Travel Diary

Batnomad Travel Diary – Although I do carry a small notebook with me at all times my handwriting is appalling so I’ve opted to use an online travel diary instead.  I’ve never kept a diary before and found getting into the habit of writing regularly a challenge, even more so to be openly honest on my thoughts and head-space.  As time passes I’ve found it therapeutic and look forward to going back and reading things in years to come.  Alternatively if you’d like to take a look at my blog here is the link Travel Blog.

17th July ’18 – I hadn’t realised how sick I may have been, odd statement to make but when I look back at mu actions and what I had done over the past circa. month it is difficult to explain.  A combination of the altitude, changing weather on an hourly basis and the variance in weather between the evening (- zero) and the day (hot enough to get a sun tan), it has been difficult to distinguish between sick and climate/conditions.  I had a cold/flu, it started just after Death Road; flu like symptoms with a dry cough which persisted for weeks.  Having a cough isn’t the end of the world, however when it keeps you from sleeping till you head, stomach and body hurts then it does become an issue.  I took a few meds from the pharmacy which alleviated the symptoms a bit yet not fully so.  So, I’ve lacked sleep which resulted in a lack of energy and motivation, when I got a few hours sleep I just didn’t want to get out of bed.   In Bogota now and I feel like I’m getting back to normal, maybe the altitude is helping too (2600m – compared to 3500m+).  Still the occasional cough spasm but mentally I feel more positive.

19th June ’18 – It’s been a task for want of a better word to get back into writing, I’m been subliminally distracted by a busy mind wondering about anything and everything.  When this happens, I tend to retreat into my shell becoming inactive and withdrawn from the world.  Machu Piccchu was a high, hiking for Hydroelectirca to Machu Picchu was near emotional; the hike itself was very easy and the low altitude resulted in my walking London pace near a slow jog.  It drizzled along the way so it was nice and cool, by the time I got near the town I was, like I said quite emotional, a dream come true and I had to control myself.  Maybe as is with life, achieving a dream can be a bit of a let-down, not on this occasion.  My only regret was not getting a ticket to climb to the top of the mountain.

In La Paz, Bolivia now, the altitude higher than Cusco does make everything a bit more of an effort.  I was a little startled at how poor La Paz is, wow, as a dual capital city it may be the poorest (visually) city I’ve been too.  A short walk from my hotel, literally 2 minutes the narrow streets as awash with deep bright colours from wares being sold.  I think, hope Bolivia will be a very interesting place.  Need to get back to being busy to distract me from the fog clouding my brain, added to that I need to get back into a better rhythm of to keep up with my writing. I’ve delayed it for so long that now I’m a tad daunted at carrying on.

6th June ’18 – been contemplating if my travels are achieving what I had hoped it would do.  I’ve been on a bit of a downer the past few weeks to, over a month.  A lack of motivation and an underlying anxiety.  My initial time in Peru has had a few setbacks too; altitude sickness took me out for 2 days and the third was hardly productive, two days later I got bat diarrhoea, another day in bed and the next day not productive either.  I doubt the lack of energy because of the altitude helps.  My mind has been distracted with what the future holds and what I am going to do with it….?

17th April ’18 – It’s been a while since I wrote in my travel diary, because I’ve been having fun.  Upon reflection Tokyo at first wasn’t fantastic until I moved closer into the city, even so looking back now compared to the journey afterwards Tokyo is a distant second to the rest of my time in Japan.  I felt surprised at how much better I felt once I had left Tokyo, not because of the city, it was this bloody cold I had and upset stomach.  Kyoto, wow, if it was cheaper I would honestly have stayed longer…as is was the case with so many other places.  Kyoto and surrounding areas is the real Japan, history, culture mixed with modern life so seamlessly.  I’ve been feeling so much better lately, mentally and physically – back to my exploring walking, back to 10-15km per day and feeling back to my normal self.  If I ever got the opportunity to come back, even to work I would do so at the drop of a hat.  Off to Sydney for a week, will be good to see old faces again.

One thing I didn’t get to experience in Japan is more socialising with locals.  This is made difficult because most people here are tourists (including Japanese tourists), language barrier is a challenge too added with the Japanese’s nature to be respectful and understated; they keep their head down, no pun intended, and just mind their business.  It would be great to explore this country more, even more so the people – I think that would be a truly great insightful experience.

I can see why the Japanese may look upon Westerners and frown; western culture must seem so crass compared to such a orderly, respectful cultures such as there’s.

9th April ’18 – Tokyo is the first 1st world Asian country I’ve been to, an ancient culture at that too – very different from Europe or Dubai.  The most populist greater city in the world and somehow feels less cluttered and busy compared to London.  A very organised and orderly place, everything is well maintained (most things are not new like Dubai) and made very well – stainless steel fire hydrants.  It’s very busy without that sense of rush/urgency.  All big/famous/luxury brands are here on mass (4 Tiffany & Co’s that I saw), even so the Japanese have kept their own sense of style integrating and adapting western brands into their own, with a slight twist.  It’s a big city and not basing myself in the right place for the first two nights was an error, what I saw of Tokyo was ok, but when I moved closer into Tokyo centre it was a whole new experience…it is the first city that I’ve been to that I liked and would like to come back to explore more – fascinating city!

6th April ’18 – Forgot to set my phone onto auto-time change so couldn’t understand why I seemed so out ot kilter with everything….2 hours behind Tokyo time!  Have an ear infection so not feeling too cheery, it irritates me too.  Hotels.com have also overcharged me for a booking; instead of 1099.00 Yen, seems like they added the “0s” so have charge me 1 099 900 Yen, so instead of £73 odd they have charged me over £7300!  So bloody aggravating, they still haven’t rectified it and speaking to them they just want to appease me instead of sorting it out.  Monzo has been very good about it, they have credited my account with the full amount, will debit the account once it is repaid by Hotels.com….if/when!!!!!!  It’s taken me the whole day to try resolve this and still isn’t’ resolved.

31st March ’18 – I spent the last two days in Kuta, Lombok, the main beach in Kuta isn’t great compared to the beaches and coves everywhere else.  Indonesia is odd, you’ll have a hectically crowded and dirty city but not too far away it is near untouched, vey underdeveloped and worlds away.  I’m rushing things now, partly because of my time in Gili Air (with a cold), not getting time to climb Mt Rinjani because it only opens on the 1st April and I need to fly out on the 3rd.  So now I’ve moved to the South East of Lombok, even less developed than Kuta by a hundred times!  Added to the rush is to possibly see Julie and Mila in Gili Air for a day then back to Lombock to fly to Kuala Lumpur to catch my connecting flight to Japan via Bangkok.

Over the past few days, maybe even few weeks my self esteems seems to have lifted too…will see

17th March ’17 – Amed beach, peaceful and quiet, especially today; because today is Silent day, they even wish you “happy silent day”.  I’m guessing this is throughout Bali, in short, the whole place (possibly the whole of Bali) is quiet, I can’t even order a fruit juice because they would need to use the blender, everything is closed and only one motorbike rode down the road today and people stared in a little contempt in their eyes.  The beach is closed, and I heard they will fine you if they catch you swimming…lucking where I’m staying they have two swimming pools!

There are many bank/public holidays throughout the world, I’ve never heard of “Silent Day”, comparing to many of the other bank/public holidays I think this one serves a better purpose than many if not most!  What better reason to have a holiday than to cut out the clutter of noise…give people silence to think, reflect, communicate with each other without tv and internet.

14th March ’18 – Bali is not what I thought it would be; far from being a little hippie/hedonistic island it’s more like Samui, only a lot more developed, with lots of malls with every high street shop you can think of!  Need to get out of here, going to go North East for a few days and hope it is not the same.  After than then go to Lombok.  Kuala Lumpur was a bit of a mistake, added to it I didn’t get any work done, I had a bit of a cold and no motivation.  Need to get out more, it gives me confidence and helps with my mind – it has been occupied a little thinking or overthinking about a woman.

6th March ’18 – Left Hoi An today, leaving Vietnam today.  It has been two weeks and feels like much longer, in a very good way; like I’ve had a very long relaxing holiday.  Went to Lao Chum yesterday and spent the night there with Julie and Mila.  After 3pm the island gets close to abandoned by tourists and there may have been 10-15 left at most.  Restaurants close at 15:00, most people eat where they are staying (Homestead), we didn’t know but were welcomed into another homestead with open arms after they had already cooked, they cooked extra for us, for 200 000 Dong – less than £6 for three people and we couldn’t finish what they cooked.  They “the islanders” can come across as rude or standoff’ish but not at all they just say it like it is, but they are in fact extremely friendly.  Mama-Kim, our host, treated us like family, although we left at 6:45 to get the ferry back she insisted on cooking food for us to take on our way home….before and after she gave us a very big hug ?.  Unsurprisingly everyone thought we were a family, not just on the island, sometimes it was a little awkward, but it was nice too – I think Julie and I are on the same page, don’t know.  I left Hoi An quite quickly, quick goodbyes are sometimes better.  Felt a little anguish yesterday knowing it was my last day in Vietnam and with Julie and Mila, I really do hope I see them again.

The night before we went to Lao Chum island we went to the beach with a bottle of wine, we saw people digging holes to catch crabs, with their hands!  We followed them, they seemed very happy that we were watching them and chatted (well, what we could understand) like friends and almost insisted that we join them at their home to come eat the crabs with them.  At first, I thought it was a poly to get us to come to their restaurant but restaurants close around 10pm max, we even told them we were leaving early the next morning (true) but they persisted.  So, we sat around a table with about 7 of them and ate a home cooked meal with the family, the whole crab, shell and all; fried crab and rice with crab soup and beer.  They didn’t even want money, but Julie gave them 200 000 Dong (£6) which they didn’t want to take so much money, but we insisted.  I real pity I didn’t get to see them again, what brilliant people.

The Vietnamese city folk are not as friendly, tainted by tourists I think, the little village people (no pun intended) are super friendly, riding our bikes through the labyrinth of concreted little alleyways most people will call out “hello!” especially the kids.

3rd March ’18 – Is focusing on thing like change actually the distraction or is change about only focused action; doing things instead of pondering how to fix things.  I’ve not found living with less a hinderance, sure maybe every now and then I think it would be nice to wear something different, but that’s just for change.  I also think I should buy an item or two whilst on my travels as souvenirs – not to be a consumer, and only if I is something I really like and can add my memories.  I left Egypt and Jordan with a turquois rock and to me that was the perfect thing, so if I can find something similar that has the essence of where I am visiting then yes, if not, no.

2nd March ’18 – Time flies when you’re having fun.  I’ve had some ups and downs, as expected.  The journey has been interesting, my time with Julie and Mila has broken, to a degree some reticence in conversations, spending time with people or getting people to know me….feeling uncomfortable (scared).  Given myself a goal that in 6 months I will be able to have a 10 minutes conversation in French.  We a.k.a English speaking people take it for granted that the world revolves around us, not maliciously, subconsciously, our language skills pale in comparison to the rest or the world – many speaking more than one language.  When “people” don’t understand English, we get irritated.

I’ve been surprised at how much I enjoy having a “family” environment.  No don’t think I’m a surrogate father to Mila, she has her own father.  In the past my tendency has been to shy away from those sorts of situations.  For the first time in many years, honestly for ever, I’ve considered having a family….now to focus on finding, experiencing having a girlfriend again.  The looming mist of this topic comes and goes, having chipped away at it every to slightly and delicately pretending I’m making a real effort I have actually started up a few conversations with strangers and carried on with them longer that I would have in the past.  Hardly reason to celebrate or pat myself on the back.  The wolf of fear has been regularly and well fed for many years.

25th February ’18 – Heading to Bai Tu Long from Hanoi, only 160km but with infrastructure far from best it takes 4 hours.  Our guide told us that if you go 10% over the speed limit you get a $40 fine, that’s a lot, if 20%+ then they take your license away for 2 months and it’s a $100 fine!

Julie and Mila (also going to Bai Tu Long), both are sick especially Mila, bad cold, fever and conjunctivitis.  I know what its like to be travelling feeling sick, it sucks!  Tough job being a single mother, even more so if you are travelling.

16th February ’18 – Walking along the beach at dusk a thought came to mind (doing so because I had nothing to do), Thailand has been lonely, if I think back to Portugal, Spain, Egypt and Jordan they were too.  The difference was that I was busy every day whether waling for miles or seeing the sites.  Thailand is different, a lot of the “sites” are beaches, the sea, swimming etc. with little activity…or motivation for activity.  This got me thinking, I have been lonely for a very long time, added to that a lack of self-worth, that is why when I do sense a bit of interest I grab hold with both hands – by that I mean relationships.  Thinking back on my relationships this sticks out like a sore thumb, to a degree bar one.  A slither of interest and I would rather go blind not to see the red flags about the relationship.  I’m not saying, or do I think I should look for fault in a possible relationship and let those dictate me not investing in it, rather of my past relationships I either knew immediately or very shortly afterwards that it was not going to work.  Relationships are a bit of a numbers game, you do need to try a lot before you can find a good match, even if that’s just conversation at a bar…which I dread (fear) like the plague!  If I don’t put myself out there then I will only catch what drifts my way.

15th February ’18 – Had to leave Ao Nang a day early, couldn’t handle all the “holiday-tourists”; very different from travellers and they irritated me.  Oh, they went to “Thailand” but forget to mention they acted like colonialists and went to a place that resembled where they came from, except for the sea and scenery.  Koh Yao Noi, similar to Koh Tao, not as good at first glance but the scenery of rocky outcrop islands not to far away is quite special.  Will go do some exploring tomorrow and hope to find some nice beaches.  Haven’t heard from Julie, odd, don’t know if I’ve burnt my bridges there, can’t see how, but do wish them safe, happy and fruitful travels…would be nice to see them/her again I cannot lie.

14th February ’18 – Valentine’s day and I wouldn’t have even known if it weren’t for Facebook, seems to go unnoticed here in Thailand, good.  Khao Sok was nice, it may have been better to stay another day, but the safaris don’t seem to cater for more, pity – it’s a huge lake with so many beautiful spots just to chillout but instead you speed from one place to the next…on a bloody noisy boat!  The landscape and environment would be perfect to have some reflection time.  I was expecting Krabi to be far less commercial, it’s expensive (comparatively) and full of holiday tourists living it up in nice cozy hotels etc.  Think I’ll cut my time here short by a day and head to an island.  Not heavily but quite Muslim here too.

8th February ’18 – Who knows, missed opportunity in Samui with Natascha, maybe back in Zurich.  Was cautious in not keeping constant contact with Julie, right, wrong, I don’t know?  Not sure if she was surprised I didn’t let her know I was going to Khao Sok or disappointed, hmmm I don’t know.  Sometimes I feel like I’m treading on eggshells, do I be outright and honest or hold back…either way seems like a loose situation.  Playing it tactfully isn’t my strength, I think, I prefer, when I have the courage just to be myself and say how I feel.  When I don’t I think people have the idea that I’m aloof or not interested – my thoughts are that if I’m spending time with you or speaking to you then I’m interested, if not then I’d much prefer to make an excuse and walk away.  My skills in relationships are poor, but yet I have a lot to give, sitting back seems to reflect a lack of jevou de vivre!  I think initially when people meet me they think I’m standoff’ish, but after they get to know me it is the exact opposite, at least that’s what I think.

7th February ’18 – I was going to stay the rest of my time in Thailand in Koh Phangan, but why the hell would I do that!?  I would have preferred to stay in Koh Tao, I much preferred it there, even so why stay there too.  Planning to leave and got to Vietnam then come back for 10 more days but having to travel back South again doesn’t makes sense.  In Samui for 1.5 days to extend visa, then go West, first Khao Sok then who knows but the pictures that Julie showed me of the area looks awesome!

I miss Julie and Mila; the company has done me a world of good and I can automatically feel and see my spirits and conversation picking up.  I’ve also been a lot happier and fluid to write, if it’s any good isn’t for me to decide.  Can’t seem to get myself to throw my Kindle way either, I really like reading but the fucken battery doesn’t want to charge after endless attempts!!!  If it doesn’t work this time, then what’s the use in carrying it about.  Got a few “self-help” audio books, they are great but it’s just not the same as reading.

I feel a slight spring back in my step, a quiet optimism.  Will continue to pursue my French, I really like the language, not good at it but have always liked it.  Will leave these travels speaking French in the least.

3rd February ’18 – Left Koh Toa this morning heading to Koh Phangan for 3 nights, for now.  Need to leave Thailand on the 8th Feb, thinking Vietnam.  It’s been great having company the past few days, especially with people who have similar interests.  Can’t lie, having a woman around, attractive and with an awesome body has been a motivating driver too.  I’ve found it rather interesting my reaction to Mila; a lovely little girl and brings out a slight craving to what to become a father.  Mila is teaching me French, she’s a better teacher than I’m a student.  Although she doesn’t speak much English, my French is better than her English if that’s anything to go by, however it doesn’t deter what I think is a bonding.  I’ve just assumed she does not have a father, easy assumption taken from what Julie has implied.  I’m glad they are at Koh Phangan too, when they left I must confess I was a little sad to see them go.

The company of Julie and Mila has without doubt raised my spirits – sexually, mentally, a zest for life and a “wanting” something.  I enjoy being with myself, but good company always makes me feel good too.  I have always been lucky to have good friends…I don’t really appreciate just how good my friends are – I will make more of an effort.  The feeling of inadequacy lingers on in doses as an undercurrent.

30th January ’18 – Been up and about for two days now, today’s my third; foot not 100%, it’s still a little swollen and the graze is still open, but a thin layer of skin has covered most of it, still “leaks” in the mornings.  Walking with an odd limp because I can’t have my flip flops rub against it.  Shoulder still not 100% either, hurts when I raise my arm.  Sounds doom and gloom but I’m feeling 100% better, especially in the head!

Two bungalows down are a French lady and her daughter, Julie and Mila.  She’s from France but has lived in Reunion for the past 8 years.  Yesterday I went out with them and two of her friends Charlotte (I think) and Peter – really nice people and although they don’t speak much English, theirs is a million times better than my French!  English people really do need to learn at least 1 more language!  It was nice having company.

25th January ’18 – Been in Koh Tao for three days, the first two were in the centre of town.  Not being able to walk properly is crap, being in a small room with no air conditioner and not being able to walk (properly, more than 100m or with shoes on) in shit and frustrating.  Lots of diving going on here too…which I can’t use, no way I could use fins.  So, moved to East side of the island, very rustic place but I have a hammock and sea view.  Always a soothing sound hearing the waves break against the rocks metres below.

Got some antibiotics from the pharmacy, wouldn’t normally take them but my foot is still sore and swollen – only part where the graze isn’t drying up.

It’s a consolation, but even if I stay here doing nothing it is better than where I was – time to chill and write.  Tomorrow I may get a scooter to check out the island but hoping my foot is better soon as there are other islands within stones throw that I would love to visit.

21st January ’18 – So, Koh Samui was going really well, got to hotel late in the day so organised my scooter the following morning.  Great ride around taking a look as some temples and waterfalls.  My spirits were up and riding along with no helmet and the wind blowing put a smile, even happy laughter on my face.  Could have seen more but I broke my flip flop and rode around to find another pair.

Next day (3 days ago), I headed out on the opposite direction. Just cruising about to get a lay of the land, surprisingly more than I thought there was, hadn’t seen that much and then…a car knocked me of my scooter (luckily wearing a helmet).  I got away lucky, it could have been a lot worse; grazes, bruises, sore shoulder, forearm and left foot, it could have been a lot worse.  The last three days I haven’t done much at all, there is skin missing on top of my left foot, so it is difficult to walk with any type of shoe.  I’m trying to dry it out, either way I’ll leave for Koh Tao tomorrow morning.

The oddest thing is, I haven’t felt pain like this in a long time too far back to remember, it is quite nice.  The numbness of life is jolted reminding me of feelings, true feelings whether it be pain, love or hate.  This pain has reminded me that I am alive, an interesting experience and I like it, it has made me feel that I am living and there is life inside.

16th January ’18 – Got to Koh Samui, only spend a few hours here so far (mostly the drive from the one ferry port to my hotel) and I’m quite underwhelmed; the place is a lot more built up than I though it would be e.g. there is a big Tesco’s here, MacDonald’s etc.  May hire a motorbike tomorrow to check out the place – this time round I’ll be here for 2 days, plan to head off to Koh Tao.

Whilst writing about Petra now (in Koh Samui) the movie Mars is on TV, filmed in Wadi Rum

15th January ’18 – Feeling much better today after a day of walking around Bangkok, not because of Bangkok, to some degree in spite of it.  To a degree it reminded me of Cairo, much safer, but I don’t see the charm of the place; the temples are very stunning different but if it weren’t for the temples nobody would come here in my opinion.  Bangkok isn’t the cleanest places, but I was surprised how clean it is, much cleaner than Cairo, there is however a regular underlying hue, like a sour smell, I haven’t quite decided if I like it or not, at first definitely not!  Like many cities, and this is a bit similarity to Cairo, is that you are not sure if you are being fleeced; not the hotels or the street-side food vendors but by all the taxi’s, tuk tuks etc.  I must say, the food I’ve eaten from the road-side vendors may not quite be to my liking but it is very tasty and I’m looking forward to exploring more.  NB. When it says spicy or curry…it’s bloody hot, hottest food I’ve ever taste.

In Surat Thani tonight, head off to Ko Samui.

12th January ’18 – Got to Bangkok two days ago from spending 4 days in Dubai with my cousin and his family.  It was really great to spend some time with them and they are a lovely family.  My first day in Bangkok was spent sleeping, got here at 3am (Dubai time) so by the time I got to my hotel at 9:00am (6:00 Dubai) I was exhausted.

I wanted to spend my first day or two catching up on writing, I was very far behind!  I can’t quite explain it but really struggled to writing about Petra, nothing to do with the location, Petra was awesome, my mind just wasn’t right.

I’ve not been feeling quite right lately, the mist that I thought was gone, never forever and not far away.  Like a mixture of fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and self-worth; not feeling like leaving the hotel just so that time and the world can pass by outside without my involvement – not wanting to be involved.  Finishing Part 1 of Petra somehow gave me a little drive to get out.  Lack of getting out and eating doesn’t help either but when you are in a mist you think it is better to just stay put.

4th January ’18 – In Dubai staying with family (Michael, Mariette and the kids, who are now adults).  Why haven’t I written, hmmm…at first it was because I didn’t think I had anything to say and as they days pass by I broke my habit so one day becomes one week, then a month…a spiral.

Summary – Got back to SA first week of December (few days in Cape Town then off to my mom), then  off to Namibia for Sylvia’s wedding; great to see her happy and her fiancé, husband now, seems like a really nice guy.  It was also the first time and Sylvia, Andrew and I have been together for years, maybe 15 years!

After the wedding I spend some time with my mom, glad to see she is well. The stay was nice, but reminded me of living at home under and atmosphere, not quite the time to divulge what that means.

Left my mom’s place earlier and abruptly than I had planned and got to spend time in the Eastern Cape, Bushman’s/Kenton-on-Sea with Clayton, Sam and the kids.  They’ve been inviting me for years and I finally got the opportunity, well the opportunity made itself.  Bushman’s really is a beautiful part of the country, stunning wide, white beaches at a river mouth.

20th November ’17 – Cold and raining in Istanbul, a far cry from the weather I’ve had the past near two months.  First time I’ve had weather under 25, in the day time, it hasn’t been over 20 since I got here…first rain I’ve had since London.

Spending the day catching up on writing; I’ve delayed writing about Luxor, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings, not quite procrastination more so worry about the task at hand and doing it some sort of justice – so many facts and superlatives I will need to increase my vocabulary at risk of sounding like a child describing how “nice” ice cream is.  A wee bit of disappointment too about not being able to take any photo’s inside any of the burial chambers inside the Valley of the Kings; it needs to be seen to be believed, although they are thousands of years old their decoration is every bit as exquisite as when they were made – dramatic, exquisite and rich with bright colour against a backdrop of whitewashes walls…they could have been painted yesterday and you would be none the wiser.

Somewhere in Jordan I got sand/dust inside my camera, I could track back to my photos to check exactly when but that won’t change the outcome.  Found a few videos on YouTube and seems easy to rectify, with the right tools!  I’ve had a look around to find small screwdrivers but no luck yet, they are the smallest of screws so will need to find a very good hardware or electronics store…I’m sure Istanbul will have, but where!?  Used my phone yesterday, it works well in the light and for large pictures, but nothing compared to my camera, could have taken awesome photos in the cathedral cistern in Istanbul – in such low light you can’t expect a phone to deliver what a camera does.

If I can’t get my camera fixed soon I’ll have to consider getting a new one, an expense I really didn’t want to incur, if I do a weather sealed camera is the only option, price…ouch!

19th November ’17 – It’s been a while since I last wrote, a combination of not being in the mood and breaking my routine, not in a good way.  A lot has happened, Jordan was a positive surprise, but I didn’t plan very well considering I was only going there to see Petra and ended up staying over two weeks.  All in all I didn’t need to spend 3 nights in Amman, 5 nights in Madaba and definitely not 4 nights at the Dead Sea.  I had hoped to go to Israel and especially Palestine or the West Bank but my diddle daddle in Amman, Madaba and the Dead Sea (Dead Sea is very expensive) reduced my time as I needed to get back to SA, so I decided on a short stop-over in Istanbul; 1st day taken up with planning hotel and flights to Cape Town, 2nd day taken up with food poisoning, so the toilet and bed were my experience of Istanbul.  The 3rd day I did some walking, Istanbul is a true metropolis and cosmopolitan city; the convergence of Europe and the Silk Route.  Very interesting place and I would like to come back and explore more of the country.

I’ve had a few ups and downs in mood, I really wasn’t feeling that great towards the back-end of Petra and in Amman; a cold/flu feeing with no motivation nor energy.  Got some antibiotics in Madaba and reluctantly I must agree I started to feel better two days later.  My perception of Jordan now is completely different; there are many shops selling alcohol and religion just isn’t a problem at all between Christians and Muslims – Madaba has plenty of churches and Northern Jordan sees man Christian pilgrims visiting sacred sites.

The Dead Sea also seemed to do wonders for my skin and hair!  The faint old smell of the place does seem to linger and I still get a waft of it every now and then, maybe it’s just my imagination of it may be my clothes….or it may just be that that smell.

Every now and then I do get a little lonely, would it have been better to go through this journey with somebody I don’t know, maybe sometimes, yes.  The lack of women to my taste (something I have not yet been able to define, although I still have a thing for French and Scandinavian women), has do some degree made me take note of others more and I appreciate varied beauty now more that I used to.  I do need to get over or at least deal with my lack of self-worth.

One thing that I have I thought about a lot in Egypt and Jordan is this whole region is a desolate and harsh place, coupled with the surroundings being the backdrop for our oldest stories and writings (Bible, Koran, Tora) it has given me a whole different dimension to how and where these stories are set.  If I think back to when I was younger hearing and reading the bible the pictures built in my mind are a far cry to the reality of the dead, dusty, rocky, mountainous and desolate landscape they were lived in.  The landscape I think playing a bit role is the creating of these myths and legends.

19th October ’17 – Plan was to stay in Dahab for 5 nights, I extended by 2 nights after the first day and have extended it by another two days, so 9 nights.  I really like this place, it’s a world apart from the rest of Egypt; a mix of bohemian and water sport location.  It took one day here to decide to do PADI open water….last dive today and no doing Advanced.  I was a little apprehensive at first, dark waters give me the chills!  I was surprised how easy it is to keep calm under the water, I love being under the water.  Just sitting there and watching the fish swim by is very therapeutic for me.

Still stuck on some personal challenges; very self-conscious especially about my body, not doing anything about it adds to my anxiety….do something about it or shut up…easy to say but difficult to implement…not difficult, lack want and motivation.  Low self-worth seems to be my monkey on my back as is finding zest in life or what I do.

8th October ’17 – It was inevitable and surprising it took so long to be involved in a car accident in Egypt.  On the way from my hotel to the boat there was a little 6 car bumper to bumper accident, we were 4th or 5th in the line and got rear-ended.  A lot of people shouting and animatedly gesticulating for about five minutes before they all check there cars got back in and carried on as if nothing happened.  My cab driver looked at his rear bumper now sporting a new little dent to add to his collection and added black marks gave the driver behind us a thumbs up and we continued on our journey.  If that happened in South Africa anything could happened including being shot!

7th October ’17 – Abu Simbel will have to be on a different trip, real pity.  The felucca is also a no-go because of the winds and it would take five days.  Now, heading off tomorrow on a three-night cruise up to Luxor where I will stay for a few days.  Egypt has surprised me because of the size of population just over 100 million people, Aswan city has over 300 000 and if you include the whole area it has something like 2 million!…I thought was a small town!

5th October ’17 – Woke up feeling perfectly relaxed.  Lost a day but that’s life and really has a lot to do with my planning.  Visited the Nubian Museum over the road from my hotel – lovely little museum and some brilliant displays.  Day was a bit of a waste but have planned tomorrow; going to Philea Temple, Dam and unfinished obelisk.  Rest of the day in front of the pool and catching up on my writing….very far behind and the internet here is bad, at best.

4th October ’17 – Train arrived in Aswan 3hours 15min late, not the best of sleeps.  Walked to my hotel quite uneasily which was only 1km away.  Hotel was fine, at first; my room was supposed to have a view of the Nile (I paid extra for it) but it didn’t, wasn’t even facing the right way, not the end of the world.  The bathroom was dirty, I have stayed in many old places before and wear and tear come with that, this was just dirty (not the bed though).  The little meal I had on the train was far from enough (normally I have a big breakfast and dinner making it easy to skip lunch) but the hotel didn’t have a restaurant nor room service except for water and soft drinks.   I was getting hungry and they recommended I go to a restaurant, considering where the hotel was I was not keen on this at all (the walk to the hotel was uneasy, not sure if it was just me but I was very cautious and kept my Leatherman in my pocket – not felt like that in a very long time).  I bought some water at the hotel LE10 and have the man LE100, he came back with LE10 change at which I questioned him and after asserting that I had given him LE100 he apologies and said in little English he would come back, which he did.  This time he gave me LE70, the conversation was deja voux, this time he offered my Chinese money to compensate which I refused.  The third time he wanted to give me LE80 and after he and I counted again he gave me the correct amount.  The whole journey to the hotel, room, money and lack of food irritated me.  I found another hotel and left.  Another 2.5km away in 36 degrees and my pack with 3 litres of water I got to my new hotel, hot, panting and now with a stomping headache and couldn’t eat at 16:00.  Drank some water took some pills and crashed on the bed.  Pissed off as a wasted day and wasted money!!!

3rd October ’17 – Overnight train from Cairo/Giza to Aswan.  After a little confusion they gave me a cabin, not the one intended but very happy not to have to share (which is what I paid for).  The security police at the station were very nice and two Chinese girls were being slightly hassled and overheard I was going to Aswan too so joined me whilst waiting for the train.  Their English was very good and the one girl Ma (her family name) studied for a year at Cranfield University in the UK.

Hmmm the overnight train was OK, the carriages are very old, luckily as not as the commuter trains where they pack in worse than London’s underground in peak traffic….with no lights either and people we have no space to stand just sit with their feet dangling out the door…not all carriages have doors.

The compartment in the train was dirty, but thankfully the sheets were clean and the meals more akin to old style airline food but tasted fine.  The aircon was blasting throughout the whole evening and I chuckled to myself as everyone was wearing extra clothes or standing in the passageway to warm up…it was 24 degrees outside! ?   Thankfully I could open the window of my cabin with my Leatherman to warm up my carriage.

2nd October ’17 – Last two days have been a bit of a waste.  Trying to sort out transport to Aswan for a reasonable price with websites that don’t offer much information and ended up paying US$116 for an overnight sleeper train – considering the exchange rate to LE$ that’s a lot of money.  All the other cheaper trains were not available and due to the dates the sleeper train operates I had to extend my time at my current hotel by another night.  The whole train and accommodation took the best part of the day…on a slow internet connection, oh well.  Cairo is a visiting destination, by that I mean it’s not a pretty place so not where you would want to take a stroll around the city so you are either visiting a place of you stay at the hotel, at least that’s the case in Giza and I can’t see Cairo being that much different.

Tomorrow I check out at 12:00, will take another trip to the Giza Pyramids and do some proper exploring, from there I need to pick up some odds and ends and then off to the train station – train leaves at 20:15 and arrives in Aswan around 10:00.

Do know what’s going on with my skin though, almost like dandruff but on my forehead, eyebrows, chin and eyelids – Fucking irritating and makes me very self-conscious.

30th September ’17 – Was at the Citadel in Cairo by the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, on two separate occasions people asked to take a photo of me with them like I was some sort of tourist attraction, felt very odd – I didn’t oblige.  The people I’ve met seem very friendly and helpful but I always feel there is an ulterior motive, some of the time there definitely is especially at the tourist attractions.  I told my driver about it and he said it may be that they are from a small town out in the middle of nowhere where they seldom or have never seen a Westerner in the flesh – I felt guilty after hearing that and had flashbacks at their smiling and excited faces.

9th September ’17 – Disappointed that I’ve missed the boat going to Iceland this summer, will have to do it another time – I hope I can make it happen next year.  Realised I’d been getting withdrawal anxiety from not travelling since being back in London.  Nothing to do with being in London just being stationary for a month.  Next week I’m getting my visa for Egypt, whilst that’s in the process (only a few days) I’m finalise my flight and first accommodation stink in Cairo.

3rd September ’17 – Saw Sisters of Mercy last night with Brent and Roxi at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, great to see them live again.  Not the best of gigs I’ve been to nor as good as the first time I saw them, must be almost 15yrs ago.  The sound was terrible, you could hardly hear the lyrics and it all sounded muffled, still good to hear some of the old tunes live.

27th August ’17 – A long delay since my last log.  I’ve found it difficult to get into a rhythm or routine especially since there isn’t much of either to keep me in tow whilst travelling.  I’ve been back in the UK for just over 3 weeks; Brent, Roxi and I flew my mom out to the UK for her birthday, she could make it over her birthday (1st September) so came over my birthday.  It was nice to have all 4 under the same roof after many years, it through my out but worth it.  Brent and Roxi are moving to New Zealand so doubtful a family reunion will be on the cards again for a very long time.  All this seems to have put me back in a stagnant state; the last 2 days I’ve finally had the mental attitude focused and got the last of my Toledo blog out, really should ever have taken that long – started on Barcelona today and will do a short one on the last two weeks in London.  Need to get a few travel items in the next few days and plan “where to next”, either Iceland for a short trip, followed by Egypt,  Egypt has been the place I’ve wanted to go to most since as long as I can remember.  The first non-school books I ever read were three books on Egypt that my mom’s aunt (Auntie Del) gave me, since then I’ve been hooked!

7th August ’17 – Back in London this afternoon, some flights delays and plenty of queuing at Barcelona airport, 2,5 hours of it!  Lots to do this coming week and mom arrives on the 11th August, first time in just over 5yrs that the four of us will be under the same roof (mom, Brent, Roxi and I)

2nd August ’17 – Tarragona was great, real surprise considering I had never heard of it before.  Hotel, wish it had an air con, but the owner Xavi and his staff, especially Paolina, couldn’t do more for you even if they tried – by far the best service in terms of customer service and pure, natural friendliness.

30th July ’17 – Why is it that even at this age I still feel uncomfortable in my skin!?

24th July ’17 – Struggling to focus and write, just seem to get distracted and getting no momentum! Frustrating!

23rd July ’17 – Really enjoyed my time in Toledo, could easily have stayed more as there is so much to see.  Still can’t get used to everything shutting down in the afternoon and then reopening.  Zaragoza tomorrow, have no idea what’s there, will wait and see.  Slight hiccup in the trip with my mother coming to the UK around the 10th August so need to be in the UK a bit before, for about 2 weeks.  Found a few things to create a more professional website, difficult to do it on the road so will make time when I get to the UK.  Feel as isolated travelling as I did back in the UK, at least I’m doing what I have wanted to do for years!

21st July ’17 – Only a short stay in Madrid, more so to catch up with things.  Hmmm, after spending so much time in smaller cities & towns being a in big city wasn’t great.  It’s actually a very nice city, smaller than London but also somehow feels more personal, well as personal as a city feel.   Glad to be back on the travels, got to Toledo at around 14:00, first impressions, very good.  When ever I think of or hear Toledo I always think of my Ouma & Oupa buying all their grandsons knives from Toledo when they went there must be 30yrs ago.  They were great Grandparents.

12th July ’17 – Ronda is hot, I’ve been sweating like a miner wearing a suit!  I like it here.  It’s been very hot lately, only dropped below 35% yesterday and it’s dry like Montagu.  Tabasco Kelly (aka Kelly and Vanessa) has been extremely helpful is suggestions including food, I have a whole new respect for Tapas!  Suggested by Kelly, Tragata has awesome food and extremely cheap, head and shoulders the best food I’ve had in Spain!

10th July ’17 – I have a gripe about people staring, or my perception that they are staring.  It is one thing to look, but to stare is bloody irritating, not irritating it’s confusing and causes the most random of thoughts and questions running through you my mind.  Is there something wrong with me, do I look funny, is my zip down, do I have something on my face! WTF!  It would be fine is someone stared at my and then came to speak to me even if they had something bad to say at least they wouldn’t leave me hanging with my thoughts!  The oddest of it is that it may be me imagining things or just self-perpetuating; you think people are staring at you so everyone you look at looks back at you and you therefore think they are staring

4th July ’17 – first day and a half in Sevile (Sevilla) were a right-off.  Not sure why but may have been dehydrated and had a migraine to knockout an elephant; stayed in bed the whole of Sunday eating painkillers.  Yesterday was good, still a little jaded but really like Sevilla, it has a natural effervescence about it.  Planned next trip to Cordoba for three nights, from there will try get to Ronda and Zahara (both recommended by Brent/Roxi’s friend Kelly/Vanessa – met them both a few times but haven’t seen them in many years.  May have lunch with Kelly, it will be interesting to get his opinion on Spain considering he has lived and worked in quite a few countries, although from Finland he was brought up in SA so similar to a degree)

30th June ’17 – Leaving for Seville tomorrow morning, can’t wait, even more so to get out of Faro.  I really don’t see the attraction about Faro – boring, ok beaches and nothing to see and do.

Batnomad Travel Diary

Faro, Portugal

28th June ’17 – For such a small little town Sintra has plenty on display.  I’m glad I stayed an extra day to plan, next stop is Faro then likely a bus to Seville.  I could easily have stayed in Sintra another day even if it were just to stroll (and climb) the gardens which was like walking through forests – reminded me somewhat of doing the Grouse Grind in Vancouver, that was a great holiday and I do still think about it often and her

21st June ’17 – Got to Lisbon around 16:30 yesterday and the apartment just after 17:00.  It’s OK, to a degree it reminds me of the first place I stayed in when I got to London, in Vauxhall, Wandsworth Road – my oh my what a long way I’ve come – for possibly the first time I actually felt a little pride for my house in Worcester Park.  Was a bit down yesterday, a long day with nothing productive achieved – think the lack of eating properly during the day (nuts, banana, pear) didn’t help.  Lots of walking today, hmmm Lisbon is OK.

18th June ’17 – Later start today, it’s Sunday and things open later than because of it – left Guest House around 10:30.  Finding it quite strange that for a city full of hilly roads and stair galore (my shin muscles are sore!) that the local women look so unfit.  Most are pear shape, nothing wrong with that, but they all (generalising) are slightly overweight and absolutely no shape to their legs.  The vast majority of attractive women (to me) that are here are either German, French and a few Yanks.  The People of Porto are as a whole friendly, accommodating and short – I seem to stick out except for a few Yanks and of course the Dutch.

Started the day visiting a church, they were in service – after so many years not going I felt like a tourist and pitied the congregation.

I’ve yet to learn how to stroll – living in London has taught and instilled two walking speeds 1. Fast, 2. Fast; I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing.

16th June ’17 – Arrived in Porto yesterday late afternoon, arrived at guest house around 18:00 – after Brent and my cycle trip I would have thought I had learnt a lesson to check when the country I’m going to has a Public/Bank Holiday.  Arrived to what I thought was an abandoned city, everything was closed expect for a little supermarket and a café.  Suffice to say the me the meal wasn’t substantial but filled the gap, bought apples, bananas, bags of nuts and nut & berry mix – always good to have in the bag…..maybe the next day I will have more choice! I hope!

17th June ’17 – No plan for the day, wanted to walk around to get my bearings and feel the vibe of the city (must have walked near 8-10km). Peculiarly odd city; I kept having the thought of someone who was very wealthy and powerful in the past but had experienced difficulty long time ago and never recovered from it, however still proud of his past achievements and had settled that those glories will not return.  A truly shabby chic city with an intriguing beauty of terracotta tiles roofs, brightly tiled for painted facades ageing unattended to and a generous splattering of cobalt blue (reminds me of the Chinese porcelain with cobalt blue pictures and designs.

16th June ’17 – Arrived in Porto yesterday late afternoon, arrived at guest house around 18:00 – after Brent and my cycle trip I would have thought I had learnt a lesson to check when the country I’m going to has a Public/Bank Holiday.  Arrived to what I thought was an abandoned city, everything was closed expect for a little supermarket and a café.  Suffice to say the me the meal wasn’t substantial but filled the gap, bought apples, bananas, bags of nuts and nut & berry mix – always good to have in the bag…..maybe the next day I will have more choice! I hope!

17th June ’17 – No plan for the day, wanted to walk around to get my bearings and feel the vibe of the city (must have walked near 8-10km). Peculiarly odd city; I kept having the thought of someone who was very wealthy and powerful in the past but had experienced difficulty long time ago and never recovered from it, however still proud of his past achievements and had settled that those glories will not return.  A truly shabby chic city with an intriguing beauty of terracotta tiles roofs, brightly tiled for painted facades aging unattended to and a generous splattering of cobalt blue (reminds me of the Chinese porcelain with cobalt blue pictures and designs.

12th June ’17 – Flight and accommodation booked, Porto on the 15th for 5 days…..for now

10th June ’17 – decision made, next week is Portugal and I’ll take it from there.   Very keen to do a hiking trip in Iceland in July/August.

9th June ’17 – I find it problematic and baffling at the sudden so-called interest in politics at voting time.  Like hibernating bears waking up from their slumber all irritable and hungry, barking and snarling at anyone who disagrees with them.  Comforted that he/she staked their claim on the future direction of the country by shouting loud for a week or two followed by a two second mark of solidarity in making an “x” in a box; now they can sleep through peacefully till the next election.  For a few weeks every four or so years, people will stand up for their convictions and spew out nonsensical diatribe with the flick of the thumb or a click of a mouse.  The armchair Facebook activists; brave and bold, the expert in everything, the principled crusader posting, sharing and re-posting everything with no substance with absolutely no commitment of involvement other than to refresh their Facebook feed.  Your “x” and social media shouting is not even futile, it is delusional, a delusion which you are allowing to make real by acting (to some they actually believe real – they are lost) the part you have been given to play, oh and we play it so well!  If people really want change, if they truly desire change, if they real care then they should get actively involved…….but that would require action, and sitting watching a screen is so much easier!

8th June ’17 – Decisions decisions, where will I start my next journey – I can’t seem to decide, Mediterranean Sea through Europe or Stockholm and head South!  I’m getting anxious and procrastinating at the same time.

22nd May ’17 – Getting quite excited, on Friday Brent and I are cycling from Calais to Amsterdam – head to Calais on Thursday evening and start peddling Friday morning.  Ferry and hotel booked, mentally I have no idea if I’m ready; Brent’s done this before and the route is going to be just over 400 km….goal is to do 250km in the first day, that’s more than double the distance.  I’ve ever ridden in one go!  My trusty steed was purchased last week Friday, she is more ready than I am!

Weather is looking promising too, not just for the ride but here in London too – lovely picture taken from Brent’s balcony just before the sun made its exit for the evening.

Batnomad Travel Diary

My road bike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16th May ’17 – A little anecdote I remembered earlier today from my trip to Royal Jozini.  Some of the plugs in Lance’s kitchen weren’t working and on our last day it was decided that we would try to fix them.  Now a little background information is that the previous night we sat under the African night sky around a fire chatting and resolving the worlds problems with the help of gin and wine, quite a bit of gin.  The result of our previous night’s escapades meant we were feeling rather tender, I for one was driving the porcelain lorry earlier that morning with great conviction.  In order for us to fix the plugs we needed to go under the house, which is raised from the ground most of which is sealed off, not all.  I agreed to go with Lance under the house, someone need to say above ground to coordinate things so Clayton had that job.  Swaziland at this time of year (March), is bloody hot and due to the rains the previous evening and the dam made it humid too.  Lance and I walk around the house, head torches ready looking for the best place of entry and after two laps around house as Murphy’s law dictates it would obviously have to be the most difficult access was the one we needed.  Well, considering all the previous stories Lance told us about the close encounters with Mozambique Spitting Cobras and Black Mambas and the well known fact that the area was filled with them too I felt it wise to arm myself with a broom!

The space between the ground and the floor level was tight and we had to waddle along on our haunches as the only means to manoeuvre around, first under the one patio then around a corner to get under the kitchen.  There was a little bit of light coming through from outside but we needed out head torches.  Lance at this point kindly informs me that there he could see warthogs had previously lived under the house at some stage pointing to a flat spot where they must have slept.  A fluttering noise from behind me made me turn to look and I was overjoyed to see that there were also bats living under the house, about 50 of them!  For anyone that doesn’t know, bats carry flees, worthogs carry flees flees and bugs love guano and snakes love bats!  So here we were in the dark, humid heat which must have been in the mid-40s minimum in a flee infested area and I was armed with a broom!  We were only under the house for about 15 minutes but came out as if were had spend an hour in a sauna!  Unfortunately even after an hour (Lance went down by himself the second time and there weren’t any snakes) we couldn’t fix the electrics and Clayton, Tristan and I had to start heading back to Ballito.

Note to self – next time I see Lance I must ask him if he got the electrics sorted

14th May ’17 – Nice breakfast in a hidden little gem, the Stour Space Cafe – nice portions, great coffee (strong) and excellent views.  The area is also filled with graffiti and has a bit of a bohemian feel to it too.

Batnomad Travel Diary Batnomad Travel Diary

After breakfast, and due to a recommendation from our waiter, we (Brent, my brother, Roxi, my sisterr-in-law and I) headed off to Columbia Road; flower market, market, cool shops and pubs.  I’d not heard of Columbia Road Market before and 15 years ago large parts of East London were definite not destinations to go for a walk; not because of danger, just because there was nothing to do there and the area was in dire need of attention after been neglected for who knows how many years.  Well, what a cool little place, fantastic vibe and shops, not just Columbia Road but the whole area. The weather was good and in London that always makes a huge difference and brings the crowds out too.  Very metropolitan area and really reminded me why I like London so much, and just goes to show you can never stop exploring, finding great things to do and awesome places to visit in London.

Batnomad Travel Diary Batnomad Travel Diary Batnomad Travel Diary

 

 

 

 

 

Forgot about Mother’s Day  (in South Africa it’s on a different day to the UK) – feel rather guilty at not sending my mom anything.  Need to do better.

 

The beginning

At the beginning of 2017 I headed to South Africa from the UK where I had been living for almost 20 years.  In part it was to have a bit of a holiday but also to spend some time with family and friends. In addition to this I had decided to base myself out of South Africa as it’s cheaper so I wanted to buy a little apartment which I could rent out when away, the decision was Ballito in Kwazulu-Natal.  I found a property within walking distance from the sea and hope to complete the deal withing the next 2 months, fingers crossed.

 

Batnomad

Batnomad Travel Diary

 

 

 

 

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