Page 2 of Stuart Travel Blog Posts

Africa » Djibouti April 8th 2008

Djibouti is one of the smallest and most expensive countries in Africa. A small glass of beer in a restaurant cost $US7! At that price teetotalism seemed a very attractive prospect! I didn't get out of the capital city during my stay as I was concentrating on trying to get Visas. As a result I at least enjoyed the good (but expensive) cuisine in the restaurants. The good food is a result of the French colonial influence. The journey to Djibouti was an arduous trip. It started with a 3am start from the city of Dire Diwa in Ethiopia with a scrum to try and get a place on the bus. I won't forget seeing the driver chewing Khat - a stimulant and narcotic used by 90% of Somali men. The next day I tried to ... read more
Djibouti - European quarter
Djibouti port

Africa » Ethiopia March 29th 2008

Ethiopia is like no where else in Africa or the world. It's unique. Even the food is different. Plates are replaced by Injera - a pancake like bread make from Teff flour. Teff flour is an annual grass native to the Ethiopian highlands. Teff is high in fibre and iron and gives the Injera a sour taste. A variety of stews and salads are placed on the Injera. Pieces of Injera are then torn off and used to grasp the food. The Injera is therefore food, a utensil and a plate. An early image of the trip that will stay with me was when I was on a local bus. I had crossed the Sudanese border the previous day. It was early in the morning on a packed bus. A man walked onto the bus dressed ... read more
Church, Lalibela
Gonder - Royal Enclosure
Market, Lalibela

Africa » Sudan February 23rd 2008

"I would sooner live like a Dervish with the Mahdi than go out to dinner every night in London" General Gordon (who was defeated and killed in the Mahdist Siege of Khartoum, 1885). Sudan gets a lot of bad press, with good reason. But I found the people to be the friendliest and most hospitable I've met anywhere in the world. There were numerous incidents during my time in Sudan when people treated me as an honoured guest. I entered the Sudan by ferry from Aswan. The very slow ferry to Wadi Halfa is the only way to cross the border from Egypt. It was a slow trip in an old, broken down boat, which left when the cargo was loaded. Which meant I had to wait 11 hours in the bowels of the boat before ... read more
Whirling Dervishes - Dhikr ceremony at Hamed al-Nil Tomb, Khartoum
Mahdi's Tomb - Khartoum
Meal with new found friends in Shendi

Africa » Egypt February 10th 2008

I was last in Egypt approximately 10 years ago. I needed to travel through Egypt because it is the best place to get a Visa for the Sudan. Not that it wasn't well worth while visiting Egypt again! On this leg of my travels, I'm travelling down the Nile from Cairo to Khartoum. I got my Visa in Cairo because it is the best place to buy a Visa. It's possible to buy one in the UK but it takes 3 months and there is no guarantee that it will be approved. The process in Cairo was relatively painless even if the Sudanese Embassy was very busy and chaotic. I knew that I needed a letter from the British Embassy in Cairo. The Sudanese insists on a letter of invitation from your own Embassy saying that ... read more
View of the Nile in Aswan
The Sphinx at Giza
Funerary Temple of Hatshepsut, West Bank of Luxor

Africa » Tunisia » Tunis January 22nd 2008

"....We landed in the country of the Lotus-Eaters, who live on a flowering food." Homer:The Odyssey. Tunisia was a gentle re-introduction to the African continent. It has good tourist infrastructure, an efficient public transport system and its people are friendly and helpful. After 6 months back in Britain earning some money, I'm traveling again. (See my last blog). I had packed an Arabic phrase book, but found that I didn't need to use it. Everyone I spoke to in the last 2 weeks spoke French. I flew out of Britain on the 7th of January arriving in Tunis late at night. I spent my first day visiting the Bardot Museum in Tunis and the second in the nearby suburb of Carthage. Carthage Carthage, which is only a short train ride from Tunis is now basically an ... read more
Cafe society, Sousse
El-Ghriba Synagogue, Djerba

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Warwickshire January 4th 2008

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 2, scene 2. After just under 6 months back in the UK, I'm setting off on my travels again. In the last few months I've been working for a Debt Collection Agency, which has its main call centre in a village a few miles from Stratford-on-Avon. My last day in the job was on New Years Eve. I will fly on the 7th of January to Tunis, the start of my new adventure in Africa.... read more
Guild Chapel and KES Grammar School, Stratford on Avon.
Swan on the River Avon, Stratford - on Avon
Shakespeare's Grave, Holy Trinity Church, Stratford on Avon

Europe » Belgium » Brussels-Capital Region » Brussels December 12th 2007

Listen to the yell of Léopold's ghost, Burning in Hell for his hand-maimed host. Vachel Lindsay After 5 months back in Blighty working in a call centre for a Debt Collection agency, I decided to take a short trip to Brussels. I've handed in my notice at the company, as I'm going to return to Africa in January 2008. I took advantage of a special offer on Eurostar - a return journey with a nights accommodation. I had 3 days off work. I left my Dad's house in Kineton on the 10th of December, taking the train down to London. I booked into a cheap hotel in Paddington. It had the smallest bathroom I've ever seen. The toilet was angled at 45 degrees so that it could fit into the tiny space. Even so, I was ... read more
Musee Royal de L'Africque Centrale (Musee du Congo)
Manneken Pis
Guildhouse on the Grand Place

Asia » China » Shanghai July 16th 2007

This is the end... I'm now back in England. What have I learned from my journey in the last 32 months? I've learned a lot but I've also learned that the more I know, the more I realise how little I know about the world. At the end of the last blog 'Real Men walk the Wall' I left you in Beijing. On the 6th of July I caught the train to Shanghai, which was a 12 hour overnight journey. There were no soft sleeper places on the train, so I went by soft seat. In China the train tickets are soft and hard sleeper and soft and hard seat, rather than first and second class. It meant that I didn't have a bed for the night so I didn't get much sleep. Shanghai I spent ... read more
Shanghai Museum
People's Square, Shanghai
Shanghai Museum

Asia » China » Beijing July 6th 2007

"The heavens are high, the clouds are pale, We watch as the wild geese disappear southwards. If we fail to reach the Great Wall we are not true men. We who have marched more than 20,000 li." (Mao Zedong) Beijing (北 京 = Northern Capital) is the cultural and political capital of the most populous country in the world. It's also a major tourist attraction because of its Imperial Palaces and the nearby Great Wall. But Beijing wasn't always the capital of China. In fact it seems a very strange place to choose as a capital. It's too far North of the historic Chinese heartland. It first served as the capital of a unified China in 1264 when Kublai Khan's Mongol forces set up the Great Capital (大都) to rule their new empire. It gave the ... read more
The Great Wall
Street scene in a 'Hutong', Beijing
Gate of Heavenly Peace, Beijing

Asia » China » Shanxi June 27th 2007

"Earth heaped high, like a mountain, supplies enormous resources. In human beings, morality cultivated to the highest level is the means to spiritual purity and stillness." (Attributed to the Yellow Emperor - Source Taoist Web Site) Shanxi, (山西) literally means Mountains' West ( 山=Shan,Mountain)(西=Xi, West). It shouldn't be confused with its neighbouring province of Shaanxi. I arrived in Shanxi from Shaanxi (see my previous blog "On the edge of forever"). Shanxi is at the centre of Chinese culture. It was one of the birthplaces of Han Chinese Civilisation. A legend claims that the legendary Yellow Emperor once lived in Shanxi province. T... read more
Cave 6 entrance, Yungang Caves near Datong
Cave 20 Yungang Caves near Datong
Yungang Caves near Datong

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