On Fire with Excitement – 5 of the Best Travel Times

1: The first best day of my life had nothing to do with travel apart from a short train trip to the MCG and was to eventually pale into total insignifigence. Go back to September 1975. I got off the train at Windsor station to walk home thinking the world is perfect. North Melbourne had just won their first ever flag and I was in heaven. I still have great memories of Schimma, Greigy etc etc but how unimportant in the overall meaning of life are they now. I loved the footy and North even more so. How easily we are brained washed at birth. Luckily things got better. Although ignorance is always bliss also as they say.

2: As someone who stayed home for the most part when on annual leave I was 38 when I decided to drive from Melbourne to Cairns and back over three weeks. Firstly it opened my eyes to parts of Australia I knew nothing about.  Outback towns in NSW now fascinate me.  They say if you havn’t got something good to say about a place you should say nothing.  OK.   Then to Cairns where I had the first great travel day of my life.   After doing a bungy jump on my way to Port Douglas which by the way I still cannot explain why I did it, it was a day on a boat to see the Great Barrier Reef. A group of tourists and crew set out on a Catarmaran and all day was just sensational.  Coffee and Anzacs were served.   Sitting on deck was just amazingly exciting and relaxing at the same time. Then we put on the aqualung and with hand held  I did what is called a tourist dive.  Fish, coral and a giant clam later it was one of the best days in my life.  Lloyd Bridges I was calling myself. Does it get any better than this I wondered?

3: A few years later it was off to Africa for the first real adventure. During that fabulous five weeks it was leaving Maun in Botswana with legs dangling outside the truck that i was again on fire with excitment.  Twenty of us were having such a great time on the overland truck with three fantastic crew I was overcome with the feeling of how lucky I was to be there.

Nearing the end of the five weeks we all went white water rafting below Victoria Falls down the Zambezi river with Shearwater. A number of boats travel together through these massive rapids. Guido from Belgium went in a boat where he had to row with a small oar. I choose a boat with only one oarsman where the rest of us just held on.  Hence he was the Belgium Fool and I was the Aussie Coward being the only Male on our ten person boat. What a fantastic day was had by all. It does indeed get better than the reef. One giant rapid flipped us over like a fried egg and we were pulled under the water while all still holding on with the white knuckle death grip until our life jackets popped us up again with adrenelin  going full tilt. The trip with Guerba would influence my life forever. 11 out of 10 for the perfect score they were. Lions, rhino, elephants en masse and numerous other animals plus the Namib desert the worlds largest meteor and poppa falls ( possibly the worlds smallest water fall), before lastly standing on top of Victoria falls feeling again ever so lucky to be there and realising I was now addicted to travel. And Heather and myself became expert rubbish holes creators. Others were taking photo’s by trips end of the perfect hole dug out of concrete like ground. What a fabulous time.

Footnote: 1. When i returned to work I showed a workmate photo’s of lions eating a baby elephant. That’s cruel she said; Why dont THEY feed them?  She is probably very rich now and still working and will never know anything else. How sad.

2. Showing photo’s to my brother of the worlds biggest sand dunes in Namibia I was also told I took them at Rosebud Beach.

4: 1996;  After 18 months in S.E. Asia it was time for Nepal and three weeks which I would now say is the best thing i have ever done. Annapurna Base Camp or ABC. If you want animals go to Africa and for mountains it’s Nepal. The friendly people in both places are worth more than a passing mention also.  So trekking up to ABC was not only the hardest thing i may ever do but also the most rewarding. No words can describe the beauty of the mountains. Before i did this i was like many others who could never understand why people wanted to climb mountains.  Well i only trekked to base camp but I now understand exactly why. Ask anyone who has done this and they all say the same thing. Going over 4,000 metres was only half way to where the climbers go but still sensational. At base camp you look back down the valley and never tire of looking at it. Look up to the top of Annapurna and it looks like it’s a stones throw away when it is actually another 4,000 metres away. Playing scrabble after a hards day walk with other trekkers was a great way to relax also. Or play shithead if you wish also. Dahl baart replenishes the petrol tank also. Back home in Australia and I boast of doing this. Alas the same people who want the lions fed have never heard of the Annapurna mountains. So i must get back to Nepal one day to do Everest base camp. An American doctor who trekked with me and  who had done Everest once replied when I asked him which was harder?  “both the same as they only go up” Air thinner on Everest as you get higher is the big difference he continued.

5: Cambodia 2009.  One of the most enjoyable single days of travel.

I had been to Angkor Wat before but now with Baktrax i had customers with the day at the complex with a local guide.  I had met Grant and Julia in the Gecko bar in Bangkok and we crossed paths in Siem Reap. I wanted to visit some of the other attractions so we teamed up with another Aussie girl who was first time overseas. Big first up destination I said to her.  Have a good Kmere friend in melbourne she said so why not. So we hired a Tuk Tuk and driver and set off for some of the lesser known temples.  So it was the smaller temples of Banteay Srei,  Banteay  Samle and the land mine centre. But what we looked forward to the most was the River linga’s. These carvings in a river bed looked fantastic in guide book photo’s. Little did I know that it was an Annapurna type trek to reach them and thirteen years later I wasn’t as fit and agile as i was. And no snow to cool down, only heat and humidity to make the short walk as hard as the Nepal mountains. An hour or so later i made it to the Linga’s. Puffing and totally exhausted but very happy i got there. Sadly unlike the mountains the carvings will go down as one of the most boring things I have ever seen let alone trekked to.  We all agreed on that one. The two temples were great even though we were attacked by giant green ants at the last one. The mine centre showed the barbarity of those evil things also. So overall because of the company and circumstances one of the most enjoyable days of my life.

With my bad knees i had even more trouble coming down from the river so luckily I had Grants large shoulder to lean on all the way down meaning  30 minutes rather than 100 or more on my own. He still demands I buy the beer every time we have cross paths  since and I recognise him.  Hopefully in K.L. again soon which is always a great day in the economy food centre listening to the Limbo rock or similar with a Carlsberg.

TOUR 32 – (S); Centuries in Cambodia: Small Group Tour

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