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Posts Tagged ‘Bhutan’

Stories, laughs, and more at the Friendly Planet Travel Book Club

The first meeting of the Friendly Planet Travel Book Club is in the books, and we couldn’t be more pleased with how it went. Despite the dreary weather, travelers gathered at the Jenkintown Library in Jenkintown, Pa., to discuss our first book choice, “Radio Shangri-La” by Lisa Napoli. The team was excited to hear everyone’s reactions, and pleasantly surprised to have some well-traveled guests in our midst.

Shelly and Harriet, two attendees, contributed a wealth of knowledge about travel that I think rivals mine! Each woman loves to travel and has been all over the U.S. and the world. Shelly has been to Bhutan, so she was able to share her experiences and relate them to Lisa’s. But the conversation didn’t stop with Bhutan. The group branched off, talking about other countries and how their people relate to the Bhutanese.

The group discussed Bhutanese traditions, the country’s changing culture, how technology is influencing Bhutan, and much more. We had our camera at the ready to capture the goings-on and interesting conversations. Press play to hear it all.

What a great kick-off to our Friendly Planet Travel Book Club! We’ll be meeting again soon and we want to know: What travel book we should read next? Leave your ideas here or on our Facebook page.

Tune in with ‘Radio Shangri-La’s’ Lisa Napoli

If you’ve been following our posts lately, you probably know we’re gearing up for our first meeting of the new Friendly Planet Travel Book Club. Our office has been buzzing with conversations about “Radio Shangri-La,” the first book we’re reading. Author Lisa Napoli‘s journey to Bhutan has been sparking comments like, “What do you think it’s really like there?” and “I wish I could know more!”

Well, I was delighted when one of our Friendly Planet Travel bloggers got the opportunity to get these answers and more, directly from Lisa. Our blogger Caitlin sat down with her, via Skype, to chat about what it’s like to travel to Bhutan, the vast differences in scenery and culture from the U.S., and what working at the first youth radio station in Bhutan was really like for her.

In her book, Lisa talks about writing down three good things that happened to her everyday. Tune in to see what they were. Lisa and Caitlin also talk about the changing influence media is having on the people of Bhutan, and whether a trip to Bhutan will change the life of every person who goes there, so be sure to hit play below to see the entire conversation.

If you have any questions for Lisa, check out her website and Twitter. She has additional interviews and information about Bhutan on her YouTube channel. And if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite to read her book, Lisa has made the first 30 pages available as a sneak preview.

So after you watch our interview, I hope you’ll crack open “Radio Shangri-La,” if you haven’t already. Then please join us at the Jenkintown Library tonight from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to delve deeper into this book. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us Lisa — we had a great time!

If you’re reading ‘Radio Shangri-La’ for our first book club meeting …

… you’ll want to read this! Adam Platt, a writer for Condé Nast Traveler, detailed his experiences in Bhutan in “Bhutan or Bust!” Bhutan is the setting of “Radio Shangri-La,” so I thought this article would be the perfect introduction for readers to get to know Bhutan before diving into the book.

A self-described “neurotic lowlander,” Adam Platt is like most of us, consumed by technology, work, and a recessive economy.

But most people of Bhutan have no knowledge of these things. In fact, when Adam asks Tobgay, a young monk from Bhutan, if he has any words of advice about the recession, the monk responds, “Please explain the meaning of this word recession.

A quick overview for anyone not familiar with Bhutan: The country, while around the size of Switzerland, doesn’t have a single stoplight. It has only three movie theaters; no tall buildings; and hardly any unemployment, pollution, or crime.

The people are spiritual, pragmatic, and environmentally green. They measure progress not by GDP, but by Gross National Happiness. In fact, the country can boast that its people are among the happiest and most content in the world.

So if you want to hear more, check out Adam’s full article over on Condé Nast Traveler. And start by reading this excerpt of “Radio Shangri-La,” and then pick up the full copy and join us at our book club meeting on Nov. 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Love reading about far-off places? You’ll love the Friendly Planet Travel Book Club

Bookworms unite! If you’re passionate about reading and travel (like most of us here at Friendly Planet Travel), you’ll be delighted to hear about our latest project. Friendly Planet Travel is embarking on a journey to see the world through amazing literature with our Friendly Planet Travel Book Club.

Every month, we’ll be discussing a different travel-related novel, memoir, or travelogue. It’s a great way for all of our travelers and fans to connect and experience the joy of travel with friends and neighbors right in their own town.

We’re starting our book club by meeting in Jenkintown, Pa., where we’re located. But if you’re not from around here, we’re also starting a Facebook group so you can join us from around the planet. We’ll let you know when this group is created, and how you can get involved.

For our first meeting, we will be reading and discussing “Radio Shangri-La,” a non-fiction book by Lisa Napoli. The author, a Los Angeles-based radio journalist, tells the story of her midlife crisis and how it inspired her to pick up and move to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. She starts volunteering at the country’s first youth radio station, Kuzoo FM.

There, she experiences the simplicity and happiness of life that Bhutan is known for. And as she becomes more immersed in the culture and connected to the people around her, she begins to find the happiness that she has been searching for.

The New York Times called “”Radio Shangri-La” an “affectionate portrait of life in a slower-paced, high altitude society…[an] absorbing, often touching memoir.” We’re excited to dive into a lively discussion about Lisa’s discovery of happiness and the differences between American and Bhutan cultures.

Pick up a copy of the book on Amazon or your local bookstore and start reading! Get your friends and family to join in too. It’s a great way to spend quality time and have good, intellectual conversations with those around you.

Please join us at the Jenkintown Library on Nov. 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to discuss this amazing account of one person’s journey to happiness. Space is limited, so this will be a first come, first seated event. We look forward to seeing you there!

Beautiful Bhutan – Festivals Tour

In yesterday’s post, I started to tell you a little bit about the untouched beauty and fascinating culture of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
FP_Himalayans.jpgBhutan is a destination that even the most experienced travelers consider a privilege to visit. Perched high atop the mighty Himalayan range, the Kingdom of Bhutan has defied globalization and chosen to remain a hidden paradise. As I mentioned, even though it consistently ranks as one of the world’s top destinations, its remote location and strong preservation efforts make it accessible to only a fortunate few, and Friendly Planet Travel is honored to be included.
Our Beautiful Bhutan program makes it possible for our travelers to not only visit this exotic land, but also immerse themselves in its rich cultural traditions. Throughout the 18-day tour, Friendly Planeteers experience the enchantment of Bhutan’s ancient fortresses, monasteries, and temples; the richness of its artisan traditions; and the beauty of its pristine natural landscape as you traverse the country’s mountainous terrain.
FP_Bhutan.jpgOur unique program gives travelers plenty of time to interact with the friendly people of Bhutan, including a very special opportunity to join hundreds of Bhutanese in their celebrations of the spiritual festivals of Ura (April departure), Nimalung (June departure), Tamshing (September departure), Jambay Lhakhang (October departure), and Trongsa (December departure).
Vacationers gain an enlightened understanding of the country’s national philosophy of Gross National Happiness. But be sure to reserve your space quickly, as this once-in-a-lifetime trip is sure to sell out quickly! There are four 2009 departures left, which are listed below. For more information, be sure to have a look at our Web site.

Remaining 2009 departures:
June 23 – July 10
Sept. 18 – Oct. 5
Oct. 26 – Nov. 12
Dec. 17 – Jan. 3

An incurable optimist in Bhutan

Last week, Michael J. Fox’s "Adventures of an Incurable Optimist" aired on ABC. The special chronicled his decision to battle the effects of his Parkinson’s disease through optimism and hope. And it coincides with the release of his new book, "Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist."

FP_MJF.jpg

Nick, one of our Friendly Planet Travel team members, saw the special, and wanted to share some thoughts with the entire Friendly Planet team. And I thought those points would be wonderful to share with you here on the blog.

During the program, Michael J. Fox travels throughout the country speaking with people from all walks of life, each choosing to live a life full of hope, even in the face of various forms of adversity (such as the small dairy farmers struggling through the economy).
His journey eventually takes him to the Kingdom of Bhutan, which lies between China and India, atop of the Himalayan Mountains. Bhutan is an extremely unique country, basically cut off from the rest of the world due to its remote location and desire to keep its culture and environment "unspoiled" by modernization and globalization.
While Bhutan does track its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it value its Gross National Happiness (GNH) even more. GNH measures the quality of one’s life in terms of happiness, as opposed to wealth and material goods.
The King of Bhutan proposed the Gross International Happiness Project (GIH), based on the insight that conventional development concepts such as GNP and Per Capita Income do not properly reflect the general well being of the inhabitants of a nation. With this project, Bhutan puts the well being of individuals on top of the national development agenda.
While in Bhutan, Michael J. Fox noted that the symptoms of his Parkinson’s disease had greatly subsided, attributing it possibly to the altitude sickness medication he’d taken, or just being in Bhutan in general, which he referred to as "happiest place on Earth."
Parkinson’s affects the brain’s communication with the body, greatly impairing one’s motor skills. I watched as Fox walked throughout the rugged terrain of the country in a manner that showed no signs of his disease. It was quite amazing. Fox attended the Punakha Festival, one of the many festivals held in Bhutan throughout the year.

Bhutan allows only a small amount of travelers to enter the country each year, and Friendly Planet Travel is honored to be one of the few U.S. tour operators that offer Bhutan as a destination, with each departure including the opportunity to witness a different seasonal festival. Make sure you come back tomorrow for the full scoop on Friendly Planet Travel’s Beautiful Bhutan vacation.

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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