Forrest Walker's Blog (61)

The Spiritual Side of Bhutan

This post will cover the two most spiritual things I have ever experienced. I was deeply moved by both of them. Bhutan is a deeply Buddhist country. I have mentioned before that if I ever decided to convert, as if I were disciplined enough to try, it would be in Bhutan. I found that…


Added by Forrest Walker on August 22, 2012 at 12:20pm — No Comments

Bhutan, Land of Happiness and Wonders

Yes, Bhutan is a happy place. I mentioned before that the government actually does a yearly census to evaluate the level of happiness and look for ways to make people even happier, now THAT is a wonderment.

I also mentioned that there is a US$250 “tariff” you must pay to visit Bhutan. This is actually a good deal because it includes everything except beer and souvenirs. So, it cost us a bit more ;-)  . That tariff is actually in place to keep Bhutan from becoming over run with…


Added by Forrest Walker on August 13, 2012 at 9:41am — No Comments

Return to Kathmandu

Everywhere we went in this expedition across Asia, we felt quite welcome!

Our five weeks in Asia started in Kathmandu

We are lucky enough to be able to refer to this as our return to Kathmandu. Dear readers, you really need to be…


Added by Forrest Walker on August 8, 2012 at 9:14am — 1 Comment

Rome on $500 a Day

We left Umbria after 6 days of wonderful tours, meals, making new friends and never reaching for our wallet all courtesy of the Umbrian tourism authority. When in Italy be sure to visit Umbria.. We took a nice train ride of about 2 hours into Rome’s central train station.

I got off the train and desperately needed to relive myself of that morning’s espresso shots. The men’s room…


Added by Forrest Walker on May 20, 2012 at 12:12pm — 1 Comment

A Trip to the Future in Masdar, Abu Dhabi

When I was young, I remember commenting aloud that in the future cars should be something people ride in, not drive. A person would just hop in, say where you want to go, then sit back and read a newspaper. People laughed at me.

Today, I experienced that world, except that now a person just reads their Iphone. The future has arrived, at least in …


Added by Forrest Walker on March 20, 2012 at 10:08am — 2 Comments

Up Close and Personal With Blue Whales in Sri Lanka

I never thought I would see a blue whale outside of the Smithsonian museum. In fact, I thought they were almost extinct. On January 23, 2012 I saw four pairs of them. Blue Whaleswere not even on my bucket list. When we started doing research on …


Added by Forrest Walker on February 15, 2012 at 11:22am — 1 Comment

Sri Lanka Can Lay Claim to the Coolest Hawkers!

Everyone who travels around this coconut runs into hawkers. They try to sell you everything from bongs to plastic models of the Taj Mahal. Many just will not leave a person alone. They follow you down the street putting tubes of tiger balm or fake Rolex watches in your hand. They all know two words in English "good price". Some know how to say "me poor, need money for family." 99% of the time they are selling some POS I have no desire to own. I try to say "no" nicely. The second  time I say…


Added by Forrest Walker on February 7, 2012 at 9:30am — No Comments

Off to Sri Lanka

Here I am on an Air Arabia flight over the middle of the Indian Ocean on my way to a city I had never even heard of a year ago, Colombo. (I am wondering if I should be wearing a crumpled trench coat and smoking a cheap cigar, but I digress) Colombo is the capital city of a country I had only heard of because I am a news junkie, Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka is only a few years past a civil war that pitted the Tamil Tigers (never to be confused with the team from Detroit) against the…


Added by Forrest Walker on January 19, 2012 at 9:42am — No Comments

My Style for Seeing the World

My travel style,in case you are a new reader, is to hire a private guide with a comfortable car who is mine for the duration. I do not just show up and say "whatcha got." I do my own research with every book I can find and do not forget my wife is a university librarian. I also peruse all the social media sites, the usual suspects and a few that are truly suspect.

Then I start contacting guides using again every source I can find. If I send someone an email and get no response…


Added by Forrest Walker on January 18, 2012 at 10:30am — No Comments

The World's Starbucks: Same, Same, and the Same (Well, Maybe Not the Mugs)

Starbucks. It seems every civilized place on the planet has at least one.

On any continent they are all exactly alike. The only difference is the décor on the mugs. I consider them collectibles. I have no more room on the shelves in my kitchen for them, but I still buy one wherever I go. In fact, I am a bit annoyed if the city I am in (Nairobi, Kathmandu) does not have a Starbucks.

Before I travel, I Google the location of the Starbucks in the destination city. Not only…


Added by Forrest Walker on December 30, 2011 at 10:11am — 3 Comments

Avoid Heathrow Airport If You Can

In celebration of national Day here in the UAE we had a short holiday, so we decided to take a quick jaunt to London. I had never been there, and I am a history fanatic, where better than London! 

I always fly Qatar Airways. Qatar flies into Heathrow. I did nor know anything about this airport, or i would have taken a different carrier and avoided this miserable excuse for an international airport.

We arrived at …


Added by Forrest Walker on December 4, 2011 at 8:09am — 4 Comments

Upgrade to a Singapore Sling

Occupy Business Class!

After more hours than I care to count sitting in the cookie cutter seats in economy class, I was pleasantly surprised today when Qatar airlines upgraded my wife and me to Business Class. I have not flown Business Class since I stopped working and an employer was buying my ticket. I had forgotten how much better it is to spend 7 hours in a fully reclining seat with incredibly good food and service beyond the pale.

The seat not only spread out to a flat…


Added by Forrest Walker on November 15, 2011 at 6:48pm — 1 Comment

Cruising Down the Mekong River

Our last tour day in VN was reserved for a trip down the infamous Mekong River. Mary Ann and I had flown over the headwaters of the Mekong located high in the Himalaya mountains while we were in Nepal. We had floated on the Mekong when we visited the Golden Triangle area of Thailand. Both of those wonderful trips are archived in this blog.

I could not help but think that we were probably on the same molecules of water we saw leave the Himalaya. The length of the river is over 3000…


Added by Forrest Walker on September 25, 2011 at 11:07am — No Comments

A Place Where Writer Victor Hugo is a Saint

There is a religion in Vietnam called Cao Dai. The full name is   Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ (Great Religion [of The] Third Period [of] Revelation [and] Salvation). That  might be the least complicated thing I know about it. The religion has approximately 30 million followers in Vietnam. They believe that before god existed, there was the Tao. Then a big bang occured from which God was created. In order for God to create the heavans and the earth he first had to create the Yin and the…


Added by Forrest Walker on September 23, 2011 at 12:05pm — 1 Comment

A Snapshot of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

We saw HCMC (onetime Saigon) on the fly. We used it as a base to visit both the tunnels of Cu Chi and the Mekong Delta. Consequently this will be a short post.

The first place we visited was a brand new version of the War Remnants Museum. It is dedicated to the victory of and the gallantry of the people of VN in…


Added by Forrest Walker on September 22, 2011 at 10:14am — No Comments

Hoi An, Vietnam - Part 2 (The Photo Tour)

Ever since I bought my new Nikon I hve been yearning to learn how to use it better than I do. If you know what the acronym RTFM means, it barely applies in this case. The camera has more features than I can find time to use while travelling. I always find myself trailing my wife and our guide by 50 steps while I try to frame a decent shot. She gets the low down on where we are and then I try to catch up. Consequently I leave the camera on the auto setting most of the time, which defeats the…


Added by Forrest Walker on September 20, 2011 at 11:00am — 2 Comments

Danang and the Marble Mountain, Vietnam

This will be a short post because we briefly passed through Danang on our way to Hoi An. Hoi An will be a very long post, because we spent 4 days there enjoying a marvelous little tourist trap.

We were driven from Hue to Hoi An over some mountainous roads,but mostly along the beaches. Danang  just happens to be along the way.…


Added by Forrest Walker on September 18, 2011 at 11:27am — No Comments

In Vietnam, the Historic Citadel of Hue

There are so many wonderful experiences in Vietnam as a tourist these days that one could spend weeks there and never visit a war site. But I am a bit of a history buff so among many others, I was determined to visit the Citadel.

In January of 1966, President Johnson met with General Westmoreland, commander of American forces in Vietnam. Johnson asked “Wastemoreland” what the North Vietnamese would do if the wanted to truly win in South Vietnam. Westmoreland said quickly and simply…


Added by Forrest Walker on September 17, 2011 at 9:18am — No Comments

Exploring Halong Bay, Vietnam

This post starts with a photo of the fleet of junks we toured on in Halong bay. This a very comfortable way to spend a couple of days. great food, nice rooms, and beautiful cruise.…


Added by Forrest Walker on September 14, 2011 at 3:10pm — No Comments

Experiencing Hanoi, Vietnam

I am old enough to have sworn I would become a Toronto Blue Jays fan before I ever went to Vietnam.

Time tends to heal most wounds, Vietnam is an example of that. The country is now a Socialist Republic with a strong capitalist strain running through it like veins of gold in crystal. Before I go any further, I must tell you that not once did anyone show me any disrespect let alone hatred for being an American. I did get asked if I were a vet more than once, but politely. Many American…


Added by Forrest Walker on September 13, 2011 at 8:00am — No Comments

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