Hsiao-Mei Wiedmeyer


Hsiao-Mei Wiedmeyer

I love travel and have been to all 7 continents and 87 countries. My goal is to reach 100 countries in next few years.

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan September 20th 2019

We started our trip on Friday, September 13 (a bad omen). United Airline's flight from Columbia was 4 hr late and we missed all our connections. With a mad dash for nothing, we were forced to spend the night at ORD airport Hilton, not the most pleasant hotel we have ever stayed. Wasted the whole 2nd day waiting to board Turkish Airline at 9 pm to Istanbul. Luckily Istanbul has a new airport with lots of nice cushions to stretch out and relax. Finally made it to Almaty, Kazakhstan a day late. We joined the day tour anyway to synchronize our body rhythm with local times. Met our tour leader, Max, a 6'8" Swede who we could never miss in a crowd. Silk Road was a network of trade routes that connected the East and West ... read more
Ray got a bench to stretch out
Monument of Independence
Beautiful fountains

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty September 13th 2019

The Silk Road going through Central Asia has been on my bucket list for a while already, not only because of the history of the Silk Road, but also because I can add 'five' countries in one trip! Now that I am getting really close to my goal of traveling to 100 countries, adding five in one scoop is very enticing. One of the top priorities for me on this trip is to be able to pronounce the five Stans correctly - Kazakhstan is the only one I have confidence in my pronunciation. Uzbekistan (Uz-beki-stan) is doable, Tajikistan (Ta-ji-ki-stan) not too bad, Turkmenistan (Turk-meni-stan) starting to give me trouble and Kyrgyzstan (Kyr-gyz-stan) is impossible, I couldn't even get the first sound out of my mouth. Ray tried many times to help me but I am still ... read more

North America » Mexico » Guanajuato » San Miguel de Allende February 17th 2019

SanMiguel de Allende (SMA) is about a 3 hour drive from the JM Butterfly B&B. The infrastructure was great and the landscape was beautiful. The minute we entered SMA, the scene changed to a charming cobble stone colonial town. Christiane found us a great boutique hotel located just a 5 minute walk from the center of town. Walking is the main mode of visiting this town and we were glad that we brought our walking sticks which help to stabilize us on the cobblestone streets. SMA is a popular place for US expiates, 10% of local residents are from the USA. The weather is always sunny, cool with low humidity and the cost of living is cheap with lots of art galleries, museums and great restaurants. We saw a t-shirt announcing that "relax and have fun, ... read more
Charming narrow cobblestone streets
A Donkey selling flowers
The volcano bowl, delicious

North America » Mexico » Estado de Mexico February 14th 2019

I found Joel and Ellen's JM B&B website about 2 years ago and was quite impressed with their 'butterfly and people'effort to preserve the monarch's winter ground from illegal logging. They provided opportunities and encouraged villagers to offer ecotourism as an alternative income source. Their B&B is located in the small village of Macheros (3 hour drive from Mexico City) and is right outside of the butterfly sanctuary Cerro Pelon. The original B&B was built on Joel's childhood home with only a few rooms. Over the past few years, their little paradise has attracted lots of attention from the Monarch community and was featured in BBC and Belgium Travel shows and also recommended by the Lonely Planet. Last year they expanded their place to 14 rooms and were full during the days we were there. Ellen ... read more
New additions to the building
Cute room
Great view of the village from deck

North America » Mexico » Distrito Federal » Mexico City February 10th 2019

Frida Kahlo probably is the most internationally recognized Mexican artist, not only because of her unique paintings but also her controversial political and lifestyle. Her home, Casa Azul (Blue House) is the museum about her life. The tickets for Saturday was sold out online so we got to the museum early and stood in line for tickets. Lucky for us we got in. The blue house was where Frida was born and grew up with her family. She contracted polio at age 6 that caused her right leg to be shorter than the left. She was refused by a teacher to participate in school dance due to her uneven legs. This incident impacted Frida’s life and she wore long skirts for most of her life and never considered herself beautiful. Another tragedy struck her when, at ... read more
Frida Kahlo front door
Stand in line to get tickets
Casa Azul garden

North America » Mexico » Mexico City » Atlacomulco February 8th 2019

Given the political noise of illegal immigrants, building border walls, poverty, drugs and violent crimes, the Mexico we have visited thus far seems to doing just fine. Mexico City has a population of 21 million, the infrastructure and buildings are similar to many develped countries and better than many places we visited. The historical area we stayed in was full of shops, restaurants and people. Tourism seems to be doing well and the weather and the prices are perfect for Americans who want to escape the harsh winter. The National Museum of Anthropology was our introductory to the origin and history of Mexico. It was built in 1964 but with a modern look and a beautiful column of waterfall in front. The Museum contains 12 archaeology halls on the lower floor that cover the periods of ... read more
The beautiful water fountain
Holding up the Sun Stone, also know as Aztec Calendar

South America » Colombia » Cartagena October 27th 2018

It was pouring rain when we arrived in Cartagena, a port city on the northern coast of Colombia. My friend Martha told me that the country is spelled as Colombia, not Columbia. I have never noticed the different spellings before and I wonder how many of my friends who lives in Columbia, MO aware of this mistake. Amazing what one would learn when taking a trip! Our hotel was not far away from the airport but between the flooding roads, motorcycle taxis, street hawkers and the afternoon traffic, it took us nearly 2 hours to get there. Luckily our guide Victoria, a bubbly and enthusiastic mother of 2 boys (3 if she counts her husband), kept us entertained with stories about her training as an English speaking tour guide (she didn't make the admission cut to ... read more
Bantu a charming botique hotel
Our room including an archeology site on the floor
a tiled bath tub with rubber ducky

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal October 26th 2018

Ray and I have traveled through many locks in the world including the big one on the Yang Zhi River. The principle behind locks is quite ancient and simple - the river is dammed up and the locks are used to raise and lower boats by gravity. What makes Panama Canal unique is its strategic location and its history. The book of 'Path Between the Seas' by David McCullough is highly recommended for anyone who is interested and planning to visit this area. In the early 16th century Spaniards started to transport precious gold found in South America to Europe, the idea of a short cut through the Isthmus linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was entertained. The French began to built a canal in 1880 but landslides and tropical diseases (yellow fever, malaria) killed 22,000 ... read more
First view of a cruise ship
Our Discovery
Gatun Lake

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama City October 19th 2018

We took the Grand Circle tour ’Panama - A Continent Divide, Oceans United’ which highlighted the Panama Canal. However, in addition to the canal, we also had opportunities to learn about the history and culture of the Panama people. We stayed in the old part of the Panama City and the Colonial style buildings around us all are in different stages of restoration - from dilapidated ruins to newly minted modern hotels all mixed in together. Our tour guide warned us to bring walking stick as the streets and sidewalks are very uneven with lots of pot holes. We walked around the old town and visited historical sites and churches. I noticed a statue with tear streaking face - a saint for loneliness with such a sad expression. Part of our tour included discussion of controversial ... read more
Fish boats in the harbor
Fish Market
Ray with his walking stick.

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Kuna Yala October 19th 2018

The San Blas islands are a group of 378 islands located in the Northwest of Panama facing the Caribbean Sea. Only 49 of the islands are inhibited by indigenous Kuna people. The Kuna tribes got their independence from Panama in 1925 and now is an autonomous region of Panama. We took a 12 seater single prop airplane and flew 45 minutes from Panama City to the small Playon Chico Airport. Our guide Thomas was there waiting for us. A short boat ride dropped us at the Yandup (boar) Island. This ‘quaint resort’ constituted of 12 bungalows, one large dinning hut, a small sand beach and a boat dock. All the meals and two activities a day are included in the package. We got our bungalow with beautiful Mola pillows and hand quilted bed cover. Two hammocks ... read more
The small prop plane took us to San Blas Island
Thomas met us at the airport at Playon Chico
Yandup (Boar) Island

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