Himalayan architecture in the capital
city Thimpho, Kingdom of Bhutan – Photo by Gig Gwin
A Life of Travel and Adventures
“Drawing on four decades of adventure and
over three million miles of travel, I hope you will
enjoy this anthology of my world explorations.”- Gig
With rifles aimed at my head, by approaching Taliban
soldiers, stepped across the white line into Afghanistan,
and then retreated to the safety of Iran.
Before the fall of communism, helped a local volunteer
brigade create a military Identification card for their
new, secret national guard.
Drove by the world’s first oil fields near Baku.
Bali - Passed
terraced rice fields and entered a temple as monkeys
climbed over my shoulders, then in the evening, watched a
hundred swaying dancers perform the intoxicating monkey
In Dhaka, observed crowded dilapidated trains with
passengers riding upon the train roofs.
Found Shangri-La high in the Himalayan Mountains, a remote
country that nurtures the kindest people on earth.
Borneo - Blew
a dart from a tribal blow gun into the jungle; and at an
animal reserve, was punched in the chest by an orangutan
mother when I got too close to her baby.
Burma - Never
will forget the sunset from Mandalay Hill as Buddhist
monks prayed at a thousand white pagoda shrines; watched
working elephants load teak wood on river barges and rode
a local ox cart between the red and white temples of
Pagan; in the city of Rangoon, viewed the shimmering
pagoda of Shwedagon, towering 365 feet and decorated with
60 tons of gold.
Walked barefooted on the solid silver pagoda floor in
Phnom Penh; drove to the killing fields, where a 50-foot
tower of skulls stands as a reminder to the genocide of
Pol Pot and the Khemer Rouge; continued to the deep
Southeast Asian jungle to explore the world’s largest
religious shrine at Angkor Wat.
Climbed the Great Wall, devoured Peking Duck, then three
months after the shooting in Tiananmen Square, found
myself the lone tourist as I walked through the Forbidden
City; will always remember the terra cotta soldiers of
Xian, Middle China; cruised the three gorges of the
Yangsee River. Years before, in 1979, took Rolls Royce
executives to Canton’s best hotel, featuring mosquito
netting and fish head entrees, when all of China was
dressed in Mao style outfits.
Soaked myself in an ancient bathhouse built by Ottoman
Turks in Tblisi.
Hong Kong -
Was invited aboard a millionaire’s junk in Repulse Bay,
and fitted for tightly tailored suits that I quickly
During the full moon, experienced the unparalleled
splendor of the Taj Mahal; rode a lumbering elephant up to
the Amber Palace in Jaipur, watched devoted Hindus immerse
themselves in the rejuvenating Ganges River, could not
believe the massive hand-carved ruins of Ellora and Ajanta
Japan - Raced
past Mount Fuji on the Bullet Train, then meditated at the
golden pavilion in Kyoto; flew to the north island,
Hokkaido, and bought a ticket on a steam train to visit
mystical people. Planned a formal dinner in Tokyo for
Mitsubishi executives, observing Japanese high protocol;
bathed nude with other local Japanese at Ryokan Inn,
watched Kobe cattle being massaged for future tender
steaks, shot the rapids on a mountain river near Osaka and
ate wild boar in a private hunting lodge.
Toured the volatile border area between India and
Pakistan, and then slept with one eye open in an old
British houseboat in the Vail of Kashmir on Lake Dol.
During a travel conference, ran a five-kilometer race
around the Korean capital building, toured Panamumjom at
the 38th parallel, and walked around the conference room
into North Korea for a quick adventure into the
Stalinist-type communist world.
Bargained with local merchants bedecked in festive fur
hats, near the border town of Osh.
Sat by a nomad’s ger tent, and with great trepidation,
drank Yak milk soup with his extended family.
Nepal - In
Katmandu, drove past miles of orange and charcoal-colored
markers honoring the royal family, saw the living goddess
in her pagoda, watched Hindu holy men cremate bodies by
the rivers, then, with a friend, chartered a plane and
circled the snow-capped Mount Everest.
Dipped my hand into the reflection pool of the fabled
Shalimar Gardens of Lahore.
In my early career, during a site inspection, floated down
a river into the movie set of Apocalypse Now and was
berated by Francis Ford Coppola.
Hired a four-wheel-drive vehicle with a buddy, but got
caught in a monsoon avalanche in the Himalayas; as the
road washed out, was saved from a thousand-foot drop by an
Indian officer and his bulldozer.
Drank a “Singapore Sling” at the fabled Raffles Hotel.
Sri Lanka -
As the full August moon shown on the holy city of Kandy,
hundreds of dancers, drummers and jewel-covered elephants
passed by in the Parade of Perahara for the Festival of
the Temple of the Tooth, then bribed my way upon a sacred
Escorted an RCA business group of distributors through the
television assembly plant in Taipei.
Got a traditional massage in Bangkok, took a river barge
ride at night to see the Temple of Dawn illuminated the
royal city, went north by train and crossed the Bridge on
the River Kwai; rode elephants into the jungle in Chiang
Mai, and stood respectfully by the side of the road as the
queen’s limousine passed.
Coming off of the plane near the capital, felt dizzy
because of the 10,000-foot elevation of the city and
sucked oxygen as I toured the magnificent Potala Palace.
Wandered through the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and marveled
at the jewels at the Sultan’s Topkapi Palace, climbed into
the cone-shaped pinnacles in Cappadocia where early
Christians lived; looked at the natural white pools of
Pamukkale and wandered the streets of the ancient Roman
city of Ephesus.
- After laborious customs procedures, found my way to the
best hotel in town and ate eggs with black caviar fresh
from the Caspian Sea, then, with a small, adventuresome
group, drove the five “stans”, a total of 2,600 miles
through the Kara Kum Desert.
Stood in awe of the turquoise blue madrasa’s and towers of
Bukhara and Samarkand, two of the most important cities on
the old Silk Road.
Vietnam - At
the age of twenty, went from a boy to a man as a soldier
with my sentry dog, Ginger; near the Saigon Airport; spent
time in the Iron Triangle, learned a new culture, and
eventually became an Asian history major because the
experience of Southeast Asia.
- South of Calcutta in the Bay of Bengal, wandered among
the stone ruins of a former British penal colony, now
consumed by snake-like banyan trees.
- Walked through thousands of red crabs slowly crossing
the roads on their way to the sea.
Diego Garcia Chagos Islands
- With other Travel Century Club members, 15 in all,
chartered a mid-sized dive boat and plied the open seas
for days to reach this restricted military island; was
arrested by the British authorities, backed with Royal
Marine helicopters, but, through quick talking and cold
beer on a hot day, negotiated for the boat to be released
on a promise never to return.
Watched long-tailed lemurs spring through the trees and
prehistoric-looking chameleons climb over my outstretched
Dashed in a speedboat towards the Four Seasons Resort as
the sea exploded with hundreds of flying fish.
- Missed the only plane for four days from this remote
French-African Island, so settled in and fed native fruit
bats who wandered up to arms length to eat tropical fruit.
- Saw impressive waterfall canyons near the active volcano
- Saw the world’s largest seeds on the
French-British-African resort island.