Planning: Bhutan 2018

I have a whole series of posts dedicated to my thread on the nature of mind.  Those posts will have to wait a while, as I work on my planning for international travel in 2018.  My original plan was to travel to Bhutan and Japan this summer with a small group of students.  Sadly, a couple of folks had to drop out making the travel almost impossible and prohibitively expensive.  As a result, we rearranged our plans for a summer 2018 trip.

Planning a trip to Asia takes a lot of time and a decent amount of pre-planning.  The time commitment includes finding places to stay, monitoring plane flights, and creating a daily plan for the trip.  Namgay at Illuminating Tours has been my go to trip expert in Bhutan and he and I work on a plan for travel that students will enjoy.  For Japan, all of the work comes from my own research and searches for the best possible experience for middle and high school students.

Planning a trip with students can be a daunting task.  Many of us use tours companies like EF or ACIS, or other groups to simplify the process.  While those companies offer great options, I am more interested in creating experiences that involve students getting to know a place.  That is one reason why when we travel to Japan, we stay in one location, getting to know a neighborhood, families who live there, and making daily decisions about what we want to do on that day.

This shift from packaged tours with large groups of people to small groups making adhoc decisions has been wonderful and stressful.  For example, being in a place and finding that the one place you planned to go to on that day is closed.   That approach is one of the risks of traveling with students internationally without a very specific itinerary in place.

My approach to planning, then, involves putting together an idea of what we can do and letting students and parents know that some of the things we planned may change.  For example, on a recent trip to Kyoto, the weather was so hot that we chose to avoid a long hike through the Arashiyama area and instead stayed closer to town.

When it comes down to it, I create international travel based on a couple of driving principles: can I offer students an experience that is unique and exceptional, and will that experience linger past the few days after we return home.  Simply put, I have made a lasting impact on the hearts and minds of the people who travel with me to Asia?

In 2018, we return to Kyoto and the home stay in the machiya district not far from Gion.  We will stay in the Juichi-an and Aotake-an residences.  In addition, I’ve scheduled a couple of bicycle tours of Kyoto which will allow us to see a bit more of the city.TGF_2673

Also, for this upcoming trip, the Bhutan piece will include a trip to Mongar and Lhuntse.  I want students to meet with weavers and connect with the folks who make their living from textiles.  This ancient practice transcends culture and time, extending back into the distant past.  Arguably, textile production was among the first types of production developed after intensive agriculture.  In many ways, intensive agriculture and textile production went hand in hand as communities developed.  In Bhutan, such production is spread across the country and some of the silk textiles made in Bhutan are produced in Lhuntse.  For some detailed information, check out: Lhuntse.

I will continue to update the plan for travel to Asia in the coming weeks.  The entire plan will be finalized by April.  More to come soon….