Edward Reib's "Travels" series is entirely made from footage of his travels beginning in November of 2017, and very well may continue with footage up through 2021 and beyond.
The first five parts of this series are very scenic, slow moving, with no music save for the ambient sounds of nature and the noises of mankind. If that appeals to you, start here, otherwise skip to Part 6.
In the first five I wandered alone. In Part 6, I met Priyal. This is where the music starts, and a story begins.
Part 1: to Africa
16 minutes, 54 seconds
Premiered: 20th March 2021
Filmed: November 2017
Part 1 opens with the pendulum at the Griffith Observatory in Hollywood Hills. After staring at it for about 15 seconds, you start to get an idea how the protagonist feels about having lived in Los Angeles for almost 40 years.
Suddenly, we fly to Africa. First, to the Addis Ababa Airport, then to Limpopo South Africa. There we meet many interesting animals: a peacock, some hogs, a donkey, and eventually some people.
Actually, I went there to visit my friend Kay who runs a very interesting cult/church which includes both Eastern and Western esotericism, but with a Traditional African foundation, The Gnostic Church of the Black Sun. (not to be confused with the "Schwarze Sonne" of post-WW2 Germany)
Some of my favorite parts are toward the end, where rain and thunder pour down on the many onions hanging, beside a garden which uses old tires in place of pots.
If you're left wanting to know more about that time I spent there, you can hear Kay and I talking at length in Esoterinerd #97. If you're curious about the video's main image, and why Buzani and I are posing with a large portrait of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Esoterinerd #98 should more than satisfy your curiosity.
Part 2: to Nepal
20 minutes, 2 seconds
Premiered: 23rd March 2021
Filmed: December 2017
Part 2 opens at the Dubai Airport, staring at an artistic waterfall display there, as I wait out my nearly 24 hour layover. Then, the bus takes us to our plane, and the plane takes us off of the Arabian Peninsula, and over the sea.
Suddenly, we are in Kathmandu at night. There are strange sounds outside. Then, Ajay Goyal is there to guide us from the Thangka Painting school, to Boudhanath Stupa, Monkey Temple, and back to his home where we meet Robbe and the whole family.
Then, we take a bus on a dirt road very fast through the mountains, on our way to Lumbini, the birthplace of The Buddha. We arrive, and see the plant life and the various temples in the area, including the World Peace Pagoda, where you can hear the monks and nuns chanting and drumming inside.
Then, we sit under a very large Bodhi Tree and meditate for a while. While we do this, we set our phone to record the beautiful Tibetan flags blowing in the breeze, with the palm trees behind. As much as it is relaxing and peaceful, it is also amusing to watch the occasional fellow Pilgrim take selfies not realizing they're being watched by as many people as watch this video, for all time, and unto the ages of ages. (or at least as long as Google exists in some form. Probably till just before the heat death of the Universe, unless they figure a way around that one by then.)
If you'd like to hear a conversation about Thangka painting with Robbe and Ajay Goyal, you can listen to What Would Yeshe Do #4.
Part 3: to Pokhara and Beyond
19 minutes, 1 second
Premiered: 26th March 2021
Filmed: Dec 2017, Jan 2018
Part 3 opens on a boat looking at the surface of Phewa Lake, and on the terrace of Nepalaya Eco Hostel. Carlos and I climb out of the bat cave.
Then, we ("we" meaning I, but you the viewer get to come along with me) return to Kathmandu, arrange all our Buddhist things into a very cluttered shrine in our room at Hotel Horizon, and visit Bhaktapur, and Durbar Square.
We celebrate New Year's Eve, then go on a trek into rural Nepal. We visit Khahare, Biseri, and eventually arrive at Gorkha.
Then, we get a job teaching Yoga at Charak Yoga studio, near Hotel Horizon. Shortly afterward, we meet Taro. What follows is another pendulum swing: Yoga in the morning, booze and music is the evening. Eventually, he returns to Japan and we spend Shivaratri with a Nepali named London, at Pashupatinath Temple.
If you'd like to hear a conversation with Kanchan Thagunna, founder of Charak Yoga, you can listen to To Be A Yogi #35.
Part 4: to Bhutan
13 minutes, 36 seconds
Premiered: 30th March 2021
Filmed: Jan/Feb 2018
Part 4 opens having just left the airport in Paro, Bhutan. We stop at a restaurant there, and get lost in the imagery on the colored flags hanging over the cashier for a minute.
We meet Tshering Jamtsho, our guide. Well, you meet him. I already knew him. Anyway, we go to Rinpung Dzong, a Drukpa Monastery and Fortress.
With morning coffee we awake the following morning, and head to a restaurant that looks like a Bhutanese Temple. Then, we visit Chimi Lhakhang Monastery, established by renowned enlightened pervert Drukpa Kunley, popularly known in English as "The Divine Madman", and Tshering and I giggle and recite his famous mantra:
withered at the root, fallen like a dead tree;
I take refuge in an old woman's flaccid vagina,
collapsed, impenetrable, and sponge-like;
I take refuge in the virile young tiger's Thunderbolt,
rising proudly, indifferent to death;
I take refuge in the maiden's Lotus,
filling her with rolling bliss waves,
releasing her from shame and inhibition.
Oh, also, there's a cat. But she's sleeping.
Then, we go to Punakha Dzong Drukpa Monastery, where I kneel to pose with an elder. Then, on a rope bridge nearby, we meet our driver, Tenzien. You meet him. Obviously, I was in the car with him this whole time, so...
In the morning, we go to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten which is basically Padmasambhava's vision of The Pure Land literally built in a place of rolling hills and rivers and stillness.
Then, we visit the nuns at Sangchen Dorjee Monastery, and stop at a waterfall beside the mountain road.
Next is my favorite part of the whole trip, we visit the one and only Nyingma Monastery in Western Bhutan, apparently, these days, which is Gangteng Monastery in Phobjikha Valley, where the famous Tibetan Black Crane spends its winters, after circle the monastery three times.
Now, you may watch this video and read this description and think, "wait.. you mean the part that went by very quickly and you bought a wood thing?" Yes, that part. I wasn't taking pictures much. In the Inner Sanctum, surrounded by ancient scrolls of the Three main Vehicles of Buddhism, Tshering and I were invited to touch the breastplate worn by Padmasambhava in the 8th century, which he had gifted to Tashi Khyidren, or so the monk said anyway. I wanted to believe him enough that it gave me goosebumps touching it.
The next day, we visit Tashichhoe Dzong, the Fortress which houses the Throne of the Dragon King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. We saw him face to face there, with his guards and his yellow sash, and he waved at the small crowd of us admirers that happened to be there at the time. They're very strict about not taking pictures of him though so, sadly, that's not included in this video.
Then, we hike up a hill into a snow filled, colorful prayer flag laden, forest landscape straight out of Studio Ghibli's vision of Paradise. At the top of the hill is Lungchu Tsey, a pilgrimage site. This is another one where the experience was profound, but the representation in this video is very brief, on account of my tending not to take pictures of genuine religious experiences since they're going on within me anyway so what would be the point?
The monk overseeing the Temple at the time was so kind as to allow me to sit alone in the Temple before the assembly of gods, The Buddha, Padmasambhava, The Great Unifier of Bhutan, and so on. I sat in Lotus for what felt like an eternity in another dimension, but it might have been less than twenty minutes. Then, the monk, Tshering and Tenzien and I shivered, talked, laughed, and pigged out on those candies that people leave. You know, on the altar.
Afterward, we spend some time way up in the Himalayas, having snowball fighters and playing with the dogs there, both literal and astrological. (Tshering is a dog).
Finally, we arrive at Tiger's Nest. One time, Yeshe Tsogyal turned into a flying Tiger, and Padmasambhava rode on her back (let's keep this clean for the kids) and she flew to this spot in the mountains near Paro. So, they built Taktsang Monastery, also known as "Tiger's Nest".
If you'd like to learn more about Yeshe Tsogyal, the sometimes flying tigress, I have a website dedicated to her called What Would Yeshe Do?
If you'd like to hear Tshering and I talking about Bhutan and Buddhism, please feel free to check out WWYD #6.
Part 5: Annapurna Base Camp
23 minutes, 23 seconds
Premiered: 2nd April 2021
Filmed: Feb/Mar 2018
Part 5 opens with the sunrise in Nagarkut. Then, to Shivapuri Nagarjuna National Park, where we see shrines to the local Nāga, and a storm comes while we're in the thick mountain woods, surrounded by prayer flags.
Then, we begin the Annapurna Base Camp trek. We hike through the blooming rhododendrons, past the white horses, to Poon Hill where we watch the sun rise with many others, and the view of the Himalayas.
Then, after the obligatory trek-pass stamping at Chhomrong, we continue up and up, then, down, then back up until we finally arrive at Annapurna Base Camp.
A helicopter comes, the lazy folks taking the easy way up, and I do a bit of Yoga on the astroturf helipad.
On the way back, we turn left, and exit the trek by way of the Jhinu Hot Spring, of course.
To be fully transparent about this one, just after the trek I took a 32 hour bus ride from Pokhara to New Delhi, over mostly dirt road, in a bus with no shocks, so, the computer was badly damaged by the time I got there. Somewhere along the way, all the video I took on the trek was gone, except for what I had already posted on Instagram and Facebook. Thankfully, that included most of the best clips.
As a result of all this, Part 5 of this series is 98% images and that Ken Burns effect on Final Cut, and all the sound in this video was recorded in North Goa, 2021, during the editing process between 4:30 and 6am, with tropical birds and all. The Himalayas don't actually sound like that, though there may be one or two birdsongs of those who migrate or have cousins both here and there.
Part 6: to India
11 minutes, 4 seconds
Premiered: 6th April 2021
Filmed: Mar/Apr 2018
Part 6 opens with an image that actually belongs in the second half of Part 7. It is an original Pillar of Ashoka, just outside an ancient rock hewn Buddhist cave monastery. Ashoka was the almost mythological, but most certainly historical, king who first united much of India, converted to Buddhism, and ordered the first Buddhist Temples and Monasteries to be built all over the ancient land we now call India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even into present-day China, in the 3rd century BCE. In 1950, the same symbol, three lions atop a pillar, was adopted as the official Emblem of India.
Along with that image, is the first beats of the song which will carry us from being a stranger in a strange land all the way to Taj Mahal with a beautiful Indian woman who would later become my wife. That song is Sankashtanashanam Ganesha Stotram, from the album Holy Chants on Lord Ganesha. Why, you might ask? Because it, along with all of the other songs in this video, was among the songs I began listening to in 2002 to try to imagine what India must be like. Actually, I had set up my first Ganesha shrine at the time, so I was playing whatever I could find on LimeWire at the time related to Ganesha.
Anyway, after the lions we see the bridge across a river, the border between Nepal and India. Then, the art on the wall at HOG Hostel in New Delhi where I stayed that first night, and some images from the Metro. An auto (it’s what they call the little motorized cabs) advises that we “Just Chill”, so we trip out for a while on the statue of Durga riding a (non-flying) tiger house shrine at the Vermas’, where I stayed the second night in India, and the three weeks which followed.
I had met Yash Verma the first day, through a chain of mutual friends, and while he was in college one day, 4th of April, I went to a mall nearby. In it, I found the Kiran Nadar Museum, and spent some time admiring the works of featured artist Vivan Sundaram.
A few hours later, I met a FaceBook friend named Priyal for a cup of coffee, at Café Coffee Day, but she had other plans: She took me to ISKCON, the internationally popular Hare Krishna cult, and we were already shyly taking selfies together in front of the murals of Radha and Krishna there. It’s there in the video, if you don’t believe me.
Then, we see some of the local Bovine population of Faridabad, as well as 3 of the 6 resident Vermas who were so kind as to allow me to stay with them.
We’ve arrived at Taj Mahal, with Priyal and her sister Navi. If you’re watching this video in an a/c room or nice weather, remember to be grateful that you weren’t experiencing the heat that we were that day. Yet, despite this, it remains among the very best of memories that I have.
After the Taj, the song finally changes, to Namo Sharada as sung by Bhanumathi Narasimhan. We visit some of the ISKCON, as well as the more old-fashioned Indy Mom & Pop type Krishna Temples of Vrindavan, where he is said to have grown up, romping around with Radha (instead of his wife).
Then, thank god, we are treated to more of the local cows of Faridabad. Also, Remington Steele has a beard apparently, and is the face of an Indian brand of… something.
With the coming of the Maha Ganapati Mool Mantra, Ganesh Gayatri, as sung by Uma Mohan we see some of the protesting that was going all throughout India at the time. (the Kathua rape case)
This fades into a montage of Amandeep and I visiting Shri Lakshmi Narayan Divya Duam Mandir Temple, near Faridabad.
Finally, to the tune of Sa Ta Na Ma sung by Paramjeet Singh, with Priyal and Navi we visit the great and beautiful Sikh Temple, Gurudwara Shri Bangla Sahib.
Part 6, in my opinion, is where this Travels series starts getting good. Part of the reason for this is it's the moment when I decided to start adding music to the videos, and thus the footage tends to move along with the music.
Part 7: Varanasi & Pune
16 minutes, 40 seconds
Premiered: 16th April 2021
Filmed: May/June 2018
Part 7 is where I went off on my own to Varanasi, made some friends, visited Saranath as, along with Lumbini it is one of the Buddhist pilgrimage sites I'd originally set out to visit. Then, I spent a week with my friend Yogesh in and around Pune.
Part 8: Dharamshala & Rishikesh
14 minutes, 34 seconds
Premiered: 11th May 2021
Filmed: June/July 2018
Part 8 opens in the back of an Ola (it's like Uber) with Priyal, when suddenly dramatic Tibetan bells and chants carry us into Majnu-ka-tilla (MT), a Tibetan Refugee Colony there in New Delhi. After some food and shopping, and possibly a brief cultural PTSD flashback, we arrive at Amar Colony Marketplace, where the Tibetan Flag flies on Priyal's backback.
The baby pigeon with his brother who never hatched, and their mother, lived on the window unit air conditioner in our flat in East of Kailash at the time. Dastam Begir's "Abdu'l-Bahá" (as performed at the second Baha'i World Conference in 1992) carries Jayaram and I through Lotus Temple, with ISKCON in the background, the same one from Part 6.
Then, we enter the world of history, the tombs and palaces of some of the Mughal Emperors. At first, we see it through the music of the evil 13th-century Sultan of Delhi Jalal-ud-din Khalji as depicted in the movie "Padmaavat", when suddenly it shifts to the music of the good 16th century Mughal Emperor Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar as depicted in "Jodhaa Akbar", and it is all the people of India, Hindu and Moslem alike, who sing:
"Oh great and magnificent emperor, ruler of royal decree. May your life be everlasting. Words alone cannot praise you, you're the cornerstone of India. India is your life, you're the life of India. We welcome you in our hearts..." (he had just put an end to the "Pilgrimage Tax" which the ruling Moslems had previously imposed upon the Hindus, so... they were in a good mood at the time.)
Then, we land in Dharamshala, just as Vini Vici's remix of Hilight Tribe's "Free Tibet" starts chanting "Om Mani Peme Hum". A local couple (from before the Tibetans came) performs "Choti Choti Gaiya Chote Chote Gwal", a song about baby Krishna, for the many tourists walking to and from the Hill Station.
In the morning, Lama Khenpo Pema Choephel Rinpoche's performance of The Heart Sutra carries us through the Dalai Lama's Temple. Then, the music of Baahubali II carries us from the nearby tea gardens, past the local cows, and into the ancient rock-cut Temples at Masrur, from early 8th century. This part is probably my favorite two minutes of any video I've ever made.
Then, we visit the Norbulingka Institute, a Tibetan cultural center, complete with a Temple that isn't actually a Temple (so it's okay to take pictures inside), before a rainy train ride carries us into Rishikesh. John Lennon once wrote a song called "Dear Prudence" there, and there was an old rough version of it that the Beatles don't hoard in their safe of music that isn't safe to use on YouTube, so... how could I resist?
After sundown, the mood shifts to something a lot like Anjel's version of "Shiva Shambo", or maybe it's just me.
I know I often say this, but this is my favorite of these so far. The theme of Part 8 seems to be exploring multi-cultural India, from Hinduism to Tibetan Buddhism, Baha'i Faith, the Islamic structures of the Mughal Empire, Hippie Tourism, all of which is yet a very small sample of the many eras of faiths and philosophies existing side by side in India.
Part 9: Shanghai
19 minutes, 5 seconds
Premiered: 14th May 2021
Filmed: September 2018
Part 9 opens with Dehradun, both the city and the George Harrison song. The Beatles' have a tight grip on certain versions of their songs, so what you hear is George's voice, and someone added the music, it's pretty obviously not the Beatles playing. It is Priyal's home town, and the pairing of song and place is a nice continuation of the vibe of the Dear Prudence and Rishikesh from the end of Part 8.
Anyhow, briefly we are in New Delhi at my early birthday party, as I state I won't be in India on my birthday. Then, I leave India, saying goodbye to Priyal and Navi, stopping briefly at the Singapore Airport. For everyone outside India, the old Bollywood sounding song you hear playing during this part, "Pardesiyon Se Na Ankhiyan Milana", literally translates as "don't look a foreigner in the face", a warning for young women of India (like Priyal) not to get swayed by player tourists feigning sincerity, only to go back where they're from in the end, breaking their hearts.
Then begins what we later learn is a kind of personal ancestor-related pilgrimage to Shanghai. We open with a montage seen through the sad Chinese music which Shazam doesn't recognize of the Bazaar around the Tea Garden, after it's closed.
Then, walking down the street, a last second decision to turn left takes us into the main shopping area in the very touristy part of Shanghai. It's music, by way of a bus and some Starbucks, takes us right into the Heart of the God of Shanghai. Oh, it's music turns out to be Imperial Prince by Derek and Brandon Fiechter. Go figure.
Then, someone plays a flute traditionally and we sit wistfully gazing at water and think about how much we miss Priyal...
Then the Jade Temple snaps us out of it, back into the moment. From there, we (meaning you the viewer and I, and He Wenjun singing "Three Songs of Naxi") celebrate my 40th birthday in style at the Hyatt on the Bund and the top floor of Shanghai Tower, just before tumbling down into a disturbing Orchestral Tubular Bells accompanied montage of Maoist propaganda, both on the street and the older stuff in a museum there.
Then, feeling hungover and overwhelmed by geo-politics, we wander into the Jing'an Temple accidently. We didn't plan it, just saw it there on the street. The healing effect of the place, as exemplified by this video, is so powerful it can lift the viewer out from the depression of contemplating the atrocities of the CCP both past and present, even though it's also a parking lot. Also present is the "don't get me wrong, I love Chinese culture... see, here's the music from the sad part of Ip Man!" level, but it really just works too darn well not to use at this point in the video.
And just before you can say, "okay, that's nice and all, but that other stuff is all still pretty depressing", the Longhua Temple is even better! Jean Michel Jarre's Shanghai concert is apropos if anachronistic here on at least two levels. Anyway, the Temple is like 1300 years old! Plus, there's a cat.
So, after 20 seconds of petting the cat (believe me, you'll need it, if you have the volume turned up) we've finally arrived in a place of neither high nor low, neither joy nor sorrow, neither capitalist nor communist, neither here nor there. It's a place called White Cloud Temple coupled with 渔舟唱晚 by Jinghua Yuefu.
Finally, there's the reveal of what the heck I'm doing in Shanghai in the first place, and what the ancestral connection is there.
Part 10: California
12 minutes, 20 seconds
Premiered: 20th May 2021
Filmed: Sept-Nov 2018
This one is an odd-ball episode, since I am from California, so it doesn't really qualify as "Traveling" but, one aspect of these videos is it is a telling of the story of the protagonist's journey.
In that way, Part 10 is necessary to get from Part 9 to Part 11.
If you're here looking for travel tips and tourist location recommendations for your next trip to California, this video is probably not for you.
It can be viewed on it's own, but it will make much more sense after having viewed at least Parts 8 and 9 first, and if you have some time Parts 6 and 7 as well.