From Perspectives

In the Company of Two Rivers

LUANG PRABANG, Laos — “To the city center,” I say to the tuktuk driver. The bus from Vang Vieng arrived in Luang Prabang much later than scheduled and I did not anticipate reaching the city at this time. It’s already evening, and my awkward social qualities made sure I didn’t make any friends during the…

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House of Open Doors: The Manila You Don’t Know

MANILA, Philippines — Guidebooks paint two-dimensional portraits of Manila: Intramuros here, Chinatown there, traffic everywhere. Online accounts reveal all her glaring flaws: she’s noisy, highly disorganized, a little suffocating, and totally insane. Yoshke Dimen takes a leap of faith in this sorely misunderstood megacity in search of her good side and finds that only those…

Kindness

TAOYUAN, Taiwan — An old woman and two suitcases have become the great divide between impatience and emptiness. Confused and frazzled, the petite lady unintentionally blocks the aisle to the Economy Class of that KLM flight to Amsterdam. The pressure from the growing line isn’t helping. She doesn’t know where to put the bags. The man…

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Conversions

ZHANGJIAJIE, China — He looks at my passport, and I know something is not right. The bank teller stares at my currency exchange form and gives me a look I can’t decipher. My stay in Zhangjiajie is ending, and I need some yuan to catch the last train out. His fingers tap the desk anxiously,…

Godless Course

BATANGAS, Philippines — Every Friday she came to our school, a public school, and taught the Catholic ways to pupils whose families shared the same faith. The non-Catholic kids would then move out of the room and play outside. The catechist, as our teacher would call her, always began her lesson with a story. All…

Top 20 Songs I Listened to During Travel in 2013

In another life, U2’s Beautiful Day or the Beatles’s Across the Universe would be my travel anthems. But in this life, I love *pop* just as much as I love any other genre of music. Perhaps even more, to be honest. And while it’s productive to use travel time to reflect and make life-changing decisions,…

Five-Hour Connections*

MALACCA, Malaysia — We stepped out to the garden almost at the same time. And almost at the same time we placed a bottle of softdrink on separate tables. “Would you mind if I smoked?” I asked politely. “Absolutely not, I’m here for the same reason,” he smiled and introduced himself. His name is Aurelien,…

Layers

Outer Cover. TAAL, Philippines — It took two teenage boys to get the sacks of rice from the back of the pickup truck into the building, a shelter exclusively for abandoned or abused little girls . From the passenger seat, a middle-aged woman emerged and walked without looking at either of them. Until that moment when…

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