene yet majestic against the natural setting.

Closer to the train station is Hasedera (Hase Kannon Temple) which is up on a hillside. A typical Japanese garden leads …

Geocities is closing

Yahoo sent me an email last week informing me that they will be shutting down Geocities for good. I'm saddened by this because Geocities is the original blog. I kept my first travel writing journals "Decouvrez" in Geocities. It's a free site and hosted both my writing and photographic works. So sorry it will no longer be around. Thanks Yahoo for the free ride.

In the next few weeks I'll be uploading some of my articles from Geocities to this blog starting with "The Wooded Hills of Kamakura". Hope you'll follow my past journeys as you have my latest ones.

"The Sweet Life in Paris"

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
My nephew who is an avid reader gave me this book by David Lebovitz for my birthday. I can't rave enough about it. Here's what I wrote to David about his new book: "The narratives in "The Sweet Life in Paris" are as savory as the recipes which you've thoughtfully paired with each of the chapters. Can't wait for your next book. Till then I'll be reading your blog which is a visual feast."

David's prose is candid, funny, honest and amusing. He confirms what I've thought and experienced in Paris in particular and France in general during my many visits there. Here's a sample: In the chapter What they say versus what they mean Davidwrites that when a restaurateur tells you they are completely full, they mean "We already have enough Americans in here".

My own personal experience dining at a starred restaurant in France is that we were escorted to the upstairs dining room where we were joine…