Go Travel: After all it’s more fun there than here.

RustyHints To Travel By

New Nepal News: "HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE KATHMANDU: The US Embassy in Nepal today (12/08/2011) said the country has lifted a warning issued to its citizens not to visit Nepal". Though travel within Nepal has been enjoyed by US trekkers though-out the past decades with nearly no incidents at all, it is welcome news that officially travel to Nepal is 100% endorsed by the US State Department. Yeah! Lets go trekking the Annapurna and Mt Everest regions! !

Hiram is in the News 2011: The big news in Peru this year is the 100th Anniversary of the Discovery of Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham. National Geographic magazine has dedicated the April issue to this story, and the municipality of Cusco has scheduled a series of celebrations for the months of June and July. Check out the story and interactive features at: NG Hiram Bingham & Machu Picchu

RustyHints bring your grandmother

Remember to bring your grandmother too when you travel. #51
This is one of my favorite hints and it’s one that will work for you too.

I enjoy taking close-up cultural photo’s. I am often asked "how do you get those people / cultural images, what method do you use"? To meet people, I begin with a large genuine smile. I invite a conversation even when we don’t speak each others language. The best way to meet local villagers is with your grandmother; she does literally “open the door” for you. With family photos, your smile and you’re “in”.

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I carry a small photo album with photos of my grandmother, my sister and her horse, our dog and cat, flowers around our house, etc. As much as I might like to show an image of my home, my town, my old BMW motorcycle; those kinds of images will distance me (or you) from those whom we’re trying to make a connection with. But, folks can relate to grandparents, a horse or pets, family photos, etc.. So, when traveling the trails of Nepal, Bhutan, China, Tibet, Ecuador, Amazon, or Peruvian highlands, try bringing with you your grandmother as she will "open doors" for you.

Make a connection with local people, and your photos will be more natural, fun, and intimate. You’ll also get more than photos, you’ll gain friends and learn a few new words in the process. Get to know folks a little and your photos will lead to a Ri experience. And isn’t it nice to say "thanks gram" when you return home? Ha! *Enjoy the day. Rusty

RustyHints

#37 In Asia, it’s tradition that the first person in the shop must buy something or it’s a poor-luck day for that shopkeeper. Bargaining is fast and to the shoppers advantage if you’re the first person in the shop. On the other hand, if you are just a looky-lou that morning, be nice and let someone else enter a shop first. Rustystory I’ve used this tradition many times by purposefully being the first customer so as to purchase something expensive that I knew I wanted. I’ve used this tradition in China, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Tanzania too. Good luck….

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TSA & Locks

Lock the bags. Putting a TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) lock on your checked luggage is wise. Rustyhint #14 suggests having one on your day pack is a good idea too. I use a TSA combination lock with a relatives birthday on it for my luggage or rucksack. A TSA combination lock keeps “wandering hands” from being tempted to open luggage in an airport, hotel room, or the overhead storage bin during a flight. I have seen overhead luggage on a long flight opened by a “non-owner” during a long flight, which is why cameras, laptop and small valuables stay under my feet, at my seat.

Sir Edmond Hillary & Umbrella

The Umbrella. This past weekend I conducted a class at the UofW, “Asia Travel and Trekking in Nepal”. The class was fun; there were lots of questions and answers, a lively discussion and images of mountains and cultures. One question was “I’m going in August trekking in Nepal, what should I bring for rain”? My first thought and answer is to use an umbrella. Arrive in Kathmandu, buy a large sturdy black “Made in China” generic umbrella. Nepal is near the equator, it’s hot and sunny. To keep sun and rain off, use an umbrella as it’s too warm for a rain jacket. In the 1980’s I was on a research trek and 10 days from the nearest road when I came upon two tall Western foreigners walking along in Dockers, no day-pack, no Sherpa’s, on a trail rarely if ever used by foreigners, having a nice chat, and carrying umbrellas. I was shocked at their lack of preparation for hiking remote regions. I was all the more shocked as I realized who one of them was. I recognized and said hello to Sir Edmond Hillary, and was then introduced to the ambassador to Nepal from England. I chuckled at my previous thoughts about ill prepared trekkers and promptly purchased an umbrella which I have gratefully used on all subsequent treks in Nepal, Bhutan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Peru, Ecuador, Tanzania, and many other locations. Umbrellas are a great invention that now joins many of my hikes here in the Cascades of Washington State too. Enjoy the day, Rusty

Black goats, culture surprises & serendipity

A friend had jokingly said “when I come back in the next life I’ll do better.” I responded, “don’t re-incarnate as a black goat”. When traveling it’s both fun and wise to read up on local customs, and myths too. In the Hindu traditions of Nepal, good will is engendered by sacrificing a black goat to the deity that will be most helpful. Be flexible and open minded as “culture happens”, remember this is why you’re traveling. Oh yes, also always have a camera handy. A Royal Nepal flight was delayed as a blessing was needed for the brand new aircraft. A bald man in white arrived at the plane (Brahman priest), escorted by a policeman and a man holding a bucket, two pilots and then a black goat. As 16 fresh and clean trekkers stood nearby as the goat was sacrificed, it’s blood going into the bucket. One pilot then sprayed the bucket of blood all over the cockpit windows and body of the plane while the Brahman priest said prayers and offered holy water, flowers and colored rice to the Hindu deity who would watch over our flight. We felt “blessed”, and with nervous laughter, boarded our plane for a trek to Mt. Everest. Sacrifices are an excuse for a picnic and I know some families enjoyed a great lunch and we enjoyed a great cultural experience. Enjoy the day, Rusty

When traveling, clothes are really gear choices for your comfort and your safety

When traveling clothes aren’t “clothes”, they’re gear. Clothing at home is “just clothing” for the office, or to watch movies like “Seven Years in Tibet” (very good, it really looks like this in Tibet), or to watch Russel Crow in “Master and Commander” (fun movie about the Galapagos). But when traveling, clothes are gear, and they must be functional. While trekking in Nepal; hiking to Machu Picchu; traveling across Tibet, visiting the Galapagos; correct choices of clothing\gear will not only keep you comfortable, they will keep you safe and smiling.

Too much gear is a burden to you and to others. Bring what is just right. Ask others who know the destination, look at suggested gear lists, and follow a rule-of-thumb; bring one to wear, one to wash and maybe one for fun. Clothing like those made by ExOfficio don’t show dirt easily, they wash and dry FAST. I bring only clothes that will dry fast, like overnight in a hotel room. A fleece sweater can be drenched, take is off, whirl it around your head and it’s nearly dry and will also dry from body heat alone. Make travel fun, everything should be practical when traveling. Traveling isn’t a hassle, it’s fun, treat clothes as gear and travel will be fun. By and large cotton is for cities, leave it behind when out traveling in the world.

Questions about gear choices…. feel free to ask me, send me an email or give a ring. After 32 years at REI using gear all over the world for hiking, cycling, kayaking and climbing, I often have a useful opinion. My career has been to provide free and valuable advice about gear, and travel, so feel free to ask. Enjoy the day, Rusty

Start with a pile of gear

Going traveling? Start a month prior to departure creating a pile of stuff. Create a gear list, then start a pile, and include a rolling duffel. When I come across something I will likely need, I toss it on the pile. A few days prior to leaving, it’s crunch time. What do I Reeeeally need? The pile becomes 3 smaller piles; required; may need; would like to bring. What am I doing; car travel, adventure motorcycling, plane travel, camping, hiking, kayaking, using pack animals, dragging stuff through an airport, or all the above after a long international flight? Other factors; can I buy “it” there, or can I rent it? How critical is the item given I might need it once or that I’ll be inconvenienced for just one day or night? Travel is about discovery, choices and serendipity.

Travel clothes; stay light, quick drying, stay simple. I follow a simple guide-line for active travel trips. “One” to wear, one to wash and one for fun. Except socks. I bring several pair of socks. Personally I try to wear Teva’s, or similar, as much as possible to reduce the number of socks (and washing) needed. My requirements include a small Ortlieb duffel for walking onto flights, an Eagle Creek XL Cargo rolling duffel for check-on gear, Pentax and Nikon cameras, diary\journal, and I travel with ebooks downloaded from our public library. One item at the bottom of the pile that will be going on all trips is my Ortlieb. Ortlieb duffels hold off buckets of water and barrels of dust, and they’re sold by OrtliebUSA. Ortlieb are the best, and they seem to be “RustyProof”. I own several Ortlieb duffels for 12 years now, and have not been able to ruin any of them. Motorcycling from Beijing to Mt. Everest in Tibet and across the Himalaya to Kathmandu is a tough trip. Seven riders; 23 days, and Ortlieb gear survived; not a single failure of a seam or buckle. Trekking in Nepal for weeks using yaks; trekking to Machu Picchu with horses; trekking in Bhutan with mules; camping in 5 Australian National Parks for 6 weeks; Kyrgyzstan 8 day horse camping trip in the Tien Shan Mountains; rafting and hiking in Panama; camping trips in Alaska; numerous adventures in the lower 48 States, and my Ortlieb duffel never failed, not even a little bit. Good stuff. See Friends for more recommendations. http://riadventuretravel.com/friends/

I’m going hiking and camping in Utah to photograph Anasazi pictographs; hiking into Havasu Falls, the Grand Canyon, and Death Valley. I’ll have my Ortlieb duffel http://www.ortliebusa.com/ with minimal gear, cameras, stove and a wok. Ever try cooking with a wok? A wok is a joy to use, it’s fun, fast and just needs vegetables, garlic, a dash of oil, some rice or Thai noodles and I can feed lots of folks. My problem can be making too much food. I should add notes here on my favorite recipes and how to use a wok while backpacking. Until next time. Tsi chin. RustyTraveler