Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival: Taiwan’s Most Dangerous Festival

The Yanshui Fireworks Festival in Tainan, Taiwan

Every year on the 15th day of the first lunar calendar month, a sleepy town in southern Taiwan called Yanshui (鹽水) lights up from what has been called “the world’s most dangerous festival.” The notorious Taiwanese folk festival goes by many names: Yanshui Fireworks Festival, Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival, or Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival, while …

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The Spiritual Art of Knife Massage in Ximen, Taipei

Chinese knife massage in Taipei, Taiwan

I’m navigating my way though Ximending, a shopping paradise for the young and trendy, to find Light Project Ximending. Olivia Wu, an acquaintance of mine and also certified practitioner of knife massage (dao liao or刀療) and I Ching (yi jing or 易經) divination, has invited me to experience an ancient Chinese knife massage in Taipei, …

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Pilgrimage Travel: Inspiring Sacred Walks around the World

Pilgrimage is act of devotion. In many religions, these sacred walks are prescribed, even considered a must in one’s lifetime, and followers from all of world’s major faiths make holy pilgrimages. For most, non-believers are accepted or even welcome. Pilgrimage travel can be a meaningful, moving experience in which travelers can enrich their understanding of …

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Visiting the Cemetery of Confucius and Temple of Confucius, Qufu, China

The Qufu Temple of Confucius and Confucius Forest

Qufu, China is a small but ancient town 550 kilometers south of Beijing in Shandong. This province is famous for three things: Qingdao beer, Tai Shan (Mount Tai), and Qufu, the hometown of Confucius. The Temple of Confucius Qufu is the largest and most important Confucius temple in the world, and together with the adjoining …

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A Super Simple Travel Meditation: How to Transform Your Travel Experience

Travel meditation

Meditation is an often-misunderstood word. For many it conjures up images of cave-dwelling ascetics or posh retreats in Bali. But meditation for travelers can come in many forms, and doesn’t necessarily require isolation, silence, or sitting in a lotus pose for set period of time. It can even be as simple as staying present while …

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10 Close-Up Spots to Seek the Best View of Mt. Fuji (and how to get to them)

10 best spots to see Mt. Fuji

There are already as many “best views of Mount Fuji” LISTS as there are claimed best places to see Mt. Fuji. Personally, I don’t think any single one is best, but for this list, I have focused on the best places to see Mount Fuji if you want a good chance to ACTUALLY SEE Mt. …

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Japan’s Sacred Kumano Kodo Walk in Winter

Kumano Kodo in winter

The Kumano Kodo is a network of pilgrimage trails that connect various Shinto-Buddhist sites in the mountainous Kii Peninsula south of Osaka and Nagoya, and is considered one of the world’s great pilgrimages that travelers can easily join. These expansive tracts of wilderness are replete with spiritual sights that have attracted pilgrims for 1000+ years, …

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Kumano Sanzan and Ise Grand Shrine: 4 Gorgeous Temples on the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage

Kumano Sanzan and the Ise Grand Shrine

In 2018 I visited Wakayama, a remote and wild region of Japan south of Osaka and Nagoya, to walk parts of the Kumano Kodo, a network of ancient pilgrimage trails. These trails are easily accessible, making them one of the best pilgrimages in the world for travelers. Besides these amazing hot springs at the eastern …

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A Night on the Peak of Tai Shan, China’s Holiest Mountain

Hiking Taishan China

Almost exactly 10 years ago as I write this, I left my home in Canada to go traveling and teach English in China. I had traveled extensively before that, but this was the first time I was leaving on a one-way ticket. It was a path that eventually led me to Taiwan, where I still …

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