Bhutan | The Road to Phobjika Valley

Phobjika_Road2Gangtey
Driving over Pelela Pass

Maybe the Beatles had Bhutan in mind when they composed “The Long and Winding Road.” Certainly, the East West highway (and I use that term advisedly) lives up to that description.  We spent many hours on serpentine roads with steep inclines and precipitous drop-offs as we traveled up and over the Pelela Pass (11,200 feet) on our way from Punakha to the Phobjika Valley. Continue reading “Bhutan | The Road to Phobjika Valley”

Bhutan | Picture Perfect Punakha

108 Stupas Dochula Pass BhutanThe three-hour drive from Paro to Punakha crosses over Dochula Pass at 3100 meters – site of the Druk Wangyal Chortens. The 108 chortens (stupas) commemorate Bhutanese soldiers who died in the 2003 war against insurgents from India. Punakha Valley and Mo ChhuThe vast majority of photos I had seen prior to visiting Bhutan were of monasteries and mountains. The incredibly fertile valleys and lush landscapes were a total surprise. Punakha is located at 1200 meters which makes it an ideal first stop for flat landers (those who reside near or at sea level). There are two major rivers: the Mo (mother) and Pho (father) that provide ample water for irrigation.  Continue reading “Bhutan | Picture Perfect Punakha”

Bhutan | Preview of Coming Attractions

The Kingdom of Bhutan has been on my must see list for 25 years.  When I first heard about this jewel of a country nestled in the Himalayas between India and China, it had only recently opened to tourism.  While it took me much longer than expected to finally  make the trip, it was well worth the wait!  Continue reading “Bhutan | Preview of Coming Attractions”

Must See | Tokyo | Meiji Shrine

Timing is everything, or at least a lot. When we made plans to visit the Meiji Shrine, we had no idea that the day would be spectacular and that many families would be celebrating Shichi Go San (7-5-3), a celebratory right of passage that dates back to the Heian period.  On this occasion, boys who are aged three or five and girls who are aged three or seven are  dressed … Continue reading Must See | Tokyo | Meiji Shrine

Naoshima, Japan

Naoshima Part III | Wrap Up

Perhaps what makes the Naoshima experience so memorable is the combination of sublime contemporary art and architecture with the traditional fishing villages and shrines. We were struck by the sensitivity to and respect for the environment that pervades these islands and is manifested throughout. Hiroshi Sugimoto restored an Edo Period shrine and added a new superstructure in his 2002 work “Appropriate Proportion.” The optical glass staircase he designed links the … Continue reading Naoshima Part III | Wrap Up

Now for Naoshima | Chichu Art Museum

Up the road from the Benesse House complex, visitors approach the Chichu Art Museum via a Giverny-inspired garden. This homage to Monet is the perfect introduction to a museum centered on five of the artist’s spectacular Water Lily paintings. Those works are housed in an exquisite gallery of white marble with soft filtered natural light. Photos are forbidden, although you can see some on the museum’s … Continue reading Now for Naoshima | Chichu Art Museum

George Rickey Three Squares Vertical Diagonal 1972-82

Now for Naoshima | Art in Japan’s Inland Sea Part I

There are must see places and there are must see again places. Naoshima is both.  Once is good, twice is better. This is only appropriate, since Naoshima encompasses several museums, public art installations and spreads over several islands located in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. Getting there is a process and actually enhances the experience: bullet train to bus to ferry to bicycle or … Continue reading Now for Naoshima | Art in Japan’s Inland Sea Part I

Sashimi, Sushi, Toro, Japan

Foodie Friday | Japan

Wading through two weeks’ worth of mouthwatering images from sublime meals in Japan, I decided to let the pictures do the talking for this post! More to come next week, with a feature on Naoshima. In the meantime, I may rent Jiro Dreams of Sushi and order takeout from my local Japanese restaurant to sate the cravings this post created. For more on Japan, see Tokyo … Continue reading Foodie Friday | Japan

Catch it if You Can |Tsukiji Market |Tokyo

This week is Japan week on travelmagnolia. Starting off with Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market – a MUST SEE and you only have a little more than a year before this iconic institution leaves central Tokyo and everything changes.  A visit here is not for the faint-hearted and requires advance planning. While it is possible to tour the stalls and small restaurants in the surrounding areas on one’s own, for … Continue reading Catch it if You Can |Tsukiji Market |Tokyo