If you enjoy travelling, its because you want to see the world and meet people. Meeting people can be hard if you are timid, or don't speak the same language. Its really hard if you are travelling with a group and never stop talking with the people you already know to take the time to meet people you might want to know.
About a year ago I started asking total strangers if I could take their picture. I have quite a collection already, but often I see a scenario or an individual that I feel like I just need to take a photo of, and I go for it. This guy and i could not find a language in common, but when he saw this picture on my phone, his grin split like a white picket fence.
(I took the same picture for him with his phone, but he doesn't have my special sauce app)
There are things in life more important than excavating Sunken Egyptian Cities.
But after 16 years of being on Underwater Archaeologist Franck Goddio's team, excavating Napoleon Bonaparte's Flag Ship, finding the sunken ruins of Cleopatras Palace, and discovering an entire city lost at sea, I know that there are a lot of things less important, too. At least in my opinion. Like who Snooki is.
So I'm heading back to Egypt to join Franck and the team, and to see what amazing discoveries await us under the sea this year.
In the past a lot of students and life-long-learners have asked questions through this blog about the excitement and adventure of exploration on (and Under) the sea. I really enjoy sharing my experiences in scientific exploration, and any questions or comments posted to this blog area great source of inspiration to me, and also are read by quite a few readers who haven't found the courage to comment, ( not yet, anyway!)
The next time I post, Ill be enveloped in the thick warm embrace of the world of underwater archaeology in Egypt!
After Weeks of Tranquility in Laos, I Launch myself into the 21st century Again. Destination; Key West
With the exception of the fried crickets, I have found a lot of Lao cuisine to be complex, spicy, exotic, and delicious. So imagine how silly I felt skipping the opportunity investigate further, and instead going to a restaurant in Vientiane with a Belgian chef de cuisine.
You might already know that Laos, like Vietnam and Cambodia, had a strong French colonial influence that helped shape their modern cities with architecture, government, and cuisine. So there are several excellent french restaurants, boulangeries, and wine merchants supplying the needs of the "Falang" community.
So my decision to dine at Via Via was not a bad one. Not only is the food good, but the atmosphere is exceptional. The expatriot archeaological community gathers here after hours, joined by international journalists, Médecins Sans Frontières , and members of the diplomatic community.
I guess I'll have to eat my Lao food at breakfast and lunch from now on.
We came here to hunt for Bombs, and have ended up hunting for archaeological clues to the proud history of Vientiane.
When Archaeologist from the Lao National Museum heard that Aqua Survey President Ken Hayes and I were here with sophisticated new technology that could find metal items hidden deep under ground, they asked us to do a quick survey of an area on the edge of the Mekong slatted for construction, like in 20 days. Ken quickly agreed to help out, and the early results appear to be very exciting.
Here is an article in the Travel Daily News Asia: Laos Hotel School Unearths City Walls
Now that I have returned to Vientiane, I have been lucky enough to borrow some office
space for design and construction of a new em survey sled from friend,
Archaeological Conservator, and old Laos Hand Marion Ravenscroft.
Maz has been kind enough to move a couple of skulls and a collection
of gold inlaid teeth so as to free-up a table in her conservation lab
for me. This is the corner office, in the low building behind the
National Museum, next door to the Javanese ceramologue, and 3 doors
down from the police guards coop of fighting cocks.
I have requested that any correspondence be forwarded there, especially mysterious
parcels containing old maps or undesciferable scripts, as well
as the odd smelling wooden shipping crates, plastered with exotic
stamps and stencils on the exterior,
Most sincerely yours,
Eric Wartenweiler Smith
After spending some time in remote southern Laos, in an area strewn with hazardous UXO, I have returned to the capitol with a new view of Laos, its people , and the future, both theirs and mine.
When Aqua Survey President Ken Hayes asked me to join him on this trip working with new equipment to detect and map UXO deep in the ground, I was thinking of goals in terms of meters, hertz, and mili-volts.
But after having met survivors of exploding leftovers from a war long ago, and hearing about those who didn't survive, it was our concern for the future that provided new goals; to create the technology to find bombs before these kids do.
We have finished our work in the field for now, and will return home with a couple of reminders to work hard and try to help find a solution to the problem of UXO that I'm going to put in a frame; This photo of 2 friends outside the village of Vilabouly, and a receipt for a prosthetic leg from the COPE program that, unfortunately, some one is going to need.
Being in Laos without a book has had its up-side. I've been learning the language, and working on photography, whenever not busy with work. But not having a book with me has caused me to reflect on the books that influenced me enough to have contributed to me being here, in Vientiane, in a musty office full of skulls and bones behind the National Museum. I came up with a list of 3:
When I was 16 I read 'Tombs, Travel, and Trouble", by Lawrence
Griswold, and it changed my life forever ...
I never had a clear image in my head of the Laotian capital, so the sights and smells of the city really struck me when I got here. Here are a few snapshots from around town.
My Name is Eric and My Job is Scientific Exploration.
That means I'm lucky enough to join expeditions to excavate sunken cities, climb volcanoes, find missing bombs, and Sail old research vessels, while searching for the mysteries of the natural world.