I think I have remembered all the planes I have flown on since I started traveling in the 1960′s. That was tough. I started traveling as a child in the Midwest, then to South America, and then, well all over.
Douglass

DC3 North central
The first plane I remember flying on was  a North Central Airlines DC- 3 My father worked for North Central so we flew non-rev, meaning free. We called these planes puddle jumpers.

There are still small operators with DC-3s in revenue service and as cargo aircraft. The common saying among aviation buffs and pilots is that “the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3″. The aircraft’s legendary ruggedness is enshrined in the lighthearted description of the DC-3 as “a collection of parts flying in loose formation.” Its ability to take off and land on grass or dirt runways makes it popular in developing countries, where runways are not always paved. This was indeed the case when I flew on DC-3′s in Bolivia in the early sixties. The runway was not paved. More exciting was that the ceiling (maximum height the plane could fly) was below the altitude of the Andes mountains we were flying through. So, we weaved our way between the mountains, and could look out the windows at peaks far above us.

For a short while the DC4 flew, and I remember being on one flying to Chicago
For a short while the DC4 flew, and I remember being on one flying to Chicago. It was a big deal because it had four engines!

Very few DC-4s remain in service today.  There are a couple nostalgia airlines still flying them, and I would love to take a trip on one again.

The DC6 came around and became the work horse of many airlines.
The DC6 came around and became the work horse of many airlines.
I flew on DC-6s all over South America on LLoyd Aereo Boliviano. I flew over the Andes and across the Amazon jungle to Brazil. I swear I remember flying over a native village in the middle of  the Amazon rain forest, looking out the window, and seeing natives angrily waving spears at the giant silver bird. Remember, this was 1964, we were flying at about 5000 feet, and I was 10.

I flew a Panagra DC8 from Lima, Peru to Miami. before we boarded, there was an eathquake in Lima, which shook the airport quite well. Then, they led a man aboard in shackles. Then, over Cuba, the cockpit filled with smoke. Quite the flight!
I flew a Pan American DC8 from Lima, Peru to Miami. before we boarded, there was an earthquake in Lima, which shook the airport quite well. Then, they led a man aboard in shackles. Then, over Cuba, the cockpit filled with kerosene smelling  smoke. Quite the flight!

The DC9 was cool because it was thie first plane I ever flew with the tail mounted engines!

The DC9 was cool because it was the first plane I ever flew with the tail mounted engines!

The DC10 came along and it proved size does matter.

The DC10 came along and it proved size does matter. Although the last DC10 was delivered in 1989, some still fly.

Lockheed

The DC10 had stiff competition from this Lockheed L1011. The L1011 was not only prettier with the tail engine configuration, it also used some very modern luggage and in cabin . Trans World Airlines heralded the TriStar (the L1011's commercial nickname)as one of the safest aircraft in the world in promotional literature.

The DC10 had stiff competition from this Lockheed L1011. The L1011 was not only prettier with the tail engine configuration, it also used some very modern luggage handling techniques  and in cabin service innovations, including a galley underneath the main floor. Trans World Airlines heralded the TriStar (the L1011′s commercial nickname)as one of the safest aircraft in the world. Indeed it had almost a flawless safety record.

At this time in my life, my father worked for Lockheed. I got to go on a walk-thru of the plane before the first one was built. Then, when they went into operation I was sure to take a flight. It was a very quiet aircraft, also nicknamed the “whisperliner”.  It faced stiff competition from the DC10 and the 747, and proved to be Lockheed’s last civilian liner.

Boeing

Now, onto the Boeing line!

Ahh, the 727. The only thing cool about this plane is the rear passenger exit made famous by D.B. Cooper

Ahh, the 727. The only thing cool about this plane is the rear passenger exit made famous by D.B. Cooper, one of America’s most mysterious outlaws. I used to fly these PSA 727′s from LAX to SFO to see the Grateful Dead. PSA had a midnight mail run flight for about US$10. The back half of the cabin was full of mail bags and front half full of hippies. We got away with things no one would dream of doing on an airliner today. The stewardesses just ignored us for the entire flight! Those were the days!

The Boeing 737 has been in production and service a very long time. The initial 737-100 flew in 1967 and entered airline service in February 1968. The 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. Newer versions of the plane provide a great mid range fleet option for many airlines, including my favorite, QATAR.

The Boeing 737 has been in production and service a very long time. The initial 737-100 flew in 1967 and entered airline service in February 1968. The 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. Newer versions of the plane provide a great mid range fleet option for many airlines, including my favorite, QATAR.

The 747, known as a Jumbo or a heavy, comes in many configurations and sizes. My favorite flight on one was from Melbourne to LAX. I left at noon on Sunday, and arrived at noon on Sunday. I was in Business class and slept the whole way. It was like being "beamed".

The 747, known as a jumbo or a heavy, comes in many configurations and sizes. My favorite flight on one was from Melbourne to LAX. I left at noon on Sunday, and arrived at noon on Sunday. I was in Business class and slept the whole way. It was like being “beamed”. Instantaneous.

Not one of my favorite aircraft. The Boeing 757 is a mid-size, narrow-body twin-engine jet airliner that was built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes from 1981 to 2004. Being a narrow body, sinle aisle craft with a large passenger capacity makes in a claustrophobic nightmare. It alsotakes a long time to board and deboard. not fun

Not one of my favorite aircraft. The Boeing 757 is a mid-size, narrow-body twin-engine jet airliner that was built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes from 1981 to 2004. Being a narrow body, single aisle craft with a large passenger capacity makes it a claustrophobic nightmare. It also takes a long time to board and deboard. Not fun

The Boeing 767 is a mid-size, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It was the manufacturer's first wide-body twinjet and its first airliner with a two-crew glass cockpit. Glass cockpit? This means everyting is digital, nothing analog. My favorite flight on a 767 was (of course before 9/11) from Toronto to Miami on Air Canada. I was flying first class. The cockpit door was open so Istood there and looked in. The co-pilot said hello. Itold him I worked on flight simulator games and was just interested. When he asked which games, I told him and he replied "wow, those are my favorites, step in here" So I pent the next hour in the cockpit. It was a rush. Those guys have a great view! The whole time, the never touched a thing, the plane was on autopilot. I asked if the had to take over controld to land it and they said "nah, but we like to".

The Boeing 767 is a mid-size, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner built by Boeing. It was the manufacturer’s first wide-body twinjet and its first airliner with a two-crew glass cockpit. Glass cockpit? This means everything is digital, nothing analog. My favorite flight on a 767 was (of course before 9/11) from Toronto to Miami on Air Canada. I was flying first class. The cockpit door was open so I stood there and looked in. The co-pilot said hello. I told him I worked on flight simulator games and was just interested. When he asked which games, I told him and he replied “wow, those are my favorites, step in here” So I spent the next hour in the cockpit. It was a rush. Those guys have a great view! The whole time, they never touched a thing, the plane was on autopilot. I asked if they had to take  control to land it and they said “nah, but we like to”.

 

The 777ER. This is the plane I find myself on the most these days. ER stands for Extended Range. My favorite seat is 44C. This is a great aircraft, and Emirates is a great airline. The -300 variant of this plane is the longest fuselage in flight. The "triple 7 set a record for the longest non-stop flight of a passenger airliner by flying 11,664 nautical miles eastward from Hong Kong to London.[Lasting 22 hours and 42 minutes. I'll bet there some sore butts on that flight.

The 777ER. This is the plane I find myself on the most these days. ER stands for Extended Range. My favorite seat is 44C. This is a great aircraft, and Emirates is a great airline. The -300 variant of this plane is the longest fuselage in flight. The “triple 7″ set a record for the longest non-stop flight of a passenger airliner by flying 11,664 nautical miles eastward from Hong Kong to London. (Lasting 22 hours and 42 minutes. I’ll bet there were some sore butts on that flight.)

I’ll get back to Boeing at the end of this post for obvious reasons.

 

AirBus

For now, let us look at the Airbus planes I have flown.

This is the A319. Druk Air, the only airline that can fly you to Bhutan uses the A319. This is a memorable flight, especially the landing. For an exciting look at the most exciting landing on the planet, go here.

This is the A319. Druk Air, the only airline that can fly you to Bhutan uses the A319. This is a memorable flight, especially the landing. For an exciting look at the most exciting landing on the planet, go here.

Just as Boeing has stuck with the 7 theme in naming its craft, Airbus seems stuck on the 3xx theme.

This is an A320 flown by Air Asia. Ihave made many flights on this baby. Excellent plane, excellent airline

This is an A320 flown by Air Asia. I have made many flights on this baby. Excellent plane, excellent airline. The carbon emissions of an A320 are less than a 737, and one of the lowest in commercial aviation.

Step up to a the A330. It is a wide body that went into service in the mid 90's and is very fuel efficient airplane. Indeed, if you pay the eco offsets when you fly, this is a good deal.

Step up to a the A330. It is a wide body that went into service in the mid 90′s and is very fuel efficient airplane.

The biggest plane I have ever flown on is the A380. An 18 hour flight from central China to LAX. The plane, from a passenger's point of view (in economy) is not that exciting, but it IS huge.

The biggest plane I have ever flown on is the A380. An 18 hour flight from central China to LAX. The plane, from a passenger’s point of view (in economy) is not that exciting, but it IS huge.

Now for odds and ends.

For four long years I lived in a backwater called Bocas Del Toro, Panama. The only way in or out of Bocas (other than a chicken bus then a water taxi) was to fly. Two airlines served the airstrip (I will not call it an airport). One was Aeroperlas

Aeroperlas, or as I caled it scaryperlas flew thes Shorts 360 (or as I called them 'in your shorts") aircraft which looked to me like some rail car someone stuck wings on. Someone got this photo after a plane was washed, normally they looked horrible, outside and worse inside.

Aeroperlas, or as I called it scaryperlas flew these Shorts 360 (or as I called them ‘in your shorts”) aircraft which looked to me like some rail car someone stuck wings on. Someone got this photo after a plane was washed, normally they looked horrible, outside and worse inside.

The other option was Air Panama which used a Saab 340. In the four years I lived there, due to pilot error, two flights crashed. That is what you get when yu hire teenagers to fly your planes.

The other option was Air Panama which used a Saab 340. In the four years I lived there, due to pilot error, two flights crashed. That is what you get when you hire teenagers to fly your planes.

Perhaps the safest plane I have evr flown on are called Twin Otters. I have flown them into a fishing lodge on a river in Alaska, and into a Mining camp in the Andes. They are just great aircraft.

Perhaps the safest plane I have ever flown on are called Twin Otters. I have flown them into a fishing lodge on a river in Alaska, and into a Mining camp in the Andes. They are just great aircraft.

My wife and I trusted our lives to Buddha Air to fly up close and personal with Mt. Everest on a Beech 1900

My wife and I trusted our lives to Buddha Air to fly up close and personal with Mt. Everest on a Beech 1900.

I was treated to a flight between Santiago de Chile and Barriloche Argentina and Stephen Bechtel's Falcon 50. Now I know how the 1% live. The faucets in the head were made of gold. This is in case the plane gets taken by kidnappers, they can bribe their way out of trouble. It was a comfy flight.

I was treated to a flight between Santiago de Chile and Barriloche Argentina on Stephen Bechtel’s Falcon 50. Now I know how the 1% live. The faucets in the head were made of gold. This is in case the plane gets taken by kidnappers, they can bribe their way out of trouble. It was a comfy flight.

And now, the end, the finale. I was planning on boarding a Dreamliner, the Boeing 787! This is supposed to be the most advanced aircraft made to date, both in aeronautics and passenger comfort! Well, dreamliners were grounded. I will have to wait. I will fly one as soon as I can!

In about 24 hours I am going to board a Dreamliner, the Boeing 787! This is supposed to be the mostadvanced aircraft made to date, both in aeronautics passenger comfort! We will see, as yu shoul know by now, I have a LOT to compare it to!

Thanks for reading all this!

 

Planes I Have Flown On In My Travels

I think I have remembered all the planes I have flown on since I started traveling in the 1960’s. That was tough. I started traveling as a child in the midwest, then to South America, and then, well all over.

Douglass

DC3 North central

The first plane I remember flying on was  a North Central Airlines DC- 3 My father worked for North Central so we flew non-rev, meaning free. We called these planes puddle jumpers.

There are still small operators with DC-3s in revenue service and as cargo  aircraft. The common saying among aviation buffs and pilots is that “the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3”. The aircraft’s legendary ruggedness is enshrined in the lighthearted description of the DC-3 as “a collection of parts flying in loose formation.” Its ability to take off and land on grass or dirt runways makes it popular in developing countries, where runways are not always paved. This was indeed the case when I flew on DC-3’s in Bolivia in the early sixties. The runway was not paved. More exciting was that the ceiling (maximum height the plane could fly) was below the altitude of the Andes mountains we were flying through. So, we weaved our way between the mountains, and could look out the windows at peaks far above us.

For a short while the DC4 flew, and I remember being on one flying to Chicago

For a short while the DC4 flew, and I remember being on one flying to Chicago. It was a big deal because it had four engines!

Very few DC-4s remain in service today.  There are a couple nostalgia airlines still flying them, and I would love to take a trip on one again.

The DC6 came around and became the work horse of many airlines.

The DC6 came around and became the work horse of many airlines.

 I flew on DC-6s all over South America on LLoyd Aereo Boliviano. I flew over the Andes and across the Amazon jungle to Brazil. I swear I remember flying over a native village in the middle of  the Amazon rain forest, looking out the window, and seeing natives angrily waving spears at the giant silver bird. Remember, this was 1964, we were flying at about 5000 feet, and I was 10.

I flew a Panagra DC8 from    Lima, Peru to Miami. before we boarded, there was an eathquake in Lima, which shook the airport quite well. Then, they led a man aboard in shackles. Then, over Cuba, the cockpit filled with smoke. Quite the flight!

I flew a Pan American DC8 from Lima, Peru to Miami. before we boarded, there was an earthquake in Lima, which shook the airport quite well. Then, they led a man aboard in shackles. Then, over Cuba, the cockpit filled with kerosene smelling  smoke. Quite the flight!

The DC9 was cool because it was thie first plane I ever flew with the tail mounted engines!

The DC9 was cool because it was the first plane I ever flew with the tail mounted engines!

The DC10 came along and it proved size does matter.

The DC10 came along and it proved size does matter. Although the last DC10 was delivered in 1989, some still fly.

Lockheed

The DC10 had stiff competition from this Lockheed L1011. The L1011 was not only prettier with the tail engine configuration, it  also used some very modern luggage and in cabin . Trans World Airlines heralded the TriStar (the L1011's commercial nickname)as one of the safest aircraft in the world in promotional literature.

The DC10 had stiff competition from this Lockheed L1011. The L1011 was not only prettier with the tail engine configuration, it also used some very modern luggage handling techniques  and in cabin service innovations, including a galley underneath the main floor. Trans World Airlines heralded the TriStar (the L1011’s commercial nickname)as one of the safest aircraft in the world. Indeed it had almost a flawless safety record.

At this time in my life, my father worked for Lockheed. I got to go on a walk-thru of the plane before the first one was built. Then, when they went into operation I was sure to take a flight. It was a very quiet aircraft, also nicknamed the “whisperliner”.  It faced stiff competition from the DC10 and the 747, and proved to be Lockheed’s last civilian liner.

Boeing

Now, onto the Boeing line!

Ahh, the 727. The only thing cool about this plane is the rear passenger exit made famous by D.B. Cooper

Ahh, the 727. The only thing cool about this plane is the rear passenger exit made famous by D.B. Cooper, one of America’s most mysterious outlaws. I used to fly these PSA 727’s from LAX to SFO to see the Grateful Dead. PSA had a midnight mail run flight for about US$10. The back half of the cabin was full of mail bags and front half full of hippies. We got away with things no one would dream of doing on an airliner today. The stewardesses just ignored us for the entire flight! Those were the days!

The Boeing 737 has been in production and service a very long time.  The initial 737-100 flew in 1967 and entered airline service in February 1968. The 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. Newer versions of the plane provide a great mid range fleet option for many airlines, including my favorite, QATAR.

The Boeing 737 has been in production and service a very long time. The initial 737-100 flew in 1967 and entered airline service in February 1968. The 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. Newer versions of the plane provide a great mid range fleet option for many airlines, including my favorite, QATAR.

The 747, known as a Jumbo or a heavy, comes in many configurations and sizes. My favorite flight on one was from Melbourne to LAX. I left at noon on Sunday, and arrived at noon on Sunday. I was in Business class and slept the whole way. It was like being "beamed".

The 747, known as a jumbo or a heavy, comes in many configurations and sizes. My favorite flight on one was from Melbourne to LAX. I left at noon on Sunday, and arrived at noon on Sunday. I was in Business class and slept the whole way. It was like being “beamed”. Instantaneous.

Not one of my favorite aircraft. The Boeing 757 is a mid-size, narrow-body twin-engine jet airliner that was built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes from 1981 to 2004.  Being a narrow body, sinle aisle craft with a large passenger capacity makes in a claustrophobic nightmare. It alsotakes a long time to board and deboard. not fun

Not one of my favorite aircraft. The Boeing 757 is a mid-size, narrow-body twin-engine jet airliner that was built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes from 1981 to 2004. Being a narrow body, single aisle craft with a large passenger capacity makes it a claustrophobic nightmare. It also takes a long time to board and deboard. Not fun

The Boeing 767 is a mid-size, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It was the manufacturer's first wide-body twinjet and its first airliner with a two-crew glass cockpit.  Glass cockpit? This means everyting is digital, nothing analog. My favorite flight on a 767 was (of course before 9/11) from Toronto to Miami on Air Canada. I was flying first class. The cockpit door was open so Istood there and looked in. The co-pilot said hello. Itold him I worked on flight simulator games and was just interested. When he asked which games, I told him and he replied "wow, those are my favorites, step in here" So I pent the next hour in the cockpit. It was a rush. Those guys have a great view!  The whole time, the never touched a thing, the plane was on autopilot. I asked if the had to take over controld to land it and they said "nah, but we like to".

The Boeing 767 is a mid-size, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner built by Boeing. It was the manufacturer’s first wide-body twinjet and its first airliner with a two-crew glass cockpit. Glass cockpit? This means everything is digital, nothing analog. My favorite flight on a 767 was (of course before 9/11) from Toronto to Miami on Air Canada. I was flying first class. The cockpit door was open so I stood there and looked in. The co-pilot said hello. I told him I worked on flight simulator games and was just interested. When he asked which games, I told him and he replied “wow, those are my favorites, step in here” So I spent the next hour in the cockpit. It was a rush. Those guys have a great view! The whole time, they never touched a thing, the plane was on autopilot. I asked if they had to take  control to land it and they said “nah, but we like to”.

The 777ER. This is the plane I find myself on the most these days. ER stands for Extended Range. My favorite seat is 44C. This is a great aircraft, and Emirates is a great airline. The -300 variant of this plane is the longest  fuselage in flight. The "triple 7 set a record for the longest non-stop flight of a passenger airliner by flying 11,664 nautical miles  eastward from Hong Kong to London.[Lasting 22 hours and 42 minutes. I'll bet there some sore butts on that flight.

The 777ER. This is the plane I find myself on the most these days. ER stands for Extended Range. My favorite seat is 44C. This is a great aircraft, and Emirates is a great airline. The -300 variant of this plane is the longest fuselage in flight. The “triple 7” set a record for the longest non-stop flight of a passenger airliner by flying 11,664 nautical miles eastward from Hong Kong to London. (Lasting 22 hours and 42 minutes. I’ll bet there were some sore butts on that flight.)

I’ll get back to Boeing at the end of this post for obvious reasons.

AirBus

For now, let us look at the Airbus planes I have flown.

This is the A319. Druk Air, the only airline that can fly you to Bhutan uses the A319. This is a memorable flight, especially the landing. For an exciting look at the most exciting landing on the planet, go here.

This is the A319. Druk Air, the only airline that can fly you to Bhutan uses the A319. This is a memorable flight, especially the landing. For an exciting look at the most exciting landing on the planet, go here.

Just as Boeing has stuck with the 7 theme in naming its craft, Airbus seems stuck on the 3xx theme.

This is an A320 flown by Air Asia. Ihave made many flights on this baby. Excellent plane, excellent airline

This is an A320 flown by Air Asia. I have made many flights on this baby. Excellent plane, excellent airline. The carbon emissions of an A320 are less than a 737, and one of the lowest in commercial aviation.

Step up to a the A330. It is a wide body that went into service in the mid 90's and is very fuel efficient airplane. Indeed, if you pay the eco offsets when you fly, this is a good deal.

Step up to a the A330. It is a wide body that went into service in the mid 90’s and is very fuel efficient airplane.

The biggest plane I have ever flown on is the A380. An 18 hour flight from central China to LAX. The plane, from a passenger's point of view (in economy) is not that exciting, but  it IS huge.

The biggest plane I have ever flown on is the A380. An 18 hour flight from central China to LAX. The plane, from a passenger’s point of view (in economy) is not that exciting, but it IS huge.

Now for odds and ends.

For four long years I lived in a backwater called Bocas Del Toro, Panama. The only way in or out of Bocas (other than a chicken bus then a water taxi) was to fly. Two airlines served the airstrip (I will not call it an airport). One was Aeroperlas

Aeroperlas, or as I caled it scaryperlas flew thes Shorts 360 (or as I called them 'in your shorts") aircraft which looked to me like some rail car someone stuck wings on. Someone got  this photo after a plane was washed, normally they looked horrible, outside and worse inside.

Aeroperlas, or as I called it scaryperlas flew these Shorts 360 (or as I called them ‘in your shorts”) aircraft which looked to me like some rail car someone stuck wings on. Someone got this photo after a plane was washed, normally they looked horrible, outside and worse inside.

The other option was Air Panama which used a Saab 340. In the four years I lived there, due to pilot error, two flights crashed. That is what you get when yu hire teenagers to fly your planes.

The other option was Air Panama which used a Saab 340. In the four years I lived there, due to pilot error, two flights crashed. That is what you get when you hire teenagers to fly your planes.

Perhaps the safest plane I have evr flown on are called Twin Otters. I have flown them into a fishing  lodge on a river in Alaska, and into a Mining camp in the Andes. They are just great aircraft.

Perhaps the safest plane I have ever flown on are called Twin Otters. I have flown them into a fishing lodge on a river in Alaska, and into a Mining camp in the Andes. They are just great aircraft.

My wife and I trusted our lives to Buddha Air to fly up close and personal with Mt. Everest on a Beech 1900

My wife and I trusted our lives to Buddha Air to fly up close and personal with Mt. Everest on a Beech 1900.

I was treated to a flight between Santiago de Chile and Barriloche Argentina and Stephen Bechtel's Falcon 50. Now I know how the 1% live. The faucets in the head were made of gold. This is in case the plane gets taken by  kidnappers, they can bribe their way out of trouble. It was a comfy flight.

I was treated to a flight between Santiago de Chile and Barriloche Argentina on Stephen Bechtel’s Falcon 50. Now I know how the 1% live. The faucets in the head were made of gold. This is in case the plane gets taken by kidnappers, they can bribe their way out of trouble. It was a comfy flight.

And now, the end, the final, the future…

In about 24 hours I am going to board a Dreamliner, the Boeing 787! This is supposed to be the mostadvanced aircraft made to date, both in aeronautics passenger comfort! We will see, as yu shoul know by now, I have a LOT to compare it to!

In about 24 hours I am going to board a Dreamliner, the Boeing 787! This is supposed to be the most advanced aircraft made to date, both in aeronautics and passenger comfort! We will see. As you should know by now, I have a LOT to compare it to!

Thanks for reading. Sorry this was so long but after all I have been flying for fifty + years! Please share with a friend, and make a comment!

2012 in Review

WordPress does an interesting job of compiling mundane facts about blogs on their service. I thought I would share this with my readers just so you know you are not alone!

I also feel like maybe you would want to see a re-post of some of my favorite photos of the year, so here goes. They are not in any particular order, and if you want to know more about our trips, you can always navigate to them on the top of the page.

1295

My wife in front of the worlds largest beer mug. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Royal Selangor is a pewter shop. They make jewelry, picture frames, well just about everything from pewter. A great place to visit in KL

Sri Lanka

A restaurant in Sri Lanka that I just did not want to eat at!

20120425_325

On a tour in a medieval town in Italy, the mayor took my wife, the librarian, on a tour of their library which had thousands of volumes from medieval times. They actually let me hold one! They do not make books like this anymore. The art is hand painted. Amazing.

Uganda, equator

I have crossed the equator many times in my travels, but this was the most fun. This was taken in Uganda on a tour with Intrepid travels.

albino turtle

In Sri Lanka I visited a turtle hatchery and saw an albino turtle. Very unique!

assisi alley

In what was my favorite city in Italy. A street scene in Assisi.

berninis fave

We spent a few days in Rome, which everyone should do. I became a fan of the sculptor Bernini. His work is all over Rome, and all of it is exceptional. This was reported to be his favorite.

bocci

I tried my hand at Bocci. A game even an old guy like me can pick up. The old Italian gentlemen were quite patient with me and I had a great day.

emperors seats in the roman coliseum

When in Rome, be sure to pay for a good tour of the coliseum. We did, and we saw many things you will not see if you just walk in. This is a view from the emperors seat!

This is the original "senate floor" in the senate building in Rome.

This is the original “senate floor” in the senate building in Rome.

hitchiker

On my safari to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, this monkey jumped into the vehicle to ride along. Africa is wonderful!

We also visited the beautiful island of Mauritius. A bit out of the way, but a paradise.

We also visited the beautiful island of Mauritius. A bit out of the way, but a paradise.

Every year we make a trip to NYC. I think I am starting to like the place.

Every year we make a trip to NYC. I think I am starting to like the place.

While in Burma, or Myanmar if you wish, we went to Inle Lake. Besides these fisherman who row with their feet, there are dozens of other unique things to see there, and the rest of Burma.

While in Burma, or Myanmar if you wish, we went to Inle Lake. Besides these fisherman who row with their feet, there are dozens of other unique things to see there, and the rest of Burma.

An extreme bucket list item for the year was visiting the Kingdom of Bhutan, the happiest country on earth.

An extreme bucket list item for the year was visiting the Kingdom of Bhutan, the happiest country on earth.

miss Rwanda

My favorite shot of 2012! I call her Miss Rwanda. A mountain Gorilla posing for me with a welcoming bouquet!

There were more trips in 2012, and thanks to you readers for reading about them. You can go back and read them again if you so desire.

Please share this with FB friends! Please make a comment.

I am changing my entire look and feel in 2013, but I will still get to you somehow.

*****************************

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 30,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

 

Diplomas I have Earned While Traveling

I travel because I  love to travel. I love planes and trains. I even love airports.

I am a travel blogger because I love to write. Hopefully you love to read what I write. That is the only reason I have a blog at all, because I really like the idea that someone, somewhere is reading what I write. I do not sell ads on my blog and never will. If you want commercials, go watch TV.

In the course of my travels, some of the adventures I have been on were so unusual, or so adventurous, that I actually earned a “diploma” for taking the trip. I was cleaning up my office for the first time since the invention of the internet and I ran across these four diplomas. I want to share them with my faithful readers, and of course tell you a short story about each one. So grab a beer and read on, please.

I earned this diploma the first time I crossed the Arctic circle. I had just been assigned to work in Prudhoe Bay, ALaska

I earned this diploma the first time I crossed the Arctic Circle. I had just been assigned to work in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

Prudhoe Bay is 250 miles above the Arctic Circle. I spent 13 wildly prosperous months there. Yes, I was working for an oil company. I was young, I was greedy and I needed to make money to pay for my University education. It was a place of extremes. Not only an extreme salary, but depending on the season, either 24 hours of complete darkness or complete sunlight. I worked  84 hour weeks, 40 at my normally high wage, 40 at time and a half and 4 at double time. I lived in a construction camp where every thing was provided and I had no expenses. The money in my savings account piled up like the snow drifts in January. In the summer, after work, I fished the Sagavanirtok river and caught very large Arctic Char. In the winter I saw wild polar bears. In the spring I watched a three day migration of caribou. The tundra was alive with birds and flowers, or dead with ice and snow. And the Aurora Borealis, wow. When you are 250 miles inside the arctic, the northern lights do not appear on the horizon oh no. They are right above your head and they fill the sky. They make special patterns and the colors seem to chase each other across the your complete field of vision.

But the most amazing thing I saw there was TWO SUNS. One spring morning I was driving between sites when the sun rose about 10:30. I was pleased to see it, because there had been no sun for months that winter. Then, slightly to the west, rose a second sun. I was flabbergasted enough to come to a quick stop and stare. Just to be sure I was not completely losing my mind, I got on the radio and asked “ahh, does anyone else see two suns right now?” The answer I got was “Get off the radio Cheechako, that is a sundog” A cheechako is not nice term for a tenderfoot in the arctic, and a sundog is an atmospheric phenomenon that reflects the sunlight. But for a brief moment, I thought the world had changed forever.

In short it was a great choice I made to go there.

nazca

It took 30 years before I earned my next diploma, this one for a flight over the Nasca Lines in Peru.

The Nasca lines are, as far as I am concerned, proof that ancient civilizations were visited by extra-terrestrials. These lines cannot be seen from ground level. They are very large. The only way ancients could have made them is if they were guided from the air. The only reason to make them is to guide or welcome ETs upon arrival.

If you are skeptical about what I said, then explain to me why the ancients would carve what is obviously an astronaut, in a helmet, wearing a life support system, and waving hello. (This photo taken from alaudan.blogspot.com, which does a great job of explaining the Nasca lines

If you are skeptical about what I said, then explain to me why the ancients would carve what is obviously an astronaut, in a helmet, wearing a life support system, and waving hello. (This photo taken from discover-peru.org. The astronaut can be seen on the bottom  of my diploma, second from the right. Nasca has many depictions of  “earthly” animals, most of which are of a fantasy variety. There is even a whale, something just not found in the Andes.

At the time I was working in Peru. I went on a tour of places like Machu Pichu and  the fortress of Sacsayhuaman which is right outside of Cusco.

Sacsayhuaman is a very large complex put together with stones which are huge and weigh tons. On top of that they are cut from extremely hard rock, whch today we would have to use diamond saws to carve from the quarry. The ancients did not have diamond saws. Plus, they did not have the machinery to move them. On top of that they are articulated  to match the adjoining stones with extreme precision, and put together with no mortar? How? Ask ET, he did it!

Sacsayhuaman is a very large complex put together with stones which are huge and weigh tons. On top of that they are cut from extremely hard rock, which today we would have to use diamond saws to carve from the quarry. The ancients did not have diamond saws. Plus, they did not have the machinery to move them. On top of that they are articulated to match the adjoining stones with extreme precision, and put together with no mortar! How? Ask ET, he did it! (Photo courtesy of Andeantravelweb.net)

Another five yers passed before I earned this diploma for flying over Mount Everest

Another five yers passed before I earned this diploma for flying over Mount Everest.

This was an extremely magnificent experience. It is the first one I was able to blog about, and if you go back in my blog and choose Nepal, (or just clickhere) you can find many photos of this flight. I will forgo any further descriptions here. Go back and read the post. Suffice to say the flight is worth the trip to Kathmandu!

My last (so far) travel doploma was earned this year by making a tough trek thru the jungle in Rawanda to see the endangered mountain gorillas.

My last (so far) travel diploma was earned this year by making a tough trek through the jungle in Rwanda to see the endangered mountain gorillas.

Again, I covered this adventure in my blog. In fact, I made 7 posts and put up many photos. You can see them here. So, no need to say more here, navigate to the proper posts and get as good a vicarious experience as you can.

Thanks for reading and letting me brag. These diplomas mean more to me than My University degree. Tell a freind, and share on FB!

Around the World in a Daze

My faithful readers will already know I am married to a wonderful woman who has made my lifelong wanderlust sustainable. To my new readers, trust me, I married right.

This will be the next to last post on this blog for 2012. I intend to do a “year-in-review” post soon, and what a travelicious year it has been.

This is a short look at a long trip around the world. I had never done that before. Due to circumstances and needs, I had all the excuses I needed to circumnavigate the coconut.

My trip took me across each and every of these time zones!

My trip took me across each and every of these time zones! I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, the Tropic of Cancer each twice, the equator twice, the international dateline and the prime meridian. Hey sister teacher, do I pass my geography test?

We live near Dubai, which just happens to be a fantastic place to travel from. Everywhere is close it seems. We flew Emirates Air, the first of six airlines I would use on to get around the globe.

This trip starts on a tiny rock in the south Indian Ocean called Mauritius.

First flight, Dubai to Mauritius. Emerites Air. 6 hours. No upgrade needed, Emerites treats you well in all the cabins!

First flight, Dubai to Mauritius. Emerites Air. 6 hours. No upgrade needed, Emerites treats you well in all the cabins!

Mauritius can be driven across in less than two hours. Volcanic in origin, it has a very picturesque mountain range which you can see from anywhere on Ile Maurice.

Mauritius can be driven across in less than two hours. Volcanic in origin, it has a very picturesque mountain range which you can see from anywhere on Ile Maurice.

Perhaps I am a spiritual descendant of the now extinct Dodo bird. Mauritius is where they were before the first white settlers caught them all because they could not fly. I hear they tasted like chicken.

Perhaps I am a spiritual descendant of the now extinct Dodo bird. Mauritius is where they were before the first white settlers caught them all because they could not fly. I hear they tasted like chicken.

The Island has an interesting history. First settled by the Dutch who named it after their Prince, it was taken over by the French. The French used it primarily as a port to launch attacks on  East India Company ships taking spices and silks to England from India. The East India Company, owned in large part by the royals, did not like that inconvenience one little bit and sent the worlds best naval power to put an end to the piracy. Consequently French and English are both spoken all over the island along with a native patois that combines the languages of India with African dialects. The main agricultural crop is sugar cane, which of course means there is production of rum, ummm, good rum.

rum

Turning sugar cane into rum, honest work!

My wife was with me for this part of the trip. It was a break from work for her and she wanted a no hassle week, so we stayed at a Club Med. On Mauritius? Yes, in fact they have two on the island. Mauritius is circled by luxury beach hotels. Tourism comes in second in the local economy.

Like all Club Meds, there is no shortage of recreational activities. Like most Club Meds, this one was on a fantastic stretch of beach.

Like all Club Meds, there is no shortage of recreational activities. Like most Club Meds, this one was on a fantastic stretch of beach.

All inclusive not only means ” have fun with our toys and eat until you burst”, it means drink your butt off if you desire.

The local beer. Here we are on a catamaran trip and Mary Ann took advantage of the "all-inclusive" thing.

The local beer. Here we are on a catamaran trip and Mary Ann took advantage of the “all-inclusive” thing.

Now 8 hours on a sailboat, and many “la bieres” can lead one to be a bit clumsy when you set foot on land. Mary Ann headed to the room to change, and tripped over her flip flops.

A few minutes later she was a patient in the Club Med clinic.

A few minutes later she was a patient in the Club Med clinic.

The clinic insisted we take an ambulance to the hospital, fearing a minor concussion. She got a cat scan which revealed no damage.

The clinic insisted we take an ambulance to the hospital, fearing a minor concussion. She got a cat scan which revealed no damage.

The hospital was not ony modern and efficient, it was on the beach! We (I stayed  overnight with her) have had less attractive hotel rooms.They kept trying to feed us. The room, the multiple MD visits, the cat scan altogether cost less than US$300. We had bought the Club Med trip insurance, and paid NOTHING out of pocket.

The hospital was not only modern and efficient, it was on the beach! We (I stayed overnight with her) have had less attractive hotel rooms.
They kept trying to feed us. The room, the multiple MD visits and the cat scan altogether cost less than US$300. We had bought the Club Med trip insurance, and paid NOTHING out of pocket. You can see here Mary Ann’s eye starting to puff up. The next day she looked like she had done 3 rounds with Mike Tyson.

Besides the catamaran trip, we took one overland excursion across the island. Pretty small towns, one big city, and a lot of sugar cane!

Perhaps the slowest way to see the island!

Perhaps the slowest way to see the island! He was not much of a guide, but I still tipped him well.

Mary Ann returned to work. I took off back across the equator for Thailand. I flew Air Mauritius to Kuala Lumpur, then Thai Air to Bangkok, then Air Asia to Chiang Mai.

I have been getting some extensive dental work done there, and this was going to be my last trip. I have covered life in Chiang Mai in previous posts, and they are worth navigating to. It is a very excellent city. I stayed three weeks and walked away from the land of smiles with a new smile. I promised my wife I would use it as much as possible.

From Thailand I flew  South China Air into some city in China I cannot pronounce or really even spell. The airplane we took from Bangkok to China had one of the windows in the cockpit held on with duct tape, I kid you not. I tried to get a photo, but it did not come out. Trust me, duct tape.

I had a 90 minute layover before I connected on a flight to LAX. This was both the least expensive flight from Thailand to Los Angeles, AND the flight to LA was on an A380, which I had never been on.

This a truly large aircraft. A double decker. Everything was quite modern. I cannot wait to fly on one where everything is in English. My Chinese is  rather bad. The flight was 16 hours!

This a truly large aircraft. A double decker. Everything was quite modern. I cannot wait to fly on one where all the instructions are in English. My Chinese is rather bad. The flight was 16 hours! Brand new plane, no duct tape.

I arrived in LA during rush hour (as if LA is not a 24/7 rush hour), rented a car and sat in traffic (managing not to fall asleep after that flight) to my sister’s house where I occupied her living room and had a fantastic turkey day spread. Thanks sister.

Then I went to spend a week in my personal Valhalla, Big Sur. This is simply my favorite place on the coconut, and has been for close to 40 years.

My buddy John lives 6 miles and 3500 feet above Highway 1 on the very worst road I have ever been on. The road keeps the tourists away so I do not mind!

My buddy John lives 6 miles and 3500 feet above Highway 1 on the very worst road I have ever been on. The road keeps the tourists away so I do not mind!

An Oak grove near his house.

An Oak grove near his house.

Cutting firewood. Split wood not atoms!

Cutting firewood. Split wood not atoms!

Even the firewood here is pretty. These " designs" in the wood should be sold as Chumash Indian art!

Even the firewood here is pretty. These ” designs” in the wood should be sold as Chumash Indian art!

Now for a couple of sunset photos from John’s house. Eat your heart out.

The sun reflecting off clouds foretelling a rainstorm.

The sun reflecting off clouds foretelling a rainstorm.

Just another sunset in Valhalla.

Just another sunset in Valhalla.

With a sad heart but a happy mind, I left Big Sur. I drove back to Los Angeles in a rainstorm. I got to LAX early, too early. I was flying Virgin Atlantic from LAX to LHR. A five hour layover in the most confused airport in the world, and then onto DXB and finally home’

For this 10 hour flight I upgraded to  "premium Economy" class, whch is VA's way of saying business class. It was worth it. Big comfy seat, excellent food and good service except thattheydo not have Tabasco Sauce for a Bloody Mary

For this 10 hour flight I upgraded to “Premium Economy” class, which is VA’s way of saying business class. It was worth it. Big comfy seat, excellent food and great service except that they do not have Tabasco Sauce for a Bloody Mary. Come on Sir Richard Branson! Geesh.

photo (10)

The last leg of the trip. 6 hours, 4 time zones. I was glad to be home in Sharjah. When I laid my head down, I realized I had missed Saturday altogether! I had a wicked case of jet lag. Next time I go around the world I want to do it longitudinally so I can stay in one time zone. Is that possible?

Well that about wraps up the coconut for the year! Look for my 2012 recap soon. Meanwhile, please make a comment and/or share this with your FB and real friends!

Doors, Windows and Alleys in Portugal

For some reason I am fascinated by doors windows and alleys. If I take 500 photos on a trip, a hundred are usually of  beautiful windows, and doors and the occasional alley. This is especially true in Europe.  I just returned from the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Porto, Portugal. After the conference we were treated to a tour of northern Portugal by the Portuguese Travel Authority. Besides drinking an awful lot of port wine, we saw quite a variety of buildings and churches. This is a photo essay of my trip. Please enjoy it. By the way, I am not uptight about other people using my photos on their site, although I would like credit if you do. So, on with the show.

How could I help but start with this one!

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I hope you enjoyed this. Please share with a friend and/or make a comment.

Easter Island / Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny Visits Easter Island

As I flip through my passport with almost two hundred stamps, and look back on my 185 posts in my WordPress blog, numerous posts on Tripitani or Travel Bloggers Unite, and my 75 reviews on Trip Advisor, I realized that I am living a dream come true. Due to a myriad of converging circumstances, not the least of which is marrying the right woman, I get to travel to exotic locations, luxury locations and mundane locations and write about them. Someday, maybe, someone will pay me to write about their “lodge in paradise with wild animals, white sand beaches, four star service, world renowned food, and free booze”. Until then I do it for fun.

One page of my passport. This is my second passport since 1995, and this one has two sets of extra pages in it, and almost full.

I read a lot of travel stories from other bloggers, some of whom can truly tell a story. I think that is what travel blogging should be all about, telling stories so well that it makes people go there themselves.

Possibly it should be about making then green with envy that they either cannot go to a place like Bhutan, or Borneo or Burma. Or perhaps making them realize that they just lack the gumption to do so. But that is not very nice, is it. Just leave it at this, people who do not have a passport and use it, in my opinion, are self deprived.

Most of all, for me, a good travel story should be funny, or ironic, irreverent. I strive for all three on this blog, and sometimes I succeed.

After my latest review of the posts that make up this tome of a blog, I realized that my own personal favorite travel experience is not documented here. That omission is due to the fact that it happened years before I started blogging, in fact years before blogging started. So, sit back, grab a libation and let me entertain you.

The Easter Bunny

In the early 90’s I was living a fat life as an expat in Chile. Great job, a salary that allowed indulgences, and a boss that let me get away with fun, as in away from work. My then wife, who had the adventurous nature of a snail surrounded by a circle of salt, had decided to take a long vacation in California, stay at her parent’s house and watch re-runs of Lawrence Welk. I decided that an adventure was in order for me.

I walked into my boss’s office when I knew he was concerned about other things and he would not take time to truly consider what I was saying. “Hey big boss man, can I have week off?”

He actually asked “where are you going this time?”

“I’m thinking Easter Island.”

He half nodded yes, and half rolled his eyes, which to me implied I had his permission.

At the time Easter Island was an easy flight destination from Santiago de Chile. The national airline, LAN, made a refueling stop there on flights to Australia. Easter Island is part of Chile, and LAN makes it inexpensive for Chileans to travel back and forth to see family, or buy Pisco. I got the Chilean nationals price by haggling with LAN that I was in fact Chilean because I had a permanent residence visa. So I booked the discounted flight and I was off to solve the “mystery of Easter Island”.

I’ll indulge myself by telling you a few quick things about the mysteries of the island before I get back to the story.

The first thing you notice when you land is that the runway is the widest, longest runway you have ever landed on. I mean it is easily four times as wide and three times as long as any international airport runway. This mystery is easily explained. Easter Island was an emergency alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle.

Long and wide it still serves the island today. It was never needed by the space shuttle, so lets just cal it foreign aid.

The next mystery is, where am I going to stay? In the early 90’s the Holiday Inn had not exactly discovered Easter Island. Well, the inhabitants had that under control. As soon as you walked out into balmy air, and before you could admire the swaying palms,or smell the flowers,  you were surrounded by Islanders with photo albums. They were all trying to get you to rent a room in their home. The albums put in front of your face, two or three at a time had photos of the room, the bathroom, and the meals each served. As soon as you said “yup, I’ll stay with you” they put a lei around your neck to ward off competing families, grabbed your bag and threw them and you into an open air jeep (or some other vehicle without doors or a windscreen), and whisked you off to their home. That beats choosing a place on-line any day!

http://nomadical.wordpress.com

This is not me and I do not know these people but this is what you look like after a six hour flight and getting “captured” by a family. (This photo from http://nomadical.wordpress.com)

However, the common idea of the real mystery of Easter Island is the  Moai.

This is just one set of many sets and many more individual Maois on the island. Remember, I was there BEFORE DIGITAL cameras, so I used this photo courtesy of http://annoyzview.wordpress.com, which happens to be an excellent blog.

Ever since their “discovery” ( I am always amazed that when a westerner or white man first sees something he claims he “discovered” it) they have baffled scientists, ethnologists, archeologists, explorers and mere tourists. The main element of the mystery is “why were they built?”

Mystery Solved

Well, the answer is quite simple. As the population on the island grew before it was “discovered” by the Spanish, the king needed something to keep the people busy. Only so many people could fish or farm. So he invented this need to honor the gods, carve these statues, transport them from the quarries and stand them up to face the seas and ward off evil. Call it industrial welfare, sort of like the arms race.

The moai did not ward off the Spanish who enslaved all but a few of the male inhabitants and shipped them off to work the gold mines in Peru. The small population that remained lived off the sea and the land for hundreds of years before they were “re-discovered” and in turn became a tourist destination.

On with the Story.

After taking all of two days to solve mystery, I had five left to explore the island. Anyone who gets a chance, or can make an opportunity, should go. It is a wonderful place full of warm people. At least it was 20 years ago.

I had seen the whole island, and on my last day I went to the post office to purchase and send post cards. Remember, no blogs back then! The Post Office is beautifully located on a craggy cliff with tables and benches to enjoy the view and compose your post card home. I knew I would be there for a while. I walked in to buy a few cards. I looked at the boxes for the local’s mail and I was amused to see many letters stacked on top of them addressed to;

Easter Bunny

Easter Island

Chile

Of course they were all in children’s handwriting. I laughed and pointed to them. The woman behind the counter asked me “Are you the Easter Bunny?”

How do you say no to that? “Yes, may I have a letter”.

She laughed and handed me one.

It was a sweet letter from a 9 year old girl named Annie who lived in a suburb of London. She was writing to thank the Easter Bunny for the chocolate she had found on Easter morning. She said her mother always made sure she wrote people thank you letters. She asked what it was like to live on a far away island, and did I have any friends.

It was a thoughtful, well crafted letter, and I decided that the girl should get a reply. She had provided a return address so the plot was possible. I wrote the following.

Dear Annie

Thank you so very much for the thank you letter. I get very few of these and I cherish them. Your mother is a special person to ask you to write these letters.

Yes I enjoy living on my island. The weather is great. The only problem is all my friends are carved of stone, and they do not move, or talk, so they are no fun to play with. They all have the same name Moai, so I make up names for them. I will name one Annie in your honor.

I drew her a little picture.

Also, because you wrote me this letter, just tell you mother whatever you want for Easter this year. She can write me, and I will make sure you get it! You want a pony? Just ask!

Thank you

Easter Bunny

Chuckling, I put the photo in an envelope and posted it. I did not think about it for years.

Fast Forward to Y2K

I was now divorced and traveling alone. I found myself in a hotspot of backpackers and hostels called Bocas Del Toro, Panama. There is not much to do there besides hang out in bars, so I found one on the water called The Barco Hundido. A true dive, but the beers were cheap and the view was great.

The Barco Hundido is trashy, run down, dirty, and fun.

I ingratiated myself with a few English girls by buying a round, and we started talking. What do travelers talk about, except travel. We compared stories for a few rounds. When the conversation came around to me, I bored them with stories about Machu Pichu and such, then I mentioned visiting Easter Island.

One of the girls interrupted.

“Oh wow” she said. “my big sister has a daughter who wrote the Easter bunny a thank you letter. Some wanker traveling to the island answered on behalf of the Easter bunny and promised her a damn pony if she asked my sister for it.”

Not wanting to be recognized as the wanker, I just went silent and centered on the irony of a small world, and the wonders of travel.

Did you enjoy this story? Then share it with your FB friends, hit the like button, make a comment, or just finish your beer.

Inle Lake in Myanmar

 

Inle Lake hotel and spa

Our lodge on Inle Lake

Inle Lake is a very beautiful, tranquil and special place to visit in Burma or Myanmar. There are many hotels on the lake, maybe the best Myanmar has to offer. We stayed at the Inle lakeResort and Spa. It was off season and we were almost alone in a big resort and spa, so the prices were discounted for massages, which is always a big plus.

Even in the off season, there is a lot to see. Of course everywhere you go,you go by boat.

The lake area supports about 70,000 people. Many of them are fishermen. They fish in an unusual manner.

fishing in Inle lake

The fishermen stand in their small canoes and row with their feet. They are very stable as they throw and retrieve the nets. This guy was so good he was even able to smoke while doing this feat.

The crucial element of this talent is using the toes properly.

These guys are collecting the weeds growing in the lake for use as fertilizer.

Every year in September/October there is a three week event  called Hpaung Daw U Festival.

Included in this festival are races between villages in foot paddled boats.  Also during this festival the Royal Barge is brought out of storage and sailed from village to village.

This is a big deal to the inhabitants of the villages around the lake. The journey of the barge takes up almost the entire three weeks. Each town turns out their best as the barge visits them.

One year, a tragedy struck. A storm hit the lake and the barge sank. The real tragedy was that when this barge does the tour, it carries five Buddhas encrusted with gold leaf. Only four were recovered right away, the fifth turned up in a fishing net years later. This is a photo of a painting in a temple alongside the lake depicting the tragedy.

This is a memorial in the lake to mark the spot where the barge sank.

Buddhas encrusted with gold

Buddhas encrusted with gold leaf? Yup. In fact there is so much gold on these things they look more like a lump of mashed potatoes than Buddhas. Here I am adding to the treasure and having a spiritual moment.

There are numerous villages on the lake. Each one has a different industrious specialty.

In this village, they rolled cheroots and cigars.

In this village they had the Temple of Jumping Cats. The cats were trained by a monk to jump through a hoop. The monk is long dead, but the tradition survives. I canot get my cat to jump off the couch, so I am amazed by this. Of course I am easily amazed.

Burmese cats

In between two villages was a beautiful, very large sanctuary dedicated to the restoration of the Burmese cat to Burma. About ten years ago a wealthy man found out there were no more Burmese cats in Burma. So he went all over the world to find pure bred Burmese cats. They have a playground better than most grammar schools, a huge house to roam. They breed here, but they do not sell the cats. So if you want to see a Burmese cat in Burma, this is the place

Another village is dedicated to weaving lotus stalks into cloth. This is how they extract the fiber from the stalk. The emphasis is on quality not quantity. It takes many man hours (woman hours really) to get enough fiber to weave.

Weaving lotus cloth is much more complicated than cotton or silk, because the strands they have to work with are quite short and must be tied together.

Mary Ann owns more scarfs than I ever owned Grateful Dead T shirts, so I knew she would buy one. All those woman hours do not come cheap, and I imagine the village ate well for a few days after we left.

There were villages dedicated to silver work, paper making and aqua culture. We visited them all.

There are five community market towns surrounding the lake. The market moves from town to town every day. This is the parking lot where we went.

On the way we passed this vendor taking his baskets to market.

Because we were just visitors we had to park a ways away and use this bridge to cross the water to get to the market town.

It was a long walk from the water to the town. We saw many people who had shopped early returning home.

Look closely, you will see my wife “inspecting” a load of bamboo floor mats heading to market.

Traditional clothes are still worn, especially by the women. The Burmese know hats!

nuts in Burma or Myanmar

Nuts and such for sale.

Spices. What did I say about hats?

If you ever go to Burma or Myanmar, be sure to go to Inle. When you do, be sure to see the lost temples.

There is one area on the lake where (in relative terms) they recently discovered hundreds of small temples that the jungle had consumed. Most of them are visible now, and some are restored. It is a great place for a walk.

One more quirky thing to show you.

Whenever you leave the main body of water to go near a village or a lodge, you must go over a speed bump! I have never seen a speed bump on water before.

All good things must come to an end.

That is it for Inle. Thanks for reading please hit share to send this to all your close friends on FB, and if you get truly adventurous, make a comment.

The Third Secret of Fatima Revealed

Just in case there is someone reading this who is not at least somewhat familiar with the legend about Our Lady of Fatima, I will give you a brief irreverent rundown. If you want more, you can always go to Wikipedia, but my version is more fun!

Fatima is a small village about two hours drive out of Lisbon, Portugal.  In 1917 three young Portuguese shepherds (all cousins) were (according to the legend) visited by a Marian apparition, six times over a six month period. The apparition is now referred to as Our Lady of Fatima. Our lady of Fatima is said to have entrusted the shepherd children with three secrets. The first is a description of hell. It is quite graphic and enough to make you give up drinking.

The second described the end of WWI and the coming of WWII. Once you get past the fire and brimstone, the second prediction was amazingly accurate.

Now we come to the third secret. Two of the cousins died at a young age from Influenza. The third, a woman named Lucia, who had become a nun, fell ill to Influenza in 1943. She had never revealed the third secret, saying that the world was not ready to hear it. So, the local bishop visited her bedside and convinced her to write it down, so it would not be lost to the world. Nuns tend to do what Bishops tell them to do, so she wrote it down. She sealed the secret in an envelope and told the church not to open it until 1960, when it would be better understood.

The envelope was stashed in the Fatima area until 1957 when it was delivered to Rome. As everyone knows, Rome can keep a secret. They did just that until 2000 when rumor and speculation around the secret were rampant. People around the world wanted to know…did Our Lady of Fatima reveal the end time? Why won’t the Church tell us anything?  One person was so desperate he hijacked a plane, with his only demand the revelation of the third secret.

In 2000 the Church told the world what was in it. Basically nothing, they said. It sort of predicted the 1981 assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II, they said. They released some heavy fire and brimstone words describing fire and lights and flaming swords, all this supposedly the vision had by the three children and written down by Sister Lucia, they said.

Many people were quite disappointed and many more quite skeptical. There just has to be more to it, or why would they have kept is secret for so long.

Well in my first hour in Fatima I realized what Sister Lucia wrote down, and I am about to reveal it here. One sentence, no fire, no brimstone, no end of the world. What did she write? Ready? Here it is, hold on, sit down, take a deep breath. She simply wrote:

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME

Build what you might ask.

Fatima, Our Lady of Fatima gift shop

THIS!

Our Lady of Fatima Gift shop

Quite simply the largest souvenir stand I have ever been in. If you take all the souvenir stores in Cooperstown and put them under one roof, it would not be as large as this place. They were doing enough business to keep the economy of Portugal alive for another generation. Mary Ann bought a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, I bought a ball cap made from cork. They sold Fatima wine, but I just could not fathom buying any. Maybe some of the Fatima Holy Water, but naaah.

I must say  once you got past the gift shop, the church did a beautiful job of creating a shrine for the faithful.

Our Lady of Fatima Basilica

Topped off by this gold crown is the Basilica

Our Lady of Fatima Basilica

The basilica is quite impressive. The tower the gold crown sitson is 223 feet high.

Our Lady of Fatima Basilica

The basilica has masses all day long to cater to the continuous line of tourist buses bringing the faithful, the curious and the likes of me. The three shepherds are buried in this basilica. They were beatified in 2000.

Services are also continuously held a hundred yards in front of the church which is the sight of the original apparitions.

This photo is from the front of the basilica overlooking the esplanade built to accommodate the over  one million pilgrims who attend service here on May 13 and October 13, the dates of the most significant Fatima apparitions.  In the far distance you can see the Church of the Most Holy Trinity which holds over 9000 worshipers.

Somewhere dwarfed by these massive doors to this ultra modern and very huge church is my wife.

Just to give you an idea of the size of this church.

And what would a modern church be without a modern depiction of the crucifixion.

Thanks for reading. You can now sleep easy at night knowing that Our Lady of Fatima and the Mayans were not on the same calendar!

Please share this with all your social media friends, all it takes is a click on a button! Stick around, come back soon for more about our recent trip to Portugal.

The Jersey Shore and Exotic New York

I have not posted for a couple of weeks because my wife and I took a quick trip to the USA. I will get back to finishing my tales about Asia but I wanted to get this trip to the east coast of the USA off my agenda.

A trip to the new York Area should always include a visit here. It is just too iconic to pass up. When foreigners ask me what they should see when the go to America, I always say, Big Sur and The Jersey Shore. A continent, and a world apart.

This is one of the two things the Jersey Shore is famous for.

This is the other.

Combine the two and you get this. This is a my sis-in-law’s husband doing what I felt like doing after a few hours of doing the shore.

A trip  to NYC should always include a look at Central Park.

My wife and I decided to take a carriage ride through the park. I had never been inside Central Park before so I enjoyed seeing things like Strawberry Fields and a dozen other sights famous for being in movies.

A chill ran down my spine, (well not really) when I saw this building from the park. I will leave it to you to figure out why. Comment if you get it.

FAO Schwartz is a wonderful toy store of lore and reputation. It is right next to Central Park.  I do not suggest visiting it with a child in tow!

This is my wife trying to keep me out of MY favorite toy store! The Apple Store is right in front of FAO Schwartz. I suggest you do not enter with your credit card!

Now, while visiting the USA, there is one thing I always be sure to do.

Seeing a Baseball game is mandatory. This is the best sport in the world, and missing a chance to see a game while in the USA is like missing the Taj while in India.

 

Thanks for reading. Share with a FB friend because that raises my readership and my Klout score!

Stay tuned for more of Burma!

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