Words of Advice: Go with the Flow….

Traveling outside of the United States, or really any home country, involves putting yourself into an uncomfortable situation.  The language sounds unfamiliar, the people don’t share the same habits, the organization of the place is outside of our routine expectations…all of these “differences” stand out to us in glaring detail.

Yet, the reality is, so many similarities exist between human beings.  Communication is not as difficult as you think.  It is remarkable how much a show of kindness and genuine interest in the lives of individuals allows for mutual respect and connection.

What you realize is that all travel, even within our home countries, challenges our expectations.  My advice, then, is to be open to the experience and be open to the challenge of learning about a people and a place.  Being open, in this context, means listening carefully; watching hand gestures and other physical cues.  When things don’t go the way you expect, allow for the unexpected by not getting angry or resentful.

Most importantly, avoid demanding anything.  The stereotypical example of the “rude tourist” is sometimes well deserved (see: Why Americans Get a Bad Rap).  The way not to be a rude tourist is to accept what happens.  If something does not meet expectations, then kindly ask for what you need.  If you don’t get it, then simply move on….always remember the point of the trip and the travel: enjoy the experience or, as Rumi stated, “There is a community of the spirit/Join it, and feel the delight/of walking in the noisy street, and being the noise.”(Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi).

Travel well, my friends!

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: http://www.onebag.com/checklist.html.

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 ready.gov:

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 about.com 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.