Tag Archives: Beth Reiber

Memories of Isla Amantani, Peru

Isla Amantani, Lake Titicaca, Peru

Isla Amantani, Lake Titicaca, Peru

It’s been many years since I spent a month in Peru with my two sons and my sister Kristin’s family, so Memories of Isla Amantani, Peru, is lifted word-for-word from my journal. The island lies in Lake Titicaca, the highest fresh-water lake in the world, and is one of my favorite places in the country. I’ve kept a journal since I was 12. Sometimes I wonder whether I, like seemingly everyone else these days, should write a memoir.

From Puno on the way to Cusco, July 17, 2008

“If this is impossible to read, it’s because we’re on the bus from hell. The seats are broken, there are no seatbelts, the suspension is shot, and we have 7 hours ahead of us. We opted for the local direct bus rather than the tourist bus that made stops along the way because the tourist bus cost $45 per person including admissions and the local bus cost about $8.

We spent the past 4 days on islands on Lake Titicaca, Isla Amantani and Isla Tequile.

A communal effort building a house on Isla Amantani

A communal effort building a house on Isla Amantani

Both had red, rocky terrain that rose steeply from the shore, with stone or sand footpaths linking adobe houses schools, the market, tiny stores selling candy, drinks, eggs and central plaza. There was no running water, and everyone hauled water from open wells up the steep slopes. Toilets were outhouses, holes in the ground, though where we stayed toilets had been installed over holes in the ground but you still flushed them by pouring in water. Cooking was done with a propane stove or over a fire. Electricity was limited or nonexistent.

On the way to the islands we stopped at the so-called “Floating Islands,” where communities lived on matted reeds in reed houses. They originally moved to the reeds to escape fiercer people, and there are still families who live isolated just as they have always done, but  the families we visited were there purely for us. Being an architect, Kristin found it fascinating, and I was glad they were able to make some money from tourists.

Floating Island on Lake Titicaca

Floating Island on Lake Titicaca

Then it was on to Amantani, the more primitive of the two islands. We stayed with a woman who went by Gladys and her 9-year-0ld daughter. Our 2 rooms were simple, built specifically for tourists, with beds and a table, a wood-plank floor, and candles for lighting. Gladys made us soup for dinner, trout the second night, pancakes for breakfast….

The daughter of Gladys, the single mom where we stayed

The daughter of Gladys, the single mom where we stayed

I liked watching the village life, the people were all shyly friendly and greeted with an “Hola” or “Buenas tardes.” They wore traditional dress, the women in full colorful skirts and embroidered black shawls. The children played with balls, tops, marbles. I don’t think people bathed much–why would they, with no bathrooms, no running water, and no hot water. Even we didn’t bathe for 4 days.

Life on Amantani was about the things you had to do daily to survive–haul water, cook meals, herd sheep, gather eggs from chickens, wash clothes by hand and hang them in the sun to dry, weave or knit clothing (which, amazingly, they didn’t try to sell to tourists; in fact, there were no goods produced for tourists). In a way, it was like camping, busy but so much less stressful or busy than our technical lives. And although our stay seemed primitive, and not hygienically clean, we met a couple who had it far worse. The old woman they stayed with (all accommodations on the islands are homestays) kept 7 guinea pigs in her kitchen [guinea pigs are a delicacy in Peru], along with cats, and there was feces on the floor and flies everywhere.

Herding sheep across Amantani's central square

Herding sheep across Amantani’s central square

Tequile was more heavily touristed, mainly by day trippers. There was a communal store selling handwoven or hand-knitted hats, gloves and shirts. We hiked, first to a school where a teacher invited us to visit and classroom and then to stone ruins dating from 100 B.C. The ruins were magical, neglected and empty. Peru, perhaps, has so many ruins, something 2,100 years old isn’t special.”

Our hostess, Gladys, accompanies us to the boat to wave goodby on our departure

Our hostess, Gladys, accompanies us to the boat to wave goodby on our departure

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Lawrence Magazine Features Me

It’s always nice to get recognition in your hometown, especially if most people you know never read anything you write (unless, of course, they happen to be traveling to Japan….).

This short article appeared in the winter edition of Lawrence Magazine, ironically, photonot long after my spectacular bicycle crash in which I broke my left arm and several fingers in my right hand, thereby rendering me incapable of hefting a suitcase, not to mention typing.

After surgeries in October and November (metal plate and eight screws in my arm; two screws in my right-hand little finger, which had only 15% of the remaining middle joint intact and required a bone graft from my hand) I am much better, since almost anything would be better than not being able to dress yourself, wash your own hair or cut your own food. Indeed, my left arm is now out of its sling and I can remove my finger brace to type, but there are several months of therapy in my future. Someday I’ll be on the road again.

Lawrence Magazine, Winter 2015

 

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Stanley, Hong Kong

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Stanley waterfront

Almost every time I’ve been in Hong Kong–and I can’t even count how many that would be over the past 30-some years–I’ve spent at least part of a day in Stanley, on the south end of Hong Kong Island. It’s

Entrance to Stanley Market

Entrance to Stanley Market

long been known for its market, meaning, of course, that it’s no longer the place to go for bargains. In fact, whereas years ago the market dealt only in clothing, over the past couple of decades souvenirs have crept into the mix–which can only mean one thing: tourists.

But although Stanley Market has changed, I still love going there. PartIMG_4661 of it has to do with the wild ride to get there, best done in a double-decker bus that careens around corners and races over hills, gradually revealing glimpses of the South China Sea. The village of Stanley, long a popular enclave for expats, is laid-back and trendy, with good restaurants and a beach popular with families.

For more on Stanley, see this article in Global Traveler:

http://www.globaltravelerusa.com/stanley-hong-kong/

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Tokyo Woos Tourists, Business Entrepreneurs

View of Tokyo toward Tokyo Bay

View of Tokyo toward Tokyo Bay

Tokyo’s working climate has changed dramatically since Debbie Howard came to Japan in 1985 and subsequently set up her own market research company. Japan was on top of the world back then, and most Japanese seemed content with their own products and way of doing business. But the 1992 economic bubble burst made it painfully clear that Japan could no longer live without joining the global market. The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown was a wake-up call that Japan also needed international tourists.

Ginza

The Ginza

After launching an aggressive campaign to increase the number of international tourists to Japan, 2014 brought the largest number of foreign visitors ever, 13 million compared to 8.6 million in 2010. Japan’s goal is to have 20 million visitors by 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympic summer games.

Tokyo is also opening itself to foreign investors by creating economic incentives and providing assistance with complicated paperwork. All this and more is in my article Tokyo Focuses On A Successful Future appearing in the June issue of Global Traveler.

Young girl in New Otani Hotel's garden

Young girl in New Otani Hotel’s garden

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Hong Kong for Business Travelers

My business in Hong Kong is to write about it so others can be informed

MIC Kitchen in out-of-the-way Kwun Tong serves innovative cuisine

MIC Kitchen in out-of-the-way Kwun Tong serves innovative cuisine

and hopefully spend most of their valuable time enjoying it to the utmost. I hit the bars, dine til I can eat no more at restaurants that have stood the test of time and at new ones that are the talk of the town, check out the latest attractions and then drop dead-tired in as many hotels as I can fit in my schedule.

The Maritime Museum, with a new home right on the water at the Central Ferry Pier, provides great view of Victoria Harbour

The Maritime Museum, with a new home right on the water at the Central Ferry Pier, provides great view of Victoria Harbour

And I’ve been doing it for 30 years. Hong Kong Makes Doing Business a Pleasure is a roundup of some of my discoveries, published in the March issue of Global Traveler. And it’s true, Hong Kong is a great place for business travelers. There are restaurants galore, some of the best hotels in the world, and a wealth of shopping and sightseeing opportunities that can be slipped into a busy itinerary no matter where you are. You can spend all day in a business meeting, go to dinner at a fabulous restaurant with views over the glittering city and then get up on your day off and hike the Dragon’s Back Trail right in the middle of Hong Kong Island.

But no matter how long your trip, it won’t be long enough. It never is for me.

Ozone

The Ozone in the Ritz-Carlton is the highest bar in the world

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Lodging in Japan

Ah, sleep. Does it matter where we do it? Absolutely!

Every country has its share of unique lodging opportunities, from castles and manors in England to eco-lodge treehouses in South America.

In Japan, there are the usual luxury hotels (though there’s nothing usual

The Unzen Kanko Hotel opened in 1935

The Unzen Kanko Hotel opened in 1935

about the wealth of decor and degree of polished service) and mainstream tourist hotels. But there are also traditional Japanese inns, Buddhist temples, love hotels (usually rented by the hour but also available for overnight stays), capsule hotels with coffin-sized accommodations, government-owned lodges in national parks and more.

Information on these and others, as well as where to go for more information, is the focus of my article Japan Lodging: Inns, Temples, Luxury Hotels and More in IndependentTraveler.com.

The Conrad Tokyo provides mesmerizing views of Tokyo Bay and Hama Rikyu Garden from many of its rooms

The Conrad Tokyo provides mesmerizing views of Tokyo Bay and Hama Rikyu Garden from many of its rooms

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12 Best Experiences in Japan

There’s so much to do in Japan, you could write a book about it! But it seems lists are big these days.

The five best luxury hotels in Hong Kong. The best national parks in the U.S. The best beaches in the world.

Here’s my contribution to the world of lists: The 12 Best Japan Experiences, published February 2014 in IndependentTraveler.com. Japanese cuisine, the Buddhist temples of Mt. Koya, biking across the Shimanami Kaido, the art island of Naoshima, hot-spring baths and more are on the list. But seriously, it should be The 100 Best Japan Experiences.

Naoshima combines scenic beauty with cutting-edge art

Naoshima combines scenic beauty with cutting-edge art

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AAA Promotes “Affordable Japan” tour with my Articles

AAA is offering a guided tour of Japan, which I think is great (Japan still needs tourists, even two years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant fiasco devastated the Tohoku coast and sent the economy into a tailspin). This tour will take in Tokyo and Kyoto, plus a stop in Hakone along the way. You can read more about the tour in AAA Traveler’s March/April 2013 issue in my article, The Many Faces of Japan. (Well, maybe; you have to enter a zip code for Northern CA, Utah or Nevada; try 89501 for Reno).

In the same issue’s emag is my spread on Japanese baths and etiquette in Japan called Getting into Hot Water.

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Branson App featured in Branson Tri-Lakes News

My Branson app, Branson & Beyond Traveler, was featured in an article in the Branson Tri-Lakes News. There aren’t any other apps out there on Branson that are written by an independent author (the others are from specific resorts or organizations pushing specific products). Here’s the link:

Branson Tri-Lake News

 

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Second interview by JNTO

The Japan National Tourist Organization said my first video in May drew 1,000 hits over the past month–more hits, in fact, than Justin Bieber! (My friend Debbie calls it Reiber fever). JNTO filmed a second interview just before I departed Tokyo last week; you can see me just after Lady Gaga. Rubbing elbows with celebrities, if only in cyberspace.

watch?v=mlEvSaGQTQQ

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