Trekking Mount Kailash

Tony backed by Mount Kailash

The following post was written when we visited Tibet in 2007. In the last decade, much has changed. The roads leading to Mt. Kailash have been paved, Chinese guides must accompany tourists, and the once isolated region sees more visitors.

We were still half a day’s drive away from Darchen, the town at the foot of Mount Kailash and the starting point for our trek, when we caught our first glimpse of the snow-covered peak in the distance. After ten days bumping up and down on a series of increasingly deteriorating dirt rodes, Tibet’s holiest mountain was within sight.

The tension had been building for days. Rumors had been circulating that the Chinese military had moved into the area to clamp down on unrest resulting from the construction of an unapproved Buddha on the slopes of the mountain. Conflict had broken out between the soldiers and Tibetan pilgrims doing the Kailash kora. We had met several foreign trekkers and travelers who had been turned back by the troops. As we silently bounced our way towards our destination, we were all asking ourselves the same question: would we be allowed to trek Continue…

Adventures in Textiles

Textile Guide

We have a great travel guide recommendation for visitors to our site. Cynthia LeCount Samak√© has written A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Peru and Bolivia, which highlights everything a dedicated textile enthusiast needs to explore the two countries.

The book is filled with fascinating information on Bolivian and Peruvian textiles and beautiful photography including two of our images from the Colca Canyon region. In fact, the first full-page photograph in the book is our image below of a woman wearing an intricately embroidered hat and collar. Continue…

Notre Dame de Paris

Today the world’s most famous church went up in flames. I turned on the news in the morning to discover the fire had just broken out. I sat in silence watching the Gothic masterpiece slowly be devoured by fire. It was completely shocking – 859 years of history gone in a single day.

Over the years, I have been to Notre Dame over a dozen times. And I would have gone another dozen had it not been destroyed. It was the first cathedral I ever saw in my life – as you can imagine, that set the bar for cathedrals a bit too high. Continue…

Walker Canyon Superbloom 2019

Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore

Sometimes, we Californians start to take the state for granted. We whine and whinge about the traffic or the high cost of living, and some of us – god forbid – even start to wonder if the state is still worth it.

When California hears us questioning her total awesomeness, she’s like, “Hold my beer.” Bam, she summons up a wild and wonderful floral display which leaves the flower children dancing in the streets. Superbloom 2019 is in full swing. From the Carrizo Plain to the Anza Borrego Desert, the hills are alive with fields of flowers. Continue…

Exploring The Tribal Villages of Sumba

Tribal western Sumba is without question one of the most fascinating cultural regions in all of Indonesia. Eclipsed by more famous destinations such as Papua, Sulawesi, Sumatra and Flores, remote Sumba is primarily visited by travelers with a keen interest in ethno-tourism. Way off the beaten path – or any path for that matter – you don’t just end up here by mistake; you come here specifically to take in the unique Sumbanese tribal art, architecture and cultural heritage.

Sumba is a tough place to travel: there are few hotels, roads can be terrible, English is non-existent and the tribal communities can be somewhat volatile. Conflicts can break out at any time, even in the larger population centers such as Waikabubak. In fact, on our way to dinner one evening in Waikabubak, we were turned back because Continue…

15 Must-See Tourist Attractions in Bangkok

Wat Arun

There is no city in the world quite like Bangkok. The steamy cultural heart of Southeast Asia beats to a rhythm of cool chaos and quirky contradiction that makes it one of the most fascinating and diverse cities on the planet. Where else do veiled Gulf Arabs, Scandinavian sun worshipers, African money changers and local lady boys line up for a dish of sticky rice and mango, all backed by a mishmash of golden temples and steel skyscrapers? Nowhere.

Over the last three decades, we have visited over a dozen times and cumulatively spent more than a year in the metropolis. We have grown to love our crazy home away from home in Asia, but if you are new to the city, it can be hard to know where to begin. There are so many amazing things to do in Thailand’s capital that taking a couple of Bangkok private tours with locals might be a good idea to help you discover some hidden treasures. Here are Continue…

Rajasthan Camel Safari

Everybody does it here – it has become somewhat of a touristic cliche. It can range from a luxury tented eco-experience to an off-the-beaten-track adventure. You might find yourself in a sea of tourists waiting to pose for a portrait on a dune, or perhaps like us, you’ll end up sitting out a sandstorm in a herder’s desert wigwam. It is the Rajasthani camel safari, and it is whatever you make it.

Eager to make ours an adventure, we did our homework first. There are endless options in Rajasthan, but we wanted to get Continue…

The Akha

Akha woman in northern Laos

The first time I went to Thailand in 1990, I had the opportunity to trek through portions of the North to visit many of the hill tribes. At that time, traditional clothing and culture were still very intact. Yes, there were already too many tourists, but there was still much to be seen and experienced especially in the remote regions along the borders of Myanmar and Laos. The markets of the Golden Triangle were filled with a mix of exotic tribal people donning colorful garb buying and selling goods in a dozen languages.

The obvious stars of the markets were the Akha, a group whose unique culture, blood-red betel nut stained teeth, and over-the-top headdresses made them one of the most recognizable tribal groups in the world. I had hoped Continue…

Ten Cool Treks for Adventurous Souls

Tony and Thomas in the Gokyo Valley, Nepal

Looking to do some trekking in 2019? Scouring the web for some recommendations? Over the years, we have had the amazing opportunity to do some of the best treks on the planet. It’s about time that we put together a list of recommendations to compete with the hundreds of others out there on the Net. (Ours is naturally better. Ha, ha.)

What makes this list different? Well, first of all, we have personally done every trek we list here. Beyond that, each of these treks Continue…

Christmas Market Adventures

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Stressing out about all that last minute holiday shopping? Would you rather be feasting on Christmas treats and sipping hot wine in the shadow of a snow-powdered castle? To help you plan next year’s Christmas market adventure, we’ve put together this list of our favorite Christmas market destinations with a few tips on what to eat along the way. We have visited all these markets ourselves and done the hard Continue…