Friday, December 27, 2013

No wet, no fun!

This was the motto of Tu, our boatsman, waiter, jungle and cave guide.
We made a tour to the lake of Khao Sok National Park. It's artificial, the damm was built in 1982 and on that occasion the surrounding area of app. 1000 square kilometers were designated as national park. The most beautiful one of Thailand, some say.
Though we were staying at the park's main entrance, we had to travel in a song thaew (an open pick-up truck mini bus) for one hour. Then we got on a long tail boat for another hour. These open wooden boats can accommodate some 10 people, for the propulsion they have a car engine on a lever, that is the helm at the same time, and they go very fast (and noisily).
Tu warned us before that we would get wet by the spray of the boat's bow. We would get wet anyway, since we were going to walk in a cave and we would have to swim to get through it. “No wet, no fun”, he said.
Well, we got wet. Not in the beginning when he cruised gently past the magnificent Karst cliffs in the lake. Then he speeded a bit to get to the floating guesthouse, where we had a perfect lunch. After that we made a 7 k jungle hike and a 1.5 k cave crossing. We followed a little river under the mountain and indeed, most of the time we had to wade and at certain points the water in the narrow corridors was so deep that we had to swim. Was a beautiful sight, ten of those little head torches wobbling over the water in the pitch dark cave. Later some said they had been a bit scared......
We all survived and were very satisfied about the whole expierience. A highlight of this journey.

When we returned over the lake we were a bit late and Tu revved up his Isuzu 95 hp car engine a bit. Again we got really wet. But, as said before: “No wet, no fun”.

Amazing . . . . . . . .awesome!

During our Australian tour we heard those words very often. We started to think that Aussies easily get exited about something. Whenever they were enthousiastic about something they exclaimed: “Isn't that amazing?” and “Awesome!”. In the beginning we thought that we had to go and see or do what was said to be so amazing and awesome. Very often we found it interesting maybe, nice, but amazing, or awesome.....? We then looked at each other and wondered where all this enthousiasm originated from.

But what happened to us this Christmas really does deserve the terms amazing and awesome. When we were in Melbourne this January (2013) we stayed with the Warmshowers hosts Jude and Astrid. We spent 4 or 5 days in their cosy home while we made our Melbourne city discovery excursions. And we enjoyed the company of this lovely couple, who only had joined Warmshowers shortly before, as they were planning their dream trip : cycling from Melbourne to Scotland. In April they set off and, to make a long story short, our paths crossed exactly with Christmas in Khao Sok, in the lovely garden guesthouse called Nung house. Can you imagine the excitement when we actually met, and the shouts and screams that sounded through Nung house garden?
We then spent some lovely evenings and made a hike in the National park together. On Boxing day we left and said goodbye. The ladies promised to see us again some time in 2015, when they will have reached Breda!
Well, isn't that amazing? And awesome?

I think it's even more, it's brutal!

Monday, December 23, 2013

7-eleven, blessing or curse?

7-eleven, blessing or curse?

7-eleven is a frachise chain of small supermarkets, between 50 and 100 square meters I guess. To be found in many countries in the world. They might be called convenience stores as well, and that's what they are for us as bike-travellers. It's a formula shop, so all 7-elevens are similarly organised, selling the same articles for the same prices. Staff is mostly young, dressed in uniform and working according to standard protocols. So you know what you get and how you will get it, very convenient for us. The shops are to be found in any town of more than a couple of thousand inhabitants and at the bigger petrol stations.
The products they sell are the same as those you would expect in any supermarket, though the choice is somewhat more limited and quantities are smaller, the shops are simply too small for more. But the articles they have are just the little things you daily need, except for fresh meat and vegetables. What we especially like is the coffee and the steamed rolls. You can make your own hot (instant) coffee or ice coffee, and in different sizes. The steamed rolls (in Holland often called Bapao) are hot and together with the coffee they offer an excellent alternative for a noodle-soup breakfast. When we are riding in the heat of the day the ice coffee is very welcome.
So for us 7-eleven certainly is a blessing.
On the other hand these shops (there are more) are one of the expressions of the growing influence of “western” culture. Though the shops are mostly run by local entrepreneurs, there's non-local investment involved, as well as the consequent profit drain. The shops compete with the traditional local retailers, who have their food and fruit stalls and who loose customers. It's uninevitable, happens and happened all over the world, but still, things get lost. So in this sense one might not consider developments like these a blessing.

Another thing we think we noticed is the number of Thai people with overweight. We remember from our first visit in 2006 that at that time it struck us when we saw a obviously too heavy person. It rarely occured. Now this is a regular phenomenon. Is the growing impact of western “civilization” going to have the effects that we know too well from our own country, or from big America? Seems inevitable as well, and is no blessing at all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Birds' nests and jelly fish

We have seen some new things recently. On several occasions during the last weeks our attention was drawn by the noise of a great many birds. Closer investigation revealed that each time the loud shrieking bird sounds came from tower like structures. Concrete towers up to five stories high with no doors or windows, just an opening in the top floor of mayby one square meter. Swallows (I think swift or screamers, Gierzwaluw in Dutch) are swarming around these ugly structures and flying in and out. We were told that these towers were built as to give the birds a place to make their nests, which they make mainly from their own spit. Then the nests are harvested and sold at high prices as a delicacy in countries like China and Korea.

This is not all. At the moment of writing we find ourselves in a swampy delta area along the westcoast. Here we witnessed the harvesting of another delicacy for the consumers in the countries mentioned above. Jelly fish (kwallen). They are caught at sea and then further processed (dehydrated) in nurseries as far as we could see. Thousands of pizza-size snotty pancakes were being gathered out of knee deep basins of app. 6 x 6 meters, sorted, generously salted, put in plastic crates and shipped of in trucks. Smelly affair, bon appétit!!
It's not a secret that the peoples mentioned above have more (in the eye of the westerner) strange, and sometimes unwelcomed, favourites such as dogs, shark fins, rhinoceros' horn, tiger balls and claws, ivory. And think about whale meat in Japan and Norway. And what about hamburgers and coke in the USA? :-)  A traveller will never stop learning and will keep realizing how deeply cultures vary and that real understanding each other is next to impossible. Each one in his own right, but some missionary work could be done here and there.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Big countries

We have pedalled away 1745 kms during this tour so far. And still we are in the same country as where we started, Thailand. And still we have several hundreds kms to go before we will reach Malaysia. All this time we have been not far away from the border with Myanmar (or Burma). Actually it was only a few days that we didn't have the bordering mountain range in sight. We passed the point where Thailand is the narrowest, only 10,9 kms between the sea and Burma. The last two days we have been riding along the Kraburi river, the border is in the middle of it.
Today we are in Ranong, a place with a border crossing with Burma. There are not so many of those and as a cyclist you are not allowed to enter the country. Tourists are only allowed to fly in and out of the country until now, and a visa is granted for maximum 30 days.
This was what we originally wanted, cycle through Burma instead of Thailand, and see this hidden country with our own eyes. Alas, we couldn't get it arranged. We hope for changing times and we might have a second chance some time later.

The border crossing with Ranong is the utmost southern point of Burma, so tomorrow we will finally leave it behind us.  

Burma on the other side.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cycling in Thailand…….

14.00 hrs. Just arrived after a 70 k ride. Checked in, had a swim in the sea from our own beach. Now dreamy Madeleine Peyroux on Spotify and  a cool beer.
Cycling in Thailand. Have been on our way for one month now, done nearly 1500 k. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Three and a half years.....

We met them today, a Swiss couple on their bikes. Xavier and Céline. And their 6 month old baby-girl Nayla.
Xavier and Céline departed from Switzerland three and a half years ago and rode through Turkey, all the ….stans, Russia, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, China, India (and more) and now we met them, riding in the opposite direction of ours, after they have stayed in Malaysia for more than 7 months. They said they liked Malaysia very much (good for us, we'll be there in a month), but the main reason for their prolonged stay was the birth of their little daughter Nayla, who was now quietly lying in the trailer behind Xavier's bike.

Ride round the world, who would not love to do it...….?


Krill is a very small shrimp like creature, its larve belongs to the zoöplankton. It's the main food for the blue whale, the world's largest mammal. If a creature can grow so big from it I suppose it is very nutricious. This morning we got it for our breakfast and I must say, we felt very energetic today. What happened?

Yesterday we stopped and found a very nice place to stay, Seaview place. Beautiful room at the side of a pool, the sea on the other side of the street. The owners, an elderly couple, spoiled us with treats of fruit and lots of attention. They showed us what was going on on the beach. In the water men were slowly walking in the light surf, pushing two long poles forward with a net in between. Every now and then they came ashore and emptied their catch in a big bucket. Krill, the shrimp-like thing, noy longer than one and a half cm, not thicker than one and a half mm. Buckets full of them. It was the once-a-year occasion to catch them, we were told. And the coastal people went for them in order to preserve them to eat later. Very interesting to see and “Wouldn' we like to have them for breakfast?”. Of course we would, if they are good for whales they can't be bad for us. Thus we found them this morning in our omelet. Not bad, they tasted like....not much actually. But we felt very fit today for sure.

Monday, December 9, 2013


The last few days we passed through the Asian equivalent of the typical Dutch polder landscape. It is low and flat land consisting of long and small pieces of land separated from each other by ditches, narrow and bigger canals, here called klongh.
In Holland these patches of land are generally used as grassland for dairy cattle or vegetable growing, here it was mainly coconut palm trees, for miles and miles. Roads have been built only during the last decades and we had to cross hundreds of bridges, sometimes very steep too.
This is therefore a region well known for its floating markets. These are places where traders, farmers and consumers meet, not on hard soil, but in their long boats. Trade is being done in and between boats. Originally this was necessary, since waterways were the only “roads” available. Now these floating markets have become more or less obsolete, still there are a number of them functioning and indeed, a lot of traffic is still being done on the water. Every family house is on the waterside and there is a boat moored along it.
We passed and visited the famous floating market of Damnoen Saduak. There is probably not a single person in the entire world that has not seen photos or commercials of this market. It's the calender and brochure spot of touristic Thailand. Colourful indeed, and for tourists only now. Like we have Volendam and Marken in the Netherlands, they have Damnoen Sadual in Thailand. So OK, been there, done it, got the t-shirt.

Today we spent in Petchaburi and behaved as tourists should. We visited a 1000 year old wat (monastery), an art-deco royal palace (and art deco is very rare here), a tempel complex on a hill that is owned by thousands of monkeys, who are very self confident and fortunately fully ignore human beings, and a cave with a reclining Buddha and wonderful light coming in. Tomorrow we will stop being tourists and become travelers again.  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The bridge over the river Kwai

It took us two days of 95 k each to get from the old historic Ayutthaya to Kanchanaburi. No one will know this city, still it's the seat of one of the most famous tourist attractions of Thailand. It's here that the so called “Death Railway Line” crosses the Kwai river and of this fact we are all very much aware after the movie with Alec Guinness.
This railway line was constructed during WW II under the Japanese occupation of Thailand in 1942-43. It was meant to dramatically shorten the supply route from Japan to the west-Asian countries like India, Iran etc. Unimaginable to what extent the Japanese expansion must have reached in the minds of the Japanese politicians and military.
This railway connection, crossing the Thai peninsula and making it uneccessary to use the straits of Singapore with all its perils, was considered before by the British and rejected as being impossible. Rugged terrain, harsh climate. Still the Japanese army, with their skilled railway engineers, realised to build the app. 500 k line in 20 months. A fantastic achievemant, were it not that it cost the lives of an estimated 100.000 people. To do the work prisoners of war and forced labour of Asian people were used. Most POW's were British, many Australian and also a great number of them were Dutch military of the KNIL (Royal Dutch Indies Army). The latter had been captured after the capitulation of the Dutch East Indies. Thousands of them perished because od tropical diseases, malnutrition and maltreatment by their guards. In Kanchanaburi there is a war cemetery with almost 6000 graves, 1800 of them Dutch. There are no graves though of the multitude of Asians forced labourers, They were buried unidentified in mass graves that cannot be found anymore.
The bridge that is the tourist attraction now is not the one we know from the movie. There were two bridges built, first a wooden one (movie) and immediately after that a concrete and steel one. Both were bombed by allied forces in june 1945 and reconstructed later. The wooden one has dissappeared completely now, the steel one is still in use, though mostly by tourist walking to and fro. Like we did ourselves.
There are two war musea. One is next to the bridge and is a bit of a freak show of all kinds of parafrenalia that have to do with this war and other ones. A really good museum, that tells the story of the railway line and the war in this part of the world in general, is the “Thailand-Burma Railway Centre”, adjacent to the war cemetry.
It took us hours and hours to see all this and to try and grasp the impact of war on peoples' lives and the world's history. Time to process all this on the verandah of our bungalow, that is standing on stilts on the muddy banks of the Kwai river and that offers all the facilities that are necessary to do so.

Meditative cycling

The Santos Travelmaster has especially been designed for the long distance cyclist. As such it has proven itself to us during thousands of kilometers on several continents. As cycle tourers it is our reliable and comfortable companion.
Traveling on a bike gets you in touch with the real life of “the man in the street”, with all the cheers, the little talks, the noises and fragrances belonging to it. Quite different from the regular tourist. He just misses this contact and only starts relating to the people at the moment he leaves his secluded means of transport, at the place where we as cycle tourers stop, take a break and relax.

Long distance cycling can also be a meditative activity. During the ride, on the endless rithm of the continious pedal strokes, you perceive the landscape while your mind goes its own way. Your thoughts travel through the entire universe and enter deep into the inner self of the cyclist. It so happens that, meditating like that, you suddenly realize that you again have covered so many kilometers. And sometimes the Santos brings you to the Buddha himself.

Monday, December 2, 2013


We've seen some. In a few occasions we saw one hurrying across the road and disappear in the grass of the road side before we were there, but most of them sadly as dead creatures on the road surface. Mostly app.1 meter long and not much thicker than a man's thumb. Twice we saw two very big ones, roadkills as well. Over two meters long and as thick as a man's leg.
Yesterday we saw another big, and this time, life one. It was sitting in the grass next to the road and it had its head lifted. Impressive big head, much bigger than my hand. I stopped at the same time that Eveline yelled at me to look. Unfortunately, before I had my camera out, a noisy car passed and it suddenly slid away, leaving a deep and rather wide trace of flattened grass behind it. Amazed how exited we were, such a big creature.

Today we are sitting on the veranda of our guesthouse in the busy city of Ayutthaya. We are overlooking a big river, the Chao Praya. Lots of boats passing, including tugs with sometimes 3 huge barges behind them. Slow and sometimes noisy. Not a really quiet river . But nice to sit and look at it. Then suddenly somebody yells: “Snake!” And indeed, another huge one is swimming across the river, head up, just before a tug is passing by. For a moment it gives the impression of a crocodile. We looked it up in the Lonely Planet, it may have been a two-banded monitor. Though the enormous Cobra also occurs here....

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sometimes good, sometimes less....

In Old Sukhothai we stayed in Old City Guesthouse, a nice place with well equiped restaurants just next door and the entrance of the historical park on the other side of the street.
In Kamphaeng Phet we stayed in Three J Guesthouse, an even nicer and quieter place. Our room was in a very intimate tropical garden where we sat, relaxed and had our drinks. We had an extensive breakfast in the morning and got a present from the owner when we left.
Then we stayed in a bungalow on the bank of the river Ping near Khanu Woralaksaburi. In a park, free coffee and a restaurant 200 meters to the left. A minor thing was that no-one in the restaurant spoke another language than Thai, so only with the help of another guest we managed to order our food. We got our vegetables, shrimps and pork, but everything was diep-fried. Not our preference, but it was not really bad.
Today we arrived in Nakhon Sawan, a bigger town. We had to get into the busy centre to find a hotel which first impression was that of a prison. A total absence of any atmosphere. Room OK, not expensive too (cf. €7,50), but we prefer it otherwise.
The good experience was our dinner. We had our meals in a crowded place where again with the help of someone we ordered and this time got the usual delicious Thai food and cold beers. It seemed as if one half of the population of this town was having dinner at the same time with us and that the other half was working there to make it all happen. It was a crowd of waiters and kitchen staff mingling between the eaters and it all ran like a perfect and merry machine. We enjoyed it tremendously and had a real good time. Desert: ice coffee from 7-eleven nextdoor of the hotel. We'll have our breakfast from there as well.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Old Sukhothai

6 days and a good 300 k's riding brought us in the historical place called Old Sukhothai.
In order to achieve this we had to get over some minor passes (625 and 465 alt.) to leave the highland and reach the lower part of the country. Despite it's the cool season now we're pretty hot here and already quite tanned.

Old Sukhothai once was the centre of the kingdom (13th century) and at the height of its power it was wealthy enough to realize a beautiful walled city with lots of temples. An area of several square kilometers is now what might be the most important historical park of this country, including an historical museum showing and explaining hundreds of artefacts that have been excavated here. The whole park is all well kept and lovely and we spent a very agreeable and instructive day. It is very interesting to notice that the buddhist culture was originally influenced by hinduïsm, coming from India. This influence reached as far as the Vietnamese coasts and we remember having seen the same symbols used in the old Cham culture in Vietnam and in the Khmer culture in Cambodia. In our garden in Breda we have a linga and joni from Vietnam and we were not surprised to see some quite big specimen of them here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

After Loi Kraetong

Together with our Breda friends we revelled in the festival. We went to see some famous wats (monastries) that were beautifully lit to the occasion and as our private climax we had a big paper lantern lift up in the nightly sky, where it joined the stream of hundreds more. A lovely sight and we tried to give it the intention that the ceremony should have according to the local Buddhist tradition (as far as we understood, that is), show gratitude and respect for the world and all its beings.

The next morning we packed our bikes, said goodbye to our friends, and left for Lamphun. Not far enough, we reached it at lunchtime and under an overcast sky we decided to head for the next provincial town, Ban Hong. Quiet roads, mostly flat, rice fields not green any more since the harvest was done or still going on.
Along the road we met a French couple, Theirry and Michèle. They are travelling on a tandem-bike. They started in Bruxelles, rode to Istanbul, took a plane there to Bangkok and are now heading for Chiang Mai and furhter north and east into Laos. They were happy to get our tips, as we have done the last part of their intended trip ourselves in 2006. A nice encounter it was.
The second day we reached Li and after that Thoen, We had to cross a (mountain)pass for that, Li's altitude is app. 475, the pas is 625. Now we are in Thoen, alt.200. Lower and hotter. Not much to do or to be seen, so a cool beer in the garden, some reading and blogging, and tomorrow off for the next stage.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Chiang Mai revisited

We're travelling again!
After a journey that altogether took almost 24 hours we arrived in Chiang Mai. Surprised again by the heat and troubled with the small and usual jetlag problems. After a slow first day and a long night sleep things are back as they should again. Bikes survived the planes alright too.
The first time here was Jan 2nd 2006. We started a 2-month bike tour from here, which took us through northern Thailand to the Golden Triangle and then the north half of Laos and back to Chiang Mai.
Now we're in the same hotel, which hasn't changed. It's still a nice place to be. But everything seems to be busier. The hotel, the city, there's more traffic and more people it seems. Times have been changing everywhere of course.
The city has a 600 year-old centre surrounded by a square moat of 1,5 kms each side. Four main gates remain and parts of the city wall. In this enclosed city there are busy roads but also surprisingly quiet lanes with houses and gardens, not to mention the monastries (wats). There are over 50 inside its walls. Many of them are stunningly beautiful, representing architecture dating from the Lanna dynasty, that we also saw in the south of China and Laos. On the day of our arrival we strolled through the premises of some famous monastries, had a lengthy conversation with a 21-year old monk and had ourselves covered in the culture as much as we could. We're lucky, it's the Kraetong festival these days. People are enjoying themselves in festivities including letting paper balloons go up in the sky with fireworks hanging underneath, long street markets everywhere, there is a parade in the evening and hundreds of floating candles and flowers are put on the river. Gratitude and respect, that's what it all seems to be about. We are happy to believe it and enjoying it with them. Great to be back.

Now we are relaxing of a short trial bike ride around the city. Not too nice, too many unavoidable city roads. But waiting for the special occasion tomorrow morning: René and Marijke, good friends and former neighbours of ours, will meet us here! It's a small world after all, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New plan

After our return from Australia we took it easy for a short while.
Not very long though, as we soon became the happy grandparents of a beautiful granddaughter, Gieske by name. We love her and it's a joy to see her grow and develop.

Then we decided to renovate our house, which ended up in a major reconstruction. It took very much of our energy, .......and money....
Still we are happy to be able to announce our new plan to skip the next European winter, or most of it.
We will leave mid -November for a three month ride from Chang Mai (northern Thailand) to Singapore. See map below. We will keep you updated.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Our Australian bike tour is complete. We have ridden from Cairns in Queensland to our most northern point Cape Tribulation at a latitude of 16˚,4´South and from there to Port Arthur in Tasmania at a latitude of 43˚,1´South, our most southern point. Projected on the northern hemisphere in “our own” region this could be compared with from Dakar in Africa to Carcassonne in the south of France.
As the crow flies it's about 3000 kilometers, but for us on the ground it meant roughly 6500 kilometers. This took us 4 months and 20 days. We did not cycle all these kms, we only pedalled 5000 k, and that is a quite exact number. (Compare: Breda – Teheran). The other k's we did by bus, train, car and ferry.
Most of the time we camped, 76 nights in our little tent. Once in the garden of a private house, sometimes on rest areas without any facilities but a creek, sometimes on so-called showgrounds, these are grounds where the local horse race track, soccer- and criketfields, swimming pool etc. are and where there mostly are toilets and showers. But most of the camping we did in caravan parks. In Europe we would call them campings or campsites. The caravan parks are similar to their European equivalent but for one thing: they have free barbeques and campkitchens. These can be very complete, with ovens, microwaves, barbeques, electric hot plates or gas stoves, freezers and fridges, water boilers, cutlery, pots and pans, sinks etc. Sometimes they are just basic and poorly equipped and even dirty. But most of the time they were good to excellent, we hardly ever used our own little gas stove. There are not many tents in a caravan park, it's mostly caravans (much bigger ones than in Europe) and campervans. Since these campers have all facilities with them, we often had the camp kitchen for ourselves.
We also stayed a number of nights in motels, pubs and cabins, one night in a bus and one on a boat.
But what we will remember most of all of this tour is the unbelievable hospitality of the Australians. Through we contacted all in all 15 different hosts and alltogether we spent over 50 nights in their safe and cosy homes. In some occasions we stayed a number of days in a house while the hosts themselves were not there at all. For us the Australians rank first and foremost as the most hospitable people we have ever encountered.
Being so often in such close contact with the people in this country, this tour really made us get deeper in the culture and into daily life. We have experienced that this is an egalitarian and open society and that getting in touch with people is easier than in many other parts of the world. In this sense Australia is a very easy country.
Though we have cycled quite a distance we have only seen a small part of the country. We were never very far away from the coast (max app. 300 k I think). So we have seen and can confirm that the country has fantastic beaches, and very many of them. We have seen and felt the openess of Queensland and the forests, hills, mountains and agricultural areas there and in three other of the six states. There is an abundance of nature, national parks all over. We have not seen the outback, the west and the north. But that Australia is a country with lots of beauty we will confirm.
Yet we find that it is not an easy country for the cyclist. Very often the distances between places and facilities is very great. This makes long distances necessary, with nothing in between. Then, besides north Queensland (and the great outback where we didn't ride), there is no flat road to be found. It's often very hilly and roads are very undulating, with steep hills following one after the other. That makes cycling very hard and tiring. It's not the same everywhere though, we found Victoria and especially Tasmania easier than the other states.
Australia is only for advanced bike tourers, we would say.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Hobart is the capital of Tasmania. The whole island, one of the six states in federal Australia, is twice the size of the Netherlands and has half a million inhabitants, 200.000 of which live in this city. It is an early Australian settlement and has many 'historic' places. The city sits on the estuary of the Derwent river and the harbour has always been of great importance. Now there are nice marinas and many cruiseships call on the port. We live here in the house of Dennis and Jenny, with whom we also stayed for two nights in their 'shack' in Spring Beach. We reached Hobart by bus. We didn't feel like riding back for two days against the wind, through blackened Dunalley over the undulating road. It undoubtedly has to do with the psychological aspect of the idea that we're at the end of our Australian tour. There was a feeling of mental and fysical fatigue. So we were very early to leave the Port Arthur caravan park. We got up at 05.30, broke up in the dark with some wallabies around us and at 06.00 we boarded the bus at the general store a few kms from the park. It was the only bus that day. We reached Bellerive, the quarter of Hobart where the house is, at 08.00 and we were in the house at 09.00. A whole day of comfort followed, everything at hand, no wind or rain to hide for and that for the rest of our stay. Such luxury.
No better way to end our expedition down under.
When I'm writing this we have already been here for almost a week. I got some cardboard bike-boxes from the guys at the local bike shop. Such nice people. The bikes have already been boxed. We have been to the city a couple of times. It's a good 6 k from the house and the first time we rode on our bikes. Very hilly terrain to the big Tasman bridge. This huge bridge has only very narrow bike/foorpaths on the sides. It's very windy up there and riding is not easy. For Eveline it was impossible, she walked. The other times we went by bus, a lot easier and more comfortable. We made a historic walk, that did not impress us so much, though the texts in the brochures do. We have visited MONA, the museum of old and new art. Very remarkable venue. It is a privately owned museum with a striking modern architecture on and in a steep high bank of the river. The owner is someone who, as a briljant statistician and mathematician, was very succesful in gambling and won millions. He now employs hundreds to keep on doing this. With his gains he built and runs this remarkable museum. The art that is presented to the public is mostly contemporary and many people are shocked by some of the works. But they are proud that Tasmania has an interesting and controversial attraction as this.
We had a bbq with our current and a former Warmshowers host in their little boat house on the river Derwent, a happy family-like event.
Every Saturday there is a market at Salamanca square. This is a small historic area on the waterfront, that is now full of restaurants, bars and arts- and gift shops. The market is very busy, lots of street musicians are playing, games for children, food of all continents, lots of fun. We were so lucky to be here in the weekend of the 20th wooden boat festival. There were a couple of hundreds of them and one of the bigger ships came all the way from Russia. The city was crowded, at least for Australian standards, and the buses were free for three consecutive days. They certainly know how to make an event into a nice event.
Already for some 4 or five days there is a big bush fire going on not far from the city. It is out of control and the roads in whole region are closed. People have been evacuated. Since the area is not very populated is appears not to be as catastrophic as the one some weeks ago in Dunalley, some 50 k to the east from here. This one is so close though, that the cloud of smoke is hanging over the city and that Mount Wellington, the city's own 1270 meter high mountain, is sometimes invisible and closed. Depending on the wind we smell it. But life goes on here, not a problem.
Tomorrow we will be off on an excursion to Bruny island, where we will be cruising in a special expedition vessel along the rugged coast and see a colony of fur seals, dolphins and other wildlife. Most likely this will bring us to the most southerly point on earth we will ever be.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Port Arthur

It's a world heritage site and one of the greatest tourist attractions of Tasmania. It has a lot to do with the colonization of the country. From the early eightteen hundreds the British courts sentenced thousands of their citizens to be transported to the new colonies New South Wales, Victoria and van Diemen's Land. So two goals were served, putting an end to the overcrowding of British prison cells and populating the new colonies. Often the sentence was for minor offences as stealing a loaf or so. In Britain small crime was high during these days. It was the beginning of the industrial revolution, many people took to the cities to find (very poorly paid) jobs and in the same time more and more machines replaced their labour. Enormous poverty was the consequence and this led to more small crime. Many of the people caught ended up in the new colonies. Sydney was a notorious place and so there were many. Not all convicts were sentenced for minor offences. Some were real criminals and repeat offenders. For those Port Arthur was established. It is an isolated spot on a peninsula from which the landbridge was guarded by a chain of watchdogs. Escape virtually impossible. Until transportation stopped in 1853 thousands of convicts have lived here, together with their guards, regular soldiers from British regiments, and administrators and clergy. It was like a regular community, that developed into a highly productive centre, with even a shipyard. The detention and disciplanary methods that were used makes one shiver. Leg-irons from 8 to 18 kgs, isolation cells, lashing (whipping) were regular practice.
At this moment the site is very beautiful and serene, but it makes the visitor aware of the need and value of a classless, independent and humane judicial system.


We spent a night on the grounds behind Dunalley Hotel. It's a pub and restaurant, not a hotel. There were some portable toilets on the grounds, you know threm from construction sites, and we could use the toilets inside at the pub's opening times. No showers, not even a water tap outside. It was raining and temperatures dropped to between 3 and 9˚C during the night.
Compared to many of the villagers we were not in a bad situation at all though, for us it was just for one night. For them it will last longer, some 35 houses have been wiped away by the recent bushfire. It had been a creepy ride that day, some 40 kilometers long we rode through blackened country and every now and then there were the ruins of a burnt down home. Not much remains of such an Australian house. As they are mostly built of wood it's just some corrugated iron, a chimney and some rubble that is left. Some people now live in a tent next to the rubble heap. Very strange also to note that the fire has been very selective, one house gone, the house next to it unscaved. Some houses set alight because of the fire coming very close, some by flying imbers. We spoke a man who had owned three holiday cottages. They were completely gone. His own house, some meters away, stood and was in perfect order. His neighbour; gone. No explanation. He told us that, looking at the fire on the hill 3 kilometers away and considering the direction of the wind, he said his “famous last words” to his wife: “I think we'll be alright”. Then the wind changed and seven minutes later the fire was at his house. It's a beach house and they stood in the water untill it passed. The speed with which it travelled was tremendous, faster than a car.
A lot is done to get things going again. The government has aid-plans, publishes a magazine on the subject, tries to make access to aid easy. On the campground there were big tents, like used for events. One of them had housed the Red Cross and such groups, in the other one volunteers were sorting out large amounts of clothes, shoes, household utensils and other things that had been given by people to help those who had lost everything. A benefit-concert had been organised, the two big Australian supermarket chains Woolworth's and Coles donated the profit of one dedicated day and, since the fires in Victoria two years ago, there is an organisation called Blazeaid that co-ordinates help by volunteers, of which there are many.
Now there have been disasters like this one in Dunalley and surrounds almost every year recently. The Victorian one cost many lives, some hundreds of houses were lost. In New South Wales just over a week ago, it was very bad. Though a lot is already being done, I think this country needs a new and overall masterplan as how to prevent bushfires and when they happen, how to minimise damage. This might imply a new approach to bush management and building restrictions as well, and these are items that come very close to the Australian soul. Won't be easy.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The house of Camelot

From Saint Helens we rode south to Freycenet National Park. We camped in Coles Bay and visited the park and did the walk to Wine glass bay. The name refers to the shape of the bay. The names of the bays and mountains here often are French. This is because of the fact that the Dutch discoverers of Tasmania, that they called Van Diemen's Land, didn't think it worth while to colonize it. In Napoleon's days the French tried to establish their influence here and sent their explorers, thus the names. In the end the British won it by inventing a very fast way to populate this far land: they sent loads of convicts over. In these times in England people often were sentenced to be sent overseas for very minor offences. Just read Charles Dickens. Now the remains of the settlements that were founded by convicta are the major tourist attraction of this part of Tasmania.

From Coles Bay we rode in two days to Spring Beach, were we stayed in the hospitable home of Jenny and Dennis, friends of a Warmshowers-couple where we stayed a while ago. They call the house a shack and named it Camelot, but it's a real house, looking out over the ocean and a beautiful beach, with some more small houses (wooden ex-railway station offices) in the garden. We had our own. Soon we were, it is the continuing Australian story again, more or less members of the family. There were other family members around, including Belle and Rosie, two sweet little grand daughters. Lovely (if not awesome :-) . And to complete it, we know where the key is from their Hobart home and we will live there during the last week or so of our Australian expedition. Now, can we learn something from that?

Today we spent in historic Richmond, the most English-like town of Australia. Again, do not think too much of it, it is just a couple of streets, but there is the oldest bridge here and the oldest catholic church of the country. The bridge was built in 1823 by convicts, the goal (prison) of that time is another tourist attraction of the place. Unfortunately it has been raining more or less all day and the temperatures are below 20˚C. Not the best circumstances to camp in a small tent. Tomorrow it is expected to be better and we will leave for another historic destination: Port Arthur. It's the most important place referring to the history of Australia as the place where convicts were banned to. There are the remains of a big prison there and people say that it is an impressive and shameful site.
To get there we will have to pass through Dunalley, we will even have to camp there behind the pub. You might remember the name Dunalley; it was the first place to be almost wiped out by an enormous bushfire this summer. It was all over the news in the whole world. Still lots of people, many of them volunteers, are working there to get things going again, most of the town seems to be destroyed. We phoned in to check if we are welcome, since so many places are taken by those workers from all over the country. They told us that they want us to come, they want to go back to normal as soon as possible. Thus we will see with our own eyes what a devastating fire can do. Here's a link to some photos of the fire there, frightening! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


We have reached the stunningly, awesome coast. That is, we have arrived in Saint Helens. It's an “old” fishing village that is now trying to earn its money from tourism. OK, the amazing beaches, that – according to the tourist brochures – are rated second most beautiful in the world, are a bit north of the town (2000 inh.), but the town does not surprise us. Small and quiet as usual, nothing special about it. Traveling here I've got the impression that the Australians tend to exaggerate things. They are quick to call things awesome, amazing, a must see etc. Once there things seem not to be so extraordinary at all. They seem to be thrilled quite easily here.
That does not mean that Tasmania is not beautiful. The last couple of days the scenery was particularly nice. We had to climb some hills, up to 600 altitude and the forests, the paddocks and the views were romantically beautiful. Cycling was not very light, but much easier than the akward undulating slopes in New South Wales. We were happy riders the past days. Today we spent the day on Binalong Bay, indeed a very beautiful bay with a white beach and cristal clear water. 
On the way here in Scottsdale we stayed in the free camping area next to the river. Very nice place that we shared with app. 10 campervans and caravans. Toilets and a hot showers available. In the evening a man walked past our tent and whispered: “There are platypus in the river here”. (this is the otter-like marsupial with the duck bill). And indeed, a few minutes later we saw a couple of these animals diving and surfacing in the dark water. Now that was awesome!
From there we rode on eastward and ended at the Weldborough hotel. Don't think of a hotel with rooms with all facilities, a large parking place etc. No, it is a small pub in a 'locality' where there are two more houses. That's all Weldborough. But the pub is special. It's old and it has a very nice and romantic camp ground behind it, with a toilet and a shower for ladies and the same for gents. But most special is the fact that the pub has beers in stock of all Tasmanian micro-breweries. And there are many of them. So what to drink? Well, the publican let's you have a taste first and if you like it, you order one. We shared the campground with three other solo-cyclists and a campervan. That was an awesome place!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Stanley and on

Stanley was a nice place to take a day off. We got there by bus from Devonport, a 2 hour ride. Halfway we had to change into a smaller bus and the bikes didn't fit in the cargo hold below. No problem, they did fit in the aisle of the bus. The bus driver turned into the caravan park where we wanted to stay and dropped us off right in front of the office. How customer friendly can a bus company be?
We decided to take a room in the backpackers' hostel; it was raining, cold, there was a strong wind and the forecasts for the next day were even worse. We are definitely dealing with a Dutch-like climate here. But the forecast was wrong, the next day was glorious. Stanley is a small village (they will say town here) that sits behind a vulcanic rock, the Nut, and is surrounded by the sea. Now the sun was there and a gentle sea breeze, pristine! We made a walk on the Nut, had a beer in the pub and went out dining in a cute restaurant. A nice and quiet bikeless day.
Then we rode, with the conceived tailwind, back east. We stopped after a beautiful coastal trip with some rain in Burnie. There we were received by John and Prue, our Warmshowers hosts. To get there we had to climb a very steep hill, but the reward was a room (a complete house) with a grand view over the sea, here called Bass Strait. We were spoiled again and the next day we continued via some bike trails that we never would have found ourselves. Via Latrobe and beautiful Deloraine and through lovely rolling countryside we now have arrived in Launceston. The second biggest city in Tasmania (103.000 inh.) Here again we are the guests of a Warmshowers couple: Caro and Chris, who also have Amina, a 17-year old German school girl, as an exchange student in their house. As usual the reception is friendly and there is hardly any ice to be broken before we feel very at home here. The next day Caro, Chris and Amina leave the house in order to visit a four day festival in Hobart. But we can stay as long as we like, which we gladly do. The city has a number of things to see, we can take it at ease for a couple of days. We still haven't get used to this kind of hospitality, Warmshowers works miracles.
After having read our books, seen the musea, had a haircut, arranged our return flights home and a long walk in the Cataract Gorge (funny name, doctor) we will leave tomorrow morning for Scottsdale and further east to the coast there. They say that it is stunningly beautiful there, amazing, lovely and all that. They sure know how to sell their assests over here. We'll find out.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


They have been all over the news, the bushfires in Australia. No wonder, because they can be very catastrophical.
But one should realise that bushfires belong to the Australian eco-system. Before the Europeans set foot ashore here the Aboriginals used it as a means to improve their hunting results. Reports from early discoverers state that the coasts that they were seeing were very often covered in smoke. The white settlers have stopped this massive burning, which has resulted in forrests that are much denser than they were at the time of their arrival. Travelling through the new continent in the forrested areas was only possible because – at the time – the forrest was much more open than they are now.
There are plants which seeds will not sprout if not exposed to the heat of a bushfire and without bushfires the layer of organic material on the forrest floor will become so thick that the seeds of many species would not be able to shoot. So bushfires are normal and necessary and in Australian forrestry controlled burning is a normal activity.
But when man comes in and when he starts building settlements problems arise. The forrest are more dense and when conditions are bad, f.i. when it's very hot and dry and there is a strong wind fires will get out of control. And this is what we see on television.
There is a great awareness and alertness here towards bushfires. Sings along the roads, total fire bans, special legislation and a thorough organisation of the fire brigades. You will notice it everywhere.
Now we are sometimes receiving emails from friends who are afraid that we would be in danger because of this. Well, we are not and we hope this will remain the case. It's good to realise that Australia is the size of Europe, so the chance that we are somewhere near a bushfire is not very big. Still: there are fires raging now in areas that we have passed through and we will most likely see the results of the big fire that hit Donally, because we think we will reach this area in a week or two. More close: yesterday and the day before, near Stanley, we could see one. Clouds of smoke coming from a mountain range and helicopters with the big water bags below them. But that was all, we saw it in the distance and where we were life went on as usual. In the local newspaper there were stories of people that had been evacuated, from the fire fighters using a certain pub as their canteen and base and things like that.
All in all; bush fires are a common phenomenon, they can become catastrophic and there are many of them. But this is such a vast continent that chances that you will be personally effected are very small.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Melbourne, we'll be back!

We had a lovely stay with Jude and Astrid. They are keen cyclists as well. They will leave in April to ride overland to Europe. So we might very well have them in our house in a year or two. Warmshowers just is fantastic, we were housemates.
We mostly spent our Melbourne time in the National Art Gallery of Victoria. They have two locations and in both of them we spent hours and hours. On Tuesday all of us had breakfast outdoors, joined by Astrid's mother, who liked to meet us. Both Astrid and Jude have European ancestors, their parents being immigrants from Latvia and Germany. Makes the conversations the more interesting.
On our way to Port Melbourne, where we had to board the ferry (The Spirit of Tasmania) we picked up two new Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tyres at the Commuter Bikeshop next to Brunswick railway station. We have had 3 flats during our 4000 ks here and we consider that worryingly many. I now regret that I hadn't laid on new tyres before we left, since mine have done over 12000 k now and Eveline's over 8000. They're visibly becoming a bit old. Prices are unbelievable here: one tyre costs $ 105,--, = over 80 euros. Crazy! In the Netherlands I could have bought them through the internet for €39,95 a piece! One of the guys in the bike shop said that it was because of the sea miles these tyres have had before ending up in their shop. Schwalbe is a German brand, but these ones were produced in Indonesia. So he didn't have it right this time, did he?
Then we took a train. Just a 15 minutes ride, but convenient and cheap. Cycling from the station to the ferry port we were addressed by another cyclist. He was very interested and, since we were early, he invited us in his home, just 5 minutes from the port. We had a cold drink and talked about cycling in Tasmania, which he and his wife had done. Things just go like that here.
At 18.00 we boarded the ferry, together with a Dutch young man on a bike. He had started his trip in Australia as a backpacker, but didn't like the backpackers' environment. So he had bought a bike and now he was travelling round on it. He had done quite some distances, he had no maps or anything, he just decided day by day where to go, based on information he got from people he met. An adventurous chap, this Vincent from Nijmegen.
The sea was rough and though the ship was not small (194 meters long) and very modern, it moved a lot. Taking your glass to the table was quite an effort, making you look like a drunk without having had a drop yet. We had a nice two-person cabin with private bathroom for our own and had a comfortable night sleep. At 07.00 in the morning we disembarked in a very windy and cold (10˚C) Devonport. A severe temperature shock after over three mostly hot months. We spent the day gathering information and making a plan as how to tackle Tazzie. We will travel by bus to Stanley and from their, backed up by the prevailing westerly winds, ride round the island is easterly direction and along the east coast to the capital Hobart. This will be our final Australian destination and the most southerly point of our tour. Then we will have done pretty much the entire eastcoast of Australia. We will try to fly back to Melbourne from there, stay with Jude and Astrid for a couple of days more and then fly home on Feb. 14th. See if it'll work out.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Melbourne, the most European city in Australia?

So we have been told. And until now we have not been disappointed. A good 20 k north of the city (4.000.000 inhabitants) there is a completely seperated cycle path that leads right into the city. Great. In the city area it connects to some other cycle paths, so that one can pedal through the city without being among the other traffic. We followed the Merri Creek Trail towards the house of Jude and Astrid, our Warmshowers hosts here. A friendly, nice and comfy one-storey house with a little garden in a quiet street. By tram some 15-20 minutes from the very centre of the city.
Yesterday we had a meal in a street with just bars and restaurants, strikingly many of them Greek. We read that Melbourne is the city with the most Greek inhabitants after Athens and Thessaloniki, so no wonder. Today we spent the day in the city and we kept having the familiar feeling of recognition. There are people about everywhere, there are plenty of bars, coffeeshops and restaurants with outdoor terracces and all of them have lots of customers. A kind of liveliness we missed elsewhere in this big country. We will stay here for a couple of days, there's lots to be seen. Tuesday night we will travel to Tasmania on board of the Spirit of Tasmania. We have booked a cabin for the two of us and early Wednesday morning we will set foot ashore of the island (size Holland + Belgium) that was named after its Dutch discoverer, Abel Tasman. The Ozzies (Australians) all seem to love it, they praise it for its beauty and call it Tazzie. Tazzie seems to be hilly, so we'll see what we think of it after a week or so.

Australian wildlife and its hazards

In this continent there are creatures about that you will not find anywhere else. It has to do with the very long isolation of the place from the rest of the world
Before we came here we were warned by many people that some of these animals can be very dangerous.
Our experiences after over 3 months and being on the road for 4000 kilometers:
  • wallaby: Saw over 50 in one go in Mission Beach. Then some more vaguely in the bushes and at least 100 of them dead along the road.
  • kangaroo: Saw 2 in the far distance, not long ago 2 from about 50 meters and less that 10 dead along the road. At a certain point I started thinking that there were no kangaroos at all in Australia. Everyone kept telling us that we would see them there and then, it simply never happened.
  • snakes: less than 5.
  • big spiders: we have found none under any toilet seat.
  • wombat: this friendly bear/pig-like animal we only saw one, and again it was a traffic victim
  • koala: only on road signs
  • emu: none
  • cassowary: one in Mission Beach
  • mozzies (mosquitos): lots, with a good repellent or a smelly glowing coil not a big problem
  • sandflies: these insects are too small to be seen. You only notice them when your ankles and hands start to itch. Repellent helps, but mostly you are too late.
  • ticks: nobody warned us for them. I unfortunately had one and had to take a very high dosis of antibiotics for 28 days. As a consequence I got sunburnt. So badly that my nose and ears were completely red and painful and I even bought garden gloves (no bike shop around) to protect my burnt hands from the sun. Too painful to have them in the sunlight.
  • flies: nowhere in the world they are more persistent than here. Sometimes I tried to count the flies on the back of Eveline's shirt when cycling. I couldn't, over 50! The bastards can fly very fast too, the can zig zag in front of your eyes and saty with you while you're riding over 20 k/hr. They like to sit in your ear, on your nose, on your glasses, zigzag in front of your eyes. Unbearable. So we wave. Not to much avail. I once knotted a handkerchief on the front of my bike helmet, so that it was swinging before my face. Helped a little and made me squint.
    We confirm that Ozzies are very friendly. But we're not sure if all this waving is saying hello. Waving flies it'll be on many occasions.
  • possums: no problem. They only want your food. Can be very persistent as well.
  • platypus (the otter like animal with the duck bill): none, though we once were at small river where they surely were to be seen (!).
  • magpies: again nobody warned us for them, though these are the only animals that really attacked us. Many times. Fortunately the breeding season is over and they leave us alone. As a matter of fact they can sit and sing in a very nice and friendly gargling voice. As if they are talking for themselves. We like the sound.
  • other birds: not dangerous at all. Very many varieties and making a hell of a lot noise at dawn.

Friday, January 4, 2013


It's hot here. 41Celsius.
This morning we got up at 05.30 and we were riding before 07.00 o'clock. We arrived at our destination, Kilmore, at app. 11.00, still reasonably cool, and found a spot under the trees where there's shade and we can sit it out during the afternoon.
Tomorrow will be cooler, though the newspapers are forecasting the hottest January ever. We'll see.
My weather app., Elders, which is much used by farmers and is supposed to be very reliable, predicts lower temperatures though, and an southerly wind, bringing cooler air from the sea. Just to be sure we'll have an early start again tomorrow. We'll be heading for Melbourne to another promising Warmshowers address.

BBQ's and camp kitchens

This country is fond of eating meat and preparing it outside on a barbecue. At each house you will see a bbq on the veranda, in varying sizes, mostly large. Such a bbq is a stainless steel plate that is heated by gas burners underneath. This is remarkable, as we have seen this in no other country before. But its even worse. You will find such bbqs in parks and on beaches, free to use. These ones are mostly mostly 60 x 60 cms and electrical. So you will see families or groups of friends together around such a open air bbq and have their meaty meal. And it's free!
In caravanparks it's the same, as well as on the grounds of many motels. There are various open air bbqs available for the guests. In caravanparks there is more. Every park has its camp kittchen. So convenient, we have hardly used our own gas stove at all. These camp kitchens, when they're good, have the whole set of kitchen utensils free to use. It varies, but the good ones are clean, have tables and chairs, have an indoor and outdoor part, and have a microwave, an oven, cooking tops, waterboilers, a toaster, pots and pans, cups, glasses and mugs, cutlery, a fridge and freezer and sometimes there is instant coffee and tea bags as well. And there is cleaning material, as you are supposed to leave things clean for other guests. We have learned to appreciate these conveniences very much. Tonight we will have nice black angus beef burgers and grilled eggplant and portobellos. Viva la bbq!
It is not clean and complete everywhere, but in general it's not bad. Something we as Europeans could learn from.

Ned Kelly country

After Beechworth we passed through Ned Kelly land. Crazy what history does. A murdering criminal is now a hero on which a whole tourist industry is based. Not very big, nothing of the kind is big over here compared to where we come from, but Ned is everywhere. In shops, musea, images, gadgets, tourist shows and so on. When we passed through this region we also passed into another year. We hardly noticed. On our caravan park in Benalla everyone went to bed at normal times, which is between 9 and 10, and in the morning it appeared to be 2013. Just like that.
From Benalla we went south and had our first fully booked caravan park. I think the lady at the reception had a chronically bad temper, since she was just repeating that there was no place for us and she was not helpful at all in suggesting other options for us. Which I'm sure all other receptionists here would have done. It's what Ozzies do, help if they can. On the other hand, considering the kind of tourists that were on the campsite, her behaviour is imaginable. It sits on a lakeside and it's all motors there. Big cars, big motorbikes, motorboats, jetskies and more noisy stuff. Perfect reasons for a permanent bad mood I would say.
We were very kindly received in the local motel. Glad there was one, we had done 70 k on new year's day.


We were staying in the house of Meg and Fraser. It is situated on a dirt road 6 k out of Beechworth. They will soon move into town though, where they have built a “second generation sustainable” new house. There we first met with them for lunch, later in the afternoon we rode down to the current one.
They have built this house some 13 years ago. The walls or made of rammed earth, they use rainwater for domestic use, the house is completely solar powered, they have a compost toilet, there are two dams to collect water for the gardens etc. So they are not dependent on these services from outside. They are leaving this place because they want to be closer to town, not having to do the drive up and down the hill on this dirt road all the time. They're on to their next move. The place is beautiful though, very well kept and agreeable. It's also (officially) a safe house in case of a bush fire. This implies that they always have enough water, that plants in gardens and surrounding areas are kept low, the grass is always cut short etc. In case of an emergency the neighbours can go to this house and be safe. The closest neighbours are about 1 k away, by the way.
Also their new house has similar facilities and will most likely, and hopefully for them, have the same atmosphere. We hope they won't miss the old one.
We loved our stay there, not only for the house. We must mention Kelly, the dog as a faithfull companion, and not in the least Meg and Fraser themselves. Perfect hosts we would love to meet again.