Despite droughts,  fires and floods, America celebrates bountiful autumn harvests

It’s the first Saturday in October at Bauman’s Harvest Festival in Gervais, Oregon and dozens of children have broken free from their parents and are running for the petting zoo. Petting zoos are probably the most popular attractions at autumn harvest celebrations now occurring across the U.S. and Canada. On the other side of a tent selling hot coffee, apple tarts and pumpkin scones more parents and kids are scrambling up a hay bale pyramid or crowding expectantly around an above ground pool to watch local farmers weigh their pumpkins. In a few moments some of the biggest pumpkins will be sacrificed.

Lan Ha and Friend Cropped

The Áo Dài’s Flowing Elegance Mirrors Vietnamese Femininity

What images come to mind when you think of Vietnam? A peasant in the conical nón lá hat, harvesting rice from the fields? Colorful lanterns dancing from the masts of river boats or the corrugated eaves of Taoist temples in ancient Hoi An? Perhaps you dream of karst peaks that erupt from the placid waters of deep-blue Ha Long Bay?
All are part of the visual culture of the country I now call home. But I believe nothing says “Vietnam” more than the áo dài. The sleek silk gown is as much a statement of Vietnamese fashion and femininity as is the kimono in Japan, the sari in India or the cheongsam in China. At once draping and clinging, accenting the Asian woman’s natural curves, the áo dài teases with restraint and decorum, promising nothing but implying everything. As worn by Vietnamese women, who learn to walk gracefully at a young age, it is at once marvelously modest yet incredibly provocative. A man who isn’t stirred is either dead or recently divorced.

Shanghai – Head of the Dragon

By David DeVoss When California architect Robert Steinberg opened an office in Shanghai twelve years ago, he felt as if he had arrived at the leading edge of the Chinese Century. Unlike America, where architects were being laid off and signature buildings scaled back, the biggest city in the world’s most populous country was developing…

Searching for Mumbai’s Silk Road

Silk vendor at D. Popli & Sons in Mumbai displays high quality yet reasonably priced silk By Jacqueline Swartz Mumbai, the city formerly known as Bombay, is the marketplace of India — its jewelry, textiles, handicrafts, furniture and leather goods come from all over India and around the world. This is India’s city of commerce…

Daughter of Burma discovers her past amid the Buddhist charms of Modern Myanmar

For the Burmese, the Irrawaddy River is a laundry, bath, source of food, and major transportation route. Like the Salween and the Chindwin rivers, it starts high in the mountains, meandering south through teak and mahogany forests, and around mines producing jade, sapphires and world famous ‘pigeon’s blood’ rubies. In terms of per capita income, Myanmar is the poorest country in Southeast Asia, but its population supports – and daily feeds – more than half a million Buddhist monks as well as nearly 100,000 nuns. The majority of males in the country spend some time in a Buddhist monastery, often starting as young as age six.

Getting Up Close to the Great Indian One-Horned Rhino

Driving slowly down the narrow road bordering the Kaziranga Wildlife Preserve in north eastern India, my guide promised me a rhino sighting early the following morning. Elephant, endangered Wild Buffalo and deer roam this area, 25 miles long and eight miles wide, marked by tall grasses, marshes and the mighty Brahmaputra river. But the prize sight is the rare Indian one-horned rhino, brought back from near extinction in the last century.

Viva Macau

By David DeVoss It’s Saturday night in Macau. Jetfoils packed with Hong Kong Chinese are pulling into the ferry terminal every 15 minutes. One mile north, at the land border with China, new arrivals are elbowing their way toward customs checkpoints in a hall longer than a football field. By 9 p.m. visitors are coming…

Yangzhou – A Perfect Portal into China’s History, Culture and Cuisine

Travelers wishing to truly understand China’s rich history must venture beyond the opulent gateways into the real China, a land shaped by wealth and war, to the city of Yangzhou. Located just north of the Yangtze River in Jiangsu Province, Yangzhou offers modern comfort, exotic beauty, distinctive cuisine and historic sites that reflect the grandeur of the past and the promise of the present. Yangzhou is a city of 6,000,000 that sits in the middle of China’s richest province. The city is famous for feminine beauty, imaginative gardens and artistic handicrafts that include lacquer and stoneware, bamboo carving, cutlery and block printing. Knives and cleavers made in the city are so finely honed that cooks can slice a 1-cm-thick bean curd into 30 paper-thin shreds without breaking a single one.

Because of its fertile soil, abundant water and temperate climate, Jiangsu Province is known as China’s “Land of Fish and Rice.” In Yangzhou, the ancient Southern capital, the riches of Jiangsu are expressed in the design, construction and careful maintenance of magnificent urban gardens…