Monday, 21 May 2012

This is my life

When you travel for an extended period of time, you do a surprising amount of mundane things.  When spending hours and hours on uncomfortable journeys or wondering when there will be a clean room with hot water again, you can forget why this travelling lark was such a great idea.  But then suddenly you realise that you are having one of those "Wow, this is my life and I'm living it!" moments.  Some are high-adrenalin but others are more contemplative.  As a conclusion to my trip, here are some of the selected highlights of when I sat back, grinned and thought... "Yes, this is why I'm here".

  • Arriving into Istanbul by train, the Bosphorus glistening in the early morning sunshine.
  • Exploring Syrrhus archeological site in northern Syria - just me, John, our driver and a French archaeologist
  • The locals' hamam in Damascus -  the building was 800 years old and no English was spoken
  • Enjoying the silence and solitude of the hiking trails of the Dana National Reserve in Jordan
  • Spending an hour with the Sabyinyo gorilla family in Rwanda
  • Serengeti Balloon ride, lying waiting for the balloon to tip upright and take off
  • Driving through the early evening sunshine in the Serengeti, head out of the top of the jeep scanning the "endless plains"
  • Helicopter ride (front seat) over Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • Okavango Delta, Botswana - being poled through the reeds on a hot day
  • Listening to the lions roaring at night at the campsite waterhole in Etosha National Park, Namibia
  • Standing at the Cape of Good Hope - the south-western most point of Africa and a long way from London
  • Eating fresh fish and drinking cold beer all afternoon at the fish market in Maputo, Mozambique
  • Attempting, and failing, to cross the Lowari pass (northern Pakistan) by jeep in the dark, due to landslides.
  • Stepping off the side of the hill at Sarangkot to (tandem!) paraglide above Pokhara, Nepal
  • Enjoying the majesty of the Himalayas, in particular the Annapurna mountain range from the viewpoint just below Poon Hill
  • Lying in the meditation room at Sadhana Yoga, watching the paragliders against the deep blue sky
  • Gazing at Mount Everest on the overland journey (Friendship Highway) from Kathmandu to Lhasa
  • Idling away my time on Koh Rong island off the Cambodian coast.  Swim, eat, read, snooze, swim, read, eat, take a stroll, swim, beer, eat, play cards, sleep...
  • The wind in my hair on the back of an Easy Rider motorbike for five days from Dalat to Danang, Vietnam
  • Crossing the Gokteik Viaduct in northern Burma; standing at the open door at the end of the carriage
  • Watching the sunset from the top of the ferry while travelling down the Irrawaddy River from Katha to Mandalay
  • Pathein to Chaung Tha in Burma - sitting in the front seat of the bus watching chickens being  thrown up to an empty wicker basket
  • Watching the leopardess teach her cubs to hunt a wild boar in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
  • Enjoying the view from Ella's Rock over the tea plantations in Ella, Sri Lanka after the long tough climb.
  • Watching the fishermen haul in their catch on Uppuveli Beach (near Trincomalee, Sri Lanka), with a cold beer in hand

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