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John van de Ruit

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The end of the road

Continuing my travel blog for the Penguins ahead of the launch of Spud – Learning to Fly

Time is a trickster. One minute you stand with weeks stretched out before you, and the next the looming and predictable dead end casts a shadow across the face. Weirdly, Cambodia feels like it was the previous year and i can barely remember Kuala Lumpur at all, and may have to re-read my first blog to feel who i was back then. The added bonus to traveling for unseemly amounts of time, is that home always feels like an exciting place to return to, and yet the wandering spirit that has ruled you for so long desires more time to explore and more experiences to devour.

For the last week my thoughts have been with Spud – Learning To Fly and how the following months might play out. I’ve thought about the book tour and the shift from an extremely private recent existence to something more public and amplified. Mostly though, my thoughts are with Learning to Fly, in the knowledge that the first copies of the book will be arriving at the Penguin Colony this afternoon. I hope to see my first copy upon landing on Sunday morning and will no doubt collapse into a heap in the corner and read voraciously and in a Vern-like manner. That will be the beginning of the next journey and perhaps that one will cast light onto the next and then the next.
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Adventures in a mini-wan (part two)

Continuing my travel blog for the Penguins ahead of the launch of Spud – Learning to Fly

I apologise for the fact that i had to break off the story last time due to excessive heat in the internet cafe, a mosquito swarm nesting on my right ankle and a number of long media interviews which have kept me from completing the full sorry tale.

So to get you up to speed the story paused with Julia and I waiting at a cafe/travel agent for the Ko Lanta miniwan after driving around the town of Krabi for hours in a false minivan with sleepy rastas and morose Swedish nubiles. Let’s go – again.

15:00 The real Mini-Wan arrives and halts half way down the street. 2 desperate South African travellers charge after it with their backpacks. The driver slides back the door and 14 Thai faces stare back at us. There is baggage everywhere. Fuelled with the wisdom of Eckhart Tolle, I let rip with a great “Hello, good afternoon everyone” only to be met with absolute silence.

“Sawadeeka!” I tried again. Nothing.

15:01 Driver points to a narrow space on the back seat.

15:02 I discover too late that the Mini-Wan’s ceiling is only 4ft high and I crash my head into the luggage carrier above, much to the consternation of a hitherto unseen live chicken.
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Swine syphilis and adventures in a mini-wan (part one)

Continuing my travel blog for the Penguins ahead of the launch of Spud – Learning to Fly

Notwithstanding three delightful near death experiences in the back of a Cambodian tuk-tuk, it has been a rather pleasant trip as far as transport is concerned. That is until we reached Southern Thailand this week. Now to place Thailand in its proper context, it is by far the most prosperous country on mainland South East Asia, primarily because of two reasons: It has never been colonised, and it hasn’t been bombed by the Americans. The contrast between Cambodia and Thailand is almost as stark as the difference between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Flying via Bangkok to the South Western Thai port town of Krabi, i was thrilled to be tested for swine flu or H1N1 virus, the Scientific name given to prevent pigs from getting a bad name – thanks to CNN the horse has bolted on that one. I myself prefer a terrifying name for these outbreaks – it’s very difficult to imagine terror haunting the streets in the name of H1N1 – i suggest a potentially explosive “Swine Syphilis,” now that’s the kind of name for a real pandemic!
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Spud Milton – Tomb Raider

Continuing my travel blogging for the Penguins as the countdown to the launch of Spud – Learning to Fly nears the single digits.

It’s been a marvellous (wickedly splendid) eight days in the sleepy town of Siem Reap. The name itself means “Siam defeated” which refers directly to a great battle with the Thais that may not have occurred at all. The attractions of this place are the great temple ruins of Angkor built between the 9th and 12th century. These immense beasts that rise suddenly and inexplicably out of the jungle leaving you open-mouthed and somewhat intoxicated by their visage. The grandeur, beauty and craftsmanship that went into their construction and the creative genius that underscored the temples of Angkor is mind boggling. I’ve never been a big ruins fellow, but seeing the ancient temples of Angkor in the flesh is one of the greatest experiences of my life. It’s almost the fulfilment of every young boy’s fantasy… A vast temple of ruins surrounded by jungle and a 200 metre moat! Described by historians as eclipsing the majesty of the ruins of Ancient Egypt and the intricate detail of the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, the signature temple and pride of Cambodia is considered one of the great man made wonders of the Earth.
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