Travel Letters

Southern Africa by Bob and Roz Alperstein

January 30, 2022

My friend and classmate Bob Alperstein and his wife Roz recently traveled to Cape Town and Kruger National Park in South Africa and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

From his home in Northern New Jersey, Bob wrote to me and sent photos and videos.

Hi Jan,

I’ve tried to capture some of the wild experiences, but I am not sure if I succeeded. (He did!)

It’s difficult to adequately capture the feelings as you climb into the open Land Rover at the crack of dawn.  The temps are in the 40’s and you welcome the hot water bottle and blankets.  The Land Rover moves out with the wind shield down, gradually increasing speed.  The wind hits you full on.

Kashan to Tehran


Isfahan Province


May 30, 2022

Yes, that’s me, second from the left wearing a black shirt and scarf.

The man on my left is holding a 1000 Thai Baht note.  Two young men are holding books.

Here’s the story:

In Kashan, my guide Mehran and I stroll down a busy street in an area popular with tourists.  Outside an international book shop, I spot a rack filled with books in English.  A “must stop!”


Phra Nakhorn Si Ayutthaya

Phra Nakhorn Si Ayutthaya Province


January 2, 2023

“Dress-up Day” at Wat Chai Wattanaram


After he read one of my recent posts, a friend in Bangkok wrote, “I learned something.”  A comment like this is most rewarding.  The goals for my website have always been “To Entertain, To Educate, To Encourage.”

On my return trip to Ayutthaya, I also decided to learn something.   I carefully read the guide in the hotel lobby.  Here is a bit of history:

“Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 following a smallpox epidemic that ravaged the neighboring city of Lopburi.  According to the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya, King U-Thong and his troops trekked for days before arriving at a river.  On the other side they found an island surrounded by rice fields and three merging rivers.  The king established his new capital there.  

Kharanaq and Nain

Kharanaq Village

Yazd Province


May 27, 2022


On the desert drive from Yazd to Kashan, I made a detour to the  4000 year old village of Kharanaq to see the 1800 year old Castle.

Then another detour to Nain for another castle, and lunch!


Kharanaq  Village

This 4500-year-old city is surrounded by mountains on one side and desert on the other. Many buildings in Kharanaq are completely collapsed and ramshackle. But the remaining mosque from the Qajar period, and a shaking minaret from 17th Century, and the caravanserai of the city have been reconstructed.

Yazd: The Pure City


Yazd Province


May 26, 2022


The historical city of Yazd was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd has a unique Persian architecture.  It is nicknamed the "City of Windcatchers."  It is also very well known for its Zoroastrian fire temples, cisterns, underground channels, water coolers, Persian handicrafts, handwoven cloth, silk weaving, Persian cotton candy, and its time-honored confectioneries.

The Amir Chakhmaq Complex is a prominent structure in Yazd.  It is noted for its symmetrical sunken alcoves and a mosque.  It also contains a caravanserai, monastery, bathhouse, cold water well, and confectionery.  During the Iran–Iraq War and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with the United States, many Iraqis and Afghanis came to inhabit the Amir Chakhmaq Square.