http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2007/07/20/you-went-you-saw-you-read


Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - July 20, 2007

You went, you saw, you read!

Weekly runs its 1,000th 'Take Us Along' photo

by Rebecca Guyon

When Rhonda and Rick Hempy left for their 23-day trip through China and Tibet last July, they made sure to pack a copy of the Pleasanton Weekly. Rhonda, a secretary for the special projects office of the Pleasanton Unified School District, and Rick, a real estate agent with Valley Brokers, are both avid readers of the Weekly and looked forward to the chance to make it into the paper by submitting their photo to our "Take Us Along" section. Now, a year later, their photo has made it to press and is the 1,000th "Take Us Along" photo published in the paper since the feature's inception in 2000.

In their photo, the Hempys are standing at Liberation Square in front of Potala Palace, located in Lhasa, Tibet at an elevation of 12,000 feet. The couple knew they wanted to take their photo at this location even before they arrived because, of all the sites on the scheduled tour, this site intrigued them the most and carried the greatest historical significance, Rhonda said.

"It's very ancient and very different," Rhonda said of the palace, which was originally built in the seventh century, but renovated in the 17th century. "It's where the Dalai Lama lived for generations and was the last place the current Dalai Lama lived before he was exiled. The square is also an important piece of history; it's where the Chinese came and, in their opinion, liberated Tibet, but to the Tibetan people, that's where the Chinese invaded. It's a point in history that is very interesting."

Pictured with the Hempys is their Tibetan guides, Beti and Tashi who were happy to help with the photo, Rhonda said. In fact, there were other visitors in the tour group who wanted a photo taken with their local paper, as well.

"There were other people who brought magazines or newsletters from their cities, like one couple from Michigan had an auto magazine they wanted to be pictured with," Rhonda said.

Both Rhonda and Rick said their four-day journey through Tibet was the highlight of their trip, which also included visits to the Terracotta Army and the Yangtze River, both in China.

"Tibet is an incredibly beautiful, unspoiled area," Rick said, adding that the couple was particularly interested in seeing the region now, in its unspoiled form, before developments and increased traffic due to the new railroad line connecting people direct from Beijing to Lhasa change the area forever.

Wanting to be the first Weekly reader to take the paper to Tibet was also a side motivation for the trip, Rick joked. As an advertiser with the paper, Rick had been to our office before and noticed the large board posted in the front that catalogues all the places the Weekly has traveled with pins on a world map.

"When I was in the office, I saw that there was no flag on Tibet and I said, 'I'll be the first to get a flag in Tibet. I want to go somewhere where I'll be the first,'" Rick said.

Indeed, the Hempys are the first readers to take the paper to Tibet. And taking the paper somewhere new is no small feat at this point. Since accidentally starting the feature July 19, 2000 by running a photo of former Police Chief Tim Neal reading the paper in front of the Statue of Liberty, the Weekly has circumnavigated the globe many times over, traveling to far off lands and favorite family vacation spots alike.

Just like the Weekly, the Hempys aren't done traveling yet. The couple is already on their way to Peru where they plan to visit many other high-altitude locations, such as the famous Machu Picchu ruins and Lake Titicaca. This trip will be just one more in their collection of adventures, which have taken them all over the world to places such as Europe, Thailand and Mexico, not to mention many stops in the United States.

"We're travelers," Rick said. "We love it, and we both feel same way. We would travel all the time if we could."

Sight Seeing

The Weekly has been to many international landmarks including...

* 6 visits to the Tower of London, Leaning Tower of Pisa and Great Wall of China

* 5 visits to the Eiffel Tower and Vatican City

* 4 visits to the Grand Canyon and the White House

* 3 visits to the Egyptian Pyramids, Stonehenge and Yellowstone Park

* 2 visits to Mt. Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty

* 1 visit to the Taj Mahal and Niagara Falls

Exotic locales

The Weekly has been to quite a few unique international spots including...

Antarctica

Azores

Bhutan

Bratislava

Cambodia

Colombia

Croatia

Ecuador

Iceland

Kiribati

Laos

Lithuania

Malta

Malaysia

Marquesas

Mauritius

Monrovia

Myanmar

Pakistan

Senegal

Tanzania

Tasmania

Thailand

Tonga

Ushuaia

United Arab Emirates

Vietnam

Comments

Posted by Rick and Rhonda, a resident of Remen Tract
on Jul 25, 2007 at 3:07 pm

We would like to encourage Pleasanton Weekly readers to educate themselves about Tibet—its fascinating culture, history, and future. Tibet is a very interesting topic particularly at this time, as China is preparing for the 2008 Olympics, and is fast becoming the world's strongest economy.

Interested readers can start by searching the San Francisco Chronicle at sfgate.com for the article: China, Dalai Lama at impasse over Tibet, by Jehangir S. Pocha, September 10, 2006.

A more in-depth article can be found at rollingstone.com. Search the website for The End of Tibet, by Joshua Kurlantzick, Jan 24, 2007.

Two movies that will enlighten and entertain are: Cry of the Snow Lion and Seven Years in Tibet.

A website that promotes human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet can be found at: Web Link.

Rick and Rhonda Hempy