Page 6 of Home and Away Travel Blog Posts


Europe » Estonia » Tallinn April 13th 2013

Actually there is a common theme to my recent blogs...merchants. On the Silk Road we followed merchants over land. In the Baltics we find the Hanseatic League, the merchants of the northern seas. Moving merchandize had always been easier over sea than land...that's why the Silk Road was abandoned when the sea route between Europe and Asia was found. Earlier in my life I learned that the cost of shipping from England to Boston during the age of sailing ships was cheaper than the cost from Boston to only 30 miles inland. That's quite a difference, and the merchants of the north had it nailed. I also learned that the best time to travel the Silk Road...we had delightful sunny weather the entire three weeks...is not the best time to visit the Baltic Republics. 9 April ... read more
Riga Old Town
Riga Old Town
Vilnius Old Town

Asia » Uzbekistan » Tashkent April 8th 2013

3 April 2013 Wednesday. We checked in with Air Astana at 2:15 am for the 4:15 am flight to Almaty, Kazakhstan. The flight was uneventful, landing at 4:10 am with the time zone changes. Then we had a 5 ½ hour layover where we stretched out on benches to try to sleep. Looking through the duty free shops didn’t help the time fly any faster. We took off at 9:45 am bound for Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We flew over the Pamir Massif. If there was any doubt whether we should have tried going overland, the obviously deep snows in the mountains settled it. We were told that there had been record snows this winter, and that the passes were closed. We arrived in Tashkent at 10:30 am and cleared immigration and customs rather easily. There is an ... read more
$200 in soms
Bob at the Emir Tamerlane Museum
Statue of Tamerlane

Asia » China » Xinjiang » Turpan April 1st 2013

31 March 2013 Sunday. Our driver was waiting for us at 9 am and drove us to the Dunhuang’s new train station, in time to catch the 9:45 am train to Jiayuguan, which arrived there at 2:45 pm. This leg of the trip was backtracking to the northern Silk Road, but we didn’t want to miss Dunhuang, which was probably our favorite stop along the road. Jiayuguan was an important stop on the Silk Road…the end of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall and the final outpost, beyond which was the barbarian lands of empty desert. The fortress there was built in 1372 and expanded in 1539. Those exiled by the emperor for some infraction were taken to the gate facing west, and then kicked out of China. Exiles would toss a stone against the Wall to ... read more
Will entering Jiayuguan Fortress
General's quarters at Jiayuguan Fortress
General and his staff at Jiayuguan Fortress

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang March 30th 2013

The Silk Road has always fascinated me. A few years back I attended the Smithsonian's Folklife festival on the Washington Mall which featured the Silk Road cultures, mostly food, dance, and story telling, for each country along the Silk Road from Turkey to China. It was inspirational! It is difficult to date when long distance trade between the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, India and China began, but we can identify some of the conditions. The merchants had to be exceptional entrepreneurs, their merchandize had to be light and very much more valuable in distant lands, and there had to be sources of fresh water along the routes between markets. These entrepreneurs were less like Leiws and Clark who traveled across the North American continent with sufficient resources all around them; and more like Columbus without access ... read more
Chinese friend Liyi on the train to Dunhuang
Will climbing on his camel
Bob having successfully mounted his camel

Asia » China » Gansu » Xiahe March 28th 2013

26 March 2012 Tuesday. As breakfast wasn’t served until 7 am we decided to take the 8:30 bus to Xiahe (the other departure times are 7:30 am, 2 and 3 pm; cost: 76.5 RMB). Even then due to the time it took to check out and deposit some bags with the hotel for our return, and then the taxi ride to the South Bus Station, we didn't get there until 8:30. We easily found the place that sold tickets and upon loading our luggage and climbing aboard they immediately departed…another close call as the next direct bus wasn’t until 2 pm. The bus was very nice, and for entertainment we were treated to the Chinese version of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles;” but in this case there were a few additional forms of transportation…hay wagons, boats, etc. ... read more
Prayer Wheels at Labrang Monastery
Main street of the Labrang Monastery
Pilgrim resting after her perambulations

Asia » China » Beijing » Forbidden City March 25th 2013

24 March 2013 Sunday. The massage I had the evening before seemed to work wonders, and my knees (sore from compensating for my foot) were feeling much better. I was almost tempted to do without the wheel chair, but in the end decided that two and a half hours of walking through Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City would likely deal me a sever setback. My son Will turned out to be a life saver by pushing me in the wheel chair for the longer distances across the courtyards, and I walked thorugh the palaces. In addition to the Forbidden City, our tour took us to a traditional Chinese medicine pharmacy, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace. The tour included all the amenities provided in the previous day's tour at a cost of $48/person...another ... read more
Tian'an Men Square
Meridian Gate where the emperor would greet his army
The Golden Water in the first courtyard for the Forbidden City

Asia » China » Beijing » Great Wall of China March 23rd 2013

My arrival in Beijing was the end of my 12th trip around the world; and onward travel would be the beginning of my 13th RTW as it all started here in 1949; not in Beijing itself, but in Xiahe, China (home the the Labrang Monastry), which Will and I will visit in a couple days. As mentioned in my previous blog, this trip kind of evolved; and it wasn't without moments of anxiety. I had surgery for a broken ankle on 6 February, six weeks and one day before the trip was to start. I met with my surgeon on 18 March where he declared I was healed, although the soft tissues would continue to heal over the next six months. I could get rid of the crutches, but should wear the black boot (think ski ... read more
Will at entrance of the Chang Ling Ming tomb
Chang Ling Hall
Ming Tombs - view from the Chang Ling tomb

Asia » China March 11th 2013

My son Will, who has been teaching English for the last year in Bangkok, Thailand, was planning to move to Europe to attend law school. He didn't want to fly there directly; preferring to take an overland route across South Asia. I suggested to him that this route was difficult...not sure if you could even go from Thailand through Burma to get to Bangladesh...and certainly going through Pakistan and Iran would pose some dangers. Perhaps he should consider overlanding at a higher latitude...like the Silk Road. He agreed and asked me to go with him. Having just spent beaucoup bucks on our 40th anniversary trip across the South Pacific to Sydney and then New Zealand, I wasn't sure I could afford such a trip. I turned him down initially. But in the back of my mind ... read more
Labrang Monastery in 1948
Pilgrim making his way around the monastery
Mom and Dad at the market in Labrang

Oceania » New Zealand October 17th 2012

Introduction New Zealand had always been the primary destination for our trip. Many of our friends had been there and raved about what a beautiful country it was and how we really needed to experience it ourselves. Given that we had decided to take a repositioning cruise that wouldn't get to Sydney until 14 October, and given that we wanted to spend at least a few days there, and given that we wanted to be back home by 1 November due to other responsibilities, and to vote for our next President, our time in New Zealand was constrained to 15 days. I had a rough idea of where I wanted to go...all the top spots...but didn't know the travel times as people kept telling me that the roads were winding and narrow. We also had to ... read more
Akaroa view
Akaroa church
Akaroa lunch with Will, Tom, Mike, Betty, and Linda

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Sydney October 15th 2012

15 October 2012 Monday. Linda, Will, and I were not scheduled to be at 's home until noon, so we had some time to tour the Sydney CBD. Our first stop was the Queen Victoria Building right around the corner from our hotel. This shopping arcade was once left as derelict, but some historic preservation people recognized its worth and saved it from the developers demolition crew and turned it into a posh fashion designers mall...Victorian of course. We could only afford to window shop. Next we walked to Chinatown which isn't worthy of the name China or town as it is only about two square blocks with mostly Thai and Korean shops. We did find a store where we purchased some souveniers for our grandson Liam. It was time to catch the train at the ... read more
Queen Vistoria Building and clock with Will
D&D's backyard with David teaching Will how to pose
D&D's backyard with Will posing




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