Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Itinerary.

Swayambhunath Stupa (Temple), Kathmandu

As with all my trips, planning begins with research and there's no better place to start than the web. In surfing, I came across several travel blogs and websites that had conflicting information about the safety of travelling in Nepal - there were numerous reports of violence by Maoist rebels. Even the US State Department website had a travel advisory posted for Nepal. My heart sank with each bad "report". But I really wanted to go to Nepal so I felt compelled to get an "insider's" view of the security situation before deciding whether or not to cancel out.

Friday, July 13, 2007

New Delhi, India. Itinerary.

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi, India

New Delhi, India is my first stop after a grueling 18 hour trans-Atlantic, trans-continental flight. I've only planned for two full days in town and there's lots to see. To plan my simple itinerary, I used a few references including the official tourism website of the Indian Government as well as Frommer's and wikitravel websites. In Delhi, the tourist information office is located at 88 Janpath - near Connaught Place. Once in Delhi, I will go there to get additional information.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The packing list. India, Nepal & Tibet.

I must admit, I've never worried about running out of suitcase or backpack space - I've always been a very light traveller but not so this time. I'm actually wondering whether or not I'll be able to fit everything into my backpack. So what's different about this trip from the others?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The New 7 Wonders and memories of Chichén Itzá.

Today is July 7th, 2007 or 07.07.07 which some "superstitious" people believe will be an auspicious day.

It just so happens to also be the day that the New 7 Wonders of the World, as voted on by people around the world, was announced. Here's the list of finalists.

  • Great Wall, China
  • Petra, Jordan
  • Machu Picchu, Peru
  • Taj Mahal, India
  • Chichén Itzá, Mexico
  • The Roman Colosseum, Italy
  • Christ Redeemer, Brazil
The process to come up with a new list was spearheaded by an organization called the New7Wonders Foundation. As "snipped" from the foundation's website, here's some background information on the project to name the 7 New Wonders.
"The Foundation was created in 2001 by Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber, with a mission to protect humankind's heritage across the globe.........Now, the N7W campaign is in its most exciting, and crucial, stage. At the end of 2005, the N7W panel chose 21 candidates from the top 77 nominees that had earned the most votes, and these 21 are now in the final stage of the competition. The official N7W 21 finalist candidates were announced by the panel's President, Prof. Federico Mayor, on January 1, 2006 in Zurich.The final round of voting for the New 7 Wonders will continue through the first half of 2007. Then, on July 7, 2007 -07.07.07, the dream of the N7W initiators will become a reality as the globe joins together to celebrate the New 7 Wonders of the World, as chosen by the world's population using modern communications technology. You can join the N7W Society now. Become an official part of this dynamic community and support this historic project. ... be a part of the making of history !"

I have been very, very lucky to have been able to travel to all of the new 7 wonders except for the Great Wall and Christ Redeemer. I'm hoping to see the Great Wall next year and fulfill a dream of visiting this world treasure in the land of my ancestors. As for the other two sites, they're on my list of places to see before I die so someday...... I've also been fortunate to have visited the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt - one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.

I have blogs to document my travels to Machu Picchu, Petra and the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, blogs did not exist when I went to the Yucatan Peninsula 20 years ago. Back then, memories were written into journals and photos pasted into albums. In a moment of nostalgia, I decided to dig up my photos from that trip - I don't know where the journal is and it saddens me as there's much I'm sure I've forgotten.

In January, 1987, I went to the Yucatan with 2 friends and one day, we drove from Cancun to see the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá. What a memorable experience that was! In an homage to that trip, I thought I would post up a few photos here.

Here's me (no comments on how skinny I was back then!) standing at the top of the "El Castillo" (the Castle) with the Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors) in the background. It was quite a climb to get to the top of the El Castillo which is a step pyramid. I remember the steps being very high in height and there were a lot of them. There was a chain link rope that you could hold onto to to help you get up the steps. It was an effort to get to the top but as you can see, the view at the top was breathtaking! You could see the jungle landscape that makes up much of the region surrounding Chichén Itzá.


Here's a photo I took of El Castillo.












.....and one of my friend Ed, posing in front of Templo de los Guerreros.













....and a snapshot of "El Caracol" - the Observatory Temple.

I remember we were planning to only spend a couple of hours at Chichén Itzá but I couldn't leave until I had explored every inch so a couple of hours turned into the better part of a day! Those were the days when we didn't have a clue about sunscreen so by the time we left Chichén Itzá, I was burnt to a crisp!

Back then, Cancun was a relatively sleepy town - there were only a handful of hotels and restaurants, a bull fighting ring and one gas station. You could walk on the beach and not see anyone else in sight. I have not been back there since but friends of mine who have tell me it's now very touristy. I'm not sure I would enjoy going there today - high rise hotels, crowds and all.

Here's a photo I snapped of downtown Cancun 20 years ago.
....and of our favorite orange juice vendor.


In those days, we didn't have much money so conserving pesos was always a goal. After a couple of trips to the orange juice vendor, Ed decided that it would be cheaper to squeeze our own so we bought a hand juicer at a nearby department store and then negotiated with one of the vendors to buy a sack of oranges. There must have been well over 50 oranges in the sack! To this day, I can remember just how sick and tired I was of drinking and eating oranges by the time I left Mexico for home!

Looking at the photos, from the trip to Cancun, brought back a flood of fond memories but as wonderful as those times were, I'm excited at the thought of the new experiences that future trips and adventures will bring!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

More shots.



Although I had gotten a slew of vaccinations for my trip to Peru last year, I decided to check International SOS to see if I needed any additional vaccinations and sure enough, I did. I'm missing Hepatitis B. So today, at lunchtime, I went to a nearby travel clinic and got my first of three shots for Hep B - another stamp in my vaccination booklet. I'm going back next Thursday and two Thursdays after that for the remaining two shots.

The waiting begins.

Last night, I reserved my spot on the Tibet tour but won't receive confirmation until early August. This means I won't be able to finalize the arrangements for the other parts of my trip (through India and Nepal), buy airline tickets or get my travel visas until then. Ugh.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Where the earth meets the sky - the Himalayas.


I remember, as a kid, visiting Yellowstone National Park with my family. One of the highlights for me on that trip was a drive to neighboring Grand Teton National Park. I still remember my first sight of the Tetons on that drive. From my vantage point in the car, I could see the entire range of snow capped mountains. It was a magnificent view and obviously one that has stayed with me all these years! Over the years, I have seen many a snow capped moutain range. I had a bird's eye view of Mount St. Helen's on a flight from Vancouver to San Francisco and many a view of the Cascade Mountains, on a trip to Seattle, including its highest peak - Mount Rainier. I've been to the Sierra Nevada, the Rockies, the Alps and the Andes. I have even flown in a Cessna over the snow capped volcanoes that ring Lake Taupo on the North Island of New Zealand.