In the slightly rising gloom outside I could hear a muffled coughing and grumbling, and the background clatter of hooves on the road nearby. As I had so many times before, I dragged myself out of bed in the dark and tried to wake myself to appear as if I knew what I was doing. What followed was quite an eye-opener.
Hungary, through many eyes, is a country of extremes. It lies on the fringes of Europe, unlike most European countries it is landlocked, and commonly experiences scorching heat in the summer and tree-cracking cold in winter. The Hungarian language is also one of a kind with no near relations; this allows a defensive impenetrability, but engenders a cultural homogeneity almost like that of Israel.
Lumpy air buffeted the plane as we coasted over a choppy looking sea and threaded between snowy peaks toward our landing. This was the land that Jack Londonhad brought alive for generations of armchair adventurers; land that offered promise, a sanctuary, a new start for so many, and literally a dead-end for as many more.
In the mid 1990’s I was working for a tour leader for a well-known UK adventure holiday company, leading small groups into the nether regions of Asia and the Middle East. The company wanted to capitalise on the Channel 4 TV series “Beyond The Clouds”, the programme name referencing a mistranslated “Yunnan” (South of the Clouds), a province of southwest China. Read more . .
The question of value, and of values, can often be highlighted by travel in countries with which we may only have a passing acquaintance. The commonest example of this disparity is when people part with money willingly. It stands to reason, I think, that when people dive out of a tour bus in a small town to get a few bits of fruit or whatever from the market; one, you’re a stranger to local prices; two,Europeans are usually unversed in haggling over prices; three, whatever you’re asked for a bunch of bananas e.g. will be still be trifling compared to what you pay at home; four, as a foreigner, you’re likely to be one of the richer people around and therefore fair game for what I like to call “skin tax”.
As an aside (before I’ve even started !), I’ve had an attack of synchronicity – today I got through the post a card from my opticians, reminding me of a sight test due (I have them every year, sometimes more often as I have glaucoma in the family), and also later a brief conversation with a new guy working for Scottish Water who has taken on my old job and my old van, too.
I must have heard this much quoted phrase repeated many times by local guides over my time in the Indian subcontinent, and attributed to various people about a number of different places. I could have looked it up, but hesitate to pin it down; in a way it seems better that the idea can be applied by anyone to that which brings enduring pleasure. Read more . .
…….I had felt there was an option that needed exploring, from my first visit there. Once having climbed high enough above the slippery rocky slopes of the main valley, the ridge offered an excellent high level walk back to the shoulder above the camp, where I knew there was a safe descent, and I set about checking this route out, with a few intrepid walkers. Read more . .
It was in the midst of powerfully absorbing wild scenery and offered a lot of chances to explore, besides the obvious draw of the glacier, and I went off often to find out more and more about the area. Read more . .