Here are four cities that have mysterious names, and secrets to hide or reveal. If I had the money, i’d like to charter a Lear jet to take me to all
four, allowing about a month to stay in each one, well, maybe not in Mongolia, or Nepal, or Mali, but for sure, in Malaysia.
A real place although in southern culture, to say “timbuktu” meant to go or to be far away. Remote. Distant. Mysterious. First an inhabited city
around 1100 AD, by 1330, it was a trading center for that region of Africa. The Mali Empire controlled both the gold and the salt trade in the region.
The city became a leading city of Islam. Mali is about 240,000 square miles, and has nearly 12 million people.
By the end of the 1500s, Morocco conquered the Songhai Empire and the city began its long decline. After the 1600s, more and more trade was done by
ship and desert outposts like Timbuktu no longer served the ancient trading routes. Without outside revenues from trans-Saharan caravans, the city was
soon forgotten and by the 20th century, it was called a “lost city.”
Because of the encroaching Sarah Desert, the city is in now danger of being buried under the inexorable southward movement of the sand. This
desertification has dried up its water supply and bodes ill for Timbuktu’s future. Note: Timbuktu is now spelled “Tombouctou” in the CIA World
The capital city of Nepal, is located some 8,150 miles east of Atlanta, GA. Lhasa, is the nearest large city and it’s in old Tibet but now China,
and is a mere 237 miles away. Almost 50,000 square miles, it has 28 million people. Buddhism is the religion of the region. The destination of many
pilgrimages, the Boudha Stupa, is the world’s largest. “Stupa” is a Buddhist holy site. A beautiful temple, it is regarded as being sited on a
focal piont of psychic energy and symbolizes the Universe, the Earth and the 10 Buddhas of the past, present and future.
Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
Over 550,000 square miles, but with only 2,900,000 people, it is one of the sparest populated countries in Asia. Spelled as one word “Ulaanbaatar”
in the CIA World Factbook. It was from this region the two most famous conquerors, Genghis Khan and his grandson, Kublai Khan, were from. Even to this
day, people seek to find the fabled tomb of the great Khan, Genghis. Marco Polo mentions Kublai Khan in his memorable recounting of his trip to China
on the Silk Road in the late 13th century.
Mongolia, home of the Gobi Desert, was made famous in the 1920s by America’s Roy Chapman Andrews, an early paleontologist before the science was
defined. An early hunter of dinosaur bones, he made movies of his trip across the Gobi. It is a cold and bleak country but if you do see a person,
they will be friendly, outgoing and sharing.
Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.
The capital city of the fairly new country of Malaysia, was the former British colony until 1957. People familiar with the city often refer to it
simply as “KL.” Most easily recognized for its Petronas Twin Towers, the world’s 2nd and 3rd tallest buildings. See Note 1. Malaysia is located
in part on the Malay Peninsula extending south from Thailand and part of the island of Borneo. It has about 125,000 square miles and a population of
24 million. Malaysia is in the center of the growth of industry and commerce we now call globalization.
Note 1. Nowadays, we count the antennas on all the tall buildings. The highest off the ground is the Sears Tower, at 1,729 feet, Taipei 101, at 1,667
feet, Petronas Towers, at 1,486 feet and the Empire State Building, at 1472 feet. The buildings, sans antennae, see the Taipei 101 as tallest.
The Boudha stupa
The Buddha preached Four Noble Truths: 1) that life is painful; 2) that suffering is caused by ignorance and desire; 3) that beyond the suffering of
life there is a state which cannot be described but which he termed nirvana; and 4) that nirvana can be reached by following an eightfold path.