Side View’s weekend challenge. Cycling memories.

Sidey’s weekend challenge, ‘a bicycle made for 2 (1)’, stirred memories of my childhood. I did quite a lot of cycling  in those far off days, mostly to school and back, in my bottle green tunic and blazer, with my hated beret firmly held on with hair grips, and my satchel full of books on my back. I suppose the traffic wasn’t nearly as bad then as it would be nowadays. I felt perfectly safe riding downhill  into town, and up the narrow lane which led to the street on which my stone-built grammar school was situated. Of course we rode our bikes with no helmets, and never gave a thought as to what could happen, should we have an accident.

There are several memories which stand out in my mind from my bike-riding days. The worst one, is having to clean the rust off all those wheel spokes, as well as the rims.This dreaded task was done with something called ‘Duraglit’, which was wadding, impregnated with some horrid pink stuff, which made my hands really dry and rough. My dad used to inspect those spokes minutely, so I had to be sure to do a really good job.

The ride down to school was quite easy, but coming back, I had to push my bike up a very steep hill. It would have been much more preferable to catch the bus, but what would I do with the bike? Besides which, I needed my fourpence halfpenny bus fare to buy a small tin of Heinz tomato soup at our corner shop. This was my secret addiction, and most days I could hardly wait to get home, heat up my soup, pour it into a mug and drink it down. I would then wash up the saucepan and mug, and bury the tin deep in the trash can. 😉

My sister and I used to go out riding together during the school holidays, and I particularly remember one day when she rode off in front, gleefully calling out to me, “Let’s pretend we’re riding to Skeggy!” (For those of you who don’t know, Skegness is an English seaside resort). Off she went full tilt down the bumpy, stony road just above where we lived, singing, “Oh I do love to be beside the seaside.” I followed after her, and was horrified to see her front wheel suddenly hit a rock, and send her flying right over the handlebars, and into the dirt. Luckily she wasn’t injured, but it took us quite a while to  get the grit out of the grazes on her hands and knees.

When I left home to go to college, my dad sold my old bike, and I never rode again until about 40 years later, when on a visit to Nantucket, we hired bikes, and rode 30 miles around the island. I was a bit dubious about whether I would be able to ride after such a long time, but it’s so true that once you’ve learned, you never forget how to ride a bike.

Now, I know you have all come to expect photos from me, so today, off we went  in the heat and 90% humidity, trudging up hill and down dale to find some bikes to photograph. Most people here ride mopeds or motorbikes, but I was determined to find bicycles.

The closest one was this Club Med bike, almost on our doorstep waiting for a rider.

This cute pink “Hello Kitty” bike, with passenger seat, is no doubt some girl’s pride and joy.

A very smart purple bike (also made for 2), was parked outside a laundry, of which there are hundreds in Phuket.


Oh dear, it looks like this poor old bike will never be ridden again, but it sure makes a good advertising sign outside the bicycle repair and hire shop.

Of course you wouldn’t go riding these days without a safety helmet, would you? Well here are a few to choose from, and in such pretty colours too.

If you want to join in this challenge, just click here.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend. Tomorrow is our last full day here before we return to South Africa.

Weekly photo challenge “Friendship.”

“A friend is one who knows you, and loves you just the same.”  ~ Elbert Hubbard

The daily post photo challenge, is “Friendship,” so I decided to put up a few photos of me with my best friends.

Hubby and I are still the best of friends, even after over 40 years of marriage. This pic was taken on our 40th anniversary.

I’m so fortunate that both my children are really good friends to me. I sometimes hear of families where the children become estranged from their parents. This is really sad, and I just can’t imagine what this must be like, as my daughter and I get on so well together.

and my son and I are also very close, even though we live so far apart most of the time.

I’m sure that every woman needs a BEST friend, and here am I with mine at her 60th birthday party. We’ve been friends for only ten years, but it seems like a lifetime. She is like a second sister to me. 😉

I know that over the course of our lives, friends come and go, and this has also happened to me. When I think back to friends I’ve had over the years, I realise that certain friends are sent for a particular time in one’s life. I know that those I’ve had and somehow drifted apart from, will always be in my heart, even though they are no longer in my every day life. They are all a beautiful part of life’s tapestry that we constantly weave whilst we are here on this earth.

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” Albert Camus

Part two of my Phang-Nga Bay monsoon adventure.

Continuing on from my last post:

We stood in a sodden group on the jetty, impatiently waiting for our longtail to come pick us up. Here’s what these boats look like.

They are long and slim, and the local name for them is “Rua Hang Yao. They have a long rod in the back of the boat, which holds up the motor and the propeller, and are extremely noisy, sounding more like dragster racing cars. No wonder the baby in our party, started yelling again as soon as we set off away from Sea Gypsy Village.

We were all hungry, and soaking wet as we journeyed to view James Bond Island, made famous by the 1974 movie, “The man with the golden gun,” starring Roger Moore as Bond, and Christopher Lee as Scaramanga the world’s most expensive assassin, who charges $1m per hit.

After skirting the tall thin island,

we carried on to the Grotto Cave, and our boat sailed right through it, next to several people canoeing in the pouring rain.

Finally, we met up with our Junk boat again, and clambered aboard. Oh the luxury, in spite of the leaky roof! At last we were reunited with our towels, and could wrap ourselves up in them, as well as dry off our feet. A buffet lunch of fish, chicken, rice and salad was served, together with a couple of bottles of Thai wine. Our guide, knowing that we came from South Africa, apologised for the wine, saying, ” I know it’s not nearly as good as yours,” and he was right about that. 😉

On our return journey, we caught up with the other boat which had left the harbour at the same time as us. They weren’t going anywhere, as they’d completely run out of diesel. It was still a long way back to port, so our crew set about fixing up a tow line, and we started off once more, amidst much hilarity and joking between the two crews.

It was now going to take us much longer to get back with the extra load on, but I suppose we could hardly leave them stranded, could we? 😉 About half an hour later, we noticed something was banging against the side of our boat, and a head popped up over the side. No, it wasn’t pirates; just the other boat’s motor dinghy, with two of its crew and a large plastic container. They were hauled aboard, and up came the floor boards, so that diesel could be syphoned into the empty container, as they needed to be able to maneuver their own way into the harbour. Once they had the required 20 litres, off they went back through the extremely rough waves to their own boat.

We were all watching this exercise with our fingers crossed, as it was really very tempestuous out there. They made it back on board, but as they were trying to secure the dinghy, the rope slipped out of the one guy’s hands, and off went the little craft, bobbing merrily away through the waves. Once more, our captain came to the rescue, rounding up the dinghy, almost like herding cattle, and pushing it over to the other boat, until a man could jump in and tie it up. It was quite an expert bit of boatmanship, and I was most impressed.

So all’s well that ends well, I suppose. We caught the rush hour traffic, made worse by the pouring rain, on the way back to Club Med, but eventually arrived about an hour late. As we pulled up, some of the young staff came rushing down the the steps to greet us with fresh towels to warm ourselves in, and then ushered us over to the sofas in the foyer, where they had cups of hot chocolate waiting. What a day it had been, and a never to be forgotten trip.

This all happened on Wednesday, and it’s been raining steadily since then, with the exception of a few hours this afternoon. I hope the weekend will bring the sunshine again, not only for me, but for all of you too. Have a great one.

Junk boat and longtail, across Phang-Nga Bay, in monsoon rains.

Today, the rain finally stopped halfway through the afternoon. I was beginning to think it was going to carry on for the rest of our holiday.

Yesterday morning, we were booked on a “June Bahtra” cruise, which would take us across the Phang-Nga Bay in a traditional Junk boat, from where we would transfer to a long tail, to see the Grotto Cave, Sea Gypsy village and James Bond Island, arriving back at 5-30 in the afternoon.

We rose extra early and had a quick breakfast, dubiously looking out of the window at grey skies and dripping rain. Not very promising at all, but we lived in hope as our mini bus taxi carried us along the road filled with commuters, mostly on motor bikes, and others crowded onto the back of pick up trucks. We saw one motorbike with sidecar, carrying 5 people, one of whom was holding an umbrella aloft. Another one was steering his bike with one hand, and clinging onto his umbrella with the other; a sort of biking Mary Poppins. 😉

As we approached the Marina, the boats all looked very sombre against the grey water and even darker sky. When I saw the photo, I wondered why it was in black and white, but then realised that this was exactly how it had looked.

I hurried towards our boat, hoping to beat the rain which was starting up again.

By the time we got on board, it was teeming down. The leaking roof had been patched with  sticky tape which was coming apart, so that water was dripping onto the table in front of our seat, and splashing all around. I was a bit unhappy about that, but I shouldn’t have worried, as that water was absolutely nothing, compared with what was to follow later. 😉 As you can see, plastic sheeting was rolled down at the sides of the boat. This obscured our view somewhat, but rather that, than get drenched. Beach towels were handed out in case we wanted to go swimming later, and came in very useful to wrap around ourselves to keep dry whilst on board. We soon got under way, and it wasn’t long before the islands loomed up in the grey rainy mist, but even on such a gloomy day, they are still very spectacular.

We sailed up to take a closer look at the caves formed by the sea’s erosion of these amazing limestone formations.

How many images can you see clinging onto the side of this cliff? My  imagination can make out  so very many strange and tortured-looking creatures.

Before we reached the Sea Gypsy Village island, we were each given a thin plastic raincoat with a hood, and told to put it on, together with a life jacket. I realised why, when we transferred to our long tail boat, which was open to the elements. As we cut through the waves at quite a speed, we all got drenched. There was one young couple with a small toddler, who was obviously scared witless, and wouldn’t stop screaming. I felt sorry for them, and also for my ears, as they were sitting right behind me.

As we disembarked, we looked like a band of soaking wet, green plastic apparitions. I was past caring what I looked like, and just wanted to get inside and out of the rain.

Alas, there was no escape, as this medium sized market was absolutely flooded out. We waded ankle deep through the rivers of water which separated the different stalls, whilst rain ran in waterfalls from overhanging tarpaulins.

I couldn’t have been wetter if I’d been swimming the English Channel. I felt really sorry for the stallholders, because none of us was in a retail therapy frame of mind, as we traipsed past the displays of T-shirts, swimwear, and souvenirs.

The only sales they made, were half a dozen pink plastic raincoats at less than a Dollar each, to replace the green ones, some of which had torn already, and were leaking badly. Most of the houses here were mere hovels, but we did see quite a contrast, when we came upon a rich man’s house, alongside his poor next door neighbour’s  leaky cottage.

It was quite a relief when our long boat came back to pick us up, and we were on our way to view the Grotto Cave. Our adventure was by no means over, and I’ll tell you more tomorrow.

Travel challenge “Rhythm” (2)

Today was what one might call a “damp squib,” but that wouldn’t be terribly accurate; it was an extremely sopping wet squib! We saw, and waded through, waterfalls, rivers and small lakes, and that was just in the market we visited. 😉 The monsoon rains chose today to teem down upon our boat trip out across Phang Nga Bay to see the islands, but in spite of getting drenched to the bone, I have many photos to share with you, but not tonight. It’s been a long day, so I’ll just show you that I did manage to find some ‘Rhythm‘ here in Phuket, after all.

Last night, there was a very talented duo performing in the club bar. They certainly had lots of rhythm, when they did the fantastic Eric Clapton number, “Layla.”

The show last night had a very special import, all the way from the ‘US of A’. You all believed that Elvis the King was dead, didn’t you? Well here he was, right before my eyes, asking us in a very rhythmic way, not to step on his “Blue Suede Shoes.” 😉

Tonight we had a show performed by all the staff here. There are 21 different nationalities represented and they put on an impressive “Lion King” themed musical, which as you can imagine, had our hands-a-clapping and our feet-a-tapping.

Of course, one of the songs with the best known rhythm, and which had the whole place jumping, was,

“A wimoweh,a wimoweh, a wimoweh, a wimoweh,

A wimoweh,a wimoweh, a wimoweh, a wimoweh,

In the jungle the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.”

(You’ll have me to thank, if you can’t get that song out of your head for a while.)  😉

Hope you’re all having a great day. My bed is beckoning, so I’ll catch up with you all tomorrow.

Travel Challenge “Rhythm”

Ailsa, of the “Where’s my backpack” blog, has given us a travel challenge this week. The challenge is ‘Rhythm’, and some of you may know that I’m in Phuket Thailand on holiday at the moment. I have heard the rhythm of the beginning of the monsoon rains, most evenings, as well as the rhythm of the waves crashing onto the beach just across from our room. The rhythm of the wind in the palm trees lulls me to sleep at night. I’ve been looking out for street musicians here, but so far haven’t seen even one, so I decided to use photos taken in other places on my travels.

This one was taken in Rio, as we were sitting having lunch at an open restaurant just across from Copacabana Beach. Halfway through my meal, a band of merry minstrels appeared, and insisted that I come join them whilst they serenaded me.

Whilst in Venice last year, we were sitting at a street Pizza Cafe, when these three brothers stopped to sing to us. They weren’t very in tune, but it was nice all the same, and added to the  romantic rhythm of that wonderful city.

One evening, whilst staying at a resort on the banks of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, we were entertained by these guys who performed some of their local music for us. It was a fascinating performance, and quite different from our Western style music.

If you would like to see more entries for this challenge, just click here.

Come fly with me! ;)

Today was a very exciting day. We took a taxi into the seaside town of Patong, mainly to do a bit of browsing and shopping. It’s a typical tourist town, with lots of market stalls, restaurants, bars, clubs and spas.

Here is a pic of one of the night clubs. Very fancy outside decor, don’t you agree?

We decided to cross the road to go to look at the beach, which is easier said than done. I think the designated pedestrian crossings are simply recommended places to get knocked down by a car or a moped, but eventually, we did manage to scoot across. The first thing I noticed was this sign, so thought I’d thumb a lift to go to visit my son, if anyone was travelling that way. 😉

The second thing which caught my eye, was a brightly-coloured parasail in the distance. I’ve often thought I’d love to try it, but didn’t dare. I watched for a while, and nothing bad happened, and better still, nobody landed in the ocean, so I stunned hubby and asked him if I could have a go. The owner was of course very happy to take my money, and rushed me over to get harnessed up before I could change my mind.

Of course you don’t go up on your own, but have a guy behind you to make sure everything goes ok.

Soon we were up in the air, and I couldn’t believe how great it felt to hang loose up there, high above the sea.

I was only up for about 5 minutes, and it went far too quickly.

All too soon, we started our descent,

and I landed very gently on my feet.

So there you go, never say “never.” You’re never too old to try something new, and I’m so glad that I plucked up the courage; another thing to tick off my bucket list. 😉

Weekly photo challenge ……….Today

At the moment, after three flights, and travelling for twenty-one hours, I’m not sure whether it’s today, yesterday, or tomorrow. Nevertheless, here we are in Phuket, and I thought I’d share a few pics, taken very haphazardly on our journey.

I just caught the setting sun with my iPhone, before we were told to close the window shutters.

We flew from Johannesburg to Bangkok on ‘Thai Air’. The seats really ‘hit’ you as you walk onto the plane. Instead of being the usual dull grey or blue, they alternate in bright purple, pink, and yellow. The lovely hostesses, In their colourful silk suits, greet you with the traditional ‘wai’, which consists of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion, and a beautiful smile.

(pic from Google)

I didn’t sleep at all on the flight, as we had dinner not long after lunch time, and then the lights went off as though it were bedtime. Of course my body clock was not so easily fooled, and refused to pretend it was night time. By the time my watch declared that it was time to sleep, I could smell the coffee being heated up for breakfast, so that was the end of that.

The new Bangkok International airport, is called Suvarnabhumi, meaning “golden land.” There are so many orchids to be seen everywhere, even in the restrooms. Hubby told me that the men don’t get any in theirs. If I was a guy, I think I’d want to know why. ;(

In this pic, you can see the pink seats in one of the airport lounges. Pink and purple seem to be favourite colours here.

From Bangkok, we took a one hour connecting flight to Phuket, where after finding our driver amongst the throng of other placcard-waving guys, and then, we were whisked off  to the resort, at terrific speed. The roads are full of motorbikes and mopeds, some with only two people, but usually with more. We saw quite a few with mother, father and a small child sitting up front; no crash helmets! There was even one moped with four young women squeezed up on the seat. You can even ride side-saddle! Sadly. but not surprisingly, we did see an accident, and a woman was sitting in the road, lucky to be alive after being thrown off.

After unpacking, we went down to have a late lunch, and I then sat sipping a Pina Colada on the deck overlooking the trapeze area. There were several youngsters having a quick lesson before venturing up the ladder.  It really looks like there’s not much to it, as long as you can get your feet through your hands and hook the back of your knees over the bar. The falling into the net looks like a breeze too). I didn’t however, see anyone who looked older than twenty-five, and certainly there no grannies doing their Tarzan act up there. 😉

We had a great meal this evening, with lots of delicious Thai dishes to choose from, and although it’s not very late, we’re both really tired, so will get an early night.

So,that was my today, which is now yesterday, as I lost my post  last night, but clever hubby found it again for me this morning. Today, which is now yesterday, looks rather overcast at the moment, but I’m sure it will brighten up later. I slept quite well last night, and am off for breakfast, after which, we will take a taxi into Patong to do a bit of exploring.

( Here in Thailand, we are now 5 hours ahead of South Africa, and 11 hours ahead of the USA, where it’s still Sunday evening,)

To read more entries for the “Today” theme, just click here.

Packing for a return visit to Phuket.

Yesterday, I went for my check-up at the eye specialist. He said that my eyes are now perfect, and I thanked him so much, for changing my life in every way. I can’t tell you how many times a day I marvel at being able to see everything clearly. On Wednesday, I played the piano at the mall, and it was such a pleasure to be able to see my friend approaching from quite a distance away, and also to be able to read my music clearly. When I wake up in the night, I can read the time on the clock radio, instead of trying to guess whether it’s one-o-clock, or whatever-o-clock. When out shopping, I can read ingredient labels, and price tags, which of course, is most helpful.

I’m also looking forward to being able to go on a plane without fiddling with contact lenses in those tiny loos, or having to find my reading glasses to read the menu etc., and whilst I’m on the subject of air travel, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that we’re off on our travels again tomorrow morning. We’ve booked a nine day holiday at Club Med in Phuket, and I’m really excited to visit there again. We were there six years ago, and had a marvelous time. Hubby tells me that this time around, he will NOT be doing the trapeze, unless I do it too. 😉 I think he’s quite safe on that one, but you never know. Stranger things have happened, but not much stranger.

I tentatively asked if there was any other way of getting down again, other than falling like a very scared stone into the safety net. He said that he didn’t think so. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to just let go and fall into space, but maybe you’re all much braver than I?

Last time we were there, we sent this pic to our son, and he asked, “Where is everybody?”  It was out of season, and there weren’t many other guests. I suppose it could be much the same this time.

One day trip that we’ll definitely be doing again, is to take a boat out to Ko Phi Phi Island, made famous by the classic film ‘The Beach’, in which Leonardo DiCaprio was the main attraction. The extraordinary Maya Bay, is world famous for its exquisite beaches and truly picture postcard perfect scenery of jungle covered cliffs.

Now I’d better get packing once again. I think that only light summer clothes and sandals will be needed, so it shouldn’t take too long. I’ll try and do some posts from there if I can get my hands on some reasonably priced internet access. If I don’t manage to stay in touch with you all, you’ll know exactly where I am.

If you don’t hear from me, I’ll see you when I return to South Africa in ten days time.