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30 Years of Dragons – Endless Adventures & Stories

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Alex Biddle


Vintage Journals from the archives

As part of our 30th year anniversary celebrations, we unearthed a trove of student travel journals dating back to our first programs in 1993. With great delight, we re-read decades-old stories of students sipping yak milk along treks in the Himalayas. We re-lived tales of monastery stays peppered with fierce games of soccer. We re-experienced countless visits with activists, farmers, business leaders, and artisans who met with Dragons students to share their wisdom and lives. 

Much has changed, but the words, experiences, and stories of our students — that show how we travel — has remained the same.  Whether it was decades ago or today, traveling with Dragons offers you the chance to meaningfully immerse yourself in the places you travel, push your learning edge, and broaden your horizon. Explore some of the journal entries from our archives below.

Tibet/Nepal, Summer 1997

The addictive thing about the mountains is that they lend you no leeway. Once you are up in one, in the middle, or the top — if you have a destination or goal, all the cursing in the world won’t make that summit smaller. And mountains don’t care if you are tired. Boulders don’t care if your knees hurt and rainstorms won’t wait until you’re ready. It teaches you to know when to put aside your pain and put your boots upon the mountain. It teaches you to take, to share, to give, and to be patient.




Thailand, Summer (Year Unknown)

I am sitting underneath a Buddhist shrine which has provided me protection from the sun and rain that seems to be alternating in extremes. Mountains surround me in every direction and the trees and butterflies make it feel like paradise. The occasional person that walks by smiles warmly and curiously with the Thai friendliness that will make this trip that much more memorable. Reflecting back on the past week, I see how far I have come and the group has come, and how much further we have to go as a group and individually.

When I first picked up a Where There Be Dragons brochure, Thailand seemed scary and so far away. I think we have already conquered the hardest part of the trip mustering up the courage to leave all of the security of and all that is known and familiar to get on the plane. Though we will all take home something different, many of our experiences will be shared and I feel really good that we are looking to immerse ourselves in Thai culture and adventures. Together we have practiced different customs, eaten strange food, and traveled to many places that we have never even heard of, but as individuals our process has just begun. Sitting here today, I haven’t been able to come to any conclusions, I have barely been able to process what I have seen. I only know my goals and direction and so I wait in anticipation for what is going to become of me.



Guatemala, Summer 2011

We the Dragons of the 4-week Guatemala B Group, in order to form a more perfect journey, establish a different lifestyle, ensure mutual support, provide a positive environment, promote cultural sensitivity and awareness, secure our health and safety to ousels and our Dragons family, do ordain and establish a new perspective.

 Signed by Emma, Helena, Niko, Catherine, Carsen, David, Sarah, Brigitte, Grace, Anshar, Rachel

I’m going to miss all the of the people that have helped me change and grow this month.
I’m going to miss the way the sun rises over Lake Atitlan, and the people I have met on my months long adventure in Guatemala.
I’m going to miss my new family that I got to know so well this past month.
I’m going to miss feeling that every new place to which we travel in Guatemala is a completely different adventure from the last.
I’m going to miss waking up to the mountains, the smiles on Guatemalans faces and my Dragons family.
I’m going to miss how comfortable I have felt with my Dragons family and seeing everyone everyday.
I’m going to miss watching the sun, the moon, the stars, and the trees. Being captivated by natures beauty and personalties of you all.
I’m going to miss Pollo Campero.
I’m going to miss the clouds, the mountains, and the faces.


Mexico, Summer 2003

Even though it is only the 2nd day in our homestay, things (for me) are starting to feel comfy. Seeing everyone gossiping with their new siblings, it makes me feel that everyone else is also doing ok. So far I have seen Lizzie and Jordana talking to their hermanos nonstop. Charles is always playing patty cake with his hermanitos. Julia talks about her bucket showers. Jaleh is teaching his family English. En mi casa, toda la familia grande es muy simpaticos. Today I played a Mexican version of Monopoly con Evereth (my 15 year old primo), and Nelli (17 year old hermana).

It’s pretty funny to flip through the 1450 page dictionary to understand what we’re saying, but we are getting used to it. I am so thankful for how understanding everyone has been about my communication (and vegetarianism too)! The meetings today were really interesting. Julian’s presentation was very good and I learned many astonishing things. It’s hard to know all of this with the way we live in the US. Still it’s so important to learn about. The guitar class fue interesante tambien. It was wonderful to hear Eva sing and I hope she will do more. The Spanish class was very helpful, even though it’s hard to think mid-sentence.



Thailand, Summer 2000

Wise, unique, cryptic, evasive…
Stare into its eye you will see the pattern of its life through the dilation of its pupil
Although strong and intimidating on the outside, it is curious and scared on the inside
It hesitates when faced with unfamiliar things its muscle start to tighten and invisible sweat drops from the top of its head to its feet
The dragon stays calm.
Realizes it has spirits surrounding itself, spirits that support and help in the time of downfall and need
Spirits which contain qualities to uphold the backbone of the dragon
Altruistic, open-minded, outgoing, calm, stern, serious spirits.
The dragon is now reinforced, collected, and rejuvenated.
It unleashes the surging flame from its mouth and decimates all of its misfortune and worries
It is exhausted the last pattern in its eye before it closed, showed.
The vertical lines leading up to the sky and the downward spiral smashing into the ground.
It knows that life can be full of bliss but also understands how to face failure and humility. 

“I will journey anywhere in the world and accomplish all of the goals I have set for myself, so long as my group of spirits are with me and our destination will always be the place where there be dragons,” the dragon said to himself before falling asleep.

– A.T.


Journal Entries

China, Fall Semester 2008

Storming and norming. We learned these words tonight over dinner and these were very appropriate words to describe what we underwent today. After taking the overnight sleeping bus from Kunming we arrived at the glorious city of ShangRi La (Zhenydien) in the morning. Surprisingly everybody had slept reasonably well on the bus (even like Mark who was too tall for the bus and even Kyuri who easily gets carsick and me who has not been in an over-six-hour bus ride) and we were good to go after eating some breakfast. After our bellies were answered, we were given our first task which was to find the best place to stay nearby. We were then divided into three groups of three and we all went our separate ways. My group was lucky (Emily and Thea) and we were offered a ride from two middle aged women to take us to a hostel (and cheap as well! Our daily individual budget was $25). After that two minute drive we arrived at a nice quaint village and saw a hostel with breathtaking views of the city and a large Buddhist temple (Tibetan) from its rooftop. Eventually my group’s hostel was chosen over the choices of the other two groups although we experienced a bit of storming of the marketing of the hostels we found and trying to stay overnight.

However, this little tension was paltry to what we underwent during lunch. We were given 10 KMB each to find a place to go to lunch and we could not decide on the restaurant because all the food was expensive in the tourist area — we were adamant on sticking to the budget. However others did not want to compromise the quality of the food and we were stuck at a stalemate for an hour. Until we found an amazing hot pot restaurant. We were hungry and everyone was tired, the group was rather snappy to each other. Thankfully food redeemed us and the yak meat hot pot and banana pancakes allowed us to norm again.

After lunch we visited a bigger (600 monks live there) and older (300 years old) temple. The magnitude of the temple and the Buddhas were simply stunning and it was nice to see the monks chant and make dinner. The NBA t-shirts and other regular t-shirts that the young monks were wearing underneath their robes, reminded us that the monks were people just like us and the few monks that I tried to talk to (but couldn’t understand) were also very down to earth and friendly — laughing more than looking stern like Buddha.

– Jy Lee


Enjoyed these journals and curious about what your Dragons story will be?
Explore our programs to get started!


  1. Jessica Moon Bernstein-Schiano |

    Hi do you have any of the Mongolia journals ? I
    Led a few trips there late 90’s early 2000s. I live in Boulder area would be fun to see these again!

    Jessica Moon
    Say hi to Reed fir me!

  2. Jessica Moon Bernstein-Schiano |

    Hi do you have any of the Mongolia journals ? I
    Led a few trips there late 90’s early 2000s. I live in Boulder area would be fun to see these again!

    Jessica Moon


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