Derek Ray

Derek became enraptured with visiting strange, new places during a Eurail adventure shortly after his graduation from UCLA. He has subsequently journeyed throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America and the U.S. As an educator, he believes that travel encourages a better understanding of and appreciation for other cultures. He also believes in packing light. Derek has been contributing his travel stories and photos to the Reader since 2009.

You can follow him on Instagram.

Latest Articles

Lesser-visited China: Suzhou & Tongli

The day trips are a welcome break from bustling, smoggy Shanghai.

Shanghai is the most populous city in the world, and it can become a bit overwhelming for both visitors and locals. If you’re living or visiting here for any length of time, you’ll welcome a ...

America's largest park: Death Valley

Make the 5.5-hour drive now for the El Niño superbloom, while it lasts.

A visit to Death Valley can be a wonderful opportunity to clear your mind of some of the mental clutter we accrue in our daily routines and enjoy a digital detox while soaking in some ...

Road-trip Washington State's national parks

Must-sees in Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades.

I paused on the winding Hall of Mosses Trail in Olympic National Park's verdant Hoh Rainforest. Gazing at the oddly shaped trees that seemed concocted out of an imagination meshing Tolkien and Tim Burton, I ...

Shanghai: city in motion

Travel insight in China's (and the world's) most populous city.

Floating down the Huangpu River on a late spring afternoon as the last gleam of daylight faded away, I watched as the skyscrapers of Shanghai gradually transformed into a multitude of flashing lights. Locals and ...

Glacier National Park: backbone of the world

Montana's wild beauty on center stage.

"I have to stay up here all summer and look at this,” our guide mockingly bemoaned while guiding us across exquisite Two Medicine Lake on the eastern side of Glacier National Park. We surveyed the ...

Beijing & the Great Wall explored

Derek Ray's bucket-list stops in northeastern China.

Check out Derek's e-book How to Travel On the Cheap (...and Even for Free!): Turn Your Travel Dreams Into Reality, available in the Amazon Kindle store. “We Chinese people eat everything. Everything in the sky ...

Beijing: first impressions

Making sense of old and new in China's imperial capital.

I stood in Tiananmen Square (above) on a windswept, sunny morning, and gazed at the locals and tourists milling about under the watchful visage of Chairman Mao’s portrait. Having just arrived in China the previous ...

Spring break detour: Tulum & Coba

Get a little Maya culture on your next Yucatán beach escape.

If you tire of lounging about on Cancun's white, sandy beaches and yearn for a bit of Maya culture with your tropical escape, consider exploring the nearby sites of Tulum and Coba. They can both ...

Finding peace at Lake Shrine

Escape from L.A. stress in Pacific Palisades.

If you’re in L.A. and seek a respite from the traffic and stress, there's a place that just may restore – at least temporarily – a sense of tranquility to your being. The Self Realization ...

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