OCTOBER 2013Cambodia is a wonderful country to spend 5 weeks in, just moving from place to place with our rucksacs. Of course we had to go to Angkor Wat and the Killing fields, but there is so much more to see. As with other countries in the East, the people were friendly and so helpful.Angkor Wat (Siem Reap) was amazing and we spent several days there going around the park in a Tuk Tuk. Although we did not get a guide, we had our Lonely Planet book with us to read about all the different sites. We then went by boat across Tonle Sap lake to Battambang (Bamboo railway) and onto Phnom Penh by mini van.We enjoyed walking around Phnom Penh, but sad not to see many older people – they were killed by the Khmer Rouge (we both remember seeing some of the troubles on the television). We went first to Prison S21 then on to the killing fields. We went down to the coast to Koh Kong (small boat ride in a very rough sea trip) and to islands Koh Rong – basic but great – and Koh Rong Samloem – very up market and good. Then onto Kampot with visits to a pepper farm to see black peppercorns being grown on vies up poles and brick towers and Bokor Hill Station (the former Royal and French summer retreat). We also spent a few days in the north at Kratie and Sen Monorom.
OCTOBER 2010.Our friends, Gill and Dave had spent time in Laos and after looking at their photos, we decided to book our flight to Bangkok. We then went to Chaing Khong where we crossed the mighty Mekong to Huay Xai in Laos. We took the boat down the Mekong to Luang Prabang (a lovely town). Our travels by bus took us to Phonsavan (Plain of Jars and mine clearance work), Vang Vieng (caves and canoeing), Ban Na Hin (river trip through mountain) Paske, 4000 islands (Don Khon and Don Det with Mekong rapids) and finally over night train from Urbon (Thailand) to Bangkok.We enjoyed our back packing around Laos. It’s a country where not so many British people go, friendly and beautiful. A flight direct to Luang Prabang from Bangkok probably would have been better.
Thailand October 2014We both enjoy the East, so we looked forward to our main holiday in Thailand. Generally we enjoyed the North more than the South. There were many more tourists in the South and we both like to get away from too many from our country.We flew to Bangkok and stayed at the same hotel as we had before, The Asia Hotel, very convenient for the Skytrain and the train from the Airport.We started our holiday with a short bus ride to Kanchanaburi to see the Bridge over the River Kwai (part of the Burma Death Railway). Lots of people. We went to the Thailand Burma Railway museum which was extremely interesting and across the road to the Allied War Cemetery (these cemeteries are very well kept by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission).Our next stay was in Chiang Mai, which we both loved. It is a nice city in which to spend a few days. We organised a driver to take us North for a few days. We had a simply wonderful drive with many bends to Mae Hong Son. While in the North we went to a coffee farm, went in a boat into a cave, Chinese Village, interesting crystal caves, rock paintings amongst other things. We just enjoyed the North for a few daysNext it was a bus to Phayao where we were lucky to see the Light Celebrations ( a very very big festival in Thailand, not to be missed). This mainly involves putting lots of flower decorations and floating them on the river, then thousands and thousands of lantern lights were lit and floated up into the sky, some with sparklers hanging from them. Chiang Mai usually closes the airport the night as the lanterns are dangerous for the planes. We had floats, dancing and lots of other celebrations. A nice town and worth staying in.On to Phrae, a place to be avoided and certainly did not live up to the Lonely Planets.Sukhothai (excellent hotel, Baan-George, with nice pool) was our next and lovely place to stay. We spent the day in the Park with interesting temples – one could ride a bike around or just relax walking round the park. We then had to detour to Mae Sot on the Burma border to extend our visas. We had hoped to cross into Burma and then return after a few hours. No good as the rules had been changed, so after visiting the immigration office and parting with a hefty fee our visas were extended. Back done to Bangkok on overnight bus and then to Don Muang airport for flight to Krabi We went south to Krabi for a few nights by the coast, very touristy and not really our cup of tea. 8 hours in a Minivan took us just South of Bangkok to Prachuap Khiri Khan – possibly one of the best places to stay near to Bangkok as it was very quiet and had a wonderful beach just inside the airport. Relaxing here was great and we could certainly return to this little place. A good holiday enjoyed by both of us.
November/December 2005Some time ago our friend from London Joan brought a young Brazilian girl to stay with us for the weekend – this made us think of going to Brazil for a holiday.We had a very full on holiday with lots of interesting places to see. We started our holiday in Salvador in the North where we hired a car to drive to the town of Lencois (10 hrs away). We have never ever driven on such a dangerous road full of potholes and huge lorries. Ann thought several times we would die and Derek thought he was a Schumacher!! The scenery around Lencois was amazing. Lencois is in the Paque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina, it’s a beautiful part of Bahia in the North East of Brazil. Pretty little town with virtually no tourists. Luckily we met a English speaking Brazilian who told us of a better road back to Salvador .Lencois was famous for alluvial diamondsLocal flight to Manaus the main town in the Amazon. Booked a few days on a boat up the Amazon with 5 others – no beds, just hammocks on deck. We walked in the jungle, slept one night (or tried to ) in hammocks on trees, swam in our clothes, fished for Piranhas with odd bits of meat and enjoyed our experiences. Manaus is not a particularly nice town, but the Opera House is wonderful. Near Manaus we saw the meeting of the two rivers, the Rio Solimoes (white river) and Rio Negro (black river).Our next stop were the Foz do Iguacu Falls. These are simply amazing. We stayed at a very nice hotel, a change after the boat. It was nice to get some clean clothes. We have seen the Victoria Falls but the Iguacu Falls are as good, if not better.Onto Curitiba to meet our friend Giselle who had stayed with us in the UK. It was lovely to see her. We drove the 5 hours to her home town to meet her mother (her parents are divorced) it was an interesting drive, lots of mango trees and sugar plantations. Later we met up with her father and he took us to one of his farms. Walking around a Brazilian farm with Giselle, her father and the two of us seemed almost unreal. Pedro had several farms and travelled about 52,000 miles a year.Back to Curitiba to get our things together as Giselle had arranged for us to go with her sister and husband by train to Paranagua and ferry to Ilha Do Mel. It’s a small island with no cars and very few Europeans. We just relaxed, swam and walked along the sandy virtually disserted beaches. . We were sad to leave but had to get a flight back to Rio.We stayed at a well situated hotel in Rio, went up to the cross on the train, watched the sunset at Pao De Acucar and walked on the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.Flight back to London after another wonderful holiday full of experiences and funny stories.
November/December 2007We started our months holiday in Argentina by flying via Madrid to Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires has a lot of atmosphere with its wide streets, leather shops and general bustle. Also it was interesting to visit the huge cemetery, City of the Dead, where famous Eva Peron is buried.We then flew up to the North, to Salta. Here we enjoyed the large square in the centre of Salta and then we went off to the Tren A Las Nubes (the train in the clouds). At the time we went the train was not running, but perhaps later it will. It’s very high, 4,200 metres, hence train in the clouds. On the way we saw a Gaucho festival advertised, so next day we got a taxi and off we went. It was an amazing festival with 200-300 gaucho’s riding through the streets – very few Europeans around. We hired a car and drove to Cachi and Cafayate. The scenery in the North was fantastic with wonderful rock formations with strands of colours in. We went to the Indian ruins at Quilmes and to a local winery (Cafayate is a large wine growing area).Now it was down towards the South to Barilochi, called little Switzerland with its Swiss style houses, shops full of chocolate and lakes. We also went to El Bolson – Ann wanted to go here to take some photos of hop growing for a film on hops she is hoping to produce. We went round a hopyard and talked, with the help of a young school girl interpreting to the farmer as he spoke no English. It was here also that we booked up for a ride and when we arrived there were just the two of us and a local who took us on a ride through woods and over wide rivers to see condors – quite an experience.Then a short flight to El Calafate so we could visit the Glacier Perito Moreno. The Glacier was amazing and we booked to go on a short walk on it. Putting on crampons was interesting and quite different walking. Laguna Nimez is a good spot for bird watching Our next flight was another local one to Ushuaia at the bottom end of Argentina. We found out here that one could occasionally get a late booking to Antarctica – this we put in our memory bank for another time. You will see from our travels that we did this in 2012. In Ushuaia we went on a trip for a lake side BBQ and saw the damage the beavers had done in the woods. We flew to Puerto Madryn where the Welsh settlers landed in 1886 . We went whale watching, saw the huge colony of Magellanic penguins, the largest 175,000 pairs, sea lions and seals and took a trip to the Welsh settlement town at Gaiman where Welsh is still spoken and taught in the local schools..Eventually it was back to Buenos Aires for our flight home after a very hectic and interesting holiday.
PERU. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 This was an interesting holiday as we spent some time in the more touristy part of Peru and then flew up North to an area where there were far fewer tourists. We started off in Lima where stayed a few days visiting the Catacombs and Pachacmac ( a very large pre inca site). A long bus drive Nasca (flight over the Nasca lines) and onto Arequipa where we spent 2 nights to acclimatize for higher altitude. We soon found we could not walk quickly up the slight slope to the centre. Monasterio de Santa Catalina is well worth visiting. Bus onto Chivay (hot springs) and the Colca Canyon(Condors) going over the top where the altitude is 4,910 meters, busy chewing our coco leaves to wade off altitude sickness. On to Puno by 6 hr bus ride in time for a very large festival with dancing and floats passing through the streets over three nights. We then went by boat on Lake Titicaca to stay on one of the islands in a ‘home stay’. Our travels took us to Cusco, a nice little town but just full of tourists and tourists shops but a staging post to travel towards Machu Picchu. Yes, Machu Picchu is a wonderful and interesting place to visit, just amazing and not to be missed. Onto the North of Peru for stays at Chiclayo (provincial town off tourist trail), Chachapoyas ( Kuelap, the northern answer to Machu Picchu), Pimentel (reed fishing boats and new friendships) and then onto Trujillo Chan Chan sites). The long distance buses in Peru are first class, just like being in business class on a plane.
NOVEMBER 2006The holiday that was booked through Footloose in the UK. On reflection it would have been cheaper to organize the whole trip in Windhoek. We picked up our car in Windhoek and in all drove 2,800 miles visiting different parts of Nambia, the Desert, the Canyon, the coast and the Etosha Game Reserve. The most unpopulated country we have been to and the driving was very easy with so few cars around.
Holiday in Zambia September 2013.SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARKThis was a surprise holiday for Derek for his 60th Birthday. We flew from London to Johannesburg where we stayed with friends from our time of living in South Africa. We then went to the airport – Derek still did not know where we were going, and flew in to Zambia. On the flight I gave him the detail of the holiday I had booked for him. We travelled with a company specialising in holiday where one could walk with guides with guns or drive in vehicles.It was a holiday to remember as in our party we only had one other person. We therefore set off in the morning walking with just the 3 of us accompanied by a guide and a person with a gun for safety. Each night we stayed at different types of accommodation. Walking amongst the game is just fantastic and also a bit frightening when you are walking up a dry river bed trying to follow lions. Not sure who was following who!! I think that Zambia is one of the very few countries which allow walking amongst game.We stayed at the following lodges: Kapani Lodge, Kapni bush camp South Luangwa Valley, Luwi Bush camp, Nsolo Bush camp, Kakuli bush camp, Muchenje camp. South Luangwa ValleyWe hope you will enjoy a few of our many photographs.The photos show some of the accommodation and also the game we saw while walking or driving.
FEBRUARY 2004We decided to go to India with a company called Tiger Trails. When we arrived to start our holiday we were pleased to see that there were only 4 of us. It was a well organised holiday.Our highlights. Staying and driving around Delhi was an eye opener and we would not want to drive ourselves as there was traffic and people everywhere.!! We went to two National Parks, Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh. We were lucky to see quite a few beautiful tigers with fantastic markings. On one occasion we were the only vehicle (some sightings had masses of vans etc.) to see a tiger come out of the bushes with a kill. Our other highlight had to be going to the Taj Mahal, truly a wonder of the world, the Red Fort (Agra Fort) and the Amber Fort (with the elephant ride) at Jaipur. The Taj Mahal was just stunningly beautiful in the early morning.
Derek and Ann’s Travels in India
Southern India – Kelera.November 2019. After some discussion with our friends Dave and Gill we, at short notice, booked to spend 3 weeks in Kelera. We booked 4 nights at the beginning and 3 nights at the end of our trip, the rest was organised while we were there.Highlights of our great trip were:Staying at several different ‘Hometstays’. These are places where one has good rooms and the family give you breakfast and in most cases an evening meal. One tends to meet all the family and they help one to organise trips in the locality, just so helpful and friendly. One learns more about their culture than staying at a good hotel.Other highlights were the tea plantations, bamboo rafting , National Parks and cultural activities..Luckily we had a driver for 2 weeks as the roads and driving were pretty horrendous.
FEBRUARY 2012After our fantastic trip to Antarctica we arrived back in Ushuaia to wonder where next. We decided a get a bus and see a bit of Chile and go into the/ Torres del Paine where they had recently had a fire and a lot of the area was+ devastated. We hired a car and drove around. One day we were driving along when we saw a couple of condors flying above us, THEN more and more. We stopped the car, apart from one car driving off ahead, there was no one. We saw in the distance a kill and so walked towards it and saw masses of condors either sitting on a hill near by or eating the carcass Quite an amazing site (see our photo). As they flew overhead I was a bit worried but Derek reminded me that they only eat dead meat and we were still alive!!! We also drove round the some of the Lakes and the scenery was amazing.We enjoyed our short stay in Chile and would like to go back. Eventually we caught several buses and arrived in Buenos Aries for our flight back to the UK
June 2016.We have been to France many time, especially camping with the children when they were young. In June though, our friends from Cradley, John Claude and Tricia asked us if we would like to spend a week with them at their daughter’s flat in the French Alps at St. Jean D’Alps near Morzine. We said we would love to and decided to make it slightly longer by staying with Ann’s relations in Nice. We had a lovely few days in Nice, then flew to Geneva where we picked up a hired car to drive into the Alps.We were so lucky with the weather and went on several ski lifts to walk and have lunch on the tops. Our highlight was to go on the chair lift to Aiguille du Midi (3842) with wonderful views of Mont Blanc in brilliant sunshine. A few months later we read of how one of the chairs was stuck and people were in them most of the night and eventually rescued by helicopter – thank goodness that was not us.We enjoyed our break with our friends and managed to drive around the area which is simply beautiful. We were also there during the last few days of the BREXIT referendum on the UK place in or out of Europe.Unfortunately we left our camera in the hired car, so we do not have many photos to share.
August/September 2016 Several years ago, we met Jim in Nepal, kept in touch with him and his family who eventually came over to the UK to see us. We decided to visit them in Alaska but knew for them the best time of year would be in August.We had a wonderful few weeks in Alaska, which is a very beautiful State, just wonderful scenery, friendly people and lots to see.Jim and Carolyn made us very welcome in their home and after just one night’s sleep whisked us off to the largest park in Alaska, the Wrangell St. Elias. We visited the old mining town, saw lots of glaciers (Derek walked on one, see photo) and enjoyed the scenery. We then hired a car (at great expense, not cheap in Alaska) and went off on our own to the Denali National Park where we were lucky to see lots of grizzly hears (one just walked alongside the bus), Caribou etc. Denali is a lovely park and well run as visitors just use the allocated buses to get around and on and off where you liked. From Denali we went up to Fairbanks where we swam in some hot springs an visited an ice museum.Mount Denali (the old name is Mount McKinley) is usually only visible a few times a year, we were lucky to see it very clearly while we were in the area. Later we drove to Homer and also to Seward – again lovely scenery. We travelled many miles in Alaska but loved every moment.We then went by air to Sitka where we got on the Alaskan Marine Highway boat down to Bellingham and into Canada. This is by far the best way to travel as it is a local boat and interesting with even tens on board plus dogs in cars below deck. Very local.We had a couple of days in Vancouver which we enjoyed, walking along the side of the large Stanley park and also had a day around the Capalino Bridge.On again, this time via air to our friends living in Grand Rapids. One night with them and they then took us to their cottage on the side of Lake Michigan. Swimming in the lake was like swimming in the sea, waves sand and nothing on the horizon. A few days here, back to Grand Rapids and a good drive to their lodge in the middle of the woods further North. We loved staying the woods which they owned and having BBQ’s outside with deer popping in to watch us.At the end of our 5 weeks in the States we flew down to Philadelphia to stay with our friends from Colwall, Sarah and Simon Marlow for just a night before a flight home (amazing as this flight only had 35 passengers in economy, we could sit anywhere)!!A wonderful holiday, expensive but great.
SWITZERLAND. 2007 Having met Peter and Janine on a diving trip abroad, we were invited to go and stay with them in their house near Basel. We decided to drive the whole way. It was a relaxing holiday as the driving easy and the weather good. It was good to have a few days with our friends. We drove back through the Alsace area, and area hopefully we will go back to.
Derek and Ann’s Travels in Indonesia( North Sulawesi,Wakatobi, Bali and Java)
INDONESIA 2006. North Sulawesi,Wakatobi, Bali and Java. We have dived a number of times in North Syluwasi, possibly our favourite place to dive. In this particular holiday we went to the island of Wakatobi for a weeks diving. On our return home we stopped in Bali for a week and also then flew to Yogokata in Java to see the Borobudur temple, this was an excellent thing to do as we managed to stay in the hotel in the grounds of the temple – this was not booked, just asked the taxi to take us there in the hope of getting in.
NEPAL. NOVEMBER 2008 In 2004 we went to India and while on a train Ann talked to a young person, Shanka and said he would be welcome in the UK anytime, giving our em address on a scrap of paper. 5 years later he contacted us, stayed with us and so we decided to go to Nepal. In Kathmandu was a lovely old city (as I write this, now mostly destroyed). We went on a flight over Everest. Our first game reserve was the more little visited site of Bardia National Park, almost on our own, no electricity. Few birds or animals but village life was interesting, very behind the modern world. Next was a flight to Pokhara with lovely views of the mountains, pretty place. It was here that we picked up our driver for the rest of our holiday. Our first stay was at Tansen, an old town. The scenic drive to Tansen was beautiful. Very few tourists here, which we both like. We drove to Lumbini where Buddah was born and where there were many temples built by different countries. It was soon off to the popular Chitwan National Park where on an elephant ride we saw several rhinos At close quarters. One of our highlights was going on to stay with Shankar’s family in a small village, going with the children to school and walking around the village where there were no other tourists. Now on to Damen which is quite high up with wonderful views of the Himalayas. Our last stop before Kathmandu was at the old town of Bhaktapur with its beautiful old wooden buildings, not so many cars as only locals could enter the city. Kathmandu and home with lots of memories.
2015This was our main holiday. We went to Oman for 3 weeks with our friends Gill and Dave , with whom we have travelled with several times including around Burma (Myanmar). We hired a 4x4 and saw as much of Oman as we could. Oman is an incredible beautiful country with wonderful mountains and lovely valleys full of date palms. We had a lot of fun. Derek and Dave took turns in driving while mainly Gill, looked up in the books as to what we should be seeing. The accommodation was varied but fine. We did not go up too many steep routes, but we did drive up to one village with me wondering whether we would make it or not – needed the 4x4! In another case, we were not allowed up unless we did have a 4x4 due to the steepness of coming down and people having trouble with the brakes.All in all a great holiday as we all travel very well together.
FEBRUARY 2002We stopped here on our way home just for a couple of nights. It was the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war and the flags were out as it was a Public Holiday. Interesting country and certainly we did not see many tourists. The gold souks were amazing and it was here Ann bought a lovely unusual gold necklace which is a favourite.See the few photos below of the gold, fish etc.
JANUARY 2012An unexpected trip of a lifetime. Having been to Ushuaia in Argentina before, we decided to go again in the hope of getting a late booking. We were so lucky as on the first day we were offered a trip to the Falklands and Antarctica, 18 days at half price.It was a bit emotional walking through Port Stanley thinking about our troops in the Falklands War. Going through the ice with the sun shining was magical, especially as we were so lucky with the weather. The boat was not like a smart cruise boat, just a small vessel taking us to various places to get off and walk around the wild life – see our penguin video on this site. Highlights included Falkland Islands, South Georgia (Shackleton walk and thousands of King penguins) and the western part of the Antarctic peninsularWhen we landed back in Ushuaia it was a case of where next – we spent a few days in Chile visiting Puerto Natales and the Torres del Paine National Park where we hired a car for a few days. Our main excitement was walking towards about 20 huge Condors stuffed after eating on a kill. It was then a flight to Argentina where we spent a few days in El Chalten (Walking), then El Calafate (Pink Flamingos) before going back to Buenos Aires for our flight back home.
2012This holiday we decided to go with our friends Dave and Gill as we thought travelling around Myamar could be easier with 4 of us. It was the first time we had travelled together for any length of time and it was very successful. We had to take all our money with us around our waists as there were no ATM and we could only change clean dollars in the banks. The holiday was great fun, interesting but at times hard work particularly in sorting our accommodation and travelling. People were extremely friendly. Most of the women had their faces painted and all the men wore the traditional long longe(like a skirt).
MAY 1999We decided to go to the Phillipines as a family. Derek and I flew from Birmingham, our daughter and boyfriend (now husband) flew from London and our son working in Japan, flew from Tokyo. We all arrived at different times at a hotel in Manilla. We only stayed one night there and that evening Derek went to get some bus tickets. Not a good idea walking around Manilla at night – it was closed!! Next morning we got our tickets and set off on our travels by many buses and boats around the different islands. While on one island James completed his diving qualifications which meant that all five of us could dive. We felt that diving down to 25 metres together was quite an achievement.It was a very successful holiday with lots of different stories to tell. Here I will just let you look at some of our photos which include, in no particular order,1.Us getting ready to go to the island of Camiguin with our diving equipment. I am not sure now (2019) how the island is as they suffered huge storms.2.Drinking Coconuts on the beach3.Chocolate Hills at Bohol.4.Family setting off to dive5.Accommodation6.Beach7.Overnight on a boat trip with cockerel crowing – cock fighting is a major sport.8.Our transport
FEBRUARY 2002Where is Micronesia ? – They are a group of islands including Chuuk, Palau and Yap, in the Pacific.This was one of the best holidays of our life. Our trip out to Chuuk in Micronesia took 48 hours stopping at Kuwaite, Bangkok, Manila, Guam and finally Chuuk sometimes called Truuk.On our flight from Guam to Chuuk we carried a coffin in the hold as it was being brought back to Chuuk.It was a diving holiday. The island has a famous dive site as this is where a fleet of Japanese merchant ships were sunk in a lagoon. We dived on a great many ships (we are sub aqua divers). The ships were not that deep so the diving was easy and very interesting finding your way around the decks with all the pots and bikes etc. still there with the fishes..We then went on to Yapp. A beautiful island where we were garlanded on arrival. More diving and our first sight of huge manta rays, truly a giants of the sea. We went round the men’s houses, stone paths and leant a lot about island and it’s customs.From there is was on to Palau where we had more diving and also had a very close encounter with some sharks, a bit too close as we were in their space Going around Micronesia you have to almost go in a circle as planes fly from island to island all the time.If you ever think of going to Micronesia, I hope you will contact us via our email. Its very off the beaten track but extremely interesting.Do look at our photos which includeThe stone paths in Yap, Stone money used in Yap, remains of a Japanese bomber, the Men’s house, Garlands given on arrival at yap and pictures of Manta rays which we saw.