above the clouds

International Travel and Lifestyle Blog


Back to Rural Eastern Thailand

rat-curry-thailand

After a few days in Bangkok we took a van to our village and our niece immediately ran up to us and gave us big hugs around the legs (she is only 6 years old). She proudly showed us her Thai/English language book she has been studying in school. One chapter quickly caught my eye, chapter 8 - "Language for Nightclubs". I spotted phrases such as "you have a nice dall face" - presumably supposed to say "doll face" and "can I have a cigarette", … [Read more...]

Travel Meetup Bangkok, In Search of Sanuk

sanuk

Sitting in an apartment in some random location in Bangkok surrounded by a diversity of travelers listening to a Congolese refugee tell his riveting story and sad struggles of how he came to be in Thailand, I realized how an event such as this one can help enrich one's time on the road. The diversity of experiences in a single room from those who cumulatively spend some significant time traveling was certainly inspiring. It also felt very good to … [Read more...]

Layers of History, Jerusalem

There is a plethora  of spices for sale in the old city

We spent several days here exploring as there is something significant to see around seemingly every step; today was entirely spent in the confines of the walled old city. Tensions felt high at times as there were some recent isolated incidents of violence - enough to plummet tourism 70% in the last few weeks according to one shop owner we talked with. As a corollary to this, lines that would normally form around major attractions were completely … [Read more...]

Exploring Tel Aviv, Israel

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After a packed 10 days in Qatar and Bahrain I flew over to Israel to meet my brother who was flying in from Italy where he lives. I was initially concerned about coming from Arabic countries straight away to Israel and also receiving an Israeli stamp. In actuality Israel no longer seems to stamp passports, rather they give you a printed ID card which they check when you leave the country. After 10 minutes of solid grilling with random questions, … [Read more...]

Greetings from Doha, Qatar – Just Another Beautiful Sunny Day

Handsome horse in the stables at Souq Waqif

With no causeway over the open sea yet built between Bahrain and Qatar - the most convenient way between each country is via plane. It is a very short flight - something like 130km with maybe 30 minutes in air. My flight was empty - the few people on this Qatar Airways flight each had their own row as well as several rows of extra empty space around them. We were given little candies upon takeoff. Doha Airport is large, modern, gleaming and … [Read more...]

An Insiders Perspective: Night tour of Bahrain

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In doing some research prior to my travel to Bahrain I stumbled upon a website advertising private tours. I emailed the owner, Hanan (she no longer offers tours) but she kindly agreed to meetup after work. This was a real insiders tour from someone who grew up in Bahrain and knows the island extremely well. Her diversity of interests, local knowledge and passion for both travel and for Bahrain were clearly evident. We immediately drove to some … [Read more...]

Tiny Al Dar Islands, Bahrain

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Looking to capitalize on some unseasonably December weather in Bahrain I decided to make a day trip from Manama to the tiny Dar Islands, just off the coast of an industrial section of the country called Sitra. You come to these islands for relaxing and to enjoy the water - taking breaks from the searingly intense summer heat. A variety of activities are offered - including diving for pearls, kayaking and snorkeling. And there is a special … [Read more...]

El Salvador Wedding and Lago De Coatepeque

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I am sitting on the edge of Lago De Coatepeque in El Salvador on an early morning - wakened early by the suns first rays hitting my face from my cozy spot on the floor, wedged between two sofas. Last night I vaguely remembered stumbling in around 2am. Lacking in the sleep department and heavy in the alcohol recovery, I feel surprisingly well for just a few hours of sleep. Last night was a blur, it was my cousin's wedding and it was epic. The … [Read more...]

Bahrain, A Diversity of Experiences on a Tiny Island

The Grand Mosque

Today I headed out to explore the island with my driver Babu. Babu, like many expats who have come to Bahrain is from India - and came here to take part in the construction boom a number of years ago. He worked his way to supervisor - the boom ended and now works with the hotel I am staying at to drive people around the island. He asked me how difficult it was to get a visa to the USA. I had to tell him for a single man like himself, it could be … [Read more...]

Touchdown at Sunset, Lets go Explore Manama, Bahrain

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I touched down gently at the Manama airport just prior to sunset after making several short regional flights, glad to have arrived to some warm and humid weather after rain and cold temps came to California the prior week. The last time I was in this area it was 47 degrees when I landed, sometime in September. The heat can be brutal in the summer here but by this time of year the temperatures have subsided considerably. I soon found myself … [Read more...]