Rocket To The Roof: The Tibet Train

Qinghai -Tibet Railway, highest railway in the world, runs for about 1,242 miles most of which is about 13,000 feet high and surely the high way to go for travel between Lhasa, capital of Tibet (“rooftop of the world”) and Xining, the capital of the Qinghai Province of China.  This engineering miracle took half a century to complete from design through construction; and has been rocketing skyward since 2006.

Train rides through this vast and mysterious area of the world of tundra, frozen and not, distant mountain peaks, unspoiled lakes and villages, can ferry up to 4,000 people a day which means this remote area is becoming far less so. Is this good news?  Not sure.  It will certainly boost Tibet tourism and trade in this corner of the less-Far East.

Warning: altitude sickness is a serious risk for those with heart or blood pressure issues, but snorting oxygen onboard helps.

Early internet graphics:

But for a comprehensive new website in plain English offering a wide array of trips, click: which is operated by CITS, a top online China-based Tibet tour operator.

Too chicken to hop aboard?  Just click here.


Down By the Riverside… Waaay Down

Cruise the Mighty Mekong River

Got a yen to see China, Tibet, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam the old fashioned way?  Go with the flow and cruise the mighty Mekong River, the heart, soul and breadbasket of Southeast Asia, on a handsome traditional-style riverboat. Almost 3,000 miles long, the Mekong is second only to the Amazon in its amazing abundance of plant and animal life, including the awesome, stellar stingray with 14-ft wingspans.

Down By the Riverside… waaay down

Cruising the Mekong is a smooth and cool way to see, hear, feel and enjoy the vibrant river markets, tribal life, ancient temples. The multi-award winning Uniworld Boutique River Cruises now has two beautiful and small 30-cabin ships, the River Saigon and the River Orchid, handcrafted in the colonial style with French balconies that open onto a spacious promenade. They now offer over 100 departures on 8 itineraries from 10 to 24 days.

Click: or call them in LA at 800-733-7820.

And hey, if you happen to be in the market for some real snake oil wine, you’ll be in the right neighborhood to shop around.

Other Mekong choices

The 2-cabin Dragon Eyes, a traditional slim riverboat, can slip in and out of the skinny side canals.  5 in crew.  Bikes on board.  And a talented chef who offers cooking lessons en route. Surf to:

FLASH: Pandaw River Expeditions has 10 luxury ships set to sail in 2012, all styled after colonial river steamers, some dedicated to explore Cambodia and Vietnam on the Mekong and others in newly-opening-to-the-world Burma on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers.  Click: of in the U.S. call 800-798 4223.