Category: Travel inspiring pictures

Fun, short travel videos

I put them in my personal order of preference:


LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.


EAT from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.


MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Sardine run off the wild coast of South Africa

First, this is not me (and honestly I’m not sure I wish it was – the sardine run sounds amazing but scary enough that I might not want to do it). Anyway, great travel story:

I just just returned from South Africa last week. I went mainly for the sardine run off the wild coast of SA – fantastic diving but damn scary.

There are huge schools of “sardines” (actually pilchards) – up to 10 miles long. Hundreds of dolphins go down and bring a large group of them to the surface and then “herd” them into a Bait ball” that is maybe 20 feet across and up to 30 feet deep. Then the dolphins start going through the concentrated bait ball feeding on the fish. There are also Gannets and comorants that dive into the water and grab a couple of fish.

The scary part is that there also many sharks – all of which have been documented to attack humans. Primarily the sharks are “bronze whalers” as well as dusky sharks, tiger sharks, and bull sharks which scare the hell out of me. The sharks can go into a feeding frenzy and fight with each other.

Last week when I was there one diver was attacked by a shark and was hospitalized. A dusky shark was biting on the tank of a member from my group. The whales that come through can also be hazardous because of their size. Although scary – it was an amazing sight.

Since I was in South Africa I then did a safari. i spent a couple of days at Hulhulwe / Umfolozzi about a 3 hour drive from Durban. Saw all of the big 5 (Big 5 = Lion, Rhino, Cape Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant) and this particular park is known for its white rhino conservation. The animals are more active at dusk and dawn so it certainly helps to stay overnight. This particular park is huge and there are all levels of accommodation from basic up to luxury such as the Pinda compound.

If you want a photo safari focused on the big 5 then certainly Kruger or Pinda would not disappoint. Kruger is so large that there are multiple areas so that you could spend a couple of days and multiple locations if you were prepared to rent a car and drive yourself…

Other notes on South Africa:

If you are thinking about South Africa and departing from Johannesburg then Kruger may be a better option.

It seemed to me that most parks have some very high end resorts ($500-$3,000 per night!!) and it was hard to find the more reasonably priced accommodation

South Africa is very bad for crime – the cities such as Johannesburg and Durban are kinda scary. The unemployment rate is around 50-60%. Do not put anything in checked bags (locked or not) that you don’t mind being stolen – because if it has value – it WILL be. As for the luggage comment – I had 2 cameras (underwater and a regular camera) stolen from my locked checked bags by the airlines, which I think it is standard practice.

Although it is there winter it was quite mild.

If you are going to Kenya or Tanzania you have even more options – such as the Serengeti. If you want to try and see the big primates then you need to go to Rwanda or Uganda – I have no experience with those.

Maeklong Market in Thailand: vdeos of a train moving through the center of a market

Here’s a fun one, Mae Klong Market in Thailand:

It looks like the vegetables are under the train for a bit; I have to imagine that means there’s some diesel or something on them. Then again, it’s probably no worse than the pesticides and stuff we’re eating anyway.

Would you rather see it from the train or from the market?

National Park Week, Earth Day & photos

“Islesford, a small offshore fishing community, as seen from the air with Mount Desert Island in the background.”

April 16-24 is National Park Week and James Kaiser was kind enough to help us celebrate with a few photos. It’s a reminder to visit a national park near you because during National Park Week admission to all parks is free. Also, national parks are home to dozens of Earth Day (April 22) activities, from Ansel Adams photo programs in Yosemite (below) to volunteer cleanups in Acadia National Park (above).

“Yosemite Falls, located in Yosemite Valley, is the tallest waterfall in North America.”

“A rafting trip heads down the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.”

“Thousands of Joshua trees spread out below dramatic rock outcrops in Joshua Tree National Park”

James’ books include Acadia: The Complete Guide, Joshua Tree: The Complete Guide, Grand Canyon: The Complete Guide (winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Full-Color Travel Guide and the Independent Publisher Award for Best Travel Guide), and Yosemite: The Complete Guide. In 2010, the Acadia, Joshua Tree and Yosemite guides were all ranked as the number one best-selling guidebooks for their respective national parks by Nielsen Bookscan. Please check out his website at

Pictures from Istanbul (part 2)

Here are a few pictures we took on our second day in Istanbul.

We got to the Blue Mosque at prayer time but our consolation prize for having to wait an hour and a half to get in was seeing these guys wash their feet.

So while the Blue Mosque was inaccessible we headed over to Hagia Sophia.

Here’s another look at Hagia Sophia.

Pictures from Istanbul

This picture of the Blue Mosque is one of the first pics we took in Istanbul. One of the advantages of staying in Sultanhamet is that you’re constantly walking by these awesome sights. The problem is that it’s a touristy area so you have guys on the street trying to sell you guide books, restaurants aimed at tourists, shop keepers who are a little too pushy, and so on.

This is the first stray cat we met in istanbul. This little kitty was so cute and friendly that we thought for a day or two about finding a way to bring him home to Korea, thinking that a cat would be a much better souvenir than anything we could buy in a store.

Pictures from Kauai: a turtle on the beach and tranquil places to sit

I’d like to show you a few more pictures from my wife’s trip to Hawaii in March, 2010. They are all thumbnails so click to see the bigger version.

On a beach in Kauai, my wife was lucky enough to see a big turtle taking a nap:

Back at Hanalei Bay Resort (which my wife recommends), notice the chairs to the right – looks like a great place to read, write, and relax:

Also at the resort, some benches near a nice garden make another nice place to relax:

Click here for some pictures of birds that came to visit my wife’s lanai at the resort.

Jogyesa on Buddha’s Birthday

Jogyesa is the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and one of the most popular temples in Seoul. I think there are many better ones but on Buddha’s last birthday (May 21, 2010) I went to Jogyesa to see the festivities. It was crowded and they had a pops orchestra and it was colorful:

This is a thumbnail so click to see the big picture:

This is another thumbnail:

As you can see, one of the main traditions is to go to the temple and pay to have your family members’ names attached to one of these good luck Buddhist lanterns. The outdoor ones come down after a while but the inside lanterns stay up for the entire year – getting your name inside is pretty expensive in Seoul, usually over $100.

Personally, I think I preferred the previous year when I went to some far less touristy temples in and around Jinju, South Korea on Buddha’s Birthday. Still, 99% of the people on Jogyesa were Korean so I can’t say it was too touristy.

Which countries allow you to mail weird stuff?

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Daelim Museum of Contemporary Art for an exhibition “Inside Paul Smith.”

They had Paul Smith’s art collection, some photos he’s taken, a scene from his office, and a bunch of things mailed to him by fans. That last one was by far the coolest part for my wife and I and we both want to mail weird stuff to ourselves and use the items with their canceled stamps as decoration.

I was very surprised to see many weird things mailed from America. There was a Radio Flyer wagon (a big one and a small model actually), a body board, a mailbox, various toys, a mannequin, a watering can, all kinds of stuff. I am amazed that the US postal service lets you mail these weird shaped things without putting them in any kind of box.

A lot of these things look very cool covered in stamps so when I go to New York this winter I might try my luck. And I’ll try again in Turkey in January. It occurs to me that this could be way better than sending out postcards as well. I mean wouldn’t some random Korean toy with a few stamps on it be cooler than a postcard with a picture of a temple?

Tokyo people watching part 1: harujuku girls

I like costumes and one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Tokyo was to see some of the wild fashion. That’s why Harujuku was one of my first stops in Tokyo and one of my last. Even in Harujuku, the majority of people are pretty normal looking but some people really stand out. It’s a nice change from Seoul where you just don’t see really wild fashion that often. I didn’t get many pictures of anime costumes – I didn’t feel like chasing after people and getting them to pose and it’s just too crowded to get a clear shot usually – but here are a couple of pics: