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.

Articles by Derek Ray

Another side of Havana

The number of visitors may have doubled last year — but the time to go is still now.

Late afternoon in Havana: Local schoolboys are playing soccer in the central square of the recently renovated Plaza Vieja. Colorful, historic buildings ring the plaza. A warm tropical breeze wafts through the air and the ...

Antelope Canyon, #nofilter

Instagram's favorite red-rock slot canyon can be done in a long weekend.

Nestled about halfway between Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon, Page, Arizona, has some knock-your-eyes-out-jaw-dropping natural phenomena of its own. A small, nondescript town in northern Arizona, Page highlights its proximity to Antelope Canyon ...

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 ...

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