Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue

Asia Travelogue

There are few places on earth that I have traveled more extensively than Asia.  Having visited practically every country on the continent and having "lived" (ie, seen the changes of at least two seasons!) in four countries in Asia, I have always felt at home there.  Som, being a native of Thailand, is of course very much at home!  We plan to ultimately make our permanent homes in Southeast Asia.  The below trips represent over 25 years of travel experiences to this amazing continent.


Be sure to visit our other Photo Galleries for more spectacular images of our travels! (Pbase Galleries)




Four Days in Huai Kha Khaeng

For years, I have been awed by Bruce Kekule's images of Thailands rarest species including Indochinese Tigers and Melanistic Leopards and many other amazing species all captured in Huai Kha Khaeng Nature Reserve.  In December of 2014, we were invited to tag along for four of the most epic wildlife-watching days conceivable in Thailand!





Snow Leopard Expedition to Ladakh!

Virtually my entire wildlife-watching career, in the back of my mind, seeing a wild Snow Leopard has been a dream....mostly a pipedream....That is until October 2014!  We finally did it!  Twelve days in northern India and we have FIVE spectacular Snow Leopards under out belts!  What an amazing expedition on so many levels.  Readn and enjoy!



Whales of Thailand

Who would have thought that the Gulf of Siam is home to one of the most impressive cetacean displays on the planet.  Thailand's own Bryde's Whale population is very easy to see and can show a mulititude of cetacean behavior - all just a couple hours out of BKK!  What a great wildlife day near home!


Reefs to Rainforests!

Som's outstanding nature expedition.  This is Som's first solo expedition where she helped lead a pack of wild ISB students in the wilds of Southern Thailand on a major wildlife and nature expedition.  Sunda Slow Lorises, Spectacled Langurs and many other species were spotted on this impressive expedition.  Great work Som!




Wildlife Safari to Sri Lanka

With only twelve days to go for it, the Smith family dove in to an intense expedition to see as many mammals in this island nation as possible.  66 species later, wow!  What an amazing adventure.  We nailed all of the primates, cats and pretty much over half of all of the mammal species one can see there.  What a great experience for all of us!


Western Ghats Bioregion

After seeing Jon Hall's report some years back, I knew we had to get to the Western Ghats of Southern India.  Finally in 2013, we made it.  Although travel and wildlife watching in India is a challenge, we somehow managed to have an amazing adventure, netting us over 40 species and some outstanding experiences!


 Diving Safari in the Similans


During the ISB Global Citizen Week, I had the distinct honor of escorting 16 seniors on a dive safari to Thailand's Similan Islands where I spent time with this spectacular Whale Shark and about 100 other species of the coolest fish around!








Wild Hokkaido!


Many years ago while watching a Nat Geo special, I learned about an amazing wildlife spectacle in northern Japan.  The Steller's Sea Eagles and the winter hunts on the Sea Ice of Nemuro Strait.  Who would have that this was just the tip of the iceberg (sorry!).  During our Chinese New Year holiday in 2013, the Smith clan ventured to amazing Hokkaido for one of the most impressive winter wildlife adventures of all times. 



Expedition to Java Barat


Java is one of the most densely populated parts of the world. It really is amazing that there is any wildlife at all!  During our winter 2012-13 trip to Java Barat, we successfully spotted at least 30 species of mammals and had some amazing wilderness experiences, including spotting a Javan Rhino!  Seriously great expedition!

Sulawesi Adventure!


Somehow I have always seemed to miss Sulawesi.  But finally in December 2012, we made the trip to this amazing wildlife destination.  We visited Nantu and Tangkoko National Parks and observed some of the world's most amazing mammal species.  We encountered well over 20 Babirusa and dozens of Celebes Black-crested Macaques, as well as Spectral Tarsiers and Bear Cuscus!  What an amazing trip!





Wildlife of the Tibetan Plateau!


For years I wanted to visit the Tibetan Plateau and follow the footsteps of George Schaller.  Year after year, plans were deflected for various reasons.  But finally in the fall of 2012, I was able to visit Qinghai Province and spend time with such amazing species as Tibetan Antelopes, Gazelles, Wolves and Kiang!  With at least 18 mammals credited to the expedition, it was a smashing success!

Fall in Nakhon!


We had nine days off during the Golden Week Holiday in China and Som and Cokie decided they wanted to head back to Thailand with Tina Bui for a quick visit to Som's family.  They had a great time, great food and some quality family get-togethers.  Here are the pics of their adventure!





Wildlife Expedition to Viet Nam!

Who would have believed that seven field days in Viet Nam could net 27-28 species of mammals!?  Spring Break 2012 was the Smith family's adventure to Viet Nam.  We had great wildlife experiences and also shared the wonderful cuisine and culture of Viet Nam visiting Saigon, Hue, Hoi An, Danang, as well as Cat Tien, Bach Ma and Phong Nha National Parks searching for some of the rarest primates on earth!


Wildlife Expedition to Japan's Chubu!


Our first serious roadtrip in Japan!  Finally we've shed the shackles of the Japan-rail Pass and rented our first car!  This classic roadtrip allowed us to visit some of Honshu's most remote and difficult to reach areas and experience much of the region's rich nature and wildlife.  From Japanese Macaques to Japanese Grosbeaks, we had a spectacular 9-day expedition to the great Chubu!



Thailand's Tenasserim Bio Region!


After going on three decades of exploring Thailand,we've reached the point of in-depth exploration.  On this trip, we spent two weeks venture deep in to Thailand's Tenasserim region searching for and finding dozens of species and having some phenomenal wilderness experiences! We came across a very rare population of Langurs as well as spotting at least five of the six-report Spoon-bill Sandpipers seen in Thailand this year!  What a great trip!




Expedition to India!


During our winter break, we spent 24 intense days seeing some of the most spectacular wildlife possible on the Indian Subcontinent.  Our trip encompassed indepth exposures to several national parks and reserves in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Assam.  With ten wild tigers and 51 other species of mammals, the trip was a great success! 





 Our New Lives in China!

In August of 2010, the Smith family made a significant change in life.  We sold our home on the Olympic Peninsula and moved everything to Thailand and then we went onward to start our new lives in Shanghai, China.  Log on to this webpage to see our amazing adventures in our new home.




Expedition to Borneo

Borneo is simply one of the most amazing wildlife destinations on the planet.  This trip report will show you how we found over 40 species of mammals in some of the most spectacular regions remaining on this ecologically distressed island. 




Expedition to Wild Thailand

Thailand is famous for wonderful white sand beaches, incredible food an ancient culture, yet very few spend time searching for Thailand's amazing wildlife.  The last stand for much of the last remaining stretches of Southeast Asian wilderness, Thailand is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and herps!  This trip report summarizes the countless trips our family has taken to Thailand's numerous wild areas.  We have become quite skilled at finding rare and difficult to see species.  Enjoy our tales!




Christmas in Thailand

This was a special tour we designed for some friends from Port Angeles.  We had a great two week trip to Thailand which allowed us to see the sites and wildlife of Thailand in cooler conditions.  Although the trip was a mix of activities, ranging from cultural sites and to cooking school, we were able to nail down a couple dozen mammals and over 100 birds! 



Taste of Thailand

As a result of many years of teaching Thai Cooking classes at Peninsula College, Som developed a large list of students who wanted to travel to Thailand to see the country for themselves!  This trip report details the daily program for this very successful and popular trip. 



Temples and Buddha: The Great Buddhist Heritage of Thailand

During the summers of 2003 and 2004, Som, Cokie and I spent many weeks on the roads of Thailand venturing in to some of the most remote temples on one of our classic "theme" expeditions.  We spent time exploring dozens of Thailand's most spectacular and ancient cultural sites and temples.  From Ayudthaya to Chiang Mai, we had a rare opportunity to see the transitions in art, architecture and culture over the centuries.




The Great Angkor Wat of Cambodia

Without a doubt one of the most spectacular ancient sites anywhere on the planet, the great Angkor is a must see for any travel enthusiast.  I have been fortunate to have been to the temple complex three times, but sharing the Wats of the ancient city with Som and Cokie in 2004 was a high point in my travel career.



Viet Nam: Twenty Years After

When Viet Nam opened up to the West in 1994, my late wife, Lien Dinh, and I wasted no time at all to get right over there and spend many months in the country experiencing first hand what had changed during the previous 20 years of communist rule.  An amazing life-changing homecoming for Lien, and an in-my-face history lesson for myself, Viet Nam was one of the most important travels I have ever participated in.


China: From Guilin to Chengdu

Not sure how we did it, but somehow in 1994, we were able to squeeze in a month in China and were able to see some of the most specacular sites in this amazing nation.  From pandas to Guilin to the Stone Forest of Kunming, we were extremely impressed with the natural beauty of China.  Now that I have been there three more times, I know I am a long way from seeing this country thoroughly!


 Spectacular Northern Japan

Who thinks of wildlife and nature when they are thinking about Japan?  I do!  Japan is still home to a wonderful assemblage of wild animals and natural ecosystems - especially in the far north.  This trip report centers on several trips taken to the north of Japan and highlights the wildlife and natural sites seen in the this region.


Historical Japan

During the past 25 years I have had the priviledge of visiting the "land of the rising sun" many times.  Japan's cultural and historical heritage has always been a fascinating study for me.  This trip report is a summary of many of the culturally and historically-oriented trips I and my family have taken to Japan.




Korea for the Day

Who woulda' thunk that spending a simple ten hours in Korea during a cold January day in 2009, we would have been able to see more than 25 species of Asian birds and tons of cultural sites in and around Seoul.  This is the brief report of the Smith family doing exactly that!


 Wildlife Safari in India

There is nothing quite like seeing a tiger in the wild.  Nepal and India are two of the few places remaining on earth where this is still possible.  This trip report will summarize a trip taken to the subcontinent in 1996 during the founding expedition for La Selva Expeditions.  Although this trip was just a hint of what the region has to offer, India is still high on my list of places to visit again and again!



Searching for Komodo Dragons, Orang-utans & Javan Rhinos

With 17,000 islands, there is no wonder that Indonesia is still home to these amazing living fossils!  My 1996 expedition to the islands of Flores, Rinja and Komodo will be discussed in this trip report.  And there is more than just dragons on those islands!  I will also highlight my visits to Java, Sulawesi and Sumatra!


Primorye: In Search of the Siberian Tiger & the Amur Leopard & Derzu Usala

Initially a two week expedition that was designed to fill time between trips, Primorye ended up being one of the most impressives places we've ever visited.  Filled with great wilderness and wildlife, this region of Russian Asia is an amazing wildlife destination.



Kamchatka: Land of Fire

Being very high on my list, we finally made it to Kamchatka, Russia in July of 2007.  Two weeks spent exploring the mainland of the peninsula and cruising the vast wild coast of Kamchatka allowed quality wildlife sightings of many species of marine and terrestrial animals.  The floral spectacle witnessed this time of year is phenomenal as well.  What an amazing trip!

 Russia's Commander Islands 

Defininitely someplace I never dreamed I would see first hand, the Commander Islands were a mystery to me.  After spending the more than a week there in 2007, I was floored by the vast assemblage of animal species on the islands that comprise the Commanders.  Perhaps some of the most impressive sights on the Commanders were the massive "bird bazaars" that were found literally everywhere!



The Wilderness of Lake Baikal & Buryatia Russia

 A more impressive wilderness would be difficult to find anywhere on the planet.  Lake Baikal is massive and spectacular.  In this trip report, you will learn how we spent two weeks traveling by fishing trauler up and down the length of this massive fresh water body insearch of nerpa, brown bears, souslix and many more species of Russian animals.  The flora was phenomenal as well!





The Transiberian Express: From Moscow to Irkutsk

 No travel career is complete without some days spent aboard the Transsiberian Express.  What was initially designed as a cheap mode of transportation across Russia ended up being a fantastic adventure with local Russian folks and their families crossing one the greatest wildernesses on the planet!




The Kuril Islands: It Just Don't Get More Remote Than This!

 The Kurils are about as far out there as one can get!  Filled with marine wildlife, the islands are volcanic wonders stretching from Russia to Japan.  We spent two weeks in 2007 cruising and experiencing the island wilderness areas of the Kurils.  Truly amazing places!





Expdedition to Nepal

Nepal is an amazing wildlife and nature destination. Situated in a transition zone between the Terai lowlands and the Himalaya, Nepal is home to a mosaic of ecosystems and a wealth of species.  My two trips to the region rank up there as some the best mammaling and birding I have ever done!




Our Hill Tribe Journey Through Thailand!

In 2003 and 2004, Som and I traveled the hinterlands of northwestern Thailand in search of the Hill Tribe cultures found there.  We had many weeks of experiences with these fascinating people.  We visited their villages and homes and even participated in their traditions.  We have since become close friends with many and continue to visit them. This webpage highlights some of our many experiences.





One Year in Japan


There is little doubt that 1984-85 were two of the most influencial years of my life.  I spent a fantastic year of my life living in Tokyo and attending Waseda University.  I met people who changed my life and had experiences that formed who I am. I will always remember the year as one of the best of my life.  Here are some notes and images of the experience.











Be sure to visit our other Photo Galleries for more spectacular images of our travels! (Pbase Galleries)