Monday, October 03, 2005
On the final leg of our trip now. One more sleep and we fly home to Sydney.
Since my last email we have travelled through Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and finished the tour in France. We stopped in some lovely places along the way. Among the most memorable was the historic fishing village of Enkhuizen in the Netherlands. Wonderful history, top shopping and delicious bakeries! (as if we needed more food!) The harbour is the life centre of this friendly village and fishing fleets still exist. Many tradirtional sailing ships which have been well preserved or restored can be hired to sail the Shallowsea or the Northsea even up to the Baltic. Some of our group took the one hour train trip into Amsterdam. Others, including yours truly hired bikes and cycled around the canals, through wonderful parklands out into the countryside.
Our first stay in France was in Peronne (Somme) - about 196km north of Paris. Close by at Villiers Bretonnaux we visited the Australian National Memorial park of war graves. This memorial is to the Australian men and women of WW1 who after the ill fated Dardonelles campaign in Turkey 1915 took part in the operations along the Western Front - the Somme, the Hindenburg Line and Flanders. The most significent contribution they made was in 1918 to the end of the war by halting the Germans break-through at Villiers Bretonneux on 15 April and liberating substancial terrain in Aug-Sept. A moving and beautifully maintained memorial set in what is now very peaceful and beautiful countryside.
Also we visited the local primary school which was a gift to the children of Peronne from the
children of Victoria (Aust) as proof of their good will towards France. Twelve hundred Aust soldiers, the fathers and brothers of these children gave their lives to the capture of the town from the invaders on 24 April 1918 and are buried near this spot. Attached to the school is a truly wonderful museum set up in the memory of these and other brave Australian men and women who died to forever bond France and Aust in friendship and mutual esteem. In the schoolyard is a very large grren and yellow sign which reads in English 'Never Forget Australia". All very moving.
Right now I email from Chiang Mai. This city is set in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains which are part of the Himalayan foothills. It is a much more relaxed city than Bangkok. You may have seen recent news report of Chiang Mai being flooded. Although we were moved to a different hotel than we had booked because of flooded roads, there is little evidence remaining of the flood which has closed businesses and markets etc. However about 20 minutes ago the sun disappeared and heavens opened up and now heavy rain is teeming down. Somewhere in the city John is still cruising around on our rented motor scooter. We have had fun riding around the city and to do that without accident is somewhat a miracle. Mind you, we could have caused a few!!
Yesterday we visited the Elephant farm. Gosh they are gorgeous gentle big animals and so well cared for. We all had the elephant ride which was very bumpy and watched the elephants work and have their bath in the river. We were to go river rafting however the river was moving too swiftly. Later we women visited the Thai beauty parlour to be pampered. Couldn't see much difference after an hour or so but we felt relaxed! Of course a visit to Thailand for me would never be complete without the traditional Thai massage. Two hours of heaven - for $18! Last evening John and I took the motor scooter to the Sunday street markets. We ate there and had yet another foot massage. The food here is absolutely delicious if one enjoys Thai cruisine as we do. It seems different to the Thai food we get in Australia - much hotter even though they decrease the amount of chillies for us.
We were awfully saddened to hear about the latest Bali bombings. Savage Communications represents Bali's only international airline - Air Paradise. One of the airline's top men was critically injured by one of the bombs. John of course is in close touch with his client and senior office staff. A very sad situation for everyone concerned but especially for the gentle Balinese people.
Tomorrow we fly via Bangkok to arrive in Sydney early Wednesday. I am looking forward to seeing friends and neighbours again and expecially my gorgeous cat Minkie and Myles' dog Zac. I miss them very much when I am away.
Thanks everyone for your emails. Love hearing all your news.
God willing will see you soon.