Upcoming Tours

November 30th, 2013

Because we are currently putting all our energies and focus into the success of Visions for Villages, Inc, the nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation and sister company of Himalayan Bootcamp, we are currently on hiatus from our annual tours for the next year.

Exciting things are in the works as we are working on an enhanced  ”Giving Back” excursion program which involves some wonderful activities in India.

Additionally, as you may know, a percentage of all net profits from our trips are donated to Visions for Villages for the projects we do in Meghalaya, and in early 2014 we will also be launching our eCommerce store with beautiful gift items from India, including lovely products from Meghalaya, India.

Please send us a message if you want to be included in our announcements for this upcoming service, the launch of our eCommerce store, and any specials we will be offering towards this trip and/or our products.

We thank you for your patience.

Natural Architecture with Living Root Bridges

October 17th, 2011

12 days and counting! Looking forward to visiting a couple more of these “living” bridges while I am in Meghalaya after my 2011 Silver Legends trip back from Bhutan.

Contrary to bridges constructed with man-made materials, these natural “living” bridges are made from the roots of the Ficus Elastica, also known as the the Indian Rubber Tree, and most are over 500 years while continuing to get stronger over time.

In an era of growing environmental consciousness, it is so refreshing to find a place where man has harnessed nature to survive and live in such harmony together for hundreds of years.

The Double Decker Living Root Bridge of Meghalaya
(Picture courtesy of Cherrapunji Resorts)


The Incredible Taj Mahal

October 15th, 2011

14 days and counting…

I can’t wait to see this beautiful monument as my clients and I visit it during our 2011 Silver Legends Himalayan Tour next month.

Emperor Shah Jehan commissioned the building of the Taj Mahal, a final resting place and mausoleum for his beloved bride and wife Mumtaz Mahal, starting one year after she died. The building started in 1632, took twenty-two years to build and twenty thousand laborers. It is spread over forty-two acres on the banks of the River Yamuna near the city of Agra and was designed in such a way that no further addition or alteration to it would be possible.


How to Convert Celsius & Fahrenheit

March 10th, 2011

pa220044On my Himalayan tours, I can go from a very hot to a very cold climate in a matter of hours and being from North America I am used to thinking of temperatures in Fahrenheit.

However Fahrenheit is becoming obsolete in many parts of the world, so I have learned to understand Celsius and be comfortable with conversions.

So I thought it might be useful to do a short little blog post on temperature conversions so you know exactly how comfortable you will be once you step into your new surroundings.

I am starting first with the actual temperature conversion formulas, just in case you want to know how the numbers came about (although there are tons of apps you can download to do this for you in a jiffy).  I will also be providing my favorite app later in this post.

To convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius use (F – 32) x 5/9 = C

Example: If it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Bali, Indonesia, (100 – 32) x 5/9, it is 37.7 degrees Celsius.

To convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit use (C x 1.8) + 32 = F

Example: If it is 20 degrees Celsius in Kathmandu, Nepal, (20 X 1.8) + 32, it is 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ConvertMe App is my personal favorite for temperature conversions without having to do the math.

What are some of your experiences?  Is there a process or conversion app that you use and like very much that you can share?

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Heart Healthy Meals – Rainbow Salad

February 25th, 2011

My Himalayan tours are all about delicious food such as our rainbow salad of delicious local vegetables, herbs and spices of the area. Although some of those greens are not available in the bay area I have found some nutritious  substitutes which I posted in a recipe a few months ago and am also sharing as a video version below.

This nutritious recipe includes power greens such as Kale and Swiss Chard. Did you know that one cup of Kale provides over 300% of Vitamin A and 80% of your Vitamin C daily needs,  while Swiss Chard provides 374% of your Vitamin K daily needs.

Other ingredients include bell peppers – high in antioxidants, phytochemicals and lycopene, known to fight heart disease, stroke and cancer while  Cilantro is a powerful cleansing agent, good for the digestion and full of antibacterial qualities.

YouTube Preview Image

The ingredients make for a filling, wonderful meal by itself or with some grilled chicken, sliced and layered over the top. It is also featured as one of recipes in The New GreenGrocer Cookbook that Pete Carcioni re-published in honor of his father Joe Carcioni the original “Greengrocer”.

Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share? Or perhaps a healthy nutritious one that has been a big hit with your kids?  Do share so we can all benefit and enjoy.

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Himalayan Tours That Give Back

February 23rd, 2011

I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. (Stephen Grellet)

Four-Children

I am amazed at the beautiful children I come across when I am in Meghalaya, India.  These kids are so quick with a smile and so endearing.  Some of the faces I saw created in me a motivation to start my nonproft Visions for Villages

 

Himalayan Eco Friendly Root Bridges

February 21st, 2011

In part 2 of our Himalayan adventures,  as we finally got to the Living Root bridge, we saw a strange and surreal looking structure suspended above a stream (which turns into a rushing swirling river dGerry_Connie-Living-Root-Bruring the monsoons).  I will never forget the multi-colored hues of the afternoon sun streaming through the trees onto the bridge that afternoon.

The bridge “building” starts when the trunk of a betel nut tree is sliced down the middle and hollowed out and the young roots of the Ficus Elastica Rubber Tree are placed inside and guided to grow to the other side of the river, taking root in the soil and thriving into these natural, eco-friendly, living Rootsroot bridges.

This process takes between fifteen and twenty years before the bridge is ready for people to cross.

Some of these bridges are over five hundred years old, over one hundred feet long and can support the weight of about fifty people at a time, and have been used by the local mountain tribes to cross swift thundering rivers and streams during the heavy monsoons.

As we crossed one of these bridges, we noticed the path was embedded (apparently many generations ago) with large stones between the growing roots, the vines eventually absorbing the stones into a completely natural walkway.

Double-Decker-650

The picture above is of a double decker root bridge. Interestingly, the rest of the world had never even heard of these bridges until fairly recently. They were discovered by Denis P. Rayen of the Cherrapunji Holiday resort as he Waterfallexplored these remote forest regions looking for hiking trails for his guests.

And as we rested for a picnic lunch by a waterfall, we felt peace in the quiet serenity and earthy fragrance of the forest around us, the gentle echo of the waterfall, the warm afternoon sun and the grateful sensation of being so blessed and alive. This is truly what a vacation should be!

What were some of your unique vacation experiences? Did they rejuvenate your mind, body and soul?

This is Part 2. (Part 1 posted  Feb 11).

When we finally got to the bridge, we saw a surreal structure that appeared to be set amidst a fairyland forest of colorful hues, suspended above a little stream (which I was told becomes a torrent of water during the monsoons), the sun’s rays streaming through the trees as the afternoon mist quietly floated in. It was an unforgettable sight.

According to the locals, the bridge “building” starts when the trunk of a betel nut tree is sliced down the middle and hollowed out, then the young roots of the Ficus Elastica Rubber Tree are placed inside and guided to grow to the other side of the river, taking root in the soil as they continue to thrive into these natural, eco-friendly, living root bridges. This process takes between fifteen and twenty years before the bridge is ready for people to cross.

Some of these bridges are over one hundred feet long, can support the weight of about fifty people at a time, and have been used by the local mountain tribes for hundreds of years to cross swift thundering rivers and streams during the heavy monsoons.

As we crossed one of these bridges, we noticed the path was embedded (apparently many generations ago) with large stones between the growing roots, the vines eventually absorbing the stones into a completely natural walkway.

The picture above is of a double decker root bridge. Interestingly, the rest of the world had never even heard of these bridges until fairly recently. They were discovered by Denis P. Rayen of the Cherrapunji Holiday resort as he explored these remote forest regions looking for hiking trails for his guests. I myself grew up about 50 miles away from these bridges and my family and I never even knew they existed until just a few years ago!

On our return back up the trail, we stopped by a beautiful waterfall for a picnic and to give our legs a much needed break. What a wonderful day – we had just encountered a time and place where man and nature co-created and co-existed in extraordi

When we finally got to the bridge, we saw a surreal structure that appeared to be set amidst a fairyland forest of colorful hues, suspended above a little stream (which I was told becomes a torrent of water during the monsoons), the sun’s rays streaming through the trees as the afternoon mist quietly floated in. It was an unforgettable sight.

According to the locals, the bridge “building” starts when the trunk of a betel nut tree is sliced down the middle and hollowed out, then the young roots of the Ficus Elastica Rubber Tree are placed inside and guided to grow to the other side of the river, taking root in the soil as they continue to thrive into these natural, eco-friendly, living root bridges. This process takes between fifteen and twenty years before the bridge is ready for people to cross.

Some of these bridges are over one hundred feet long, can support the weight of about fifty people at a time, and have been used by the local mountain tribes for hundreds of years to cross swift thundering rivers and streams during the heavy monsoons.

As we crossed one of these bridges, we noticed the path was embedded (apparently many generations ago) with large stones between the growing roots, the vines eventually absorbing the stones into a completely natural walkway.

The picture above is of a double decker root bridge. Interestingly, the rest of the world had never even heard of these bridges until fairly recently. They were discovered by Denis P. Rayen of the Cherrapunji Holiday resort as he explored these remote forest regions looking for hiking trails for his guests. I myself grew up about 50 miles away from these bridges and my family and I never even knew they existed until just a few years ago!

On our return back up the trail, we stopped by a beautiful waterfall for a picnic and to give our legs a much needed break. What a wonderful day – we had just encountered a time and place where man and nature co-created and co-existed in extraordinary harmony for hundreds of years.

And as we rested for a picnic lunch, we felt rejuvenated by the serenity and earthy fragrance of the forest around us, the gentle echo of the waterfall and the warm afternoon sun, we felt blessed, exhilarated and grateful to be alive. This is truly what a vacation should be!

What were some of your unique vacation experiences? Did they rejuvenate your mind, body and soul?

nary harmony for hundreds of years.

And as we rested, we were gently rejuvenated by the serenity and earthy fragrance of the forest around us, the gentle echo of the waterfall and the warm afternoon sun, immersed in the grateful sensation of being truly blessed and the exhilaration of bring alive. This is what a vacation should be!

What were some of your unique vacation experiences? Did they rejuvenate your mind, body and soul?

Himalayan Eco Friendly Root Bridges

February 11th, 2011

Part 1 of 2.

My husband and I went on an amazing adventure a couple of years ago…

It started deep in the rain forests of the Northeastern Himalayan foothills when we decided to visit some local living root bridges.

Talk about ecological consciousness…

Contrary to bridges constructed with man-made materials, these natural “living” bridges are made from the roots of the Ficus Elastica, also known as the the Indian Rubber Tree, and most are over 500 years while continuing to get stronger over time.

In an era of growing environmental consciousness, it is so refreshing to find a place where man has harnessed nature to survive and live in such harmony together for hundreds of years.

The start of the trek…

Together with a few friends, we traveled about 50 miles away from the city of Shillong. After a long drive through windy mountain roads, we Stepsfinally met our local guide who would take us on our hike. As we left the paved road behind, we started descending further into the mountain and pretty soon the stone path disappeared completely and we were hiking down a sturdy but sometimes slippery forest trail.

Our survival instincts took over as we picked up some wooden branches to help us keep our balance because our legs were starting to feel like Jello at this point. I was also getting a little concerned about our return journey going back “up”  this trail.

The set of Avatar?

Onward we descended as we trekked deeper into the forest with the bizarre feeling that we had just stepped into the set of Avatar, into a quiet magical jungle of deep green, lush foliage where any moment we would see Neytiri and the Na’vi people coming out to greet us.

In my next post (Part 2),  I will share the unexpected scene we saw when we got there.  Stay tuned.

_______________________________________________________


My husband and I went on an amazing adventure a few years ago that I would like to share with you today.

This particular adventure started deep in the rain forests of the Northeastern Himalayan foothills when we decided to visit some local ecological marvels – living root bridges that are part of nature itself. Contrary to bridges constructed with man-made materials, these natural “living” bridges are made from the roots of the Ficus Elastica, also known as the the Indian Rubber Tree, and most are over 500 years while continuing to get stronger over time. In an era of growing environmental consciousness, it is so refreshing to find a place where man has harnessed nature to survive and live in such harmony together for hundreds of years.

Together with a few friends, we traveled about 50 miles away from the city of Shillong. After a long drive through windy mountain roads, we finally met our local guide who would take us on our hike. As we left the paved road behind, we started descending further into the mountain and pretty soon the stone path disappeared completely and we were hiking down a sturdy but sometimes slippery forest trail. Our survival instincts took over as we picked up some wooden branches to help us keep our balance because our legs were starting to feel like Jello at this point. I was also getting a little concerned about our return journey going back “up”  this trail. Onward we descended as we trekked deeper into the forest with the bizarre feeling that we had just stepped into the set of Avatar, into a quiet magical jungle of deep green, lush foliage where any moment we would see Neytiri and the Na’vi people coming out to greet us.

When we finally got to the bridge we just stared at this surreal structure before us, set in a fairyland forest above the gentle rippling sounds of the stream below. By the way, the water was gentle because we were visiting during the dry months. During the monsoons, this gentle stream turns into a rushing, swirling, swift river. As we continued to gazed at this bio-engineering wonder in front of us, I could almost imagine the stories it could tell us – hundreds of years worth! I wondered what the original people were like who built these bridges centuries ago, what were they doing in this remote part of the jungle and how did they live?

According to the local Khasi people, the bridge “building” started when the trunk of a betel nut tree is sliced down the middle and hollowed out, then the young roots of the Ficus Elastica Rubber Tree are placed inside and these roots are then guided to grow across the swift rushing rivers and streams. When these roots get to the other side, they then take root in the soil and continue to thrive into natural, eco-friendly, living root bridges. This process takes between fifteen and twenty years before the bridge is ready for people to cross.

As we were walking on this bridge to the other side of the stream, we noticed the path on the bridge embedded with large stones which we were told were put there generations ago to cover the holes between the roots, the vines eventually absorbing the stones, growing around them as they became a part of this living bridge. Imagine that – a natural stone walkway across a bridge.

Some of these bridges are over one hundred feet long and can support the weight of about fifty people at a time. The local tribes of these mountain villages have used these bridges for hundreds of years to cross swift thundering rivers and streams during the heavy monsoons, as they travel to the local markets and so on. You can check out a picture of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge here – we were not able to see this particular bridge but from what I have heard, this is the most aggressive hike of them all. Yikes!!! Because I am not a fainthearted traveler, one of my goals this October 2011 is to go and see this one in person!

Interestingly, until just recently, the rest of the world had never even heard of these bridges. They were discovered by Denis P. Rayen of the Cherrapunji Holiday resort as he explored these remote forest regions looking for hiking trails for his guests.  I grew up about 50 miles away from these bridges and my family and I never even knew these bridges existed until just a few years ago!

On our return back up the trail, we stopped by a beautiful waterfall for a picnic and to give our legs a much needed break. Although we were pretty sore the next day (this is not a trek for the faint of heart) it was so worth it – a discovery of something trul

My husband and I went on an amazing adventure a few years ago that I would like to share with you today.

This particular adventure started deep in the rain forests of the Northeastern Himalayan foothills when we decided to visit some local ecological marvels – living root bridges that are part of nature itself. Contrary to bridges constructed with man-made materials, these natural “living” bridges are made from the roots of the Ficus Elastica, also known as the the Indian Rubber Tree, and most are over 500 years while continuing to get stronger over time. In an era of growing environmental consciousness, it is so refreshing to find a place where man has harnessed nature to survive and live in such harmony together for hundreds of years.

Together with a few friends, we traveled about 50 miles away from the city of Shillong. After a long drive through windy mountain roads, we finally met our local guide who would take us on our hike. As we left the paved road behind, we started descending further into the mountain and pretty soon the stone path disappeared completely and we were hiking down a sturdy but sometimes slippery forest trail. Our survival instincts took over as we picked up some wooden branches to help us keep our balance because our legs were starting to feel like Jello at this point. I was also getting a little concerned about our return journey going back “up”  this trail. Onward we descended as we trekked deeper into the forest with the bizarre feeling that we had just stepped into the set of Avatar, into a quiet magical jungle of deep green, lush foliage where any moment we would see Neytiri and the Na’vi people coming out to greet us.

When we finally got to the bridge we just stared at this surreal structure before us, set in a fairyland forest above the gentle rippling sounds of the stream below. By the way, the water was gentle because we were visiting during the dry months. During the monsoons, this gentle stream turns into a rushing, swirling, swift river. As we continued to gazed at this bio-engineering wonder in front of us, I could almost imagine the stories it could tell us – hundreds of years worth! I wondered what the original people were like who built these bridges centuries ago, what were they doing in this remote part of the jungle and how did they live?

According to the local Khasi people, the bridge “building” started when the trunk of a betel nut tree is sliced down the middle and hollowed out, then the young roots of the Ficus Elastica Rubber Tree are placed inside and these roots are then guided to grow across the swift rushing rivers and streams. When these roots get to the other side, they then take root in the soil and continue to thrive into natural, eco-friendly, living root bridges. This process takes between fifteen and twenty years before the bridge is ready for people to cross.

As we were walking on this bridge to the other side of the stream, we noticed the path on the bridge embedded with large stones which we were told were put there generations ago to cover the holes between the roots, the vines eventually absorbing the stones, growing around them as they became a part of this living bridge. Imagine that – a natural stone walkway across a bridge.

Some of these bridges are over one hundred feet long and can support the weight of about fifty people at a time. The local tribes of these mountain villages have used these bridges for hundreds of years to cross swift thundering rivers and streams during the heavy monsoons, as they travel to the local markets and so on. You can check out a picture of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge here – we were not able to see this particular bridge but from what I have heard, this is the most aggressive hike of them all. Yikes!!! Because I am not a fainthearted traveler, one of my goals this October 2011 is to go and see this one in person!

Interestingly, until just recently, the rest of the world had never even heard of these bridges. They were discovered by Denis P. Rayen of the Cherrapunji Holiday resort as he explored these remote forest regions looking for hiking trails for his guests.  I grew up about 50 miles away from these bridges and my family and I never even knew these bridges existed until just a few years ago!

On our return back up the trail, we stopped by a beautiful waterfall for a picnic and to give our legs a much needed break. Although we were pretty sore the next day (this is not a trek for the faint of heart) it was so worth it – a discovery of something truly unique and magical, worlds away from reality. You see, we had arrived at an enchanting place that encouraged soft whispers so as not to disturb the silence of the forest or the serenity of the gentle, soothing sounds of the waterfall, beckoning us to bask luxuriously in the warm afternoon sunshine, to relax on the surrounding rocks as we dipped our feet in the cool waters, immersed in the grateful sensation of being truly blessed and the exhilaration of bring alive.

y unique and magical, worlds away from reality. You see, we had arrived at an enchanting place that encouraged soft whispers so as not to disturb the silence of the forest or the serenity of the gentle, soothing sounds of the waterfall, beckoning us to bask luxuriously in the warm afternoon sunshine, to relax on the surrounding rocks as we dipped our feet in the cool waters, immersed in the grateful sensation of being truly blessed and the exhilaration of bring alive.

Best days for booking airline tickets

January 30th, 2011

Connie-AvatarWhether you are planning to book a Himalayan adventure or simply fly across the state you live in, did you know that internet airline tickets are usually discounted between 15% and 25% by Monday night?

By  Tuesday, competitors match or exceed these prices so you may be able to purchase them for an even lower price – so Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the best days to purchase your online tickets.

For example, according to Smart Money dated Jan 28, 2011, a Chicago-Atlanta round-trip ticket for April travel dates cost $209 on Tuesday and Wednesday on American and Delta, but then $301 for the next four days.

When Tuesday rolled around last week, the fare dropped to $219 at both airlines for the April 8-15 itinerary. By Friday it was up to $307 at both American and Delta. Come Tuesday this week, the fare was down to $229”. This is a 33% savings.

And what are worst days to buy airline tickets?

Well, it looks like Saturdays and Sundays are the worst times to purchase because airlines don’t manage their inventory as actively until they come back to work on Mondays.

Although Social Media may change this trend as it appears some airlines are tweeting special fares that are only valid for an hour, or they send messages on their discounts to customers who sign up for fare alerts. By the way, you can get alerted on fares by signing up with AirfareWatchdog.com

On any alerts for online airfares you are thinking of purchasing, you might want to first go to that airline’s website and check – they might have discounted that exact flight for even less.

How do you get the best price for your airline tickets? Do you have any special programs or tools that you use to save money? I would love to hear back from you.

It’s a Wonderful World of Givers

January 24th, 2011

Kids5People are amazingly helpful and kind. Sometimes we get so immersed in the news which seems to mainly focus on all the negative people and activities we sometimes forget to appreciate all the wonderful things that happen to us every day.

In this blog post, I want to focus on some positive things that have happened to me lately and all the people who helped or are helping to make something wonderful happen with their kindness and compassionate spirit.

The back burner

Some of you may be aware that I live in the bay area but originally come from the Himalayan foothills of Northeastern India, but just in case you didn’t know, I grew up precisely in that area of the world for about 16 years and love this community of my childhood years very, very dearly. Additionally, I have wanted for many years to go back and do something meaningful for some of these people who struggle very hard just to make a living and to help underpriviledged children in the region, however my busy life, career and family responsibilities have kept this as a future “to do” project.

Getting started

Well, about 8 months ago I joined the Reading Between The Wines book club, which is part of a larger group of the South Bay Women’s Social Group and it just happened that Yoke, the organizer of this Social Group was part of the 8 women in this book club. In December of last year, I asked Yoke if I can approach her group to see if there are any women who might want to participate in getting some warm clothing and other essential needs for the people in the region I wanted to help.

Kindness and compassion

After I talked at length to Yoke about my vision and what I hoped to accomplish, she and her group ADOPTED MY PROJECT as their Giving Back activity for 2011! Then she scheduled me to give a presentation about this at their bi-annual “Meet and Greet” on Jan 20, 2011.

A friend in another country

It also so happened that a couple of years ago, a friend of our family in India came to visit us here in the US with a couple of his friends, one of who was the Commissioner of the state of Meghalaya. This friend (the Commissioner) is now playing an integral part as my contact in India who is helping me in getting this project implemented

Photographs that were meant to be

DSCN1324

On top of that, my sister and her family who live here in California happened to be in India in December for the holidays, and were able to visit the actual village and getting pictures of the people and place we will actually be helping this year. And she got back just in time (Jan 14) for me to get the photographs so I could include them in my presentation.

The kindness of strangers

So last week at the “Meet and Greet”, I did my presentation on my Adopt a Himalayan Village project and the feedback and response was amazing! Some of the ladies who attended offered donations of clothing, some offered their time and expertise, while others offered both, to get this project implemented.  Some even thanked me for reminding them of how much we all have.  I was overwhelmed by kindness. That is part of the reason I feel so strongly about creating Himalayan tours, to help connect others with the place that has such a big area of my heart.

Another amazing person I met who was also a presenter at the Meet and Greet was Dr. Rafael Lopez of Chiropractic from the Heart.  Dr. Rafael goes to El Salvador and Nicaragua every year with a group of chiropractors and donates his services to the people there who need help. He gave a great presentation of his services and offered his initial services for an unbelievable price of $197 AND then he said he would donate $100 of it to my village project! That really touched me.

Goodness surrounds us…

I believe I am surrounded by givers – certainly all the people I mentioned above are givers… I have also found that Americans on the whole are the kindest, most compassionate people I have ever seen. I am so grateful to live here. Furthermore, my friend in India is also taking time out of his busy schedule to further this cause and help others. What a wonderful world we live in – filled with amazing, caring individuals. The evening broadcast does not focus enough on good news, but we can.

What about you?

What are your experiences with giving back? Do you have a vision or idea on how you would like to give back? What is YOUR good news today?

The information in this blog is for educational purposes only. For diagnosis or treatment of any medical problem, please consult your licensed health care practitioner.