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Iceland, Part 1: The Ring Road

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While the Aurora Borealis was the highlight of my trip to Iceland,  Iceland’s storybook geography and natural wonder were really worth the trip.  I saw glaciers, ice-capped volcanoes, lava fields, black sand beach, geysers, hot springs, and waterfalls. It was like middle earth. Another plus of Iceland for me was the ease of visiting. Many visitors come to Iceland and rent a car and drive around the one highway (Route 1) that runs around throughout the island. But I opted for an all-inclusive package tour because I wanted an expert guide who could show me the best area to see the Aurora.


We started with a drive to Hella on a very clear day, we passed flat landscape with lava rocks sticking out. After hours, the lava rocks ended and started to grow green moss.

The Ring Road The following morning, the weather had turned cold and gray as we traveled along the South Coast of Iceland to Vik village. Clouds hang over the horizon, but the drive was gorgeous as streaks of sunlight tried to bre…

Chasing the Aurora Borealis in Iceland

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What a prelude to my Aurora Borealis hunting trip!!! In the middle of my flight from Seattle to Iceland, the captain spotted the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights and announced that it could be viewed from the right side of the plane. Since I was seated on the left side, I rushed towards the right-side window by the exit door, but a few people were already in line taking pictures. I only had a quick glimpse before it disappeared. When I returned to my seat, I saw so much light outside, and I knew it was not coming from the plane. Then I saw shimmering curtains of light high up in the sky, coming from different directions. OMG Aurora Borealis! I tried to grab my big camera, but instead of wasting time trying to set it up, I decided to take a few snaps with my iPhone and just enjoy the Aurora in its full glory. Seeing it up close was really something special. I was like a kid on Christmas morning with the biggest smile on my face, looking through a foggy window and seeing Santa. It wa…

Chasing Waterfalls in Ecuador

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In a country known as the land of the volcanoes with towering mountain peaks and deep plunging valleys, it was easy to find some waterfalls. I’ve been to Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world, so I was not that excited about seeing waterfalls smaller than Iguazu Falls.  However, several waterfalls in Ecuador have trails, so 'chasing waterfalls' was a good excuse for me to hike on the valley floor than a hike on higher elevation or climbing mountains.


The first waterfall was quite small. On the way to the Mindo Cloud Forest, we stopped at El Pahuma Orchid Reserve, an ecological center, to see more than 200 species of orchids. As it turned out the orchids were not in bloom. The visit turned into a guided hike into a secondary forest (private land), a tropical rainforest with gorgeous waterfalls.  The walk to the waterfalls was short.  However, it was not easy navigating through the mossy forest floor and the short climb on wet and slippery pathways. Our guide m…

Ecuador: The Land of the Volcanoes

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I did not have to scale mountains and volcanoes!  I was already at more than 9000 feet above sea level on most of the short hikes I did and the time I spent in Ecuador.

I arrived in Quito in the middle of the night and the ride to my hotel took about 40 minutes. After a few minutes of flat road, our van climbed higher and higher and the hotel seemed no closer. I was definitely feeling the altitude during the ride to the hotel, so I popped a pill (Diamox). I awoke in the wee hours and had to get up a few times to pee. I had chills and tingly hands and fingers. I thought I was going to have a stroke. I may not have suffered from altitude sickness, but I sure felt the side effects of the pill I took to prevent altitude sickness.

Our first day in Ecuador was an easy introduction, we went on an excursion outside Quito. We drove through a lovely road that wasn’t too steep to the Mindo Cloud Forest, where it had a few trails to a secondary forest and lookouts. We hiked to the lookout where w…

Road Trip: Canadian Rockies

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One of my travel goals this year was to visit more National Parks.  So when a relative invited me (more like I invited myself) to join them on a road trip to the Canadian Rockies, I did not pass up on the opportunity.  As it turned out, it's one of the most unforgettable road trips I've had experienced.  If I were to blog about the road trip, I could sum it up in a few words:  We passed through 250 kilometers of one of the world's most scenic highways flanked by firs and spruce forests, and an unbroken panorama of massive rocky mountains, turquoise rivers, and lakes, waterfalls, and glacier-topped peaks that linked Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks. So instead of writing about the trip, I decided to do a Vlog so my followers can enjoy the views.

Our Canadian Rockies road trip actually started in Calgary International Airport.  I met up with relatives and friends, who drove from Edmonton to Calgary, to pick me up from the airport.  Then we headed to the hotel and Banff…

Perspective on South Korea

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To be honest, South Korea has not been on my list of places to see before I die.  I've set foot on South Korean soil just to kill time while waiting for my flight to some place else.  After a 13-year old relative told me that she preferred Seoul, So. Korea than New York, I thought I'd look into what made South Korea a popular destination for millennials.   To get some perspective, I asked another relative, Rose, to share her Vlogs on this platform.

1.  FIRST TRIP





2. GREAT KOREAN BEER FESTIVAL & COEX AQUARIUM


3. SHOPPING





4. FIFA- U20 WORLD CUP IN KOREA





Thank you Rose for sharing your Vlogs.

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Rose DelaCruz

Western Cape, South Africa: Photo Essay

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How fortunate we are to see and experience incredible spectacles of nature. It’s easy to see the beauty of this penguin and its reflection, but I see something more: the beauty of water that is taken back to reveal the sand which becomes the mirror that reflects the drama and splendor of nature in perfect detail.



According to Boulders Beach staffers, Climate Change has affected fish stocks and increased severe weather incidences have depleted penguin chicks in numbers. When I asked a Boulders Beach staffer if tourism had a negative impact, his reply, "No, just the opposite. Your visit help sparked a lifelong commitment to saving their future."


It’s sad that the US president does not believe in climate change or global warming. The fragility of our environment is clearly evident now more than ever. Our planet earth is worth protecting. Much like the sand, we too can be mirrors and reflect the best in one another to spur each other into action.




NOTE:
1.  Photos by the author an…