DON'T ARGUE WITH A MONK

Monasteries are the learning centres for Buddhism doctrine, also called “dharma”. Monks study the Buddhist texts and sutras in order to achieve the highest level of understanding and must go through a rigorous series of classes, some lasting up to two years each. Studying is composed of understanding the writings of Buddha and also a lot of memorizing. Debating is also an integral part of studying and monks practice this art in daily sessions. This involves groups of two or more where a “defender” sits and a “challenger” stands…

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INVITATION TO A WEDDING

I have been spending quite a bit of time in Bali recently, a mix of research and guiding and this has allowed me to see the island in a more in-depth point of view. I must admit I was discouraged after my initial visit. So much traffic, so much garbage, the beaches and clubs packed with party goers, the shopping scene in Seminyak... I felt the place was gone compared to my fading memories of 2000 when I first went to research. But after the initial shock, and working with awesome local guides who reminded me what Bali was all about…

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CAMEL RIDING

When designing our Silk Road expedition many years ago, I was keen to add a camel experience along the way. Combining the vastness of the desert and trying to recreate what 11th century merchants had to face along their journey from oasis to oasis, from sand storms, robbers, lack of water and especially spend hours on end wedged between a camel’s humps. Bactrian camels are incredible, they served as pack animals for centuries in Central Asia, have a high tolerance to cold, drought and high altitudes and can go without water for months on end….

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KEBAB ANYONE?

Longitude 80 sometimes lead private expeditions retracing parts of the Silk Route across China and Central Asia. Leaving from China’s ancient capital Xian which used to be one of the terminals of the Silk Route, we venture west stopping in oasis towns across the Taklamakan desert and the Tien Shan Mountains. In the 11th and 12th century, the Silk Route not only focused on trade but also stimulated the exchange of ideas, religion, music, languages and of course… food…

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LOOKING FOR A RIDE

I had been doing some research on the outskirts of Mandalay in Myanmar, looking for a great morning bike ride. This was a long time ago, in 2001, I think, when I was researching to see if we could actually do a good biking trip around this magical country despite the economic and political embargo it was subjected. We left at sunrise from the hotel parking lot with our driver, myself and my local guide and after discussing where to go and looking at a city map…

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FORGOTTEN ISLANDS

I often found myself wanting to stop time on our voyage south, and, for a split second, I realised I could, before a gentle rock from a wave would reemphasise the transition from present to past. It made me understand people’s desperate need for photos – forever trying to capture that feeling of “now”. I joined them in their frantic focusing on a rare snipe that would make itself known…

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TEA FOR 200

I love places where locals hang out. Places where I can sit somewhere in a corner and watch life go by, look at locals, see what they do, how they enjoy their free time, relax. Be it city squares, parks or shopping areas. If you actually sit and watch, you get the feel of the place. In China, tea houses are perfect for this “people watching” activity and whenever I guide, I always make a point to come to a park where locals sit down and hang out. One of my favorite cities in China is Chengdu…

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Denis Page
WET MARBLE

The Shwedagon Pagoda is one of my “all-time favorites” in Asia. Not only is it a stunning site to visit but it is a great place to introduce Myanmar and it’s people to our travelers. Every day, thousands of locals and tourists walk, pray and relax in the shadow of golden dome with it’s many related shrines. On one of my last visits, I could see the dark clouds slowly moving from the downtown area towards us as we were walking around the pagoda…

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GHO OR NO GHO

One of the first things that srtike you when you arrive in Bhutan is how classy and well-dressed locals are. All Bhutanese are required, by law, to observe a national dress code and this is to protect and nurture Bhutan’s identity and uniqueness, dating back to the early 1700’s. It starts at school of course with uniforms, but also for all adults who in the main centers are required to observe the national dress code during office hours and religious/official holidays…

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LA RÉSIDENCE HUÉ

Like so many hotels across Asia, arriving into La Résidence driveway is like coming home. This is one of my favorite hotels in Vietnam and how I wished one day I could come here on holidays. What strikes our guest upon arrival is the “mansion feel”, this is not like a hotel. The ground floor is huge with many alcoves, a great bar area and superb boutique gift shop where I have witnessed some serious amount of money spent upon check out….

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A BLACK AND WHITE BEAR

I have seen a few bears over the years. Black bears in Quebec trying to get into our garbage at the cottage. A pissed off grizzly sow standing a full 8 feet tall with her 2 cubs hugging her hind legs as we hovered in a helicopter near a river in Yukon, polar bears on the shore of Hudson Bay. I even saw the very elusive sun bear in a Sri Lankan national park. Each one of these bears made you think “ok, I’m gonna leave you on your own, don’t mind me”. The last thing you want to do is run up to them for a hug…

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THE THREE SISTERS

They are called the three sisters. The Jinsha, the Nujiang and the Lancang, better known as the Salween, the Mekong and the Yangtze. Three rivers who originate in the Tibetan mountain ranges, running north to south, carving their way through an incredible landscape of sheer cliffs, snow caped mountains and green valleys….

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