Karen Johnson

Kuan Yin

Karen Johnson

I'm an independent single woman who loves to travel. Favorite place to visit in a new country? The grocery store.

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"The road opens up before you, and that's where you find freedom."
- Johnny Clegg

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn't matter.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

North America » United States » California » Carlsbad April 29th 2020

It is Day 42 of California’s “shelter in place” order, and while these accommodations are pretty good, I’m getting tired of staying here. Chez Kaj – 3 1/2 stars Location – 5 stars Chez Kaj is in a residential gated community, and in normal times, the location can’t be beat. The state beach (now closed) is about a mile away, there is a little shopping center across the street with a grocery store, and several little restaurants, many of which are closed due to Covid-19 . There is a train station within walking distance, though I wouldn’t want to walk it with luggage, and Amtrak is operating with a reduced schedule. Cleanliness – 3 ½ stars While the bathroom is clean and there are always clean sheets and clean towels, sometimes the dinner dishes ... read more
Tex Sutton Equine Air Transport
Taylor Cambra
Taylor and Tiz before Dubai.

Asia » Singapore » Raffles Marina February 9th 2020

I like the small, out of the way, quirky museums. Sure, when in Chicago I drop by the Chicago Institute of Art which is wonderful, but Tokyo’s Museum of Tobacco and Salt, now that’s an experience. I had read about the Funan Digital Life mall being torn down and replaced with a “lifestyle” mall, and I wanted to see it. On my way there, I realized that the Civil Defense Heritage Gallery was right across the street. I figured that merited a look, but first the mall. The Funan Digital Life mall was a landmark in Singapore for several decades. It was six floors of electronic stores, selling all manner of computers, cameras, cellphones, appliances and consumer electronics. It was geek paradise. I had my doubts about it being torn down and rebuilt as ... read more
Funan lyf cycle track
Funan lyf rooftop
Funan lyf

Asia » Singapore » Boat Quay January 22nd 2020

The Belly of the Carp Singapore River was known as the Belly of the Carp to early traders because of its sweeping curve and the prosperous symbolism that comes with the golden carp. In Chinese legend the carp is a lucky fish. In Chinese, fish (yú) has the same pronunciation as the word 余 (yú) for ‘more’ or ‘plenty’, representing prosperity. In Buddhism, the fish symbolizes happiness as they have complete freedom of movement in the water. They represent fertility and abundance. Whenever I visit Singapore I always spend at least a little time along the river. This year I picked up this nifty pamphlet from the Asian Civilizations Museum called The Singapore River Walk, put out by the National Heritage Board. As I started to read through it, I found there ... read more
Asian Civilizations Museum
Riverside Point

Asia » Singapore » Jurong West January 8th 2020

I like horse racing and I like Singapore, so going out to the Singapore Turf Club on New Year’s for the Prosperity Stakes sounds like a good time. Kranji Racetrack is out on the northern edge of the island of Singapore, but you can get there on the MRT for just a couple of dollars. There are forests and lush green lawns out there; a very different vibe from the downtown core. And once you get there, you can pay for entrance to the track with your MRT transit card. I’d been to Kranji for the Prosperity Stakes about five years ago, and I remembered it as a fun time. I paid my admission to the track with my E-Z Link MRT card, and just inside the gate a nice lady was giving out packets of ... read more
Good Luck
Singapore Turf Club
Grooms and Trainers

Asia » Singapore » Orchard Road January 1st 2020

One of the (many) things I love about Singapore is the interesting architecture of the modern buildings and the careful conservation of historic buildings. And some of the historic buildings have remarkable stories attached to them. Most people, if they are at all familiar with Orchard Road, think of it as one long concourse of conspicuous consummation. It is all that, and then some. Huge malls connect underground to other huge malls that connect to other huge malls via skybridges. But along the way, there are a few spots where you can still see what things looked like in Singapore’s past. I went out this morning looking for one of these conserved buildings that I had read about, 14 Orchard Road, which had been the home of Malayan Motors. But before I got there though, I ... read more
The Cathay
Balloon dogs
interior of The Cathay

Asia » Japan » Tokyo June 23rd 2019

If you’ve been following along – thanks! – you know that I very much like horse racing. So much so that when I travel I will check to see if there is a race track close to where I’m going, and if there is I will make plans to visit. I regularly attend races in southern California, so it is always fun for me to see the differences between racing here and in other countries. Of course, the basic premise is the same – sleek horses with small jockeys competing to see who can cross the finish line first. But the tracks themselves can vary widely, as can the customs around the meets. I was in Tokyo during the spring race season. Horse racing in Japan is a big deal. There are ten nationally sanctioned race ... read more
train station to race track

Asia » Japan » Osaka » Osaka June 10th 2019

Perhaps the most well-known sign, at least in Japan if not in all of Asia, is that of the Running Man. It’s actually an advertisement for Glico, a company that makes nutritionally fortified sweets. Its founder realized that glycogen, found in oyster broth, was an energy booster, and added it to sweets with the stated objective of enhancing health through food. He first added it to caramel in 1922, and the logo of the Running Man with his arms raised in victory was born. The Running Man sign was first put up in 1935. It is 33 meters – over 100 feet – high, and except for when it was destroyed during WWII, it has graced the banks of the Dotonbori River ever since. The sign has been updated and improved over the years, and is ... read more
this restauarnt served crab
Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum

Asia » Japan » Osaka » Osaka June 2nd 2019

LAX in Los Angeles is not one of my favorite airports, and its layout is horrible. As usual, my connecting flight from San Diego landed at the very last gate in the very last terminal, and my flight to Tokyo was leaving from the gate as far away as you could get and still be in the same airport. According to my ever so smart watch, it was about a mile and a quarter, with nary a moving walkway in sight. Now, it was possible to take a slightly shorter journey by actually leaving the airport and catching a shuttle bus to the International Terminal, but then you would have to go through TSA security again. And even with TSA Pre-Check and Trusted Traveler authorizations, that entailed more standing in line than I really ... read more
Hotel The Flag

North America » United States » California » Arcadia April 3rd 2019

This really is a travel story, so be patient with me…. If you have been following along, you know that I very much enjoy horse racing. I watched my first horse back in the ‘80s at the St. Joe County Fair in St. Joseph, Michigan. It was a chilly, gray day at the end of September, with occasional rain showers. The seats were on old wooden, splintery bleachers, but they were free, and gave me a chance to sit down for a few minutes, and that was all it took. I sat there, in the rain, drinking bad coffee, for a couple of hours, and watched, fascinated. And the more I watched, the more I wanted to know. Now, when I travel, I always check to see if there is any racing scheduled at my destination. ... read more
Heriberto Figueroa
SoS led to paddock
leg up

Asia » Singapore » Raffles Marina February 9th 2019

After the movie “Crazy, Rich Asians” came out, people have been asking me if there really is a building that looks like a ship resting on three pillars in Singapore. The answer is yes. That iconic building is Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino, and it is pretty spectacular. In addition to the jaw-dropping architecture, it boasts a high-end mall with a river running through it, complete with gondolas. It contains one of the most profitable casinos in the world, and the roof top deck with the infinity edge pool is stunning and unique. Rooms run between $600 and $6,000 a night; I, of course, have never stayed there, but for a small fee you can go up to the deck. The pool is reserved for guests. But there is more to Marina Bay area than ... read more
gondolas in the mall
levels of the mall

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