Sometimes a tiny perfect moment presents itself when you find yourself at a low point. This was the case on the day I arrived in Cusco, Peru. My third country in as many weeks and I was preparing myself for the much vaunted trek to Machu Picchu. I had already decided I was going to do the 4-day Jungle Trek – chosen specifically because of all the exciting and daredevil activities it entailed – zip-wiring across hide-behind-your-hands high canyons, rollercoaster riding through angry white waters with only a soap dish and a stupid smile between you and certain death, many kilometres of breath-taking and precipitous paths – before the eventual (killer) climb to the Inca citadel in the sky.
Though this prospect undoubtedly filled me with glee and nervous excitement, there was a problem – I was physically exhausted. I had been going hard since I landed in Santiago some weeks before – I had cycled across the deserts of Chile, I had jeeped across the heights of Bolivia – those heights literally taking my breath away (a scary story in itself that I shall share at some future point). Overnight buses, with their lack of sleep and glued to the window views were taking their toll. I was once again alone in a new city, I had a chest infection, and I was all in.Read More »
There is always one isn’t there. That one person who just completely loses it, over some set of circumstances that makes their usual sensibilities snap, and drops a wrecking ball on the poor camel’s back.
I am never that person. I find conflict and confrontation far too squirmy to make a scene of any kind. I am usually the person looking on thinking …. “What is the point?” or “They’ll never get anywhere that way” or “Getting aggravated isn’t going to resolve this scenario any quicker and will only make everyone feel worse”.
On this day however, in the back of no place, somewhere in Cambodia (I think), I was that lady. Crazy bus lady. When someone decided to take my bus away.Read More »
We were warned on arrival that it was still the back end of snake season, and so we should exercise caution as we made our way around the campsite and the surrounding area. Dawn and dusk were the times we should be most alert to the possibility of slithery visitors.
This was my final weekend in Australia. My last hurrah was to be spent at a beautiful woodland camp, invited by some very dear friends of mine, to enjoy three days of musical fun and frolics. Though music making, singing and socialising were the main goals of this jaunt, I had one other aspiration I hoped to fulfil. It was my last chance to see a wild kangaroo.
Though I had been in Australia for 5 whole weeks, and was thankful to have seen a number of wild creatures, including baby crocs, various spidery fellows (who I admit are my biggest fear), the most beautiful fishies and their seafaring friends at the Great Barrier Reef, and countless birds of every size, hue and volume, I had not seen either of the continent’s most iconic marsupials, the kangaroo and the koala. I had seen one kangaroo on my travels, but this was sadly in a cage and was not a happy sight to see. I hadn’t seen a koala bear at all (apart from one very large stuffed example in a shop window in St Kilda). I was hoping that this final journey into the wilderness might offer up some magic.Read More »
My travel companion and I were hot and tired after our 12-hour flight. Tokyo was our first stop on a 2½ month journey around South East Asia and we both badly wanted a shower and a long cool drink. For fun we had learned the Japanese for hello, thank you, please, goodbye on our flight, but hadn’t got much further than that. As we trudged up the hill, hoping that my hotel was just over the next crest, we were starting to question how prepared we really were for such an adventure as we were embarking on.Read More »
My faithful flip-flops had flown all the way across the world with me from England. They had pounded the pavements of Tokyo and Hong Kong, they had luxuriated in the sands of the southern Thai Islands, and cowered at the efforts of the northern Thai Highlands. They had floated down river through Laos, and now found themselves finally in Cambodia. It was rainy season, and the river running through Siem Reap had burst its banks by the time my intrepid flip-flops and I finally arrived.
My flip-flops were already tired and worn out after their adventures to date. They took one look at the flood waters coursing along the streets of the town, and said to themselves “You know what? I’m done”. And, with one final faltering footstep, flipped their last flop.
We had been trekking through the Chiang Mai highlands for three days. It was the rainy season and, smelling damp and slightly steaming, we battled to keep large banana leaves above our backpacks to offer some protection. Raincoats required but too humid to wear them, we were all tired, and conversation had withered, as we trudged through the jungle undergrowth, trying to keep up with our guide, and transfixed by his slashing machete, clearing our rain-soaked path.
At some point a mangy dog joined us, his melancholy provoking our own. We could not help him. When we stopped he stopped, when we ate he ate, whatever scraps we could spare. He followed us for a day, this poor sad specimen. There was nothing to be done. After a day he slowed and we left him behind.
On the third day our route steepened, climbing steadily towards hints of mountains, momentarily visible through the lattice of leaves. So much rain, drawing greenery, tall and rapid, from the damp earth. Intensely hued blossoms fireworked across our path, and occasional oversized creatures, some with more legs than we cared to concede.Read More »
My mother was worried when I told her I was going to South America for 6 weeks on my own. But things with my expected travel companion hadn’t worked out, and I didn’t want to lose the money paid for flights, or miss an incredible life experience out of fear.
Despite her reservations, my mother was proud of me for going, she wished me well, and offered me the only words of wisdom she could think of “Be careful and don’t befriend any men with gold teeth”. Though uttered in jest, she genuinely didn’t know what or who I might encounter on my travels across this vast and fascinating continent. Frankly, neither did I. Read More »