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Organised Tours - as opposed to self-planed travel

The Taiwan portion was an organised tour. In Hong Kong the accommodation was paid for, including breakfast, and we had an organised bus tour of the City but most of our time was free, to use the metro the ferry and so on. 

The advantage of these organised tours is that they are easy.  They involve a lot less work: researching the places to go and getting the best deal on accommodation and transport.  Lugging luggage about is minimised as is driving on the wrong side of the road. There is lest ‘wasted’ time.  And in this case there were also significant savings.

But independence is lost and contact with the local people is limited to the guides provided and the guides have an agenda – to give the tourists their particular, usually positive, story. 

Further, one becomes a package to be labelled, quite literally, and ‘despatched’ from one place to another for predetermined periods that seldom conform to the time that one would spent at that location if deciding independently. Some places, like an hour a jewellery factory or on a rock strewn beach would be by-passed entirely.

In addition to these uncalled for ‘sites’, inordinate periods were spent in temples and inadequate time was allowed for places of historical like the former Dutch East India Company fortifications or of economic interest. Even a simple drive-by of the nuclear power stations, steelworks or shipbuilding would have been welcome.

As part of the schedule we were taken to a marble factory, where I succumbed and bought a toy top for grandchildren's eventual amusement, and at another point to a jewelery factory where everything was a 'bargain'.  This seems to be inevitable on an organised tour where hidden commissions get involved in the scheduling.

Nevertheless, as I recall from my first visit to Spain and Portugal in the eighties and particularly if travelling alone, if one has no idea where to begin in an unfamiliar country a local idea of what is best to see and visit may be a lot better than ‘pot luck’.

 

 


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Travel

The United Kingdom

 

 

 

On the surface London seems quite like Australia.  Walking about the streets; buying meals; travelling on public transport; staying in hotels; watching TV; going to a play; visiting friends; shopping; going to the movies in London seems mundane compared to travel to most other countries.  Signs are in English; most people speak a version of our language, depending on their region of origin. Electricity is the same and we drive on the same side or the street.  

But look as you might, nowhere in Australia is really like London.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

A Digger’s Tale

- Introduction

 

 

The accompanying story is ‘warts and all’.  It is the actual memoirs (hand written and transcribed here; but with my headings added) of Corporal Ross Smith, a young Australian man, 18 years of age, from humble circumstances [read more...] who was drawn by World events into the Second World War.  He tells it as he saw it.  The action takes place near Rabaul in New Britain. 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Climate Change - a Myth?

 

 

 

Back in 2015 a number of friends and acquaintances told me that Climate Change is a myth.

Half a decade on and some still hold that view.  So here I've republished a slightly longer version of the same article.

Obviously the doubters are talking about 'Anthropogenic Global Warming', not disclaiming actual changes to the climate.  For those of us of a 'certain age' our own experience is sufficient to be quite sure of that the climate is continuously changing. During our lifetimes the climate has been anything but constant.  Else what is drought and flood relief about?  And the ski seasons have definitely been variable. 

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