Travel Stories

Travel Stories

A Monk's Initiation

I have a talent for getting lost.  This talent has taken me to places that I would never have found on a tourist map.  I’ve met people who had rarely seen Americans, and taken part in experiences that were not intended for foreigners.  I’ll go in the wrong direction, arrive at the wrong temple, eat dinner at the wrong restaurant, maybe even spend the night in the wrong hotel.  

This talent led to a transformational experience on my first trip to Thailand.

Kismet: My Journey to Turkey


Kismet: A Journey to Turkey

Joe Shakarchi


I stood on the rooftop of the small house built into the hill, looking over the strange moonlike rock formations of Cappadocia. I could see endlessly.  I was on the edge of the roof, but I knew I was in no danger.  I had hundreds of ancestors holding me, keeping me from falling.


    My first encounter with kismet occurred before I even touched Turkish soil.  

Look in the Mirror

Go to the Mirror: Meeting the Emerald Buddha

Joe Shakarchi


“The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is the most spiritual place I’ve ever been to in my life, anywhere in the world.”  My friend Sandra told me this the day before I was to leave for my first trip to Thailand.  It’s hard for any place to live up to a buildup like this, but I wanted to find out for myself.  I wanted to see the Emerald Buddha not as a tourist, but as a Buddhist visiting a historic temple.

Reclaiming My Heritage: My Trip to Israel

            Reclaiming My Heritage: My Return to Israel            


                    Joe Shakarchi


I am a Spanish-Turkish-Syrian-Iraqi-American Jew now living in Bangkok. So what is my identity? Where is home? Jewish history is also the history of my own family, my history. In traveling to Israel for the second time, I was searching for my own identity.


The Wailing Wall