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1309, 2021

Abandoned Young Pioneer Camp In Armenia

By |September 13th, 2021|Categories: Asia, Must-See|2 Comments

Abandoned Young Pioneer Camp In Armenia.  Road trip!  Armenia style.  At first brush, on a guided trip you might think Armenia is solely populated with ancient rock monasteries and abundant helpings of khorovats (BBQ Armenian meats).  But scratch the surface just a bit … and you will realize this landlocked country offers much more. On my two-day road trip to the northern part of the country, no churches or monasteries were on the list.  In fact, the mission was a visit to an abandoned Young Pioneer camp in Spitak.  The Young Pioneers founded in 1925 was the socialist version of the Boy Scouts, ubiquitous in the former Soviet Union and other socialist countries.  In 1973, 40,000 summer camps could be found just in the Soviet Union servicing nearly 10 million kids. As Armenia was part of the Soviet Union until 1991, Armenia kids headed off to the mountains to have in a patriotic manner across the republic.  This included the Fairy Tale Young Pioneer Camp set in the mountains on the outskirts of Spitak, a town devastated [...]

1208, 2021

Ted Nims … Hanging With Alferd Packer

By |August 12th, 2021|Categories: Podcast|0 Comments

Ted Nims has traveled to 127 countries.  Ted Nims Counting Countries.  I met Ted at a small travel meetup in Boston a couple of years ago, but knew him prior to that as one of my patrons for Counting Countries.  We both have homes in Chicago and we also connected a couple times in the Windy City.  We met up in late June for lunch and then retired to the Counting Countries Studio to record this podcast.   After I speak with Ted we will hear from Nick Butter once again at the end of the podcast, a guest from earlier this year.  Nick founded the 196 Foundation.  This is a charity inspired by his trip around the world.  I will let Nick explain how this all works during our conversation.  But I will add that I have become a supporter of the foundation.  And I am now one of 500 plus people who have joined together in this project.  I imagine everyone of us is inundated with multiple offers to donate or support one cause or another.  [...]

1006, 2021

Ben Dowson … Nicking Sheeps

By |June 10th, 2021|Categories: Podcast|1 Comment

Ben Dowson has traveled to every country in the world Ben made a brief appearance as the guest announcer for the January episode of Gina Morello.   After a bit of research, I pieced together who Ben was, pulling on a long thread and realizing that he was connected to many previous guests on this podcast.  Ben has a very, very deep travel resume.        Do not be thrown off by the length of this podcast, it is really a twofer.  You will hear from Ben first and you will hear from Dave Seminara during the second half of the podcast.  Dave is an avid traveler himself and also the author of Mad Travelers: A Tale Of Wanderlust, Greed, And The Quest To Reach The Ends Of The Earth.  You can buy this on Amazon and wherever else you buy books these days.  I read the book and do recommend it. The main focal point of this book is William Baekeland, a former guest of the podcast, who is alleged to have conned fellow extreme travelers of nearly a [...]

804, 2021

Nick Butter … Don’t Wait For A Diagnosis

By |April 8th, 2021|Categories: Podcast|0 Comments

Nick Butter has traveled to every country in the world while running a marathon.  Nick Butter Counting Countries.  Nick appeared on my radar screen when I read a post on FB about his quest to run a marathon in every country in the world.  My first thoughts were a mixture of disbelief and skepticism.  I started communicating with Nick at the end of 2019, yet it took to March of 2021 to sync our calendars. Patience is a virtue.   A special thank you to Twitter and Nabil Kazi, a traveler and athlete in his own right, who was a catalyst in setting up the interview.     After I speak with Nick, you will hear a snippet with Thor Pedersen.  You remember Thor, he has been on Counting Countries twice before.  Thor is on a quest to travel to every country in the world without flying.  Thor has made a lot of sacrifices, including not seeing his fiancee for over a year and a half.  After my conversation with Nick Butter, I will share with you part of [...]

1303, 2021

Visiting Hua Lamphong Train Station

By |March 13th, 2021|Categories: Asia, Must-See|5 Comments

Visiting Hua Lamphong Train Station .  Every city has its monuments, maybe an ancient temple or a world-renowned museum.  And then you have the functional landmarks like a grand post office or a central train station.  While Bangkok has more than its fair share of fantastical and historical Buddhist temples, it also has a noted train station. The station is officially known as Sathani Rotfai Krung Thep, which translates to – Bangkok Train Station and informally known as Hua Lamphong station.  In the olden days, a canal and a road used to pass by the train station named Hua Lamphong, birthing its nickname, but today it has been renamed Rama IV Road. The station officially opened in June of 1916 after six years of construction under the reign of King Vajiravidh.  The station is built in an Italian Neo-Renaissance style with ornate roofs and stained glass.  The station was modeled after the Frankfurt train station. The station is a microcosm of life in Thailand with locals heading north on the overnight to Chiang Mai, backpackers heading to [...]

2002, 2021

Visiting Koh Mak

By |February 20th, 2021|Categories: Asia, Off The Beaten Path|4 Comments

Visiting Koh Mak.  Koh Samui, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi.  When travelers think of Thai islands, these are some of the islands where travel plans are made first.  And not without good reason.  There are some fantastic beaches, great restaurants, and awesome resorts.  But, these islands are overflowing with tourists who are scrambling between a McDonalds and a Starbucks. There are over 1,400 islands in Thailand so consider avoiding Phuket with its 15 million annual visitors.  On the east side of Thailand is the well-known island of Koh Chang, Thailand’s second-largest island.  Within the Koh Chang archipelago is the smaller tropical island of Koh Mak. Koh Mak is only 16 square km with just 800 permanent residents.  The island is privately owned by a small group of families who have successfully developed the island.  Less than 30 resorts dot the island without any jet ski touts or night club scene.  Besides tourism, the island’s economy is powered by tapping rubber trees and growing fruit. I categorized this post as off the beaten path, a really subjective classification.  [...]

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