Ron's greatest hits (by web visitation)
SOARING SKYSCRAPERS - The battle to build the world's tallest tower, once essentially an American obsession, is now a worldwide craze, with much of the biggest erections in Asia and the Middle East. As buildings reach higher and higher, there is seemingly no upper limit to the quest to claim the world's tallest highrise.
SHANGHAI'S HIGH-SPEEEEEEED TRAIN: This has been immensely popular lately, for some reason. In China, I've seen the future of transport, and you can have a look, too, at the futuristic Maglev (magnetic levitation) - the world's first - racing along in in Shanghai. All aboard for a test run to Tomorrowland.
"THE BEACH" was, for a long time, the most
popular material on this site, ever since I tracked Leo diCaprio around Thailand when
filming was underway in early 1999, producing these stories:
Author Alex Garland explains his utopian novel about backpackers and travel.
Making the movie was no simple stroll on the sand, according to Trainspotting's Andrew MacDonald, producer of the Beach
Hollywood's search for paradise ended when scouts found the perfect beach upon serene Phi Phi Leh island, but the hip backpacker epic unleashed a storm of controversy, fan worship and hysteria upon The Beach. Read about it in Postcards From The Beach
DHARAMSALA - Even after over four decades in exile, The Dalai Lama never despairs over his dream of returning to Tibet. The world's most renowned spiritual leader welcomes us into his home for weeks of intimate talks on a wide variety of topics. See the intimate profile or read a nearly complete transcript of the interviews with the Dalai Lama, in an exciting period of time when he is giving his annual teachings and visiting with Richard Gere.
THE BUZZ ABOUT BHUTAN - Long hidden at the very rooftop of world, the tiny kingdom of Bhutan has banked both on its remote location and a policy of extreme isolation to preserve its culture. But now, in welcoming the world, many wonder if this precious Shangri-la can survive its own significant buzz.
INSIDE NORTH KOREA - Is Kim Jung-Il ready to fall, or is the wacky Jr Dictator really rolling in donated rice and nuclear revenue? Nobody knows, and it's all speculation, until you take a tour of the Axis of Evil. We slip, on the sly, inside the People's Paradise.
HONG KONG - Hollywood stars Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne learned their flashy, kung fu moves in "The Matrix" from the master, legendary Hong Kong fight choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping, who also helped shape the careers of Jackie Chan and Jet "Lethal Weapon" Li. Click to discover why Keanu loves Hong Kong's legendary director
CHINA - The desert is on the move, consuming vital farm land with sand storms sweeping even into the capital of Beijing, only 75 kilometers from the approaching dunes. Can China hold back the desert?
Shanghai was the refuge for thousands of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust; they helped turn the Chinese city into one of the most international communities in the world. There were scores of kosher cafes and Austrian bakeries, Jewish boxers, bankers and millionaires. More importantly, there were survivors, lots of them in the Shanghai Jewish community
THE LAST GREAT PLACE - That's what admirers call Mongolia, a land of blue skies and endless space, with few fences, rules or comforts. But for those looking for adventure, it may well be the last great place.
UNEASY RIDER - He's the Rip Van Winkle of the road, the Prince of Pedal Power. After nearly four decades, Heinze Stucke has circled the globe more than 10 times, and is still going strong in the Bikeman's Amazing Adventure.
AROUND THE WORLD - In late 1997, we sold or shipped off all our worldly possessions and set off on the global journey we had always dreamed about. It wasn't always a romp, but the trip of our lifetime taught us much, including the true meaning of time
Galapagos - Popularized by Darwin and populated by near-prehistoric creatures which supposedly invented surfing centuries ago, these islands off the coast from Ecuador truly constitute another world. One where animals are free from fear, and visitors can marvel at the magic of watching evolution in action.
AUSTRALIA - Way Down Under, where rivers and lakes are dry and men race boats, legs wiggling out the bottom, one gets jaded by all the oddities. Until you arrive at Coober Pedy, the cave city featured in "Mad Max" as well as "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the latter notably for portraying the place as something other than a nuclear wasteland. See why in Home Under The Range.
JAPAN - the Japanese weren't satisfied with the mood swings of Mother Nature, so they built an enclosed ocean paradise, just a stone's throw from a real beach. At Ocean Dome, the surf's always up at the Indoor Beach
NORTH KOREA - the title for the world's weirdest country is no contest. The Hermit Kingdom defies belief in winning the crown hands-down. In fact, North Korea is not only the weirdest place that I've ever been, it's also takes the five runner-up slots. I made a rare visit in 1991, and you can join me on a train tour to Pyongyang.
INDONESIA - Spears fly and blood flows, as the worms wash ashore in a sexual frenzy when the moon is full over the island of Sumba. Then, and only then does the unique festival of Pasola brings a carnival of killing and sacrifice to the head-hunting tribes of Indonesia.
THE PHILIPPINES - was Asia's first nation to abolish the death penalty in 1987, only to become one of the world's only countries to reinstate executions less than a decade later. Over 1,000 men and women languish upon Death Row, while the nation remains in an uproar over the handful of executions held in 1999. Two reports, a lengthy inside story on Death Row and Manila's death penalty dilemma.
SULU SEA - The Sulu Sea - Kevin Costner squandered hundreds of millions of dollars building a fantasy world covered by water. In the wild, pirate-infested seas between Borneo and the Philippines, Sea Gypsies live their entire lives in a genuine Waterworld.
FORGOTTEN FRONTIER - Space was once the Final Frontier, the ultimate challenge. Then, the madness of Moon Landings faded and space was forgotten. But no more. Perhaps a few decades behind the rest of the pack, China is reviving the Space Race.
BOYCOTT BURMA? That's the word from Britain, where hardliners want Lonely Planet to pull its guide. Tour with Lonely Planet's Tony and Maureen Wheeler to find out why they refuse to blindly bow to book-ban bullies.
Leo and Keanu from the web;
Old Shanghai from the archives; Heinz Stucke from the
Coober Pedy and Pasola by David Paul Morris; Sulu Sea by Stuart Issett; death row by Edwin Tutay;
Namibia Ron by Jolanda; the rest by Ron Gluckman