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Travel insights,
Stock photos for sale,
Postcard from Aarondell, Traveler Profiles.
Perspective from the Galapagos,
More Travel and Culture photos,
Email in Paradise reconsidered,
Elephant bathtime in Thailand.
Travel journal from Kathmandu,
Lhasa and the islands of the Andaman Sea.
Our own adventure travel tours to Bali, Peru, Nepal and Africa.
Reports from world nomad/travel writer Bill Strubbe, now in California
Journal entries from our young backpacker/adventure seeker Nick in New Zealand South Africa, Patagonia.
Mikal beams a sensual look on Rio, Havana, and the Aeolian islands.

Nature Report from: The Galapagos,
The National Parks of Thailand,
Kathmandu Valley, the spiritual centers of India, plus an eye and earful on Elephants!

Waved Albatross engaged in a lively conversation, Espanola Island, Galapagos. Photo by Tom Blagden who's work has appeared in Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, and National Geographic Society calendars. Tom can be reached through

"There are rare moments for a photographer when the experience transcends the photographic potential, when the improbable combinations become a profound event of nature at its greatest resonance and complexity. The episode may be a more fleeting moment or a more contemplative experience. Whatever its pace and character, it binds with a powerful sense of place, revealing a hidden spirit."
-Tom Blagden, from Wetland Wilderness.

We received these emails from Zak Zide, environmental educator with San Francisco's Academy of Science, who helped lead a nature tour to the remote islands off the coast of Ecuador where Darwin was so inspired:

"I got back last night from the Galapagos! Am still sifting through visceral images of hawks attacking baby sea lions, marine iguanas that projectile sneeze to rid their bodies of salt water, the brilliantly colored scarlet flycatchers, walking in the presence of a 150 year old, 500 pound tortoise, was amazing to say the least! one must stop and think about the impact on the animals, though, and at times i did feel like our group of 80 thrill seekers were less than sensitive to the personal space of some animals."

Diversity and abundance. This world is a tapestry of languages and dialects, epicurian curiosities, sanguine survival, and epistomological extremes. The road is at once challenging and inviting, old and new.

"The National Parks of thailand are not to be ignored (though they often are)! get out, weather the leeches and the rain and explore the unique biodiversity living in the jungles! a feast for the senses, those with the desire, stamina, curiousity and patience will be well rewarded with a brilliant living showcase of colors, textures, buzzes and smells. check out the book waterfalls and gibbon calls about khao sok. it should be noted that if, while visiting khao sok, one decides to take the cave tour (and one should), please exercise great care and caution with any and all cave formations. cave geology is extremely fragile and takes eons to create. although it is tempting to touch a stalagmite, doing so will destroy this pristine cave (the oils from your happy hands break down the minerals in the rock). unfortuantely, the local guides neglect to mention this, as environmental education is apparently a low priority. stay at the khao sok jungle huts with the super friendly number one and number two. tell them superman sent you, and say hello to Peanut for me."

Zak sent us these observations from the Kathmandhu Valley:

Perceiving Bhaktapur's magic, we observe the timeless and seemingly unchanging rituals of life: rainbow colored grains laid out on burlap sheets; people collecting water or washing under the communal stone spigget; dyed yarns hung out to dry on 400 year old crumbling walls; children running in the cobblestone streets pushing tires with sticks, or else playing marbles!; potters hard at work, their wears laid out to dry, changing color as moisture fades; women placing flower petals on stones as an offering to the various hindu and buddhist gods; (mostly) men hacking and spitting constantly (as often as cars beep - almost as often as one is pesterd by hustlers and shop keepers. it is not uncommon that this most unpleasant 'huk-tooh' will be the first and last sound of your day). wedged between a small shop selling vegetables and a garbage heap, i see large and various body parts of indistinguishable animals, spread haphazardly, embarassingly unsanitarily on half-tarp-protected, dirt infected ground - blood stain butchers hacking away with a sundry and sanguine supply of knives; arm up, metal down, flies scatter, flesh parts, bones snap, crackle and pop. mmm...rice krispies.

massive wooden wheels, a good eight feet in diameter, lean their heavy husks, three deep, against the brick of a 14th century temple. shaded for the moment from the aging affects of the sun's heat, the surface of these giant cart bearing beasts wear wise ambient grooves, all-knowign nooks and assiduous crannies. could i coax you to spill the yarns hidden in your cracks? could i feel the emotions in your holes? smell the centuries in your dried out cellulose?

Letter from Sultana -- a member of the Inspired Planet family who spends winters in Northern India especially Rishikesh and Dharamsala:
Link to Sultana's letter

Photographs available for purchase or on a per use basis. Please E-mail for permission and contract.

Mt. Agung - Bali

Sunset Afterglow

Old Burmese Woman

Waterfall - Olympic Penninsula - Wa.

Agua Erotica - Poetry by Zak Zide
Liquid water, one of nature's great instruments
sounds her way into my heart
gorgeously trickling, acoustically tinkling,
thunderously cascading
(fear not, oh western wind, nor you, lord of thunder,
there is infinite space upon the natural mystics
musical plate). More.

Encounter with Natives

We noted this passage in Karnali Expedition, a brochure published by Ultimate Descents, describing a chance encounter between Western travelers and a native of the Himalayas:

"Camping on the Karnali is awesome. The massive floods of the monsoon deposit huge tracks of pure white sand along the river which are ideal to camp on. When the local Nepalese living in the area do manage to find one of our camp sites, the rewards are mutual. Imagine a grizzled old man carrying a Kukhri knife, small satchel, and a 150 year old flint lock rifle, walking along a beach he has walked along a dozen times before in his constant rambling for food. Then one day he steps onto the beach and there, sprawled out across the sand, are three rafts, a half dozen brightly colored plastic kayaks, and the whitest people he has ever seen in his life. From the Stone Age to the Space age in a few feet of sand. It is like being five years old and the circus comes to town. Puzzlement quickly gives way to curiosity and the bright colors and friendly faces of the river camp make him welcome. We are just as amazed and impressed by his life as a hunter-gatherer as he is by our incredible assortment of high-tech gear and loaded food barrels.

Ultimate Descents International, adventure sport specialists, based in New Zealand, offer an array of rafting adventures in Nepal. Check out their website,

Elephant Bathing
"While photographing elephants, I recognized in them a kindred spirit...the unabashed pleasure they seem to take at just messing around in the water."
-Franz Lanting, Eye to Eye.

Jumbo Queen 2000

The search is on to find Miss Jumbo Queen 2000, the generously-proportioned and charismatic young lady who will champion the cause of protecting the kingdom's elephants. Entrants must be women, married or single, weighing more than 80 kilogrammes who are aged between 18 and 35, and have a pleasant personality and good interpersonal skills. Ladies interested in entering the contest should apply in person to the Bangkok office of Samphran Elephant Zoo. Applications can also be mady by post, by submitting full face and profile pictures, copies of national ID card and a brief personal history.

Give me a home where the elephants roam ... in America?

Scientists at University of Arizona's Desert Labratory have proposed the reintroduction of wild elephants to North America. Their hypothesis may sound outlandish, but considerable evidence from environmental history supports their theory. And we think it's a great idea because we love elephants. Here's an excerpt from "Bring Back the Elephants" by Martin & Burney in the Spring 2000 Whole Earth magazine.

"We would like to consider the ultimate in rewilding. America's charismatic megafuna was severely impoverished in the late Pleistocene, but we can turn to Africa and India for surrogates for restoration in the Americas. We suggest that the project begin by restarting the evolution of the most influential of the missing species, the extinct animals most likely to have exerted the greatest influence on their natural environment. Based on what is known of living megaherbivores in Africa and Asia, and what is based on the fossil record of the New World, there is one clear choice, animals as potent as fire in their dynamic influence on ecosystems. If we want the "super-keystone species," second only to our own in their capability for altering habitats and faunas, we should start with the restoration of living proboscideans - with African and Asian elephants."

The Legend of the White Elephant is an Oriental annunciation story heralding the appearance of the Awakened One. According to the story, a Nepalese queen dreamed she gave birth to a white elephant. Her child, Gautama, became the Buddha who alleviated the suffering of the world through the teaching of Dharma.

Yes, there's email in the islands...

You'd be amazed at how developed it is in remote Bananaland. It's mind blowing that so much telecommunication and infrastructure has sprouted up in the last ten years, especially while I've been languishing in Sleepy Hollow. Some of the once pristine beaches of Phuket island in the Andaman Sea are semi-urban tourist traps now. I ducked into an internet cafe for a moment of calm and AC--it's hot and sticky on the streets. Interesting to think that in the old days contact with home and friends was rare, could be difficult and always involved long waits. Without an exotic postage stamp an email could be from the ends of the earth or next door. Sure, I utilize emails, but not like the Hotmail addicts you see on the road. There's peace in being somewhat out of touch. Travel is a good time to be introspective. And it might be great to get more involved with where you are.
- D.L.

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