TRAVEL MEMORIES -- Part 3 of 4
Nepal - Switzerland

I decided to reminisce a little and write up some highlights from trips I've taken over the years to various countries around the world.
Some of my travels were on business, but most were for pleasure.

. . . . . . . . . . . .
Australia .....Botswana .....Brazil ........Ecuador ......France ......Germany .......India ...........Italy ..........Japan ..........Kenya .......Morocco .....Namibia ..

. . . . . . . . . . . .
Nepal ....Netherlands......Peru .....South Africa ....Spain .....Switzerland ...Tanzania ....Thailand .....Uganda ..United Kingdom ..Zambia ..Zimbabwe ..

Part 1 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 2 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 3 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 4 of 4 . . .
Australia - Germany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . India - Namibia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nepal - Switzerland . . . . . . . . . . . Tanzania - Zimbabwe . . .

Place the cursor over any photo for a brief description. Click on the photo for an enlargement.

Posted here 4-27-09. Text and photos copyrighted by Fred Gielow

The way back home.


This strange-looking contraption was pulled along the streets and people seemed to be making offerings to it.  Photo by FG. Perhaps a holy man.  Photo by FG. My older son Bob and I traveled to Nepal to see Katmandu and then fly over to the Royal Chitwan National Park for a two or three-night stay at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge.

Katmandu is amazing. So many strange sights, customs, smells. The whole place reeked of incense. There were lots of temples. We ran into a ceremony of some sort: people appeared to be making offerings to a huge wooden platform that rolled by. The whole scene seemed as though it was out of a wild Hollywood movie.

Sunday was to be a free day, but our guide offered to take us to see an animal sacrifice. It involved a ride off into the countryside. How nice, I thought. The price wasn't too expensive, so bright and early Sunday morning, off we went.

After the car was parked, it was a fairly long walk up a dirt road to where the sacrifices were taking place. There was an almost festive atmosphere in the air. But for Bob and me, a little queasiness. A long line had formed, mostly women, some with children. They had chickens, a few goats, and other offerings to give.

There must have been hundreds of people lined up to make an offering or to have their animal sacrefices.  Photo by FG. The animals to be sacrificed are given to this guy, who whacks off their heads.  Photo by FG. Quite a few chickens were sacrificed, some goats, I think maybe one ox.  Photo by FG. We got in line with them, but without any offerings. Slowly, ever so slowly it edged forward. Bob and I were becoming more and more apprehensive.

Finally we reached "ground zero" where the animals were dispatched. A young man took each offering and sliced off its head. Blood was splattered all over the place. It was an unsettling scene.

Bob's body language is quite clear.  Photo by FG. The sacrificed animals are butchered.  Photo by FG. Those who had brought the offerings received the dead animal carcasses. That was going to be dinner.

Nearby the animals were butchered. And as the picture of Bob (at right) suggests, this was not a pleasant process to witness either.

The elephant grass is just as tall as the elephants.  Photo by FG. Cabins at Tiger Tops.  Photo by FG. Wooden platforms on the backs of the elephants hold two to four people each.  Photo by FG. If that wasn't exciting enough, our stay at Tiger Tops was also quite a thrill.

Cabins at the camp are built up off the ground to protect tourists from the tigers. Activities include exciting elephant rides around Chitwan National Park. The elephants can take you where no vehicles can go: through the high elephant grass, across streams, into the thick forest, up and down steep inclines.

On the rides we were on the lookout for tigers and rhinos. We didn't see any cats, but there were several rhino sightings. One of the elephants was charged, and that sure got the tourists' adrenalin pumping!

Rhinoceros sighting.  Photo by FG. Bob joins in with washing the elephants.  Photo by FG. Bob poses with a pachyderm.  Photo by FG. At the end of the day all the elephants marched down to the river for a relaxing bath. The mahouts did all the real scrubbing, but we were able to join in the process with splashing.

Surprisingly, I found this pure delight. The weather was perfect, the river water was warm, and it was a real treat to frolic with these enormous animals!


Cornelis cleans his boat.  He named it 'Espero,' meaning 'the hope of man.'  He believed a common world language, Esperonto, would unify all the world's people.  Photo by FG. Captian Cornelis at the helm.  Photo by FG. My mother had a good friend who lived in Holland. Her name, amusingly, was Lien Pot. Her brother, Cornelis Pot, invited me to cruise the Zuider Zee with him for a week or so in his yacht. What an opportunity!

Lien Pot and her brother Cornelis in the back yard at home.  Photo by FG. When I got to Slikkerveer, where they lived (about 4 miles eastsoutheast of Rotterdam), I immediately became the center of attention and was introduced to all sorts or neighbors and friends. One of the first questions I was asked was what languages I spoke. Well, I took Latin in high school, but I only spoke English. Everyone seemed aghast. Only one language? He only speaks one language? There was a buzz of comments all around, in Dutch, of course.

Everyone there understood English and they were quite conversant with it, but after a few minutes the conversation just naturally reverted to Dutch. I was alone in a sea of foreign words. Five to ten minutes would pass and someone would say, "Oh, we're not speaking English. I'm sorry." And English would take over. But only briefly. Then I was again an outsider.

I loved the windmills.  Photo by FG. I loved the windmills.  Photo by FG. The cruise was great, though I don't remember a whole lot about it now. (It was, after all, over fifty years ago.) I do remember visiting Volendam and some other communities, and walking around the towns. Many people seemed disabled or disfigured; I wondered if it was from inbreeding. I also remember Cornelis liked eating eels, a habit I'm proud to say I never acquired.

Cornelius was quite a guy. He invented Klavarskribo, a scheme of music notation. And he was managing director of Smit Slikkerveer, a factory in Slikkerveer which made dynamos for ships. During our yacht trip he ran a series of tests to calculate the efficiency of his boat's engine.

Some years later, on a business trip, I had made plans to meet him in Amsterdam at the train station. He said I'd be able to find him in the crowd because he'd be holding up a handkerchief. When I got to the station, there he was. The "handkerchief" was as big as a sheet!


My introduction to Peru was a little disconcerting.

It was a long flight to Lima and I arrived somewhere around two in the morning. A taxi drove me to my hotel, but the streets were dark, dirty, and populated with occasional military personnel carrying what looked to me like machine guns. I hoped that was just the bad section of town.

I only had a few hours of sleep before another taxi picked me up to return to the airport to catch an early-morning flight to Iquitos. From there I got aboard a boat for a several-hour ride on the Amazon to my first camp.

It was pretty rustic. The "lodge" was built in from the water and high above it. During the wet season, however, the water level rises dozens of feet and the lodge then is at the water's edge. Another advantage: during the dry season there are a lot fewer snakes around.

I was assigned a room in a cluster which was open to a common roof overhead. When I reported seeing bats hanging from the rafters directly above me, I was moved to another room. Also definitely memorable were my bug encounters and piranha fishing experience.

The afternoon's catch wasn't very respectable.  Photo by FG. My guide holds up a piranha I caught.  Photo by FG. There were bugs everywhere along the Amazon and that's fine, but not when they threatened to join me in bed. I have limits to my hospitality. The first night at the lodge I was so concerned about uninvited "guests," I tucked in the mosquito netting tightly all around the mattress, then took each of my possessions to bed with me: travel bag, camera, accessories, boots, everything. It made for rather crowded sleeping conditions.

One evening at one of the camps, I was walking back to my cabin after dinner. It was dark and I was using my flashlight. I thought I saw something move in the shadows immediately in front of me, right where I was about to step. I jumped, let out a yelp, and quickly shined the flashlight toward it. An enormous tarantula scooted across the path. It must have been six inches across. I just missed stepping on the thing.

On my fishing expedition I was having no luck at all. There would be a nibble, but then nothing there when I pulled up the line. I was advised to jerk on the line quickly when I felt a tug. A while later I felt a tug, I gave a jerk, and out of the water jumped a beautiful, good-sized, brightly-colored piranha. My tug was a little too enthusiastic, however, and the fish flew up over the boat in a graceful arc and back into the water on the other side, where it quickly detached itself from the line and swam off.

I finally did "reel" in a couple of the sharp-teethed critters, but they were quite small. I ate them that evening for supper. How did they taste? Fishy.

The road from the train up the mountain to Machu Picchu.  Photo by FG. Machu Picchu.  Photo by FG. The real "highlight" of my Peru trip was a visit to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Earlier in the trip, some tourists were talking about altitude sickness they encountered while visiting Machu Picchu. The cure, they said, was to drink a cup of coca-leaf tea, then get plenty of rest.

I knew I wouldn't have any trouble with high altitudes, but I decided to take their advice anyway. When I got to my hotel at Cuzco I ordered several cups of coca-tea, then went to bed early and got a good night's sleep.

The next morning, however, I wasn't feeling right, and during the tour around town I was feeling worse and worse. I wondered if maybe my headache and upset stomach were just signs of an impending cold. That evening I ordered more cups of tea and went to bed early again.

The following morning I felt rotten: splitting headache, aches all over, and the beginning signs of diarrhea. This was the day to take a train to Machu Picchu.

I climbed aboard, found my seat, and collapsed in it. The ride was several hours long, with a number of stops along the way. I felt like a zombie. I hardly moved the entire trip. At my destination I dragged myself off the train and onto the bus for the hairpin-turn-road ride to the top of the mountain, and there it was, Machu Picchu. But first things first. I headed to the men's room. I think I spent more time there than I did sightseeing. I felt wretched.

I got back on the train and headed south to a tiny town not too far from Lake Titicaca. I checked into my motel and fell into bed. I was almost asleep when there was a knock on the door. Who could that be? The motel manager had seen I wasn't feeling well, so he had some soup made and brought it to my room. That was exactly what I needed. How thoughtful! I'll never forget that kindness.

The next morning when I got up I was feeling a little better. I walked out to the road and waited probably a half hour for a bus to take me to Lake Titicaca and a boat ride on the lake. I was a little worried that motion on the water would exacerbate things, but by the end of the day I was feeling much better. My adventure had concluded and it was time to fly home.

South Africa

Three attractions in South Africa provided me with glorious memories: Kruger National Park, Sun City, and a hot-air balloon ride in Pilanesberg National Park.

Kruger is remarkable. I've been there three times. (Or is it four?) Well, actually, I haven't actually visited Kruger. I've been to seven or eight camps that abut the Kruger park. There are no fences or barricades, so the animals are free to roam in the park or on the adjoining properties. Game viewing is outstanding. I've included a bunch of pictures from these experiences in my "Favorite Africa Photos" collection, so I won't repeat them here.

I've been to Sun City twice.

From 'our' balloon we watch as Thisxxxxxxxthe plane.  Photo by FG. We are about to board the balloon.  Photo by FG. I had been on a balloon ride in the Mid-Hudson Valley in New York State, but a balloon ride in Pilanesberg National Park takes the sport to another level. The terrain is more rugged and beautiful, the balloon is much bigger, and there are all sorts of animals to see! And you can see them looking down!

Balloon flights depart in the early morning, when winds are at a minimum, and it was bitter cold when we started out. But as the sun rose and it warmed, it was euphoric! We glided along so peacefully. There were so many marvelous sights to see. And the occasional violent hiss of the igniting fuel to keep the balloon aloft was wonderful.

The early-morning sun peaks out from behind a mountain.  Photo by FG. The balloon has landed and our flight has ended.  Photo by FG. Our pilot identified points of interest.  Photo by FG. Looking down at several rhinos.  Photo by FG. The pilot took us to great heights for spectacular panorama views, and he let the basket just skim over the treetops for a dramatic down-to-earth perspective. What a glorious ride it was!


We saw several Flamenco dancers, in several clubs!    Photo from the internet: On my way back from a business trip to Europe, I stopped off in Madrid for an overnight stay and a quick tour of the town. At the end of the tour we came upon the city's soccer stadium, and the driver said we could get off the bus and see a game if we wished. It was going to be a night game and would start in an hour or two. What a great idea, I thought.

Immediately, however, I knew I had a problem. There were lots of ticket booths around the stadium, but it appeared some were for different purposes than others. I had assumed I could obtain entrance without any discussion -- I didn't know any Spanish (still don't) -- but from the looks of things, that wasn't going to be the case. Well, I reasoned, I'll just find someone who can speak English and that will solve my problem

How hard was it to find such a person? Very hard! I asked dozens of people and got dozens of blank expressions. For more than a half hour I searched. In vain. Then I saw a guy who looked very American and asked him. Success. He escorted me to a ticket window and got me a ticket, in a very good section, right next to where he was seated. Great!

To make a long story short, he was the president of Diners Club (or maybe it was Carte Blanche) and he spent much of his time traveling the world examining company offices and practices. We watched about half the game, then he suggested we go out for dinner. Well, yes, of course!

After dinner, he suggested we take in some nightclub action. Well, yes, of course!

It was quite an evening! A late-into-the-night evening! But a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience.


A break in the mist appears, then moments later closes up again.  Photo by FG. The path is just barely discernable.  Photo by FG. Oh my, my travels in Switzerland and the incredible trip up Mount Pilatus! After staying overnight in the town of Lake Lucerne, I got on a boat which glided me across the water to Alpnachstad at the foot of the mountain. It was a cool day and as I looked up, I saw the entire top of Pilatus was enveloped in clouds.

It's a steep climb on the cogwheel railway. As a matter of fact, it's the world's steepest, with a 48% gradient on some sections. In no time our red car was clack-clack-clacking along in the clouds. Though the sun was bright, it couldn't burn off the moisture surrounding us. Cow bells could be heard from every direction. They reveal to dairy farmers the whereabouts of their cattle.

The path was gorgeous.  Photo by FG. Swiss mountains are spectacular.  Photo by FG. It was like I was sitting on top of the world.  Photo by FG. At the top (altitude of 7,000 feet), I got off. Mountain paths led off in several directions away from the visitor center, so I started out. I could only see a few feet in front of me and there were no railings along the narrow trail, so that heightened the excitement. One misstep and I could plunge down hundreds of feet over rough and rocky terrain. And I didn't even have a bell around my neck!

The air was so fresh and the morning so crisp. Paths crossed and criss-crossed each other, up and down the mountainside. What an excellent opportunity to get lost.

Cars await my trip back down the mountain.  Photo by FG. As the morning wore on, the sun began to penetrate the foggy mist. Tiny gaps in the clouds would open, then close. Gradually I could see further along the path and the sights were stunning: roughhewn rocks jutted out of the mountain, but so much of the scene was a dazzling carpet of rich, green grass. It was a feast for the eyes.

Hours slipped by in no time and when the clouds had largely dissipated, it was into the afternoon and time to head back for the cogwheel ride down the mountain. It was a breathtaking experience. Excitement, yet peace, tranquility, joy.

Part 1 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 2 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 3 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 4 of 4 . . .
Australia - Germany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . India - Namibia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nepal - Switzerland . . . . . . . . . . . Tanzania - Zimbabwe . . .
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The way back home.