I was pretty sure it was 2009 when I hopped in my friend Lisa’s Volvo in Boston, but when we parked in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, two hours later, I felt like we’d driven back in time into the 1950’s. Our intended beach getaway had magically transported us to the midst of classic Americana in all its kitschy, fun glory—think neon lights, vintage diners, old-school motels, and waterfront amusement park, not to mention the slow-pace of a much simpler era….
It’s not every day that a New York Times best-selling author shows up at your book club. When one of my friends suggested How the World Makes Love by Franz Wisner for our next read, I was definitely on board. Wisner’s Honeymoon with My Brother chronicled the unexpected way his life unfolded after his fiancée left him at the altar—as you might guess from the title, he took his brother on his pre-paid honeymoon; from there they quit their jobs and embarked on a two-year world tour.
We've heard of people doing all sorts of crazy things for love, but author Eve Brown-Waite might just have them all beat. Thought moving across the country to be closer to your girlfriend was bold?Try packing up your cushy New York life to join the Peace Corps, all in the hopes of winning over your dreamy, do-gooder recruiter. That's precisely how Brown-Waite, who is decidedly more Banana Republic than Birkenstock, finds herself heading to Ecuador for a year-thousands of miles away from the charmer who'd inspired her to give up her cappuccino-filled lifestyle in the first place.
When Simon Majumdar found himself in the throes of a midlife crisis, he didn’t surrender himself to trite clichés—no sports car or twentysomething girlfriend for him. Instead, the fanatical foodie quit his job and embarked on an expedition designed around one tasty mission: “Go everywhere, eat everything.”
The results of this 12-month, 30-nation gastronomic escapade are delectably chronicled in Eat My Globe: One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything (Free Press, $26), out May 19. Half Welsh and half Bengali, Majumdar grew up in a household where diverse flavors were the norm and food reigned supreme. “To say that our family was obsessed with what we ate would be like saying J.K. Rowling is comfortably well off,” he writes. “Food was not just fuel to keep the plump bodies of the Majumdar clan going. It was the very essence of who we were.”
Buckets, hoses, water guns, balloons…not typical items associated with religious holidays—unless you’re in Thailand, evidently. That’s where, every April, the Buddhist New Year is commemorated with what just might be the world’s biggest water fight: the Songkran festival.
Songkran traces its origins back more than a thousand years, when celebrants heralded spring with the throwing of water. At first people would sprinkle drops on their elders as a sign of respect; then they began bathing statues of Buddha; eventually it evolved into the soggy celebration it’s become today. Songkran is a national holiday and, since it falls in one of the hottest months of the year, it’s no wonder that everyone’s eager to partake in the water wars.
For three days revelers run amok in the streets, soaking passersby indiscriminately. Thanks to the scores of people of all ages spraying everything in sight, if you’re out and about, you’re guaranteed to be the victim of a drive-by drenching.
So if you plan to be in Thailand from April 13–15, you may want to pack your rain poncho—and stow your water gun with your checked luggage.