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Photo Gallery: Burmese Days: Sunrise on a New Myanmar

Temples of Bagan - Photo (c) Russell Johnson

I read George Orwell's "Burmese Days "while traveling through Burma aka Myanmar on a filming assignment in the 1990s  The country looked then as if it hadn't changed much since Orwell's 1930s. Burma was oppressed, frozen in time, isolated from the rest of the world. That has gradually changed, largely due to social media, militant monks and the presence of Aung San Suu Kyi the country's face of freedom.

Today, after a free election, the jackboots of the ruling generals (depicted on their currency as men with small heads and large hats) may have finally been lifted.

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Flying Dreams: Sonoma County: Video

A few autumns ago we videotaped an aerial tour of Sonoma County, California. We started with the vineyards and hills on Sonoma Valley, as the leaves on the vines were changing to brilliant red and yellows, followed the Russian River through giant coastal redwoods and flew the rugged coast from Fort Ross to Jenner and Bodega Bay.  



Venice, California: The Other Disneyland

Muscle Beach, Venice, California
Muscle Beach, Venice, California (c)2015 Russell Johnson

OK, it doesn't have a white-gloved falsetto mouse in a diaper and it is not as antiseptically acceptable but Venice Beach, in Los Angeles, does have adventures and cartoon-like characters that rival those of Disneyland...unless you are a six year old.

And it is free.

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Thirty Faces of Nepal

Two Boys, Kathmandu, NepalAll Photos (c) Russell Johnson - Two Boys, Kathmandu

I  spent quite a lot of time in Nepal in the 1990s participating in heritage conferences and for the UN Development Programme on a project to reduce poverty through sustainable tourism. I met hundreds of people. Here are some of the faces that need the world's help now more than ever.

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Heaven and Hell at Lake Titicaca

Heaven and Hell on Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca, Peru -  Photo: Russ Johnson

I gasp, I grunt. Normally, I find climbing a small hill easy. I am not a mountaineer but somewhere in my DNA there are at least couple of strands of mountain goat. I am at 12,500 feet aiming for 13,000 and despite a prophylactic chaw of cocoa leaf presented to me at a welcoming ceremony, my lungs beg for oxygen.

I have just disembarked a boat that had taken me across Lake Titicaca. And yes, there really is a Lake Titicaca, the inland sea in Peru with the name we all giggled about in fourth-grade geography class. I am trudging, with backpack, up a hill on the island of Suasi to a lodge where I will spend the next few days. In comparison to where I have just been, this is starting to look like heaven.

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