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 » 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

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

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