Joan & Neil

Nomad Old Farts

Joan & Neil

Joan and Neil have posted blogs below on the following trips:
1. South America for 3 months, from Sept07 through to Nov07, visiting each of Ecuador (including the Galapagos Islands), Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.
2. Far north Thailand in Mar08 where Neil taught English at a Summer School for the SPF charity he was involved with. This also included a side trip for the weekend to Luang Prabang in Laos.
3. Russia (cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg), then visit to each of Croatia, Budapest & Vienna for a total of 4 weeks, starting in mid Sept08.
4. Neil did a similar SPF teaching stint in Chiangs Mai & Rai in both Mar09 and again in Mar10, the latter followed by a week in Burma.
5. India for 2 weeks in Jan11 (Neil only).
6. France and United Kingdom, via Hong Kong and United States in Jul/Aug11.
7. Vietnam and Laos for 10 days in May13 (Neil only).
8. Kimberley, Litchfield and Katherine in Aug14.
9. Alaskan Inside Passage and Canadian Rockies in Jun15.
10. Tibet for 12 days in Oct15 (Neil only)
11. The 5 Stans (Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Turkmen & Tajik) in Sept/Oct16 (Neil only)
12. Oman, Israel and Jordan in Mar17 (Neil only)
13. Western Australia (Exmouth & Margaret River) in Apr17.
14. A Caribbean cruise in Dec17.
15. Turkey & the Caucasus in Jun18 (Neil only)
16. New Zealand (Nelson/Marlborough & Tongariro National Park) in Mar19.
17. East Africa (Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania & Ethiopia) in Jun19 (Neil only)
18. United States and Bermuda in Aug19
19. United States and Belize in Aug22

More recently, to cover the long hours of boredom during Covid lockdown in late 2021, Neil revisited a number of his overseas trips that he undertook prior to joining TravelBlog in 2007. These were based initially around his 12 months of travel in 1974 when he travelled overland from Sydney to London, then did various jaunts around Europe and North Africa. He also plans to include some highlights from the 130 overseas business trips (sic) that he made in the 30 year period between 1977 and 2007.

If you are interested in reading of their travels, and checking out some pics, there are over 160 blogs, 170,000 words and 2,500 snaps below.

Note: Our original blog from Belize (below), which had formatting problems and in which we couldn't download photos, has now been updated and republished below (Previous Entry). The 90 minute trip from Ambergris Caye back to the mainland in the water-taxi occurred under threatening skies but fortunately the thunderstorms held off. We had arranged a rental car for the remainder of our trip, but somehow retrieving our luggage from the ferry and signing up for the car lost us another 90 minutes. So we decided to take in a good lunch and then make our way directly to San Ignacio (a 90 minute trip) instead of stopping off at the Belize Zoo midway as originally planned. ... read more
The Access Ferry to Xunantunich
Cahal Pech Main Structure
Temple 1 and the Grand Plaza at Tikal

Note: This is a rerun of a previous blog published a week ago that had formatting problems and to which I was unable to add any photos. Many thanks to Ali for resolving both problems and restoring my faith in the TB platform! So, here we are ‘back on the horse’ of international travel again after a frustrating three year hiatus. Joan and I have just completed three weeks with the grandkids in Virginia/Washington DC, with a number of visits to the latter, but I haven’t bothered to post a blog about it as no one wants to see pics of the White House, apart from Donald Trump, who wants to live there again! Now the six of us, three generations in Damon & Sarah, Elliott & Layla, Joan & myself have ventured over to Belize ... read more
Sharks fighting for 'chum'
Drinking, swimming & sunbathing at Secret Beach
San Pedro Truck Stop

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Broulee May 30th 2022

Some of you who have been my regular subscribers through the years might be wondering why you haven’t seen any contributions from me for around 3 years. Yes, covid has been a significant factor (fortunately neither of us has succumbed to it yet), but there has been a more significant reason. My wife, Joan, suffers from Stargardt’s Disease (or AMD – age-related macular degeneration) which means she is rapidly losing her sight and sadly there is currently no cure or even part cure for it. It is not as though it has taken her by surprise, as it is hereditary and a number of her family members had/have it also, so she knew it was coming. I guess that ‘age-related’ is the key word as it was manageable up until about 5 years ago. The first ... read more
Who needs Sydney's roads when you can drive to the shops through this!
Charley, our 11 year old border collie/poodle cross
Rainbow lorikeet, typical of the birdlife that frequents our region

North America » Bermuda August 11th 2019

Aha, I got you! You thought I had finally solved the mystery of all those missing ships and aircraft, didn’t you? Well you’re wrong! I’m talking about unlocking the delights of a different triangle, that formed by the three main towns of Bermuda. For the geometrically-inclined, these form an inverted isosceles triangle, with a wide base and short height (or depth?), with the capital Hamilton on the apex and St George to the east and the Royal Naval Dockyard to the west on the base. Mind you, Bermuda has a lot more to offer than just these three towns. There were six of us on this trip spanning three generations - Joan and myself, Damon and Sarah, and the grandkiddies Elliott and Layla. We had rented a really well located Airbnb for the week at Paget, ... read more
View from inside the Crystal Caves
Happy little grandkiddies
Hamilton from the waterfront

Africa » Ethiopia » Southern Nations Region July 3rd 2019

This morning’s visit to the Mursi tribe, the one whose women wear lip plates, was supposed to be a case of ‘leaving the best till last’, but in fact was a bit of a letdown. After yet another drive along a windy, corrugated dirt road, complete with potholes that were now filled with water after heavy overnight rain, we finally reached the Mursi village on the outskirts of the Mago National Park in just under 2 hours. It was a compact settlement comprising around three dozen grass huts, but very few people. Our guide advised that most of the men were out on cultivation jobs and children at school, so most of those we saw were older women. And of these, only one was wearing a lip plate (but not the bright shiny design you see ... read more
The is what the Mursi woman looks like in the glossy brochures ...
... and this is what the Mursi woman looks like in the flesh
... and this is how they look when they remove their lip plate

Africa » Ethiopia July 2nd 2019

I thought nothing in Ethiopia would surprise me any more but this morning managed to do just that on two occasions. We were advised that our next tribe visit to see the Dassanech village near Omerate, just over the Omo River, was a similar distance from Turmi to that of the Karo tribe the previous day, a journey which had taken around 2 hours along a windy, dirt road with its share of potholes, so we assumed much the same for this trip. To our total surprise, by the time we were just a few kilometres out of Turmi, we suddenly hit an almost straight, level bitumen road, marked on both sides and the centre, and with virtually not a single blemish the whole 80 kilometres to the village. Thus a potential two hour trip was ... read more
Chewing on a sorghum stem
Two old farts in a boat
Thriving cotton plantations on one side of the road ...

Africa » Ethiopia » Southern Nations Region July 1st 2019

Our third tribe visit took on quite a different approach - it was predominantly a photo stop. The Karo tribe live in a very isolated settlement overlooking the east bank of the impressive Omo River, with the 2 hour drive from our lodge at Turmi through pretty rough terrain and not passing through a single village or settlement. The main crops grown by them are sorghum, maize and beans. But their main claim to fame is their heavily painted bodies and faces, which was quite a change from the previous two tribes we visited, who had basically become westernised in their respective wardrobes. They prepare for ceremonies by painting themselves with chalk, which is mixed with yellow rock, red iron ore and charcoal to make its various colours. Face masks are worn occasionally as are clay ... read more
Huts in the Karo village
The group of 'apprentices' practicing their makeup skills
Sheltering in the shade beside the impressive Omo River

Africa » Ethiopia » Southern Nations Region June 30th 2019

Our first tour of the day was a brief 90 minute ‘cruise’ in a local fast boat on the nearby Lake Chamo to check out the local wildlife. That wildlife comprised half a dozen fresh water crocodiles (that we have often seen in Oz) and a few heads of hippos sticking out of the water (a poor relation of our sightings in Kenya), so I guess overall I would have to say it was pretty underwhelming, but this was all included in our travel package. Our second tribe visit was to the Konso village to learn about a tribe best known for its unique social life structure. It is built heavily on communities of which we were advised ... read more
They might be poor but they're happy
Example of a Waga belonging to a deceased chieftain
The Konso 'generation pole'

Africa » Ethiopia » Southern Nations Region June 29th 2019

We had some good fortune on the flight from Zanzibar to Addis Ababa. The scheduled four hour flight landed 55 minutes early (did you hear that, Qantas?). Despite the fact that we were seated half way down the aircraft, on landing we were required to catch a bus from the tarmac to Immigration and we just managed to be the last couple to squeeze onto the first bus. Now last on means first out, so we headed the queue at Immigration and given we had already obtained e-Visas, we went through pretty quickly. And lo and behold, guess whose bags were first off the conveyor belt? Add to that that the taxi office jumped us to the head of the taxi queue and we were in fact delivered to our pre-booked airport accommodation long before our ... read more
Happy Dorze kiddies
Communal gathering
As always, the women do the heavy lifting ...

Africa » Tanzania » Zanzibar June 28th 2019

A visit to the island of Zanzibar has always high been on my bucket list, having heard many times of the great sandy beaches along with atmosphere of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Stone Town, and this desire was only further increased after my visit to Oman a couple of years ago when I learnt of the historical trading relationship between these two countries. Given its colourful history, you can see evidence at times of each of African, Indian, Arab and European cultures, within each of the architecture, the cuisine and the people. While I declined to take one of the offered spice plantation tours, having experienced a similar tour previously in Granada, there was plenty of evidence of the presence of their products in the various markets, thus giving rise to Zanzibar being known ... read more
The front facade of the Old Dispensary
The evening food market at Forodhani Gardens
A local game of soccer at sunset

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