Bucket list trip. This is an account of a trip across China and Russia, with a brief visit to the UK, volunteer vet work in Botswana, a trip to Dublin and back to Perth.
My travelling companion, for those that do not know him, is none other than my friend and colleague Dr James Forbes, 73, originally from Aberdeen and an equine veterinarian with a mind like a steel trap. James is in charge of the purse strings and being a teetotaller thinks that alcohol just gives you expensive urine. My urine will get very expensive if there is a dutyfree at the Sino-Soviet train border.
To fill you in on the drill we are making this an extremesport by only travelling with 7kg of luggage ( case is 2kg). This means we avoid baggage collection which means different things in different countries. Anyone been through Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris? - try it with luggage. C'est la guerre.
We leave on April 20th for Hong Kong so join us on the trip. It won't be boring.
June 22nd 2011
After 2 months travelling it is good to get home to recover from jetlag and to review what seems in retrospect a dream. Here is what I learned: It is good to have a bucket list and it is even better to pursue it. What is the point in vegetating in front of TV or in a job you do not enjoy? The sounds that stick in my memory are: The Painted Reed Frogs that call like windchimes in the night along the riverbanks in Maun Botswana in the Otavanga. The Hippos snorting at night in the hippo grass. What a sound to fall asleep to. The nocturnal shunting of trains that woke me in Siberia. The dogs that barked around the transportable accomodation in Maun when the moon was full and the Jackals and Hyenas ... read more
June 20th 2011
Singapore - safe, clean city. Tidy, polite, respectful people. No eating or drinking in public. People are not overweight and dress well. No crime is tolerated in tourist areas. Changi Airport is a dream to go through with its wide open spaces, great organisation, excellent signage and connection to the tube. Food is brilliant and safe. If you like shopping it is paradise and the Australian dollar is very strong so enjoy a 25% discount with Australian currency. Now is the time to visit from Australia and it's only a 5 hour flight. The tube is safe very easy to use and people are very helpful ( in stark contrast to the Moscow underground). We went to the new Marina development and attached are some pictures of the infinity pool and precinct. The prosperity is striking ... read more
June 15th 2011
Yesterday I crossed the city and passed by The Clock Bar in the picture. I asked my sister what was the nature of the packing on the side of the street. It turned out some enterprising individual was selling discount toilet paper by the metric ton. So the native can nip in for his pint of Guinness during the day and arrive home with red cheeks and a dozen toilet rolls to please the bride - only in Dublin. One of my friends here Paul Egan insists I tell the golfers amongst you that we went to Padraig Harringtons golf course at Stackstown for 9 holes and I got a par on the par 5, 7th using only irons. Being of modest disposition on an off the golf course I have to add it was not ... read more
June 9th 2011
Dublin is back to it's old self.The barman is no longer Polish. The house that was once $120 million is now $4 million with all the pain that entails and...................the Banks are sorry. Germany and the EU are sorry too. When I ask my friends about the national debt they quip "it's Germany's problem" and it probably is. Iceland just defaulted on it's debt to bondholders becuse it is outside the EU and offered to pay in fish! For those of you not familiar with Georgian Dublin I took a few pictures on the way back from the city centre to my sister's house. I am still loading pictures into the previous blogs for those that are interested. Wish I could have done it at the time. For me it's reunion time with all my old ... read more
June 8th 2011
Great to be back at the centre of the social Universe. Dublin. Sadly parted with James at Heathrow as he is off to see his daughter in New York until we meet up again next week. I now find myself doing "James " things like checking my change, polishing my boots. making my bed and getting up v early in the morning. No doubt I will soon be bargaining in the supermarkets. It won't last. The great thing about being away from James is that I get to generate expensive urine again and no better place that Dublin. My sister and I went into a cute little pub off Grafton Street, went in the snug and sat down to drink our Guinness and catch up on 3 years of news. This was about 3pm. Ireland never ... read more
June 5th 2011
Last day in Africa. Sad. Today we flew from Maun in N. Botswana to Johannesburg in Sth Africa. The little Fokker flexed it's propellers and took us high into the blue carefree, dust free cloudless sky. No Malaria up there. I couldn't help but notice on the flights to and from Maun that the mini departure lounges and indeed the planes were infested with white wealthy Nth American and Western European safari types. (James and I looked like 2nd hand hitchhikers towards the end). Africans don't need to go on safari as they are busy shooing elephants and vervet monkeys out of their homes and vegetable patches. For safari in Africa one has to be suitably attired. Loose fitting khaki pants with lots of leg pockets are acceptable. Formerly those pockets were to hold rolls of ... read more
June 4th 2011
Shakawe -now there's town. It does not get much further from civilization. So we went to the village and approached the chief. He appeared in all his fine livery, a nice shiny navy blue jacket, a white cardigan, drainpipe pants and worn black shoes. His round bottle end glasses, missing tooth and cane gave him a regal standing. He would have been 70-80 yrs old. Most of the village assembled with about 30 women in beautiful dresses of all ages and states of repair on one side and men loitering on the other side. Teenagers with mobile phones and worn blue jeans made up the foreground. I got one of our helpers to ask the chief if we could take a photo as the chief only spoke his dialect. I was told the chief wanted money ... read more
June 3rd 2011
Survived 1000km round trip to the panhandle of the Okavango Delta. We saw elephants and a wild ostrich pair on the way up there. The panhandle is the neck of the Okavango and from there it stretches out into the web that is the delta. Our accommodation was on a houseboat for the first three nights which we shared with four middle aged Americans. We moored upstream in the middle of the river with reeds 3m high all round; hippo grass and papyrus. We were taken upstream in a small boat about 4pm for a few hours. We saw hippos in small families with just snouts ears and eyes above water. There were thousands of birds. We feasted on the visual feast of bee eaters, kingfishers and water eagles. The water is so clear and clean ... read more
May 26th 2011
Visited Victoria Falls yesterday, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. It should be on everyone's bucket list. The Zambesi River is in full flood and the first thing that gets you is the roar of the water. The scene is really spectacular with water vapor rising high in the air. We were wearing our $5 ponchos for the first time feeling like two Clint Eastwoods. We still got wet but it was worth it. The far side of the falls is Zambia but we saw it from the Zimbabwe side. I will never forget it. We then went to the Victoria Falls Hotel which is another must. It is one of those African movie type of colonial hotels with ceiling fans, antelope heads on the walls and paintings of British monarchs on the ... read more
May 22nd 2011
Well we managed to get to Cambridge from Moscow uneventfully although the last leg from Dusseldorf to Stansted was in an Air Berlin propellar plane which the pilot threw on the runway at Stanstead. Cambridge was fantastic. We visited James' 97 yr old mum who was just like him - independent obsessive kind and tuned in to everything happening. James organized for us to visit Newmarket Equine Hospital - a £10m facility with Arab sponsorship with every kind of machine money can buy including Catscans and MRI. We could not take pictures. I will try and load current pictures when I get to Ireland in 2 weeks.The flight to Joburg was uneventful. We got two seats each so slept a little on the 10hr flight. It was flying Air Botswana to Maun on the Okavango Delta ... read more