My faithful readers will already know I am married to a wonderful woman who has made my lifelong wanderlust sustainable. To my new readers, trust me, I married right.
This will be the next to last post on this blog for 2012. I intend to do a “year-in-review” post soon, and what a travelicious year it has been.
This is a short look at a long trip around the world. I had never done that before. Due to circumstances and needs, I had all the excuses I needed to circumnavigate the coconut.
We live near Dubai, which just happens to be a fantastic place to travel from. Everywhere is close it seems. We flew Emirates Air, the first of six airlines I would use on to get around the globe.
This trip starts on a tiny rock in the south Indian Ocean called Mauritius.
The Island has an interesting history. First settled by the Dutch who named it after their Prince, it was taken over by the French. The French used it primarily as a port to launch attacks on East India Company ships taking spices and silks to England from India. The East India Company, owned in large part by the royals, did not like that inconvenience one little bit and sent the worlds best naval power to put an end to the piracy. Consequently French and English are both spoken all over the island along with a native patois that combines the languages of India with African dialects. The main agricultural crop is sugar cane, which of course means there is production of rum, ummm, good rum.
My wife was with me for this part of the trip. It was a break from work for her and she wanted a no hassle week, so we stayed at a Club Med. On Mauritius? Yes, in fact they have two on the island. Mauritius is circled by luxury beach hotels. Tourism comes in second in the local economy.
All inclusive not only means ” have fun with our toys and eat until you burst”, it means drink your butt off if you desire.
Now 8 hours on a sailboat, and many “la bieres” can lead one to be a bit clumsy when you set foot on land. Mary Ann headed to the room to change, and tripped over her flip flops.
Besides the catamaran trip, we took one overland excursion across the island. Pretty small towns, one big city, and a lot of sugar cane!
Mary Ann returned to work. I took off back across the equator for Thailand. I flew Air Mauritius to Kuala Lumpur, then Thai Air to Bangkok, then Air Asia to Chiang Mai.
I have been getting some extensive dental work done there, and this was going to be my last trip. I have covered life in Chiang Mai in previous posts, and they are worth navigating to. It is a very excellent city. I stayed three weeks and walked away from the land of smiles with a new smile. I promised my wife I would use it as much as possible.
From Thailand I flew South China Air into some city in China I cannot pronounce or really even spell. The airplane we took from Bangkok to China had one of the windows in the cockpit held on with duct tape, I kid you not. I tried to get a photo, but it did not come out. Trust me, duct tape.
I had a 90 minute layover before I connected on a flight to LAX. This was both the least expensive flight from Thailand to Los Angeles, AND the flight to LA was on an A380, which I had never been on.
I arrived in LA during rush hour (as if LA is not a 24/7 rush hour), rented a car and sat in traffic (managing not to fall asleep after that flight) to my sister’s house where I occupied her living room and had a fantastic turkey day spread. Thanks sister.
Then I went to spend a week in my personal Valhalla, Big Sur. This is simply my favorite place on the coconut, and has been for close to 40 years.
Now for a couple of sunset photos from John’s house. Eat your heart out.
With a sad heart but a happy mind, I left Big Sur. I drove back to Los Angeles in a rainstorm. I got to LAX early, too early. I was flying Virgin Atlantic from LAX to LHR. A five hour layover in the most confused airport in the world, and then onto DXB and finally home’
Well that about wraps up the coconut for the year! Look for my 2012 recap soon. Meanwhile, please make a comment and/or share this with your FB and real friends!
I never thought I would see a blue whale outside of the Smithsonian museum. In fact, I thought they were almost extinct. On January 23, 2012 I saw four pairs of them. Blue Whales were not even on my bucket list. When we started doing research on Sri Lanka we found out that about ten years ago, fisherman,and people living on a cliff overlooking the southern tip of Sri Lanka started reporting seeing amazingly large “fish”. Soon, scientists showed up and the “‘fish” turned out to be actually mamals. The world’s largest animals, the Blue Whale.
Saying they are big is like saying celestial mechanics is slightly difficult.
Our travel agent, (www.srilanka.com ask for Johann) set this excursion up for us. We were supposed to go out in a big trimaran that held maybe thirty people. When we got to the dock early in the morning, there were only 7 people. Truthfully or not we were told that the big trimaran had mechanical problems and we were put in a little panga with a 40hp engine. I did not care, I just wanted to see the Blue Whales.
We headed due south, into the Indian Ocean for over an hour.
But then we saw one of the big boats change direction and stoke the coals. Our capatin wasted no time. Our little panga was much more maneuverable and faster than the big boats, which it turns out is desirable when you are hunting the Blue Whales!
These giants stay submerged for 30 to 40 minutes. When they come up for air, they do it rather dramatically. They first exhaust water through their blow holes.
So when they do appear, the boats out hunting for them start moving towards them. But they do not stay up very long at all, maybe three minutes. Our little boat served us well, and we were able to get close enough for a couple of decent photos.
Scientists have somehow determined that a Blue Whale can put half of its brain asleep at a time (hmmm) so that it can continue to move and remember to surface for air as it needs to. Interesting facts for my readers!
Sri Lanka should be on any world travelers destination list. For many reasons. I saved this post for last because seeing Blue Whales up close and personal is pretty amazing, and something I know I will never forget.
Thanks for reading. Share this with others please. Now go ready Moby Dick.
- The blue whale – how I met the largest animal that has ever existed | Not Exactly Rocket Science (blogs.discovermagazine.com)