On one of our Zodiac excursions we were allowed to tour a year-round, Ukrainian research station. The eleven men on a one-year shift are re-supplied only with the arrival of the new crew. It seemed like a friendly happy group, offering “home” brewed vodka at the bar. Continue reading Ukrainian Research Station
When I have seen photos of Bhutan, always included were shots of masked dancers, wearing yellow/gold costumes, with wide skirts that flair out as they spin. This was one experience we did not expect to have; it’s not festival time. Nonetheless, we heard about a festival in a small temple in Central Bhutan with perhaps only 200 local people attending and possibly no westerners. Men dancing, women singing, and clowns collecting donations, using huge phalluses as props, were the features of the day. It was a wonderful mix of formal pageantry, informal fun, serious religious ceremonies, and those amazing, golden, masked dancers dancing. Continue reading Temple Dance
Led by a series of socially radical kings, the government of Bhutan has made a long series of stunning, often-difficult, choices. The first, perhaps most radical step, was taken in 1962. The then current king wiped out, in a single stroke, the medieval feudal system, which had shaped all of the secular activities in Bhutan for centuries. Before 1962, there were families who owned manor houses and all the land around the manor as far as the eye could see and beyond. The crops, grown by the serfs, were shared 50/50 with the manor. That ended overnight, by decree, after which no one was to own more than twenty-five acres. Continue reading The Wisdom of Kings and Black Neck Cranes
In many of the Eastern cultures, people don’t like to say “No” to a guest. Depending on the culture, it is either impolite, embarrassing, driven by a history of suppression, or in the case of Bali, it is simply impossible. There is no word for “No.” The closest translation means “Not yet.” Continue reading There is No “No”
Why Travel? I mean really travel, the kind of travel where you actually get to know someone truly different from you and find friendship, kinship or just plain old affinity. Travel … in which you are deeply touched by the beauty, courage or devotion of people you would have not imagined that you would have anything in common ground with. Travel … with an open heart, mind and spirit. Travel … which expands your passion for life. Continue reading Why Travel?
There are lots of reasons for travel and lots of ways to do it. I have found that one of the most satisfying way to travel is to create a quest, a quest to see the highest mountains, deepest lakes, the oldest inns or the most remote monasteries, whatever you want to make up. It doesn’t have to be significant, just a reason to get out of town, get off the beaten track, be a bit more vulnerable, open, available, and in the end, be a lot more nourished and alive. Continue reading Travel with a Quest
What is probably the largest, nearly invisible factor in our choice about Travel? Comfort, yes, comfort, the unsung slayer of rich experience, chance encounters, and other life giving adventures. I suggest that where we travel, how we travel, when, with whom, where we stay, what we do each day, what we eat etc. are all determined in part or wholly by the level of comfort or discomfort that each action will provide for or inflict on our bodies and emotions. Continue reading Comfort in Travel