Long thought to be the site of the storied Shangri La, in 2001 we traveled to Bhutan, an isolated kingdom of great beauty and charm. It is the only country concerned with the “GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS” of its people! The airport is a drama in itself, surrounded by Himalyas, the runway in a valley is very short. The weather must be perfect in order to land. When we were there, TV had just been introduced to the country. Imagine that! 2001 and still no TV. We hope the culture survived!
In 1994 we visited Cambodia where we spent some time in Phnom Penh bearing witness to the results of the horrible Khmer Rouge era during which 8 million Cambodians were killed. We then moved on to Siem Riep to marvel at the ruins of Angkor Wat. When we were in Sem Riep it was still a very undeveloped village. Sapers were busy in the ruins, removing buried explosives, our hotel, the Grand, may have been grand in its day but then the front land served as a dump. We understand that it was transformed into a luxe hostelry with lavish gardens.
Tennis took us to China in 2002 to report on the masters in Shanghai. One of the world’s oldest civilizations, we visited many of the important cities and sites in the huge country. Guilin, Xian, Beijing, Shanghai. With friends who graciously included us int heir trip, we visited Qi Dong, learning about the generosity and kindness of a family whose founding father came from there, made good and returns every year to see what the village needs at that time.
During our 1994 swing through Southeast Asia, again for tennis, Davis Cup in New Delhi, we toured Rajasthan, visiting Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. Also Agra to see the fabled Taj Mahal. I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but found it to be profoundly moving. I thought that everyone I loved should make the pilgrimage during their lifetime, it is that incredible.
We had passed through Bangkok a few times before beginning to explore beguiling Thailand. What brought us there was the Prince Royals’ College in Chiang Mai, a school founded in 1887 by Bud’s missionary grandparents. Since our first visit to the school in 2007, we have seen a lot of Thailand and made several good friends. In 2010 we dedicated and opened the three Bud Collins Tennis Courts at the school in honor of Bud’s 80th birthday which had been the previous year. Bangkok 1994, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
One of my great adventures. I am so glad to have traveled to Tibet in 1988 while there still existed a semblance of their incredible culture. There was a window of opportunity that November, between closures to the outside world. We spent time in Lhasa, continuing overland through Shigatse to Rombuk Monastery, trekking on the north side of Mount Everest to the first base camp.
Viet Nam was part of our 1994 swing through Southeast Asia. Bud had been there, covering the war, going in a hawk, coming out a dove. The country was totally undeveloped when we were there for three weeks, traveling by bus, boat, train and plane. We went, from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang, to Hue to Ha Noi , Cat Ba and Ha Long Bay. We were there the day President Clinton normalized relations with the Vietnamese. They were celebratory. We visited My Lai and a village that Bud had covered during the war, An Tinh. It had been obliterated nine times by US forces.