Frogs


frog-swimming

One summer in 2016, Anya and I booked a hotel on the coast of southern Spain.  

We were keen ocean swimmers and over the years we had swum in the oceans lapping the coasts of many different countries including: Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, The Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Croatia, Albania, Greece and Italy.

And in order to indulge our passion, we had stayed in a bewildering variety of accommodation: from basic thatch huts surrounded by palm trees to small family run hotels.  

Now it was a megahotel on the coast of Spain with 500 rooms. One of hundreds lining most of Spanish coast, a forest of mega-hotels.

 It was the last place where I expected to see them, let alone confront some of the basic questions of our lives on this planet: frogs!….

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The Laotian Bus Driver Part 2

It was an extraordinary night and it was about to get more extraordinary.

Marooned in the mountains of northern Laos thanks to a bus breaking down and the driver hitching a  ride into a large town and with the temperature plummeting, we huddled inside the bus and waited. The hours passed and then the driver appeared with a spare drive shaft and slid under the bus. The Laotians blissfully asleep, the tourists got out and looked under the bus, only half believing what they saw….

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The Laotian Bus Driver Part 1

Three hours after we departed the popular tourist destination of Luang Prabang in the north of Laos, our bus broke down.

We were on our way to Vientiane and were supposed to arrive early the next morning.

It was at night and we were in wild  mountainous country.

The road was completely dark.

On either side was a wall of dense and formidable jungle, a mad tangle of vines and trees and ferns silhouetted under star light. There was no moon.

Suddenly there was a piercing shrieking noise and the bus glided to the side of the road and came to an abrupt stop.

 What happened afterwards remains engraved in my memory as a remarkable event but this is doubly so given my present circumstances of being confined to Australia – and wondering whether travel, as I once knew it and took for granted, will ever happen again.

Travel unplanned and full of surprises both enjoyable and far less so……

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Small Journey

 

 

 Arriving at the outskirts of the town of Ladbergen in southern Germany after a long day on our bikes, we had an interminable job finding the hotel which we had booked for two nights. We finally found it.

It was at the end of town and in the midst of modern houses and leafy streets. We were surprised to see that our hotel was a renovated medieval era building and that opposite it was a very old church with a single high tower surrounded by tombstones. Amidst the overwhelming sterility of modern suburbia, these relics of history were a welcome sight.  The same could not be said however for the Italian ice cream parlour, a short distance from the hotel….then again, it depended on how you saw it.

Ice cream might be a powerful symbol of well being….. even, a nation redeemed …

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The Rise and Fall of Phnom Pen Part 1

 

When I first visited Phnom Pen, it didn´t make a great impression on me.

The main tourist attractions – the Silver Pagoda, the Royal Palace on the Tonle Sap River, and the gruesome relics from the notorious reign of the Khymer Rouge (the S21 torture prison and the Chou Ek ‘killing fields’) could easily be seen in a day or two.

For the rest it just seemed like another sprawling, polluted Asian city.

On future visits, I changed my mind.

There was something unique about Phnom Pen which I liked but I didn´t know what.

Then one day it dawned on me…

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