Elephant Tourism – To Ride or Not to Ride, That is the Question

Standing in front of the herd at the Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang, Thailand

Not long ago, if anyone had asked me if I believe it is acceptable to ride elephants, my answer would have been a resounding “NO!” My point of view was challenged this past November, when the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) invited me on a press trip to learn more about the care of elephants … Read more

Visiting Armenia, An Unexpectedly Delightful Experience

Cafesjian Sculpture Garden at the foot of the Cascade in Yerevan is a must when visiting Amenia

They say timing is everything. Certainly, timing was my main consideration when visiting Armenia. Truthfully, the three countries that make up the Caucasus region in far eastern Europe were on my radar for one reason. I’d read several stories by travel writers who were totally smitten by the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, but otherwise I … Read more

Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia, Dwarfed by Mount Ararat

Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia, against a backdrop of Turkey's Mount Ararat

Khor Virap. The name refers to the famous monastery in Armenia that is the number one pilgrimage site in the country. But the name has a deeper, hidden meaning. The church stands on a low hillock, built over a deep vault carved out of solid rock. Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned within this pit … Read more

Pilgrim Lights a Candle at Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia

Pilgrim lights a candle in St. Astvatsatsin Chapel at Khor Virap Sanctuary in Armenia

In the dim light of Saint Astvatsatsin chapel at Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia, I carefully picked my way over the uneven stone floor. I was concentrating so hard on where to put my feet that I didn’t look up until I reached the center of the candlelit cavern. Having visited pilgrimage sites all over … Read more

Lush Armenian Countryside with Mt. Ararat as a Backdrop

Lush greenery of the Armenian countryside, with Mt. Ararat on the horizon

There was no escaping the imposing presence of Mt. Ararat as I traveled around Armenia. The mountain was always visible, whether driving through the lush green countryside or walking around the capital city of Yerevan. My first sight of Mt Ararat came at dawn, as my train from Tbilisi, Georgia was nearing Yeravan. Bleary-eyed from … Read more