Month: September 2010

Trail of Asia

Boat prow on the Ganges, Varanasi, India


I was invited recently to be a guest blogger for the site

You can read my guest post, “Varanass, Varanass,” an account of surviving both the 2-day bus journey from Kathmandu to Varanasi as well as the Indian heat, here:

Thanks to Elaine of Trail of Asia for the invitation!

Some recommended blogs

Rainy day reflection, Tibetan countryside


I like to share good blogs that I come across, especially ones that are exceptionally well-written. Good writing and photography inspire me to further develop my own talents.

Here are some recent excerpts from some of my favorites: 


On travel:

I have learned much about myself in the last few weeks. Traveling has a way of doing that to you. You are on an emotional roller coaster where one minute you have everything under control and the next minute you are completely lost and chasing after a bus. That is the beauty of traveling, sometimes it’s fun to not be in your comfort zone. Getting used to being unsure of where you are and where you are going is half the fun and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is the path to success or at least sanity.

Being Comfortable with the Uncomfortable, by Sarah Curl, KF12 Uganda


On Tibet: 

Since the moment we arrived in Tibet 4 days ago I have felt utterly mesmerized.  The impossibly harsh, jagged, and seemingly lifeless peaks that dominate the landscape are punctuated with valleys filled with technicolor fields of wildflowers and wide mountain streams that perfectly reflect the sky not so far above.  The colorful traditional buildings and colorful local dress are all the more alluring against the bleak, rugged landscape.

I Smell yak Butter! by Sarah


On Tibet: 

Tibet is not just remote, it looks like another world. The Tibetans call their country ‘Bo’; the Chinese say ‘Xizang’; no one knows where the word ‘Tibet’ came from. The mountains are spectacular, the glaciated valleys are wide and the horizon is vast and empty. No houses, trees or towns mar the landscape. Here, in this infinite land, the mind reaches out to the horizon. Against this immensity, yaks and people move like tiny ants. They are busy, industriously plowing the frozen earth but it seems hopeless trying to scrape a living from this barren soil. Under the blue heavens, the whole weight of the universe seems to press down upon them.

At Nyalam, it begins to snow, at first a flurry, then a blizzard that whites out the sky. The chorten, decorated with prayer flags (lung ta or horses of the wind), is almost obscured by the driven snow.

Triniview:  Friendship Highway – Khatmandu to Lhasa, by Jiang He Feng


On architecture / preservation:

Nothing good will come of this. That is: the destruction of the old alleyways – hutong – around Gulou (the Drum Tower) neighborhood in Beijing.  I understand the complaints of local residents, who have to put up with substandard housing, but a more organic, grass-roots process would yield a better combination of preservation and improvement.  Unfortunately, Beijing city authorities are acting like jerks: not releasing plans, disrupting a local preservation organization.  I share the fears of those who look at what the Qianmen district has become and see that as the future of Gulou: 

Critics say the most egregious example of this trend can be seen just south of Tiananmen Square, where the city’s most fabled shopping district, Qianmen, was replaced by a soulless but expensive facsimile of its former hurly-burly self.

“The renovation of Qianmen wasn’t about preserving history, but about creating a fake Hollywood version of it,” said Mr. Yao, the urban planning professor.

  Nothing good will come of this, by Sam Crane


On Chinese culture:

Sometimes you can get to the cutting edge by going back to your roots. As one of China’s most celebrated musical craftsmen, Liang Zhirong has traveled the world, filling his passport by creating beautiful traditional hand crafted folk instruments. The instruments are made from memory without any templates, using instincts born by 300 years of family history. Liang is 43 and hails from Sanjiang County in Guangxi Province. Growing up in the Dong minority region, his upbringing was steeped in tradition. Starting with his great-great-grandfather, the Liang family patriarchs have long been recognized as great musicians and artisans. His father was called the King of Lusheng by the locals, and it was his father who and taught him to play, handing him his first instrument (a traditional bamboo flute) at the age of 7.

10 Minutes – Liang Zhirong, by Michael