Posts Tagged With: Arthur Penlington

Merry Christmas and a slice of Xmas quirky

Season’s greetings from Khao Lak, Thailand.
A blog isn’t very personal, I’m afraid, but it’s the best way for me to send out my compliments of the season. And it’s from the heart.
I wish family, relations, friends, old and new, a very Merry Christmas and a new year full of happiness, health, fun and inner peace. I hope 2014 shines brightly on you and your loved ones.

I’ve received a huge amount of kindness in my eight and a half months travelling so this is also a Christmas thank you card.
If you’ve given me a bed, or a meal, or shared a ride or swapped a story, my sincere thanks to you. Whether you’ve commented on the blog or simply just read any posts I appreciate it.

A lot of pictures and incidents never make it into the stories I write so in the spirit of Christmas fun here’s a few little quirky moments that I hope bring a smile to your face.

Life in Albania can be a little tough. So when the chance for a spot of relaxation comes up nothing gets in the way. I watched the lady tanning herself just to the right of the digger. She never raised an eyebrow.

In the dead of night on the Indonesian island of Sumba I was woken by a loud crash. The noise came from the bathroom, an indoor outdoor affair.
I went to have a look and found the culprit, a mouse. I took him outside and headed back to clean up. No damage but the mouse had eaten into a packet of medicine. This was a mouse with a serious problem. He’d eaten through three capsules of diarrhoea relief tablets!

Many shrines, pagodas and temples have names. There’s usually a religious or spiritual element to them. One pagoda in Bagan stood out from the rest. I’m afraid I don’t know the story behind it. Did the world almost come to a catastrophic end in Myanmar and I never knew about it?

In the remote Indonesian island of Sumba my hotel served up the world’s toughest chicken for lunch. The menu was almost as bad, totally indecipherable and only in Indonesian. Nobody spoke English and there were no other restaurants.
However, I worked out they had a vegetarian section. So in the evening for dinner I randomly chose four options, confident one or two would be fine.
First course – two fried eggs. Not what I had in mind but fair enough. Second course – soft-boiled egg. Oh dear, quite a lot of egg. Still, I’m confident in the third course. It duly arrives – an omelette. Fourth course – I never found out, I left. Probably my loss, I’m sure they did a lovely soufflé.

They start their novice monks very early in Myanmar. At such a young age the idea of religion and spirituality can come a long way behind the fun of playing with a puppy.

Travelling with a backpack? Take my advice and get a small lock and two keys. Even better advice, don’t put the two keys in the same place. You lose one you lose both.
I turned up at my lodgings at Kotor, Montenegro with neither key. I explained to my landlady. She went into her kitchen and in a few seconds turned up with a hacksaw and her teenage son. Within minutes they had cut through the lock.
Great…..but I chose not to ask how she became such an expert.

Done any of your Christmas shopping online this year? Well before the advent of the internet Yangon pioneered online shopping…..with a difference.
Many old apartment blocks don’t have lifts. For residents and the delivery people this meant exhausting inconvenience. The answer? Dangle ropes with hooks, bags or clips attached down the side of the building. Payment is in the bags and I’m told money is never stolen. All manner of goods or postal packages are then hooked or clipped on.
But there is no escaping one of life’s tyrannies…..junk mail is often attached.

It’s not quite what I was looking for but Christmas trees are a little rare around here. So this picture from Bagan with a tree shaped monument will have to do.

Categories: Quirky, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 15 Comments

Who the hell am I?

I have been wriggling and writhing. Squirming and stretching. Even been doing a little bit of contortion. But I just can’t quite fit.

Nothing to do with bulging waistlines.  I just can’t quite squeeze myself into a pigeon hole. Way too old to be a typical backpacker. Definitely not a grey nomad. Could I be a flashpacker?

These are backpackers who enjoy the odd upmarket escape from roughing it. I’ll confess it sounds plausibly me. Or at least it did until I found an article suggesting flashpackers are generally in their 30s and 40s and not “middle aged”. No longer plausible, actually now impossible.

But it got me wondering. What is middle age? When does it start and when does it terminate? Sorry for the brutal language.  There’s a rare old scholarly debate about that one. But for most of us, trying to pin down the middle years is a little like defining beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Some vague research suggested the young often see middle age ending at 55. Yikes. At the other extreme the old tend to believe middle age isn’t over until you’re 70. Good on ’em.

So here I am. I don’t really fit any easy traveller category but I’m definitely rooted in middle age. In a world obsessed with labels and niches I  thought it best that I invent my own.  So welcome to the world of the NONY – Not Old, Not Young, just somewhere in…...


I live in Noosa, Queensland, average age is in the high NONYs. It’s beautiful, a backpacker’s destination in its own right, although if truth be told I take it somewhat for granted. It’s a lovely place to live, not an easy place to leave. But the world is calling. The seductive, siren voices of travel have been cooing in my direction for a while and now it’s time to coo back.

“Backpacking did you say?”. This was the very nice receptionist when I phoned to book  my travel jabs. “How old are you?”.

Now some people tell me my voice is my best feature. I’t’s probably not a compliment but I fool myself into thinking my phone manner is an exotic mix of  youthful, virile and sophisticated. Her tone implied otherwise.

“You wouldn’t get me doing that at your age”, she had ploughed on without even asking my age. It was a little deflating.  “Isn’t backpacking what we all did a long time ago before we discovered nice hotels?”

Sad to she’s not alone.  Many friends have choked on their carbernets when first hearing of the plan. I/they tend to lead comfortable lives. Admittedly some camp. But the closest they get to hardship is when the croissants are frozen not fresh.

Younger guys react very differently. Slightly smug smirks are their norm.

Oh dear. It’s not looking  promising. And yet I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone. Is anybody out there?

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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