THE BIG TRIP SOME NUMBER OR OTHER

Yes, I’ve got a bit confused with the numbering system and if I didn’t have the itinerary here, I wouldn’t remember where we went next.

After breakfast it was off to another airport and another flight. As I’ve mentioned before I love flying and I could quite easily get used to hopping on and off planes. Besides being a writer, my next choice would have been a career as a stewardess, but then, the family were not in favour of that either.  We flew from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai. I’m not sure if news had got back to China where our tour operator was domiciled – about those two old codgers who were looking totally knackered –  but they allowed us several hours of leisure time in Chiang Mai at this smart hotel

and a delightful evening wandering around a very nice night market.

Next day it we were off to see the elephants. No, not to ride on them, or watch them perform but to care for them. Despite the fact they were Indian elephants and much smaller than their African cousins, to me were still very large.

We were given melons to feed to them, initially we were behind a metal barrier then they took us out in the open and encouraged us to pat them and make friends.

I remembered the ranger I met in Chobe who took visitors out to meet this one friendly elephant. He’d shake hands with it to the delight and wonder of the admiring tourists. Until, the day he chose the wrong elephant. It crushed his hand to pulp.

These are different elephants I told myself, not daring to think of the time we’d been charged by one. These have been rescued from the streets where they were mis-used by their owners to beg for money, or made to give rides for hours or work in the logging camps. This was an elephant refuge where they were well fed and well treated.

After lunch we all trekked down to the river to give them a nice bath. Personally, I thought DH was very rude, remarking that my bucket throwing was not up to par, and if I stood at that distance from the leviathans, the water would never reach them.

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I got as close as I dared. I’ve not lived this long to take unnecessary chances.

So, we are up to William IV gracing the throne of England. (I guess there were 3 other Williams before him at some time, you would have to check back). He reigned at what came to be known as the start of the industrial revolution. This came about from the instruction of the steam kettle, useful for making cups of tea. Sir Robert Louise Stevenson put wheels on them and turned them into trains and other useful things.

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WARNING 1 – THE BIG TRIP XV

WARNING:  for those of a nervous disposition, do not read this post, as it has a gruesome picture in it for lovers of little furry friends.

We bade a fond farewell to our guides with pleas from them to recommend holidays in Cambodia – and I do recommend it. The people were so friendly, the hotel was gorgeous and the ruins amazing.

It was time to move on, away from the wide majestic waterways and the inhabitants who eek out a living there, and take an afternoon flight across yet another border to Laos. Still a communist country and not as prosperous as Vietnam from what I could see. Luang Prabang is a lot further north and very much colder – though I must admit it was January.

I wrote in my diary it was a bit creepy, the bed was lumpy and the wedding party drums kept us awake for hours – yes, this is me who always reckons she could sleep through the 1812 played at the foot of the bed. But we were both so cold even cuddling didn’t keep the chills away. It was a nice hotel though but a little out of town.

Our first visit was to a market.

The little things with tails? Please don’t ask.

I was blown away by this little girl playing with a cell phone wearing Disneyland leggings. On one hand it shrinks the world, on the other emphasises the enormous gap.

Then it was off to another temple. I’ve been puzzled in the past about Buddhism, and was determined to sort out the principles on this trip. Instead of a greater understanding I became more confused. There appear to be dozens of slightly different sects with varying rules. I mention this as we were off to another temple complex called Wat Xieng Thong. Plus a trip around the Royal Palace museum.

Next time, dining on tree stumps.

Can I find anything more interesting to say about George IV? Well I scratched around a little and can share with you the following.

When he was born, an attending courtier announced he was a girl.  He didn’t like living in the small houses (huge mansions to you and I) preferred by his father, as I’ve mentioned they did not get on.

So he went mad building enormous residences for himself once he got to sit on the throne.

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Buckingham Palace from the back for a change.

He was mad about clothes and spending money and he was very selfish and self-centred. When he was old he slipped into a fantasy world assisted by laudanum and cherry brandy. He believed he had personally defeated Napoleon. He had his first serious love affair at 17 and tried to divorce his wife, except Parliament wouldn’t let him. He only married in the first place, a good, acceptable, Protestant princess so the government would pay all his debts. He was blind drunk at his wedding. Wow, don’t you wish he was your neighbour?

OK here comes the advertising bit (well I’m told I should include it). 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

You can either pm me on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lucindaeclarke.author

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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.

georgeiv1780

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.

THE BIG TRIP XIII – MORE SIEM REAP AND THE NEXT KING

Ankor Wat stretches for miles and miles and miles.

I know some people spend days there and it was possible to get passes for a day, three days and a week.

Much as I am in awe of the magnificent buildings, there is still a lot of debate as to what / when / and how the exact history evolved. Our guide, a delightful man named Solly, was super attentive, holding my arm every step along the way. DH was getting quite huffy about it, watching like a hawk to see what part of my anatomy the man was going to grab as we approached yet another step. I couldn’t decide if the friendly Cambodian, a perfect gentleman, thought I was just too delightful and wanted to help, or if he thought I looked so decrepit I needed help.

Within the complex we saw the Bayon Temple, the Elephant’s Terrace and the Bakheng Temple. I’m ashamed to admit I can’t remember now one from another, but then if I have problems remembering what I did yesterday, maybe that’s not surprising.

But the whole experience was a delight and one I would not have missed for the world.

Well poor old George III ruled for a lot of years, I’m sure it’s not important how long but several decades. Every now and again his son stood in for him which did not please Daddy at all. They had continued with the family tradition of not getting on with each other and George IV didn’t like his wife either.

GEORGE IV
George IV

He got into a big sulk and went off to build himself a discreet little hideaway in Brighton where no one would bother him.

brighton pavilion 2

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