Old birds must avoid my folly and retain their brain cells and livers. they must have delicate Pisco Sours and not swig neat vodka out of the bottle while boring their friends drunkenly rambling on the phone. This is not ladylike. It’s more Ab Fab!
ALERT: Ha ha what a nitwit I am this was supposed to go out hot on the heels of “COMING HOME” and it made much more sense! next post I will boomerang you to the Guatemala section of my becoming-more-dangerous trip!
VIDEO OF MY TRAVELS.
The time has come the walrus said…..
Now you might find this an odd choice of topic as I’ve so much more in the way of what I’ve already done and I will do in the next few days before I leave Mexico, but It’s there. Hovering in the back of my mind like a dark foreboding shadow, in my peripheral vision like a willow the wisp. A constant nagging and distracting my attention from all the amazing things I have travelled so far to see..…The time has come to make LISTS!
…to talk of many things….
Last night sitting on my terrace with a very nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc I sulked, sighed and finally fetched my notebook. It eyed me, I eyed it and we started. I’d booked my tickets to Madrid in Guatemala so I’d forgotten exactly what they entailed, and felt queasy about my seating on the long haul section Bogota/Madrid. I needed a decent seat and my occasional “pretend” looking about booking seats with Avianca had yielded no fruit, and my emails and screenshots were all over the place and must be ignored until I could cope and wasn’t so tired.
….Of shoes -and ships-and sealing wax-and cabbages- and kings….
I had been on my last archaeological site of Teotihuacan yesterday and was exhausted and felt rather burnt and probably had sunstroke. I would just list “Avianca seat” and go on to the less worrying and hard things like “supermarket; wine, bread, eggs, fruit etc” and “Clothes shop; hoody for plane etc” and “Pharmacy; sleepers for plane, nail files and body cream”. Then I would do it all in the morning when I was fresh. I threw my notebook on the table and went back to watching Veep and 30 Rock on my laptop.
…And why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings. LEWIS CARROLL
This morning the stress monster was sitting on my chest. My horror at dealing with this long forgotten ticket booking was now inevitable. I looked through my emails and found my booking and codes and after Herculean tussles with various web sites ascertained that I had actually booked and paid for my preferred seat on the long haul!
THIS LITTLE PIG DID HAVE WINGS!
Relief flooded my senses, thinking back on it I remember thinking that I MUST have decent seating but had forgotten in the mists of time. HOOOOOOORAY! Now the rest of my list.
Housekeeping days while Abroad for the Solo Traveller.
Proper organisation requires a correct mental attitude so a proper ablution required. Next reassessing suitcase and more things to bin in the sacrifice to weight allowance. Some knicker and T-shirt washing and just one more icing of the foot before the supermarket.
Passed a bank on my walk so took out money hopefully for the last time here, then saw a pharmacy and bought some sleeping tabs for the flight. Continued to the big supermarket bought a lovely selection of goodies for a couple of breakfasts and snacks, the other beauty products that I needed and I now am back.I have had my eggies and bacon and English breakfast tea, proud as punch and only lacking buying a cheap hoody for the trip back to Madrid.
These preparations mean I can now enjoy my last three full days properly. This is what I call a housekeeping day and is crucial when arriving somewhere or leaving and especially for the big return home.(though you might have noticed I am stopping in Madrid for a couple of days to ease myself back into Europe)
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ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR! LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED FOR YOUR HEALTH AND WELL BEING, SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT ALWAYS, BUT ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE GOING IT ALONE.
ALERT. At this time I am sitting in my kitchen pondering the news after yesterday’s X-ray. I have indeed broken my foot! Or if you will, oblique fractured my outer carpel (the long foot bone under the little toe). If you remember I’ve been moaning on about my limp and periodically hugely ballooning foot. This injury I sustained in Merida Mexico (so about a month ago) from stumbling of my bathroom step and violently twisting my foot and ankle. So all the people who said it wasn’t broken? WRONG!
This is exactly why I have written this post now. It’s so easy to have these smaller accidents while you’re tired from travelling or just in a rush for that boat, train , aeroplane. They sneak up on you and, ironically, usually when you think you’re safe. That’s why they say accidents are more common at home.
I was running from the bathroom to chuck my washed clothes into my suitcase and forgot the step.That’s all. A small step after the heights and dangers of mountain edges and temple steps. The spiral steps of Tierradentro, the pushing crowds at cliff edges of Machu Picchu, the hiking down the knotted steep paths at Semuc Champey, all the things where there was real danger and I would mutter to myself “This is so dangerous, this is soooo dangerous concentrate Rebecca. Concentrate”
Booooom! I went down like a sack of potatoes twisting my foot and ankle and smashing my arm into the door frame. The shock and the pain stopped me from crying and I immediately thought of damage control as I hobbled to my bed. The whole of Mexico to see yet and I wasn’t sure if it was just a serious twist.TomorrowI would see and maybe it would be OK til I got home, I didn’t want to delve into my travel insurance unless absolutely necessary.Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrowwas my mantra until I got to Madrid when I finally gave in and called for an appointment with my Doc who gave me a referral for an X-ray the next day.
Just an old bird wanting to be healthy and well for her travels.
They wanted to give me a boot and to self inject blood thinners every day into my stomach ( shurely not editor?!) and the very sharp and unpleasant nurse in a A&E was not pleased when I said I would not be doing that. She even said why did you even bother to come in if you’re not going to do as I say. Well love, there’s a reason for that. I wanted to check that it was indeed a fracture and that there was nothing to interfere with the healing process (i.e. bone fragments or trapped muscle). I now will be resting it and writing my blog. I shall sort out my photos and videos and stock up on yummy food and drink for Xmas. I will hibernate and take my supplements and food to help with the healing. It’s remarkable that I managed to complete Mission Mexico, running for tight flight connections and climbing archaeological sites stumbling around the uneven ground. It has started mending even after that so now with proper rest it should finish the process.
TOP TIPS: You might notice foot problems have been a recurring theme, I am clumsy and get over excited easily so I do tend to suffer those kinds of injuries but realistically I have mainly been ok on my big trips…..geddit?!! If your stomach is fragile remember bottled water even for brushing your teeth, only ice in reputable places. Only try something more extreme food-wise when you don’t have a big trip the next day, you don’t want to have the trots while away from toilets! always carry painkillers anti acids and eye drops with you in your bum bag and a small container of cream for lips and blisters (no Indian black toe for you!) always have a hat and water with you and obviously sun screen. Wear a T shirt for snorkelling to avoid serious sunburn and keep wetting your head to avoid sunstroke which I had after swimming with that beautiful turtle in Indonesia. Spray with your anti mosquito Jungle Formula at all times (terrible mosquitos at Machu Picchu and some other archaeological sites and anywhere with water) especially if you’re not taking tablets. Exercise your legs while flying to avoid DVT. First sign of a cold or cough take seriously, I was out of the game at the end of my Asia trip by contracting a vicious Asian flu that remained with me for another two weeks when back home. If I hadn’t been so Cavalier I could have avoided it.
Healthy food, exercise, and some T.L.C. to keep you in shape for your journey.
So although I didn’t use my insurance I had bought it and if things had got worse used it, always always buy insurance.
Get all your jabs including yellow fever, Although my certificate was never checked they do periodically especially if there has been a flare up somewhere, you don’t want to be blocked from entering a country. Check if malaria is a high risk in the area you’re going to, if so take the tablets otherwise a strong spray should be enough.
Be generous with the quantity of your regular medication. I ran out out this time and felt a bit panicky
Have a first aid kit including painkillers with you
Check with your Doc if there is any reason why you shouldn’t do any of the stuff you are planning then ask how to modify to your specific conditionif heor she has concerns
Always check all your medical stuff in plenty of time. Some things take a while to sort.
Exercise regularlyfor at least six weeks before you leave and do your balancing exercises all the time they seem silly but are super important
Concentrateat all times when you’re busy, maybe even get into the zone by self teaching awareness books or audio books. It’s normally when your concentration has gone when an accident may occur.
Be safein all respects when travelling, do not take risks in any capacity.
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Alert: sitting at M.C. Airport so this is a bit weird and as I’m stressing about my flights to Madrid…. NOW I’m in my Madrid hotel Very cold and wet here but, oh so European. Will post this now before I lose my suntan!
Another Long Bus Journey….
It was worth it, but TWELVE HOURS ON THE BLOODY BUS. I left excited and smug from the smart ADO bus terminal. I had my little breakfast and snacks and entertainment for the bus figuring around a five hour journey.
Top Tip: Always check how long a bus is going to take and where it will stop. ADO one of the better Mexican bus companies have a very easy-to-use app that lets you choose your seat and departure time and nearest terminal. What it does not do is give you is an ETA. My bus took a route invented by route masters from hell. Don’t be stupid like me and if you’re unsure get your hotel to give them a call to check times. My other outings with them had been heavenly and I never gave it a second thought when I saw a slightly different logo than I had used previously. It was their cheapo one but I only looked at the departure times and it offers no more explanation so you shrug your shoulders and think its a lovely early time to go and view the countryside. It made me arrive in the dark and that’s a big no no.
I was a wreck when I arrived. It was pitch black most of the last bit (apparently coastal town people require very little street lighting, they like driving in the dark and crashing all the time as ascertained by the many crosses on the grass verges. At the terminal it took me ages to get a cab (no UBER there) who promptly dropped me off at a similarly named hotel ( they do that a lot) and I had to stagger whimpering down a sandy unlit alley to my hotel. I had had to email them that I would be late but the lady was lovely and the place beautiful and the room oh so Ibiza-before-it-got-pants.
My morning was perfect with the promised home baked brown bread and jam and some tacos. sitting in the beautiful garden full of sculpture and a sandy floor and finally I limped down the road to what I could see was a magnificent bay. Oh but the steps. Many, many steps in the searing heat. my foot was again like a puffer fish and pain throbbed through it in pulses. I had managed to make it a lot better in Oaxaca but it seemed the stress journey and now the steps had done me in! Now I would have to rest properly…. AND WATCH A DOG EATING A COCONUT! (see below)
Playa Puerto Angelito
Day two I tried out this double coved beach which I loved as I could cab it straight to the beachside. Each time I luxuriated on a beach bed with an umbrella and each time I soaked my feet in that lovely salty water.
However now I had the quiet coves I yearned for I could also see in the distance the long white beach, the surfers beach! So the next day I cabbed it there and what a treat. The drama of the huge waves, and because I had gone to the furthest point, not many people. Met a lovely girl there who loved the concept of old birds flying solo and she took a couple of shots for me, hello if you’re reading!
A hostel and a luxury apartment.
I moved twice while at the beach. The season was starting and there was no room at the Hostel inn except for one night (thank god peeing in a bottle because the bathroom is down the corridor is not cool!)
I had a lovely time there and the younger crowd were very impressed by my travels and wanted me to come to beach volley ball match ( shurely not?) I politely declined and found an Argentinian restaurant that had the best steak in the world and rather outshone the Mexican fare. My hippy room was cool man, it was called the unicorn room and had a stoners psychodelic mural on the wall and purple sheets. Air con and a small swimming pool, not like the hostels of my day where you had to bring your own sheets. there was a big kitchen and a ‘trust’ bar too with a variety of craft beers.
My apartment in Puerto Escondido with a fabulously equipped kitchen that would be fab for an extended trip. Every appliance you could wish for a jacuzzi in a beautiful garden and a roof terrace that had a huge hammock so I could rest my fat foot.
OVER AND OUT FROM A SUPER CHILLED OLD BIRD X
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Or “What the F*** was that over there?!” A sea cow having a kip not a rock!
Furious I didn’t bring my underwater camera (shurely not Rebecca what were you thinking?) I’ve depended on the kindness of a stranger (Eric Parker) and my pal Andreas for the vids risking his phone in a dodgy water resistant case so I’ve added last years turtle vid too which I shot in Indonesia which is super clear!
On the Boat for; Tarpons, Manatees, Sharks and a Huge Coral Reef.
Fresh sea air goggles and snorkel in hand we were off. At last the sea, my love the sea. Up til now it’s been elusive. Most of my time spent in the mountains and only Trujillo to sniff the ozone and eat fresh fish, but not to swim, far too cold even for me. so this finally was my great love and excitement, snorkelling reefs.
Never seen these beasts before but feeding them sardines was an eye opener. My hand up to my wrist was engulfed by this huge baby’s mouth, I know this as it’s rasping teeth left a mark on my wrist. Apparently they’re a fisherman’s favourite as they put up a huge fight. There happily they were not allowed to be hunted. They have huge scales and are pink around the gills with a slate green colour on the rest of the body.
Manatees or Sea Cows.
These gentle giants that graze on the vegetation on the sea bed hence their names, were found on our first stop, we were told to give them space but a punch up between snorklers ensued. All wanted a brilliant photo or video, bashed and flippered I began to fight back in this skirmish for the manatee. It was a dirty fight, pushing banging and elbows in faces no holds barred. I had forgotten my underwater camera in London so for a change was free to really look at this lovely fat mermaid.
Coral fish and Nurse Sharks.
Next stop the coral reef hooray. Second largest after the Great Barrier Reef it luckily is now protected. The “ship wreck” we swam over seemed rather staged but was rather romantic and tragic with its galley hatches and barnacles all over. fan coral wafted mysteriously in the current and many varieties of fish had made it their home. My friend who had risked his phone in a “waterproof” wallet was taking all the pics and videos so cheers Andreas, I was not ready to risk my phone after all.
Mr Turtle will not be ignored.
The next site was on the actual reef and as I jumped in the water I was surrounded by really big jacks. There were loads and they had no fear indeed swam right into your face nosily. The water was teaming with them
OVER AND OUT FROM REBECCA THE FISH X
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Or I loved it but it’s harsh….. oh, and Belize the same.
ALERT: I’M SHOWING YOU THE PRETTY PICTURES SO I DON’T PUT YOU OFF COMING HERE WITH WHAT I SAY! A LOT OF GUATEMALA HASN’T BEEN POSTED YET AND THIS IS ONLY GETTING DONE AS I’VE BUGGERED MY FOOT HERE IN MEXICO SO AM HAVING TIME OUT AND REST AT THE POSH MARRIOT IN VILLAHERMOSA.
The change in atmosphere of Central America was to me startling. I know it’s reputation but I’d been in places in South America that had been sketchy so I thought it would be fine to my seasoned travelling know how.
Alone and scared in Guatemala City
It was not. It felt scared.
I had booked in to zone 10 that is supposed to be the safest and most opulent but still it felt uneasy. I cabbed it to the hotel and immediately saw that basically we were caged in to protect us. It wasn’t until the following day I really got it. I went to the Popul Vuh museum that was fantastic but on leaving had a problem about how to get a safe taxi in this area. Finally after many thwarted attempts I asked at the museum and they booked for me. This seemed crazy I had to get a chip for safety this place was clearly menacing. Even going to the nearby mall was a challenge and armed guards were on every corner. I bought a chip for my phone from a Claro kiosk so I would have a number and data and uploaded my old friend the Uber app so I wouldn’t get stuck at more remote venues . Having done this I felt much better. I would not leave myself defenceless here. Not cool 😎
I had travelled all over South America and not once felt so vulnerable and threatened, indeed that night I heard a guest from the hotel had been robbed right outside at 9 at night.
Although I had a fabulous time there and there are magnificent things of great beauty, this essentially is a third world country that is violent and difficult for a solo traveller let alone a female one. Think long and hard my old birds about travelling here. I met up with a snorkelling pal from the Philippines last year but still did a lot alone because we had only the snorkelling in common as to what we wanted to do. Both of us found sections very threatening and only super touristy venues are safe ish!
ALERT: Let’s be clear I’m not exaggerating. In lake Atitlán my friend wanted to climb the San Pedro Volcano and could have, if he wanted to risk being mugged and or attacked. Countless reports on Trip Advisor and other social media reported being attacked and robbed by men wielding machetes. Most also took shoes and jackets as well as the obvious valuables. No back street should be deemed safe. No going out after dark. No touristy bling. No having alcohol unless you’re at your hotel or have organised a cab. People have been robbed on less popular sites and ruins. Things left in rooms,especially in Belize where most people travel to for snorkelling while in Guatemala, have been cleaned out while people are on the boat tours they came for. No opening wallets in public. No using your phone on the street unless you stop in a doorway of a reputable shop to do so viewing all around as potential thieves. As much as you don’t want to go down empty streets you don’t want to be in crowds either. Sorry about this but I need to get this into your heads before you go so you are safe. Once you’re aware of all this then you can enjoy what is a majestic and historically rich country with an abundance of things to do.
I was in Guatemala City til my mate arrived then we went straight onto Cobán by bus. We arrived at night and although together, we were scared shitless.
Stayed there two days until arduous journey (the horrible desperate for a wee bus journey) to the legend that is Semuc Champey.
(you need to go to San Augustin Languin first) then it’s a 4×4 bone rattling ride to the place. (I had booked the hotel closest to the entrance which was a very wise move)
After two nights there we had to return to Coban to get a bus to Flores (many encounters with some vile young Israeli travellers) which was a nightmare.
Onto Tikal and Yaxja
Two nights there (I had serious food poisoning and had to stay in bed) then on to Tikal (I stayed two nights there and also visited another site Yaxja where I fell over in the mud running from the howler monkeys)
Then onto Belize and Caye Caulker for snorkelling (fabulous nearly as good as Bunaken Indonesia).
Belize Caye Caulker for Snorkelling.
Then another crushing bus ride (literally, the man in front of me had a faulty seat and kept pushing it back and crushing my legs) to Guatemala City and onto Antigua then lake Atitlán for three nights (oldest church in Central America),
….. then Antigua one (placed my hand on McDonalds private parts),
One last night in Guatemala City.
…..Guatemala City and last one at airport hotel (extremely nice and cheap and two minutes from airport). As you can see it was hectic but for the most part soooo worth it.
The entire trip was either terror, wonder or long bus journeys so be prepared it’s harsh mistress but a worthy one.
OVER AND OUT FROM HARD CORE REBECCA XXX
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Or a deeper look into the solo travellers perspective
I always wondered why I prefer travelling solo. I know the normal stuff, no argument about where you’re going and what time to get up and get off. No pressure on bad days, no squabbling about restaurants. No icy silences after a tiff, no problem about changing plans at the last minute. These are all foul things but the real reason is that I can see the world through my own eyes without interruption. This sounds selfish but it’s vital for me. I don’t need anyone’s opinion until I have processed the magic. It’s like I never take a tour guide, I just can’t stand the blah blah
ALERT: This blog just shows a fat cow am waiting on some photos for next one to show you the sea cow!
I am writing this on the way back to Flores from Caye Caulker. I am brown and sweaty sitting on the bus nearly at the Guatemala border and have a long journey ahead to reach my final destination of Lake Atitlan and it’s volcanoes.
ALERT: A review of hotels and places and tips coming. More comprehensive and less garbled so bear with me folks I’m getting on it!
PERU has been a mixed box of chocolates. Favourites that you lust and dribble over, the hard ones that when you finally get into them are delicious, ones you bite into and spit out and ones you half like but only have once the good ones have gone. Then there’s the soft centres that nobody really likes but eat in desperation at the end of Christmas.
OR HOW NOT TO SCREAM AND CRY AT AN AIRPORT TWO MINUTES BEFORE BOARDING.
ALERT: This is a vital page. As I’ve been traveling in South America I’ve been stung twice now at the gate two minutes before boarding. I’m quick enough to book ongoing flights (screaming ” well give me WiFi so can book an outward journey then.!!!) and still board my flight but it’s wasted me a huge amount of money. The casual wandering is no longer to be.
TOP TIP: Don’t come here it’s vile. I loved the rest of Colombia and have moved into the Old Town now but Boca Grande is shit and not for the solo traveller. Let’s hope I’ll be happier here…. It’s pissing down too. I’m feeling really low and so I thought I’d tell you you can get like this don’t be scared. I’ll be watching Netflix later and listening to audiobooks, it usually disperses the blues that can come out of nowhere and really freak you out. Deep breath and wait for it to stop raining and hit the museums…… or just wait for my bloody room and Netflix it!!!
OVER AND BLOODY OUT!!
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ALERT:Off to pastures new now. Looking back further in history to what I think are the more interesting predecessors on the lowlands by the sea. I’m going to Trujillo because most people don’t! I will look at the periods from 1200 B.C. to 1470 A.D. when the Inca interfered again. This means the Moche and Chimu and the mysterious Lady of Cao. See you there.
Back in Cusco after the mad train journey, I slept like a baby only to be kicked out of the pretentious hilltop hotel as they had accepted a large group swearing blind I hadn’t confirmed my extended booking. I moved down the street a bit to a new hotel absolutely furious but then settled in to a day of laundry and catching up with el bloggo!
Hard work and persistence despite not walking the famous Inca trail. I had booked bus tickets to go up the final ascent, you can walk but it takes about two hours and do you really want to exhaust yourself by doing that before you even enter the site? Not on your Nelly! (ooh Nelly Dean my local, I want a beer now!)
Grab hold of a Pisco sour and let Cusco entrance you, add a tasty ceviche and you’re good to go on your first day! This place is full of excellent restaurants and bars to get your teeth into without getting on the phrenetic tourist trail. you’ll have plenty of time for that later! Enjoy and welcome to Cusco.
OR HOW PERU DEMANDS YOU SHOW YOU’LL LEAVE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE!
The flight with VivaAir had been cheap and was direct from Medellin but here ended the benefits. A whopping 50 quid was added to my bill for my case and the vile young man with braces and spots simpered about that, then relished telling me that I couldn’t enter Peru without an outbound ticket to another country. The weak WiFi in the airport threatened to make me miss the flight as I desperately tried to book a flight on a random date to bloody Bolivia. I was trying on both my iPad and my phone to see which would be the fastest picking up a signal. Spotty boy smirking made me determined and I managed to book my passage to La Paz AND pay my excess baggage with minutes to spare.
The two days I spent visiting the lava stone funerary monuments was the natural progression from the tombs of Tierradaentro and the original reason to travel South to the more isolated and dangerous regions of South Colombia. This UNESCO site is worth all the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there. According to UNESCO, who named San Agustin a World Heritage Site in 1995, the San Agustin Archaeological Park, “bears vivid witness to the artistic creativity and imagination of a pre-hispanic culture that flowered in the hostile tropical environment of the Northern Andes.”
You’re fine when you reach San Augustin, it’s a mellow picturesque little town and visiting the incredible sites there is safe for a woman alone, it’s outside those places on isolated roads you have to be careful. On that nightmare trip from Tierradentro I thought I’d had it. It was more the constant road signs that warned of guerrillas in the area and the sudden police check that showed me that there were still risks in this magnificent country.
OR BEING STOPPED BY THE POLICE ON A REMOTE MUD TRACK.
The whole reason I wanted to come to Colombia was for some of its amazing and mysterious archaeology. I’ve been getting it in bucketfuls, and indeed nearly kicked the bucket for one of my most important things on my bucket list ha ha.
The amazing painted tombs of Tierradentro and San Augustins funerary statues were top of my list
Alert: This trip is not for the faint hearted. The journey is arduous and the final climb up to the tombs harsh. Descending into the tombs is very dangerous, the steps are VERY steep and there is nothing to hold onto and there a sheer drop to the bottom. I was very scared much to the amusement of the guards. I was later told that many people refused to go down into them even after all their exertions to get there. The reason given for the lack of some kind of handrail was that it would spoil the aesthetics of the design! Please don’t consider this if you are scared of heights , are claustrophobic and, if you value your life!
ALERT: MY FLIGHT TO NEIVA IS SIX HOURS LATE SO I PAID FOR VIP LOUNGE TO WAIT OUT THE STORM IN COMFORT. WISH ME LUCK THINGS DON’T GET WORSE! I SHOULD BE KNOWN AS THE TYPHOID MARY OF FLIGHT DEPARTURES! I’M SOOOOOO TIRED ……
It’s been a fabulous first few days in Bogota but tomorrow I must leave for Neiva, but before I do here’s another glut of photos from the very fine Gold Museum, and the Miguel Urrutia Art Gallery Complex MAMU, along with the rest of my shennanagins!
OR THE NIGHT OF HELL, AND HOW NOT TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL WELCOME IN YOUR COUNTRY.
Alert: Off to Colombia in a couple of days so I will only be posting from there and my ongoing journey. Will be back on this journey through China (Forbidden City, Great Wall and Terracotta Army), Vietnam (Hanoi and its great museums and its scooters and bikes, Halong Bay, and Nha Trang for a rest and snorkelling), Kota Kinabalu for R and R and finally Thailand (Retreats by rivers and Ayuttera for amazing temples and history). I thought this was a good stopping point, a cliffhanger if you will. So OVER AND OUT and an intermission from this trip xxxx
OR, THE INCREDIBLE GOBI DESERT AND THE LAST PART OF MY TRANS SIBERIAN EXPRESS ADVENTURE.
Again, I had a feeling I was never leaving this bitterly cold and amazing place but as they say, all good things must come to an end. As usual I was up at the crack of dawn to catch my last connection by train to Beijing. Sad to leave but also wildly excited to see the Gobi Desert from the train. On this last train journey I only bought high hopes and windy biscuits for the trip. (I was all done with things meaty or so I thought!)
I only spent four days here but I fell in love with it and it’s people. I arrived at six in the morning and got a cab using some euros I had (you can’t get currency outside) The drive to the central square was about three minutes! The cabby was a ruddy faced lovely chap and I was impressed at how helpful he tried to be with very little English! My hotel, the Khuvsgul Lake Hotel was a sheer delight. A tall building overlooking the square, a brand new no frills place that had frills!
Should have known it was all too jolly. I was welcomed by some people who had stayed on the train since Moscow and were not getting off at all until Beijing- the fools. They all had a twitchy feel to them, like people who’d had too much coffee, and there was a reason. They hadn’t had any external input since Moscow they hadn’t had anyone new come into first-class so hadn’t had any fresh blood since Moscow.
They weren’t getting off the train in the near future and they were in that strange state that I had been in when I arrived in Irkutsk… feral and somnambulant. They cross-questioned me on what Lake Baikal and Irkutsk had been like and I told them how amazing it all was and started to explain how cold, cruel and magnificent it was, then I asked them about the diner. With that, they lost interest and scurried off barely answering my questions (they probably no longer equated there was a world outside the poor lost souls) and like a group of junkies wandered glazed eyed up to the diner with cups of tea and grubby UNO cards clutched in their fists like a fix. I followed them but they were fast, when I got there, they were already hunched over their cards at a table playing what I can only presume to be their millionth game since Moscow.
OR NOT THE PARIS OF SIBERIA. LET’S GET BACK ON THE TRAIN AGAIN:(
I wanted to love Irkutsk, so many times labelled the Paris of Siberia. However I ended up feeling apathetic about it. The cab had been late picking me up from Listvyanka so I was all of a tizz and had made my plans in a shoddy anxious way having expected to have the full day there and seeing it slip away from me.
Cautiously getting off the train in the early light of a freezing Siberian morning in February, I immediately saw my name on board clasped to a mans chest. Seeing as I was the only person getting off he stepped forward to grab my little suitcase and drive me off to Listvyanka on Lake Baikal.
From elegant Tsarist St Petersburg to hardcore Kremlin Moscow!! Very different but also very exciting. I’d never visited before and my early morning train ride had been superb. We are now getting towards the trainy bit, the big bad boy, the Trans Siberian Express. This is the modern train bit!
ALERT! Just had my yellow fever jab and got a Peppa Pig plaster for being brave! Roll on Colombia at the end of August. I’ll finally experience going live!!
I’m starting to mess around a bit with some ideas for a logo and to hastily put on a business card and flyer temporarily. Let me know your thoughts (no don’t be cruel and beastly) I’LL BE ADDING TO IT ALL THE TIME SO KEEP AN EYE OUT. THIS IS ALL NEW TO ME. i’LL ALSO BE BUNGING ON
The State Russian Museum is the world’s largest collection of Russian art, housed in a unique architectural complex in the historical centre of St Petersburg. This is my last day here and I have a big snowy hike ahead of me.
OR OF TZARS AND PALACES and THE HERMITAGE AND ALL THINGS GLITTERY AND GOLD.
“There are five buildings associated with the Hermitage including the Menshikov Palace. I’m going to them all with my plans for the day on a bit of paper clutched in my sweaty fist. I had prepared with military precision how I would attack this day and was sure of making it magnificent and astourist-free as possible!!” From my diary
Pure happiness next morning. Snuggling under my quilt perusing the heavy snow through the window and already planning my day. Winter wonderland had a serious number of places for nerdy me to see, but when I started checking I saw that most places were closed until tomorrow. Was this a big Russian vodka hangover? No, Monday is a dodgy day for a lot of countries so bear it in mind before getting ahead of yourself.
…OR ARRIVING IN RUSSIA ON THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBERATION OF LENINGRAD DAY.
So excited to be leaving London for my massive adventure in the cold! Tiny suitcase and rucksack with me for about two months journey and no qualms. I was finally off hooray!! First stop St Petersburg. Swathed in my Russian military coat and wearing my new furry snow boots, I was far too hot for London and had to travel sweating and regretting until I arrived then I would be very happy with my choices
It was the day before my birthday and I was blue. I was dreaming of far off lands where it wouldn’t be raining and foul. I was dreaming of exotic palaces and balmy breezes. I was dreaming of fragrant food and escaping….
Or, I’m going to Starbucks and use theirs if it doesn’t come today 😬
Was in Guatemala jungle and was connected, get back to London…..
On the positive side Boston and Brutus paid a visit!
It’s quite hard to acclimatise after over three months away. Ive only been to the supermarket, opened a mountain of post, dealt with bills and bureaucracy and finally got hold of SKY after two days. They had a 45 minute wait for all the times I called so I had to put an early alarm at stupid o’clock and got straight through. Grrrr!
I’ll be back as normal when I’m reconnected until then …