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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Supermoon! Part 1

In March, 2020, two months after Anya and I arrived in Australia, I bought a pair of astronomical binoculars.

In other words: binoculars meant for stargazing.

Star gazing binoculars are heavy because their viewing lens – the lens at the end of the binoculars as it were – must have a wide diameter in order to let in enough light on nights when there is no moon and its only on moonless nights that serious star gazing  is possible.

Because of their weight, star gazing binoculars are not the sort of thing to just pop into your rucksack  – and until February that year, Anya and I had been living out of our rucksacks: crossing borders and experiencing different places and cultures.

Then came The Virus…….

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