Two years ago around this time I took a trip to Japan with grad school classmates. It was an amazing trip organized by Japanese students attending Columbia (most of whom are back in Japan these days working for their government), which meant they organized and guided us through their home cities making sure we got to see, eat, and do as much as possible. Now that I work full-time, I find myself dreaming about my next trip to somewhere far, far, away, but while I plot that, I figured I should share some photos from Japan that I never got around to two years ago.
We started out trip in Kyoto — a city I hope to return to some day. Like the Japanese ladies below, we got dressed in kimonos (minus face paint) and walked around seeing temples, eating, and enjoying warm weather.
Kiyomizu-dera temple above Kyoto:
Kyoto’s Golden temple, also known as Kinkaku-ji:
Better late than never, right? A year ago at this time I was frantically reading everything I could about girl’s education in India in preparation for a two-week trip to northern India as part of my capstone project in grad school. My team was working with an NGO, the Study Hall Educational Foundation, based in Lucknow, India, doing an evaluation of their girl’s empowerment curriculum that is being used in nearly 100 government run all-girls boarding schools known as KGBVs. The KGBVs are grades 6-8 and target students from lower socioeconomic classes. The curriculum teaches girls about their rights and bodies — the legal age of marriage, what abuse is, the changes they experience during puberty, hygiene — something that is desperately needed in many parts of the world.
Before we headed into the field, we spent two days exploring New Delhi and Agra. I’d heard a lot about India from fellow travelers especially while I lived in Asia and to be honest reviews ranged from “it was the most amazing trip of my life” to “eh, it was hot, dirty, people are very poor.” The whole time I was in India I was comparing it to my time in Jakarta and other parts of Indonesia and well, maybe I have a major bias, but I enjoyed traveling Indonesia a lot more than India. India was interesting and I would love to visit the southern parts some day but it’s not that high on my list.
Our fieldwork took us all over the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorest regions in India. Many of the schools we visited were over a two-hour drive from any bigger town. Below is a photo of a ghat in Mirzapur, one of the larger cities on our journey. It was magical watching the fog roll in over the Ganges River and spotting freshwater dolphins swimming along.
Delhi was a bustling, busy and messy place. I also didn’t expect it to be so cold and foggy in January. When we opened the curtains in our hotel room we couldn’t see anything down below — that’s how thick the fog was.
The Jama Masjib in Delhi where you must don long robes to walk around. It’s one of India’s largest mosques.
I know, I know, so much blogging to catch up with. Since I’m working full time in news these days, I’ve decided to join the ever-growing newsletter crowd. My weekly newsletter is named End Notes, after those great little notes at the end of academic pieces that are often full of little gems. That and it comes at the end of the week. I’m planning to send it out every Saturday and it will feature a rundown of international and domestic news, food, gender, and cats.
Click here to sign up. More soon here too, I promise. I leave you with some pictures of fall in New York.
It’s only fitting to look back on the first week of summer during one of the last warm weekends. At the end of May I headed to Italy for a week with my parents. We started off in Rome and then headed to the five villages of Cinque Terre on the Ligurian coast. On the way back to Rome we stopped off for a day in Florence. It was a fantastic trip full of amazing food, gelato, and desserts. I had been to Rome in college while I was studying abroad in Paris and I had great memories of staying up all night the last night there to catch an early morning flight back to Paris. Since Italy has so much written about it, I’ll keep it at a minimum and let the photos do most of the talking.
Wandering the Trastevere neighborhood where we stayed in Rome was fantastic. Someday I will look this chic…
I know, I know, I broke my New Year’s resolution of blogging more regularly. So in an effort to catch up, I’m starting with my last trip and working backwards. I earned my Master’s degree at the end of May and then took a two-week trip to Italy and Ireland. Neither Victor nor I had ever been to Ireland and since we only had a week we decided in our typical fashion to see as much as possible. So we rented a car and Victor drove the route below (hello, driving on the left, I was not going to even try to wrap my mind around that, so a big thanks to Victor for taking the wheel and avoiding all of the sheep). After a week in Ireland, I was completely smitten and would love to go back to see areas we didn’t have time for. I also now preach the wonders of Ireland to anyone who will listen.
We started our trip in Dublin where we were introduced to the massive Irish breakfast (photo above) and the four seasons of weather that come in one day — pack a raincoat. Dublin was fun to wander, but the whole Temple Bar area isn’t really my scene, so after a long wander and an amazing dinner at the Winding Stair, we were ready to start our drive the next morning.
As we start driving, heading for the ancient burial mounds at Bru na Boinne, we suddenly found ourselves on a tight, one-lane back country road with stone walls on either side and fast-driving Irish people trying to pass us. Victor and I both grew silent. We were in a Citron mini SUV and I started having horrible thoughts about hospitals in Ireland. Luckily, we reached the ruins without a problem, but both of our nerves were shot. I started to play with the GPS and realized that whoever had it before us had checked fastest route. I remedied that quickly by checking the “always use highways” button. Although we later found out that some highways are still narrow one ways that sheep take over at night. Victor bought me a worry stone when we arrived at Bru na Boinne. Let’s just say I polished the rock for the rest of our trip.
The burial mounds at Bru na Boinne are older than the pyramids and no one really knows the whole story behind them, but it was interesting to see, especially the old carvings: