Program 344: South Seas with Robert Louis Stevenson; Changing Bhutan; Modern Sweden

Release Date: 11-09-2013

On Air Description

On this week's Travel with Rick Steves, we'll hear how J. Maarten Troost found contentment and sobriety, sailing in the wake of Robert Louis Stevenson among the South Sea islands. 

Journalist Lisa Napoli describes the pressures to modernize and connect with the outside world that are changing the Himalayan country of Bhutan. 

And tour guide Asa Danielsson from Stockholm explains how a strong sense of ethics and fairness shapes the social order in Sweden.    

We're finding happiness, in many forms around the globe, on the next Travel with Rick Steves. 


  • J. Maarten Troost, author of "Headhunters on my Doorstep"  (Gotham)
  • Lisa Napoli, author of "Radio Shangri-La" (Broadway)   
  • Swedish tour guide Åsa Danielsson

Related Links


  • Caller visited Bhutan "in the fall, traveling for 21 days from Paro to Trashigang.  I totally appreciate the new King and Queen, but they really need urgent attention to the state of their road system if they want to support their tourist infrastructure. That, and the quality of their food at every tourist stop, virtually the same over and over. It must be a common complaint?"   (Debbie in Seattle)
  • "Bhutan is often presented as a Shangri-La, and much is made of Gross National Happiness.  But is this a Western idealization?  I understand the people themselves live on the edge of poverty.  Is modernizing good or harmful for the average Bhutanese?"  (Patrick in San Francisco)
  • "What's new in Swedish furniture and fabric design?"   (Jan in Annapolis, Maryland)

Incidental Music

  • Lemongrass, "La Mer," Nikki Beach, vol. 1 (collection) / Loungism Recordings
  • Cincinnati Pops, Erich Kunzel, cond., "By the Sleepy Lagoon," Sailing / Telarc
  • Klangraum, featuring Maisey Rika, “Maori Beat,”  Manako (soundtrack) / Fuego (Germany)
  • Iaora Tahiti and Tumata, Samoan chant "Tagi A Lome (The Cries of Lome)," Drum Beats of the Pacific (collection) / Hula Record International
  • Iaora Tahiti, "E Toro E Piti (Cook Islands)," Drum Beats of the Pacific (collection) / Hula Record International
  • * Saucetone, "He Aloha Noa Honolulu," Saucetone (digital download only) / Blue Pie Productions
  • Unspecified flutist, "Dramnyen Solo Lhasa Noprbuling La," Tibetan Buddhist Rites from the Monasteries of Bhutan, vol. 4 / Lyrichord
  • Tarun Nayer, "Kezang La," 22º of Beatitude / Chaiwalla's Boombox  (Bhutan)
  • Nacho Sotomayor, “Sometimes,” Nirvana Lounge by Claude Challe & Ravin (collection) / Challo Music (France)
  • Unspecified musician, "Tibetan Dramnyen," Tibetan Buddhist Rites from the Monasteries of Bhutan, vol. 4 / Lyrichord
  • Monks of the Drukpa Order, “Dewachen Gi Monlam,” Tibetan Buddhist Rites from the Monasteries of Bhutan, vol. 1 / Lyrichord
  • *Marco di Bali, "Tibet Flavour," VIP Lounge, vol. 1 (collection) / Wagram (France)
  • Avalon String Quartet, "Namasté: Incarnation of the Divine,” Avalon String Quartet / Albany Records
  • Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Ari Rasilainen, cond., Harald Aadland, violin, Jon Sønsebø, viola, "Vision (from Suite No. 3, op. 19) (Kurt Atterberg)," The Nordic Experience (collection) / Warner Classics
  • Den Fule, "Den Blå Slåtten (the Blue Tune)," Nordic Roots (collection) / NorthSide
  • Izumi Tateno, piano, "XI - November - Bare Trees  (from Sun and Clouds, op. 102, composed by Selim Palmgren)," The Nordic Experience (collection) / Warner Classics
  • Hedningarna, "Grodan  (Toadeater)," Nordic Roots (collection) / NorthSide
  • Ireland National Symphony, "Vallfickens Dans from ‘Swedish Rhapsody No. 1’  (composed by Hugo Alfven),”  Midsummer Vigil: Orchestral Favourites of Hugo Alfven /  Naxos

Dated References

  • In his segment A intro at 7:24, Rick calls "Headhunters on my Doorstep" J Maarten Troost's "latest book."   At 10:35, Rick notes he was "just in" the Robert Louis Stevenson museum in Edinburgh. 
  • At 20:43, Rick says Bhutan made headlines recently with its "Gross National Happiness" policy, and was rated as one of the "ten happiest nations" by Business Week in 2006.  At 21:30, Lisa says Bhutan is considered the last Buddhist kingdom, and adds it is transitioning into a democracy. 
  • Lisa notes at 24:21 that tourist rules in Bhutan require you to spend a minimum of US$250 a day in Bhutan. 
  • Caller Debbie says at 26:05 that she visited Bhutan "in September and October of last year" for a 21 day visit.  She adds she loves the people and the King, but notes the main road is in very poor condition.  Lisa responds that a series of small airports have been established as a way to allow tourists to visit various parts of the country, and that hotels and food are slowly improving. 
  • Rick quotes Lisa at 28:40 that there are no traffic lights in Bhutan's capital city;  she adds that Tuesdays have just been declared pedestrian-only days in the capital. 
  • Rick estimates the Bhutanese average around US$1400 a year in income at 31:40. 
  • Rick and Asa discuss parental leave allowances in Sweden, starting at 49:37, which have been in effect since 1974.  Asa explains that each spouse gets nine months of paid leave with a newborn.   She cites Volvo, Saab, Ikea, H&M, Eriksson, as major industries in Sweden who help to fund the country's social network for a 9.5 million population.  Around 53:00, she notes the expanding job market and higher salaries in Norway, since oil was discovered there. 
  • At 54:38, Asa notes that only Sweden and Norway have a king;  in Denmark, the reigning monarch is the queen.  She also describes Princess Victoria's wedding "two years ago," and explains that the King of Sweden has no vote in government policy. 

Program Extras

Program Extra 1 - J. Maarten Troost tells Rick how a popular drug of his day that Robert Louis Stevenson took influenced him to write "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." (runs 1:23)

Program Extra 2 - A caller from Maryland asks what makes Swedish design distinctive today. Asa Danielsson summarizes the tenets of "Scandinavian design," with suggestions for shopping districts in Stockholm. (runs 2:03)