Hawaii: Waterfalls and Gardens

WaterfallsI thought I would not be able to appreciate a modest 80 feet waterfall after seeing waterfalls that seemed to have started from the clouds in the Norwegian Fjords weeks before my trip to Hawaii. But I enjoyed the Rainbow Falls as much as I did the many waterfalls I saw in Norway. Perhaps, it was because of its accessibility. The Rainbow Falls are part of the Hawaii State Parks and Wailuku River, the longest river in Hawaii, and flow into a lava cave said to be the home of Hina, a Hawaiian goddess. It’s also called Waianuenue Falls which means “rainbow seen in the water”. It's said that a rainbow can be seen arching across the falls on a sunny morning. It was raining on and off during our visit, so we did not see a rainbow. But it was beautiful nonetheless. 

We planned on hiking the two and a half-mile route from our friend’s house, but because of the rain, we decided to drive and just walked the short trail to the viewpoint facing the waterfalls (there were a big drop …

Hawaii: Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

On a recent visit to Hawaii, we hiked through a few volcanic craters in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We pretty much spent the whole day in the park, stopping first at the Kilauea Visitor Center to get information and hiking trail maps. There were friendly rangers who highlighted our maps and made suggestions as to which route to take. There were also exhibits about the park’s historical, environmental and cultural overview, and a theater where we watched a short film about the island formation, the arrival of life by wing, wind, and wave and the ecosystem from the sea to the summit, the rainforest and stories of Hawaii’s native people.

There are 150 miles of hiking trails through volcanic craters, deserts and rainforest and two active volcanoes within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  So, it's easy to spend a whole day in the park and barely scratch the surface, hiking-wise.We drove the 10.6 miles Crater Rim Drive and hiked to see the park’s main attractions: the Kilauea Ov…

Scaling the Heights in Norway

The Roof of Norway
I did not literally climb mountains but traversed the highest mountain pass in Northern Europe through the dramatic Norwegian countryside. We traveled by car through the Sognefjellet road that began in the town of Lom and ran alongside Bøver River. Buried under a pile of snow for much of the year, the road is only open between May and September. We were warned that we would be driving through a very narrow and bumpy road and that there would be no services along the way.  We traveled in June and I saw lots of greens trees. The valley view was specked with occasional brown houses and a few turf houses. As the road climbed higher I saw waterfalls, cabins up in the mountains, and a glimpse of snow peak mountains. Our guide explained that Norwegians love the outdoors so it’s common to see cabins and hiking trails up in the mountains. Also, the government believes that nature and country are for everybody, so everybody is free to camp out and hike. 

I could not stop taki…

Flam Railway: The Most Beautiful Train Ride

Norway is home to some legendary scenery in Northern Europe and the Flam Railway (Flåmsbana) is among the most famous. It offers a panoramic view of Norway's wildest and most picturesque landscape.Flam Railway is the steepest standard-gauge railway in Northern Europe. 

I took the train from Aurlandsfjord to the high mountains of Myrdal and ended at the Klosfossen Waterfall before taking the transfer from Myrdal to Voss. As the train started to move, I heard the announcement, “The Flam Railway is 20 kilometers long. Our journey will take about one hour. The steepest climb on the Flam Railway is 1 to 18.”  There was also commentary in different languages along the way.  Our guide warned us that we would not be able to take good photos from a moving train, but I kept my eyes peeled for the opportunity to take pictures.

The Flam Railway was one of the most amazing train rides I've experienced and the most beautiful. For me, it’s not the technology that made it more spectacular than …

Norway: Sognefjord & Nærøyfjord

I came to Norway for the fjord land and boy it did not disappoint. I went through Sognefjord, Norway's longest and deepest fjord and its famous arm the Nærøyfjord, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has also been rated by the National Geographic Society as the world's number one natural heritage site along with the Geirangerfjord. I should have been disappointed because it rained when we were going through the fjords, but I'd guessed God perfected the art with the rain. The mist added drama to the most stunning scenery: the mountains along the fjords that rise to more than 5500 feet and the waterfalls that start from the clouds and plunge to emerald green water. 

The whole scenery begged to be stared upon; I took a few pictures and continued to video record the whole trip. The camera could not do justice to the unbelievably stunning scenery, and no words can describe what the whole experience of going through the fjords felt like but I'm still in awe. That said,…