The Bezeklik, or Bizaklik, Thousand Buddha Caves in Turpan, China (©photocoen)

Touring Xinjiang’s Historical Sites Around Turpan, China

I traveled for thirty hours by bus traversing one of the world's largest deserts – the Taklamakan Desert – and got off in the middle of nowhere in a town called Turpan. I was intrigued by the region for two reasons: The extremes of landscape: a Read More

Naxi women in Yunnan's Countryside (©Coen Wubbels)

Cycling in Yunnan’s Countryside Around Lijang, China

They laugh when Coen sign languages if he can join them. Their faces are skeptical. "A foreigner? Playing mahjong?" But they see he is serious and one of them gets up. "Take my place," he motions. How do you learn this complicated game in the Read More

Sunrise Prayers at the Jinding Temple of Mount Jizu in Yunnan, China (©photocoen)

Hiking up the Holy Mountain of Mount Jizu in Yunnan, China

It's 2am and we're up and about to climb a 3248-meter-high mountain: the Chicken Foot Mountain, which is the translation of Jizu Shan. By leaving at this time we will be ahead of the crowd of visitors that will start climbing in an hour or so, and Read More

The Narrow Gauge Train to Darjeeling, North India (©photocoen)

Taking a Narrow Gauge Train to Darjeeling, India

It's still dark when we walk downhill to the train station. Although the train will only leave at seven, we have been advised to arrive an hour early, as there are few seats. The Sikkim narrow gauge diesel train runs all the way up from the town Read More

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Exploring the Angkor Wat Temples in Cambodia

I'm looking at the Hindu god Vishnu, whose legs are being massaged by his wife Laksmi. The sculpture is lying in a stream in a tropical forest and is surrounded by twittering birds and fluttering butterflies. The sight is utterly peaceful. It's the Read More

The Karni Mati Temple in Deshnok, India (©photocoen)

Searching for the White Rat in the Karni Mata Temple, India

Can you imagine walking among thousands of rats without freaking out? I couldn't, but I did, anyway. When I was reading my guidebook it sounded exciting, exotic if you like: visiting a rat temple -- a place where thousands of rats can eat, sleep Read More

Baía de Guaraqueçaba in the early morning hours (©Coen Wubbels)

Boating Through The Ecological Reserve of Sebuí in Brazil

In the early morning we sailed through the Baia de Guaraqueçaba in an open motor boat: a world of sapphire-colored water surrounded by blue-grey mountain ranges outlined against a cobalt, slightly clouded sky. With dolphins accompanying us in the Read More

Harvesting tea leaves with pruning shears. (©Coen Wubbels)

Hiking Through Munnar’s Tea Plantations in Kerala, India

The world is an ocean of green. We're surrounded by undulating hills blanketed with dark green and soft green tea plants. So many tea plants, all immaculately pruned without an inch sticking out anywhere, is no less than overwhelming. It's a work of Read More

Birds like to use the dead trunks and branches as lookout points (©Coen Wubbels)

Bamboo Rafting in Kerala’s Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, India

Tiger footprints. We stop in our tracks. Excitement rises. Our guide kneels and studies them, and concludes they are old ones. Disillusion comes with a hidden sense of relief. There is a gun-carrying guard with us, but still. We set off once more Read More

A Pilgrim Rings the Bell at the entrance of the Amarnath Cave (©Coen Wubbels)

Joining a Hindu Pilgrimage to the Amarnath Cave in India

The ultimate goal is almost in sight: an ice stalagmite. A holy one, mind you. I flop down on an ice-cold stone and vigorously rub my feet, which have turned blue. They lost all feeling after I climbed stone steps without number in subzero Read More

The park offers views of Fitz Roy from various trails and campsites (photo credit: Coen Wubbels)

Hiking in Argentina’s National Park Los Glaciares

We stare at pieces of plastic strewn around our campsite. Chunks of bread lie here and there but we gather two of our three loaves have gone. We're aghast. A fellow camper walks up to us, "Yeah, we saw a bunch of caracaras coming down and ripping Read More

Tom Otterness Sculptures on Scheveningen Boulevard, the Netherlands (©Karin-Marijke Vis)

Check Out Tom Otterness’ Sculptures on Scheveningen Boulevard, the Netherlands

I remember Scheveningen's coastline as a stark and uninviting, right-angled boulevard with a busy road running alongside. No longer so. A 3-year comprehensive renovation project in this seaside resort has resulted in an elegant, curved boulevard Read More

The Towers of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile (photo credit: Coen Wubbels)

Hiking in Chile’s National Park Torres del Paine

A thick black blanket steadily moved eastwards, threatening to block out daylight and announcing an impending storm. I took short gulps of air, exhausted from having legged it uphill to the 4000-foot John Gardner Pass. Instead of a postcard image of Read More

Ghost Town of Humberstone in Chile's Atacama Desert (photo credit: Coen Wubbels)

Strolling through Chile’s Ghost Towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura

A breeze carried the sound of squeaking hinges and creaking wooden panels. In the overwhelming silence of the desert the slamming of a metal roof plate echoed as if a gun had been fired. When listening carefully I heard voices from the past. Voices Read More

Leadlights of the St Peter and Paul Cathedral in Paramaribo, Suriname (photo credit: Coen Wubbels)

A Guided Tour of Suriname’s St Peter and Paul Cathedral in Paramaribo

I stood in front of the largest wooden structure in the Caribbean, Latin America, the Western Hemisphere or the world, depending on whom I talked to. Verifiable facts are that the St Peter and Paul cathedral is 161 feet long, 54 feet wide, 48 feet Read More

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Stroll Among the Ruins of Jesuit Missions in Paraguay

Dark red bricks stand out against a stark blue sky. Long shadows peter out over fields, the soft light of the late afternoon giving the ruins an air of mystery. Who was that saint draped in a robe, holding a staff in his right hand? Or that elegantly Read More

Rock paintings in Serra Capivara National Park, Brazil (photo credit: Coen Wubbels)

Visit UNESCO-listed Rock Paintings in Brazil’s Serra Capivara National Park

Smack in the middle of Brazil's sun-scorched, dun-colored, vast and desolate northeastern Sertão region lies a national park. Why? What's there to see? I read a local guidebook, became fascinated and jotted down the park on my bucket list. The Read More

Bird watching in Suriname's largest lagoon: Bigi Pan (photo credit: Coen Wubbels)

A Bird-Watching Boat Trip to Suriname’s Bigi Pan Natural Reserve

Herons skim the water, their white bodies reflecting in the inky-black water smooth as glass. Green kingfishers nosedive from branches and resurface with a thrashing fish, roseate spoonbills scratch around in shallow waters, and jacanas do what Jesus Read More