Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Damage to Wolong Panda Center

We are both pretty sad about the earthquake that has devastated parts of the Sichuan province in China.  We were in that area for about 5-6 weeks last year and really loved Chengdu, Songpan and, of course, Wolong.  The Panda center was very close to the epicenter and had a lot of damage. 

The article reports that:

“The quake killed five staff in the Wolong center and left all the panda houses severely damaged. Of the total 32 panda houses, 14 were destroyed and the others were severely damaged. ”  In addition, 2 Pandas are still missing.

I would guess that the deaths occurred in the staff housing that is adjacent to the Reserve.  We also heard that the nice hotel–not the newly renovated Panda Inn–had collapsed.  We used Internet there almost every night. 

Pretty tragic, we still havent heard what happened in Songpan but Chengdu seemed to fare relatively well.

Remember, you can give money to the earthquake relief fund here or give money to Wolong here

May 25, 2008 Posted by | China | 3 Comments

Ten of my favorite places on the trip

It was pretty hard to come up with this kind of list but I managed to squeeze it into my busy schedule.  There were definitely other wonderful places (Mae Salong-Thailand, Meung Ngoi-Laos, LiJiang-China) that just barely missed out on the list.

How many years would it have taken to discover all these places if we hadn’t went traveling for so long?

Here they are in chronological order (with a corresponding picture or two):

Koh Jam (Jum), Thailand-This island near Krabi doesn’t have full time electricity and is better off without it.  Great food and an amazing stretch of beach…think ‘quiet time’.

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Koh Jum sunset

Hongsa, Laos-It takes a while to get to dusty Hongsa and there isn’t a lot to do when you get there.  However, it is incredibly peaceful and you can ride an elephant along trails.

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Luang Prabang, Laos-Former colonial town that is a lot of fun to hang out in. Everyone in E Asia passes through Laos eventually.

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Kalaw, Myanmar-Off the beaten track in Burma where you can do hiking or just relax in the hill country.  One of the best bars in Asia (Hi Snack and Drink).  Great Nepali food.

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Hong Kong, China-Absolutely beautiful yet gritty.  Incredible food and excellent shopping.  One of my top 5 cities in the world. 

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Songpan, ChinaOne of the few small towns in China.  Horse trek in the gorgeous Sichuan Province and rest up afterwards at the fun tea houses.

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Wolong, ChinaFreaking Pandas man!  Everyone loves Pandas! 

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One year old Panda

Francie, shifu Wong and shuo yi

Outside of Lhasa, Tibet-Definitely in the running for most stunningly beautiful place on earth. 

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Gili Trawangan (Lombok), Indonesia-Incredible atmosphere with no cars on the small, beautiful island.  Incredible snorkeling right off the beach and a vibrant nightlife.

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Kaikoura, New ZealandThe beautiful coast and unbelievable plush hills were actually remarkable topped off with a small town and lots of seafood.  Seals, whales, dolphins and sheep–oh my!

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November 7, 2007 Posted by | Beach, burma, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, New Zealand, SE Asia, Sichuan, Thailand, Tibet, Travel, Wolong | 11 Comments

Francie’s last set of photos

Francie just got her last set of photos developed and I think they are really fantastic (but maybe I am biased).  It includes pictures from Tibet, Bangkok, Indonesia, and New Zealand.  Below is a subset of the pictures or click here to see all of them. 

Boy in Tibet. He brought the horses on Francie’s horse trek.
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I like to call this one ‘Baby with tin can’. Tibet
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This woman was trying out the binoculars. Unfortunately, we think she was trying to focus on the rock a few feet away from her (at the right of the pic).
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Man prostrating himself in the Barkhor in Tibet.
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Kids taking care of business in Lhasa.
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We think this munchkin was in Bangkok. Francie loves the dogs and they love her.
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Three year old elephant in Ayutthaya, Thailand. While you may not love the fact that he is being taught tricks, keep in mind that his previous job was/would have been in the lumber industry (Thailand ‘freed’ all the elephants from doing manual labor). Regardless, it is a pretty damn cute picture.
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Gili Islands (Lombok), Indonesia
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This is definitely the best picture we have of Rinjani. We are standing on the volcano’s outer cone looking down on the inner volcanic cone.
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Francie and I at the Rinjani Volcano.
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These two pictures are of the large Dusky Dolphin pod (at least 200 dolphins) that showed up when we were whale watching.
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We still have a few Burma and China videos to post.  Does anyone know some good software that rotates MOV videos (I was holding the camera sideways).

November 4, 2007 Posted by | Bangkok, Beach, China, Indonesia, Nature, New Zealand, Photography, Rural, Thailand, Tibet, Travel, Wildlife | 4 Comments

New Zealand Videos

Here is a video of a Sperm whale breathing on the surface off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand. 

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Here is a video of Dusky dolphins swimming around our whale watching boat.  There were about 200 dolphins in this pod and they were happy to see us.

Dolphin Video

November 4, 2007 Posted by | Nature, New Zealand, Travel, Wildlife | 1 Comment

Panda Videos

Here are eight videos of pandas from The Giant Panda Research Center in Wolong, China.  Many of the videos are quite cool-unfortunately, a couple of the videos were shot ‘sideways’.  My bad.

Click on the links below for the videos.  The videos may take a minute or two to download so be patient.

Panda Video 1-One year old pandas roughhousing on some tree stumps.  If you listen closely at the beginning of the video you can hear one of them ‘yelp’.

Panda Video 2-One year old pandas playing and rolling in the grass.

Panda Video 3-One year old pandas. Make sure to note the one dangling in the background.

Panda Video 4-Two year old pandas very high up in one tree. 

Panda Video 5-One year old pandas eating at lunchtime.

Panda Video 6-One year old panda up in a tree and scratching an itch.

Panda Video 7-One year old panda on the slide.

Panda Video 8-Two pandas playing ‘king of the stump’.  I think you can hear one of the pandas growl.

I hope you enjoy the videos.  Click the Panda category on the right to go to the blog posts about working at the Wolong Panda Research Center.

November 3, 2007 Posted by | China, Panda, Travel, Wildlife, Wolong | 2 Comments

Back in Seattle!

Well it feels like the 10 months has gone by super fast.  Yet, it is easy to sift back through the memories of each and every place we have been.  Two of our friends (Tracy and Roxana) threw us a welcome back/Halloween party which was a lot of fun.  A bunch of our friends stopped by to see us which was really nice. 

It seems quite strange to be back in Seattle.  My pockets seem to be suddenly full with things like a wallet, a cellphone, keys and other odd ball things like the post-it note that has my phone and address written down on it.  Today I was driving around, running some errands, and things seemed to be so similar to 10 months ago…well, everything IS feeling a little mundane which makes me all the more happy that we vacated Seattle for our little adventure. 

Just to let you know, we aren’t quite done with the blog yet.  We are going to try and post some videos (which were too hard to upload in a lot of countries), some top ten lists and maybe some thoughts on traveling for that extended periods of time.

I have to say, it was nice to get back and find out that 1) my car was working (thanks Ryan) and 2) our storage unit was not broken into. 

Stay tuned and thanks everyone for reading!

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Misc, Travel, Urban | 4 Comments

Fiji doesn’t suck

Francie and I decided to spend a few days in Fiji before ending our trip and flying back to Seattle.  In fact, it was actually cheaper to have a layover in Fiji than to fly straight from New Zealand to the US.

Well, you know how Francie likes the beach soooo off we went!

We ended up deciding to stay at the Tokoriki Island Resort which is in Fiji’s Mamanuca island group.  Not surprisingly, it was pretty awesome.  In addition to soaking up the sun and being totally pampered we snorkeled and I saw a reef shark and Francie interacted with a giant clam.

We flew into Fiji and took an hour ferry to our island.  This little island was along the way… 
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And this is the Beachcomber resort or Island…
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Here is the view from our resort.
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This is our beachfront bure.
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And the view from our bure.  That hammock was sweet!

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You can’t see it from the picture below but there is a small beach as well.

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Here are some other random relaxing pictures.
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The seaplanes were cool.
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We would definitely recommend the place!

October 26, 2007 Posted by | Beach, Fiji, Nature, Travel | 4 Comments

Shark!

Yesterday while snorkeling I saw a four foot reef shark.  Up close and personal!  Luckily, I had already learned that these sharks (they have a white tipped fin) are not dangerous (to humans). 

Eerie but cool. 

October 23, 2007 Posted by | Beach, Fiji, Travel | 5 Comments

More trip photos!

Francie uploaded some more of her pictures to Flickr and I wanted to post some here.  These are from the batch she got developed in Bangkok.  You can see all of them here.

Greg and the one year old Pandas.
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Camping in Tibet.
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5,300 meters up at a glacier in Tibet.
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Me jumping for joy that the hike is over!
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Kids playing in a park in XiÁn.
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Signs in Hong Kong.
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View of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon as we walk down from ‘The Peak’.
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Francie at the main square in Macau.
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Francie screwing around while on the clock at Wolong Panda Research Center.
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Cute Panda pic
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Dried fruits and nuts for sale in the Muslim Quarter–XiÁn, China. I found out that you can only eat so much dried pineapple.
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Two little girls at the Great Mosque in XiÁn, China.
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Slide no workie.
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Figures unearthed from a Tomb in XiÁn, China.
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What this Panda really wants is a Thomas the Train. Balls are boring. 😉
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Suggest your own caption
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Goats in Tibet
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I think I need a thicker coat!
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Ok.  Maybe we will post from Fiji!  Maybe we will just work on that tan!

October 20, 2007 Posted by | China, Hong Kong, Nature, Panda, Photography, Sichuan, Tibet, Travel, Urban, Wildlife, Wolong | 2 Comments

On the way to Fiji

Francie and I are headed to Fiji tonight.  We should be back in Seattle in a few days!  Here is where we are staying. 

It shouldn’t suck.

October 20, 2007 Posted by | Fiji, Travel | 1 Comment