Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
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Nepali Woman makes fried Sel Roti rice flour rings over an open fire during the Hindu holiday of Tihar in Pokhara, Nepal

Click on title to view photo in large format: Nepali Woman makes fried Sel Roti rings over an open fire during the Hindu holiday of Tihar in Pokhara, Nepal. Made from sweetened rice flour that is poured by hand into boiling oil, Sel Roti are cooked until slightly crispy. After browning on one side, the ring is flipped over using Read More

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Temple in Kathmandy, Nepal, decked out for the Hindu holy holiday of Dashain

Click on title to view photo in large format: Neighborhood temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, decked out for the Hindu holy holiday of Dashain. Celebrated for 15 days, the national religious festival falls in either September or October every year, depending upon the lunar calendar, with the first, seventh, eighth, ninth and the tenth days being the most important. During the holiday, all government offices and schools are closed, as are many private offices, as Nepalis travel Read More

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You will forgive me if stray from my normal travel narrative, but I recently passed an important milestone in my life and I feel compelled to write about it. On January 24th, I celebrated my 20th anniversary of being clean and sober. It is difficult to remember how horrible my life was back then because today I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.

My descent into alcoholism and drug addiction was gradual and horrific. What started out in my early 20’s as fun – having a few drinks with friends after work each day – grew into an obsession that would not allow me to pass a bar on my way home from work. At the height of my alcoholism I was drunk all day, every day, which led me into drug addiction. Alcohol being a depressant, at some point I needed something to get me “back up” so I could drink some more. Cocaine was the solution in the beginning, but it soon was not enough, so I moved on to freebasing crack cocaine.

Barbara Weibel, a grateful recovering alcoholic, now enjoys a life as a successful travel writer and photograper

Barbara Weibel, a grateful recovering alcoholic, celebrates being clean and sober for 20 years at a cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Frankly, I don’t know how I  survived. I should be dead three times over from the things I did to my body and soul. Fortunately, I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Puerto Rico one night to “support” my boyfriend, who was also a raging alcoholic. Most of that meeting is a blur, as it was conducted in Spanish. Although I speak fairly good Spanish, the talk was filled with idioms that cannot be directly translated Read More

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Tibetan Thangka paintings at a shop next to the Swa Chapu Ganesh Buddhist Stupa in the Chhetrapati area of Kathmandu, Nepal

Click on title to view photo in large format: Tibetan Thangka paintings at a shop next to the Swa Chapu Ganesh Buddhist Stupa in the Chhetrapati area of Kathmandu, Nepal. These pieces show the mandala associated with the Kalachakra Initiation, which the Dalai Lama gives twice per year in locations all around the world. Artists train for years to produce the delicate Thangkas, which are often painted on Read More

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Novice monks at the Sakya Tharig Monastery near the UNESCO World Heritage Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal

Click on title to view photo in large format: Novice monks at the Sakya Tharig Monastery near the UNESCO World Heritage Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. The youngsters stopped cleaning a courtyard of tumbled bricks and debris long enough to pose for a photo. Their serious expressions changed into broad grins when I showed them Read More

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Typical street scene in Kathmandu, Nepal, with people riding on the roof of overloaded van bus

Click on title to view photo in large format: Typical street scene in Kathmandu, Nepal. The overloaded van bus with people riding on the roof is typical of public transportation in Nepal, not only in the city, but also on cross-country trips. As with most Asian countries, traffic is willy-nilly, with cars, Read More