Archive | July, 2011


26 Jul

"Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving." (Terry Pratchett in “A Hat Full of Sky”)

It’s been nearly four weeks since I got back home… and it’s been strange being static for so long. I’ve been taking time to go through my journal, to look at 10,000 pictures, to create my photo books of the trip, and to reflect on an incredible adventure. I’ve been looking to the future, too – designing products and seminars, and putting the final touches to something that I want to get out into the world in the next couple of days.

I’ve also taken a few days to go up to Edinburgh to decide if that’s where I wanted to go and live… I had a very reflective moment with echoes of my trip to Macchu Pichu in Peru a few years back. As I sat at the peak  of Arthur’s Seat, the peak of the mountain in Holyrood Park, my mind went back to a similar moment several years before….

At the end of the Inca Trail and exhausted from ill-advised consumption of aPeru 237 yucca (vegetarians, take note..don’t do it) and the high altitude adventures above the glacier line, I had arrived at Macchu Pichu. (This picture, which I’ve used in this blog a couple of times, is me climbing to the top of the pass with my companion, Jeremy (since replaced by Tigger and Snuff).

After exploring for a few hours, I decided to climb the mountain that appears in all the photos of Macchu Pichu – Huaynu Pichu, ‘Young Mountain’. Only 150 people were allowed up there each day, and I was number 148. Climbing the mountain was fine.. but the temple perched precariously on the edge made me nervous (I’m happy about the things God puts up high… just not so sure that the things man puts up there will stay there). So I wandered round the back of the mountain before returning (with some trepidation) to the temple on the front face.

Peru 430Peru 485

By this time, everyone apart from the caretaker had gone, and a strange hush had fallen on the mountain. I decided to take a risk (after all, that temple had been there for hundreds of years). I stepped up to the edge, heart in my mouth, and looked out over the city hundreds of metres below.

It’s an incredibly beautiful sight, but something else caught at my heart that dayPeru 479. The Inca civilisation has a reputation of being bloodthirsty and violent – and yet somehow I knew deep inside how the priest-king had felt… how keenly he felt his duty of care and his responsibility, and how much he held his people close to his heart. It could have been my imagination, it could have been the yucca lodged in my gut.. but something spoke very deeply to me that day….

Fast forward to the present day – looking out over the city of Edinburgh spread out below me, I felt something of the same concern for the people – and knew that I needed to be in Edinburgh.

So I’m chasing flats, sorting finances, and getting things arranged for the beginning of September. Another adventure awaits….


The Boys are Back in Town

3 Jul

(and Snuff is back too – but Snuff is a girl. I think.)

It’s been odd, being back – sometimes I am not sure what to do with the time, and other moments I am just grateful that I don’t need to worry about what to do next – how to get from a to b, where to stay, what to do, what to see….

Perhaps it’s a time to reflect on this trip… a time for gratitude, a time to look back and think… bloody hell, I did that..a story told in 10,971 photographs and 184 blog posts; over 20 countries on four continents, on 23 islands, nearly 80 towns and cities, and the same number of hotels….. on a hundred bus rides, boat trips, train rides and plane journeys . .

It’s been an absolutely amazing year…

I’ve sailed under the myriad of islands in Halong Bay, Vietnam.I’ve walked round Uluru in Australia. I’ve sailed Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound.

Halong Bay (43)_thumbUluru From View Platform (3) - Copy_thumbDoubtful Sound (19)_thumbMilford Sound (69)_thumb

I’ve trekked the Tongariro Circuit and climbed Mt Doom. I’ve walked through Mordor. I’ve dived the Great Barrier Reef.. I’ve seen sharks.. I’ve swum with turtles. I’ve poked a stick into a volcano (and cooked a burrito beside molten lava).

Ngauruhoe (5)_thumbTo Oturere Hut (1)_thumb

Turtle (3)_thumbIMG_6503_thumb

I’ve dived into cenotes, swung off ropes into rivers and jumped off the side of boats. I’ve walked through ancient lava fields and sulphur springs.

Cenotes Trip (22)_thumbBumpass Hell (11)_thumb

I’ve meditated in Buddhist temples and joined pilgrims on their journey into enlightenment. I’ve felt the power of transformation under a waterfall and on top of a Mayan pyramid. I’ve been blessed by a Buddhist monk and a Buddhist nun.

 Chichen Itza (8)_thumbPalenque (5)_thumbPalenque (61)_thumbWat Arun (17)_thumbWat Pho (44)_thumbKubum Monastery (101)

I’ve celebrated Christmas in Melbourne, New Year in Adelaide… and Penang… and Phnom Penh.

Kek Lok Si Temple (16)_thumb

I’ve  shared rice wine with the Khmer Rouge. I’ve stood in the shadow of Mount Everest, and climbed the peaks of Kata Tjutu in Oz. I’ve ridden horses with native Americans through Monument Valley, rickshaws in Nepal and travelled on mule driven carts over ancient railway tracks.

 Zion  (7)_thumbMonument Valley Horse Riding (7)

I’ve travelled on bamboo rafts and on elephants in Thailand, on overcrowded boats in Cambodia, on Chinese junks, sleeper buses and trains with extra oxygen.

I’ve watched the sunset over the ocean, over fjords, over mountains. I’ve seen the sun rise over Everest and over the rocks at Halong Bay, over the Great Barrier Reef, the coastline of Fiji and Cambodian islands, the coastline of Cuba, the wide open spaces of the Outback… and so so many more moments when God lit up the sky – thunderstorms I couldn’t capture, moonlit nights and incredibly rich starfields.

Ferrry From Ovalau (20)_thumbSunrise at Asses ears (5)_thumbHavana Sunset (2)_thumbSunset on the Reef (11)

I’ve said hello to red pandas, emus, giant pandas, kangaroos, wallabies, Tasmanian devils, penguins, hawks, koalas, glowworms  and echidnae. I’ve eaten with a native Fijian family and had cashew nuts, mangoes, bananas and coconuts straight off the tree. I’ve eaten fish so fresh I could taste the sea, and food so spicy it took six toffee bananas to calm my mouth down.

Brambuk Centre (2)_thumbCurtin Springs am (3)_thumbWallaby (3)_thumbShanghai Zoo (69)

I’ve slept under the stars in a swag in the Outback, on the deck of a boat in Vietnam. I’ve stayed in a nunnery, a monastery, a prison, a village hut and a yurt, in a cabin over the Mekong and a lodge high in the New Zealand national park.

I’ve been bitten by mosquitos, attacked by leeches and nibbled by sandflies. and yet I’ve stayed well and healthy, and avoided any stomach upsets… and I’ve lost a bunch of weight and got a tan for the first time ever.

I’ve ridden the world’s longest escalator (in Hong Kong), watched the world’s greatest permanent light show (Hong Kong again), stood in the shadow of the world’s highest mountain (Everest) – and the world’s tallest mountain (Hawai’i’s Mauna Kea). I’ve stood on the world’s longest fortification (The Great Wall of China), walked round the world’s largest public square (Tianamen Square)  and swum the world’s largest reef system (The Great Barrier). I’ve ridden the world’s highest railway (Beijing to Tibet) and stood by the world’s highest lake (Nam Tso, Tibet).

HK Skyline (11)Everest (16)_thumb

Mauna Kea (10)Great Wall - Badaling (51)_thumb_thumbTianamen Square (26)_thumb

I’ve walked through lava tubes and crawled through ravines. I’ve climbed to the top of Angel’s Landing and into the depths of the Grand Canyon. I’ve swum in icy volcanic lakes and thermal springs, I’ve swung on ropes over a raging mountain river, I’ve scree-jumped down mountainsides, ridden on elephants and kayaked through island seascapes.

Hike The Canyon (9)_thumbCrater Lake (16)_thumbUp to Angel's Landing (23)Halong Bay (78)

I’ve wept in the face of human savagery and rejoiced in the light of human kindness.  I’ve met wonderful amazing people who have their own story to tell.  I’ve marvelled at incredible dramatic natural beauty and awesome human achievement

12 Apostles (12)_thumbBryce (39)_thumb.Bayon (37)_thumbCrater Lake (14)_thumbKhao Ping Gan (18)_thumbTasman bay Walk (9)_thumb

I’ve sat on top of ancient Mayan temple ruins and heard the voice of the Infinite speak to me. I’ve heard a new heartbeat in the coursing of a waterfall. I’ve got back in touch with myself in a myriad of coffee shops, in miles of walks on pristine beaches, sitting looking out to see on piers and rocky headlands, on tiny islands, on gruelling treks and just shooting the breeze. I’ve done impromptu talks and shared hope with some people who needed to hear it. I’ve danced salsa and jive, blues and ‘just for the hell of it’. I’ve studied Hawai’ian shamanism and New Thought Spirituality, Buddhism and Maya ritual, aboriginal journeytime and Fijian folk medicine. I’ve been a part of a Laos baci ceremony and a summertime Christmas concert. I’ve practiced Tai Chi on the shore of Hong Kong harbour. I’ve walked in the footsteps of the Maya, the Aztecs, the aborigine, the Maori, the Hun and a myriad of ancient peoples.

Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs (14)_thumbBig Buddha (5)_thumbDSCF4521_thumbNananu Pier (1)_thumb


I’ve come back with a new vision, a new understanding of who I am, a new set of beliefs and values, a new and deeper truth. I’ve reconciled my competing world views and started to understand the truth about Personal Evolution and the power to create my world the way I want it.

And deep inside is an incredible gratitude for the opportunity. I’m grateful for my sons for their blessing on their father’s great escapade (and for missing Christmas and a birthday – sorry Davey). I’m grateful for my ex wife storing my stuff and to so many of my friends for offers of places to stay. My thanks to Heather, my recious friend, who helped me see that all this was possible. I’m grateful to my dear friends Yve and Sue for helping me out financially. My brother, Chris, has carefully opened my mail and scanned anything important for me to deal with – what a hero.

And finally, thank you to you all – those of you who have followed my adventures, listened to me rabbitting on and tried to work out why I get so excited. Thankyou for letting me develop my faith – and my writing – through this blog. Thank you to those people who have stayed in touch on Facebook, on email, on text messages – and those who have been thinking about me and praying for me. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

And, finally – the path that led me here wasn’t always comfortable. In fact, it was bloody painful some of the time, full of searing heartache and despondency, of panic and a sense of failure. And yet, in all of that, I have found a new truth, a new faith, and a new understanding of my own self worth. And for that, my thanks go to my Creator for creating this opportunity – for putting the pieces together that enabled me to end up here.

I think I know where the future lies – or at least I have glimpses of the promise that it holds. I’ll let you know more of that over the next few weeks, as it unfolds. But until then – this is where the last adventure took me…. here’s to the next one!

The full itinerary is HERE but in summary – this is where I went….


  • Hawaii (Big Island)
  • Maui
  • Oregon USA
  • USA National Parks Tour
  • Mexico
  • Cuba
  • Fiji
  • New Zealand
  • Tasmania
  • Australia
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Laos
  • Cambodia
  • Vietnam
  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • China
  • Tibet
  • Nepal
  • India

Life on the streets of Mumbai

1 Jul

So much has happened over the last few days that it’s difficult to chronicle it… and it doesn’t come with many pictures either!

I have a slight problem in that my emergency travel documentation expects me to leave India on the 10th of July…. I will be leaving almost two weeks early. So, first off, a trip to the UK embassy in Kathmandu to find out what to do. They suggest a new ETD at a cost of £100. £100 I do not have, yet. I am now very fed up with buying passports and ETDs, so after an afternoon drinking mint tea, I come up with a new plan. I will go to the Indian Embassy and get a transit visa, which will enable me to travel across India… and then I will pray hard that India will let me out, and the UK will let me in. Simples. Or… perhaps not.

So, Tuesday morning finds me at the Indian Embassy, nice and early, to get my visa. No problem – until I tell them I need it by 1pm. They need to see my ticket so they can expedite it (a refreshing change from everyone else, who seem to need to see my wallet before they will do it). I have no ticket. I have a broken laptop and an e-ticket. So I have to rush down the street, convince a copy shop to allow me to plug into one of their monitors so I can print the e-ticket off. Then dash back to the embassy. All is well, and I pick my visa up on the way to the airport.

A flight to Delhi and then the wheels fall off again. My luggage doesn’t turn up on the conveyor – but, on checking my baggage tag – it’s cleared to Mumbai, so it must be being put on the next flight. I check this with the departure staff. “Oh no, you must collect it here”. There follows a complicated retracing of my steps through the airport, accompanied by a member of BA staff who is accompanied by another member of BA staff, whose sole function seems to be to watch the first member of BA staff. At every lift, every door, every escalator we have to present ID or passports to what looks like a series of identically moustachioed Indian soldiers.

My bag is definitely missing (a fact I had advised them of around half an hour earlier). A check reveals that it is, indeed, on the way to Mumbai.

Then, my UK travel agent have screwed up my flight date and although they have corrected it, the printout I have shows the original date. Without a valid piece of paper, I am not allowed on the bus between Delhi domestic and international airports. I need to take a taxi. One minor problem – I do not have the cash for the taxi. A further complication is that my bank seem to have stopped my bank card.  After a somewhat humorous exchange with the staff, who do not have the facilities to allow me to print off the correct piece of paper, one of them gives me the necessary 20 rupees to cover the cab fare. Off to the International airport…. 

Where, unlike any airport I have ever been to (and I have been to a good few over the last 25+ years) – I am not allowed in until three hours before the flight. So I join a huge throng of Indians in spending the night on the streets of Mumbai. I strike up conversation with a motorickshaw driver on his way to Gujurati, and have a phone conversation with his girlfriend who is, apparently, “very fine”. IN a further show of empathy with my Indian companions, I am hungry and thirsty, an effect of not having any money due to using my last rupees on the cab.

Eventually, I am allowed into the airport, and put on my flight to the UK (which is delayed by a couple of hours following a medical emergency. Time to kick back, enjoy several bottles of champagne, a nice meal, and a couple of movies. I watch the scenery unfold beneath me and think back over the last 12 months.


We land at Heathrow to an incredible rainbow, which seems to me to be a promise for the future – and a sky lit up in a beautiful sunset. I can only watch in awe of the beauty and allow the feeling of opportunity to sink deep into my heart.


We’re late arriving – too late to get home, and too late to book a hotel. I spend the night on a bench at Terminal 5, before setting off bright and early in search of breakfast – and the bus to Northampton.

I’m just grateful to be back before the strike by the UK Border Agency starts….

Northampton has the worst bus station I have been to on my entire journey.. but finally I arrive in Kettering, where 6’ 3” of youngest son sticks my bag in the back of his van, and my journey is over.

So, what’s next?

Well, apart from the washing, I am staying with my two sons (and their mother) while David and I get our plans for Edinburgh under way (and while I do my washing). I need to catch up on all the post that my brother has been keeping at bay, and get reunited with clothes that I haven’t seen in a long, long time. I need a bath, as do Tigger and Snuff. And a sleep.

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