SECOND WARNING FOR THE FAINT HEARTED – AND WILLIAM OF THE DRUNKEN BRAWL

SECOND WARNING:  If you think the other week’s picture of the little, furry dead things with tails for sale in the market was bad – worse is to come in this blog. So close your eyes when the pictures come up or you may never drink again.

I know our guides came for us at 8.30 each morning but if felt more like dawn, as this was now day 16 and frankly we were knackered. We’d not had a rest at all, no weekend off and all the temples we had seen were now just floating before my eyes one after the other.

Back to the river, and while we spotted a few other tourists all cramming into one boat, we had a forty-seater all to ourselves. Guess that’s how the other half live? It was two hours up the river, according to my daily diary, until we pulled up on the left bank and our guide strode off leaving me to negotiate some rather slippery floating planks which had no intention of either keeping still or meeting each other.

We had arrived at the Pak Ou Caves. We guessed these caves were holy in some way as you can only reach them by going up some very steep steps and the nooks, crannies and shelves were all wall to wall Buddha statues, most of them quite small. Our guide explained that every family member places his or her own statue in the cave. There are thousands and thousands of them. Some are quite old and damaged, while others are obviously new.

They show all the different positions – meditation, teaching, peace, rain, and reclining (nirvana). It was difficult to feel we were in a holy place as there were other tourists there and a couple of locals selling souvenirs.

You could go up even higher into the top caves. I took one look and declined – being the #1 coward that I am – but DH hopped out of sight, after giving me a very condescending look. He was back a few minutes later after he saw just how many steps he would have to climb.

We boarded the boat again and were ferried across the river to have lunch on a floating restaurant (boat on water tied to the bank) and then it was off to other rural villages – Ban Xanghai and Ban Xangkhong. Here, I suspect the locals engage in papermaking, silk weavings and wine making mostly to sell to the tourists. Close your eyes now if you are of a nervous disposition.

We fell into bed that night and I set the alarm for 5.30 am. Tell you why next time.

What more can I tell you about William IV? He was known as the sailor king. Well I guess he never expected to be king as he was the third eldest boy born to George III and Queen Charlotte. So he was allowed to join the navy as a midshipman when he was only 13 years old, although Mum and Dad insisted a tutor went with him which spoiled the fun a bit.

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But he got about and was arrested in Malta after a drunken brawl. Of course they let him go immediately  they realized who he was. It’s always who you know right?

Quick tip:- Walking over Eggshells is due for a promo on Thursday at $/£0.99 which is probably a bit silly me telling you that now, as no one is going to buy it for the next few days, but then remember, only my blog and FB page readers will know that.

Here are the links to Amazon and it’s also available on Nook, Kobo and Apple. (Smart pic with the silver medal on).

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8HSNDW

I’m writing an extra blog this week with more news. Take care and thank you for reading.

BACK EAST AND GEORGE IV

I’ve digressed a couple of times from The Big Trip as other things popped up in my humdrum life, but I hate to leave loose ends – so onwards with our Far East tour.

By now my takkies/gym shoes/pumps/trainers were falling apart and the hotel in Siem Reap sold me a very nice pair of fake Nikes. As the pretty receptionist told me, “you can’t tell the difference” – and I certainly couldn’t – apart from the price.

We dined in the hotel that night, sitting in solitary splendour with a waiter and a half each. Where all the other guests were, we had no idea. We even went out for a walk but we couldn’t find them. Later we learned they’d gone to a show. We booked for the following night.

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More temples the next day, honestly I was beginning to get templed-out. I ducked out of the second one and went browsing around a local market instead.

 

The third temple was fascinating, not because it had been used in the Tomb Raider film, but for the tree growing out of the ruins.

The next day we were driving through the countryside to a local town where we saw this bride and groom. As I was slithering into the photographer’s covered tent he turned and looked. I was preparing to make a million apologies, grovelling an inch off the ground, when he ushered the happy couple outside so could get a proper photo – at least I think that’s what he said.

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Another boat took us on Tonle Sap Lake which was truly enormous, I thought I was on the Mekong, but although this lake flows eventually into the delta, for six months of the year the river flows in the opposite direction, out of the lake and then into it again.

As the level goes up and down, some of the lake people relocate to the land. We were there in January and it was just mind blowing to see floating petrol stations, a church, basketball court, the usual houses and, believe it or not a crocodile farm.

 

I don’t think George IV was all that interesting really. He spent a lot of money – didn’t they all? Had lots of mistresses – didn’t they all? Fathered a lot of illegitimate children – didn’t they all? He also founded a couple of important institutions and things which probably aren’t very important.

He was on the throne for ten years and if you think you’ve got money problems, look at his – he owed £630,000 which in today’s terms comes to £58,700.000. His by-now-not-so-by-now friendly bank manager had confiscated all his Visa and Mastercards, but that didn’t stop him. I think he should have been admitted to retail rehab, but if you’re king, you only have to ask the parliament to bail you out I guess.

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Oh, I ought to do a bit of promoting stuff I suppose. You must on pain of death Can I persuade you to go on my mailing list? As soon as I’ve sent Amie 3 off to my editor, I will be writing some back stories only available to a special set of people. Also you can find out when you can get my books free or cheap and there’s the occasional competition to win free books just for signing up J

Either pm me on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lucindaeclarke.author

Or email me on Lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com

 

Till next time.

Elephant Dentistry and Amsterdam

If you read this blog regularly you may remember that every time we take a holiday something goes wrong. And this time was no different except it all happened before we even left home. When I go away I make a big production out of it, it’s all part of the fun. The house has to be squeaky clean, the washing up to date and I’m packed hours and hours before we leave – from my pre-made list of course.

This time was no exception, and to keep the kitchen nice and clean we set out for our favourite pasta place in the village.  IT HAD GONE!! We stared dumbfounded at the empty store till a kind man told us it had moved to the next small town. Off we went but failed to find it, so back to our village, parked the car and went to eat somewhere else. An early night we agreed as we had to be up before dawn for the drive to the airport. Back to collect the car only to find it was locked in the underground parking garage – huge steel shutters between us and our transport. Another kind passerby suggested the police station might have a key. So back up 3 flights of steps and into the cop shop. They were sympathetic, but no they didn’t have a key, could we come back at 8am when the garage opened? No, we couldn’t we had a plane to catch. We pretended we were tourists and luckily I had my passport already packed in my bag. Mind, they could tell we weren’t local, not with my level of Spanish. Wait outside, they told us. So we sat on the steps and waited and waited until finally we were told to hurry back to the garage. There a friendly cop was playing with the metal doors as they shot up and down. Having taken our details in the office DH was escorted to the car and he was able to drive out.

We landed in Amsterdam and being me I had to see everything. First it was the Royal Palace

Then a daylight cruise on the canals so we could see where we were going. Then a visit to the Sex Museum.

A stroll through the Red Light District.

The next day we made for the Rijksmuseum to see the Night Watch.

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Whoops wrong pic

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Then to the diamond museum where we bought nothing at all of course – and on to the Van Gough Museum with a special exhibition about his madness – oh so many of us writers have exactly the same frustrations don’t we? I felt a real affinity with him.

And here I am on my birthday in the middle of a fountain.

The Heineken Brewery was next, even though I don’t like beer.

A church with an impressive organ and after dinner a night cruise on the canals. Then a walk through the Red Light District, visiting the Museum of Prostitution, and I have to hand it to Amsterdam, it’s regulated, open, honest and treated just like any other business. No pics here of course, but the girls looked absolutely beautiful. Millions of story lines flew round my head – why were they here and not starring in Hollywood?

Next day we visited the Jewish Historical museum and the Museum of Resistance which was amazing – but a little uncomfortable as it all happened not too long before I was born. Then the Red Light District. However, I must explain that our hotel was on the fringes, and as we are a little old for the nightclubs, the coffee bars in the area are humming late into the night.

Finally on our last morning we had a meet up with a FB friend Val Poore and that was magic. We have so much in common and we’ll be getting together again very soon. DH didn’t nod off either as we chattered about books and books and books and previous lives.

And the elephant dentistry? We found the perfect picture for the cover of Amie 3. She meets a lone bull who is frantically looking for a female to love, so he’s unpredictable and dangerous. Only problem with the pic is this ellie only had half a tusk. So we sent him off back to South Africa where my clever photographic friend worked Photoshop magic and gave him a smart new pair. I decided to stop at that.

Finally, thank you to all the people who sent kind birthday wishes, I’ve tried to thank everyone personally, but if I missed some, please forgive me.

THE BIG TRIP XI – CAN THO AND BIT MORE GEORGE III

Can Tho is on the banks of the Hau River in the Mekong delta area, but it felt as if we were by the sea – it is one big delta.

We spent the night in Can Tho and went walking along the promenade and came to this!

That must have cost a bit and slap bang in the south which was not in favour of the man on the platform.

Now from pictures on the internet it looks as if there are hundreds of tiny boats floating by the banks, but the following morning we were whisked up river to see the permanent floating villages. We were told they did relocate every six months due to the flooding, but I wasn’t sure how they managed this. How do you move a petrol station twice a year?

Then it was time for more eco village pursuits. Making rice noodles and a couple of extra pictures to prove I was there.

 

You can see how brave I was!

Back to Ho Chi Min city (Saigon) to fly to Seim Reap and I’m sure you can guess why they took us there.

 

Not only was George III interesting because he was mad, other exciting and interesting people lived at the same time – such as:

The peasants in France who revolted under Napoleon, who wanted France to become Top Dog. This could NOT be allowed of course, so Nelson with his very close friend  Hardy [of “Kiss Me Fame.”] and an Irishman called John Wellesley, who became the Duke of Wellington, and thus English, defeated Napoleon once at Waterloo and then again on the playing fields of Eton, which only proves that geography is not taught in French schools.

I’ve used up all my pictures for this post, so can you please imagine them?

Would Do you want  How about joining my mailing list? As soon as I’ve sent Amie 3 off to my editor, I will be writing some back stories only available to this special set of people. Also you can find out when you can get my books free or cheap and there’s the occasional competition to win free books just for signing up.

Either private message me on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lucindaeclarke.author

Or email me on Lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com

PROOF I’M AN IDIOT – THE BIG TRIP VII – AND NEXT UP MONARCH

Just as you think you’ve got a handle on things life smacks you in the face. Last week I was so proud of myself. I wrote my blog in Word on the Sunday to free up my half day ‘me time’ on the Monday. I found all the pictures and popped them into the media box – so now all I had to do was quickly cut and paste and I’d be writing Amie 3.

Now if you are about to ask why I didn’t do the whole thing and then press publish on Monday, well I’ve yet to work that one out. The last time I tried it, it went live immediately.

So, all completed nice and early, pressed publish and then remembered that I’d not added the categories and tags. No problem I thought, I’ll just pop back and edit it. So I did and then I sent out a blog which was only tags and categories. A kind follower alerted me to this so I had to go back and do the whole thing all over again – sigh.

So, where were we in SE Asia? Oh yes, on the boat on the Halong Bay in Vietnam and believe me it was pretty cold, being January I guess that was to be expected. I had packed some winter clothes, in fact I was wearing all of them – at once, all at the same time.

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While DH had a massage down one end of the boat, I tried to relax with a book in our cabin, until I noticed it was getting colder and colder. The damn aircon was on full blast. I fiddled and fiddled with the remote- no luck. I then clambered up and pressed every button in sight, no luck, I tried to unplug it but it refused to cooperate. Finally in desperation, I went for help. The guide failed, the steward failed, the engineer failed and the captain failed.

After a long discussion they decided to give us another cabin – the presidential suite. Well this was the life – except you didn’t want to sit down on these chairs, unless you were very well padded.

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And the bathroom – or more correctly posh heads? When did you see a Jacuzzi this size on a boat?

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There were, however two small problems. We had been warned that after 8.pm there was no hot water on board. Time now? 8.30pm. I was already cold enough, and the thought of sitting in freezing cold water with even colder jets spraying over me was not too enticing. Also, there were no instructions and we hadn’t the faintest idea what you twiddled, pushed, pulled or thumped to make it work. We settled for admiring the red-brown coloured enamel work.

Then problem #2 arrived. Somehow, while using the sink, I managed to get the metal flip stopper stuck in place. There was no way to empty the sink. Frankly I just didn’t have the courage to call for help a second time, so for the rest of the time on board, we had to brush our teeth over the loo.

It’s not all fun in these posh places you know.

But all was not lost. We visited this pearl farm floating on the water, where they nurture and grow them in little pens and then kill them and wrench the pearls out of them.

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I passed on the cooking class, as by then I was feeling really ill – from frost bite I thought.

But I managed the trip to the fishing village, all on stilts. It was just amazing, set among 2,000 limestone islands but the kayaking, swimming and diving were a little out of the question. If you take a trip there, go in the summer!

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We shared a boat with these nice people, and as we all remarked, when they get the pics developed we will all be asking “Who the hell were they?” Little did they know it was me!

Then it was time for bed, so I popped over the side to take a quick pic of the boat with its lights on.

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HISTORY LESSON PART SOMETHING

Sadly the little prince died when he was 11 years old, and then his Daddy died, and then Queen Anne herself popped off her mortal coil in – 17 something or other and now parliament was in a fix. No heir? They looked around Europe desperately and began offering current accounts at Barclays, books of green shield stamps, Amex cards and Debenham accounts to anyone who was protestant and would sit on the throne of England. They even threw in a free subscription to Readers Digest.

Eventually they had a taker in George who came from somewhere in Germany, only it wasn’t Germany in those days, just a lot of little states and I won’t bother to mention which one as I would probably spell it all wrong.

Enter George I and we’ll meet him next week.