Saturday, June 30, 2007


ps. I have also resized my pix to a larger file size and allowed them to open up for a closer view by clicking on them. You need to click your back button to return to the blog.

another day another ruin

damned Bob Marley is blaring out of the sound system and some guy is strumming a guitar - why is it that hostels have not changed in 30 years?

The three of us are staying in a hostel in Western Yucatan called the Monkey Hostel which the Lonely Planet waxed lyrical about. It´s decidedly shabby as are most of the guests, but as the real estate ads often say - `location..location..location` as it is situated on the main square in the oldest part of the city and overlooks the main cathedral.

Todays ruin was a place called Uxmal and has to rank as my favourite part of the country so far. Very few people and some excellent structures set amongst rolling hills and jungle with large [insert collective noun] of iguanas. Practically tripping over them - it felt like being in a bonsai jurassic park at times.

These particular ruins are noted for their complex details which are surprisingly well preserved. You are also permitted to climb over them which enabled me to view from the top of the largest pyramid, hundreds of square kilometres of jungle. As I wandered off on my own I could also appreciate the quietness and beauty of the setting, and sitting on top of a Mayan pyramid with thousands of birds circling and the odd inquisitive iguana creeping out from under a rock is an extremely satisfying experience.

We also drove several hundreds of kilometres to get to Campeche where we are spending the night. Tomorrow morning we head off across the other side of the peninsular to Tulum reknowned for its ruins on the edge of the ocean.

view from the hostel balcony at night

campeche centre from the monkey hostel

village hut state of campeche







Friday, June 29, 2007

ay ay ay ay meh hico

I really must make amends for that previous comment about United. I was tired, I was hungry, I realise I expected too much in terms of basic service. My next flight to Cancun was a considerable improvement - I like the leg room of United planes and the aisles are extra wide to accomodate the flight attendants zimmer frames.

Now you might think I´m being facetious but here are some facts for you from my flight. There were three ´stewies´ on board and their combined ages exceded 210 years. Seriously - I know that for a fact.

Our sole male steward is the longest serving male steward in the airline - possibly in ALL airlines in ALL the world having clocked up 58 years in the job. He was the first male flight attendant, and he and his wife the first married couple attendants. I had a chat with Ron - he was a great bloke, totally active and fit and just loved the job. Kudos to United for letting him stay at work.

I have now managed to meet up with Jane and Shane and we have driven from Cancun to Valladolid in a little red tin can across some of the most mundane scenery imaginable. Trees. Just trees. Each one exactly the same size, colour and shape as the others.

However our first stop was a place called Ek Balam - a Mayan temple in the jungle, remote and little visited. In fact when we arrived there were only 2 other people there and they were leaving. It´s how I like my ruins - deserted.

We left there for its antithesis - Chichen Itza - a magnificent site - probably the best Mayan ruins in the Yucatan but it was January sales at Grace Brothers moved to Christmas Eve with a closing down fire sale and 50% off everything in the store. Shane took great delight in eavesdropping on the Japanese tour guides the clever bugger.

There is not much I can say about Chichen Itza best look at some pictures and Google it if you wanna know more!

We are currently in Merida in the state of Campeche and its very wet with about 150% humidity. I´m dog paddling as I type.

I´ve eaten so many jalapeno chilies and refried beans it´s probably just as well I have my own room.

a sign on a door in my hotel - it made me laugh

the amazing Ron

the terrible trio reunited

a cenote - a freshwater sinkhole

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

holiday inn????

Can you believe I'm currently staying in a Holiday Inn?? Whilst I would much rather be sticking forks into my eyes I currently have no choice. I am suffering the indignity of a layover in Washington in what is probably the most boring part - about 10 kms outside of the airport.

Last night (or at least I think it was last night - with the time changes and the not sleeping I'm a little hazy about it all.) I left London bound for Mexico. I have had almost no sleep for around 38 hours.

I just had to ask the woman at the next computer where I was. She looked at me a little strangely and said the Hotel Business Centre and I said no...where in the country am I.

I can't accurately describe her next look.

But all was going well until we taxied out onto the runway at Heathrow. I had previously decided that as I had a flight around half seven in the morning which necessitated checking in 3 hours before hand, plus an hour to travel from Clapham Junction to the airport, going to bed on Monday night really wasn't worth it. So I did the infamous "all-nighter".

I planned on sleeping on the plane. Silly me.

Anyway back to the runway, apparently a door on the plane hadnt shut properly so they sent 6 technicians on board to try and fix it. I had to get out of my seat so one of them could lie on the floor face up under my seat like a mechanic checking your universal joint (thats a car term I picked up somewhere... or at least I hope it is.) Another couple had stripped panels off one of the emergency doors and were 'tinkering'. (No REALLY - they were tinkering - you know when people stick there heads into various broken things with flashlights and prod randomly in the forlorn hope that it will miraculously fix the problem. Thats exactly what they were doing.)

Well three hours of tinkering seemed to do the job and we finally took off. It also meant that I missed my connection to Cancun. My resulting experience with United Airlines Customer Service was then like an episode of Seinfeld, and I had a patronising minion pack me off to the Holiday Inn.

I have been here three hours already and have only just been able to access the computer as the entire region has been plunged into darkness as a fierce thunderstorm wiped out the power grid.

United Airline BTW - crap airline faulty doors not withstanding. I know airline food supplies half the world comedians with jokes, but really, my food (I use the term loosely) was appalling. It wasn't breakfast - it was punishment.

And so - here I am in the sterile confines of a chain hotel surrounded by faux luxury with no luggage and 2 day old underpants. Cant even use the pool as my B.S's* are in my backpack which is somewhere that is not here.
(* B.S's = Budgie Smugglers, Aust. slang for Speedos)

Now I need to go to my room and unfold all the towels and open all the guest soaps for the sheer pointlessness of it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

old blighty

Arrived in London last night from Bergen and was met at the airport by friends. Heathrow was chaotic - I realised this is the first time in yonks that I have been to Europe in peak season - and it's not a pretty sight. An airport baggage handlers strike was called in Oslo whilst I was sitting on the plane in Bergen waiting to take off. We initially thought we would be stranded on the plane for hours but they managed to resolve it within 40 minutes so I didn't have to make polite conversation with the excruciatingly boring Norwegian I had to sit next to on the plane. He had an enormous amount to say about the intricacies of the Norwegian fishing industry and I made the mistake of looking interested. And so I was able to make my London connection with about 30 minutes to spare.

Bergen was very relaxing despite my friends only having moved into their new house 4 days before and it being in the middle of major renovations. I enjoyed a nice mix of meeting old friends, walking the back streets of the city and taking a stroll up in the mountains in uncommonly hot and dry weather. I love Bergen - it is just the right sized city and having been there around 10 times now, it feels like a second home. (This is largely due to the wonderful hospitality of my friends there who make me feel like part of the family)

I am here in London for just a few days and then I head to Mexico.

a few more pictures from Bergen:

stencil graffiti

bergen rooftops

up in the mountains

novel parking solution

friends' holiday cottage (built c.1780's)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Here is a sample of photos from the trip so far. I can't tell what they look like as I have sun blazing through the window on my monitor. So here's hoping.

Bergen in Western Norway is enjoying spiffing good weather so I'm out wandering the cobbled streets in just a white bond's T-shirt (no surprises there.) It's peak season so the place is full of damned tourists.

I am here until Saturday catching up with friends before I head to London

blue lagoon

blue lagoon

stencil art

reykjavik cathedral

reykjavik house


walked behind this waterfall


hexagonal crystal rock formations

south coast of iceland

if it looks like a tree.....

the duck

jokulsarlon lake

jokulsarlon lake

holding 12,000 year old ice and looking for a 12,000 year old vodka and tonic

jokulsarlon lake

jokulsarlon lake

do i look cold?

terry at iceberg lake thinking of hot chocolate

jokulsarlon lake

jokulsarlon lake

jokulsarlon lake

jokulsarlon lake

jokulsarlon lake

jokulsarlon glacier southern iceland

jokulsarlon glacier

volcanic desert through speeding bus window

more of the above

getting misty at skogafoss


keri(th) crater

another waterfall

geyser at geyser

terry at gulfoss


steam vent in a lava field

typical landscape in iceland

reykjavik sculpture

fishing port on snæfellnes peninsula

the black beach

close up of the black beach

more landscape

boats reykjavik harbour

reykjavik harbour

indicative of an island with a small gene pool

vigeland sculpture frogner park

vigeland fountain