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Our 30th anniversary, round-the-world-tour has begun.

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SE Asia 2014- Posting on TravelPod

We are BLOGGING our new trip over on TravelPod, posting on FaceBook and provide way cool photos on our Flickr pool, as we find WordPress a bit cumbersome.

You can follow our adventures here….

 


 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Forget to Write!

We wrote this article for The Drive Magazine, Issue # 88

 Things didn’t start out quite like we had planned. Our first stop on a four-month, round- the-world “Escape Windsor Winter Tour -2013”- Amman Jordan- and it was snowing! The entire nation shut down for two days as snowy conditions wreaked havoc upon the roads- first major snow in 25 years. Our trip to the ruins at Petra would have to wait for another time.

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The Reluctant Biker

“Your karma just ran over my dogma.”

My heart was pounding, palms clammy. It was time to learn how to ride a motor scooter in Bali. I was never much of a biker type, unless you count my mountain bike. But here in Bali, it is almost essential to rent a motor scooter if you want to see the sights. The roads around Ubud, on the other hand, are a story unto themselves. Ancient volcanoes carved deep valleys, while numerous rivers created even deeper verdant gorges. Roads twist and turn around blind corners, the effect akin to a roller coaster, and one can only marvel at the engineering feat required to keep many of these goat paths open for driving.

Training Day- Lee Trevelyan gives me a quick course on moto driving.

Baby Steps!

Motorbikes are very cheap to rent, less than $3/day long term, a full tank of gas costs less than $2 (Indonesia being a major world producer of oil). There are no shortages of places that will facilitate rentals for you; motorbike leasing companies seem to be on every corner here in Ubud.

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Beautiful Bali 1986 – From Our Travel Archives

by Elaine Weeks

Sensual Surreality

on the road from the airport to our hotel,
curious monkeys scamper out of our taxi’s way
old women bathe naked in streams by the road
while costumed giants parade and glittering men and
women hoist golden parasols and streamers
elderly Balinese men in traditional dress – bits of rice stuck
to foreheads, cheeks, throats – climb onto our taxi
and pretend we are not there
whiz past limey green rice paddies and temples with menacing stone
statues wearing black and white checkered skirts
motor bikes loaded with families of four dart in and out
while horse drawn taxis plod along the edge
and women in borderline sexy traditional garb bearing
impossibly arranged towers of fruit and rice cakes on their heads
are temple bound
This is Bali.

Global Backpacking Journey, November 1986: Destination Ubud, Bali

Aboard the 5 1/2 hour flight from Melbourne, Australia to Bali, Indonesia, fellow passengers included young rowdy Aussie students whose main pre-occupation was to drink as much beer as humanly possible. Unable to avoid their ever louder conversations, Chris and I learned they were headed en masse to Bali’s famed Kuta Beach.
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Nyepi: Ogoh-Ogoh & the Day of Silence

Lucky us! We landed in Bali just prior to Nyepi, or “Day of Silence” commemorated every Isaawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar. This is a Hindu celebration mainly celebrated here as a day of silence, fasting and meditation and the day after Nyepi is celebrated as New Year. The day before the Bhuta Yajna Ritual is performed in order to vanquish the negative elements and create a balance with God, Mankind, and Nature.

Devout Hindu Balinese villages usually make ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues (once made of bamboo and paper but now the majority are skillfully carved styrofoam) symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits.

After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded around the village, the Ngrupuk ritual takes place, which once involved burning the ogoh-ogoh but these days they may be destroyed in other ways to avoid burning the styrofoam; sometimes they are even sold to art collectors who ship them to other countries. Then, for 24 hours, from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, EVERYTHING STOPS! Even the airport shuts down.

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At Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Sitting in the carriage of our tuk tuk we were moving dreamily through a thick grove of old growth trees, the pre-dawn air cool but already hinting of a blistering day ahead. Our first tour of the ruins had been almost unbearably hot, so today we thought it best to beat the heat and get out to Angkor Wat before daybreak. The bonus would be that after the prescribed sunrise over the temples, we would have most of the ruins to ourselves during the cooler morning hours.


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Kep’s got Crabs

Feb. 2013

Continuing along the south coast of Cambodia, we took a mercifully short journey from Kampot, Cambodia to Kep. Although we enjoyed Kampot’s faded charms, it was dreadfully hot so staying at The Columns Hotel, despite its restored colonial beauty and comfortable up-to-date rooms, was a bit of a drag since it lacked one vital ingredient: a pool!

Our minibus, which picked us up right at our hotel and then spent an hour hunting down other travellers before departing Kampot, bounced over a largely unpaved dusty red trail through countless sad villages whose trees and huts were covered in road dust to eventually deposit us within 2o kms of the Vietnam border at Kep, a small town revered for its crab shacks (really more like wooden restaurants) hanging over the Gulf of Thailand. Our minibus carried us up a hill to our resort, The Kep Lodge, which was set a good piece from the main road and nestled against a protected jungle (at least for now in the land where corruption is the number one industry!)

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Colonial Kampot, Cambodia

After spending a few days in Cambodia, we began hearing about a quaint riverside town in the southern part of the country near the Vietnam border that had become favoured among travellers: Kampot. This was all the impetus it took. While the journey from Sihanoukville, Cambodia was about three hours which didn’t seem to0 arduous. Our journey was to begin with a minibus that was to pick us up from our current hotel, The Beach Club Resort. Of course it was late but eventually our gear and bodies were packed into the already full vehicle and we were on our way.

Packing it in the minvan

Cambodia is a desperately poor country, still recovering from the ravages of the Pol Pot regime some thirty years before. The road was terrible and most of the villages along our route were merely at the subsistence leve – huts on stilts. A bit depressing but not definitely not dull.

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A Place in the Sun: Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Once an independent traveler plugs into the coconut telegraph, certain places pop up with amazing regularity. Sihanoukville in southern Cambodia has emerged as one of those hot spots so we landed knowing it would likely have many amenities travellers love- mainly a wide selection of places to stay and eat.

Named after their beloved King Sihanouk who passed away in October and was coincidentally cremated in an elaborate ceremony while we were in Cambodia, Sinville as it is called was developed as the major port for the country in the 1990s. With its lax visa regulations, Cambodia has become a haven for expats who are escaping from Thailand as that country tightens its rules for foreigners who wish long-term stays. In fact a good proportion of the operators of restos and hotels in Sinville are escapees from sleezy pattaya in Thailand- or so we were told.

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