Saturday, August 27, 2016

Images of Cambodia--2002

This would be my second guided tour since retiring in the Fall of 2000.  I toured three SE Asia countries with Cambodia as the first country.  See through my eyes as I went on a Wilderness Travel adventure to see The Images of Cambodia during March 2002. 

Cambodia, heir to Southeast Asia’s might Khmer Empire, is a country of palm-fringed rice paddies, thatched huts, and wonderful temples.  Theravada Buddhism is the dominant religion, and Khmer is the official language.  For over a century, the second language of choice was French, which is still spoken by many people who grew up before the 1970’s.  English has recently surged in popularity.  

While Angkor Wat is a tourist attraction it is still a place of worship for others including monks, nuns and other pilgrims.

Angkor Wat is also a beautiful backdrop for wealthy Cambodians to have weddings as this couple I met have done.

Cambodia’s classical dance is highly stylized.  I have included a short clip of my adventures I have made it the backdrop to some wonderful still pictures of the Angkor Wat temple images that I took. The dances I videoed at the Sofitel Royal Angkor Hotel include an orchestra and some vocals.

The Angkor Wat complex of temples are covered with intricate bas-reliefs and scattered widely across a tropical landscape.  They are lasting monuments to the glory of a bygone Khmer civilization.

The over 300 temples were built between the 9th and 13th centuries to glorify a succession of Khmer kings.  They are basically a vast representation of Hindu cosmology and the Hindu-Buddhist universe, with all its symbolism.  The grandest and most inspiring temple is the Angkor Wat itself, which one approaches on a road lined with huge, carved balustrades.


The Elephant Terraces are one of the areas that are being restored by various governments and non-governmental organizations  including Japan, Germany, and UNESCO.

Most of Angkor was abandoned in the 15th century, and efforts were undertaken to clear away the jungle vegetation that threaten to completely destroy the monuments.  The restoration by other governments and non-governmental organizations continues today.  

At Angkor Thom, you can see how the vegetation has almost engulfed the temples there making restoration a difficult challenge.

Throughout the temple grounds you find musicians playing for donations and many of them have been victims of land mines.

This truck was loaded up after a day at the nearby market.

We stopped at this family compound where we were given a tour of their home which included a distillery where this woman gave us a taste of hard liquor distilled from coconuts.  Like rocket fuel!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Happy National Park Centennial--August 25, 2016

Today I am celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the creation of the National Park by posting some of the pictures I have taken in my travels to some of these parks.

The nearby Mt. Rainier National Park remains my favorite since I was born and raised in Seattle and have now returned.  From anywhere in Western Washington, when it is not cloud cover, I can see Mt. Rainier and am reminded of the beauty and serenity I found when I visited, and what I now see.

Sunrise near Indian Bar
My Wonderland hike near Indian Bar
My successful climb in 1981 with a Rainier Beer celebration

After trying three times during my high school and college years to climb Mt. Rainier with buddies of mine and being turned back, I decided that when I returned to the Seattle area in 1978, I would join the REI Tour company headed by Lou Whittaker to summit it.

I signed up to climb it mid-August, 1981, and just a month and a half before I was to climb,  11 hikers had died and were buried deep in a  crevasse that had collapsed.  They had been led by the same company I used and the company offered to refund my deposit, but I chose to proceed---with lots of caution. 

During my section hikes of the entire Pacific Crest Trail I traveled through 8 National Parks and Monuments beginning with Sequoia  and Kings Canyon National Parks.

My early morning approach to Forester Pass-13,160 ft--the highest place on the PCT---780 milepost

At the Forester Pass Summit

Muir Hut near Muir Pass--11,955 ft.---along the PCT
838 milepost

The next stop was at the Devils Postpile National Monument--901 milepost--- where I stealth camped amid the rubble.  Late arrival and early departure from here to Yosemite National Park.

The next National Park was one of the most dramatic and formed the seeds of the creation of the National Park system:  Yosemite.  It was there where John Muir met with and camped for several days with President Theodore Roosevelt and discussed the need for creating national park that would preserve and protect these resources and other places for all times.

After camping up at Lyell Fork Crossing--931 milepost--to avoid the big bear problem in Tuolumne Valley, I entered the enchanting Tuolumne Valley--940 milepost--- an easy flat hike for the day marked by a beautiful granite filled valley and cascading water.

In later trips, I visited Yosemite Valley with its granite mountains highlighted by Half Dome.

Following Yosemite, the next National Park along the PCT was Lassen---1,348 milepost--- which is still an active volcano where the trail passes by steaming lakes and hotspots like these.


During my hike I stayed at the Warner Valley Campground just outside the Drakesbad Resort.  This resort is legendary among long distance hikers because they invited us to join them for gourmet meals and swims in their hot springs pools.  Sometimes they have the hikers eat separately from the guest on the patio, but when I was there, I was seated inside with other guests.  They were most interested in hearing about my hiking adventures and I learned from them that many of the guests were like 3rd and 4th generation guests.  

All of the waitresses were young Russians on summer time visas who worked here all summer with an opportunity to spend an extra two weeks traveling in the US before returning.  Most wanted to visit Disneyland, Los Vegas or San Francisco.

My waitress put two big slabs of medium rare prime ribs instead of the normal one that others got along with two deserts.  When you are on the trail for long periods of time, you become ravenous---and this is an example.

The Crater Lake National Park--1,835 milepost--was the next park along the PCT.  I had a big lunch at the WPA built lodge that overlooks Crater Lake and Wizard Island.  I was joined by a couple that were also hiking the PCT.  It was a huge hiker lunch we enjoyed and then went outside to take some pictures.  Unfortunately a nearby forest fire obscured the normally beautiful view of the lake and island.

Working my way north on the PCT, Mt. Rainier---2,302 milepost-- was my next National Park experience even though the trail just skirts the east side of the park boundary.  

If the skies are clear hiking the PCT through Mt. Rainier, you frequently see the mountain as I am doing here at the Goat Rocks Wilderness area---one of the most beautiful hike places along the entire PCT.

The North Cascades National Park---2,574 milepost--- was the last I would travel through along my PCT journey.

Here is the Stekehin River that flows into Lake Chelan where I took the boat to the other end of the lake followed by a bus and train ride home at the end of one of my section hikes of the PCT.


Although just outside the North Cascades NP, this is the view you would have in much of the park.  This is a view of the trail heading by the Slate Peak fire lookout---2,624 milepost.

Before doing the PCT I began my first visits to the future North Cascades National Park with a climb to the Cascade Pass and Sahale Peak Summit in 1966.

The following pictures are of some of the other National Parks I have enjoyed.

Rocky Mountain National Park 1974

Hawaii Volcanos National Park 1982

Bryce Canyon National Park 2007

Zion National Park 2007

Grand Canyon National Park with Tani and Jessica 1990

Death Valley National Park 2004

Death Valley National Park 2004

Great Smoky Mountains National Park 2016

Great Smoky Mountains National Park at Bunion Peak 2016