My round the world trip flying West

Images: New Mexico | Kyoto JAPAN | More pictures of Kyoto | | Bangkok THAILAND | Bangkok Palace and Oriental Hotel | CHINA | More CHINA | Lijiang CHINA | Athens GREECE |

Here are links to the daily news at the places I visited (caveate - some links change - some go down):

Impressions of my trip

Montreal, Burlington, New York, Denver, Albuquerque, Los Angelas, Kyoto, Bangkok, Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Dubai, Larnaca, Athens, Paris, New York and back to Montreal

People are the same where ever you go. Everyone loves, hates, is kind or nasty, needs the same things and has the same problems . Cultures differ so we think people are different.

Languages and cultures change and that obscures the basic humane characteristics we all share, blinding us to the shared love of children, laughter, even the evil and good that all people are capable of. We demonize those who look or act different, we judge the book by the cover; if we don't understand the language, we are deaf. If we judge others by our own culture we are blind. If we let our fear of the unknown guide us, then we are dumb, unable to open our mouths to build bridges. Travel can broaden the mind or close it. The unfamiliar makes us nervous, until we become one with it. After weeks in Asia when I met ugly people with big noses and white faces, I discovered I could no longer identify with them - Western people were strangers to me.

New York City July 4th 2002

Under the protection of stealth jets, lots of police and armed soldiers; hot and humid, I visit a deserted ground Zero, but Times Square full of people. Denver's airport is like a giant white tent. Albuquerque is home, dry, high and my high school reunion - women look good, men look old. LAX airport smoggy, fear in air. JAL flight long and tight. Every one jumps up when we fly by Mount Fuji. Nari airport is a floating huge bug, I finally figure out ticket for train to Kyoto train station and then friends. A fast tour of Kyoto, beautiful and exotic, Gion at night with Geikos and Maikos walking in rain, drink Saki with friends. Thailand; exotic, hot, wet, all I expected and more. China full of people everywhere. Kunming, Dali, Lijiang all are incredible. Long flight across nighttime India on Air Emerits, Dubai airport at night, 24 hour shopping. Athens is sunny, beach then dinner overlooking smoggy city. Paris at last, friends and food. Like a fish in water, I feel comfortable in the craziness of it all.

As I looked down from the different airplanes I saw mankind's mark on the land; it is like a spreading cancer - the roads, and cities and even crop cultivation has changed the Earth. Flying into Los Angeles, the air was like a thick yellow soup, and in Thailand the two cycle engines belched black smoke, China has terrible pollutions problems. What is the solution?

Kyoto Japan

I ran through temples and gardens, stopping here and there to inhale the culture, sweating in the hot humid summer air. My day started at the Kyoto Brighton Hotel, at a traditional breakfast to exchange gifts and talk business. Then we had coffee western style. The day ended in the Gion area of Kyoto where the tea houses host the rich who can afford to be entertained by Geisha. Sake at Mamma san restaurant, very Japanese. It was an intense day, compressing so many things into a few hours.

Japanese women are not as submissive and exploited as they appear; they manage the money in Japan, they buy houses, they give their husbands allowances. When Japanese women travel outside of Japan, they are very independent and free. The Samurai culture is like the Macho culture, all testosterone based.

Buddhism is not a religion, though people pray to him and other gods. Shintoism is a religion that worships spirits.


I have never met a more friendlier or polite people than the Thais. If there are any loud angry words overheard, it is usually the foreigners. What will happen when the King dies? I tour the grounds of the palace, very hot and humid, and meet two Japanese sisters from Kobe while admiring the Emerald Buddha. One lives in Spain, the other in Bangkok; how long ago did the American black ships arrive in Japan?

Oriental Hotel is a haven of peace, right our of a James Bond movie, with quiet and efficient service; it was voted the best hotel in the world by bankers. The old part of hotel has been restored and has this closed courtyard that feels like the inside of a cloud, the adjoining reading room has photographs of all the famous writers who have visited and stayed; a sanctuary. I have a hard time leaving, the coolness and peace are like lotus land. The terrace overlooks the river, I take the river ferry boat with monks in saffron cloaks. The heat is stifling even on the river. Humid. The Royal Palace is closed for Buddha day, till 2 pm so I ride a Tuck Tuck around to see another temple, wild ride. Then back to Palace where I wander around, in awe of the gold and gilding.


Yunnan Province. The city of Kunming. There are a lot of people in China. It is changing from a communist society to a capitalist one, in ten years, China will have progressed the 100 years that the west took to industrialize; pollution is a huge problem, as is power and politics. Where will the oil come from to be processed for gasoline for cars that will produce more carbon dioxide to increase global warming?

Lijiang is the inspiration for the Novel Lost Horizons, and Shangrila and is beautiful and full of tourists. I am also fascinated by it and am writing a novel that takes place there. The cobble stones are hard to walk on but you can take a dip in the many streams that flow through the city.

Dali; where marble comes from - in Chinese the name Dali cha means Marble. The city is walled, beautiful, full of hawkers looking for tourists. Outside the city are the 3 pagodas, the tallest in the world. There is a lot of pollution in the air; yellow clouds, smoke from coal fires. On the winding road to Dali from Kunming, there are two accidents, one looks fatal. Chinese chicken involves cars and trucks and people interweaving on the roads. Yes, people do hawk and spit, even women. Where did all the spittoons go in the US?


In Albuquerque I saw a rainbow the morning I took flight to LA, a sign of good fortune, because I missed the attack in Los Angeles airport by one day. On my flight to Japan I sat in front of a Buddhist nun bald and dressed in white; was she a retired Geisha? In Kyoto a typhoon chased me out of the country. But I had a great time, though the thousand buddhas almost did me in - a culture shock for sure. I prefer the Zen stuff.