The trip to Koh Samed, Thailand in May of 2004 the aftermath of the men's trip to hash with the Bangkok Men's Hash House Harriers. A very relaxing weekend.
As mentioned in reminiscing IV I made a trip to meet up with Wendy, Heather and Olivia in New Zealand to help celebrate Wendy's aunt Pat and Uncle Coliln's 50th wedding anniversary.
Here are some of the photos from that trip. Hopefully I have them in the correct order. We spent time on the South Island in Winchester where the celebration was held and did a trip to Mount Cook.
From there we tried to duplicate the trip Wendy and I had previously done through Otira Gorge to the West Coast, Akaroa, Greymouth, Westport.
It was then up to the North Island to spend time with Marc and Carol before I headed back to Pakistan while the girls stay a little longer with Marc and Carol.
Links to some of the 2004 photos from Pakistan. Click the buttons to take you to the albums.
I had started this last week but one of my cousins (who I had not seen since probably the 1960s) passed away and I finally made it back down to ‘Merritton’ for his funeral. While I had not had contact with him for all of those years both of us thought it only fitting that we should make the effort to pay our respects. And of course it would give us a chance to catch up with old neighbours and relatives. Not only old relatives but those I had not met before.
While there we took a drive by where the old ‘Town Barns’ where and the big sand pile that we used to play on. The sand pile where I said that I would probably not see the year 2000. Driving by there only spurred me on to ensure that I had written down the things that I believed I would not ever see.
+ + + + + + + +
Reminiscing parts I and II are the top two entries in the January blog.
+ + + + + + +
Reminiscing Part III
Where did I leave off? Oh yes, landing at the airport in Vienna and picking up Wendy. It was a stressful time before she arrived. The main problem was - she had no idea of where we were headed or how to get there. I had all the tickets. In the end it all worked out and there were lots of hugs to not only help relieve the stress but also so good to be with each other again.
Our tour organizer was known for not always taking the most direct or easiest route and we found out on this trip fro sure. Our adventure started by dragging our suitcases up and down stairs to the subway on our way to one of the organizer’s friends. Up and down stairs, on and off subways - it is a good thing all the suitcases were on wheels. But we made it time for a bit of lunch and of course a couple of drinks before it was off again to catch the bus that would take us to Bratislava, Slovakia to catch our plane to Split Croatia. Well, wouldn’t you know it there was no sign of a bus we even went to the depot and it was closed. What to do? Hail two taxis to drive us. The drivers said no problem they could get us there in plenty of time to catch the plane so off we went. Everything was going smoothly until we got to the Austria/Slovakia border. The first taxi went through with no problem but not ours. Our driver didn’t have the proper immigration papers so he could not enter Slovakia. There we were stranded at the border and the other taxi well on its way. Not a problem? Oh yes it was because we didn’t know where the airport was. Our organizer was in the first taxi. Then what is that - the first taxi was coming back. When the driver realized we were not following he thought something was wrong so came back to check up. There was no way that our driver was allowed across the border Luckily the border guards had a sense of decency and understood our position so they arranged for a local Slovakian taxi to pick us up. There we were on our way once again.
We made it to the airport in time for our no frills flight to Split, Croatia. A short taxi ride from the airport to our ancient hotel. No modern chain for us, a family owned ancient building which was very well kept and comfortable right on the waterfront. You could not ask for much more. After getting settled in we took a walk around the area taking in the ancient city of Split. I am going to have to dig up some of the photos to refresh my memory of what all we saw. After all it has been eleven years since we were there.
- - - - - - restarting from here - - - - - - - - have to reset the brain - - - - - - -
It was either the following day or the day after that we did our first hash run for this week long event. From what I can remember of this run is that not only was it poorly marked, we did get lost on trail but luckily it was mainly along one of the main roads so we could make our way back into the city. We did eventually find some trail marks and make it to the ON IN for liquid refreshments, food and the circle. [see hashing on menu bar]
The following day it was off to board our boats. Because of the number of hashers, 95, and the size of the boats we were on three separate boats. As it turned out the boat we were on, “Ika", was probably the better of the three. Although the smallest we had the best cook! In the winter season he was a chef at one of the major five star hotels and in the summer season enjoyed a little less pressure working on the tour boats. Once everyone was accounted for and aboard it was off into the Adriatic Sea to start our adventure.
The boats usually docked at night, sailed the next morning, stopped for an hour or two in a sheltered cove for a bit of a swim and lunch, then off again to dock at about 4pm in a village on one of the many islands. Once docked one of the hash groups would make their way ashore and set a trail. As three of us from Islamabad found out this could be quite a challenge, simply armed with some flour and a map it was off into an unknown land to set a trail. The five islands that we visited were all relatively small, rocky and very, very hilly. The heat and humidity only added to the adventure. It is a shame that at the moment I can not remember the names of the five islands that we visited. I have some postcards from each of them so will have to dig them up along with the photos to refresh my memory. I suppose I really should have done that research before I started this but oh well that is just the way that it goes. Although one of the most notable hashes was on the island of Vis where we made our way to the cave that Yugoslav partisans leader Tito hid out in during WWII. This was one of the longest and steepest hills that we did and one that Wendy accompanied us on. I think she still has horrible memories of the climb.
After 5 days, 1600 litres of Heineken beer, 300 litres of Guiness stout and 600 litres of wine sadly our trip came to an end.
The hash cruise may have come to an end but not the hashing. After spending another couple of days in Split it was back to Vienna and one final hash with the Vienna hashers. We were lucky enough to have the use of an apartment for our stay in Vienna. There was a Canadian in Islamabad who had an apartment in Vienna but would be in Islamabad working while we were in Vienna. Out of the kindness of his heart he offered us the use of his bachalor apartment for those few days. Being right on a major tram line it was very convenient. After spending a couple of days sightseeing it was back to Islamabad for me and Canada for Wendy.
My hashing experiences in Pakistan only added to my travels, several times to Lahore to hash there plus there were nine of us male hashers made a special trip to Thailand to hash with the Bangkok Mens’ Hash House Harriers. From Bangkok seven of us made it to the island of Sai Kaew where myself and another person set a very short hash along the beach that was run in the heat of the afternoon. On another trip to the same resort a couple of years later, we both set another trail, which became known at the Sad Cow Hash House Harriers.
Travels were not restricted to hash events but also a bit of a get-away with a long weekend trip to New Delhi, India. This was another adventure. After being warned about driving to fast our driver kept to the speed limit which cut down on our travel time from Islamabad to the border at Waga. Not only was the travel time a bit of a delay but the customs, immigration on the Pakistan side of the border took their time clearing. While we were waiting to be cleared, baggage checks for some and just general waste of time when we didn’t want to get any Indian money from them we got to watch how goods are transported across the border.
Because India and Pakistan are still ‘technically’ at war citizens from each country are not allowed in the the other. Consequently the movement of goods between countries is very restricted. To over come the non-transportation goods were being off loaded from trucks on the Pakistan side, carried to a white line on the road, which was the demarkation point for the boarder then handed to an Indian labourer who carried them to a truck on the Indian side.
When we finally cleared customs and arrived at the Indian Immigration we discovered that there was a half hour difference in time between the two countries. Newfoundland isn’t the only place that is a half hour different! And instead of having an hour to get to the train station which was 27 miles away in Amritsar we had 30 minutes and no taxi!
Once the customs officers found this out they called a taxi and allowed it to come right up to the entrance to pick us up. If you think the special effect car chases in movies are scary you should have been in our taxi. Not only did we make it to the train on but we stop for gas along the way! How we did not cause or were involved in an accident or hit a child that came running into the street I have no idea but we made the 27 miles in just under the 30 minutes. Indian trains do run on time. Our intrepid tour guide - the same one who organized our hash cruise and Vienna excursion had arranged for first class train tickets. On the train we were assigned our own comfortable seats and were fed and watered.
While in New Delhi we did a city the next day and on the following day a trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. The Taj is everything and more that has been written up about it. While touring all of the tourist venues a couple of the things our entire group noted were; the cleanliness, while outside it may have been dusty, dirty and littered all of the historical tourist sites were spotlessly clean, and the number of local people at these sites. In Pakistan it seems as if the local people are not interested in their history or visiting any of the historical sites, and the sites themselves were rundown and littered.
If you think that most of my two years in Islamabad were taken up with travel you may be heading in the right direction. Not only was it weekend trips to Thailand and India and locally, other trips were also taken, one to New Zealand and home for Christmas.
Wendy received a message from one of her cousins that her aunt and uncle in New Zealand would be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and it would be a great present for them if we could “drop in” for a surprise visit. So it was off to the Land of the Long White Cloud. I flew out of Pakistan while Wendy, Heather and Olivia flew out of Canada. It was still to dangerous for Wendy to be with me.
We certainly did surprise Pat, Art, and the rest of the family, who did not know we would be there. It was wonderful to once again meet up with everyone.
Wendy and I had been there before and we wanted to take Heather and Olivia on the same trip of the South Island that we had done. Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever, part of the Otira Gorge highway was no longer in use. The portion after ‘Deadman’s Curve’, a 90 degree turn and a plunge down a steep, narrow, twisty road through Arthur’s Pass had been closed and a new aqueduct built to replace it. Other than that we did loop around the South Island. Then it was up to the North Island to stay with one of Wendy’s cousins before I left leaving the girls to enjoy New Zealand and the relatives’ company for a few more days.
Because of heightened security when we were not allowed to leave the city of Pakistan for ten months. This was better than the British, those who lived on their compound were not allowed to leave it and those who had accommodation outside of the compound were only allowed to travel between, home and work. Once at home they were not supposed to leave, and to send any household to do any off site chores.
Thankfully shortly after those restrictions were lifted the restriction on over eighteen dependents was also lifted. Wendy was then able to come over for a ten week visit. She was quite excited to make the trip and meet up with friends and acquaintances that she had only heard me talk about. While she was there one of the Canadian’s who had a local driver offered him to Wendy to drive her around the city and to do a bit of sight seeing. She was delighted and felt completely safe in his hands. She did get to see some areas around Islamabad that I had not seen. We also did a convoy weekend trip around the area and spent a night in the old British Army Barracks that had been turned into a hotel. I do not think many up grades had been completed since the Brits left. It was however, quite adequate for the one night.
After Wendy’s ten week ‘holiday’ it was only a couple of months before I also packed up and headed home.
Back to Ottawa and a posting to headquarters.
So endth the years 2002 to 2004 in Pakistan.
2000-2002 Kenya Rwanda Ethiopia Sudan Australia New Zealand South Africa
2002-2004 Pakistan Austria Croatia Thailand New Zealand
What will the years from 2004 to 2015 bring?
Got dragged out Monday (16th) afternoon to the movies. We babysat the 2 grandkids and "the boss suggested" we take them to a movie. Of course the movie of choice was Disney 'Cinderella'. Not being a Disney fan I was a bit reluctant but off we all went. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the movie.
Hoping to get Spring to arrive sooner than later I planted some seeds yesterday. Last Saturday (7th) went to the Annual Seedy Saturday event to get most of my vegetable seeds. The dealers there specialize in heritage home grown seeds rather than the mass produced and altered seeds that the big commercial companies put out. These seeds may be a bit more expensive but if you do save them (which I should be doing) you know for certain that what you got you will get the next year. With the hybrid seeds from the commercial seed companies you never know what you will get from saved seeds.
I planted 5 kinds of tomatoes, Black Brandywine, Peacevine, Anna Aasa, Black Cherry and Brookpact, still have one other kind (Dinner plate) to put in pots. I have been growing Red Brandywine for the past couple of years and they were delicious, maybe the best tasting tomatoes that I ever had. Last summer, when we went to pick up Olivia from the Upper Canada camp she was in I chatted with one of the farmers and he said if I like the Red Brandywine I would like the Black even better so I am going to give them a try. Anna Aasa, Black Cherry and Peacevine are cherry tomatoes so I will have 3 kinds of cherry and 3 full size.
I think the my idea of urging Spring on did not do much good. We had freezing rain and then more snow yesterday. I measured 4cms this morning and I think some of it had already melted. I was out and blew out our driveway, next doors and down the street the bottom half of two others, and now that it is gone what was left has also melted away.
Have to plant some herbs and flowers and put them out hydroponically this summer. I am also going to try some of the tomatoes that way as well. It will be interesting to see if there is any difference in the results.
Cummings Georgia - 17 to 20th Feb. 2015
Cummings is a short distance from Atlanta, Georgia
A couple of years ago at our Navy group’s annual reunion I met up with an old buddy that I had not seen since our days in Frobisher Bay in 1966! He had subsequently left the navy and ended up working in the USofA and had married an American lady. At that time he said that any time we were down that way we were welcome stay for a visit. This is the second time that we have spent some time with Eric. The first being after the InterAmericas Hash in 2013 hosted by Savannah. At that time he extended the invitation and when we decided to go on our cruise I informed Eric that we would be down that away again and he said to be sure and drop in. Once again we took him up on that invitation.
17 February 2015
After we departed New Smyrna Beach, Florida it was a straight forward drive to Cummings. I had set the GPS for the fastest route and that is the way we went. We made one long hour stop for lunch and eventually reached Cummings at about 7:30pm. Our hosts were eagerly awaiting us and had a delicious chilli waiting.
18 February 2015
After breakfast and enjoying watching the birds come to the various feeders it was decided that we would make a trip into Atlanta and visit one of the museums. Setting out all was well until we were about one third of the way and Eric lost all electrical power. He pulled over to the side of the road and found that he had no electricity at all. Luckily he had his cell phone and called his local mechanic who gave him the number of a tow-truck. It was about an hour’s wait until the tow-truck arrived but luckily, even though it was a tight fit, we could all fit in the double cab. Sadly that put the end to the thought of any further afternoon activities. It then spent relaxing for the rest of the afternoon and take away pizza.
19 February 2015
We could not believe how cold it was in Cummings. We had been expecting cool weather but nothing as cold as it was. All the time that we were there, there was ice covering the branches of the trees and even a bit of snow in the woods. Eric suggested that we take a walk through Sharon Springs Park, something that they do on a more or less daily basis. Of course we were up for it and then it was off to the movies. Eric had wanted to see ‘American Sniper’ so that is just where we went. My impression of the movie - 90% American propaganda.
It was out to supper at Longhorn which is a steak restaurant and the four of us shared an awesome chocolate dessert. Originally we were going to get two to share but the waitress suggested that one would be enough for the four of us and she was right.
20 to 22 February 2015
The Return Home
Even though Eric wanted us to stay a couple of days longer we decided that we should be leaving on Friday the 20th. We had been listening to the weather forecast and the next couple of days was supposed to be good weather, and then change to snow. The weather was quite favourable until we reached Virginia the next day when we ran into a snow storm. Wendy took her time and while we did not make any great distance we remained safe. At one time just outside of Falling Waters, Virginia I counted 7 cars in the ditch within one mile. We also saw one pickup truck spin out and slam into the guard rail. We stopped to see if they were ok and were assured that there are no injures. As you will be able to see in the photos even an armoured vehicle was not immune to accidents. The southern drivers are not used to driving in this weather and so many of them attempted to maintain the speed limit, which as we well know, is not a good idea on snow covered roads. We saw the evidence of this when one SUV passed us on the left shoulder on an overpass. No sooner had he passed us that he begin to fishtail. Luckily he was able to gain control without hitting the concrete barrier or the other vehicles on his right.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful and when we got to the border we were the only car in line and had a bit of a chat with the CBSA agent.
All in all the entire trip down, the cruise, our time with friends in Florida and Georgia, and the drive home was well worth it. So much so that we are planning another trip next year.
14 February 2015
A DFAIT colleague had rented a condo in New Smyrna Beach [NSB] for two months and invited us to spend a couple of days with them either before of after the cruise. We decided that the best time would be after the cruise. Consequently after departing the ship it was a leisurely drive from the Tampa Bay, on the west coast to NSB on the east coast of Florida.
Wendy messaged Eve when we left and gave her an approximate time (thanks to the GPS) on when we would be arriving. As we neared their condo we could see Barrie standing in the parking lot waiting for us. We were quickly made to home and then it was to wait for Roly and Bev to arrive. After Roly made a couple of wrong turns he arrived about a half hour after us. After lunch and a bit of relaxing it was off to a Craft Fair in the town. The ladies made there way while we boys went our separate way to meet up in one of the numerous watering holes. Most of the crafts were more female related than male but there was one garden ornament that I would not have minded purchasing. Perhaps on the next visit.
We met up with the girls and eventually we made our way for a sea food supper (photo above).
15 February 2015
After a morning walk on the beach and a bit of lunch Barrie and Eve suggested that we take a drive to Merritt Island for a bit of bird watching. Both Wendy and I were all of this but Roly and Bev decided to stay back and go for a bike ride. They are both avid bikers and did bring their bikes with them so they could to some touring.
As you can see from the photos we did see quit a number of shore birds. On the way out of the park we came across a small armadillo right beside the road.
Coming back from an interesting afternoon in the outdoors it was to pick up Roly and Bev and off for another sea food supper.
16 February 2015
An all day bird watching day today. We started bright and early ss there was very little wind and bright skies it gave optimal conditions for catching reflections in the water. Once again did a very slow full circle of Merritt Island plus venturing up several side roads. As it was still only mid day Barrie and Eve suggested to try a trip to Lake Woodruff National Refuge to see if there was anything different there. Sadly the Refuge only proved to be a pleasant walk. But while there were no birds we did get to see another alligator and a couple of turtles. The walk through the forested are was invigorating and quite relaxing.
When we got back Rolly and Bev had supper waiting for us.
17 February 2015
New Smyrna Beach Departure day
After breakfast and another walk on the beach we loaded up the car and set off about an hour later than we had planned on. This was not a problem because it was spent with friends. Put the co-ordinates into the GPS and away we went.
Here we are back in Tampa Bay and getting ready to disembark. Last night our duty free purchases were in the cabin along with disembarkation information
Again the organization was superb. We were given a number and time to be on deck five to be ready to leave. We had our ‘carry on’ and at 9.15 we ushered back down to the lower deck, into a holding room where our other bags were lined up, in I believe deck order. U. S. Immigration & Customs had desks set up to check our documents which proved to be a very routine procedure and we were cleared within a minute or two. Then it was out to find the valet parking attendant. The most difficult thing I ran into was finding the valet parking booth. After spending a couple of minutes search there it was right across the street from the exit! Open your eyes Bill! From the time we were ushered to the ship’s exit until the time we were driving away was not more than 15 minutes. Ah the air lines certainly could take some hints.
It was then off to New Smyrna Beach to meet up and spend a couple of days with some DFAIT friends.
Position 27.56.56N 082.26.71W - Tampa Bay cruise ship dock
Total Distance: 1679 Nautical miles
Friday the thirteenth, our last day on the cruise, tomorrow we will be back in Tampa Bay. Our last day was spent at sea between Cozumel and Tampa.
Ships Stats at 07:41
Position: 23.44.09N 085.05.22W
Speed: 13.9 Knots
Wind: 29 Knots
Distance: 1376 Nautical miles
After a leisurely breakfast in the main dining room I went for a 3K walk around the upper deck, Wendy accompanied me for most of the distance. It was rather brisk because of the head wind.
After the walk we made our way down to the Centrum to watch the hilarious cake decorating display. The display was conducted by the head pastry chef who was giving instructions to Steve the Cruise Director and one of the passengers on how to make a Black Forest cake. Of course Steve was the comic part of the display and he did a good job of added two to three times the amount of alcohol to the different layers. The three of them had the audience in stitches. In the end the prize for the best cake went to the volunteer passenger. After that each of the cakes were cut up and samples were available for all to enjoy.
After lunch (I should have kept track of our lunch menu) it was just lounging around in the Solarium on deck nine. My time was spent reading while Wendy worked on her crafts. We both enjoyed the odd soft ice cream and cool drinks - including a ‘drink of the day’ for Wendy in a light up glass while I enjoyed red wine.
Before supper there was a “Parade of Flags”. The country flags of the staff were paraded in the Centrum while the Captain read out the country and the number of staff from there. It was interesting to know just how many countries and staff from each were represented. Then it was into the Theatre to watch the staffs interpretation of “Michael Jackson’s Thriller.”
At supper we learned that the head waitress was only going to be doing one more trip and then off on three months holiday at home in the Ukraine. She would be rejoining the ship in May in Barcelona. The crew usually does seven months onboard and then three months holiday.
Bill: Loin steak done to perfection
Wendy: Lamb shank (something she does not have at home)
After supper it was off to see “The Battle of the Sexes” a game show with 3 volunteer passenger couples. The show was based on the old TV show “Newly Weds”. The contestants proved to be have more than just a bit of humour and I know that both Wendy and I had more than a two or three laughs at the questions and answers.
Ships Stats at 23:15
Position: 26.52.81N 083.28.52W
Speed: 14 Knots
Wind: 28 Knots
Distance: 1584 Nautical miles