Katherine Howell


2007: Procrastinating from real life and the prospect of more exams for a year. Living in Kilifi, Kenya with my sister Brigid, working in malaria research, learning swahili and travelling round east Africa.

2008: Back in Australia, back at work, and spending most of my time out of work studying for exams in March 2009. Still managing to get away a bit...

2009: Exams done. Just back from a trip to Turkey and Kenya. Blogs to follow.

Visited Countries Map

Asia » Malaysia » Sabah » Sandakan October 27th 2008

Back in Malaysian Borneo, the next few days were about spotting primates and stuffing ourselves full of food. Arriving in Kota Kinabalu an hour after sunset, we made our way straight to the night market for dinner, meandering past rows and rows of fresh produce to arrive at the dining tables. We took a good 20 minutes to work out which of all the delicious-looking food we'd eat, deciding on a huuuuuuuuuge barbecued parrot fish, some prawns and a giant bowl of mee goreng, prepared by a guy proficient in the art of tossing a full pan of noodles high in the air while making small talk. We waddled back to our hotel feeling like we'd never eat again but, of course, we did it all again the next night. From there, it was off to ... read more
Bad habits
Night market, Kota Kinabalu

Asia » Brunei » Bandar Seri Begawan October 23rd 2008

We didn't have much luck with transport or bureacracy in Brunei. The ferry from Limbang wasn't running and the taxi drivers wanted ridiculous sums of money at exchange rates that didn't make sense. We eventually made it to the border, and were pleased to be finally assigned transit visas - a short-term visa for those moving on in the next few days which costs about half as much as a 30 day visa. We were in Bandar Seri Begawan by mid afternoon, sweating our way from the bus stop to our hotel. We spent the afternoon in air-conditioned comfort, washing ourselves and our dirty hiking gear and resting our weary bodies while watching Star Movies. The sunset looked spectacular, but it was all we could do to watch from our window, not having the energy to ... read more
Boys at Kampung Ayer (water villages)
Sunset over Bolkiah Mosque
Mosque at Kampung Ayer

Asia » Malaysia » Sarawak » Gunung Mulu National Park October 19th 2008

Three weeks off work. Two for holiday, one for study. Somewhere to hike, and somewhere to try out my new camera. Not too far away. A couple of Christmases ago, I bought Justin a book called 'Trek', which has beautiful photos of some of the world's best hikes and has proven a winner at selecting spectacular holiday destinations. So, it was to this we turned again to decide where next. Borneo definitely ticked all the boxes. We debated whether to climb Mt Kinabalu or hike the Headhunters' Trail, settling on the latter to spend some time in a jungle and decide for ourselves just how horrible leeches are. I'd just read 'Borneo and the Poet' by Redmond O'Hanlon, a naturalist and writer who joined an expedition of British special operations forces to explore the deep dark ... read more
Girl at the long house
It's difficult moving logs when you only weigh 10kg
Peeking round the corner

Amongst the list of things I really hate, right up there with parking tickets in front of your own house and hot cross buns, is the animal game. Or the animal game disguised as something else. It's just not that entertaining to think of every animal (or band or insert other topic here) you can beginning with a certain letter on long journeys. It's especially not entertaining when you play against people whose repertoire of remembered animals includes the cookie-cutter shark, but I suspect that just illustrates that I don't like to lose. Luckily, given Justin and Whitley are of the cookie-cutter mould, they only insisted on playing in the car on the way there and back, and we had 4 lovely animal game-free days hiking the Tongariro Northern Circuit. The circuit is a 50km trek, ... read more
Mt Ngaurahoe from Mangatepopo hut
Into the mist
Hot springs from Ketatahi hut

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Taupo March 7th 2008

Nearly 3 months after arriving back in Australia, it feels like we've never been away. I finished up my project in the lab, and started back doing clinical work - this time a neonatal intensive care job. A couple of weeks of night shifts was enough to get me over my initial thoughts of 'oh holy crap, they're so tiny and so sick and I haven't done any med for a year!!' and just leave me pretty exhausted and ready for a holiday! Yes, I know after the year we've just had that it'll be a fair while before we actually deserve another holiday, but night shift turns you bonkers and so I was glad to have 2 weeks off work. Justin and I headed over to the North Island of New Zealand to catch up ... read more
Champagne pool
Champagne pool
Coromandel Peninsula coastline

Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Cape Town December 28th 2007

It is perhaps a measure of the depth of the appreciation we have developed over the year for efficiency, having learnt to make do with precious little of it, that the excitement of our hassle-free and very fast check-in for our domestic flight from Johannesburg almost overshadowed our arrival in Cape Town, probably the most beautiful city I've seen so far. Buoyed by this, the lovely sun with its dry heat and the ability to explore the streets safely, we spent the first full day in Cape Town wandering Long Street, with its book shops and funky little clothing stores. After the purchase of even more books (I think Brigid is up to 13 and I have 5) and the first items of clothing (other than happy pants and Banjuka tu t-shirts) we'd bought in over ... read more
Colourful suburb of Cape Town
The Western Cape
And they danced by the light of the moon...

Africa » South Africa » Gauteng » Johannesburg December 13th 2007

A week ago we left Kilifi, spending our last morning there at Upendo. Some of the kids were clingy, some showed more fascination than normal with my watch as we counted down the minutes we had left there, and some were oblivious to our impending departure, and we raced around and sang songs like any other day. In the end, we left hurriedly as a traffic jam on the Mombasa Road meant our trip to the airport would be a slow one. Mama Rachel and most of the kids escorted us part of the way home to sneak in a last few minutes together, and so we said our goodbyes on a dirt road in the backstreets of Kilifi. I struggled to contain tears at the kids’ farewell gestures of a kiss to the back of ... read more
Lion King obsession continuing...
Giant mural on cooling towers in Soweto
Shirts at street stall in Soweto

Africa » Kenya » Coast Province December 6th 2007

It's hard to believe our time in Kilifi is almost over - we fly to Johannesburg tomorrow. After eight months here, we've developed a lot of affection for the place and its people and, for a while, especially when we've returned from other east African travels, it's felt almost like home. But, the excitement of 2 weeks in South Africa and then back to our real home to see family and friends for Christmas has certainly made it easier to say goodbye. We have thousands of memories of Kilifi that we'll bore our grandchildren silly with one day, I'm sure! Highlights of the last two weeks include... - Taking my computer and a DVD of The Lion King in to Upendo for the kids to watch. While a lot of them have seen some TV in ... read more
Ooooh, best friends...
Yo, homies!
More irreverent praying

Africa » Kenya » Coast Province November 23rd 2007

The travels of September and October now behind us, we've settled back into Kilifi life and are now fast approaching the end of our time here. The mild weather we'd been enjoying a couple of months back has well and truly made way for the season of steam - Kilifi is now a hot-bed of sweat, with only an average of ten minutes of relief from the heat (just after the rain stops in the morning). Turning up the fan full blast so that it sounds like you're sleeping next to a chopper is really the only way to guarantee a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, our water supply has chosen this time to keep packing it in. We're waiting for our landlord to arrange a plumber so, in the mean time, we have no water every ... read more
Sunset over Mombasa Road
Justin, me, Rosie and Neema at Upendo
Big, big crab

Africa » Rwanda » Ville de Kigali » Kigali November 2nd 2007

Many countries in Africa have titles extolling the virtue of their people and land - Uganda is ‘the pearl of Africa’, Malawi the ‘warm heart of Africa’ - presumably both an example of national pride and a marketing catch-cry for tourists. Rwanda’s is a little less ambiguous than the above examples - it is the ‘land of a thousand hills’. Rumoured to be a country of amazing beauty and one that has made remarkable headway into peacefully moving forward after the horrors of the genocide in 1994, we were curious to see for ourselves this small east African country given our current proximity to it. General Kenyan inefficiency meant that Brigid’s work visa had not come through nearly 6 months after it was applied for, and her tourist visa was due to expire. So, we had ... read more
Lake Kivu
Rwandan cuties
Man reflects at the memorial garden at Kigali Memorial Centre

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