Traveling the World: Tours to Nepal, Japan, Scotland, and Australia

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John L. Creech and the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
Fishing nets on Erraid.

“… I became a new being, and the subject of my own admiration. I was a traveler. A word never had tasted so good in my mouth before.” (Mark Twain)

Whether it be negotiating the rugged trails of the Himalayan foothills (and remember, the foothills at the “Top of the World” are higher than our Rocky Mountains!), becoming engrossed in the horticultural practices that produce Japan’s exquisite gardens, flying “down under” to meet with alternative-energy experts from around the world, or getting in touch with one’s own higher consciousness in Scotland’s New Age communities, travel is quite simply among the best investments in time, energy, and money that a person can make.

To begin with, an excursion can lift one out of the rut of everyday living (and the chief difference between a rut and a grave is its depth). The opportunity to interact with other cultures also provides a useful measuring stick for judging one’s own lifestyle and priorities. Additionally, when an adventure is shared, binding relationships are often formed. Then — once the trip is over — the resulting memories, friendships, and personal growth become lasting benefits.

These are only a few of the reasons why we feel traveling the world can provide a person with a good return on his or her money. Of course, the people involved are the most important aspect of any trip, so we’d like to take this opportunity to thank those who have made our past tours so memorable … and to welcome folks who’d like to share the following destinations with us.

A Long Journey “Home”

Though Nepal is a distant and exotic land, visitors often comment that their lasting impressions of travel there include a strange and wonderful sense of “coming home.” It’s just easy to feel comfortable in Nepal, thanks in a very great part to its friendly and tolerant people.

For example, Ellen, a participant in last year’s expedition, wrote: “One afternoon, I spent four hours in ‘the maze’, that mad jumble of streets in Kathmandu. There, literally hundreds of people were thrown together — in both work situations and social interactions — with barely enough room left for their shadows. Yet no harsh words or voices raised in anger could be heard under that late afternoon sun, and I was moved by the true civility with which these people all respected each other’s right to be there.”

Many travelers in Nepal also find a lot of peace in simply knowing that under the care of fine Sherpa guides, their only responsibility is to put one foot safely in front of the other. Ellen again said it well: “For me, the highlight was the trekking itself… the act of observing and moving my body … the touch and sound of each step … the feeling of interacting with the ground, wind, earth, and sky … the odors that passed by with the breeze … the sense of freedom … and the wonderful simplicity of our temporary lifestyle. Sometimes, up high on a ridge, distant voices, the mists, and I would merge, and it seemed that the world was singing to me. At other times, the richness and self-containment of some of the villages and their inhabitants reminded me that I all too often simply watch my life go by!”

And since our first trip inspired such wonderful memories, we’re really looking forward to our return (March 12 to April I, 1983) to this distant kingdom. During our visit the giant rhododendron trees should be in riotous bloom, and — in addition to spending ten days hiking a little-known ridge overlooking the towering Annapurna and Manaslu massifs — we’ll spend another five days rafting the Trisuli River down to the Chitwan National Park (a jungle refuge for abundant wildlife), which we’ll explore on elephantback.

The price of this adventure (including airfare from New York and all other expenses except for a few meals in Kathmandu) is $2,750, with a $300 deposit required. (We’ll provide all trekking equipment except for sleeping bags and water bottles.)

We do feel, however, that a few words of caution are in order. Nepal, you see, gets in the blood. As one Himalayan traveler (Dervla Murphy) put it, “Truly, this is something that does have to be seen to be believed, and that once seen must be continually yearned for when left behind, becoming as incurable a fever of the spirit as malaria is of the body.”

Japan in All Its Spring Glory

An individual could — with the help of a great deal of preparation, courage, endurance, and luck — explore Nepal on his or her own. But our Study Tour of Japanese Gardens and Plants (April 21 to May 12, 1983) would not be the same without the knowledge and contacts provided by our group leader, Dr. John L. Creech, who was formerly head of the U.S. Arboretum in Washington, D.C. and who has introduced over 2,400 Japanese plant collections to this country.

Under his direction, we’ll take you to the finest beauty spots in Kyushu, Kurume, Kyoto, Hakone, Nikko, Omiya, Angyo, and Tokyo — many of which aren’t normally open to tourists. And we can all but guarantee that you’ll come home with a wealth of ideas for your own gardening projects.

Even at $3,795 (which includes airfare from San Francisco, ground transportation, top Japanese hotels, and all meals), this tour — taking place as it does, in one of the world’s most expensive countries — is a bargain. (After all, it normally costs some $60 just to take a train from the airport into Tokyo!) And a $300 deposit will hold your place for this outstanding horticultural adventure.

A Particularly Fine Lifestyle

“Don’t you wish the whole world could be like Findhorn!” a visitor once remarked. And that’s a pleasant concept to consider, because during the past two decades a quiet, gentle evolution has been occurring in this community in the northeast corner of Scotland — and more recently on the wind-washed island of Erraid off that country’s northwest coast.

Findhorn folks work on the premise that “the place to solve world problems is first within our own consciousness, and then in our immediate affairs.” This belief has produced one of the world’s most successful, inspiring, and influential New Age communities, a place where people learn to “live ordinary life in an extraordinary way.”

Our second Visit to Findhorn and Friends (June 1 to June 23, 1983) will offer a taste of what such a lifestyle involves. For a week we’ll have an opportunity to work and share with the community’s creative citizens and to explore their fresh approaches to ecology, government, management, personal growth, the arts, and group dynamics.

Following that, we’ll travel to Erraid, where the spiritual and the practical merge in a charming blend that’s as old as the Scottish isles and as new as our hopes for tomorrow. It’s a back-to-basics way of life — involving gardening, fishing, sheepherding, crafts, and alternative energy — and every aspect of it is illuminated by an extraordinary difference that you can capture and bring home “to cherish, nourish, and use with abandon.”

And this year we’ll be able to celebrate Midsummer Eve, with other friends of Findhorn, in Glastonbury (an old Celtic power center and the legendary burial place of King Arthur) and make side trips to Stonehenge, Avebury, and Cadbury Castle, as well.

The price (which includes airfare from New York and all other expenses except for a few meals en route and in Glastonbury) is only $1,790, and a $200 deposit reserves your place.

Australia: the Price Goes Down

When Jordan College, the cosponsor of our tour to the International Solar Energy Society Congress in Perth, Australia, first came up with prices for this alternative-energy exploration, we were downright astounded at the bargains offered. Well, we’re now able to lower even those prices!

The ten-day trip (August 9 to 19, 1983) will run $1,395, which covers airfare from San Francisco and university housing. If you’d like a one-night stopover in Hawaii going and another in Tahiti coming home, the package will cost either $1,595 (if you stay in economy hotels) or $1,749 (with deluxe lodging). Or, for $2,695, you can take an extended trip (August 11 to 28, 1983) that includes visits to Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, and Hawaii with first class accommodations throughout. (The deposit for any of these variations is $200.)

These prices, however, don’t cover the fee for the ISES Congress (from $50 for students to $170 for nonmember adults) … which you won’t want to miss, since it’ll offer you a chance to discover what’s happening worldwide in alternative energy, as well as the opportunity to meet with top people in the field.