Istanbul Story: Up In (Hookah) Smoke

“Just suck and blow, you know how to do that right?” Vicky cackled, passing me the hookah hose. As white smoke filled the milky base, my head filled up with sleek and sexy images of desert sheikhs and curious caterpillars, puffing on long slender pipes, exhaling delicate, swirling plumes. Self-consciously raising the plastic mouthpiece to Read More …

Backpacker Befriends Bukhara, Part 2

“My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” Jack Kerouac The earlier blistering sun was soft and low on the horizon now, Somoni Park with its dwarfish bushes and dusty brick paths bathed in an ominous golden glow. The Samanid Mausoleum was sand-thatched, diminutive, and padlocked Read More …

Istanbul Story: Coworkers & Conquerors

Vicky and I didn’t always see eye to eye. But as we piled into a passenger van from Ataturk Airport, we were swept up in giddy excitement, enchanted by swirling Turkish pop melodies blasting from the radio. This was Istanbul—where East meets West. Here my coworker and I—like the Christians and Muslims, conquerors and traders that have passed through Istanbul itself Read More …

Nominated for the Liebster Award!

I’m super excited that Mar over at Once in a Lifetime Journey has nominated me for the Liebster Award for up-and-coming bloggers. So without further ado, here are my answers to the 11 questions and my nominations at the bottom. Enjoy! 1. What makes you a unique traveler? I don’t know if this makes me Read More …

Backpacker Befriends Bukhara, Part 1

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Backpacking in Central Asia

“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” Shirley MacLaine. My cell phone alarm rattled me awake just after dawn, interrupting dreams of Bukhara’s Silk Road glory. Yesterday I caught a glimpse of that past in the city’s mosques, madrassas, and minarets. Today I wanted to get Read More …

Spectres & Spectacles in Holy Bukhara

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Backpacking in Central Asia

The ghosts of history sometimes speak to us in spectacles and marvels, sometimes stay frustratingly silent, and the art of travel often lies more in the imagination than the destination itself. “Bukhara! For centuries it had glimmered remote in the Western consciousness: the most secretive and fanatical of the great caravan-cities, shored up in its desert fastness Read More …

A Lonely Fool and a Mirage in Tashkent

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Backpacking in Central Asia

“Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance.” Will Durant.   Blinding light and stifling heat pushed against the curtains of the tall French doors. I awoke with a start.  Dazed from jetlag, I headed to the courtyard to fuel up for the first day of my journey, excited yet anxious. Read More …

Fear and Foreboding in Tashkent

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Backpacking in Central Asia

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Soren Kierkegaard.   Scattered dim lights twinkled over the flat, unremarkable cityscape as we landed in Tashkent. My heart pounded.  At the end of my long crawl to the diving board’s edge, it was time to jump. Seeing the serpentine immigration line at the end of the long, grim Read More …

Liftoff to Central Asia

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Backpacking in Central Asia

“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi.   Hushed voices and muffled footsteps seemed to boom through Dulles Airport on Sunday night. Despite the late hour, I was wide awake. I was finally leaving on a one-month trip through Central Asia.  Choosing the destination was easy. I wanted to go Read More …

Welcome to The Vagabond Beat

Travel was always a part of me. As a kid I burned with desire to go “Over There,” just for kicks. I spent my sixteenth year in Japan–6,354 miles from home–and haven’t stopped traveling since. Drifting through unfamiliar places is as natural as breathing. And I can’t stop. “I’ve always wanted to get as far as Read More …