I an a nomad of Canadian origin that has been exploring the various corners of the world for over 10 years. My education is in Anthropology and Religious Studies, and in my travels, I have focused on visiting and photographing the spiritual centers of the world. I have been to 44 countries, with highlighting include Burma, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and China.
I have taught English in Thailand, Korea, China, and for the last 4 years, Taiwan. I'm not backpacking as much as I used to, but my daily life in Taiwan is still a travel experience. Next year, I will be meeting my family and friends in Greece to celebrate my wedding with my Taiwanese partner, Emily.
My first book was published in August, 2011, titled, "Taiwan in the Eyes of a Foreigner", a personal and visual account of the Taiwan experience from the eyes of an outsider. To order, please visit www.taiwanforeigner.com. My writing and photography has appeared in a number of travel magazines and websites, including CNNGo.
April 28th 2013
Rishikesh has been called the “Yoga Capital of the World” and the “Gateway to the Himalayas”. In 1968, the Beatles stayed at the Maharishi Mahesh yoga ashram, during which they composed 48 songs, some of which appeared on the White Album. The riverside community remains a spiritual center to this day, where local pilgrims and backpackers bathe side by side in the sacred Ganges, with waters much cleaner and nearer to their Himalayan source than overly polluted but more well-known Varanasi. Nowadays, Rishikesh is also developing a reputation for outdoors sports such as river rafting and trekking. I have made a point of spending some time in Rishikesh on all three of my trips to India. In 2005, it was my last stop on an overwhelming 3-month trip journey through Sichuan, Nepal, Tibet, and India. I ... read more
February 23rd 2013
I love salt. I eat so much of it that my partner Emily says my hair will fall out. But I don't generally plan holidays around it. Until recently, that is. Staying in a countryside township in Chiayi County for Chinese New Year (read about it in my blog A Traditional Chinese New Year with my Taiwanese Family), we were able to escape all the drinking and Mahjong games one afternoon to do a little sightseeing. I'd heard about Taiwan's salt mountains from Taiwanese people before, but I never realized that Emily's family lived so close to the most famous one. The Cigu Salt Mountain and Salt Museum are quiry sights that draw (excuse the pun) a sprinkling of mostly domestic tourists to Cigu, the center of a 7200-hectare area of salt production just north of ... read more
February 15th 2013
I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, an isolated, bitterly cold, largish metropolis 450km south of the Fort McMurray oil sands that bring wealth to the province, 275km north of the dinosaur-bone bearing badlands of Drumheller, and 3400km west of Ottawa, Canada’s capital city (with little more than prairies and lakes in between). And to the west, after only a two-hour drive (in Canadian distances, a mere stone’s throw), travelers may get their first glimpse of the grand Rocky Mountains. Another hour brings you to Jasper National Park, Banff National Park’s lesser-known and younger but physically larger brother. Jasper National Park encompasses the incredible glaciers of the Columbia Icefield, not to mention hot springs, waterfalls, 3000m+ peaks such as the towering façade of Mount Edith Cavell, and the practically guaranteed opportunity to spot wildlife suc ... read more
February 12th 2013
After four years of dating Emily and living with her family in Taipei, my time has finally come to participate in what some call the largest annual migration of people in the world: the Chinese custom of 返鄉 (returning to one’s hometown) to celebrate Chinese New Year. With New Year’s Eve falling on a Saturday this year, the highways are bound to be clogged, but getting a pre-dawn head start we effectively avoid a the standstill traffic jams that the holiday is famous for across the Chinese-speaking world. Emily’s paternal ancestors are likely descendants of an early migration from China to Taiwan in the 1600s. These settlers from the mainland, most of who were fishermen and pilgrims looking for new land, first arrived on the coastal areas of Tainan and Chiayi, the latter being the location ... read more
February 3rd 2013
Friday, a day like any other; 9 to 7, work/pressure/deadlines/stress compounding, and hardly have I had a moment to exhale before I’m being escorted along a winding road up the side of the mountain in the pitch-dark Taiwanese night. We are en route to climb Snow Mountain (雪山), Taiwan’s second highest peak at 3886m. Landslides have taken some roads and left others, but fortune is on our side and, besides some fog obscuring the roadway at times, our arrival is obstacle free. A pit stop yields refreshingly cool, crisp air that brings life to these city lungs with every inhalation. I am in the company of a mosaic of nationalities: Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Scotland, England, Finland, Germany, France, America, and Canada (but somehow not Taiwan) are all represented in our crew, with Neil and Ross ... read more
December 2nd 2012
For more of my photography of Delhi and India, see here: The Streets of India (Color) The Streets of India (B & W) Delhi is one of the most ancient continually inhabited cities on earth. It’s inhabitant have been evacuated, relocated, slaughtered and it’s urban landscape burned to the ground several times in history, with recent examples including the 1857 Indian mutiny against British rule, the Partition massacres of 1947, and the riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. Many of its ancient artisans have fled to Pakistan, while in reverse Central Asian and Muslim culture have had a strong impact on the city’s culture and appearance for centuries. For those interested in learning more about Delhi’s fascinating history an... read more
November 4th 2012
One of the major perks for male travelers in India is that you can entrust your facial grooming to an expert. Traditional Indian barbers belong to a specialized caste that goes back centuries. Men depicted in ancient Indian carvings were even clean shaven (though, even until present times, the mustache still refuses to die on the subcontinent). It is believed that many barbers went on to be trained surgeons due to their fine cutting skills. Traditional barbers can be found on just about any street in the country, and a clean shave is dirt cheap. 20-50 rupees (0.40-1.00 USD) will generally get you the smoothest cheeks you've ever had, plus a head and shoulder rub before you're seen off. Most begin by lathering you up with shaving cream, then a meticulous shave using a flat, disposable ... read more
September 13th 2012
I first traveled up the length of peninsular Malaysia in 2004, and wasn't exactly blown away. Rather, it was my least favorite of the 8 or so Southeast Asian countries I have visited. Since then, I have stopped over in KL on the way to other places so many times that I've lost count. But somehow with each passing visit, though always short, I have grown fonder and fonder of the city and its surrounding areas. Each time, I have made a point of seeking out a new sight to photograph, or market to feast in. In 2008, I visited the ultra modern Blue Mosque of Shah Alam, largest in Malaysia, with a capacity of 24,000 people. I also took in the KL's gorgeous night skyline, dominated by the twin Petronas Towers, from the shore of ... read more
March 8th 2012
In the summer of 2008, the Kembel family was united in Taipei and wreaked havok down the entire wild east coast of the island. From the steep canyon walls of Taroko to the salt water springs of Green Island, we cruised by car and scooter in the thick heat of the summer and stood out amongst the locals. This time things were a little different. It was just Mom and the two boys, and the Chinese New Year weather was damp and cool. As a result, we spent the better part of our time soaking in the various springs in the Taipei region. First off was a day trip to Yeliu, a coastal park of windblown rock formations and hoodoos. Next we ventured on to Bayan, an undevelopped and technically illegal-to-visit spring on the coastal, Jinshan ... read more
January 31st 2012
Living on a subtropical island such as Taiwan means that the winter does indeed bring cool weather, with conditions perhaps comparable to a damp autumn day in North America. Nevertheless, traveling south past the tropic of cancer, which passes through Taiwan near the medium sized city of Chiayi, puts you in swimming-year-round territory, and another hour south by plane brings you to the Philippines, which are outright hot any time of the year. The Chinese New Year holiday provides the must needed days off during this chilly season. This year my parents were in town for the holidays. First, we did a hot springs tour of Taipei City and surroundings, shot off some rounds of fireworks, and then hopped on a flight to Palawan, a thin, 650km long island; one of 7000+ that make up the ... read more