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At the summit. I'm really cold.

Climbing Kilimanjaro: Journey to the Summit

After preparing for my Kilimanjaro climb, here are some of the highlights from my trek. Day 1 – 4.3 miles/2,067 ft ascent (6.7 km/630 meters) 6:30 am Last hot shower at the hotel is not hot. There also isn’t any water. This is a most displeasing send-off. 7:30 Meet my fellow hikers: 2 Canadians and […]

Prepared for the summit.

Climbing Kilimanjaro

Tomorrow morning, I will begin what will be a, 49.8 mile (80.2 km), 7 day trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro. At 19,341 feet (5,895 meters), it is the highest peak in Africa, the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and will be the tallest mountain I’ve ever climbed — that is, if I succeed. According to […]

"Ally Sotak" voter education meeting in Fayoum.

Observing Egypt

Last night I had a dream that I was working an election where no one, including candidates, were sure of who was going to be on the ballot until two weeks before Election Day, where no one knew what the ballot physically looked like, and most of the country still doesn’t know where they can […]

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Cairo Billboard Greeting

This advertisement was the first thing to greet us in Cairo as we disembarked from the plane. It’s a billboard for Mobilini, a cell phone company here that quotes Obama speaking about Egyptian revolutionaries. The only problem is that, while the sentiment is positive, the quote doesn’t seem to be real. It seemed odd to […]

Very proud Chinese man.

China: Reflections on the Great Divide

After nearly two months in China, Sasha and I have holed up in a hotel in Katmandu, Nepal where we’re taking advantage of some unfettered access to the Internet to catch up on the blog and wait for Sasha’s sister to arrive. We’ve gotten more questions about China and what it’s like from friends and […]

Barley wine break.

Barley Wine Break

After our time in Lhasa, we spent 4 days driving to Tibet’s southern border with Nepal, stopping at monasteries along the way. Tibet is a land of extremes. It has an average altitude of 4,500 meters (14,800 feet) – the highest in the world. Our bodies were particularly aware of this fact on the high […]

View from Rongbuk monastery.

The Big Top: Everest Base Camp

Okay, so braving base camp on the Tibetan side isn’t as hard as it sounds. No week of climbing in the freezing cold needed. The Tibetan plateau is so high that the country is practically already on the snow level of Everest. To compare, if you’re on the Nepal side you’ll spend a week hiking […]

Monk asking a question.

Never Argue with a Monk

When our guide said we should go watch the monks debate, we thought he was using the wrong word. But it turns out monks are the liveliest and most compelling debaters I’ve ever seen, even though I didn’t understand a word. As we approached the courtyard of the Sera Monastery, we could hear yelling and […]

Lhasa beer...

Happy Birthday to Josh

Celebrating Josh with a Lhasa beer, that makes you a little more out of breath when you’re at 16,000 feet, and a yak steak (surprisingly tasty)! Happy birthday, my love. Lhasa beer…

We took this photo for the family and asked if we could take one of our own.

Then Tell The World

The Dalai Lama said, “Go to Tibet and see many places, as much as you can; then tell the world.” Here it goes… Visiting Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace, the former home of the Dalai Lama, was the most difficult day of the trip so far. The palace was stunning. Perched on a hill overlooking […]

At the summit. I'm really cold.

Climbing Kilimanjaro: Journey to the Summit

After preparing for my Kilimanjaro climb, here are some of the highlights from my trek. Day 1 – 4.3 miles/2,067 ft ascent (6.7 km/630 meters) 6:30 am Last hot shower at the hotel is not hot. There also isn’t any water. This is a most displeasing send-off. 7:30 Meet my fellow hikers: 2 Canadians and […]

Prepared for the summit.

Climbing Kilimanjaro

Tomorrow morning, I will begin what will be a, 49.8 mile (80.2 km), 7 day trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro. At 19,341 feet (5,895 meters), it is the highest peak in Africa, the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and will be the tallest mountain I’ve ever climbed — that is, if I succeed. According to […]

Passion Fruit Fanta

Passion fruit Fanta might just be a reason to stay in Tanzania.

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Oranges and Sunflower Seeds

Heading to Petra, waiting at the crazy port in Sinai with Egyptians, Jordanians and Palestinians for the slow ferry to Jordan. Without a word, men gave us oranges and sunflowers seeds. Women shepherded me in the right line for the ladies. Just another of the daily indicators about how wonderful people here are.

"Ally Sotak" voter education meeting in Fayoum.

Observing Egypt

Last night I had a dream that I was working an election where no one, including candidates, were sure of who was going to be on the ballot until two weeks before Election Day, where no one knew what the ballot physically looked like, and most of the country still doesn’t know where they can […]

photo (2)

Cairo Billboard Greeting

This advertisement was the first thing to greet us in Cairo as we disembarked from the plane. It’s a billboard for Mobilini, a cell phone company here that quotes Obama speaking about Egyptian revolutionaries. The only problem is that, while the sentiment is positive, the quote doesn’t seem to be real. It seemed odd to […]

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#1 United Employee

We were lucky to “bump into” United’s #1 employee yesterday in London at Heathrow airport, on our way to Cairo, Egypt. Bonus!

Very proud Chinese man.

China: Reflections on the Great Divide

After nearly two months in China, Sasha and I have holed up in a hotel in Katmandu, Nepal where we’re taking advantage of some unfettered access to the Internet to catch up on the blog and wait for Sasha’s sister to arrive. We’ve gotten more questions about China and what it’s like from friends and […]

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Totalitarian Time Zones

We just arrived in Nepal. As we crossed the border we set our watches and cameras back two hours and 15 minutes (UTC +5:45). Not sure whose idea it was to put them a quarter of an hour off from the rest of the world but we’re going along with it. Of course, that’s nothing […]

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New Country. New Beer.

Everest beer on our first night in Kathmandu, Nepal. I think it’s Nepal’s version of Budweiser, but after the week-long haul across Tibet that, awesome though it was, left us exhausted and dirty, it’s hitting the spot. Beer first, shower second…  

Barley wine break.

Barley Wine Break

After our time in Lhasa, we spent 4 days driving to Tibet’s southern border with Nepal, stopping at monasteries along the way. Tibet is a land of extremes. It has an average altitude of 4,500 meters (14,800 feet) – the highest in the world. Our bodies were particularly aware of this fact on the high […]

View from Rongbuk monastery.

The Big Top: Everest Base Camp

Okay, so braving base camp on the Tibetan side isn’t as hard as it sounds. No week of climbing in the freezing cold needed. The Tibetan plateau is so high that the country is practically already on the snow level of Everest. To compare, if you’re on the Nepal side you’ll spend a week hiking […]

Monk asking a question.

Never Argue with a Monk

When our guide said we should go watch the monks debate, we thought he was using the wrong word. But it turns out monks are the liveliest and most compelling debaters I’ve ever seen, even though I didn’t understand a word. As we approached the courtyard of the Sera Monastery, we could hear yelling and […]

Lhasa beer...

Happy Birthday to Josh

Celebrating Josh with a Lhasa beer, that makes you a little more out of breath when you’re at 16,000 feet, and a yak steak (surprisingly tasty)! Happy birthday, my love. Lhasa beer…

We took this photo for the family and asked if we could take one of our own.

Then Tell The World

The Dalai Lama said, “Go to Tibet and see many places, as much as you can; then tell the world.” Here it goes… Visiting Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace, the former home of the Dalai Lama, was the most difficult day of the trip so far. The palace was stunning. Perched on a hill overlooking […]