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Snorkeling - Ecuador 2002 - Thailand & N.Vietnam 2003 - Costa Rica 2005 - Australia & NZ 2007 - China & Tibet 2009 - Peru 2010 - Turkey 2011 - Papua NG 2012 - Cuba 2013 - Bali & Komodo 2015

Travel, under construction.

Here are a few pictures and comments related to my travels around the world.

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Favorite Snorkeling Places:

Here are a few favorite snorkeling places (order of visititation and nearly inverse of quality):

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Ecuador 2002:

Ecuador is an enchanting country of many contrasts, from the western Amazon basin to the high Andes to the Galapagos Islands. Most notable to me were the friendly animals that evolved in the Galapagos free of predators and Kapawi Lodge in the home of the Achuar people on the Pastaza River (10 days walk from the nearest road). These people were still using poison dart blowguns for hunting, when we were there.

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Thailand & N.Vietnam 2003:

In Thailand, farmers often used small walk-behind motor-driven tractors on plots near an acre in size and irrigated with gasoline-powered pumps. In north Vietnam in contrast, plots were closer to a quarter-acre, worked with water buffalo, and irrigated by hand pumped water.

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Costa Rica 2005:

Saw a major wind-power installation in the Andes.

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Australia & New Zealand 2007:

Compared to home in North America, these countries have familiar ecological systems but populated by very different species of plants and animals. Particularly surprising to me, was the dramatic difference between old, eroded Australia and new, mountainous New Zealand, even though they are relatively close together and at the same latitude.

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China & Tibet 2009:

Amazing public works projects, especially the Three Gorges Dam and the new cities for people displaced by the reservoir. There seemed to be much petty crime, such as the selling of counterfeit goods. The things the government really cared about were revealed by the large military presences at Tiananmen Square, the Three Gorges Dam, and in Lhasa Tibet. The latter is tightly controlled: we were forbidden to take pictures of soldiers, who were everywhere, and even the tourist hotels had no TV news but from China.

In China, we were told that China is unified by its written language, even though our guides from Beijing and Hong Kong could not understand one another because of differing accents. In contrast, Tibet has a very different writing system, belying it's being part of China. Nonetheless, China is rapidly destroying Tibet's culture by importing Han Chinese. I guess the government is more interested in having a border secured by the Himalayas than historical boundaries.

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Peru 2010:

We visited a shanty town outside Lima and were surprised at how organized it was without any formal government; some women ran a communal kitchen that served the neighborhood and marital infidelity was not tolerated (expulsion from the community). We also learned that in Peru it is common for people who move to the city to stay in the same community and improve their house as they accumulate wealth rather than moving to a better neighborhood.

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Turkey 2011:

The Greeks and Romans made impressive investments in buildings here. Their decline was a dramatic reminder of the impermanence of things. Sedimentation is a big deal. All the ancient harbors along the coast seem to have silted up and are now miles from navigable waters. Even inland, old Roman roads are often under ten feet of soil, for example Hadrian's Gate in Antalya.

Our knowledgeable guide said that in Asia Minor, the mother Goddess concept was very strong, and it modified Greek and Roman Paganism and Christianity (but not Islam).

Many vehicles (all taxis) are powered by natural gas.

It's a very modern country. As our guide said "this is not a third-world country." We saw very little poverty. The goat herder we visited on a hike (living among the buried ruins of a Roman town) had a solar panel and TV, even though he was an hour's walk, a boat ride, and an auto ride from any store.

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Papua New Guinea 2012:


17 April 2008.

Making fire by friction of wood.

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Cuba 2013:

The good:

The bad:

The surprising:

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Bali & Komodo 2015:

Bali was a surprising treat, with a unique culture, mixing Hindu, Buddhist, and native religious ideas, which is practiced publicly every day.

Sailing on the dive boat WAOW around Komodo National Park we had more than a dozen marvelous snorkeling experiences, with a diversity of coral and brightly colored fish everywhere, schools of manta rays circling among us close enough to touch, and fascinating cuttlefish. A night snorkel revealed an amazing basket star. The best snorkeling of our lives.

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Last revised 4 December 2015.

E-mail me: SeekingIllumination@hotmail.com