Viv and John Cussell


Viv and John Cussell

We are off travelling again! We are not backpacking this time, like we did last year in Borneo. Instead, we are venturing forth on a Grand Road Trip across Canada! We are flying to Lisbon on 4th May and after spending a few nights there we fly on to Toronto on 6th May. A rental car from Toronto will (hopefully) transport us across this vast country to Vancouver from where we fly home to Spain via Frankfurt on 29th June; eight weeks travelling across five Canadian territories, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, a journey of about 5,700 kilometres. We plan to make a few side detours along the way so the final kilometre total will be over 6,000. That is a lot of driving, which we will share. Mostly we shall follow the Trans Canadian Highway but as usual, we have nothing booked apart from a guest house in Toronto for the first three nights before collecting the rental car, so we shall go where the road takes us! When we get to British Columbia, we are also going to visit cousin Kaye and her husband Randy, who live on Vancouver Island. We might also get to meet up with Jake and Julie who live in Vancouver (Jake is cousin Eric and Sue´s son) if our itinerary enables us to. How nice it will be to get to the comfort of Kaye and Randy´s house after a lengthy journey and campsites and motel rooms!
We have bought a little two-person tent to take with us. Weather permitting, we shall enjoy pitching up at some of the many Canadian campsites in the National Parks across the country as well as using motels and other lodgings along the route. Several of the campgrounds have “Bear Fences” apparently!!! Our original plan was to hire a little campervan like we did some years back in New Zealand, however in Canada they are mostly huge beasts and also very expensive.
As usual, Viv will be the blog author and John will be the main photographer. We hope that many of our friends and family will follow our blog as in the past and feel free to add comments if they wish. So, lakes, forests, some experience of First Nation culture, maybe some kayak trips, bear spotting if we are lucky, Rocky Mountains and endless prairies of wheat await us! Plus, pancakes and maple syrup!

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London June 5th 2018

Tuesday 5thJune 2018 The last two days of our very special two-month trip to England and Borneo were spent in London, staying at my cousin’s house, just three stops on the train to London Bridge. Last Friday 1st June, we took the train there for a day’s sightseeing. Strange to think that I was at this same station almost a year ago on 3rd June, the day of the terrorist attack (but fortunately a bit earlier in the day) with my friends Ann and Barbara, on our way to the Royal Opera House. We got off the train at London Bridge and headed next door to The Shard. We had intended to go up to the viewing platform for the view over London, however, it was rather cloudy so we didn’t feel inclined to pay £30.95 ... read more
Borough Market
The Spanish stall in Borough Market
Hay's Galleria

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Essex » Clacton-on-Sea May 31st 2018

Thursday 31st May 2018 So far on our travels, transportation has been easy with few hiccups. Well, we did get flown to Penang six weeks ago because we couldn’t land in Kuala Lumpur in a terrific tropical storm, but that didn’t delay our journey very much. The journey back to the UK this weekend, however, was very tedious. We left Kuching in Borneo on Saturday, expecting to arrive in England on Sunday but unfortunately, we only got here on Monday! Our flight from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia was on time; it was a smooth journey. We stayed one night in a hotel not far from the airport and that was OK. On Sunday morning we got the 7.00 a.m. shuttle to KL International airport to get our Malaysia Airlines flight to London. We ... read more
"Oh we do like to stroll along the prom, prom, prom!"
Clock tower, Burnham High Street

Asia » Malaysia » Sarawak » Kuching May 25th 2018

Friday 25th May 2018 The weather gods were kind last night. The afternoon rain dried up and the balmy evening proved just perfect for a river cruise on the Sarawak. The cruise lasted just an hour and a half, travelling downriver and back as the sun slowly set. Some young dancers came onboard so that we could enjoy a traditional dance display and beer was sold in ice buckets complete with a built-in bottle opener in the rim. This little cruise was so idyllic and the sunset was made to order, especially since it was the first in a week due to evening thunderstorms. What a wonderful finale to our Borneo adventure, which has passed by too swiftly! Tomorrow morning, we fly off to Kuala Lumpur.... read more
River boat
Traditional dancing
John's happy!

Asia » Malaysia » Sarawak » Kuching May 25th 2018

My cousin Eric sent this to me yesterday on Whatsapp. He saw it on Facebook. This is such a tragedy. Not only has human greed in Borneo destroyed the habitat and food supply for thousands of primates, bears, leopards and other mammals down to the tiniest Tree Shrew, but also for fish, insects, reptiles and birds. Palm oil is used in the manufacture of so many things that we use unknowingly every day; but we do not need to use it. There are alternatives. However, it is cheap to produce (fast-growing and easily harvested using cheap labour). Please look in your larder and fridge now and see what is there that has palm oil in it. Throw it in the bin and don't buy that product again. The Palm oil Barons do not even care that ... read more

Asia » Malaysia » Sarawak » Kuching May 24th 2018

Monday 21st May 2018 We spent Monday on a full-day tour. We thought we might be in a group of people, squashed into a minibus, but it was just the two of us with our driver/guide, Musa. First stop was the Semenggoh Nature Reserve. The Semenggoh Centre was set up fifty years ago to rescue Orang-utans that had been kept illegally as pets or were orphaned due to hunting and loss of habitat. In the 70s there were eleven Orang-utans there and they underwent a rehabilitation programme before being released into the Semenggoh rainforest. This programme was so successful that eventually, over the years, they were all released and have set up their own wild colony of thirty animals, in the forest. In this way, Semenggoh is different to Sepilok, where rescued animals can still be ... read more
Annah Rais Bidayuh longhouse
Black pepper drying

Asia » Malaysia » Sarawak » Kuching May 22nd 2018

Tuesday 22ndMay 2018 In the “Lonely Planet” Borneo guide it says that Kuching will “amply reward visitors with a penchant for aimless ambling”. So true! So, on Sunday we spent the day aimlessly ambling along the waterfront, through Chinatown, the old colonial sector and the Islamic market, across the new bridge and around and about the town in general. We set off in the rain, then spent most of the day in the heat (I bought a rainbow umbrella to use for rain and sunshine), then in the evening we had a terrific dramatic thunderstorm. Most evenings it has rained after lovely sunny days, so we are still waiting for the opportunity to take an evening river cruise! Along the waterfront promenade there is an open-air community building called “The People’s Place” and often of an ... read more
Sunday morning at "The People's Place"
The Square Tower
Quadrangle in the Old Courthouse Complex

Asia » Malaysia » Sarawak » Mount Santubong May 18th 2018

Friday 18th May 2018 Well, as far as throwing paint on the canvas, how about this? Yesterday in the Sarawak Cultural Village at the foot of Mount Santubong, John had a go at using a blowpipe and I got a tattoo! My tattoo is an authentic Orang-Ulu design which is supposed to bring good fortune. More about the tattoo later! The Sarawak Cultural Village is a “living museum” designed to portray the state’s rich cultural heritage in a live form, with seven different ethnic houses around a small lake, where crafts are demonstrated, traditional activities are performed and also there are enchanting dance performances in the theatre. The living museum is geared to indigenous tourism, for Malay people to understand and experience their heritage, in the same way that living museums in the UK are visited ... read more
Iban dancer
Bidayuh male dancers
Bamboo bridge leading to the Bidayuh house

Asia » Malaysia » Sarawak » Bako National Park May 16th 2018

Wednesday 16th May 2018 There were times today when I was on the very edge of my comfort zone and even John was struggling a bit. It wasn’t jungle trekking, it was jungle scrambling and climbing and we are now both exhausted. However, it was a “Highlight Day”! Having proudly survived it, we can now say it was one of the best experiences ever, because the scenery in the Bako National Park is sensational and furthermore, it is teeming with wildlife. The only way to get there is by boat and one can only get a permit to enter the park with a qualified guide. The whole area is an ecological education centre for scientists from across the globe, due to the rich diversity of distinct flora and fauna. In short, the Bako is pretty awesome! ... read more
"What's up?"
Bako Terminal on the river estuary
Setting off

Asia » Malaysia » Sarawak » Mount Santubong May 15th 2018

Tuesday 15th May 2018 We came for the sunset…and the beach…and the beer…and the wine…and the big buffet breakfasts…and the twin double beds…and the bathtub…and the hilltop infinity pool with the stunning scenery. We got what we came for! Next week back to reality! We have enjoyed two days of complete chill. Paradise! However, there is still so much to see and do before our Borneo experience comes to a close. So, tomorrow we shall rise early once more, pack our small day sacks and head off to the Bako National Park for the day. Hopefully we shall find some Proboscis monkeys and other creatures there. On Thursday we are going to visit the Sarawak Cultural Centre, which is just along the road from Damai Beach where we are staying, then on Friday we shall head ... read more

Asia » Malaysia » Sarawak » Kuching May 15th 2018

Tuesday 15th May 2018 On Saturday we left Sibu on the 11.30 a.m. ferry bound for Kuching. It was a gloriously sunny morning, not too humid and the ferry left on time. It was so nice to be on a boat where one could stand on deck to enjoy the passing scenery as we made our way downriver, rather than being confined to quarters inside a cabin full of passengers. O! and what an interesting and varied journey it was! Shipyards, coal yards, timber yards, old rusting hulks of barges abandoned mid-stream or beside small islands (one had trees growing through it) juxtaposed with lush verdant rainforest, wooden longhouses on Penan and Iban tribal settlements and rickety jetties with longboats tied to them, all higgledy-piggledy, providing splashes of colour bobbing on the coffee-coloured surface of the ... read more
Our sea-going river ferry!
Eggs on board. Hope they don't fry in the sun!
"Farewell Sibu!"

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