Guided cultural tours to Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Argentina, and Mexico.

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Upcoming Journeys:

Bhutan

Sept. 29 - Oct. 10, 2014
•TRIP FULL•

CHRISTMAS IN BHUTAN
Dec. 23 - Jan 2


April 3-15, 2015


Laos

September 15-27, 2014
*Few Spaces Still Available

December 1-13, 2014

 



TRAVEL JOURNAL

1. State of Emergency to State of Bliss (April 25, 2009)
2. Falling for Bhutan (April 27, 2009)
3. Bad habits in Bhutan (April 30, 2009)
4. The National Crematorium (May 5, 2009)
5. TRONGSA (May 20, 2009)
6. The Real Magic Kingdom (May 22, 2009)
7. The Hub Club (May 23, 2009)
8. Back to the Promised Land (November 29, 2009)
9. Make Believe Country (December 5, 2009)
10. In Bhutan, Skateboarding is a Crime (December 7, 2009)
11. Ride of a Lifetime (December 11, 2009)
12. Government Has a Campaign (December 14, 2009)

13. At the Carwash (December 17, 2009)
14. Driving to India (December 21, 2009)
15. Romeo & Juliet, the Indian Version (December 24, 2009)
16. Tiger Tracks (December 29, 2009)
17. How I learned to Text
(December 31, 2009)
18. Pinatubo (January 19th 2010)
19. Catching a Buzz in Bhutan (July 13th, 2010)
20. Chilies and Cheese (July 15th, 2010)

21. The Falkand Islands (October 24, 2010)
22. Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands (October 24, 2010)
23. The Falklands War (October 25, 2010)
24. Carcass Island, Falklands (October 25, 2010)
25. Return To Stanley (October 26, 2010)

26. Bhutan is so Appealing: explained (December 8, 2010)
27. The People of Bhutan, the nicest you'll ever meet (Dec. 10, 2010)
28. Good Governance in Bhutan (December 14, 2010)
29. Wat Phu Champasak, southern Laos (October 18, 2010)

30. Luang Prabang, Laos (February 28, 2011)
31. Bhutan, (Not Quite) The King and I (March 3, 2011)
32. Thimphu, Bhutan (March 9, 2011)
33. Auspicious Days in Bhutan
(July 19, 2013)



State of Emergency to State of Bliss
(April 25, 2009)

You wanna go to Bhutan, you pretty much have to go via Bangkok.

Arrival in Bangkok coincided with the very planned Thai New Year, and unexpected street demonstrations against the government. Taxi got no closer than one block to hotel, streets closed for the revelers. This meant a short walk, though what amounted to sniper alley, as everyone was armed with 2 or 3 foot guns, (pause for dramatic effect), shooting streams of water. Yep, the world's biggest water fight underway, and I arrived drenched. What I learned: my new suitcase is waterproof.

Phyllis, Kim and Janet are already in Bangkok, their first time, so when taxi dropped them off and instructed them to walk to hotel, through the watery gauntlet they were truly innocents abroad. I worried they might be distressed by all the revelry. Seems they subscribe to the "when in Rome do as the Romans do", and they have joined the party.

I changed, went down to the street, and got me a gun. All the streets surrounding the hotel on Khao San Road closed to traffic, and jam packed with people. Most have water guns, some garden hoses, others buckets of water, and then others bowls of wet white clay, so you very soon get accustomed to strangers stroking your face leaving it clay covered. News to me, I look OK with pancake makeup. Both the water and clay have their origins in a New Year good luck gesture, originally a few drops of water and a smudge of clay on the cheek. Now morphed into a 3 day multi-block party with throbbing wet bodies, smiling, laughing, and dancing on the streets, refrigerator size speakers every 20 feet blasting music. Sixty seconds after I leave hotel and I'm soaked. It's 90 plus degrees, so feels pretty good. The revelers are mostly Thai, but this being Khao San Road, they come in every flavor. Three in the morning, 3 in the afternoon, same density and decibels.

Khao San Road is just blocks away from Democracy Monument, ground zero for demonstrations in Bangkok. Red shirted demonstrators clash softly (initially) with police. Later they begin to burn buses. We walk, rather innocently into groups of soldiers (these with real machine guns), and demonstrators with sticks, and locals taking pictures of both. I'm pretty chicken shit when it comes to danger, but this seems oddly un-menacing, despite the hundreds of soldiers, so close we brush up against them, as they crowd the same sidewalks we also try to maneuver.

CNN shows the same 12 burned buses about a million times, leaving Berous and Wendie, still in San Francisco uncertain if they should board the flight to Bangkok. I get several middle of the night calls, and assure then they will face no hazard in Bangkok. The brave souls get on the plane.

Three mornings later we board the next plane, this one to Bhutan, where the biggest risk seems to be the chili dominated cuisine, which burns on entrance and exit.