Malcolm Reed


Malcolm Reed

Travel for business and for pleasure - preferably with the former paying the bill!

Africa » Ethiopia » Addis Ababa Region » Addis Ababa December 16th 2011

This may well be my one and only post on Travel Blog for this trip - it just doesn't seem to be working properly. So I've jumped ship to Google Blogger and I hope you can find me on there! The link is and I'm sure you can view, subscribe and all the usual stuff. If you try it now there is one entry. So fingers crossed for occasional wi-fi, and see you on Blogspot.... read more

Middle East » Jordan » South » Petra October 12th 2011

Our day trip from Amman didn’t have the early start that had been threatened. In fact, the rest of the group were so late rolling down to breakfast I began to think they’d gone without me! But no, we met at 9:30 and hit the road to Jerash. Just like every other country with some decent Roman ruins, they claim it’s the biggest, best preserved, most complete set of ruins, but in my view, none of them can match Leptis Magna. Nonetheless it’s impressive and we passed a couple of hours wandering round, soaking up the atmosphere. Back on the bus again, to the Dead Sea. I’m sure many more eloquent scribes have written about this experience but it is truly bizarre. The water is both incredibly salty and slightly oily and you can sense the ... read more
The Treasury

Middle East » Jordan » North » Amman October 8th 2011

I'm on a one week group tour with Exodus to Jordan which was fixed at relatively short notice, well about 4 weeks ago. I realised that I hadn't had a holiday since Easter, only business trips, and England is getting cold and depressing..... So after trawling through the usual suspects online (Exodus, Explore, Adventure Company) I settled on this one week whizz round Jordan. As ever I found my own flight and got the best deal ever with Royal Jordanian -- £266 return. OK, they’re not exactly Emirates but the plane was new, G&T cold and the service friendly. Great service from the local Exodus agent: he was waiting before passport control and helped me with the visa and immigration chores, then straight off to a waiting car. I arrived one day before the rest of ... read more

Asia » Laos » South » Khong Island January 8th 2011

Since the holiday is all over, I’d better write one more piece, in case you think I’ve gone AWOL in Laos! This will just be a brief summing up, so here goes. From the last entry, you’ll see that we had a really early start on New Years Eve with a flight from Vientiane to Pakse. That was followed by a long day on the road, heading towards our next hotel in Don Khong, the largest inhabited island in the Mekong (at least, in the Laos area of Mekong). By 4 p.m. we were getting close, but then it got interesting. There’s no bridge to the island, so the local entrepreneurs have set up a system of home made ferries. I’m not kidding: this is agricultural engineering at it’s best. The most basic ferries consist of ... read more
slightly bigger ferry

Asia » Laos » West » Vientiane January 5th 2011

And onwards to Vientiane. It’s quite a culture shock to return to a big city after the villages and market towns of rural Laos. We’re not talking London or New York here but some differences are immediately apparent. There is more traffic and a fair number of private cars: elsewhere it’s been mostly vans, tractors, jeeps and mopeds. The driving is more aggressive – OK, not Rome, but there are some jams and even one or two sets of traffic lights! Last time I visited, I remember arriving late in the evening and finding that the city had closed for the night. It was 9 p.m. after all. Keith and I eventually found a grocery store and dined on crisps, chocolate and beer! This time, Phonsy took us to a new restaurant which was 10 minutes ... read more
Wat Phu
View from Victory Arch

Asia » Laos » East » Phonsavan December 29th 2010

A postscript to Phonsavan and the Plain of Jars. In a change to our schedule we crammed in the visits to the three main “jar” sites into Tuesday to free up Wednesday morning. Having learned something of the Secret War, I asked Phonsy if there was anywhere we could visit to learn about the UXO removal plan. He said that this was sometimes possible since he had a friend who worked at the regional centre. After a couple of phone calls we got permission to visit the following morning. This meant a fairly early start and a chilly ride out to the regional office on the edge of town for 8 o’clock. We were met by the regional coordinator and given a detailed run through of the various regional centres and the different tasks that they ... read more

Asia » Laos » East » Phonsavan December 28th 2010

As I said (briefly) yesterday we’re in North East Laos now, close to the Plain of Jars. This region is well known for two reasons, the jars themselves and the so-called Hidden War. The jars are the subject of much debate and truth is, no-one really knows their history. They range in size from 1m to over 2m high, with a diameter of between 50cm and 1m. The material appears to be limestone and each one has been hollowed out using (presumably) a harder stone. The age? Well, certainly thousands of years but no-one can say for sure. The first theory is that they were used for fermenting alcohol from rice, to be used for celebrations, That would tie in nicely with current day Laos. However in the 1930’s a French archaeologist found human ashes under ... read more

Asia » Laos » East » Phonsavan December 27th 2010

After a short break (3 days I think), I have found an internet cafe again. I've only got a few minutes but hopefully I can get back here later or possibly tomorrow. We've just spent 3 nights in Luang Prabang (oh, hang on, Alison has just turned green with envy again!!). It was as nice as I remember and a great place to unwind. Our hotel was a little way from the centre, which was a nuisance but that did encourage me to rent a bike a couple pf times to explore the town and the back lanes. I even skipped one of the organised half day trips to get a little more time to relax. Seen one waterfall, seen 'em all I reckon. We've had another long day on the road today, travelling north east ... read more

Asia » Laos » North » Louang Namtha December 23rd 2010

I hope you're all managing to read the blog - sorry about the lack of photos but connections are not so good! E-mail or leave me a comment so I know I;m not wasting my time!!! Fast forwards to Wednesday and we’re in Luang Nantha in the north of Laos. Checking on the map, this is as far north as we venture and it’s within a day’s drive of both the China and Burma borders. Due east is Vietnam but that’s a bit further away. It’s noticeably cooler here in the evening and long sleeves are a good idea for the mossies as well because they don’t seem bothered by the cooler air. I walked back from town at dusk in shorts and I’ve got 6 bites on my legs to prove it! I don’t think ... read more

Asia » Laos » West December 22nd 2010

As expected, the early start was no fun! Up at quarter to five, breakfast at half five then on the bus at six. And I thought I was on holiday…… It’s only a 1 hour flight north to Chiang Rai but according to Phon Si, our guide, it’s an 18 hour drive because the road is good but very slow. So a short flight is a good option and we’ll be taking a few internal flights in Laos as well, for the same reason. As I mentioned, there are now just 4 of us left on the trip. We got the message from London this morning that the rest of the group can’t travel so their holiday has been cancelled. I’m actually writing this on Tuesday and I can see on the news that Heathrow is ... read more

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