November 26, 2013

Ascent through Darkness

Can your lungs catch frostbite? That was the question on my mind at 4:30am as Colleen, I and our Sherpa porter, Mingmar, made our ascent in the dark towards Thorong La pass. The air was very cold, well below freezing. This much was evident from my final visit to the outhouse at Thorong Phedi. The […]

November 22, 2013

Our Terrifying Yeti (Abominable Snowman) Encounter!

The Yeti or the Abominable Snowman is one of the most famous creatures of cryptozoology, kind of like the Bigfoot of Asia. It is said to inhabit the high Himalayas of Nepal and Tibet, but just like with Bigfoot, most people remain unconvinced of its existence, regarding Yeti stories as simple-minded folklore. A near death […]

November 21, 2013

Kathmandu: Lots of dust and stray dogs

Through the 90s and into the early 2000s, as the government of Sri Lanka fought to put down the LTTE (Tamil Tigers), the monarchy in Nepal sought to contain the Maoists (communists) who were gaining support in the countryside and not surprisingly wanted the monarchy abolished. The dalits (untouchables under the caste system) in particular […]

October 27, 2013

Tales from the North: How Shimshal got its Road

I spent a week in Shimshal, the highest elevation year-round village in Pakistan at just over 13,000 feet. My objective was to set up a performance monitoring and reporting plan for a WWF environmental education project. I did two hikes, one to the Yazghail Glacier and another in the direction of the Shimshal Pass, entry […]

October 20, 2013

Tales from the North: The Vengeful Fairy

Folks in the Northern Areas believe that if an ibex stands still on a plain, it is doing so because it is being milked by a fairy, and hunters must wait until it has left the plain to shoot on it. I laughed when I first heard this from another tourist but she cautioned that […]

October 14, 2013

And then the Piper came to Collect

We take risks all the time, when we drive a car, ride a bike, take a walk, board a flight or go for a swim. Wet tile floors kill hundreds of people in their own bathrooms every year but that doesn’t mean you should stop bathing. A life free of any risk is no life at all. Yes, maybe […]

September 27, 2013

Gilgit & Hunza

When glacier hiking, if you don’t put sunblock on the bottom of and inside your nose, your nostrils will burn from the sun reflecting off the glacier. Good to know, right? I found this tip in the Pakistan Trekking Guide. Gilgit is nothing special. It’s a dusty town with not much going on, just a […]

September 25, 2013

The Highest Highway: The road to Gilgit

I got picked up at my uncle’s house in Islamabad at 10:40pm (40 minutes late) in a 90′s Toyota Landcruiser. My driver, the reincarnation of Speed Racer, drove with such reckless abandon around blind turns that I began mentally preparing myself for an accident. My seatbelt stayed on the entire night. We passed through now […]

September 23, 2013

Winter is coming and the night is full of terrors – Northern Areas of Pakistan

In a few minutes I leave on the 13 hour drive from Islamabad to Gilgit, the frontier town that serves as capital of the Northern Areas. It will be my jump-off point into the autonomous Northern Areas of Pakistan. Marco Polo, this website’s namesake, when travelling near here in the 13th century called the area […]

July 29, 2013

How to Plan Your Round the World Trip: Where to Go?

As Mustafa and I near the 3 month milestone in our trip, there is one question we are often asked by people we meet on our travels:  How do you plan a 16 month trip? The first logical step in planning was to start with where we wanted to go. We started discussing this about […]

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