Pyramid Scheming in Minnesota

At first it sounded like a job interview. “I’m a good communicator because…” “I work well both alone and as a team…” “I graduated three years ago but I’ve demonstrated the 17 years of requisite experience by working 4 jobs and training myself to only need 8 minutes of sleep a day.” We were in…

An Afternoon in Post-Apocalyptic Wilmington, Delaware

Wilmington, Delaware is a piece of East Coast suburbia that feels like a new utopia created for a post-apocalyptic future. I can describe it no better than by saying the trash cans on the street are never more than 30% full. Compare that to New York, the great American dirt-hole, where trashcans are 120% full…

Alaska Princess Cruise Rail Tour

Most people who visit Alaska do so on a giant cruise ship that floats around the southern shores of Alaska. When we were looking at Alaska, we too were drawn by the charm of sharing oxygen with hundreds of strangers in stuffy cruise ship cabins for a week, but ultimately we decided against it. However,…

An Alarming Announcement on a Bus Tour to Niagara Falls & Toronto

To understand what happened on that bus at 8pm outside a cheap hotel in Toronto you first have to understand Wilson. Wilson was the guide on our bilingual English-Chinese 3-day-tour of Niagara Falls and Toronto from New York City. Wilson wore dark pants and a wool sweater under a camo jacket. He was, I’d guess,…

How Did Astoria Get Its Name?

Astoria, Queens was named after John Jacob Astor, who was once the wealthiest man in America. You might imagine therefore that Mr. Astor was born in what was then known as Hallett’s Cove and the village renamed themselves in his honor. That would be understandable and frankly quite boring. In reality, Mr. Astor never set foot in the…

Heading Home for the Holidays

Later in December, I’m heading home to the UK. To be more specific, I leave New York on Christmas Eve and land at Heathrow at 7am on Christmas Day, where my beleaguered parents will be waiting, having woken up at 5am and driven an hour and a half from Cambridge to pick me up. I…

An Unnecessary Addition to the Christ the Redeemer Statue

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is one of the more incredible things to see in this kerfuffle we call life. I’m a fit and able human being and I have no problem climbing some steps to see something so impressive. And besides, there’s a train most of the way up, use…

Hiking in Bear Mountain State Park

Hiking is good exercise. But when you live in New York City, to go hiking you have to walk to the subway – passing a perfectly adequate gym on the way – then take the subway to the bus station, then sit motionless and cramped on a bus for two hours, and then you have to…

Bus Ride from CAP to PAP

CAP to PAP was our route. Or Cap Haitien to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to de-acronymify things. Google Maps told us it was 239km and a five and a half hour journey through mountains and then down the coast. It sounded promising. I was excited. Sans Souci was the bus company and the night before we’d checked the…

Buying Tickets to Citadelle Laferrière, Haiti

We were standing outside the ticket booth that sold tickets (naturally) to Citadelle Laferrière in northern Haiti, the largest fortress in the Americas. “Here is the cost,” said the lady behind the glass. We looked over the chart showing the prices to visit the largest fortress in the Americas. $5 for just a ticket, $20 for…

Tōdai-ji Temple Complex in Nara, Japan

It strikes me as quite peculiar that the largest wooden building in the world* – Great Buddha Hall, at the centre of the Tōdai-ji Complex in Nara, Japan – has burnt down twice. Twice. Maybe you think that would be expected, given that on a list of flammable things, wood ranks just below a factory that…