Event Detail


Members' Evening: Travels in Ancient Lands

Russel Abel, Jo James and Edward Nicol
Monday, 23 Jul 2012
Grappas, Basement Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central
RGS HK members Russel Abel , Jo James and Edward Nicol share tales of their travels to Afghanistan Tibet and Ethiopia.


Tickets avaialbe from 6pm talks start at 7.30 pm ,each lasting approximately 25 minutes.

Members of the RGS HK$150 Non Members $200 . This includes a complimentary welcome drink. Further drinks are available throughout the evening for purchase. If you wish to take a meal or snacks please order prior to the talk or afterwards.

Russell Abel

Journeys around Afghanistan

During the 2009 Afghan Presidential election, Russell Abel accompanied HM Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill, to meet Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Afghan Foreign Minister, at his home in the Panjshir Valley. Aside from politics, among other adventures they climbed the peak behind the Allied Forces' Forward Operating Base "Lion " and took in a wild game of Buzkahsi with the now Vice President, Fahim Khan. Mr Abel's talk also tells the tale of his trip to Bamiyan, which nestles between the Hindu Kush and KohiBaba ranges, and was once famed for its many Bhuddahs, before the Taliban set about destroying them in March 2001.

Russell Abel read Geography at Cambridge University and has been Vice Consul at the British Consulate General Hong Kong since 2010. Before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he worked for the United Nations as a political advisor working on Security Council affairs, during which he was regularly seconded to UNICEF for G8 Summits and projects in East Africa. Among his diplomatic postings, Mr Abel was posted to Afghanistan for eighteen months.

Joanna James
Discovering the Tibetan Plateau

In this talk, Joanna James tells of her travels on the Tibetan Plateau, starting with an introduction to the Tibetan region and its people. Tibet is an incredibly evocative destination for many travellers and, while the Dalai Lama has worked ceaselessly to maintain awareness of Tibet's plight, the region remains little known in many respects. Indeed, in some senses, it still is the 'Forbidden Kingdom' sought by explorers and spies throughout the Great Game.

Today, the cultures and environment of the Plateau are facing unprecedented challenges. From climate change affecting the mighty Himalayan ice fields, to more subtle changes affecting the Tibetan people's unique culture, interesting and difficult times lay ahead for the region. Ms James touches upon some of these issues, while demonstrating the incredible natural beauty of the Himalaya and the surrounding lands through photographs taken on a series of journeys through Tibet and beyond.

Joanna James read Chinese at Cambridge University followed by further studies at Peking University. At the age of eighteen she was already traveling the steppes of Central Asia, living and working in Uzbekistan. After this first taste of exploring distant lands and different cultures, following university she had a brief career as a commodity broker before moving to Asia. Since arriving in Hong Kong, she has worked as a professional guide leading groups of travellers on journeys through SouthWest China and Tibet.

Edward Nicol
Trekking the Ethiopian Highlands

Edward Nicol has taken two crosscountry treks with local guides and donkeys in the stunningly beautiful highlands of the Tigray and Amhara regions of Ethiopia. These incised elevated tablelands at 2,500 to 4,500 meters above sea level are heavily populated with rural agrarian communities living an existence relatively unchanged for centuries. The land supports both livestock and crops but subsistence is not easy and the communities lack virtually all modern amenities.

Various NGOs have introduced schemes to help the local people help themselves and sustainable ecotourism is now successfully growing. It is well managed but, despite huge wellintentioned best efforts, the effects are mixed. Mr Nichol's talk discusses ecotourism in practice against a backdrop of photographs of the people, the stunning scenery and the wildlife.

Edward Nicol read Geology at Oxford University and has resided in Asia for over thirtyfive years, most of it in Hong Kong, though with with postings in several Asian countries. He spent all of those 35 years at the Swire Group, holding numerous senior positions. Since leaving the Swire Group, he has started his own company and has travelled extensively.

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