Monday, 29 October 2012

Les Memoires de Paris

Ce Weekend je suis alle a Paris, c'etait ma premiere fois depuis un an. Cette fois, je suis alle par l'Eurostar mais avant j'y etais alle en avion.

Vendredi soir, nous avons bu et donse dan le Marais. Nous avons visite le Raide Bar ou nous avos rencontre les amis de mon ami. je l'avais rencontre il y a trois ans, mais cette fois il est arrive avec son nouveau petit ami, qui habite a Lausanne en Suisse. Il travaille a l'universitie de Lausanne.

J'ai ete au Raide Bar pendant mes deriere vacances. J'aurais pense que j'aurais aime Raide Bar, mais non - il y aurait trop de monde et la musique est trop forte. Apres nous sommes alles a un autre bar poire des cocktails. J'ai bu un cocktail qui s'appelle - Expresso - les ingredients sont l'expresso, la vodka, et le whiskey. C'etait tres bon.

Pour finir nous avons danse jusqu'a 04:00hr. Nous leur avons dit bonne nuit et nous marche a l'hotel. Cela a pris seulement 15 minutes.

Le matrin suivant une alarme nous a reveille a 09:00hr. Elle sonne pendant 20 minutes avant que directeur de l'hotel a l'eteindre. Mais nous avions attendu dehors pendant 5 minutes. J'avais mal a la tete. J'avais bu trop.

On a mange le petit dejuner et on a visite Notre Dame et Le Louvre. On avait fait la queue pour l'entree pendant une heure. Pendant ce temps il a fait froid et il a plu.

Mes pieds ont ete mailles. Jai vu la Mona Lisa dans le Louvre, elle est tres petite. Nous avons marche le Louvre pendant trois heures. J'ai eu tres soif, et j'avais besoin d'eau. Si j'y allais encore, je prendrais de l'eau.

Aussi, si j'avais su que Notre Dame fermait tot, j'irais plutot.

Apres on s'est asses dans un cafe et j'ai pris une cafe et un gateau au chocolat. Sur de moment le soleil a brille.

Quand j'irai a Paris encore, je prendrais mon appereil photo. Je souhaite j'aurais pris plus de photos. Mais, j'ai fait quel ques les bons souviens de Paris.

(Excuse my French, I am learning and using my lessons to develop my writing).

Friday, 26 October 2012

And travels take me to 30

I'm now 30!

I'm now seeing the world through eyes that have seen three decades.

Crossing the world on feet that have walked for 29 years.

Holding the world in hands that first grasped thumbs now taking grip of life.

Breathing through a nose that sat like a button on the face now intrudes into matters that doesn't concern it :-)

The mouth that once struggled to say Mum and Dad now struggles to control what comes out but aims to please and entertain.

I today think like I've lived, and wanting to live just to enjoy time I always did.

 Today I turn 30 - to continue to see the world for what it has to offer!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Vietnam - the architectural ruins, the unbelieveable My Son

Final day in Hoi An and we headed to My Son - first with a laid-back and thoroughly enjoyable 38km cycle to the ruins among the outer villages of Hoi An following rivers and lakes full of lily's. The sun hid behind the soft clouds as we made our way through the thick of humidity. By the time we got the ruins I was soaked through begging for water.

From the entrance we made our way through the thin forest towards the several sets of tombs of the Dynasty that reigned 2 AD - 15 AD. I was amazed by the sheet quality of the craftmenship of the ruins, some dating back as far as 6 AD. The stories you could have told here if it hadn't been bombed by the Americans during their war who thought they were bombing settlements - instead UNESCO awarded tombs were being demolished to ruins.

Walking round these, you can see the strength and quality of modern brick, it's resiliance from the elements of torrential rain, dry heat and severe humidity. The delicate carvings in the walls and ornate statues and carved entrances. Those that survived took you to another place, another world showing the sheer sophistication of engineering.

Those that were bombed showed fresh demolition, walls left as they had been hit. Craters surrounding the remains. The area was shattered. The realisation of the destruction of war hit home! War doesn't destroy just today - it destroys yesterday too!

If you have to destroy a city to win a war - you're not here for liberalism and democracy - you're here to entrench your power, take control and take ownership.




Visit to My Son

Today we start our day with a short bus journey to a place called Nam Phuoc from where we will cycle our way through to MySon. My Son has been dubbed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and has ruins of structures from ancient Champa Kingdom which flourished between the 2nd and 15th Centuries.
For those hankering for culture and history, this presents an ideal opportunity to explore the most evocative of Vietnam’s Cham sites at My Son. The Chams were dynastic lords who rejected the authority of China in 2AD and established their own kingdom. For 1000 years they managed to stave off attacks by the Vietnamese and Chinese, before being overcome by the Vietnamese in the 15th century. The site contains several impressive groupings of Cham temples and present probably the finest example of Cham masonry skills in the country.
We take a bus back to our hotel in Hoi An.
Total cycling: 30kms

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Vietnam - welcome to Hoi An - part 2

Our hotel was beyond expectation with a swimming pool, views and a bar. We were over half way through our journey and the hotels were getting much more impressive.

As we walked into town we were greeted by unit after unit of tailored show stores, clothing and suites, silk and crafts housed in buildings with a period mediterranean theme; Portuguese, Southern French, on small streets in a gridlike system busied by scooters, tourists and women with their market wares.

the river glistened in the sun - home to colourful tourist boats. The air filled with the smell of fresh Vietnamese food - fish, banana leaf, sweetcorn, chicken - herbs.

The first night I organised my wool cashmere suit - frantically choosing colour and fabric, style and sizing before dashing off to meet the rest of the crew for dinner then a quiet walk around the town with lanterns scattered along the roads and bridges. It was incredibly romantic - suddenly loneliness hit. Hoi An is not a late-bird, the shops shut and local tucked up in bed by 10pm.

The next day I was up at 5am to catch the local fish market, I was determined to see the hustle and bustle of this seemingly small town. I was confronted by a hectic waterfront of market traders of all kinds. The smells were incredible and the people friendly and welcoming and knew I wasn't there to buy and looked suspiciously at my camera. Here I got caught out, a lovely trader requested a photo - then demanded I pay her $1US. So be careful- this is a trick by the Vietnamese.

After breakfast, we cycled the back roads in the village watching how locals made sleeping matts, pottery, bamboo boats.

By afternoon it was off for more Hoi An shopping therapy including tailored shoes and trainers. By 6.30pm the sun was setting fast - the air cooled to a bareable degree and we ate and drank for the rest of the night - well the latest place we found was midnight!

Tomorrow I would pick up my tailored suit - the excitement was building.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Vietnam: Descending to Hoi An

It was an early start, we were leaving Hue and off to the coast and further south. My excitement increased a notched with the expectation of more sun and warmer skies.

After seeing a bunch of avid cyclists as we climbed the hills before Danang, I felt envious; i was feeling guilty that these rides were a little easy. We reached 500m in a cloud covered hill tops - the mist thick enough to feel between the fingertips - much thicket and it'd be like caressing cotton wool.

the descent was simple - breaks on all the way as the road zigzagged to sea level. Half way down and I felt the burn on my shoulders, which I ignored for the peddling when we reached the flat. Two hours later in the middle of a suntrap we had completed 18km.

Every town we pass is growing - here in Danang were two huge tower blocks under construction, a line of new hotels and a suspension bridge. Onwards towards Hoi An just as we approached China Beach and we were confronted with a barren beach coast on one side and small local wood shack properties on the other. As we moved further a long it was obvious that Corporates are renting huge plots of land building mega hotel resorts on this straight bland beach with no personality miles away from any town or external nightlife. These now private beaches barricade themselves in with 20foot high metal sheet fences  - obscuring the view of the locals. Some properties obviously had run out of money, falling apart in their unfinished state. This continued for at least 5km.

Then everything started to clear our as we entered a town/city appearing to have some history, a quaint personality with a small and welcoming smile - it was Hoi An.

Friday, 5 October 2012

First Triathlon - off to Ringwood by water, bike and feet

I made a promise with myself as I turned 29. This year would be the year of my first triathlon. I spent nearly the entire year fretting over this challenge. In fact I researched and found the Triathlon of choice in January, and I booked my entry just 5 days before.

The prospect of a 600 metre swim, 38 mile cycle followed by a finale of a 10km run put fear in my heart. Could I make it? 10km run on its own was hard enough, and I had never completed 600metre in one go. Plus, how could I race? I'd fall behind surely?

I spent the entire year pushing my body harder and further, attending Spinning classes, cycling to work, running up to 10km in one session a week and trying to fit the odd hour of swimming in. When I called Results Triathlon to get more information on The Ringwood Triathlon they said 24 lengths was completed within 8 - 12 minutes....the last time I counted it took me 1 minute a length, but then I discovered 1 of their lengths was half of I was fine and ready to go.

I pumped my heavy mountain bike tyres within a micro-millimetre of their life. and prepared all my kit. I knew I could swim, cycle and run, I know I would exhaust myself but I didn't really know what was in story. Plus the transition worried me, but it was my first time.

Into the water and I was off, I should have been in the faster group as I almost double lengthed the people in my lane. Completed in 11:21minutes and I was off to transition, in my tiny speedos I then had to throw on my shorts, tshirt shoes, helmet, gloves, drink and go. That seemed to take forever.

Off on my bike through the New Forest, the scene was spectacular on a rather lovely but slightly choppy day. At first I gained good momentum, then the racers on proper road racing bikes started coming up from behind and over taking me. Then I started to hit hills, my hefty bike slowed to near a halt, the gears cranked and the worst words were shouted from my mouth - I wanted this ride to be over.

I came in from the cycle after 1hr49minutes and then I needed to run. I was exhausted but I had to keep going. It was good to get my arse of the bike, but then my feet properly hit the road and my ankles gave way - I had 10km left to do! This would be near impossible.

I struggled around the 6mile run, but returned in at 52minutes.

I am proud to say I completed the triathlon in less than the 3 hours I wanted to do it in, at 2hr 52 minutes. I loved it and preparing to do more. Time to buy a new bike and build my ankle strength.