Five Funny Things That Happened Whilst Travelling

By Evie Hadley (Age 9)

BIG Fishing!

One funny thing that happened whilst travelling was when, in Sri Lanka, out of the bus window, we saw some Asian people sitting on bamboo (very thin) poles fishing in the sea wihout even holding on! Mummy explained that to us that they were stilt-fishing and that these people were very practiced at balancing and fishing at the same time. Clever and funny.

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No stilt fishing captured on camera, but a lovely beach shot where you sometimes see the fishermen

Monster Ahoy!

Well, the story starts when we are swimming in the sea at Komodo National Park, Indonesia. Diving down to look at coral, playing with Christmas tree worms and chasing fish. Then suddenly Mummy came up screaming that she had seen a hideous monster with a human sized head, shiny, colourful skin, two slit-like eyes and no nose. A couple of days later we were watching a marine wildlife program and we found that Mummy had seen an octopus. Poor Mummy!

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Mummy, blissfully unaware that she’s about to experience utter terror

Faking An Elephant!

This story starts when we were sitting in Chitwan on the verandah outside our large, cosy room.

We were chatting (about Tettie’s broken leg) when we all heard a strange, trumpeting sound and look around. Assuming it was an elephant (probably the one who lived in our resort) and carried on chatting. Then the noise came again and (once again) looked round to see a western man walking along blowing his nose. He sounded so much like an elephant!

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The resident elephant at Travellers Jungle Camp

Just Keep Plodding

We were trekking in the mountains of Nepal walking, walking, walking, “GET OUT OF THE WAY OF THE YAKS!” Jingle, jingle, jingle, yaks coming through! The yaks were clomping along on the thin mountain ledges where they probably wouldn’t fall off due to their stale, gripping hooves (although they were being whipped quite hard on the bum!)

The yaks were followed by donkeys (also being whipped on the bum). Did you know that yaks get low altitude sickness?!

Yak (or maybe a Nak)

Yaks Ahoy!

Crocodile v’s Elephant

Yes, Mummy let us swim in the elephant and crocodile infested river in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. (We had to wear life jackets though). There were two types of crocodile. Most were gharials, which only eat fish; others were marshmuggers which eat people and fish but are scared of elephants. We had a game called silent gliders where we glided silently along in the water (pretending not to be able to see each other). FUN!

The Crocodile Game

A game of silent gliders during our first trip to Chitwan

The Most Useful Thing We’ve Taken Travelling Around Asia: Waterproof Cast Cover

By Scarlett Hadley (Age 9)

We didn’t exactly take a waterproof cast cover, but…

Well the story really started when we began to climb for the second time in the Anapurna region. After 3 days of trekking it happened.

I broke my leg. Luckily, a helicopter came, soaring into the air with all five members of our family inside, and at last came to rest in Kathmandu, on Vayoda Hospital’s helicopter landing place. When we left Vayodah (me and Mummy in ambulance, Daddy and my sisters in a taxi) my leg had been set into a big full length cast.

Scarlett Onboard the Helicopter

Scarlett being a big, brave girl in the helicopter

The waterproof cast cover was delivered several weeks later in Chitwan National Park, where elephants are the great kings.

After one and a half weeks in Chitwan the cast cover because useful. My sisters were off to wash the elephants, my Nepali friend had to go to a funeral and so me and Mummy had to stay at our hotel, Travellers Jungle Camp. We went to the bathroom ad for the first time put on my waterproof cast cover. Woops, splash, the showers got out of hand! Water – war!

Me and Mummy had a waterfight until my sisters came home and we all played cards. It began when I threw a bucket of water at Mummy, big mistake! She threw one back at me. The bathroom got soaked as water went flying back and forth, having quite an adventure. Splashing back at Mummy all I could see was thousands and thousands of tiny droplets of water soaring to and fro around me. A lot of fun was involved in the weird and wonderful water fight. At last, after 2 and a half hours, both dripping, we left the flooded bathroom to drain, just as my sisters and Daddy came home.

Our Room Name (Rhyming SLang?)

Our room in Chitwan where we stayed a total of 41 nights while Scarlett recovered

Sublime Swimming

On the first day in Thailand we swam in the Hotel Malaysia’s big, deep swimming pool. Me and my sisters played mermaids and used the rubber rings as boats, sailing around and often falling off…

The swimming pool was 3-4 metres deep and very fun. The cold refreshing water had a well tiled floor, which was painted a light shade of turquoise, as were all four walls. My cast cover floated, allowing me to plow easily through the water.

Waterproof Cast Cover in Action

Scarlett in action with the waterproof cast cover

Sandy Samui

After I had my cast changed there was a different tale to tell…

This was swimming from Mummy to Daddy in the wild raging waves of Ko Samui. The water was deep and green but yet my waterpoof cast cover floated above the surface, bobbing gently with the waves. We had a very good time in Ko Samui. I could not get in the sea without help. I could not do this because I only had 3 legs (when I was on all fours).

Scarlett Literally Island Hopping

Broken leg on the beach, Ko Samui

Bad Bubble Maker:  Waterproof Cast Cover is Good.

When we went to do a bubble makers course [an introductory scuba diving course] it was a disaster!

The air tanks were too heavy and the wet suits were too big. I only had one flipper, but the cast cover didn’t sink. It floated along like a good little cast cover and we managed to swim the huge distance (Mummy pulling me half the way). My waterproof cast cover saved me that one big day.

Ready to go diving

Nothing stops Scarlett joining in, not even a broken leg!

Hua Hin

In Hua Hin, I had my cast taken off but my leg was so sensitive it couldn’t touch the water…

Hua Hin was an extremely nice place with an open, public swimming pool right next to our hotel. As my leg couldn’t touch the water I put on my waterproof cast cover. Then we all swam. We played for a very long time until I could take off the cast cover and slowly swim without it. YES! I didn’t have a broken leg!

Scarlett enjoying the freedom of no cast on her leg!

The early days of freedom!

Five Things I’ll Miss About Travelling Around Asia With My Family

Hero in a Half Cast

By Scarlett (aged 8)

  1. I think I’ll miss having a broken leg because of all the special attention. Still, I wish I hadn’t had the accident. I say this because it was very painful at the beginning, also it went on and on and on for 2½ months. It never saw the sun, consequently it grew paler and paler.
  1. I think I will also miss having a lot of time with my family. I will miss having nearly all day with my sisters to play. Also having little school as you will hear about in the next paragraph. We do not have much time at home because of all the different things that we do not do here such as Mummy and Daddy’s work, going to school, and diving lessons.
  1. Homeschooling I will also miss because it is much shorter than normal school and still I think I learn just as much.
  1. I will miss trekking because it is good fun and it is an amazing maze of cliffs and steep drops. At first it was tiring to the legs and shoulders but it got easier and easier as we walked. The places to stay were cheap and an exciting experience.
  1. The views of Nepal are stunning as are the birds of prey. We saw golden eagles flying below us, great blue-looking mountains soaring above us and scraggly, old, dying, dead-looking trees grew around us. Beautiful views stretched out surrounding us. Views appear all over the place: sunsets, beaches, mountains, jungles and islands.

Busy Days on Sequijor

After a long laze in Sipalay, we wanted to speed things up a bit, but – wow! – the last three days on Sequijor have been so incredibly full that I could fill a blog post about each, individually. However, it’s getting late and we’re packing up and moving on tomorrow so I guess I’ll just get it all down as best I can before my kids come running back from the coconut trees on the beach to tell me how starving they are and none of it gets written down at all.

On our first day here on Sequijor, we decided to go exploring. Wandering up to the main road, we hailed a tricycle (a Philippine euphemism for a rattle-engined motorbike with equally rattley home-made sidecar) and asked the to take us round the island, stopping at the sights. It was awesome!

We visited a local park in St. Juan with a “swimming pool” (pond) where the girls swam. We stopped at some beautiful, 4-level waterfalls where we all swam, including swimming right under the falls into a hidden cave behind.

Then a coastal resort where they had built water slides and diving boards into towering cliffs over the sea. The slides were closed and partially collapsed, an unfortunate testament to ambition over realisation, but the diving boards were relatively stable-looking, so we climbed up and had a look over the edge. It was a long way down. The kind of long way that made the 10m board at the Leeds pool where our girls took diving lessons seem like jumping off a curb into a puddle. The kind of long way that would give a Mexican cliff diver second thoughts. So, of course, me and the girls all immediately jumped off.

In between, we stopped at old Spanish churches, little farming villages, a 500 year old balete tree said to be home to a powerful spirit (and which Evie climbed most of the way up when our backs were turned — no curses have yet made themselves apparent, though, so I’m guessing the spirit didn’t mind), a co-operative dairy selling real cheese and pasteurized milk (rare luxuries nowadays for us) and a few pretty view spots, eventually returning home exhausted, stimulated and still rattling from hours aboard our guide’s bone-shaking sidecar.

The next day we decided to climb a mountain. There’s only one here on Sequijor (called Mt. Bandilaan) and details on reaching the top (both on the web and our guidebooks) were kind of sketchy so weren’t entirely sure what to expect or even how to get there.

In the end, it was a very easy walk. There was a narrow paved road all the way to the top. The greatest difficulty, in fact, was convincing the various Filipinos we met along the way that we actually wanted to walk. No-one could understand why we wouldn’t use a vehicle when we could afford one.

We did get a bit lost trying to find the path to the actual summit (the road only passes nearby) but when we eventually found it, the 360° view around the island was gorgeous.

On the way down, our trike driver came and met us near the top. Once more, it took quite a lot of explaining to get across the idea that we wanted him to go back and wait for us halfway up the mountain. As he drove away, he shot us the most astonished and puzzled look I’ve seen since telling a porter in Nepal that we wanted to carry our own bags.

As the mountain had proved so easy to conquer, we decided to spend the afternoon swimming in the sea. Under “suggested places for snorkeling” in our Lonely Planet, it said “strap on your mask and fins and dive in anywhere”. So that’s what we did. Swimming out from our resort (the lovely but only-just-within-our-price-range Villa Marmarine) we saw sea grass, hard corals, tropical fish, lots of sea urchins and generally had fun splashing around in the astonishingly clear, turquoise water. Me and Jem even swam right out to a bangka moored in deeper water where we could free dive down to even more impressive reefs.

For tea we got our own back on the trepidation that all the sea urchins had given us while swimming by ordering sea urchin spaghetti from the menu. Revenge, it turns out, is surprisingly tasty.

Day three. I wanted to do a dive trip and as there was no-one else at our resort who was a diver, we were able to hire the entire boat to ourselves. I would dive while Janet and the girls snorkeled.

I wasn’t sure whether to believe the guy at our resort when he said the local marine sanctuary (Tulapos) was just as impressive as Apo Island (a famous marine sanctuary 15km from here) but it was probably the best dive I have yet done. The soft and hard corals, rainbows of fish (too many to mention), sea snakes (yes, another banded krait but this time as big as a python), gigantic lobsters and surreal nudibranches alone they would have been enough to make for an amazing dive. But while under, I swam with not one but two massive sea turtles, fulfilling a diving ambition I’ve had since I learned at New Year.

After returning, as I still had plenty of air left in my tank, and the dive boat was moored in very shallow water, I gave Jemima and Scarlett an impromptu SCUBA lesson, giving them my secondary air source and sinking down to the sea floor to explore. They loved it.

All that alone would have made for a memorable day’s diving but on the way home something even more astonishing happened: a huge school of dolphins appeared near our boat, then, when the crew started clapping and thumping the deck, swam over and raced alongside us, leaping, twisting, diving, pairing off, skimming the surface… And all the while, the long, flat-decked nose of the bangka meant we could stand right out over the water, surrounded by dolphins playing on three sides. It was magical, and, according to the crew, incredibly rare in the waters around Sequijor.

Whew! Three days of intense and thrilling experiences and I feel both awed and exhausted. Tomorrow we move to a new resort with a pool. I wouldn’t be too surprised if we ended up being less ambitious and just spend the day recovering at the poolside.

Nepal Through the Eyes of a Child

Today’s our last day in Nepal.  So for home school, we set the children a series of questions about Nepal to find out what they really think of it, what they’ve learned and what they’ll remember.  Here’s what they had to say, in their own words, with spelling and grammar mistakes uncorrected:-

1. Describe a journey in Nepal including 5 things that are different to England.

Evie:  If you want to make a bus journey in Nepal you have to be prepared for a wild, bumpy journey during which you will probabley feel sick.  Flashing by you catch glimses of mangy old dogs which doesn’t help your already horrible sick-feeling.  Next to all the dogs you find yourself rattling along a cliff ledge with a terrifying drop below you and a towering cliff above you.  When you finally reach your destination you find chat-pot stalls flashing by instead of the terrifying scenes that have already been described to you.

Scarlett:  When making a taxi journey in Nepal you might see a Chat-pot stall which you would not see in England.  A chat-pot stall is a tipe of street food.  It is a lot of dried noodles mixed with pulses and spices.  You also might see a half finished building held up by bamboo poles which stretch between one floor and the roof, criss-crossing.  Another thing you would see is mangy old dogs with bold patches all over them and grey skin.  They make me feel horrid!  You would deffinately see little, golden Buddhas sitting in the frames of a wound up window.  When the sun is up they will shine and twinkle in its reddish rays.  Finnaly, you might see the same Bamboo swings.  These are four bamboo poles stuck in the ground.  Two of them are criss-crossing on the right.  One bamboo pole with ropes hanging off it is resting on the criss-crossing on the ropes there is a plank of wood.

Jemima:

Trekking in the Nepal Everest Region

Everest looming up and fountain mist.  Sherpas carrying things on their heads and things with Everest in their names.  Little children saying, “Namaste”.  These are some of the things you might see along the way.

2.  Finish this sentence:  In Nepal, I have learned…

Scarlett:  In Nepal I have learned that honking your horn means “I’m coming past you!”  I have also learned that in Chitwan it is legal to ride Elephants in the street.  The last thing I’ve learned is that there is a lot of guest houses with the word ‘Everest’ in them.

Jemima:

  • Fractions
  • Desemals
  • Long Devision
  • I hate Kathmandu!

[Mum – perhaps we need to work on spellings next]

Evie:

  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Websites
  • Writing improvements
  • Stories
  • Art
  • The tallest mountain in the world is in Nepal

3. Finish this sentence:  In Nepal, I have enjoyed…

Scarlett:  In Nepal I have enjoyed having elephants.  I have also enjoyed having both Mummy and Daddy with me.  Lastly, I have enjoyed playing.

Evie:

  • Elephant bath time
  • Mountain views
  • Bright flowers

Jemima:

  • Chitwan
  • Mountain views
  • Elephants

4. Finish this sentence:  In Nepal, I have endured…

Jemima:  In Nepal, I have endured going up Gokyo Ri and getting half an altitude headache; bus journeys and feeling sick on them; trying to manage with only half a suger lump in my tea when I like a full one; living in Kathmandu when there is no where to play.

Evie:  In Nepal, I have endured bus journeys because they are bumpy and seem to take forever; climbing to Gokyo in the wind and the snow; watching Tettie break her leg.

Scarlett:  In Nepal, I have endured going up Gokyo Ri.  It was so hard.  And what did I come up for?  An altitude headache!  I have also endured having a broken leg.  But I’m over that now.  The last thing I want to talk about that I’ve endured is a terrible taxi journey.

5. Describe a Nepali person you have met.  Include what they look like, their personality and your opinion of them.

Evie:  This person’s name is Phurba Sherpa.  He is a half-famous porter-guide who travelled with us and helped us carry our bags and find our way.  He had black hair, brown skin and was very kind.  We travelled with another porter called Hari who doesn’t speak English.  Phurba kept shouting, “Hari, O Hari!” over and over again.  Our whole family liked Phurba and he bought us lots of sweets!

Jemima: Phurba Sherpa!

He is a porter-guide and Daddy is half way through making a website about him.  He is small and happy with black hair and brown eyes.  If he goes with a porter called Hari he is always shouting, “O Hari, O Hari!” over and over again.  He is kind and kept buying us sweets!  I like him.

Scarlett:  I’m going to describe my friend.  I met him in Chitwan National Park.  His name was Bharat Kattel.  Every elephant bathtime he would play the tiger moving game with me.  Like all Nepalese people he had brown skin and a long nose.  He was friendly and said I was clever at the tiger moving game.  He gave me a 400 discount for a copy of the tiger moving game.  He makes a lot of jokes.  I love him and miss him when he’s away.

6. Make 3 recommendations for an English person who is planning to visit Nepal.

Jemima:

  • Go to Chitwan and do an elephant safari because it is brilliant.
  • Stay in Kathmandu the least time you can with children.
  • Visit the monkey temple but don’t touch the monkeys because they might have deseases but do go because it is one of the few exciting places in Kathmandu

Scarlett:

  • I recommend not to stay in Kathmandu long because it is REALY noisy
  • Go on a jeep safari if you ever go to Chitwan.  This is because you get ever so far into the jungle.
  • Lastly go trekking because of the view.

Evie:

  • Go to Chitwan and do Elephant Bath Time because it is totally brilliant
  • Don’t stay in Kathmandu because the air is polluted
  • Go to Pokhara because the lake is fun and not polluted in the middle so you can swim in it

7. Finish this sentence:  The thing I will most remember about Nepal is…

Scarlett:  The thing I will remember most about Nepal is the elephants.  They were like huge boulders rumbling along the road with the mahoots balancing on top.

Evie:  The thing I will remember most about Nepal is the elephants because they had different faces.  They towered above people, motorbikes and horse and carts.  They are hairy and tickle your legs when you sit on them!

Jemima:  The thing I will most remember about Nepal is the elephants because it was the first time I had ever seen them.  They are hit a lot by the mahoots which makes me feel sorry for them.

How a Pizza Broke My Leg

by Scarlett

I never realized what would happen when I ate that pizza…

Suspension Bridge on Annapurna Base Camp Trek

First we went down and flat. But that was only the first part of the day’s trek. Then we crossed a suspension bridge and went up. We were climbing steps forever or so it seemed. Sometimes the steps were little, sometimes the steps were big. Sometimes the steps were smooth, sometimes the steps were bumpy. Sometimes the steps were thin, sometimes the steps were fat. But always the steps went up!

When at last the steps came to a halt at the top of the hill, we had veggie curry and rice each (normally we get three and share). After lunch we climbed again the neverending steps up to our destination, Chommrong!

We were very hungry from all this walking and had three pizzas for tea instead of the usual dhal bhat. Of course, we shared and laughed together, playing pontoon, writing diaries and Mummy and Daddy reading Harry Potter to us. It was most comfortable in that little dining room with civilization all around us.

Then the pizza came and it was delicious. The rich taste stayed in your tummy for a long time after you ate it. Then we climbed yet more steps to bed feeling satisfied, unlocked the door feeling satisfied and got into bed feeling satisfied.

In the night I woke up feeling sick. I got up or tried to. Because as soon as my feet left the bed they hit the wall! I’d tried to get out of the wrong side of my bed. When I was at last out of bed, I felt my way to the wall. It was pitch black! Then I started to cry in despair because I didn’t know which way to go. Luckily, Daddy heard me cry out and showed me the way and I went to the toilet and back to bed.

Then I told him I didn’t feel well. He brought me something to be sick in. Almost immediately after he had left, I was sick! This time Mummy came and sorted me out.

When I woke up again, I was informed that we were not trekking again that day because I was ill but we were exploring the village.

On our way, I fell four or five metres! I landed on my leg it really hurt and the pain didn’t go away. Everyone was asking if I was OK. I said no.

Then Daddy carried me back up the hill to our lodge so that his arms ached.  Every time he stepped, it hurt my leg. When we reached the lodge, I lay down and Daddy ready Harry Potter which I definitely think made it better.

Carrying Scarlett to the Helicopter Landing Field

Then a helicopter came and took us to hospital. The flight was amazing! I felt as though I was floating on a very noisy cloud! The view went on all the time we were on the helicopter. Mountains skidded past and beneath us us villages skated. Forests seemed like patches of grass and I couldn’t see the difference between paths and rivers.

Himalaya Range from a Helicopter

Then we landed on the roof of the hospital and found out we where in Katmandu instead of where we thought we were going, Pokhara.

I never realized what would happen when I ate that pizza… I would end up in Kathmandu with a broken leg… But now I do!

Stair Trekking

So here we are, three days into the Annapurna Base Camp trek, sitting in a crowded trekking lodge, and still in Nepal. Seeing as we were going to stay here longer after deciding to take in India, we’ve just set off an another big trek. First we’re doing Annapurna Base Camp then extending it with a side trip along the end of the Annapurna Circuit and Poon Hill.

It’s been pretty tough so far. Every day has consisted of climbing seemingly endless stone steps, punctuated only by descending stone steps to cross a suspension bridge. Followed, of course, by another massive by ascent. Who needs a Stairmaster?

It’s been made tougher by the fact that not only do we only have one porter this time but Scarlett has hurt her shoulder* and can’t bear to carry a rucksack, so me and Janet are lugging a lot more weight up all these hills.

But, injuries aside, all three of my girls are handling the hard uphills really well. We’re walking further each day than last time as we are lower down so don’t have to worry about altitude sickness but there’s still been little complaining. Jemima and Evie have even accepted, after a little persuading, that it’s OK for Scarlett not to be carrying a bag. Of course the fact that we got a taxi to a supermarket and spent over $70 on treats and snacks helps with the motivations.

Still, despite the sweatiness and shaky legs, it’s beautiful here and I’m loving being out of the city. Pokhara, where we spent the last week, is a lot more chilled out than Kathmandu but it’s still a tourist trap and, with its fake trekking gear shops, Tibetan nicknack stalls and expensive Western-food restaurants, hardly provides the kind of authentic experience we hoped to get from travelling.

The scenery here isn’t yet as impressive as the Everest Region but the drama is building. Fishtail Mountain grows larger each day and has started to reveal how it got its name, it’s twin summits jutting dominating the skyline. And the Lonely Planet promises it only gets better. By the end of this leg of the trek, we should be in a vast amphitheatre, surrounded on all sides by the Annapurna massif.

And after today, there are no communications at all. No phone, no internet. Just us, Krishna (our guide not the Hindu god) and the mountains. And all the other Trekkers, of course, all after their own authentic experiences.

Janet says I must add that it’s not serious, Nana. Don’t worry.