Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh


So this week I’ve put together another gallery, with different ideas I get from the word ‘fresh’.

 

Below we’ve got fresh ingredients from street markets in SE Asia, a freshly chopped coconut in Fiji, fresh water fun, fresh faced, a refreshing blended iced green tea latte, freshly dyed skeins of silk, freshly made felt, fresh flowers as an offering and a freshly prepared (by me) meal.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/fresh-2/

You took a white orchid and you turned it blue.


While I was in Melbourne, the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show was on.  It’s like Chelsea but without Titchmarsh, what would be not to like?

I bought myself a ticket, the weather held out and I took some pictures of the beautiful flowers and displays that were on show. 

Since I have limited picture upload on here, I’ve put together a flickr album with some of the highlights, so if you’d like to take a look, follow the link!

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It’s life Jim, but not as we know it…


I’m aware how slack I’ve been, so let’s have some retrospective mini-ish posts while I wait for my washing to get done here at the Base Hostel in Wanaka, New Zealand.

 

A little over 6 weeks ago I landed in Melbourne and started my Australian sightseeing by taking a trip to Melbourne Museum.

 

I had a few great surprises there.  Firstly, because I have a student ID card, I got in for free! Brilliant, there’s nothing more I love than free entry to museums.  It’s something that we have in Britain, but not everywhere else has the same great opportunity.

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What a piece of work is man


Warning: This post contains images and information you should find disturbing and upsetting.

I took GCSE history and in that we covered world events that took places from 1945 to 1989, essentially The Cold War but we focused on Britain, the USSR and America, because there’s a lot to fit in in a short amount of time.  We skimmed over the Korean War, Vietnam War and learned nothing about the Khmer Rouge and their treatment of their own people.  Why is this?  Perhaps, again, it’s a case of time constraints, perhaps it’s because Britain wasn’t overly involved and if it doesn’t contain our own, we don’t really care.  We have too much going on of our own.

For example, news reports.    Whenever there is a disaster of some kind, for example a plane crash, the report might say something like ‘Two hundred and eighty seven people were killed in the crash, including 4 Britons, 2 Americans and 1 Australian…’ Now I know that the fact that British  people died will be important information for their families, but I feel that by pointing out the nationalities of 7 people makes it seem that the other 280 don’t count, they aren’t worth mentioning further but now that we know our countrymen were affected, we’ll sit up and listen.

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Taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t what do I find?


“Taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t
What do I find?
The things I got will keep me satisfied
Checking up on what I have and what I haven’t
What do I find?
A healthy balance on the credit side
Got no diamond
Got no pearl
Still I think I’m a lucky girl
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Got no mansion
Got no yacht
Still I’m happy with what I got
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Sunshine 
Gives me a lovely day
Moonlight 
Gives me the Milky Way
Got no checkbooks
Got no banks
Still I’d like to express my thanks
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
And with the sun in the morning 
And the moon in the evening
I’m all right”

I Got the Sun in the Morning – Irving Berlin

 

It’s the last couple of days in Asia before heading off to Australia and so it’s time to take stock a little.

I’ve been to 5 countries, 2 of them only very briefly, taken thousands of photos, eaten tasty food, been to waterfalls, museums,temples and churches (so far I’ve covered lots of Buddhist, Taoist, Catholic and Protestant Churches, Hindu and been outside a couple of Mosques) grave sites, learned to dive, been caving, visited a school, stumbled upon a photography festival and a national protest, met an actor, had massages and pedicures (and one failed manicure), avoided being sick on boats, buses, trains and planes, not been sun burnt (quite an achievement I can tell you) met some lovely people and only a few who were dicks.

I’ve also ticked some more off the cities list.

 

Australia and New Zealand will be a different experience because for the most part I’ll be with people I know and I’ll also get to go to some music festivals, and I do love taking photos of musicians at work.  I might even get to do some singing too!

Lonely Planet Top 200 Cities

001 Paris, France  
002 New York City, USA
003 Sydney, Australia
004 Barcelona, Spain 
005 London, England 
006 Rome, Italy
007 San Francisco, USA
008 Bangkok, Thailand
009 Cape Town, South Africa
010 Istanbul, Turkey
011 Melbourne, Australia
012 Hong Kong, China
013 Kathmandu, Nepal
014 Prague, Czech Republic (2013) 
015 Vancouver, Canada
016 Buenos Aires, Argentina
017 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
018 Berlin, Germany
019 Jerusalem, Israel & the Palestinian Territories
020 Montreal, Canada
021 Edinburgh, Scotland
022 Venice, Italy
023 Hanoi, Vietnam
024 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
025 Singapore, Singapore

026 Tokyo, Japan
027 Florence, Italy
028 Dublin, Ireland 
029 Mexico City, Mexico
030 Krakow, Poland
031 Toronto, Canada
032 Cairo, Egypt
033 Budapest, Hungary 
034 Chicago, USA
035 Havana, Cuba
036 Madrid, Spain  
037 Munich, Germany
038 Athens, Greece
039 New Orleans, USA
040 Vienna, Austria
041 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
042 Marrakesh, Morocco
043 Sarajevo, Bosnia & Hercegovina
044 Seville, Spain
045 Kyoto, Japan
046 Las Vegas, USA
047 Perth, Australia
048 Shanghai, China
049 Los Angeles, USA
050 Lisbon, Portugal

051 Stockholm, Sweden
052 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
053 Damascus, Syria
054 Luang Prabang, Laos
055 Seattle, USA
056 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
057 St.Petersburg, Russia
058 Cuzco, Peru
059 Dubrovnik, Croatia
060 Delhi, India
061 Moscow, Russia
062 Salvador da Bahia, Brazil
063 Beijing, China
064 Helsinki, Finland
065 Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India
066 Santiago de Chile, Chile
067 Fes, Morocco
068 Auckland, New Zealand
069 Manila, Philippines
070 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
071 Chiang Mai, Thailand
072 Varanasi, India
073 Cartagena, Colombia
074 Zanzibar Town, Tanzania 
075 Innsbruck, Austria

076 York, England 
077 Mumbai, India
078 Hamburg, Germany
079 Oaxaca City, Mexico
080 Galway, Ireland
081 Siena, Italy
082 Esfahan, Iran
083 Wellington, New Zealand
084 Ljubljana, Slovenia
085 Seoul, South Korea
086 San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico
087 Taipei, Taiwan
088 Tallinn, Estonia
089 Lhasa, Tibet
090 Bled, Slovenia
091 Hobart, Australia
092 Jaipur, India
093 Brussels, Belgium
094 La Paz, Bolivia
095 Quebec City, Canada
096 Valparaiso, Chile
097 Naples, Italy
098 Memphis, USA
099 Heidelberg, Germany
100 Dhaka, Bangladesh

101 Amman, Jordan
102 Monaco, Monaco
103 Washington DC, USA
104 Quito, Ecuador
105 Christchurch, New Zealand
106 Glasgow, Scotland
107 Muscat, Oman
108 Panama City, Panama
109 Dakar, Senegal
110 Bratislava, Slovakia
111 San Sebastian, Spain
112 Bern, Switzerland
113 San Juan, Puerto Rico
114 Aleppo (Halab), Syria
115 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
116 Riga, Latvia
117 Asmara, Eritrea
118 Kabul, Afghanistan
119 Bath, England
120 Copenhagen, Denmark
121 Macau, China
122 Sofia, Bulgaria
123 Hoi An, Vietnam
124 Marseille, France
125 Zagreb, Croatia

126 Manchester, England 
127 Antigua, Guatemala
128 Reykjavik, Iceland
129 Yogyakarta, Indonesia
130 Carcassonne, France
131 Lubeck, Germany
132 Tel Aviv, Israel
133 Hiroshima, Japan
134 Mendoza, Argentina
135 Nairobi, Kenya
136 Beirut, Lebanon
137 Vilnius, Lithuania
138 Montevideo, Uruguay
139 Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
140 Arequipa, Peru
141 Bucharest, Romania
142 Apia, Samoa
143 Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro
144 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 
145 Kyiv, Ukraine
146 Bukhara, Uzbekistan
147 Male’, The Maldives
148 Caracas, Venezuela
149 Tirana, Albania
150 Suva, Fiji

151 Tiblisi, Georgia
152 Agadez, Niger
153 Ushuaia, Argentina
154 Kampala, Uganda
155 Bogota, Colombia
156 Bridgetown, Barbados
157 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
158 Abuja, Nigeria
159 Christiansted, US Virgin Islands
160 San’a, Yemen
161 Livingstone, Zambia
162 Alexandria, Egypt
163 Belfast, Northern Ireland
164 Savannah, USA
165 Nuuk, Greenland
166 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
167 Johannesburg, South Africa
168 Kairouan, Tunisia
169 Austin, USA
170 San Salvador, El Salvador
171 Cardiff, Wales
172 Minsk, Belarus
173 Thimphu, Bhutan
174 Khartoum, Sudan
175 Anchorage, USA

176 Mecca, Saudi Arabia
177 Aswan, Egypt
178 Yerevan, Armenia
179 Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
180 Georgetown, Malaysia
181 Maputo, Mozambique
182 Baku, Azerbaijan
183 Belize City, Belize
184 Essaouira, Morocco
185 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
186 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
187 Pyongyang, North Korea
188 Lahore, Pakistan
189 Cayenne, French Guiana
190 Almaty, Kazakhstan
191 Mombasa, Kenya
192 Valletta, Malta
193 Antananarivo, Madagascar
194 Miami, USA
195 Bamako, Mali
196 Saint-Denis, Reunion
197 Granada, Spain
198 Beira, Mozambique
199 Madang, Papua New Guinea
200 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Wade in the water – goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes


My trip to Laos was brief and, on the whole, brilliant, barring the scam fiasco of the last day in Luang Prabang.

I wish I’d managed to see a little more of the country and spend more time with the locals, but I didn’t quite realise how much time I’d spent in Thailand, not really doing much.  But there you are, you learn and I’ll be planning the rest of the trip a little bit more than just ‘ah I’ll go there next…’

The main impressions that I have of Laos are:

  • mountains, mountains and more mountains.  Covered in forests and jungle, long twisting roads passing through linear villages with small children walking to school, even smaller children playing by the side of the road.
  • the misty vistas that ideas of Asia bring to mind.   Mountains looking like torn tissue paper, fading off into the distance.
  • A father having a waterfight with his son as we drove past, the child giggling in delight.
  • Friendliness of strangers (mostly) offering directions, tips for good food options.
  • Resourcefullness and hard work ethic.  People were selling items made from the shells dropped during the ‘American War‘, flowers and peace signs shaped from the metal and destruction brought by American bombers.  I had no idea that Laos had been affected so badly, I’ll certainly be reading more about it in the coming weeks.
  • Water, water everywhere…

In Luang Prabang the main feature of the surrounding landscape is the Mekong River, winding it’s way past the city, conjoining  with the Nam Khan and in the evening you can sit and watch the sunset over the river.

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Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch…


One of the things I discussed with my counsellor was that I’m too trusting.  I like to see the good in people and I don’t always notice when they are trying to screw me over. 

Well today I very nearly got caught in a scam thanks to my trusting nature. Now I know what you’re going to say, that I’m travelling alone and should be a bit more wary, but once I was in the following situation I did click on to what was going on. I do feel a bit stupid, but don’t worry, I’ll not be falling for this sort of thing again.

Scams are rife in this area of the world unfortunately and I’ve made sure that I’ve read through the common ones in the guide book.  Don’t fall for cheap overnight bus trips, they will steal your stuff.  Don’t agree to hire a driver for a cheap amount for a ‘personal tour’ as you’ll get harangued into buying jems and silver that you don’t want. 

What I didn’t expect was to almost be caught up in a gambling scam.

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Invocation and Instructions to the Audience


One of the fun things when travelling around on your own with very little money is staying in hostel dorm rooms.

My current room in Chiang Mai has 6 beds, well sort of beds.  There’s a raised platform with six mattresses on, separated by some interesting MDF frames with curtains hanging from them for a little privacy.  It’s alright and there is an interesting carousel of people coming and going.  Different ages, nationalities (all female in this room, but in Bangkok and Koh Tao I stayed in mixed dorms). 

 

I think I’ve manged not to annoy people too much.  I mean no-one has told me that I’ve pissed them off and some have stayed in touch.  I’ve tried to keep all my crap roughly in one place, use my headphones whilst listening to the radio or watching something.  I haven’t had any smelly food or anything.  I think I’m probably doing ok. 

 

There do seem to be some unspoken rules though:

When you meet someone you have to ask the following questions:

  • Where are you from?
  • How long have you been travelling?
  • Where have you been and where are you going next?

If you remember to you might also ask their name, but that seems to bee coming half way through a conversation most of the time in an ‘Oh, I’m Ellie by the way!’ ‘Yeah! I’m….’

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Oh dear me, the mill’s going fast


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I spent most of my day wandering around museums and markets  My plan was to head out of the old city of Chiang Mai and have a look around the Textiles Museum in the Old Cultural Centre.  Unfortunately, after spending an hour and a half looking for it, stopping for my new favourite drink at a coffee shop called ‘3 way coffee love’, I found that it was shut so headed back into town for a visit to the Lanna Folklife Museum. 

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Not drowning, but waving


When I was in the Serengeti last March/April time Joe, the Yr 5 teacher, came up with a game to keep us amused.  Any time another safari car came by you had to wave at the occupants of the car.  Easy enough you would think, but the game was to keep on waving for as long as you could, beyond the comfortable limits of being polite.  You won if you managed to wave for the longest time, especially if the others waved back.  If they didn’t they were normally termed ‘miserable bastards’ and waved at anyway with a fixed grin on our faces.  It was like a car version of this:

 

Long car journeys when I was small always involved waving at other travellers, people in coaches, other children trapped in the back of cars being dragged by their parents to god-knows-where and, of course, truckers.  You were most successful if you got a trucker to honk their horn at you as you drove past.  Sometimes this would be accompanied by Dad’s truck driving country song mix tape.  Later, in our battered space cruiser, the Fairport Convention album ‘Glady’s Leap’ got stuck in the tape player and so was on repeat for about 3 years.  When I hear this song, I can still picture myself staring out of the moon roof, trying to count stars as we went Driving In The Dark. 

 

I’ve been playing the waving game a little bit since getting here.  It’s one of the things I do to entertain myself when I’m plodding around on my own.  It seems to work well on boats, although everyone else gives up a little quicker than I do, but then they don’t know we’re playing.  If they did, they’d probably try a little harder. 

 

What I have noticed in most of the places I’ve been to, around the UK, Western Europe, Tanzania, Kenya and now Thailand, is that children still delight in getting a wave out of strangers driving or sailing by.  In Tanzania, children would rush to the sides of the road waving frantically, on the motorways of France, Spain and Germany they press their faces up against their car windows, hands madly shaking back and forth.  In Thailand there’s a mixture of the two, kids by the side of the road, perched on scooters, in the front of pick up trucks.  And anywhere you go you are greeted with huge smiles.  If only we were by more adults. 

Dreams of breathing underwater


The first film I remember seeing at the cinema was when I was 5 years old. It was Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  I was amazed by it, immediately decided I wanted red hair like Ariel.  We went to McDonalds and I got an Ursula toy with my Happy Meal. It was 1989.

Some time not long after I was amazed to see the video in Ritz (as it was then, don’t think it had become a Blockbusters, or indeed a cafe at that point) and begged Mum to buy it for me so that I could re-live that magical underwater world at home.  Mum said no.  It wasn’t the film.  I disagreed, it had Ariel on the front and I could definitely read the words ‘Under the Sea’ there too.  Mum said it wasn’t, it was just in the cinema. I disagreed and must have pestered er for ages because somehow I acquired that video.  Of course it wasn’t The Little Mermaid, it was ‘Sing-a-long Songs Under the Sea‘ which did feature some of the Little Mermaid soundtrack, but also other vaguely water related Disney songs including one from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in which Kirk Douglas seems to be telling his shipmates about some sort of dalliance with a fish or two.  Mr Jim Causley has been known to do an amusing cover of this if you ever get the chance to see/hear it.  Ask him nicely.

My obsession with TLM grew and I was exceptionally jealous of my cousin Rebecca because she had an Ariel doll.  I even used to pretend to be Ariel when swimming at Brackley Pool – the pool has two sets of steps in the shallow end, if you swam around underwater, legs together because you are a mermaid with a tail, singing ‘Part of your world‘ to yourself and timed it right you could push yourself up the steps, breaking out of the water at just the right point to recreate the iconic waves/big stone moment.  To me, I was definitely a ginger mermaid, to everyone else I must have looked mental.

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One night in Bangkok (so far)


‘Bangkok, Oriental setting
And the city don’t know that the city is getting’  Chess

It probably does actually.  The original lyrics are about a chess game between Russia and America at the height of the cold war.  That’s far more dramatic than the sleepy arrival of an increasingly pink English person.

It’s my first day here, it’s 20 past eight and soon I’ll be heading back to bed.  I hadn’t managed to sleep much on the flights, I got maybe two hours altogether. So there was a long taxi ride, got dropped off on the wrong road, so had a little wonder around the busy streets asking bemused looking Thai people to direct me to the right road.  Eventually I got here, had a sleep, a shower and then went off for a walk around the city.

I dozed off on the plane watching Philidelphia (Jet Airlines has a Denzel Washington special video list) and this was what greeted me as I woke up.

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Further along this was the sunrise:

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Obviously there’s a lot of political unrest at the moment.  There are protests, elections being disrupted, people being hot, so I am quite wary as a lone female traveller, but not really any more so than I would anywhere else. One guy was trying to encourage me to go with him to the tourist information as he would get some money from the government for taking me, but the tourist information is near the parliament where it’s all going on, so I politely told him no.

I took a walk to the river, got some street food – two skewers of unidentified meatballs and two of barbequed squid with a spicy dipping sauce in a plastic bag.  It was really tasty, but not great if you don’t like spicy food.  But then if you don’t like spicy food, maybe you shouldn’t come to Thailand.

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I bought my ticket for the boat and waited on the floating pontoon.  There I met 4 English girls on their own adventure – Fiona, Lily, Kate and Laura (Sorry if Laura’s not actually called Laura.  Really should have written things down!)

Lily has eagle eyes and spotted someone who may or not be famous.  He is.  I took a sneaky picture, as you do, then he and his friends headed our way and he got chatting.  He’s been bitten by a lizard and suggested making sure that we head to a decent elephant place when we go north.  And because it’s what I do, I got myself a picture.  So here you might recognise Dominic Monaghan from Lord of the Rings and Lost.  I’ll ignore the fact that I look like a beetroot.  I’m acclimatizing.

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The sun was setting s the boat headed down the river so no great pictures yet, but I’m going to take it again tomorrow morning on my way to the Siam Museum, The Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And I’m standing on a platform,


…and now I’m staring from a plane. 

And all the trees roll back beside but I’m so oblivious
To the dark, to the light, it’s all the same


And it makes me fly

 

Apologies to The Sundays

 

Well I’m nearly off.  Was a bit stressed this morning heading to the airport.  I’ve realised I’m wearing almost exactly the same clothes as I did to fly to Tanzania, but this time I’m on my own.  And they’re calling me to board….