ways of thinking

So, what’s it worth ?

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”.

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The best thing to order is what they’ve got

We were on a tour through Ethiopia soon after the summer rains, and much of the country we saw was covered in a green pointillist haze for the time being. We were in Bahar Dar, a substantial town on the edge of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. A normally wide and shallow outflow within walking distance of our lakeside hotel allowed us a view of the waters at the start of their long journey through Ethiopian gorges until debouching onto the lower lands of Sudan, at Khartoum, where our Nile joins the White Nile, already well travelled from Lake Victoria. From there the combined waters would irrigate an intermittent strip of habitation until reaching Egypt where the population crowded around the river as far as the Mediterranean. Read more . .



Money for nothing and your chicks for free ! (apologies to Dire Straits !)

The notion that working as a tour leader is one long paid holiday has in fact a proportion of truth in it, but only a relatively small one, comments Bob Cranwell. You do get to go to some fabulous places, many of which you might never have got to under your own steam. You do get an influx of 12-24 people into your life every few weeks – people who by and large, are intent on having a good holiday, seeing and doing new things. Read more . .



Do you see what I mean ?

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.

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Christmas in Madras 1987

As might have been expected, India burst in on me like a storm. Sometimes it’s the proverbial wall of heat when you’re coming off the plane, or the overwhelming chaos of rank and sweet smells and eye-jarring colours, but most often for me it’s the milling mass of humanity which ambushes you. 

madras_map_1862
Madras Map 1862

 

I’d read somewhere, (I think it was in Trevor Fishlock’s brilliant compendium of essays called India File), that the elephant god Ganesh, or the Taj Mahal in Agra are usually seen as emblematic of India, but the true motif of India is the crowd.

 

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Carry on Doc !

Well I’ve been in the hospital for a few days; – it’s my first time, stopping in. Previously I’ve only visited to get x-rays, scans, and enjoyed one day stands with broken or cut bits. This time I’m hoping for a car bumper sticker like Alexi Sayle used to talk about – “I’ve been to hospital !” Read more . .


Swat, Pakistan

We arrived at Saidu Sharif which was the terminus, because it was the local office of the PTDC – (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation), also the poshest hotel in Swat. Despite the manager offering us discounts, saying breakfast and heating free, it was still Rs 220 – three times the price we wanted to pay. Read more . .






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