Info

Adventure Travel, Far East: Inspired by Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, National Geographic

Far East Adventure Travel. Inspiring, entertaining. Let John Saboe take you on journeys filled with spiritual celebrations and rituals, ancient festivals, wildlife safaris, trekking and climbing quests and vast array of food cultures. Learn about village life, cultural differences, urban exploration, street food, history and architecture. Visit Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, India, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, and Korea. Stories and advice from one of the most exciting destinations on the planet-Asia.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Adventure Travel, Far East: Inspired by Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, National Geographic
2017
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2015
December


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: Page 4
Sep 5, 2016
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, or Saigon a name still used by many of it's residents is full of history, culture, amazing nightlife, and a city that's modernizing rapidly. On my most recent visit the skyline was noticeably filled with cranes atop new buildings and an underground subway under construction. With shopping malls everywhere including a brand new "Saigon Center" and a flagship Japanese department store as it's main tenant, you might conclude that the city is losing some of it's historic charm. Not the case at all. There are still plenty of beautiful French colonial buildings, palaces and historic sites to satisfy the fiercest culture vulture. Cholon in District 5, the largest "Chinatown" in the world is full of atmospheric pagodas, outdoor markets and old streets selling traditional Chinese medicine remedies. District 1 is where most of the historic and iconic landmarks and buildings that Ho Chi Minh City is famous for, including the General Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House. In disrict 1 bordering District 3 you'll find one of the city's most treasured temples, The Jade Emperor Pagoda. In Taoism, the Jade Emperor is the God of Gods, the King of Heaven, or Ngoc Hoang. The pagoda is set on some very humble grounds, with a pool filled with carp or koi and a turtle pond. I made a trip to the Jade Emperor Pagoda on my most recent visit to Ho Chi Minh City and was thoroughly taken in by it's wonderful interior with sun rays casting beautiful light onto the many dieties worshipped by followers. Join me for a tour through HCMC's Jade Emperor Pagoda from a previous Far East Adventure Travel "live" broadcast. Getting there:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jade_Emperor_Pagoda
Sep 4, 2016
[caption id="attachment_3609" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Once the home to the kings of Siam and Thailand The Grand Palace is the number one tourist attraction in Bangkok Once the home to the kings of Siam and Thailand The Grand Palace is the number one tourist attraction in Bangkok[/caption] The Grand Palace is the busiest tourist attraction in Bangkok. It has been home to the Kings of Siam and Thailand since 1782. It is not one building as the name implies but a series of buildings, halls, and pavilions set around courtyards, open lawns, and gardens. On first approach to the complex you are literally assaulted by it’s stunning array of colors, shapes, textures and symmetry, overwhelming in it’s sense of beauty. The gold statues and chedis gleam in the intense sun and are almost a distraction from the massive crowds. Arrive early to see the top sight of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, the Chapel of the Emerald Buddha. Carved from a single piece of jade the Emerald Buddha has been on an interesting adventure in the past few centuries. Said to have been discovered by the Abbot of a monastery in Chiang Rai Northern Thailand in the 15 century, the emerald buddha has spend time in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Luang Prabang, Laos before moving to a shrine near Wat Arun in Thonburi before it’s final home at the Grand Palace. The Emerald Buddha is considered the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand. Perhaps it’s for this reason that photographs are not allowed inside the chapel. The building is considered a personal chapel of the royal family and not a temple as monks do not reside there. The emerald Buddha statue is 19 inches wide and 26 inches high and is adorned with 3 gold seasonal costumes, one for the rainy season, summer, and cool season. They are exchanged by the King in a ceremony at the change of each season. A duplicate of the emerald Buddha can be seen a photographed in Chiang Rai. The Grand Palace is filled with adornments including the gold mythical Aponsi, half-woman, half lion, demon guardians supporting the gilded chedi and the Kinnon, half-human, half-bird. Phra Mondop, at the base of which sit stone carved Buddhas in the Javanese style. Sixteen twelve corner columns support the multi-tiered roof that houses the Buddhist Canon, or sacred texts. The gold gilded chedis are among the most striking structures of the Grand Palace especially on a bright day with a blue sky. The star creatures of the grounds are the giant Yaksha of the Thai Ramakian , Thailand’s version of the Ramayana, an epic Hindu poem. Many murals inside the walls of the Grand Palace feature images of the Thai Ramakian, the story of Rama, whose wife, Sita is abducted by Ravana, the King of Lanka, or Sri Lanka. The Ramayana or Thai Ramakan explores human values and the concept of dharma. On most days the Grand Palace will seem like the hottest place on the planet. So pace yourself. The extra clothing you will have to wear to cover your shoulders and legs as part of the dress code will add to the discomfort. Drink lots of water, wear a wide brimmed hat and do as the Asians do, use an umbrella as a barrier to the intense sun. At the east wall of the Wat Phra Kaew sits eight Phra Atsada Maha Chedis. Each chedi is decorated with a different shade of Chinese porcelain representing the eight elements of Buddhism, Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Concentration and Right Mindfulness. The porcelain creates a glowing effect fitting for their significance. There are still many buildings to admire and visit outside the walls of the Chapel of the Emerald Buddha including the Central Court. Here is where the king resided and where all state business was conducted. The Phra Maha Monthien Group are a series of buildings near the eastern edge of the central court that were the main residence and audience hall for the king. During the week you can visit inside and see the gilded thrones used by the kings. Next to the Dusit Group is the Chakra Maha Prasat, nicknamed the westerner with the Thai hat due to it’s mixed styles of architecture. Today Chakra Maha Prasat is mainly used for state banquets and receptions for foreign ambassadors. It’s closed to the public but there is a weapons collection on the ground level that can be viewed on weekdays. The base of the Chakra Maha Prasat houses the royal guards who you can see standing at attention throughout the day in front of it’s VIP main entrance. And yes you can take pictures with them, just don’t expect any conversation or engagement as they are on duty. Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall is the only building that is open to the public within it’s group. No photographs are permitted inside but you can enjoy the features including a mother of pearl throne and a large mother of pearl throne bed which was used by the king for relaxing between audiences. Today the throne hall is used for lying in state for kings, queens, and favored members of the royal family. Thai kings stopped living in the palace full time at around the beginning of the 20th century but the Grand Palace is still considered the spiritual center of the Thai Kingdom. The inner court where the Thai kings resided and their royal consorts and daughters lived is no longer used but is still closed off to the public. Most of the important sites of the Grand Palace can be seen in one visit. This is probably not a full day trip as the heat and crowds can be overwhelming to most and the exhibits that can be viewed and open to the public are easily seen during a morning or afternoon . If you arrive at the main entrance gate by the 8:30 opening you have plenty of time to see The Chapel of The Emerald Buddha and the buildings of the Central Court with time for breaks in the shade and be finished before lunch. You might be able to squeeze in a visit to one of the on sight museums as well. Like the Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat the Grand Palace is a tourist bus magnet. Though worth every bit of patience to quickly immerse yourself in the history of Siam and Thailand and understand the importance of the King, the royal family, and Buddhism to the Thai people.
Sep 4, 2016
Bangkok, Thailand is full of history, exciting street life, notorious red-light districts, fantastic food and enough stimulation to call it one of the most exciting cities to visit on the planet! It's actually the second most visited city in the world following by London as the top spot and preceding Paris in third place. On my most recent whirlwind visit through the city I took in the top sites including The Grand Palace where Thailand's palladium, the Emerald Buddha, can be found as well as Wat Arun, and Wat Pho, two other top temples that shouldn't be missed on a stay in Bangkok. Because I'm a travel broadcaster it's hard to overlook a backpacking center like the legendary Khao San Road, even if just for watching the street entertainment of joyous travellers pushing the partying limit. Check out the latest Far East Adventure Travel Podcast for highlights of live streams this year from Bangkok, Thailand.
Aug 26, 2016
Chiang Rai, Thailand is one of the those places you end up staying longer than planned. Even though it's the largest city in the most northern part of the country there is a wonderful "chill vibe", evident in the slow place, the numerous cafes, wonderful Buddhist temples, including the original home of the Emerald Buddha. It's so easy to settle in to the slow place over coffees, beers, and lazy walks to the day market, the "Gold Clock Tower", and the walking streets that take place on Saturday and Sunday. There's lots of tasty local dishes to try, you may even sample your first cricket like I did at one of the "walking street" markets. If you get the urge to venture a little ways out of town you can visit Chiang Rai's two top attractions, The "White Temple" and "Black Temple", more art exhibits and artistic interpretations of Buddhism, then true temples, they are usually swarmed by tourist buses loaded with travellers and their selfie sticks. Go early in the day and you'll have more room to wander and enjoy the settings, especially at the "Black Temple". I definitely plan to spend more time in Chiang Rai on my next visit, and like my last stay, I'll probably end up extending it by a few more days. Check out the latest Far East Adventure Travel "Live" and highlights of my recent trip to Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Aug 20, 2016
Kathmandu is at it's most colorful with the lead up to Tihar, the festival of lights-marigold garlands are available everywhere for worship and celebration. 2015 will go down as one of the most challenging if not the most disastrous year ever for Nepal. From the worst earthquakes in over 80 years to a fuel crisis that literally turned the country upside down with line-ups at the pump that lasted for days to a lack of basic cooking and heating fuel for the majority of the population. I visited the country twice in 2015. The first time was just after the devastating earthquakes and tremors that started April 25th. My flight was actually denied clearance for landing for over 90 minutes on May 12 while crews checked the runway for safety after the second biggest earthquake struck the country that day. My second visit was in October and November when I returned to trek the Annapurna Circuit and check up on the conditions of recovery from the earthquakes. As I had heard reports before I arrived that virtually no reconstruction had begun I was not shocked to see things, especially in the Kathmandu Valley, had not changed other then some rubble had been cleared away. The fuel crisis had created food shortages and delayed plans for rebuilding. From a tourist's point of view this could be easily seen by shortened menus in popular restaurants to some establishments even closing their doors frustrated by the lack of ingredients available and the extreme costs and shortages of cooking fuel. As well as some landmarks and monument still noticeably in need of repair or reconstruction. Nepalis were frustrated with their festival plans either from the lack of reliable transportation getting to a from their home village to the shortage of special food for celebrations cooking fuel. Still despite the politics that created the fuel crisis, an unofficial Indian embargo as a result from a new constitution which did not favour ethnic groups in the south, Nepalis seemed to carry on as they usually do through adversity. After spending a few days in Pokhara following my trek of the Annapurna Circuit I returned to Nepal in time for the Tihar Festival, otherwise called "the festival of lights". In other South Asian countries and communities around the world it's known as Diwali. It's one of the most exciting times to visit Kathmandu. Marigold garlands are available everywhere to help celebrate the festival and everyone is in a joyous mood. It's also a unique introduction for many into the Hindu religion and culture. To see the various days celebrated in the festival including Kukhar Tihar, the day of the dog, when dogs are decorated with garlands and tikas is enlightening. It's part of the lead up to the most important day of the festival Lakshmi Puja. Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity and it's believed she will visit your home or business on this night and you will be blessed with a prosperous year-if it's cleaned and decorated with flowers, lights, and rangoli art, the street or courtyard designs made of colored sand, flower petals and dry flour. I hope you enjoy the latest episode of Far East Adventure Travel "Live" Best of Nepal 2015 and the exciting days of Kathmandu's Tihar Festival.
Aug 11, 2016
[caption id="attachment_3820" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Kathmandu is at it's most colorful with the lead up to Tihar, the festival of lights-marigold garlands are available everywhere for worship and celebration.[/caption] 2015 will go down as one of the most challenging if not the most disastrous year ever for Nepal. From the worst earthquakes in over 80 years to a fuel crisis that literally turned the country upside down with line-ups at the pump that lasted for days to a lack of basic cooking and heating fuel for the majority of the population. I visited the country twice in 2015. The first time was just after the devastating earthquakes and tremors that started April 25th. My flight was actually denied clearance for landing for over 90 minutes on May 12 while crews checked the runway for safety after the second biggest earthquake struck the country that day. My second visit was in October and November when I returned to trek the Annapurna Circuit and check up on the conditions of recovery from the earthquakes. As I had heard reports before I arrived that virtually no reconstruction had begun I was not shocked to see things, especially in the Kathmandu Valley, had not changed other then some rubble had been cleared away. The fuel crisis had created food shortages and delayed plans for rebuilding. From a tourist's point of view this could be easily seen by shortened menus in popular restaurants to some establishments even closing their doors frustrated by the lack of ingredients available and the extreme costs and shortages of cooking fuel. As well as some landmarks and monument still noticeably in need of repair or reconstruction. Nepalis were frustrated with their festival plans either from the lack of reliable transportation getting to a from their home village to the shortage of special food for celebrations cooking fuel. Still despite the politics that created the fuel crisis, an unofficial Indian embargo as a result from a new constitution which did not favour ethnic groups in the south, Nepalis seemed to carry on as they usually do through adversity. I spent time in Pokhara after my trek through Annapurna visiting the beautiful World Peace Pagoda as well as enjoying the celebrations of Tihar, the festival of lights in Kathmandu. In the latest episode of Far East Adventure Travel join me for "live" highlights from last November in Nepal.
Jul 31, 2016
[caption id="attachment_3303" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]An ancient Chinese fishing net and traditional fishing boats are still used to catch a variety of fish and creatures from the sea in Fort Cochin-Kerala, India An ancient Chinese fishing net and traditional fishing boats are still used to catch a variety of fish and creatures from the sea in Fort Cochin-Kerala, India[/caption] Kerala is one of my favorite states to travel through in India. It has an interesting history filled with some of the most varied culture and religion in all of the country. Fort Cochin at 35% has the highest per capital Christian population in India. Coupled with a smoothly assimilated remainder of mostly Hindu and Muslims, the feeling of harmony amongst the groups could be the highest than anywhere else in India. Kerala also boasts the highest literacy rate in the country, 93%, and the highest life expectancy, 77 years. Spices have been exported from the region since 3000 B.C. Walking through the streets and alleys of Matancherry next to Fort Cochin can still feel romantic and like a slice from another time with small warehouses piled high with sacks of nutmeg, mace, cumin and many other spices. Much of which is used in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the main reasons tourists visit the state. Ayurvedic clinics, yoga retreats, beach side resorts and backwater houseboat cruises are some of the most popular draws to Kerala. On my last visit to Kerala I spent a few weeks in the Fort Cochin area before traveling further south to the beach towns of Varkala and Kovalam, with stops in the capital, Thiruvananthapuram, or the older and easier name to pronounce, Trivandrum, as well as the backwater capital Alleppey. Join me in this episode of Far East Adventure Travel for live stream highlights of "God's Own Country"-Kerala, India.
Jul 27, 2016
[caption id="attachment_3293" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Mumbai's most famous landmark, The Gateway of India is one of the most visited sites in the country's largest city. One of the highlights of Far East Adventure Travel-Best of "Live" Mumbai's most famous landmark, The Gateway of India is one of the most visited sites in the country's largest city. One of the highlights of Far East Adventure Travel-Best of "Live"[/caption] Mumbai, India is one of the most exciting destinations in South Asia. Easily the richest city in the region, the most expensive private home in the world is located there, it's a roller coaster ride of experiences from visiting neighborhoods filled with British "Raj" architecture, holy sites, crazy markets, and yes even long stretches of beaches, just don't go in for a swim. On my most recent visit I spent two weeks wandering the city streets, traveling on local buses, taxis, even taking a boat ride to Elephanta Island. It can be an overwhelming experience for those especially not accustomed to such a huge population, over 22 million in the greater Mumbai area. On top of that there are areas with high security due to past terrorist attacks, photography prohibited in some places, seriously determined professional beggars working the streets, not just targeting tourists, and crazy traffic. Still it's a must visit if you consider yourself a serious traveler. This past year Lonely Planet named it one of their top 10 cities to visit in 2016. Join me in a Far East Adventure Travel Best of "Live" for moments on the streets of Mumbai. From the famous stretch of beach known as Chowpatty to one of the busiest train stations in the world, Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. You'll see why they call Mumbai the "Maximum City".
Jul 25, 2016
[caption id="attachment_3802" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Views of the Taipei 101 skyscraper and surrounding area from Elephant Mountain, Xiangshan (象山) Views of the Taipei 101 skyscraper and surrounding area from Elephant Mountain, Xiangshan (象山)[/caption] For an island that stretches only 144 kilometers(90 miles) wide, and 394 kms(245 miles) north to south Taiwan packs alot of culture, life, along with a wide variety of activities into a compact area. Smaller than Switzerland, slightly larger than Belgium this past June and July I covered a few of the many activities and events one can enjoy on a vacation or family visit to the island. From hiking up Elephant Mountain, Xiangshan (象山) and checking out the views of Taipei and the developing skyline to the lovely hot springs district of Beitou, a 25 minute MRT ride from the center of the city. Many people ask me, "is it difficult to travel in Taiwan because of the language barrier"? My reply is always, not really. Most people, especially in the larger cities all have post-secondary education and have studied English for several years. Because of the shy nature of Taiwanese people though, some may be a little reluctant to speak. If you can learn a few words or a couple of simple phrases, it's always a helpful icebreaker. When people see that you're Chinese(mandarin)is no better than their English they will feel more comfortable speaking with you. Even in the smaller towns and villages you can get by with little or no mandarin skills. Calculators, for showing prices are readily used and with all of the various translation apps available now you won't find it difficult to communicate. If you are a seasoned travel you will find Taiwan a refreshing change from some of the more visited cities of East and Southeast Asia. You will see far less Western people in Taiwan than almost anywhere else in this part of the world. Modern in every way but still retaining it's ancient culture of Chinese folk religion, Buddhism, and Taoism, one of the best times to visit the country is during Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year festivities, usually in February or March. This is also a great time to visit if you don't travel well in the heat and humidity that lasts from April through to mid December. Here is just a small sample of what to expect on a visit to Taiwan from the best of my live streams from this June/July.
Jul 16, 2016
Clock tower OK, I don’t want to mislead you, this is not the busiest street in Chiang Rai and there is lots of traffic in the city but it’s easy to feel like it’s not busy in this town and surrounding area with a population of around 200,000. To start your exploration of the town there are at least half a dozen temples worth visiting in Chiang Rai including Wat Jed Yod built in 1844. Jed Yod means 7 peaks represented by 7 chedis on the site. In keeping pace with the town the gatekeeper is pretty laid back and once you get past him you are greeted by an impressive giant Buddha in the main hall. Wat Jed Yod is probably the least visited of Chiang Rai’s most significant temples so you usually have lots of space to yourself. The temple is a copy of one by the same name in Chiang Mai which is a copy of an Indian temple, Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, the very same spot where the Buddha found enlightenment. You will find some of the traditional features of Thai temples including the typical red and gold colors and naga serpents, above all a quiet spot for peace and reflection. The favorite part of my visit? Seeing the glowing sunset shine directly on an ornate window at Wat Jed Yod. Chiang Rai sees many people extend their stay in the town I think because there’s such a huge selection of cafes and places to eat for a town of this size. Once you’re done having a coffee, which could be from beans grown in Northern Thailand move on to the market which pretty much operates all day and through the evening. Perfect for self-catering you can get everything from seafood to cheap noodle dishes. This market is located close by Chiang Rai’s most famous landmark, the gold clock tower. This tower was designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the same man who created the White Temple. Check out the special show of music and lights every evening on the hour from 7 to 9pm. Wat Phra Kaew is Chiang Rai’s most important temple, the place where Thailand’s Emerald Buddha was discovered. Now and since 1784 Thailand’s palladium, the Emerald Buddha has been kept at Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok. In the last almost 600 years the Emerald Buddha has been on a epic trip with stays in Lampang, Northern Thailand, Luang Prabang and Vientiane, Laos before eventually ending up in the Royal family’s private chapel at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The one here was carved out of Canadian jade in China in 1990 in honor of the princess mother’s 90th birthday. It’s an exact replica of the original. Wat Phra Kaew is a tranquil spot and only a short walk from the clock tower, worth setting aside a hour or so to enjoy the many statues, ponds, and buildings that are in the complex. Within the Wat Phra Kaew site is it’s museum which houses many gifts from it’s followers seeking merit over the past few hundred years. Being one of the most important temples in Chiang Rai province it owns many significant religious art works, some of which are on display in the museum. Each item is labeled in English, Thai, and Lanna, the language of Northern Thailand. Chiang Rai is charming, laid back and full of friendly Thai people. If you do decide to linger around the town a bit longer than your stay, try to plan it around the Saturday Walking Street Market. A chance to get up close to the locals who love to visit the market, see some of the hill tribe goods on display for sale and enjoy the music of Northern Thailand. How about a snack of bugs? Insects are very much apart of the diet in Southeast Asia, I’m actually a non-meat eater, but I’m not really an insectivore, but I guess I’ll try it. Didn’t taste like chicken, just kind of crunchy and salty, but they do have chicken if that’s what you’re craving. Maybe something sweet to kill the cricket taste. These Thai doughnuts look tasty! You’ll find the Chiang Rai Saturday and Sunday Walking Street markets are far less crowded than the ones in Chiang Mai and other large cities so there’s lots of places to stop and eat and listen to the birds, thousands in this park. Head back for the light show at the clock tower and you’ve completed your day in Northern Thailand’s haven and retreat from the speedier pace of the rest of the world, charming Chiang Rai.
Jul 16, 2016
[caption id="attachment_3232" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Mt.Everest(Qomolungma)8848m, view from Kala Patthar-5545m in Nepal's Khumbu Valley region Mt.Everest(Qomolungma)8848m, view from Kala Patthar-5545m in Nepal's Khumbu Valley region[/caption] It’s one of the most coveted treks in the world. Everest Base Camp, Nepal. Far East Adventure Travel is proud to present two podcasts completely devoted to the magic of trekking this region. From crossing the sometimes trecherous Chola Pass to the final steps arriving at Everest Base Camp. And an early morning ascent of Kala Patthar for one of the best views of Everest in all of Nepal. Join me John Saboe for one of Asia’s great adventures. Trekking to Everest Base Camp. Everest Base Camp, Nepal. Right from the start I was in for a hair raising experience. The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, rated as one of the most dangerous airports in the world is often canceled in October, the busy season due to weather conditions. If it’s not cloudy or windy in Lukla, it is in Kathmandu, making it extremely tricky to complete scheduled flights. You can be stranded in Lukla for days waiting for a weather window. Same this goes in Kathmandu. Days! You can avoid the whole worry of flight delays and dangerous weather conditions by trekking all the way to Lukla. Take a bus from Kathmandu to Jiri, about 9 hours. Then just walk for a week! For me, I was extremely lucky to be on one of the first flights that day from Kathmandu to the start of the trek with favorable weather conditions. Previously I had trekked in a couple of regions in Nepal and had been to Everest Base Camp in Tibet. Up until now I had avoided the EBC trek for more remote and quieter trails in Nepal’s Himalaya. But this was the same ground that many mountaineers had trampled including the first two to summit the world’s highest mountain, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. My curiousity with the trails, the lore of the region and the super friendly Sherpa people that make up the largest ethnic group in the Khumbu Valley could no longer be suppressed because of some crowded trails and teahouses with wine bars. As we approached Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla I couldn’t help but think about the History Channel show Most Extreme Airports. In 2010 it rated Tenzing/Hillary the most dangerous airport in the world. There’s no chance for a go around, meaning an aborted landing on final approach due to the high terrain beyond the northern end of the runway. At the southern end, a steeply angled drop into the valley. A safe landing, and an exciting start to one of the world’s great treks! Just have to dodge a few yak before we started. Good practise for the crowded trails we were about to enter. Lukla actually means place of goat or sheep, but all I ever saw were yak, and maybe some horses. As this town is the start and finish for trekking in the Khumbu and Gokyo Valleys there are many lodges, guesthouses, restaurants and even an Irish Pub here! One last stop at the police station for permit checks and we were on our way. At Thadakoshi the first of many steel suspension bridges over the Dud Khosi River we would cross. We took a rest and lunch at Phakding, where most stay the night before trekking onward the next day to Namache Bazaar. The porters with boundless energy take a break for a game of volleyball. I had heard that the trails in the Khumbu Valley were crowded in the peak season in October but I was not prepared for the constant herds of yaks used for moving in camping and supplies for the big trekking groups as well as just bringing goods into the valley for many guesthouses and lodges here. Always remember to move to the side when you see caravans coming. These creatures can get quite nasty. It’s always a great experience to hike through different landscapes and geography on a single trek. The lower Khumbu Dud Khosi valley is full of grazing animals, rich forests and waterfalls. We arrived at our lodgings for the night in the village of Monjo at an altitude of 2835 meters. The guesthouses at these lower elevations are quite luxurious compared to the high altitude. So it’s a good time to appreciate an attached bathroom with a flush toilet and hot water. The next morning we were heading to the gate of Sagarmatha National Park, Sagarmatha is the Nepali name for Mt. Everest. Including Everest, the park is home to 8 peaks over 7000 meters high. It’s also where rare species like the Snow Leopard and Lesser or red panda reside. This is also another police station where permits are checked and trekkers registered. The next stop would be Namche Bazaar, the second largest village in the Khumbu Valley that also has the claim of being the most expensive town in Nepal. Most everything transported into Namche Bazaar must come in on the back of a horse or yak. Sorry though no Mr. Doughnut here, and one piece might cost up to $3. It’s also an acclimatization stop with most staying over two nights before heading into the high Himalaya. More steel suspension bridge crossings and busy trails before a brief rest stop. This one with special prominence as the first chance to gaze at the top of the highest mountain in the world, Everest. One last checkpoint before arriving in Namche Bazaar and a customary kora of the Buddhist stupa that greets you at the entrance to the village. It’s a good place for a two night stay with lots of shops where you can pick up last minute trekking supplies. There’s also plenty of cafes and souvenir stalls. The next morning we walked up the steep steps of the village for an acclimatization hike and to fix our eyes on the most famous peaks on the planet. Just an everyday place for these kids from the Home Away from Home School, where children in the Khumbu Valley can get a solid education without being separated from their families. The snow-capped peak to the left-Mt. Everest 8848meters. The highest surface point on the planet, the roof of the world. The weather can change without warning at high altitude. Within minutes our views of some of the most prominent peaks of the Khumbu Valley disappeared. Ama Dablam, not the highest but certainly one of the most beautiful mountains in the world at first thickly veiled, eventually vanishing in the clouds. The hundreds of trekkers continued to move up from the village,views or no views, putting in their necessary acclimatization time to ensure a successful Everest Base Camp trek. We had finished our work for the day and were back to the crowds, traffic jams and gridlock of Namche Bazaar. The next morning we returned to the trail with the spectacular views of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam joined by the hundreds of others who were on EBC itineraries. Nearly 10,000 tourists will visit the Khumbu Valley or Everest region on average in October, the busiest time of the year. You really must pay attention when trekking these trails especially when so many others are walking both ways. Not to mention the hundreds of horses and yak used to pack in gear, food and other supplies. Stopping on the trail and stepping out of the way of trekkers and animals is the best way to enjoy the breathtaking views. You must! It was time to move off this trail at Sanasa and head for the Gokyo Valley. Later to rejoin the trail to Everest Base Camp after crossing the Chola La Pass. The Gokyo valley’s trails are much quieter even in the busy month of October compared to the Khumbu Valley. Adding a few days to an Everest Base Camp trek will send you into a Shangri La of high altitude lakes, the highest in the world, and breathtaking views of the Himalaya. Arriving at Gokyo Village with Cho Oyu, the 6th highest mountain in the world and a sunrise view of Everest and sister peaks from the top of Gokyo Ri was challenging with rewards few ever get. Returning to the Khumbu Valley and resuming the trek to Everest Base Camp would take us across the Ngozumpa Glacier, the largest in Nepal and possibly the whole Himalaya before arriving at Thangnak for an overnight rest. The next morning we would rise early for a summit of the Chola Pass at 5420 meters. This is a challenging portion of the trek with a required early 4am rise and the first hour or so in complete darkness with only a headlamp for light. I personally struggled a little on this day with a slower pace due to a strong cold I was fighting off. This can be a dangerous pass to cross with an unstable glacier at the top and slippery sections. The approach is steep and perhaps even more dangerous if you are coming from the other direction and the Khumbu Valley. A favorable weather window is important as the pass is almost impossible to cross after a heavy snowfall. Success and overwhelming joy was shared by all that day under sunny skies. There was still a few trekking hours to log in before arriving at our next stop, Dzhong lha. The views while crossing back into the Khumbu Valley were heart-stopping with Ama Dablam at 6170 meters commanding our attention as we descended into the valley. Ama Dablam means mother’s necklace, the long ridges on either side like a mother’s arms cradling a child. The hanging glacier like the double pendant worn by Sherpa women. It felt especially rewarding when we arrived in Dzhong lha after the longest and hardest day of the trek. The accomplishment of crossing the Cho La pass felt like a big check mark ticked off. It was now time to rest in the dining hall and warm up by the yak dung fuelled fire. Some of the most exciting days of the Everest Base Camp trek were still ahead. So pile on the dung my friend, we need to stay warm! Next time on Far East Adventure Travel Podcast heart stopping views of the Himalaya and the conclusion to The Ultimate Trekking Adventure-Everest Base Camp. Please like the Far East Adventure Travel Facebook page. You can also follow me on Instagram, Google+, Twitter and Periscope, with live streams from Asia. All of the links are at fareastadventuretravel.com. That’s it for this week’s episode, thanks so much for joining me, until next time this is John Saboe, safe travels and Namaste!
Jul 16, 2016
[caption id="attachment_1780" align="aligncenter" width="480"]A view of the conical-shaped Adam's Peak - Sri Pada, from the town of Dalhousie A view of the conical-shaped Adam's Peak - Sri Pada, from the town of Dalhousie[/caption] Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada is located in Central Sri Lanka and is a 2200 meter conical shaped mountain. All religious faiths on the island consider a hike to the top the holiest pilgrimage. Most will make their ascent in the early in the morning to reach the peak for sunrise. I had left Dalhousine, the small village at the base of the main route just after 2am. Plenty of time I thought to enjoy the sunrise. Sri Pada actually means sacred foot- print. Near the summit lies a rock formation in the shape of a footprint. For Buddhists it represents the buddha’s footprint. Hindus regard it as Shiva’s. In the Muslim and Christian world it is Adam’s. If you ever go you will wonder how I ever got off course. The route is well marked and lit through the night but I did take a wrong turn and ended up in the nearby tea plantation hills for awhile... Finally I found my way down and got Sri Pada really has a special feel. As you walk up the steps you will come across many rest stops and tea and snack shops open all night. As well as plenty of places for prayer and worship. While I was heading up a small group were carrying a man down on a stretch- er. Later I was told an elderly couple were making their way to the top when the man collapsed from exhaustion. He was carried down while his distraught wife followed. It is a strenuous hike. Plan on anywhere from two and a half to four hours depending on your fitness level and the amount of rest stops you make. Leaving Dalhousie between 2 and 2:30 should give you enough time to reach the top for sunrise. As incredible as the views were I was most overwhelmed with the hospitality and friendliness of the Sri Lankans. There are simply no better people on the planet. Finally at the top and the prized view of the triangular shadow of Sri Pada seen only at sunrise. A meaningful hike with amazing views amongst the spirit of the Sri Lanka people. For Far East Adventure Travel.com this is John Saboe. The post Sri Lanka’s Greatest Pilgrimage-Sunrise Climb To Adam’s Peak appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.
Jun 25, 2016

First I better check the map to make sure I take the right turn off. OK I think I’m ready to go. Wait a minute, one more look at the map just to be sure. What was I thinking, maybe if I hold it this way I’ll remember? Well let’s just get going and figure out on the road.

Hmmm, this just somehow doesn’t look right. Better pull over and check the map again.

Finally on the right track to Wat Rong Khun or “The White Temple”. Even though people refer to it as a temple it’s not really that at all. More exhibit than temple the artist who created and funded it’s completion, Chalermchai Kositpipat, believes the white temple is an offering to Lord Buddha and we’ll ensure him an immortal life.

When you first enter the area where the main building or ubosot is located you are immediately confronted with the weakness of human desire, greed and temptation symbolized by hundreds of outreaching hands. Crossing the bridge over the small lake takes you to the gate of heaven where you are met by two creatures who decide the fate of the dead. Make it past there and the countless tourists with selfie sticks and you arrive at the ubosot made with fragments of glass in the style of a traditional Thai 3 tiered roof temple.

Photography is prohibited inside the main building which features murals with cultural icons like Michael Jackson, and fictitious characters including Freddy Kruger, Harry Potter and Hello Kitty. As well as scenes depicting nuclear war and terrorist attacks. If the intent is to highlight what’s wrong with the world the artist has made his point with this exhibit.

The gardens and surrounding grounds of Wat Rong Khun are filled with small white pagodas styled in the same theme. Allow yourself enough time to stroll through the many walkways but keep in mind they take a lunch break at the white temple and close off the site.

On May 5, 2014 an earthquake struck the northern province of Chiang Rai damaging the white temple. At the time Chalermchai Kositpipat figuring the temple complex was too damaged to be safe again vowed to demolish it and not rebuild. After a May 7th safety inspection deemed that all buildings were safe and structurally unharmed Kositpipat said he would restore the temple and continue his life work.

A structure you won’t miss within the Wat Rong Khun complex is the gold building where you’ll find the restrooms and other services. Gold which is used to decorate many temples and stupas in Thailand in this case represents the body and symbolizes how people focus on money and worldly possessions.

While the gold building is a place to relieve and refresh yourself it’s also meant as a reminder to make merit and not focus on material things and instead to place focus on the mind, as represented by the white building.

I like Chiang Rai! The slow pace of the north and plenty of little cafes and a backpacker vibe Chiang Rai usually manages to squeeze an extra couple of days or more out of a traveller’s itinerary.

When the town clock tower, albeit a gold one becomes one of the main nightly attractions with it’s beautiful light display you know you’ve arrived in a charming place. A wonderful town market that opens early in the morning and carries on the rest of the day and night with ready made meals, snacks, and lots of fresh cut fruit is super convenient and super tasty!

You can also visit the night bazaar where there’s more food and nightly traditional entertainment.

Back out on the road I visited another Chiang Rai attraction, Baan Dam, Black House, nicknamed “The Black Temple”.

If you thought the white temple was over the top then be prepared to be truly shocked by some of the sites and exhibits of Baan Dam. Another museum or artistic vision created by national artist Thawan Duchanee this place is filled with everything from beautiful Northern Thai buildings and structures to animal skins, bones,

Jun 17, 2016

Patuxai, one of Vientiane, Laos' most important landmarks is dedicated to those who fought for independence from France

Out of all of the capitals in Southeast Asia Vientiane takes the prize as the most laid back. You’d never believe it was the center of commerce, government and transportation.

It’s a testament to the attitude of the people of Laos. Not taking anything too seriously and having little or no sense of urgency. They do appreciate their leisure time and even though the Mekong River is the center of social activity in the evening it never felt too crowded there-the population of Vientiane is less than 800,000. Hell, there’s even enough room for paragliding.

Vientiane became the capital of Laos in 1563 and was the administrative capital during French rule. Vientiane has seen it’s share of adversity from being burned completely to the ground in 1827 by Siamese armies, Thailand is right across the river, to passing over to French rule in 1893, Japanese occupation in World War 2., back to reoccupation by the French in 1945 to being established as the center of power for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in 1975. Laos, and it is properly pronounced without the s, is a communist country.

Vientiane is a mix of French colonial architecture, Buddhist temples and the odd leftover Soviet style building.

A great place to get started on your exploration of the city is a visit to one of the country’s most impressive Buddhist temples, Wat Ho Phra Keo, otherwise known as the temple of the Emerald Buddha. Once the royal family of Lao’s personal chapel it was here where the precious emerald buddha statue was reclaimed by the Thai army in 1778 after being snatched by the Laotian king. Today the Emerald Buddha resides at the Grand Palace’s Emerald Buddha chapel in Bangkok.

The temple is adorned with carved features, Khmer stone carvings and several Buddha statues. Wat Ho Phra Keo is no longer in service as a place of worship but acts as a museum and monument.

Wat Si Muang is also another worthwhile temple visit for the fact that it’s where the city pillar is located and the guardian spirit of Vientiane. Wat Si Muang is considered the mother temple of the city.

Round out a temple run with a look in at Wat Si Saket believed to be the oldest Buddhist temple in Vientiane still standing after the sacking of the city by Siam in 1827. It’s also believed because the temple was built in the Siamese style rather than Laoation style it was spared by the army who used it as their headquarters and compound. You can check out more than 2000 silver and ceramic Buddhist images, there’s also a museum on site.

Take a break at one of the many cafes or French bakeries in town. This is really one of the highlights of a visit to Vientiane. A coffee, French pastry, and relaxing to the slow groove of this unique capital experience.

There’s tons of dining options in Vientiane as well. I love sticky rice and fish larb, a mix of fish, greens and herbs, there’s also meat and veg versions. But it’s nice to know there’s lots of options out there like sushi, western, I really do love sticky rice though.

Afterwards grab a bike from your hotel or guesthouse and head out for ride around the town, enjoying the buddhist temples, quieter charming tree-lined streets and their French colonial homes. Enjoy the slow pace, that’s what it’s all about in Vientiane.

OK, so that was too slow for you? Grab a motorbike then. I personally wouldn’t attempt this in most major cities in Southeast Asia but the streets of Vientiane are pretty quiet, even in the midday and you can cover alot of ground and sites in a short period of time. It gets pretty hot depending on the time of year pedalling around here so a motorbike is a good option if you’re comfortable driving a two wheeler.

After that it’s back to the cafe culture of Vientiane. Coffee is Laos’ 5th biggest export.

Jun 9, 2016

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is one of the most popular Lunar New Year Celebrations in Taiwan. People will travel from all over the island just for this event which starts about two weeks before the end of Lunar New Year festivities.

A few years ago The Discovery Channel called it the second best New Year’s festival in the world. It’s caught on so it’s no surprise when I visit to see more Westerners here than anywhere else at any time of year in Taiwan.

I’m checking out one of the first sky lantern releases of the season which is held in the town of Pingxi, less than an hour by car or bus east of the capital of Taipei.

People visit Pingxi and the neighbouring town of Shifin year round to release lanterns but Lunar New Year is the most popular time to come. Each person writes on one of the four sides of the lantern with their own new year’s prayers. You do the customary pose for pictures then release the lantern into the sky.

The first lanterns were used from 220-280 A.D. as a communication tool during war times in China. When the Hans people immigrated from China to Taiwan between 1820-50 the lantern was used to signal to family members that it was safe to return home. Robberies were common at the time in the mountain town of Pingxi.

Every year the festival is held here. The main releases take place on one of the local school grounds.

Pingxi is a beautiful little town and should be visited on a separate trip just to savour some of it’s authentic Taiwanese heritage. Many of the buildings were constructed in the 1930’s and 40’s along with wooden houses built during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. There’s lots of shops selling traditional crafts and gifts. Some of the most beautifully crafted silk lanterns are produced in Pingxi. Of course because it’s Taiwan, there’s lots of food, including local snacks.

If you have time it’s always fun to take a northbound train to Ruifang, then catch the tourist train to Pingxi. Along the way you can also stop in Shifin and walk to Shifin waterfall which some believe is the nicest one in all of Taiwan.

It is definitely a celebratory atmosphere here in Pingxi with everyone getting in on the new year’s fun. Many people release lanterns with their prayers and wishes from the train tracks which run right through the village.

There’s also a really cool film on the lantern traditions of Pingxi that plays through this lantern shape building throughout the day. OK I’m getting the gong so it’s time to head back to the school grounds and get ready for the first release of the night.

I wasn’t kidding when I said the PIngxi Sky Lantern Festival is a big deal, drawing dignitaries, celebrities and T.V. crews from around the island and the world. And guess what, it didn’t rain afterall-just a little mountain mist.

There’s introductions-then the first group hits the school grounds to get ready for the first sky lantern release of the night. But first, a little musical interlude…Then finally the spotlights are dimmed and the first release of the Lunar New Year begins.

Fodor’s Travel Guides named it one of 14 festivals a person must see in their lifetime. History, tradition and a joyful unique celebration in the hills of Northeastern Taiwan. I would agree this is a remarkable event one must see to complete their experience of Taiwan’s Lunar New Year celebrations! Xin Nian Kaui Le, Happy New Year from the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan.

The post Taiwan’s World Famous Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.

Jun 3, 2016

Tibet changed my life. I have never looked at the world the same since. If you want to touch the deepest part of your soul, visit this land. The roots of spirituality are here. The sites and landscape are breathtaking.

When I came many things were on my list to see. The temples and palaces of Lhasa, the once forbidden city. And a less travelled trek to Everest Base Camp to see the spectacular North Face of the highest mountain in the world.

We left Lhasa to travel to Old Tingri in Southern Tibet, where we would start the trek. Traveling through high passes, and the towns of Gyantse and Shigatse. Getting a real feel for the remoteness of this place. And the spiritual energy from its people.

The trek takes an average of four days from Old Tingri to Everest Base Camp. We were on a tight schedule with an overland trip to Western Tibet for the Saga Dawa Festival at Mt. Kailash afterwards. We would complete the trek in 3 and half days. Long, long days of walking on the roof of the world.

This is not like a trek to Everest Base Camp in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal. No rhodendrum forests, great lodges or hot showers. This is the high desert. A daily average altitude of 4500 meters. Little vegetation, and very few people. Some wildlife, which we had no luck spotting.
But it’s beautiful. So quiet and peaceful. I think it’s still the quietest place I’ve ever been.

You can image being a Tibetan in another time. Crossing this plain with your goats, sheep or maybe yak. On a pilgrimage to Lhasa in hopes of seeing the Dalai Lama. Maybe running into a sheep herder or nomad camp like we did.

The road not paved at the time of filming continues right to base camp. You’ll see a motorcycle, supply truck or tour bus pass you by every so often. Sometimes a Chinese Army jeep.

After 3 days the first sighting of Everest. British explorer George Mallory attempted to reach the top in 1924. His body still remains near there at 8200 meters. His climbing partner Sandy Irvine was never found.

The north face. It’s the grandest view of Everest. And the last time I would see it.

Everest Base Camp Tibet, China. Originally established by the British for their expeditions in the 1920’s including Mallory’s last one. This is the non-climbers portion of the camp. Beyond the hill you see is reserved for Everest climbers with special permits.

Despite the snow this was an amazing adventure. Maybe because of the snow I have an even richer experience.

My favourite George Mallory quote about Mt. Everest is so appropriate to any dream of adventure and travel.

“So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.”

The post The North Face-Trekking To Everest Base Camp-Tibet appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.

Jun 1, 2016

The waiting room for the most exclusive tuna auction in the world-At Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan

Tsukiji Market-Tokyo, Japan. Home to the world famous tuna auction where wholesalers bid on blue fin tuna worth tens of thousands of dollars almost everyday. For the lucky few who brave the early morning hour like myself recently it’s a chance to get up close to this unique arena of high stakes bidding on the most prized fish in the world.

The lucky few? 120 to be exact. Some of the guidebooks and online blogs say to get to the information office at Tsukiji markets Kachidoki Bridge gate entrance by 4am. Well things have changed and now I wouldn’t recommend arriving any later than 3:30 to get a spot, I got there at 3:35 and I was one of the last few admitted.

Once in you’re given a map with instructions on conduct in the market and a colored vest to wear identifying you as a guest of one of two groups of 60. I was in the blue vest group, the last to visit the tuna auction that morning. The room is divided into two for each group. The first is led into the auction area at 5:25 and is allowed to watch for 25 minutes. My team, the blue group goes in last at 5:50.

OK, now the wait. For the blue team, almost 2 hours! Bring something to read or listen to because there’s not much to look at in this room.

The green team gets the signal to move to the auction area and my team is less than 30 minutes away from our visit.

The blue fin tuna is the star of Tsukiji but it’s only one of over 400 species of fish and seafood including seaweed, expensive caviar and controversial whale species sold at the market. Almost 3000 tons of seafood is processed everyday-making Tsukiji the largest fish market in the world.

Finally after being in this holding tank for almost 2 hours we were escorted by Tokyo Metropolitan Government security to the auction room.

There is a planned move in 2017 of the market to a new site. Tsukiji has been operating in central Tokyo since 1935 after the original market was destroyed by the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. It’s an extremely hectic and busy place and we are warned by our escorts to be very careful as many forklifts and turret trucks are constantly on the move.

We pass by one tuna auction site before being lead into the public viewing area for our precious well-earned 25 minutes into this fascinating world of high stakes tuna. The first blue fin tuna auctioned at Tsukiji this year was sold to the highest bidder at over $37,000 US dollars. The same sushi restaurant chain owner who won this year’s bid paid over 1.76 million US for a slightly larger tuna in 2013.

Intermediate wholesalers are busy inspecting the tuna up for auction this morning. It’s a very tricky game, even with the knowledge these buyers accumulate over the years to always get the tuna your customers want for the right price. The best can spot a seemingly lower grade tuna and get essentially a high grade product at a bargain price. 80% of the global blue fin tuna catch is consumed in Japan.

Meanwhile in the rest of the Tsukiji Fish Market the other 400 species of fish and seafood, including processed blue fin tuna is being purchased by buyers from small restaurants to hotel chains. Many stalls specialize in one type of product like this shop which is busy processing live eels.

Anything you can think of that swims or lives in the sea is here including the star of the market, the blue fin tuna.

The outer market is where all of the retail shops and restaurants are located. Line-ups for some of these famous sushi restaurants start at 4:30am. It’s safe to say Tsukiji has Tokyo’s highest density of sushi restaurants all with their own unique personality.

Back at the tuna auction final notes and inspections are completed before the first bidding. The buyers are all seen wearing caps with their license allowing them to bid on the tuna up for auction.

May 27, 2016

The Khali Temple in the Khalighat section of Kolkata, India. I was here with my friend Subroto who was showing me the area. This is also where Mother Teresa’s home for the Dying Destitute is located. And it’s also where you can find Bhola The Goat. Yes, this goat is named Bhola, and he is cared for by the people of the temple.

Up until now I’ve never seen anything quite like Bhola. He seemed larger than your average goat with personality to go with his size.

He’s apparently well known around here. Not only for his size and presence, love the henna died coat, but also for his tricks. His handler wanted to show his moves to us.

We were told he is well cared for and is considered almost sacred by the temple. It’s a miracle in itself considering they sacrifice his brother goats there to the God Khali all the time.

He must be well cared for. What goat would want to do this unless there’s something in it for him. Oh and I was told he likes whisky. Maybe that’s why he’s so cooperative and also because he knows he’s always close to death’s door.

These men who came by know Bhola and some of his bad habits like smoking. Yes apparently he likes smoking too, at least someone taught him how to. But today it looks like he’s only interested in eating cigarettes not smoking them, which can’t be good either.

The whole point of this story? Only in India is it possible to see a very famous temple, a home for the dying started by a saint to be and a smoking, whisky drinking goat that can do tricks all in the same block.

The post Temples, Gods, And A Whisky Drinking Goat-Kolkata, India appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.

May 26, 2016

This is the Hindu pilgrimage town of Pushkar in Rajasthan, India. I came here for the annual Pushkar Camel Fair. When camel traders and animal herders ascend on this town with 50,000 horses, cattle, and the star attraction, the camels.

Pushkar is like no other town in India you will visit. The village area wraps around Pushkar Lake, considered one of the great Hindu pilgrimages of India. Some of Mahatma Ghandi’s mortal remains were scattered from a ghat or staircase at the lake. That ghat now bears his name.

The town itself, complete with wandering cows, pandas or Hindu priests offering flowers and pujas for big baksheesh centers around the main street or Sadar Bazaar. It’s a mix of traveler hippie food joints, cafes and shops and ghats to the lake. Just a great mix of travelers, pilgrims, and locals here.

It’s also where you’ll find one of the only Brahma temples in the world. They’re waiting to enter after the midday break. Brahma is the Hindu creator God and of the few of these temples that exist, this one is the most prominent.

And these are the fairgrounds, where all the business of camels takes place. I arrived about 5 days before the official start of the fair. This is the time when you’ll see the most camels and trading.

It’s a hot, dry dusty environment, filled with every sound a camel could possibly make. Camel herders discipling and training the younger ones, a scene you could find just a little disturbing.
It’s pure India though, filled with constant movement, musicians and gypsies swirling around you for baksheesh and thousands of camels constantly on the move around the grounds. Sensory perception overload.

The fair takes place every year coinciding with Kartika poornima, sometimes called Devi-Diwali, the festival of lights of the gods. Pilgrims from all over India come to bath in the holy lake of Pushkar. When the business of camels concludes, the crazy fair begins with snake charmers, children balancing on tightropes and the giant bath in the lake.

What makes this gathering so special? For me it’s a window to nomadic life that still exists for these people, conducting business the same way for thousands of years. Maybe there’s cel phones and other modern aids used but a life centered around the movement of camels hasn’t changed.

The post Greatest Camel Show On Earth-Pushkar, India appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.

May 26, 2016

Laos is a country that is very appealing to me. It’s in the heart of Asia but for some reason has remained a low tourist traffic area on the South East Asia circuit.

Whether it’s backpackers or luxury travelers, the big numbers are not there yet. It’s surprising because it has amenities and activities to fit both group’s needs as well as amazing travel value!

The combination of a mysterious past, a former colony of France that has still held onto some of its traditions, the predominately Buddhist culture and boundless adventure activities puts it high on my list of places to recommend to the traveler looking to get off the beaten path in this part of the world. That’s something that is increasingly challenging to find.

One of the most unique adventures I recently enjoyed in Laos was visiting The Gibbon Experience. This is a jungle adventure that takes you into the Bokeo Reserve of Northwest Laos on a zip trekking tour of the forest and a chance to spot and listen to the singing of the rare Black-Crested Gibbon.

Their singing or calls, are some of the most unique sounds in nature. I can best describe them as a combination of whales, birds, and synthesizers, seriously!

You can find zip lining adventures all over Southeast Asia and if that's all you're looking for The Gibbon Experience in Laos might not be the right fit. Emphasis is not placed on zip lining. It's merely the mode of transportation to cut across the vast jungle in search of gibbons. It's also the quickest way to the treehouse you'll be perched in on your one or two night visit.

Even with the emphasis on nature you will experience the sensation of gliding over the forest canopy with lines reaching up to 600 meters!

Join me in this episode of Far East Adventure Travel zip lining at The Gibbon Experience, Laos.

The post Swinging With The Gibbons-Zip Lining Laos appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.

May 14, 2016

When I visited Nepal in May of 2015 the country was in the middle of one of the worst natural disasters in it's history. Fear was felt everywhere as the second biggest tremor registering 7.3 shook the country on May 12 followed by more aftershocks.

Despite the uncertain future and the constant fear of another big earthquake, including rumors of an even more devastating one, Nepalis continued their daily prayers and worship.

Tibetan refugees and other Buddhists were seen one their koras of Boudhanath stupa and Hindus prayed at their neighborhood temples and shrines.

In Patan the Bunga Dya Festival celebrating the rain God was delayed due to safety concerns with the two chariots that are pulled throughout the streets of Lalitpur District during the event.

In part 5 of My Beloved Nepal a look at some of the temples of Kathmandu that were damaged or destroyed during the earthquakes of 2015 along with scenes of continued daily worship in one the most significant spiritual centers on the planet.

The post My Beloved Nepal-Part 5-Worship Amidst Ruins appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.

May 8, 2016

Guangzhou is the third largest city in China after Beijing and Shanghai. It's historic name is Canton, recognizable for it's world-famous food, one of the eight culinary traditions of Chinese cuisine. It's also a busy important transportation hub and commercial center hosting the biannual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

For many, like myself, it is a major transit stop for traveling to and from Asia. I have traveled through Guangzhou before, never stopping for more than a couple of hours.

On my latest trip through the massive city my itinerary included a 20 hour layover. In my mind not quite enough to get a really meaningful experience but also way too much time to linger around an airport hotel and terminal. Also for many passport holders an opportunity to be a guest for 24 hours in a country that normally requires a visa in advance of arrival.

So I decided to put the effort in and check out a couple of things in the city so I would at least have some memories and things to talk about other than a great hotel restaurant and Chinese television.

The effort was really in the getting back and forth from the hotel I was staying at that was an approximate 15 minute drive from the airport to the city. Almost an hour long MRT(subway) ride after a 15 cab ride from the hotel to the closet MRT stop.

Figuring out what to do with only a few hours combined over one evening and a portion of the early morning was another challenge. Not really enough time to devote to a significant museum or historic neighborhood tour I finally deciding on walks in a couple of spots.

Since I arrived in the late afternoon I would go to busy Beijing Road where there's shopping, restaurants a couple of sites I could take a peak at and lots of people watching opportunity. The next morning I would get up early, around 6:30, grab some breakfast and head back down to the city in the crush of rush hour and walk along the Pearl River, China's third largest river.

With traveling time back and forth into the heart of Guangzhou roughly between 4.5-5 hours over my layover this was a tiring schedule. A hotel closer in the heart of the city might have saved me another hour or two in transit time with a little more pressure to get back to the airport before my departure flight.

Regardless I have to say I'm glad I spent some time in Gaungzhou even with the lengthy train rides. I've got some wonderful little memories now of this megacity and inspiration/motivation to visit again.

Join me now for a quick peak of Guanghzhou, China on Far East Adventure Travel.

The post Layover In Guangzhou, China appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.

May 5, 2016

Sankhu, is a historic town that sits on the old Tibetan salt trade route in the Kathmandu Valley, 17kmh away from the capital of Kathmandu.

I made a few trips to the village in May 2015 that had suffered severe damage and loss from the series of earthquakes and aftershocks that began on April 25.

This was a well-preserved traditional Newari town with many entrance gates to the village, and at least 100 different temples and shrines in the area.

I listened to many stories from villagers who had lost their loved ones-brothers, sisters, parents, and neighbours. Almost twelve hundred homes damaged, 200 completely destroyed and at least 2000 forced to live in nearby tents or move to another village or town. It was one of the most heart-wrenching experiences during my visit in May.

I also met some brave women and men from the Canadian Armed Forces on disaster relief and local people with more money than others willing to share their temporary shelter with other families of Sankhu. Truly the best of humanity.

The post My Beloved Nepal-Earthquake Stories Part 4-Sankhu Devastation appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.

May 1, 2016

Soon after I arrived in Kathmandu on May 12, 2015, the day the 7.3 earthquake struck the country fear, like a virus, once again spread throughout cities, towns and villages everywhere.

People had just started to resume regular life, minimally their usual routines amid the crumbling buildings, destruction and homelessness that many faced. Tented camps and communities were seen around the Kathmandu Valley with many local volunteers helping their fellow Nepalis in time of need.

When the second biggest earthquake struck it sent many people back outside to sleep outdoors, fearing more collapsed buildings, injury or death.

I continued to wander the streets of Kathmandu and other towns in the Kathmandu Valley speaking with local people and seeing how their lives were affected by the earthquakes.

It was truly inspiring to see Nepalis, themselves affected in some way by the earthquakes helping their fellow citizens. At the same time the stories of fear, loss, death and destruction was overwhelming. I was humbled at the incredible strength and resilience these people demonstrated in circumstances that would be far too difficult for most.

The post My Beloved Nepal-Earthquake Stories-Part 3-Fear And Homelessness appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.

Apr 27, 2016

Patan's Durbar Square was closed for several weeks following the earthquakes of 2015. It is currently open to the public.
Patan is one of three royal cities in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley, the other two are Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. All three former kingdoms feature a Durbar(royal) Square that are made up of temples, idles, shrines, and a former palace where each royal family lived.

When I visited Patan in May 2015 I was saddened by the temporary closure, due to the recent earthquakes, of the beautiful square with it’s intricate carvings, glimmering deity statues and wonderfully restored Newari buildings. I was relieved however to see that many of the structures of the square were miraculously still in tact and overall although there was noticeable damage, it didn’t look as bleak as the first media reports of a tourism industry in ruins.

Patan’s official name is Lalitpur along with a number of small communities it’s included in Lalitpur District.

It could be argued that it’s Durbar Square is the prettiest of the three in the Kathmandu Valley. It was in the opening scene of the 1992 documentary “Baraka”, that featured scenes of religious and human life from around the world.

There is a refinement to the square, it’s fixtures, and buildings unlike the other two Durbar Squares. Perhaps that could be attributed to the community of artisans, and crafts people that have been based there for centuries.

Patan is one of my favorite places to visit in the valley. A 15 minute taxi ride from Kathmandu's Thamel section makes it a convenient morning, afternoon, or day trip.

Currently Patan's Durbar Square has been undergoing restoration and reconstruction and is open to the public. It's estimated it will take several years for the square to be fully restored to it's pre-earthquake state.

As part of the My Beloved Nepal Earthquake Stories series on Far East Adventure Travel part 2, a look at Patan’s Durbar Square, shortly seen after the last massive earthquake on May 12, 2015.

The post My Beloved Nepal-Earthquake Stories Part 2-Patan’s Durbar Square appeared first on Far East Adventure Travel.

« Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next »