Hsiao-Mei Wiedmeyer

hm100togo

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.



Europe » Italy » Tuscany October 5th 2022

Ever since I read the book "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes in 2003, I have wanted to visit there. Tuscany is in central Italy and is well known for its landscapes, history, artistic legacy and was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Of course most tourists visited Tuscany because their famous wine and olive oil. We rented a car so we could spent time at smaller villages and ancient hill towns. We used both Florence and Siena as our bases. Thank goodness for Google Map, it gave clear instructions (in English) and re-route us quickly when we made mistakes. Without it, we would never have made it with the Italian road systems and their hundreds of roundabouts. We headed to Pisa (88 km west of Florence) on a gorgeous sunny day. The tower was ... read more
Ray came pretty close to place his hands on the tower
Gelato, of course!
In front of Puccini's picture

Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome October 2nd 2022

For all of you who are waiting for my blog on Madagascar, sorry to disappoint you but unfortunately Ray tested positive for Covid two days before we were supposed to leave. We had to cancel the whole trip (a great disappointment for me but that's the life with Covid now). Luckily his symptoms were mild and recovery was very quick so we were able to go ahead with our planned 2nd half of 2022 trip which was Rome and Tuscany. We spent 4 days in Rome and vicinity. Our boutique hotel Gemme di Roma located 5 minutes walk from the train station and was in a neighborhood with lots of good restaurants. The host and hostess were very accommodating and they have great breakfast. I highly recommend this place if you are planning a trip to ... read more
Near Rome train station and 5 min walk from our hotel
Seafood salad
Gimme de Roma has great breakfast

Africa » Madagascar August 8th 2022

Madagascar is my 100th country to visit and was scheduled for the fall of 2020. You all know what happen to the world. After 2 and half years of delay, we are (hoping) to start our trip to the home of lemur in September 2022. My last blog was Feb. 2020 on India. After such a long inactive period I need to reacquaint with the blogging. Hope all of my friends are doing well and stay healthy and enjoying traveling again. As always, I am glad to share my journey with you but if you no longer want to receive the blogs, please drop me a note at wiedmeyer2@gmail.com so I can remove your name from my list. Take care and enjoy the hot summer of August.... read more

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra February 19th 2020

Agra All tours to India would never miss the city of Agra because that is where the iconic 'Taj Mahal' is located. Completed in 1643 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife Mumtaz, this magnificent structuer deserves all the acclamations travelers piled on its reputation, it is breathtakingly beautiful! This 'garden-tomb' was designed to replica a house of paradise. All exterior walls were covered with India white marble embellished with exquisite floral designs. I was told that only 15 families in India have the knowhow of hand shaping the minute pieces of precious stones into petals inlays in the marble. Needless to say that it is a complicated and slow process. When we visited one of the marble workshops afterwards, I couldn't tear my eyes away from these amazing marbles, each rose was inlayed ... read more
Charming in the fog
Magnificent with reflection
Intricate marble inlays

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra February 15th 2020

India is a country full of contradictory, it maybe the most populace democracy in the world but the rhetoric of Hindu nationalism and the violence against muslim exploded across the nation. As tourists, we didn't confront the problem directly but in discussion with both Hindu and Muslim young women, we got a glimpse on how far apart their lives, their idealism and their hope for future are, there is no easy solution to this complicated issue. India's inequality in wealth were evident in the upscale shops we visited and the number of homeless people sleeping on the streets. Gold and jewelry were highly valued commodity and families spent days and lots of money carefully selecting these items because what a bride wore on the wedding day reflected her worth as well as security guarantees for her ... read more
Young Hindu students we met in the park
Stop Acid Attack!
A surviver of Acid Attach

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaipur February 2nd 2020

Nagaur Festivalis a large cattle fair held near Jodhpur, Rajasthan in February every year. This fair is mainly for trading animals by farmers and ranchers. We flew to Jodhpur and drove about 5 hrs to Nagaur, this destination is truly out of the beaten tracks as there are no hotels nearby and OAT set up a tent city to accommodate their own travelers. Along the way, we stopped and chatted with goat herder and visited an outdoor animal hospital ran by volunteers. This is a huge open arena hosting over 1200 cows, some goats, a few wild animals and even birds. We saw sick cows with bandage on their horns due to cancer and injured animals with missing limbs sitting on the floors. Some baby were born there after their mother was brought in for treatments. ... read more
Hospital for cows
Boiling cotton seeds for cow feed
OAT tent city in Nagaur

Middle East » United Arab Emirates January 26th 2020

UAE is a country made of 7 Emirates (states) ruled by Princes from different tribes. The oil discovered in the 70s promoted fast infrastructure and building booms. ‘Locals’ are only 12% of the population but hold all the richness through inheritance. They are provided with free education, free medical plus a house, a luxury car and a steady income upon marriage. All benefits are forfeited if married outside the group. The rest of UAE are immigrant workers mostly from India, Pakistan, Egypt and Philippines. They do all the work but are required to reapply for a visa every 2-3 years even if born in the country. Their education and medical are provided by the companies they work for. Life is not easy but still better than in their own countries. Even though the oil was the ... read more
Required attire before entrance
Gold plated palm leaf posts
One of many chandeliers

Asia » India » Punjab January 22nd 2020

India is one of the world's oldest countries with civilization established in the region approximately 10,000 years ago. Both Buddhism and Hinduism have deep roots from India. In modern time, with population close to 1.4 billion, this world populous democracy is having some serious problems such as poverty and pollution. I visited India twice before for work and saw first hand the beggars, the grimy streets and animals wondering freely all over town. On the other hand, I fell in love with the brightly colored saris and fabric, the pungent smells of street foods and the cultural and historical stories and relics. India is a country entices a strong reaction from most travelers and it would be interesting to see how my travel companion Laura, a fellow quilter, thinks about her first trip to India. This ... read more

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat October 1st 2019

I was told Turkmenistan is a totalitarian and isolated society second only to North Korea. Our first experience with it was a 4 hrs boarder crossing process from Uzbekistan - the longest of all the boarders we crossed. Our local guide Gozel was a retired University English Professor, very knowledgable and stood firm when Max (our Tour Leader) tried to talk down her. She won all the travelers respect right away. We stopped at Turabek Khanum Mausoleum, one of few mausoleums dedicated to a woman who was credited with bringing science to this region. We flew to the capital Ashgabat - the city was destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 1948 but rebuilt into a modern city with extensive white marble covered buildings. We stayed at a very fancy 5-star hotel with one indoor heated spa ... read more
Hotel lobby
What a luxiously heated spa pool
Bank of Ashgabat with a gold coin on top

Asia » Uzbekistan » Samarkand September 22nd 2019

We spent 9 days in Uzbekistan because it is at the heart of the Silk Road. The three old oasis cities - Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand have incredible mazes of exotic architecture and gorgeous decorative art. We started at Tashkent, the capital, it is one of the oldest cities in Uzbekistan. Rock paintings date back to 2000 BC and they went through all the turmoils in history - Arabs in 751, Genghis Khan in the 13th century, Amir Timur (Tamerlane) occupied in 14th century and the Shaibanid khans in the 15 and 16th century. The Russian Empire arrived in 1865 and Uzbekistan finally became an autonomous country in 1991. We visited several Mausoleums, madrassas (islamic schools) and mosques, most of them restored during or after Russian occupation. The tiles were intricately painted in blue colors. Muslim ... read more
Can you image doing this tile ceiling?
Unbelievable intricate tiles
Even prettier at night




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