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Book review – Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan by Will Ferguson

A few months ago I read Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan (also under the title Hitching Rides With Buddha) by Will Ferguson and it’s recently been on my mind. Between Japan being hit with an earthquake and tsunami, the sakura zensen (cherry blossom front) passing the country and my current week-long trip to Vancouver where I’m attending a Cherry Blossom event, it feels very applicable today. While it didn’t completely enthrall me like a really good book would, it was still a book I couldn’t put down because I knew it was teaching me really interesting and culturally important stuff.
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Hitchhiking out of Turkey: an adventure and a detour

Sometimes good travel ideas aren’t the best timed. Turkey seemed to be full of them for me. For example: renting scooters for a day? Great. Not returning until after sunset and freezing on the way back? Not so fun.

My most blatant travel blunder was probably deciding to hitchhike out of Istanbul.
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Vampires, Gypsies and horse-drawn carts: false images of Romania

What images come to mind when you think about Romania?

Thieves? Dracula? Castles? Poor, rural life? Country-side?

I’ll admit that before I went to Romania, I planned on watching my back around Gypsies, getting a hold of some garlic and holy water to keep the vampires away and riding on horse-drawn carts around the country.

Luckily, I didn’t get any bite marks, I held on to my wallet and I moved between cities quickly on Romanian motorways.
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Catalan luck and Gaudí love

Irish and Northern Irish accents were hard to understand. Even British accents in London were difficult at times. But Spanish is a whole different language (obvious, I know).

I flew into Barcelona airport from London on a whim and even though I didn’t have much time to brush up on my foreign language skills, my high school Spanish slowly came back to me and a fast-talking and helpful Catalan woman helped jolt it back into gear right away.
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My first published article – Turkish hospitality: a non-Muslim’s discovery

I recently wrote an article for OnIslam.net called Turkish hospitality: a non-Muslim’s discovery about my time in Turkey and the wonderful hospitality I experienced there.

I’m really excited about this new opportunity to write for OnIslam.net and I hope you read my article and enjoy it.

Feel free to post comments at OnIslam.net or here.

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Props to the barefoot pilgrims!

I met many travelers at the very sociable hostel in Doolin, the most memorable of which was a group of four Italians who had rented a car.  After going for drinks and very animated conversation, I discovered in our group of 5, I was the only one who didn’t smoke and only one of the girls was trying to quit, so she stayed in the pub with me.  Luckily, she was the only one in the group who didn’t speak English, so we somehow managed to have a conversation using the few English words she knew and me trying to recall the Spanish I learned in school.  Somehow, it magically led to me learning the word ‘polipo’, or octopus.  This quickly became my favorite word in Italian and still tops my list.
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