2017. Where to begin. After Vietnam there was a mad flurry of activity. Sorting out loose ends in Jo’burg and Centurion. Finalising paperwork with The GMC, the Royal College in Edinburgh and last minute getaways with my better half. That included meeting part of la Colección in Paternoster before flying over to Glasgow in the middle of winter.
Dubai as a holiday destination. Not for shopping (as most of the world seems to consider a normal holiday activity) but rather somewherethat was halfway for each of us to travel, somewhere that was warm (did I mention Glasgow in winter?) and somewhere that had fun activities to do that weren’t preceded by ‘Mind the gap’.
Most of the people who heard that we were going to Dubai assumed that it was for shopping. Fortunately I can report back that I probably spent about three hours in shopping centres in total (and that included coffee in Starbucks un the middle of a Mosque (Ibn Battuta Mall). Pictures of that will be in the next post.
Atlantis. Sol Kerzner’s creation. Great day spent at the waterworld.
Marike found some pink fish.
Not bad for a smartphone.
High tea at the Burj al Arab – great way to start the holiday
Sunset at Jumeirah Beach on the Palm
The Burj from a moving vehicle (an open bus at night)
The Burj Khalifa – pictures in another post on what it looks like from the top.
So activities that need to be done (and I can recommend) are related to fast cars, tall buildings and good food. Photographic evidence to follow in the next installment.
The view from the world’s only 7 star hotel.
Blog Update Vietnam 13 January Day 6
An early but rushed start. We seem to be settling into these late Vietnam starts in the morning. Johann contemplated doing a trip to Halong Bay without any luggage. His resolution lasted until we got to the bus.
Stopped off at a tourist shop. Production workshop – manned by disabled people, predominantly due to Agent Orange. (Unverified)
1945 – 95% population unable to read.
Homeless people not visible
70% live in rural areas and subsistence farmers. Low taxes. Low unemployment.
The New Economic Foundation “Happy planet index” on Sustainable living ranked Vietnam as number two in the world in 2012.
Tour guide assured us that the Vietnamese no longer harbour any hatred to the French, Americans or Chinese (admitted that there is always conflict with the Chinese, but not hatred!). 1000 years of North domination (by the Chinese)
One party state. No weapons allowed. Expenditure issues of the central party – sounds like normal discontent that most of us have towards our respective governments. No gambling allowed for locals. Only tourists.
The sun appeared briefly when we arrived at the coast
Even with the high traffic density (90million people in 300 000sqkm) Road rage does not seem to exist here. There is constant hooting but no one seems to become irritated while driving / riding.
Kien- the talkative tour guide for the four hour trip from Swan cruises enlightened us further on the history of the area.
We crossed over the Red river delta, which flows from China. High in Aluvia which enriches the soil and accounts for the higher than average coffee and rice production which makes them the most exported products in the region.
Afternoon activities (between eating) was kayaking and trying to avoid the coral. Due to low tide the coral was visible just below the surface.
On returning to the boat for a quick swim – tourists are no longer allowed to jump of the third deck. I’m guessing some tourists managed to injure themselves doing this st dome stage.
Supper. History lesson.
Squid fishing. Beginners luck played a big role here and I managed not to get any of the ink from the squid on the deck.
Discussion topics for the day: medical treatments that have been turned on their heads due to evidence.
Discussion over dinner. Palentologist who specialises in reptiles 120 million years old. Diesel mechanic from Switzerland who had his license taken away for three months for going 34km/h over the speed limit
As always, flying along the Mighty Yukon (even when frozen) serves as a reality check as to how big the river is and how harsh it is out there.
Monty, one of the IFA pilots, took us for a scenic trip down the Yukon en route to Galena. We flew over Ruby and about six teams. The day before they had seen three wolves on the river.
Flying into Galena, an ex-USAF Jet Fighter base during the Cold War.
The Saab that took us back to Anchorage.
The transition from a snow covered landscape to the dryer ice covered land in the south. This was the major reason why the restart or the race was moved from Willow to Fairbanks.
The view from The Millenium Hotel, Anchorage. The lake (also functions as PAMR) is all iced up with no snow to be seen anywhere.
There are always special moments on this race.
When Martin Buser’s team all started howling while he was blotting them up prior to leaving.
Listening to Jason Mackey saying quite logically why taking his 24hr so early in the race. (His team were all young and they didn’t want to wake up and go for the eight hour stop. This combined with his brother (Lance) needing some support as his Reynard’s was playing up.
In the early hours of the morning the Northern Lights display was spectacular.
The pictures are on my big camera so those will be posted once I am back home with my desktop.
Transport in “the Sex Machine”. Names due to the T-shirt that has been duct taped to the rear, stating: “it’s not a beer belly, it’s a fuel tank for the sex machine”.
Today I head up the trail to Unalokleet on an IFA flight. Looking forward to the scenery.
Find your line. Go beyond it.
28 hours uninterrupted wakefulness.
Three of us checking 58 teams (14-16 each) in the preceding 12 hours.
It was unrelenting.
The dog yard before the storm
Morning sunrise over the Yukon
Dog teams everywhere.
Now for a few hours of actively sleeping.
The race restart apparently went off uneventfully in Fairbanks this morning. Teams are racing down the trail. According to the trail breakers (who stayed in Tanana on Sunday night) the trail was soft so they expected the lead teams to take a little strain while the trail became more compacted.
The media guys. Along claimed the accommodation next to the checkpoint that we had settled into. This necessitated a move to a house that is a ten minute walk away. At least we now have running water and ablutions on site!
First teams expected this morning. They are still close together so it will be quite frenetic for the first 24hrs. We should be able to split up and do shifts after that. There are 6 vets, 3 rookies.
Here are some images from my evening walk around Tanana:
What was our Shangri-La. Now the Media Centre.
View down the river where the team will head down. (Yukon River). The locals say if there isn’t a head wind, then you are going the wrong way.
The local school at dusk.
At around midday the weather cleared enough for us to attempt a flight into Tanana from Fairbanks. The first two planes managed to get in to Tanana. My flight – which left within ten minutes of the first two – ended up almost returning to Fairbanks due to deteriorating visibility.
The village was only expecting us tomorrow (Monday), so food and functioning ablutions were an issue.
- The jet lag / multiple flights and cumulative sleep deficit is starting to catch up with me.
6am to catch the commercial flight to Fairbanks.
Now to fly to Tanana.