Thursday, March 24, 2011

Using Travel Information


To Alex and others who have asked if they may use the information and photos from our blog, all information may be used with attribution.  We're glad you are enjoying what we provide, and look forward to your helping us circulate it to others.

Gregory Fearon
Pat Kuta

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday, March 6th, Santa Rosa


Well, we made it home.  Not without some drama, as usual.  Gazing out the new Hong Kong International terminal window, we got to see smoke rising from the plane on which our baggage was being loaded.  As hundreds of other passengers watched in fear, fire engines and emergency vehicles surround the plane, hoses aimed at the location of the smoke.  It turned out to be a hydraulic line in one of the service vehicles near the plane, but it sure did excite all of us for about ten minutes.

The pilot used the jet stream to make up for the hour's delay, and we landed in San Francisco on time.  Our journey from Bangkok to Hong Kong, to SF came to a great conclusion as we boarded the Sonoma County Airporter bus for the final leg of our trip home.  Thanks much to Anne and Art Kane who met us at the Day's Inn, and drove us to our house.

The conventional wisdom says that travelers should stay up until the normal bedtime on the day you arrive after a long sleepless flight, in order to help your body readjust to the sleepwake cycles.  Pat and I tried it for a few hours, and finally fell into bed about 6pm.  It's hard for us to handle thirty hours awake, even if you have a bunch of movies and unpacking to fill the time.  We slept for about 8 hours, and woke up at 3am to read and watch some of the zillion hours of taped television shows awaiting us.  I never did get around to working on the video of the alms-giving to the monks in Laos that I was prepared to do on the flight home.   Despite having the time, equipment, and quiet space, I chose watching movies to making one.  I'll get to it this week.

A few minutes ago, I put away the MacAir.  I'm typing this on the MacPro on the couch in the bedroom in front of the television.  We now have the dilemma of having the photos from the latest travel adventure on the MacAir, the two year's on the MacPro, and the previous two year's photos on the IMac.  I'm sure I saw something in a recent MacWorld on how to easily transfer photos between each of them.  In order to improve my chances of making some good movies from the entire pool of photos, I'll be looking into how to do that.  Any good suggestions from those with experience would be appreciated.  Drop me an email at

Next adventure is Hawaii for a couple of weeks in about three weeks.  Then, it's a long spell of Sonoma County until next January when we take off for Africa for somewhere beyond six weeks.  Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar are certain.  South Africa and Namibia are hopes to include, but could easily become another trip.



Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday, March 4th, Luang Prabang


We're ready to fly to Bangkok today, and have had a wonderful time here.  Thanks very much to Travel Indochina.

Here's a link to the photos taken yesterday: Thursday, March 4th, Luang Prabang 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday, March 2nd, Luang Prabang


We had breakfast at a river cafĂ©, and then went to visit some Wats and a cave today.  Almost everything of interest in the town has something to do with Buddha.  Palaces, temples, stuppas, and caves all come down to where people have placed statues of Buddha.  This all started in the third century BC, when some monks carrying a breastbone of Buddha came from India.  They convinced the locals to build a tall, spire funeral temple (Stuppa) around it.  About 15 centuries later, the local King married a princess of the Kymer civilization (which dominated all of Southeast Asia), and she converted him to Budhism.  He built a bigger temple (wat) around the earlier one, and his successors built lots more during the next 500 years. 

Unfortunately, the subsequent leaders of Laos lost many fights to the leaders of Siam in the 1800s.  They sacked the Laotian kingdom in the early 1800’s, taking over 100,000 residents back as slaves to Thailand.  Only a few of the Buddhist wats survived.   Fortunately, one thing France did well for Laos was to undertake a reconstruction of the wats.  The current government is continuing the efforts, and celebrated the 450th anniversary of the unification of Laos (1560) last November with the opening of several and the dedication of a couple of statues to key historical figures.  The celebrations will continue in April when a 13th century Buddha statue from which the town gets its name (Luang means town, Prabang means peace.  The statue’s open, displayed palms express the hope for peace) will be carried from its present location in a procession around the town, placed in the square for three days, and then taken to its new permanent home in a large gold-painted and leafed restored wat.

This evening, we took tuk-tuks out of town to a beautiful resort in the forest, where we attended a cooking class in Lao foods, and then ate what we prepared.  It was wonderful, and I look forward to Pat utilizing the ideas she picked up.

Photos of most of these wats can be seen in the photos taken yesterday and today at: Wednesday, March 2nd, Luang Prabang and Wednesday Evening, March 2nd, Luang Prabang


Tuesday, March 1st, Luang Prabang


Laos has gone from an royalist agrarian society to a Buddhist 21st century tourist mecca, guided by state control, but driven by enthusiastic resident consumer expectations.  Luang Prabang is the heart of its tourist cash cow, populated by craftspeople, bedroom renters, restaurants, tuk-tuk drivers, and night market saleswomen.  The slow pace, opportunities to interact with lots of monks and novices, and river-focused views and sunset boat trips, make it a place at the end of the world where you haven’t really left it.

In a few years, when Chinese investments have built high speed rail systems, and dams to the Mekong River to generate electricity to sell to Thailand, the standard of living and quality of life might change.  But for now, the elements of peace and an egalitarian system seem to be all around us.  That, and really cheap, high quality living. 

To see all of the photos taken today, click on: Tuesday, March1st, Luang Prabang