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Have been in this idyllic location since 16.05.17. The temperature has been fairly consistently around C34/C35 with sometimes cloudy, sometimes showery conditions. It never seems that bad when it rains though, it being so warm.

Went to the UXO Lao Visitors Centre yesterday.

The UXO visitors centre in Luang Prabang gives heartrending literal/graphic depictions of how a bombing war’s effects in the 1960’s are still being felt to this day.

It’s a graphic and literal representation of the impact that bombing had on areas of Laos during the Vietnam war. As you may know, part of the Ho Chi Minh trail went through Laos and it drew the attention of American bombers. More than 2000000 tons of explosive ordnance was dropped on the country.

At a basic level, little is known in the west of the damning residual effects the Vietnam war had on ordinary peoples lives in Laos and the price is still being paid to this day.

The residual effect are still being felt to this day. Children and adults, whether playing or working in the fields regularly suffer injuries as a result of moving, touching or inadvertently impacting these dangerous pieces of ordnance.
Came away feeling hugely moved by the stoicism and bravery of these people, just getting on with their lives.

As an adjunct, I would like to offer a name check for our time here in Luang Prabang. Given that you are going to stay in Luang Prabang, you must try to book “The Deck House”. Steven & Meryl provide exemplary accommodation in a beautifully prepared guesthouse offering, breakfasts, advice & encouragement to explore the locality. They have immersed themselves in a venture to which they have engaged themselves with aplomb. Furthermore, they have endeavoured to support and succour the local community in a myriad of disparate ways. Lynn & I tip our hats, in a salute to excellence.

As an aside, I would like to add my reflections on the impending General Election that is about to be played out back in the UK  in two days time. In the wake of the Manchester suicide bombing and subsequent London “Ram & Slash” attacks by Islamic extremists, which cost the lives of a cumulative 29 people and upwards of over 40 seriously injured.The prospect on the ballot sheet of having the likes of Corbyn, Watson, Abbott, Milne, McDonnell, and bankrolled by the likes of McCluskey and the UNITE union fills me with revulsion. These people are dyed in the wool “Cultural Marxists” who would destroy our country, it’s history, and it’s identity. Let’s hope for a large turnout and a providential vote.

Got to Chiang Khong late afternoon on the 15.05.17. It has rained more or less continuously ever since. Will stay at the “Green Inn” for a couple of nights in expectation of crossing the border into Laos on the 17.05.17 (Thai visa runs out 18.05.17). Plan on a two day boat trip down the Mekong staying one night in Pakbeng (Dp guesthouse), before continuing the second day down to Luan Prabang, stopping at “The Deck House” for eleven nights. The trip, priced in Laotian currency works out at 325,374.00 Kip or £30.30 per person for the two day boat journey on the Mekong. I count that as a good deal!

The Mekong at Pakbeng.

Friday 19.05.17 Still overcast, but thankfully the drizzle has abated somewhat. Arrived at Luan Prabang about 17:00 in the afternoon and was happily met by Meryl from the “Deck House” who had kindly thought to come down to pick us up at the quayside. After introducing us to Stephen her partner, back at the “Deck House”, grabbed a shower freshened up and went down to the lounge to chat to them both at length, as a precursor to going out to a local restaurant for a meal. Flopped down and slept soundly after a tiring day.

Fishermen make their way against the strong Mekong currents.

Out for a walk around town to orientate ourselves. There’s a bamboo rope bridge that is constructed at the start of “the dry season”(Oct-May) over the NamKhang river (a tributary of the Mekong), and deconstructed/washed away during the “rainy season”(June to September) for which a nominal 5000Kip(50p) is charged. Access to the market, restaurants and bars is down in the main body of the town. The market stretches some considerable distance along the main “walking street” where purveyors of goods have wrested dominion back from the car and other forms of transport, which is always good to see.

The rope / bamboo bridge over to town centre Luang Prabang

The night market in Luan Prabang.

The intention “at the moment” is to lay over here for thereabouts a month, then head south to Vientiene (the capital) and then back into Thailand were some luggage needs retreaving.

Three hour bus trip north from Bangkok in a fairly cramped “People Carrier” gets us into Pai at around 15:30. The countryside improved greatly after leaving Chiang Mai and started the climb into the mountain area in which Pai is embedded.

06:00am…C29..It’s going to be a beautiful morning here in Pai

Three hundred hairpin/switchback bends later, we cruise down main street to be greeted by a really “Bohemian” environment full of “young trendies” doing their thing and “hanging out” as I believe the phraseology goes. Paitopia is our domicile for the next three nights. Its a grouping of a number of purpose built wooden “A”frame houses on stilts built in random fashion near an outdoor pool and bar/restaurant around a small lagoon/lake.

A “Massiman” repas, along with a bowl of spices and a cool Leo.

Hired a moped for a couple of days (100 Tai bahts(GBP 2.20)!)
Although the immediate future involves a move to another domicile called Bulunburi on the banks of the Pai river, the intention is to head south again to Chiang Mai and out east to Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong to make the border crossing  over to Laos at the Friendship bridge over the Mekong river at a small border town called NongKhai. A two day boat trip down the Mekong then ensues, to a town in Laos called Pakbeng, stopping overnight. The following day the boat trip continues until we disembark and head out to Luang Prabang. However in the interim, I have to gain some motivation to do an “on-line” application for a subsequent border crossing at a later date, into Myanmar.

After an  overland / overnight  11 hour trip by road  north, the bus pulled in by the old city Tha Phae gate in Chiang Mai at 06:30am. First impressions, were of a city much larger than I had expected. Indeed the metropolitan area outside the ancient city walls spreads for a considerable distance and is home to 149,000 people. Chiang Mai sits close to the Ping river. The old city walls date back to the 13th century. They have warped, distended and truncated with the passage of time. Checked in at Jimmy & Jengs Homestay in a small enclave just outside the old city gates.

Jimmi & Jengs Homestay lodging just outside the old Chiang Mai city walls.

edium wp-image-1469″ src=”″ alt=”” width=”300″ height=”225″ /> 13th Century city wall section, warped and distorted through time.[/caption]

During the ensuing few days  took a TukTuk ride and also mooched around the city centre . The driver said that there were 300 Temples within the city walls. After visiting two or three I’m afraid that I started rubbing mine,(temples…that is). Have been out to China Town area a few times to try the “street food”, and experience the atmosphere. The food was incredibly cheap, 30 Baht (67pence) for a filling meal eaten, sat on some plastic stools. The atmosphere was good humoured and convivial.

China Town Market, like markets all over the world provides a forum for exchange on many disparate levels.
The weather forecast is predicting C39 on Tuesday & Wednesday. A tad warm methinks!

Beautifully carved wooden Temples, ubiquitous throughout Chiang Mai.

Sat down and enjoy some Tofu, spring onion, green/red peppers, coriander, and some other stuff, I know not what! However, the inner surfaces of my mouth were on fire as I finished &  left  in search of a soothing Chang beer or two.

China Town Market. Like markets all over the world providing a forum for exchange on many disparate levels.

Now appears to be a good time to start planning a trip NE via Mueang Chiang Rai, crossing the boarder into Laos and picking up a boat on the Mekong River for a two day journey, heading to Luang Prabang in Laos.

13th Century city wall section, warped and distorted through time.

However, whilst travelling, word sifts through the ether about a place called Pi. It seems that among the back packer fraternity, it is “the” place to visit to chill, for a few days. So booked tickets for a 3 hour drive up there to stay and soak up the atmosphere for 5 days.

C37 here in Bangkok today, clear blue skies and busy busy down the Khao San Road. Traders, stall holders, massage parlours, bars, eateries, hookers, hawkers, beggars,  and bible bashers, all in an undulating, pulsating ephemeral tide.

Checked into “Thai Garden House”  19.04.17, which is, as Thai descriptions go more generally, “never knowingly undersold.” However, everything and everyone seem to rub along well together. Time spent here is dedicated to “Chillin’, Relaxing & Planning”.

The Thai Garden House Hostel is a traditional old wooden clapperboard property which has kinda’ been overpowered by subsequent development. However undaunted “Mr.Thai” the owner, works assiduously to keep customers happy.

The trip north by bus, ensues at (19:30pm) Monday evening. Chiang Mai was missed last time one was here, so once there, will provide an excellent opportunity to head east into Laos.

A decision has yet to be made how to get to Laos. There are two possibilities via the Mekong river,(9hours fast boat…or 2 days slow boat). However, one has been advised to reject the “fast option” as too dangerous. Apparently, there have been many accidents, with boats hitting rocks in the river, capsizing and throwing occupants and luggage overboard!!!

Alternatively, one could fly to Vientiane (southern Laos) or go overland to Luang Prabang.

Just discovered, subsequent to having bought overland tickets north, (isn’t it always the way..) that flights are available to fly to Yangon (Myanmar) for £25!!!! from Bangkok. Anyway, coming back to Bangkok after Laos, to pick up some luggage we left behind to lighten our burden. Therefore, leaving Myanmar a considered option for later.

Yeh!!! 1920’s rocks!!!

On a completely separate note, I got some “RayBan “Gatsby”” sunglasses as a birthday present from my two daughters and their husbands…..What do you think?????…mmmmmm

The wheels hit the tarmac at Suvarnahbumi airport in Bangkok at 05:30am this morning after an hour and fifty minute flight from Singapore and an hours transfer. I hardly slept at all on the 12 hour first leg from Rome ( Leonardo Da Vinci) and was a tad irritable when the accommodation didn’t make itself apparent in either “Maps.Me” or “Google” as bags were dragged to and from the Khao San Road for about fifteen minutes (C28), which ended in giggles from the proprietor at the fact they didn’t have a sign……. anywhere…..and e-mail directions were balefully skimpy.

The Colosseum in Rome stands through time as a witness to both man’s stupidity and his propensity for excellence.

Rome, totally beguiled me and I’ve promised myself a return trip.Tuscany and Umbria are utterly beautiful with their gently undulating landscapes dotted with vineyards, olive groves and the exuberance of the food from small family run restaurants.

The wedding went,……as one would suspect….emotional, tearful, a kaleidoscope of meetings, greetings….but ultimately… daughter….moving on. I love them both so much it’s just tough to have seen them both go…..but,…I guess that’s what one has strived for,… all those years to accomplish. Independent free spirits, that make their own choices.

For me…..speaks volumes.

Not to end on a melancholic note….the weather here is superb and I’m really looking forward to going south.

The hill top town of Cartona provides sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.

Strange title, I know…but true. The last three weeks have been tough going renovating, repainting and refurbishing a property. Case of  waking, working, eating and sleeping from 06:00am to 18:00pm relentlessly for 21 days. However, the results were satisfying and the project is now completed.
I’m writing this in Fiumicino (Leonardo DaVinci) International Airport in Rome. It’s 22:00 we are on airport benches relishing the prospect of a nights sleep on them as a precursor to getting the train into down town Rome tomorrow to check in at our Airbnb accommodation. Never been to Rome before, so I am looking forward to the prospect of visiting historical sites in their ubiquity. Architecture, sculpture and artworks that have beguiled, enchanted and inspired through the centuries of their existence. My only concern is that there will be just too many tourists doing exactly the same thing that I propose doing!
08.04.17 Friday

I’m afraid that I have completely capitulated to the stunning beauty that that now envelopes me within it’s bucolic embrace. The softly rolling hills, captivating villages and the gentle pace of life are utterly beguiling.

Late afternoon and the sun settles down into the Umbrian landscape

The Tiber (Tevere) river’s sinuous track through Rome.[/capt]

Of course the ultimate aim of this little junket to Rome is to make our way north east to a tiny village in the Tuscan hills called Montelucci for the wedding of my second daughter Georgina to her fiancé Dominic on the 15.04.17. For the moment we are spending a few days in a Tuscan hilltop village called Villastrada in the Province of Perugia for a little private time with our daughter.

Touched down at Gold Coast Airport, Queensland 15:30 pm after an uneventful flight from Sydney. Wow! the heat hits you as soon as one went through the aircraft doors, C37! Made it through to the taxi way after picking up luggage and waited for our son in law to pick up….and waited….and waited. Through some confusion and no phone connected, it transpired that he was waiting in the car park.

Got down into Coomera and settled in at number 1 daughters where we met our “new addition” to the family.



She is just exquisite.

Gold Coast, just south of Brisbane is a surfers paradise….so much so that they named it “Surfers Paradise” The town is fairly “newish” having sprung up for a holiday destination with guaranteed sunshine for the Sydney population. However, the town lacks a “centre” of any substance and it seems to be populated with large hotels, guest houses, restaurants, some shops and little else!

Gold Coast

Gold Coast

The beaches are “to die for.” Mile after mile of beautiful golden sand beaches in pristine condition with balmy water lapping at it’s edge.

Coomera is a “satelite” residential development about 40 minutes drive from Gold Coast. It is well served by great infra structure including Public Library, swimming baths, exercise areas and woodland walks. However, having a car is “de rigeur” as public transport is thin on the ground.

Will be heading out from Brisbane International airport on the 01.03.17 to LAX, Atlanta and back to “sunny” Manchester for the 03.03.17.


The elevator carried me up from deep levels of unconsciousness. Up and up it went, through my campaigns at the side of Wellington, the Peninsular wars,  through to Waterloo,….tricky negotiations with Napoleon,….and later, at another level, consultations with Kennedy. I pleaded with him not to go to Dallas……but hey ho, he wouldn’t listen…..Anyhow, as I reached “ground floor”, I peeked from under the sheets to see…that it was an absolutely gorgeous day. Blue skies…horizon to horizon, a crispness in the ether, birds tweeting and the smell of a bacon and egg breakfast, and coffee….excellent. It’s going to be a great day. To Bondi methinks…for some serious sunbathing among the “beautiful people.”

Bondi Beach, playground of the "beautiful people."

Bondi Beach, playground of the “beautiful people.”

Ambled back up Bondi road about four hours later…one doesn’t want to “over do it” and start peeling, that wouldn’t do at all.

Called in at Bondi Surf Seafood again for three pieces of salmon, (the one we had three days ago was delicious). Picked up more spinach, fruit and a couple more “tinnies” in the expectation of another fine meal on Sunday.

The chest infections seem to be slowly resolving themselves and now feeling a little more “chipper”.

The Fruitologist on Bondi road has fresh and crisp fruit and vegetables.

The Fruitologist on Bondi road has fresh and crisp fruit and vegetables.

Tonight looks to be a great night to catch up on “House of Cards” and the devious Frank Underwood.

I neglected to mention that the warm weather and languid daily routine, copious consumption of fresh fruits and fish, have conspired to deplete the weight that I had put on over the Christmas period, which is not entirely unwelcome.

Got back to Manchester from Malta on 11.01.17 after another “stupid o’clock” flight. Picked up a hire car and got over to Rossendale for a doctor’s appointment. Picked up some clothes and then over to the Wirral to see some friends. Having spent four days back in “Blighty” the Sunday 15.01.17 at Manchester airport again for a sleep on their very comfortable, though uncompromising steal seating for an 06:10 “check in” for a trip to Budapest for some dental work, and as it turned out some whooping cough vaccines. Budapest was freezing! Five days later we’re on for a quick hop to Berlin and transfer going to Abu Dhabi.img_3596 A two day layover there, and finally out to Brisbane and a transfer to Sydney.

Bondi Beach, the proverbial stomping ground of the "Beautiful People", Surfers & Sharks

Bondi Beach, the proverbial stomping ground of the “Beautiful People”, Surfers & Sharks

The whole point of the trip was that on the 15.01.17our first grand daughter Amelie was born into the world. Two weeks earlier than the anticipated 31.01.17 forecast date. Babies do have a habit of generating frenetic activity don’t they?

Unfortunately, we appear to have picked up a chest infection which precludes us seeing our grand daughter until it clears up and we can make it back up to Brisbane to see her.

Tuesday 24.01.17 after a stonkingly good nights sleep, lazy start, and a coffee, ambled down Bondi road to the beach and Bondi Surf Sea Food store to pick up some salmon, Bondi Fruitologist for spinach & tomatoes and a few tinnies from Kemnies. Crickey! it’s pricey though (AUD49.47 or £30). Our prospective son in law, being something of a “gourmand” employing his skills as a chef provided an exquisite salmon dinner presented in his own inimitable way. It was delicious.

Looking down on the eponymous Bridge.

Looking down on the eponymous Bridge.

Last time we were here the bridge was “alive” with fire works, colours and smoke bringing in the new year 2014.

As an aside, it seems that the new U.S. president “The Donald” has made a whirlwind start with a whole swathe of new legislation plus ridding the State Department of many Obama acolytes.

I hope that our incapacity does not make our planned trip north too protracted.

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