Ever wonder what retired Oak Park teachers do? Some of us just fade to other parts of the world. Here is a summary of the itinerary for my recent trip to China, Tibet, and Nepal, with Marlene Lynch, owner of Marks Travel at Chicago and Harlem.

We discovered our shared passion for travel when I taught two of her three sons at Mann Elementary School and brought in slides and objects from Europe, Asia, and Africa. I missed teaching her first son because I was on leave from District 97 in order to teach a master’s program in curriculum and instruction to Department of Defense teachers in Germany for two years where I spawned my traveling obsession. Marlene and I continued our travel conversations in the locker room at Ridgeland Common every summer at 7 a.m. following the early morning swim.

After years of postponement, we finally embarked on March 31 at 12:19 p.m. for a 17-hour flight to Hong Kong. After a quick early morning tour of the harbor at Kowloon, we flew to Kunming, and then on to Lijiang. We avoided the usual tourist attractions of the Great Wall and the terra cotta soldiers and the panda preserve in order to traverse the less popular province of Yunnan in the Southwest of China which contains the largest minority population. There we interacted with Yi, Naxi, and Tibetan people.

April 3: Tour of Yak Meadow of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains, Yuhu, Baisha, Black Dragon Pool, and Dongba Museum. Ate in the old town of LiJiang.

April 4: 5 hr. overland drive to Zhongdian (more commonly known as Shangri-la) viewing the First Bend of the Yangzi River and the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

April 5: Toured Zhongdian and Pu Da Cuo National Park.

April 6, a.m.: Toured Ganden Songzanglin Monastery, Napa Lake, and Nixi.

April 6, p.m.: Flew to Kunming and on to Xinging.

April 7, a.m.: Tour of Kimblum Monastery and also ethnic museum. Embarked on the Tibet Express for a 26-hour journey beginning at 8:30 p.m.

April 8, 10:30 p.m.: Arrived Lhasa by train.

April 9: Full-day tour of Lhasa including the Potala Palace, the Jokang Monastery, and the Bharkor.

April 10: Toured Drepung Monastery and Lhasa.

April 11: Drove from Lhasa to Gyantse (3950 m. elevation) via Lake Yamdruk Tso.

April 12: Toured the monastery at Gyantse and drove to Shigatse; then continued to Lhatse (3950 m.).

April 13: Lhatse to Rhongpu (4920 m.).

April 14: From Rhongpu hiked to Everest Base Camp. Drove on to Zhangmu (2200 m.).

(All drives were “shortcuts” over mountains, through streams, and on rocky glacial beds.)

April 15: Kodari to Kathmandu.

April 16: Toured religious sites and flew Buddha Airways to eastern Nepal. ( I felt we were in good hands.) Drove 1 1/2 hours to Tiger Top Karnali Lodge in Royal Bardia National Park. Elephant safari.

April 17: Another elephant-back safari to spot Royal Bengali tigers. Crocodile breeding station. Jeep safari.

April 18: River rafting. Elephant rehabilitation center.

April 19: Elephant safari. Village walk. Flew back to Kathmandu.

April 20: Departure for Bangkok. Two nights at the Peninsula.

April 22, 6:50 a.m.: Departed Bangkok. Arrived Tokyo, 3 p.m. 5 p.m., departed Tokyo for Seattle. Arrived 9:43 a.m. 11:09 a.m., departed Seattle for ORD. Arrived 4:57 p.m. Slept.

Of course, each place mentioned has its own story. And the people we met are the protagonists. It’s always the people who trigger the memories. It is the Tibetan people who left a bleeding impression. The Saturday after we returned, we went to Millennium Park to hear and see the Dalai Lama.

P.S. Marlene is a die-hard Republican, and I am a knee-jerk liberal. What, perhaps, surprised me most was how well we got along!

Pat Healey Ph.D. (Yes, students, I finally finished it)

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