Jim Vail

Jim Vail, cofounder of Reflections Enroute, is a perpetual traveler who loves writing, photography, and learning and sharing more about the world around him. He's visited more than 80 countries and has lived outside his home country for over half his life in Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Germany, and the Netherlands. Least favorite question--Where are you from?

Driving in (Eastern) Malaysia

Driving Malaysia

Driving in Malaysian Borneo It’s always exciting to think of visiting a new country. What sights will we see? What’s the food going to be like? How do the people live? And I like to take it a little further. What is the country’s infrastructure like? Transportation, agriculture, communication, bureaucracy; all shape the nation and the way people live. For me, one of the best ways to experience a country’s infrastructure is through driving. In many countries, the typical tourists are shuttled around from sight to sight in a carefully managed itinerary that rarely exposes them to the realities of life in the country. Driving yourself, on the other hand, lets you feel the country by the seat of your …

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Driving Spain

Driving Spain

Driving through Spain gave us fantastic views of mountains, rivers, medieval cities, and plenty of livestock from pigs to cows. We loved it. By now it is obvious, we love self-driving our way through a country, as we did in Norway and Israel not too long ago. So our recent trip to Spain proved the perfect opportunity to get out on the road and drive! On this trip we didn’t use a car hire in Spain, because we were able to bring our own car. The trip from Germany was long, over 23 hours of driving time, but easily broken up over three days with some fantastic stops along the way (watch for upcoming blogs on Avignon and Baeza). For …

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Driving Israel

Israel

The best way to get away! Driving around a new country really shows you it all! I love to drive. Some of my earliest memories involve piling our large family in the VW van and heading out on a trip to the beach, the lake, the mountains, Grandma’s house, wherever.  Of course, I love the destination, but even from those earliest days I remember more the time being in the car, driving down the open road. I could get lost in the scenery, make up stories about the people I’d see in other cars on the road, or spend hours following our progress on the map-checking off stops along the route, estimating arrival times, or calculating our average speed. I …

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What to do on Mongolia Trip

A yak and a ger, a typical scene all over Mongolia.

“Mongolia?” Our colleagues once again looked at us with concern, or maybe it was incredulousness, or maybe just confusion. It’s hard to interpret their faces and words sometimes, but it always basically means, “What are you thinking?”  It didn’t stop us, though, it was planned and we were packed and ready to go to a country that really isn’t on too many people’s list. The trip we were going on was a nine day steppe, Gobi, wilderness road trip in a 7 seat, 15 year old Russian military van. We booked the trip the entire tour with  Bobbi at the UB guesthouse in Ulaan Baator . She was extremely helpful and tailored our trip to our exact requirements. Planning and Booking …

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The Fabulous Eggplant!

Before moving to Asia, I never really considered an eggplant worth eating.  I had had the occasional moussaka, but other than that it was completely lacking from my diet.  Apparently in many parts of the world, it was reputed to drive people insane and was called the “mad apple”.  Now, I think it should be called this simply because if you don’t try it, you’re mad. Living in Japan I began to appreciate this fruit, but moving to Turkey I’ve found it is impossible not to eat it.  There are many varieties of eggplant, but the Turks typically use the smaller and thinner type known as the Asian eggplant. The Turks use eggplant (patlican) in such a variety of dishes …

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