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Monthly Archives: October 2006

Krung Thep, Thailand 12 June 2006

Today commemorates the 60th Anniversary of the ascension of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX to the Chakri throne. For the past three days Bangkok has been a sea of yellow polo shirts.

Why yellow polo shirts, you ask? In Thailand each of the days of the week is assigned a color. The tradition originated with astrologically-divined battle tunics. Later it was taken up by the court and those who could afford a diverse wardrobe.

This tradition lives on. I could usually tell what day it was at the office by the prevailing color of the staff’s clothes. A surprising number of people still wear the color of the day at work.

Some senior Thai’s know the year and month but not the date of their birthday but they do know the day and the color.

The King was born on Monday, so his color is yellow. Read More »

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A Zambezi Sunset

I’m starting these notes on a different river, the Zambezi, it is at a higher elevation with more lush vegetation then the Letaba River in Kruger Park noticeably fewer animals. I’m about 8 miles upstream from the Victoria Falls and the town of Livingston (Zambia).

I flew into Livingston, Zambia from Johannesburg and was met at the airport by Nick, a very outback kind of Afrikaner guy. Nick has recently returned from London with Amanda, his very British bride. Amanda is still trying to figure out where she is and what’s the attraction to this place.

As we walked out of the airport terminal Nick offered two options for getting to our destination, Thorntree Riverside Resort, a drive through the town of Livingston in an air-conditioned van or a short cut through the game park in the back of a Land Rover modified for safaring.

Having spent the better part of the day sitting on a plane I opted for the bush ride. Nick’s rye tone let on this option would be some sort of rights-of-passage, and it was, including a motorized form of Rolfing. Nick and Amanda sat up front. I sat on a narrow bench cantilevered off the back of the Land Rover. Read More »

April 2006

This is my next to the last day in Xian. It’s Sunday, my guide has returned to her family for a few days of visiting relatives so I’m on my own. Wen Feng a part-time guide and full-time internet marketer has been showing me around Xian and its surroundings.

The Central Committee has greatly increased the budget for Xian, perhaps as part of a program to increase Terracotta Warrior tourism. Most noticeably is the fleet of new city buses.

Three of the four main boulevards have major construction projects in progress. There are huge shopping malls recently opened or under construction. This may not sound like a good thing but it is. All the new construction is using traditional Chinese style architecture. What was torn down was the more boring utilitarian proletarian style. Xian is returning to its roots. Read More »

The Hippopotami

After breakfast I said my goodbyes to Amanda and Nick at the Thorntree Riverside Resort in Zambia. I took a van to the banks of the Zambezi, cleared Customs then caught a ferry across to Kasane, Botswana. I was met on the other side by Sue from the Elephant Valley Lodge.

Ron and Sue are what Nick and Amanda will be like in 20 years time. Ron loves the jungle lifestyle and Sue is hanging in there thinking next year Ron will get tired of all the fresh air, come to his senses and move to London. They are economic refugees from Zimbabwe. Elephant Valley Lodge is a tent resort located on the banks of a dry river bed running through a valley that define Botswana on one slope and Zimbabwe on the facing slope. The tree canopy is populated with vultures. Read More »

October 1971
I’ve often been asked if there was anything in particular that influenced me to spend so much time traveling. I immediately thought of Adam.

In my second year at Berkeley, I rented a unique Japanese-style house in the Berkeley Hills. It was unique in a number of ways; first, it was on a path not a road. The paths in the Berkeley Hills are remnants of a network from the days when a tram transported residents from the hills. Second, all the walls in the house, except for the bathroom, were moveable. It was possible to reposition the bookshelves on wheels to divide the kitchen from the living and dining area and another unit that could create a third bedroom. There were shoji-type sliding doors when closed defined two bedrooms or left open created one large bedroom. Although, this was a very flexible design, we rarely changed it.

The house was a Japanese design but I didn’t fully appreciate how close an replica it was until I lived in Japan twenty years later. The house aside, the major appeal was the garden. The house was a flat roof rectangular building with large windows on all sides. At either ends of the house were two huge glass sliding doors extending the living room into the garden. Read More »

Occasionally, during some of my more challenging adventures I wake up and ask myself, “Whatever possessed you to do this? What were you thinking?!” During my recent kayaking trip to Greenland, not only was this my waking thought every morning but my last thought each evening as I collapsed into my sleeping bag.

This was my first “serious” kayaking trip, having previously only kayaked around Krabi, Thailand and the kelp beds off Santa Cruz, California. This trip ranks as one of my most challenging adventures, not just the paddling but more importantly the packing and unpacking; shoehorning everything into a glove box sized compartment.

Symphony in Silence