Shangri-la Posts In Reading Order

Bob and Claire Rogers have moved their Shangri-la, 2009 Asian Adventure blogs to a First to Last blog format. Relive their adventures from Tibetan China through Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

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To Your Adventurous 2010

prayer flags in tibet

“With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow – I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness are to me as a floating cloud.” Confucius

Before we began our Asian tandem bicycle adventure, I read Confucian quotes and often couldn’t relate.  This I chalked up to lack of depth on my part, and perhaps the enigmatic (to us) nature of Eastern thought.

Muddling my way through jet lag on our return, and as one friend opined, postpartum depression at the end of another adventure, I pondered the above Confucianism anew, and discovered I suddenly understood. Oh, I had known the surface meaning, from earlier adventures involving discomfort, danger, but not the full depth of his thought. I suddenly noticed that he says, “…have still joy…”  not “…still have joy…” as I had first read it. His meaning was hidden from me until I had eaten enough coarse rice, drank enough wood smoke infused water and slept sufficient times with my bended arm for a pillow.

To have a still joy, a quiet joy, a joy devoid of external condition, of riches or renown, is to have a profound joy, a lasting joy. I will look back on the past four months for as many years as I have left. I will remember the struggles, the discomforts, the challenge of the unknown, even the moments of  near panic, and I will smile. Confucius traveled China, seeking knowledge, seeking deep understanding. And Claire and I did also.

On this blog we have shared the light moments as well as the challenges and discomforts. I hope in coming months, as we integrate the lessons learned and share them, that you will be enriched through our seeking. And then I hope some of you will open a new path for learning, and seek out the adventure that fits your nature and capabilities. We all have the desire to continue to grow, to explore the previously unknown, no matter our age or condition in life. To suppress that desire is to suffer loss.

Here’s to your adventurous 2010, and beyond.

Happy New Year

Thailand: No Baht, and Asia Roads

Claire:
Our first night in Thailand was spent without any Baht, the Thai currency. Crossing from Cambodia, we breezed through so easily that we bypassed one ATM, then found another, but it was out of order. We weren’t worried, because most places in Cambodia took U.S. dollars anyway. Not here. After having a drink vendor every five kilometers in Cambodia, Thailand seemed almost vacant. When we finally found a place to stay, it was a peculiar resort/bottled water producer/truck stop all in one. After several phone calls, the motel agreed to take our dollars (at an advantageous rate). We also ate dinner and breakfast there. The food was great and we were just glad to have a place to stay and food to eat.

Thai Tour Bus

Thai Tour Bus

Bob:
This tour bus/truck accident had to be fatal. The truck was
destroyed, and from the looks of this bus, the driver and tour leader were killed, and no doubt some passengers.

The wreck was probably less than an hour old, and I almost felt like I knew someone on the bus. We had dinner with a Dutch tour guide, Fritz, who was cycling through Cambodia on holiday, but he wasn’t to be back to work yet.I think the feeling came from the way the Thai busses have such spectacular and individual paint designs. It makes them feel almost personal to me.

We have seen the immediate aftermath of many, I repeat many, accidents on this 2854 mile tour. We saw an accident the first day out of Chengdu, China, and it didn’t let up.

Motobike Wreck Scene Painted On Pavement in Vietnam

Motobike Wreck Scene Painted On Pavement in Vietnam

In SE Asia they mark the pavement with white paint, showing the outlines of where the victims, and their vehicles came to rest. The first few of these fairly fresh markings were a bit shocking, but we became accustomed to them. The bent bicycle, with a person lying motionless in a rice paddy of Yunnan Provence, China, was more personal.

The majority of the accidents were motorbikes, with bicycles coming in a close second. In most of SE Asia, motorbikes outnumber autos and trucks 50 to 1, but bicycles are just on the bottom of the food chain.

Zippy is now safely in Left Luggage at the airport. He is a bit the worse for wear, but the great Thai food to be had in Bangkok will, over the next several days, repair us sufficiently for the flight home.

This is our second extended visit to Bangkok, the first being after our year cycling around Australia. It’s a facinating city, and we will be sharing pictures and hopefully some videos.

We fly home Christmas Day. After the New Year we will take time to reflect on the journey in search of Shangri-la, what we found, what we learned, and what it has meant to us.