Posts Tagged ‘Peru’

Bhutan or bust

March 7, 2008

Perhaps I travel more than the average person does, but I don’t travel half as much as people think I do, especially overseas. And there are many countries I’ve yet to visit. Bhutan, for instance. Flag of Bhutan (source: on that later.) Instead, I live vicariously through my Where they Went subjects, whose trips I write about every week in the Boston Globe.

One such journey was in April, when three friends from the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) spent two weeks in Peru. Marianne Page did all the planning as part of her preparation to become an AMC leader. She’s now officially co-leading a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana this summer, which has already filled up But her Oct. 8-26 trip to Bhutan still has openings. (If any of you have done AMC trips, I’d love to hear about them.)

The Dzong (fortress-monastery) at Punakha; Henry David Shapiro ©2003Of course I want to join the group, but it’s not on this year’s agenda.  Bhutan is a pricey place on purpose, to keep tourism at bay. Although now it’s becoming known as a luxury destination, and don’t even get me started about that.  Anyway, the $4,600 to $5,000 fee for 2.5 weeks of travel is the usual AMC-type bargain. It includes lodging, meals, museums fees, trekking fee and transportation in Bhutan. For airfare, add another $2,200. 

Here’s an excerpt from the AMC listing linked above: An eight-day trek “travels through two high passes of 16,000 feet through The Taktshang Goemba (Tiger’s Nest Monastery); Henry David Shapiro ©2003remote wilderness with abundant wildlife. The remaining time in this ‘Shangri La’ will be spent visiting monasteries, dzongs, textile museums, the local market place, Thimpu festival and the famous ‘Tiger’s Nest.’ This is the most famous monastery, perched precariously on a steep cliff almost 3,000 feet above the Paro valley.”

If you sign up and you live in New England, let me know and maybe I’ll highlight your trip in Where they Went. And then my readers and I will get to travel to Bhutan with you, at least in our minds.

Photos by Henry David Shapiro (©2003); photos reprinted with photographer’s permission.

Have ticket, will travel the world

March 3, 2008

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published March 2, 2008, in the Boston Globe) 

From Di’s eyes: A round-the-world trip is just the thing to kick off a law career and is much more interesting and educational than the typical week in the Caribbean. Here’s to great jobs and a wonderful life for these two young adventurers!

WHO: Andrew Hass, 26, of Acton, Mass. and Lauren Hager, 25, of Sacramento, Calif.

WHERE: Around the world.

WHEN: Nine weeks from August to October.

Andrew Hass and Lauren Hager; CLICK TO ENLARGEWHY: The friends, fellow law students at the University of Miami, decided to reward themselves for finishing school and the bar exam by taking a trip. “Most students do, but not like this,” said Hass, who attended Boston University for undergraduate studies.

WITH A MAP AND A WISH LIST: “We basically sat down with a map and alternated places we wanted to go,” Hass said of their planning. They booked what’s called a Blue Ticket through the Student Travel Agency. “If you keep going in the same direction you can get great fares,” said Hass, who paid about $4,500 for all his flights. They visited 11 countries, starting in Peru and then going to Argentina, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel, Russia, Mauritius, India, China, and Japan, spending four days to a week in each. Their luggage was lost – and found – twice.

PLOTTING IT OUT: “We got our tickets first, and once we knew where we’d be, we scheduled budget hotels and hostels,” Hass said. In harder-to-navigate countries, such as India and China, they set up personal tours and drivers. By the end of the trip, they’d seen many of the world’s great sites, including the pyramids at Giza, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China, as well as glaciers, deserts, oceans, and mountains. “Our top three places as far as activities and overall fun were Peru, South Africa, and Japan.”

Andrew Hass at Machu Picchu, Peru; CLICK TO ENLARGEANDES FANS: “Machu Picchu is an experience in and of itself,” Hass said. “It’s in the middle of nowhere, up this winding road. It’s so magnificent and breathtaking.” Their favorite view of the ancient ruins was from Putukusi Mountain. “It was a three-hour hike to the top and you had to go up hundreds of feet of wooden ladders, straight up, without a rope or a net. It was quite a rush.”

GREAT FRIGHT: From their favorite hostel, the Ashanti Lodge in Cape Town, the adventure seekers booked a cage dive among great white sharks. “It was quite an experience,” Hass said of being surrounded by sharks. “They throw chum in the water and the sharks dive at it with their jaws open. It was scary and awe-inspiring.”

Andrew Hass at the Great Wall of China; CLICK TO ENLARGESECOND WIND: By the time they reached Japan, after fleeing a typhoon in China, they were ready to get home, but the country invigorated them. “We spent a night in Tokyo, then took the trail to Kyoto. Our hostel was typical Asian budget. You sleep on the floor, and low on amenities, but not in a bad way. It really catches the local flavor.” They spent a somber day touring Hiroshima. “Even 60 years after it happened, it really hits you.” On a lighter note, they were thrilled to attend a major league baseball game. And Hass traveled all the way to Japan to discover he actually liked sushi.

SUSPENSEFUL JOURNEY: Because they left the country a few days after taking the bar exam, they didn’t know their outcomes. “Lauren found out she passed when we were in China,” said Hass, who was in suspense until he returned home – to good news.