Packing for Asia: A Few Suggestions

Hi Folks,

As I mentioned in our meetings, packing well and packing small is a wonderful art.  Over the years I have refined and refined the process to include fewer and fewer things.  As we travel in trains, planes, and in small vehicles, packing light and simply makes a real difference.

For packing advice, you can find numerous web sites and suggestions.  I like a couple of the One Bag web sites that detail how to pack with a single carry-on bag.  As you know, I selected the EBAG as my bag of choice…take a look at the options and tell me what you think:

Remember that packing is an art and it takes some time to gather your thoughts; my advice…pack a few times before you depart!

Be well and enjoy the process!



Seismic Activity in Bhutan

Hi Folks,

With the situation in Nepal in the news and the devastation of the region, some folks have asked about Bhutan, Nepal’s neighbor.  The most recent studies on seismic activity in Bhutan are located here: Bhutan Seismic Activity.  Notice that evidence suggests that the zone of most serious concern has moved west toward Nepal in the past 500 years or so.

However, that study does not mean that Bhutan will not have a significant quake.  We will talk about being as safe as you can be in an earthquake zone and develop a plan of evacuation in case we face some serious seismic activity.

Concerning earthquake safety and preparation, check out this information from

During An Earthquake

If you are…

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
In a moving car
  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
Trapped under debris
  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

After An Earthquake

After the earthquake is over, you should expect aftershocks. If you are indoors, make sure it is save before you head outside. Attempt to extinguish small fires, and check on your utilities: turn off the gas at the main, and be aware of gas leaks. Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with access and functional needs. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help, but know that phone lines could be unavailable.

Bhutan History Moment: Padmasambhava

Among the remarkable pieces of Bhutanese History is the story of Padmasambhava and the arrival of Buddhism to the region.  Padmasambhava, popularly known as Guru Rinpoche or Guru Drubchu in Bhutan, traveled to the Himalayan region in the 8th century.  An excellent short essay on his travels can be found on HERE.

Padmasambhava carved into the hillside on the road to Tango Buddhist University.

Padmasambhava carved into the hillside on the road to Tango Buddhist University.

You will find, as we travel around Bhutan, paintings, sculptures, carvings, and stories about this legendary figure.  As we make our way across the country, keep your eyes open for these signs of his travels and historical sites that honor his gift to Bhutan.


Japanese History Moment: 47 Ronin

On our arrival in Tokyo, we will stay near the Sengakuji Temple.  The temple is dedicated to a  fascinating story about a group of samurai known as the “47 Ronin”.  Detailed information is available all over the web and I like the information located at…..for THAT information check out this web site 47 Ronin.

Japanese history since the unification of the country under samurai rule is remarkable in the society’s attainment of art, literature, architecture, and political structure. The Edo period, as it is called, begins with a civil war and consolidation of power and ends with the dramatic modernization of Japan under Emperor Meiji.  Check out some of that information at the Japan Guide web site HERE.

If you are interested in a more in depth look at Japanese society during the Edo Period, a couple of my favorite books include:

Donald Keene’s World Within Walls

Matsuo Basho’s The Narrow Road to Oku


Sengakuji Temple

Sengakuji Temple

Interested in Learning a little Dzongkha? Check it out!

You will not find a lot of information about learning Dzongkha online….however, you can find a couple of sites that offer some information.  Dzongkha is related to Tibetan and the script is very similar.  Take a look at these sites, if you are interested, and try out some Dzongkha.

Learning Dzongkha

General Information about the Language

Bhutanese Government Site on Dzongkha

Tashi Delek!