Showing posts from August, 2010

#7 Disneyland: Antithesis to Eco-tourism

Once upon a Thanksgiving holiday, I visited Disneyland with my nephews who were near my age. Past the infatuation age with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto, the highlight of our trip was the scary rides.  It was a family trip nonetheless.  My nephew coaxed me into riding the Matterhorn, which cranks you up to the top of the mountain and sends you hurtling backwards and that you feel your innards being pulled from your stomach as the roller coaster plunged into darkness.  After the ride, the boys checked on how I felt. With a foolish bravado, I said, ‘that was great’.  Next up, Space Mountain! The line to the Space Mountain was long since it was the newest ride at the time. Standing in line gave me a heightened sensation of the ride itself. Sensing my apprehension, Glenn, one of my nephews, assured me that  I should sit next to him and that everything should be okay.  It would be fun.  All I could remember about the ride was the music; darkness; very fast; my head spinning against gravity as we

Hangzhou, China: Memories of Shangri-la

“Tomorrow we’re going to Shangri-La,” our host announces as we approach Hangzhou (a provincial city located in the Yangtze River Delta in China and the capital of Zhejiang province). I know he's not referring to the Shangri-La Hotel because it's not on our itinerary of places to stay. Neither the place of utopia, I read in James Hilton’s book, “Lost Horizon”. Our host has a different spin on the story. He tells us how an American soldier flying over Hangzhou thought he found Shangri-La. Figuratively speaking, Hangzhou is a world apart from Shanghai and Beijing. I'm able to see the blue sky amid the rain in Hangzhou. Steeped in temples, tea plantations and verdant natural beauty, Hangzhou brings to life the landscape printed on the calendar my mother brought from San Francisco Chinatown. West Lake We stroll down the pagoda-dotted path, lined by weeping willow trees from the Shang-ri La Hotel. A special wooden-boat is waiting to take us around the lake. The water lil

Paris, France: It's For Tourists

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do." - Mark Twain After meeting a friend for a drink in Paris, she asked where we were heading to next. When I said, ‘the Eiffel Tower’, she commented that she had never been and had no desire of visiting the Eiffel Tower. Considering that she went to study in Paris, married a Parisian and had been living there for years, I found her comment surprising.   When I asked why not, somewhat embarrassed and with a half-smile, she said, "Because it's for tourist." What is it about being a ‘tourist’ that suggests tawdriness? The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘tourist” as a person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure. While having my picture purposely taken in front of Rodin’s most famous work, ‘The Thinker’, the Eiffel Tower loomed in the background. One could not possibly visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Even if you