Page 6 of GregCath Travel Blog Posts

The train to Uyuni was pretty well appointed and packed with travellers. Still it jerked and rattled as we completed the 7 hour journey. Got to see three movies: all Hollywood produced but dubbed into Spanish. Only one was really suitable for the children on the train, but who cares violence is OK. Really? Soon after Oruro the train crossed kilometers of swamp land, grazed by thousands of Flamingos. All a slightly less vivid pink than we had seen in the Galapagos, but still very exotic. The altoplano scenary continued to be stark and barren, though as we got closer to Uyuni the mountains loomed large and caught the brilliant sunset light. The temperature dropped quickly once the sun went down. Judged from the condensation on the windows, down to 0oC and below. We ... read more
Bill & Wendell on the Salar
Across the salty desert
Map of the Salar de Uyuni

South America » Bolivia » Oruro Department » Oruro July 26th 2012

Left Quito 1830. Flights to Lima and then to La Paz. Long flights with TACA. Pretty bumpy to Lima. Short stopover in Lima. Arrived in La Paz at 0230 and the air was noticeably thinner. No wonder given that the airport is at 4000m! Taxi met us and drove us down and down, through quiet, deserted streets to our hotel. As in other places all shops had their security shutters down. Plenty of stray dogs to make it feel occupied. Nonetheless the streets had a certain war-zone look. The Hotel was cosy and welcoming. The air very cold – well below 0 but dry as a bone. Our first stay in La Paz was brief. Out by 0800 and headed to the bus station. The streets were already crowded and busy. We got into the bus ... read more
Market at Oruro
Market at Oruro
Market at Oruro

The Galapagos or Enchanted Islands, are without doubt one of the truly amazing places we have visited. We visited seven islands, each unique. Some are rocky lava outcrops with active volcanoes, some with swamps, some sand dunes – the sand can be black, white, red or green. The animals are everywhere you look, and sometimes so close you struggle not to trip over them. We swam with sea lions, sea turtles and sharks, treaded carefully between basking iguanas, watched a 30 minute display of driving blue-footed boobies fishing in a school of gar with a heron and sharks, saw many of the 13 species of finch which were key to development of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and many many other fish and birds. You can tell from the text that we really got into spotting ... read more
Sealion city
Giant turtoise
Giant tortoise

South America » Ecuador » North » Otavalo July 15th 2012

The Aya Huma Hostel at Peguche, was a series of white washed buildings perched beside a small stream and wooded ravine. Originally the hostel had been a railway station and apart from the design of the main building, the rail lines ran right through the middle. Farmland surrounds it. We checked into our hostel style rooms, and were immediately invited by the host- a dutch woman- to join her family and some guests for a traditional indigenous lunch. Though I have forgotten the word, this was basically a “hangi” based on hot rocks, bamboo leaves, canvas covering and soil. They cooked potatoes, plantains, pork and cassava root. Part of the attraction of this hostel is the linkage to indigenous culture, so our hosts told stories about the pre-columbian people in this region, their beliefs about the ... read more
View outside Aya Huma
Bill contemplates Pacha Manka
Local dress

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito » Historical Center July 15th 2012

First day on the trip after a long, long flight from Australia (32 hours!). Catherine and I slept off the jet lag, meeting Bill and Wendell before breakfast. We have a pleasant hotel well situated near the touristic centre of the town. After our first cup of Ecuadorian coffee we headed off on foot to see several spectacular cathedrals, and a museum of pre-columbian art. Really quite freaky, with one memorable piece consisting of a plate supported by two legs. Here’s the thing though, the plate resembled a pig squashed flat and the legs were like the legs of a centurion. The weirder end of Art deco, but dating back to well BC. Lunch was in a very pleasant courtyard restaurant where we sampled ceviche for the first time. Brilliant. In the evening we sauntered down ... read more
Quito basilica
Not a tourist
Saturday night

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Brisbane » Lutwyche July 13th 2012

Finally made it to Brisbane airport for the start of this new adventure. Plenty happening to keep our minds off the travel for the last few weeks. CSIRO Divisional mergers (Greg) and publication of the Qld Health, Chief Health Officer's report (Catherine). Everyone is excited though. Our kids, Alex (currently in Sydney) and Elise (currently in London) sent their shared excitement. Itinerants all! Bill will set off from Brussels within hours, and Wendell from NYC. Please let us know if you would rather not follow this blog.... read more

Asia » Laos » South March 4th 2012

Leaving the lads at airports, the girls met some days later at Pakse, the gateway to Champasak and the Four Thousand Island (Si Phan Don) of the ‘mighty mekong’. We opted for the easier travel of a car and driver on our custom route, easily organised at the Provincial Tourism Office of Pakse. Wat Phu Champasak, in the late afternoon light, was an eerie, almost mystical site. The pavilions, although partially destroyed, were beautiful – and made more beautiful by the trusty pink umbrellas. What was unexpected was the grand view across the open plains from the upper levels. Champasak itself was nothing to write home about.We stayed in a very ordinary guesthouse, but with a deck right out over the Mekong. Our first stop in Si Phan Don was Don Khong. The first part of ... read more
Buddha draped in gold inside Wat
lower sections of the Wat
Wat aside Don Khong

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang January 29th 2012

We had been told by travellor friends that Luang Prabang was one of the most beautiful places in Asia, or some said the world. It lived up to our expectations and more so. A special part of our stay in Luang Prabang was the celebration of the 30 year wedding annoversaries of both Fiona and Roscoe, and ourselves.... read more
Photo 3
Photo 6
Photo 7

Asia » Laos » North October 25th 2011

The richness of colours and textures of Lao are exquisite. The women of Laos make beautiful textiles. This must be in their spare time, because they are very busy women! They make paper from bamboo, and embed flowers and leaves. They weave silk scarves in exquisite colours. They embroider cloth for many household and decorative purposes. The vibrant colours of the flowers of Laos are both part of the textiles as well as surely an inspiration for the colours of cloth. And then there is the food........ read more
Bees nest
The flower
Photo 5

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang October 24th 2011

This part of the trip was so jam-packed with interesting sights and sounds. Hopefully these few words, the photos and captions give a hint of this brilliant leg of the journey. Basically we finished our trek at Bun Namly and were picked up in a minibus. From there back to Boun Tai to collect our extra luggage, and on to Phongsaly. The roads were good in places, because the Chinese are providing extra funding to help keep agricultural produce flowing, but in other places the roads were clearly suffering from repeated landslides and washouts. We stopped several times for heavy equipment to clear a path. Phongsaly is very high, perhaps 1800m, and a quaint outpost of Chinese culture within Lao. Unfortunately the weather was a bit smokey or misty otherwise I could imagine the views would ... read more
On-going roadworks
Simple farm machine
Setting off from Hat Sa

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