Pak Beng (aka pakbeng), Laos, to Luang Prabang and another day on the rather crappy slowboat down the Mekong – 50yr Backpacker Pt 31

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After the Mekong Elephant Park we spent another day in Pak Beng. The smoke from the many fires burning around the country were just as terrible in the morning, so bad we again discussed trying to get out of Laos and into neighbouring Vietnam sooner than we had planned. The new Vietnamese e-visa application had still not been approved so we were going to have to spend at least another week in Laos, until the existing visa date. I had trouble trying to change the hotel booking in Pak Beng as well as I’d booked on one platform but I couldn’t change the booking on the same platform and the hotel owner couldn’t do anything unless we had first done something on the other platform, which didn’t work. So in the end we figured we could survive another night in the smokey haze, not waste money on another night’s accommodation, and head to Luang Prabang for the second part of our slow boat journey down the Mekong. I had initially so been looking forward to the slow boat. So far, my romantic notions had been dashed and mired by smoke, intense heat, the very uncomfortable seating and disappointment at the wanton dumping of rubbish in the river.

I’ve been reading Peter Frankopan’s The Earth Transformed. It goes into graphic and terrifying detail of how us humans are changing the Earth. As a tourist I can complain about the heat and smoke and do my ‘Karen’ thing, but for millions, probably billions,in the world it’s not about visiting a place for a few days, taking the photos in front of stuff and moving on the next day. While we were experiencing the devastating effects of climate change, we had the opulence to just jump on a boat (slow or fast), plane, train or bus to get out of the place. Billions will suffer with the heat, the fires, the smokes, the droughts, the floods, the pollution, and the waste when us tourists have been through. Our little trip is just a glimpse into that world. The average Laotian will have to live with this, mostly un-air conditioned, reality with no option to escape. As Frankopan illustrates, the world Earth doesn’t give preference to any one species it’s outlived lots of pioneering tiny little bacteria types, long stretches of huge T-rexs, brontosauruses, pteranodons, sabre tooth tigers, mammoths, Tasmanian tigers, dodos and all our ancestors like the neanderthals and all the other homos. The death of the homo sapiens through our own stupidity will go barely noticed in the universe. At least all the other species had an excuse, they didn’t have the ability to do anything about their own demise.

Of much less importance, though as a travel blogger I will of course mention it, is the impact on tourists like us carelessly venturing into countries suffering from the effects of climate change, and while complaining about it, and ironically contributing to it through our flights and consumption patterns back home, I fear climate change could be the literal death of many of us humans, perhaps taking much of the flora and fauna with us- though probably leaving a gap for something new to take over – perhaps the dinosaurs mark II! Apocalyptic I know for a travel blog, but travel opens your eyes to the issues the world is having and perhaps can lead us to doing something meaningful about it. If not, and we are all faced with the prospect of annihilation, I have been reading another book which I just finished called No Death, No Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh which I saw a Vietnamese guy reading. He ran a very small café on the opposite side of a little courtyard to our hotel in Ho Chi Minh, which was  down an alleyway, rather cool. He looked super chilled so I took a photo of his book and bought it on Amazon when I got back to Australia. Which in the chronology of this blog is still a few months away. So No Death, No Fear could offer the insight we need to accept the impermanence of the world and perhaps the dire situation we are all facing with climate change, plus waste and general non-Co2 equivalent related pollution and sustainability. I won’t quote it directly as I’m too lazy to get up and get it out of the bedroom – oh now I’m making myself feel bad so I will get up and get it! 

Animals, plants and animals all suffer because of the greed of human beings. The earth, the water and the air are suffering because we have polluted them. The trees suffer because we destroy the forest for our own profit. Some species have become extinct because of the destruction of the natural environment. Humans also destroy and exploit one another.

According to the teachings of Buddhism, all beings have the capacity of awakened nature. How can we stop ourselves from collapsing in despair? It is because Buddhas and bodhisattvas are present in the world. They are not somewhere else in a faraway paradise. Whether we are living or dying, they are here with us.


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Such insights might also help us address the issues that contribute to climate change and other environmental issues though with insights into greed, consumption, vanity, and lying to ourselves – such as “we’re doing our ‘bit’ to tackle climate change” which is code for we’re only doing enough to make ourselves feel good when in reality we’re all doing very little and are really just on a slow boat, down the Mekong, bags of rubbish floating past, smoke filling our eyes and lungs, and heat frying our brains.

The guy at the small café down the alleyway in Ho Chi Minh was what I’d imagine a bodhisattva to be. Quiet, focussed, humble. I took a look at TikTok recently and that’s the shit that makes me despair. Why do we need that stuff?

But I digress, back to our touristy trip down the Mekong River!

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It was way too hot to do anything while there in Pak Beng so in the morning I just did some blogging, at the stage where I thought I could actually keep it up while travelling! It’s almost exactly a year now since we were in Laos, and I only finished off the bits about my travels to Ireland, Europe, India and Thailand (well there’s still a little to go of that) from 1995, so this latest 50 year backpacker trip may still take a while to finish writing about. It will happen at some point though! Perhaps before the next trips we have planned: Mexico with my son Oskarito, and a 30 year plus anniversary (of my 1995 trip) to Ireland, Spain, Bruges, Germany, and maybe Tallinn, Estonia, plus Japan for the cherry blossoms which my kids and mum did back a few years ago now, and which I wrote about here. Though my wife thinks perhaps we should get ‘ a house’ before spending more money on travel. 😉

Back in Pak Beng, though it was way too hot to do anything, our new Canadian friend – new to being a friend rather than being a Canadian, which I think she had been all her life – decided to hire some guide to take her up to some Laotian village. We were like, good luck and we hope you don’t die along the way! After some blogging in the morning out in the breakfast area I decided to go for a walk as i was hungry and didn’t want to pay the hotel’s exorbitant prices, preferring the value of the one and only Indian place in town, which was at least a tenth of the price of the hotel. I made it as far as the Indian place on the main street, about a kilometre or two away.  When I got there the owner was shocked that I’d even gone that far warning that I should have basically avoided any activity during the day. My wife was sensible and stayed in the room with the aircon going full blast. This managed to just take the most extreme of the heat off of the room as the aircon unit was way too small for the space. Also the doors didn’t quite shut properly which meant not only did some of the heat escape but the smoke, particularly in the mornings and evenings made its way in. They were helping out the elephants across the river in the park though so they can be forgiven.

So the last day in Pak Beng was really totally uneventful. We did go down to the pool once the sun went down a bit. We could catch a glimpse of the Mekong from there which was nice. When the sun had disappeared we ventured down to Happy Bar where they offered us a free starter whiskey, that we politely tipped out onto the ground after realising from one sip it could probably fuel a moped, and then buying a few Beerlaos, a very tasty brew that is nowhere near as toxic as the free Laotioan whiskey (there may be classier/ safer ones about, dunno). The Beerlaos IPAs are especially tasty though not available everywhere. Buddhism and alcohol, I know, rather contradictory. We stayed a while at Happy’s, it was the low season and not many people had found the place. There were a few overnighters who had come on the slow boat from Huay Xie (or perhaps Luang Prabang) a few hours ago who we were likely to see again on the boat in the morning again.

The next morning we got up early and had our breaky. Another plate of papaya, dragonfruit, weak coffee and ever so slightly toasted toast with locally made jam that was rather nice. We let the hotel know that we were leaving an empty suitcase behind. My wife deciding she couldn’t watch me struggle up the slopes of the riverbanks another day risking dislocating my shoulders. We had had to economise our clothes a bit, to fit it the remaining bags. I had finally drunk all of my Capital Brewery beer (from  Canberra)  which I’d lugged around the world thus far – it was just a four pack. I also had to say goodbye to my koala mariachi shirt which was irretrievably soiled from the day trip to the Mekong Elephant Park, along with a backpack cover – which I thought the airlines would have made me use to cover my yellow backpack, which in the end they didn’t seem to care about. I think a pair of shoes and some other random items may have also been jettisoned as well. We had managed to get the contents of the large empty suitcase into my yellow backpack, some mochilas (small backpacks) and one smaller suitcase as well as some green bags we usually used for our supermarket and market shopping back in Australia.

We hugged our new-found Canadian friend and exchanged Insta details. As she was going against the flow of the river up towards Huay Xie, we wouldn’t have the pleasure of her company for another day. And then we got on the back of the hotel truck and headed down the hill to the boat area. As we still had 30 minutes before departing I quickly ran into town and grabbed a few bottles of water, some soft drink and snacks for the journey. Then we headed down another steep slope down the stairs to the river and the boats, thankfully without dislocating my shoulders.

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I feel the second day on the boat was not nearly as bad as the first. Firstly I think our romantic expectations had already been dashed, mine especially. I think my wife never held high hopes for the 2-day boat trip so she was about the same. The seats were marginally less uncomfortable and I didn’t notice any kids chucking empty plastic noodles containers overboard this time. I must say, all us foreign tourists kept all of their rubbish for later disposal, so we were good in that respect! There were still plenty of bits of plastic floating about from others and caught in the branches the dry season had exposed, but nowhere near as much as up Huay Xai way. The riverbanks, when not burning, were also a bit more interesting, more buffalo, more villages, more kids running about and swarming onto the edges of the boat selling bracelets when we stopped at villagers. We were also a bit better prepared, with more fluids to get through the day so we didn’t have to buy anything on the boat. I resisted buying a Beerlaos as it cost twice the price on the boat and stuck with what we had. We had a monk onboard who hopped on at one of the small villages which added a bit of tranquillity and colour to the boat. Our fellow travellers were all pretty chilled, also resigned to, or perhaps even excited for, another slow day on the river. 

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We went through signs of Laos’ modernisation with high bridges crossing the river at points. Perhaps it was just ‘A’ bridge but it was pretty impressive. There were also land reclamation projects on the side of the river with machines pilling up sand to build some sorts of buildings on. All financed by the Chinese I believe.

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In the afternoon the river got bendier. The hills became slightly greener and less on fire. We spotted a cave temple which was not far from Luang Prabang which was beautiful and which we should have probably visited when we were in Luang Prabang but couldn’t as my wife vowed to never set foot on a slow boat down the Mekong ever again. And eventually we made it. Two, almost, whole days on the river and we had made it. To lovely Luang Prabang. Well almost to lovely Luang Prabang. The ‘wharf’ which I put in quotation marks as it’s just really a very basic collection of wooden walkways with enough space for maybe a dozen boats – maybe double or triple that in the peak season. Maybe the ‘boat landing’ place is a better description. The boat landing place was, again due to the dry season lack of water, about 10-12 metres below the road. It felt more like 300 metres as I again struggled up the hill, even with the consolidated luggage which was only a couple of less kilos lighter than when we arrived in Pak Beng.

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On top, the lovely Luang Prabang was still nowhere in sight. Apparently they could take the boats all the way to lovely Luang Prabang itself, but instead they dock them about 30 minutes drive away to support the local, low level organised crime, taxi industry. I paid for a ticket on a collective taxi that was going into town. We were unlucky as they were still waiting for the taxi to fill up before heading off, so we had to sit around for a few minutes while everyone boarded. The collective taxi was one of those trucks with two of those long bench seats on either side and the luggage of all 12 occupants piled almost to the roof in the middle. So more of a back of a truck than a taxi.

‘I don’t think we’re all going to fit’, I’d said before getting on. To which a young backpacker  replied, ‘oh we’ve fit more than this in before!’ Bless the hearts of those young backpackers, for despite having a yellow backpack myself, I now realised I preferred a little bit more comfort in my 50s! Which my wife would probably have said ‘te lo dige’ – or I told you so in Spanish!

Once we were all stacked in and unable to move, we were told, or perhaps not so much told as it was it became evident, that we still weren’t going anywhere for a bit as we didn’t have a driver, so we all sat there for maybe 20-30 minutes waiting for a driver to show up. I mean perhaps they could have figured that out before they shoved us all in ike sardines, but het, that’s just me and my 50-year backpacker ways. The younger backpackers all seemed down with it and unperturbed. If I was their age I’d probably be fairly stoned by now and also lacking stress about the situation. We did get a chance to talk to a few of the young people, they’d been travelling here, there and everywhere. That’s the life. In fact the life we were living ourselves at that moment! And then suddenly a driver appeared, and we were off to lovely Luang Prabang. Though at that stage we were still unaware at just how lovely it was going to be.

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That’s for the next blog post. I’ve had enough today.

Oh, after bagging TikTok, I’ve started an account, it’s literally better than 95% of the shit I’ve seen on the platform so far: Get your laptops out and check it out!

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50-Year-Old Backpacker Blog: A Juanito’s Travels Chronicle. BlogPt1

The Pre-Planning Phase.

The first time I went backpacking was 27 years ago.

I went to find a girl, a Swiss girl. Or to visit Ireland. It’s unclear now.

I met the Swiss girl in Victoria, Australia. Her name was Corinne.

The Swiss girl was married then. I am married now. To a Wonder Woman. I even bought her, my Wonder Woman wife, a Wonder Woman sweater at Six Flags theme park in Mexico City. It was after we got drenched on one of the water rides which she’d said we were going to get drenched on and which I thought we’d just get a bit wet. We had to get some warm clothes and the Wonder Woman top seemed like a good way to admit she was right!

My wife and I met around the Day of the Dead in Guadalajara, Mexico. You can read more about that here.

I met Corinne decades earlier. She wasn’t so much a Swiss girl as a Swiss woman. She was the first lover I’d had where it felt like I’d found that puzzle piece I’d be looking for for ages. It just fitted.

I bought a pair of Scarpa boots made in Italy for my first trip overseas. They were soft leather, though harsher than Corinne’s skin softened by Nivea. Corinne looked a bit boyish to begin with. I wasn’t even sure she was attractive. Until I saw her naked body under her boyish clothes a few days later.

“Excuse me, do you have the time?” She’d asked.

It was the 90s. There was a clock on the wall behind her at Hurstbridge railway station. At the end of one of the Melbourne lines. Past Greensborough.

I pointed to the clock behind her head, “5.15”. It was April. Or May. Not that long after Easter. It was already getting dark.

And thus began an adventure around Australia which I fictionalised a bit in my online novella: the Adventures of Kosio and Juanito. So enough of her, my Wonder Woman wife might turn her magic lasso and invisible plane to devastating effect if I harp on about a previous love too much.

Suffice to say, back then, this meeting of the Swiss woman contributed to my motivation for my first trip to Europe back then in the early 90s.

I’ve since been back to Europe with my daughter. I also spent a few days in IcelandParis and Germany without my daughter, or my then wife-to-be, who is not the mother of my daughter, and whom I’d left in Mexico after becoming engaged following a trip to Cuba and around Mexico.

For a few days between getting engaged in Mexico and travelling to Munich to pick my daughter up from a school excursion, I was just by myself, as I had been in the 90s. With a backpack, a return ticket to London, no plans and little money.

How could you plan back then? There wasn’t even any internet to speak of! I seriously can’t recall, I guess you got guidebooks and pamphlets and guidance from the travel agency. I used STA Travel back then to help book my plane tickets. I just looked them up, and, during the worst of COVID lockdowns, they went bankrupt.

I wished I’d forked out some money for the Lonely Planet guidebook back then in the 90s. It would have helped with events to come.

Back to now, 2022. Post-COVID(ish). Well I have COVID as I write this so it’s still going, we’re just mostly ignoring now that millions of us in wealthy countries have had two or three a few jabs.

While in the 90s you could do with a guidebook, now we have the wealth of the internet. Which I find a bit distracting but which occasionally is useful.

We have everything at our fingertips but not much it seems that’s really worth looking at. In many ways it’s taken the mystery out of travel.

Back in the 90s I ended up bumming around Ireland for 6 months staying and working on Organic farms and visiting Vipassana meditation centres in France and Herefordshire.

In 2022, I have a Google Sheets spreadsheet with an itinerary and rough costings for each day of my planned trip. Which, at the moment, is Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

I’ve decided to name my posts the 50-Year-Old Backpacker, A Juanito’s Travels Chronicle for now because, I don’t know, I can’t come up with another idea and I’ve never done a regular blog before and I’m 49 at the moment and started writing for the internet back in 1997 so I still like to keep it simple.

And I told my son he should use full stops rather than keeping writing ‘and’ but he should do what I say and not what I do.

So, planning for a trip. Back to my first trip to Europe in 1994 or 1995, it was sometime in the early 90s I can’t be bothered getting my old passport out of the shoebox to check. Actually it must have been 1995 as my niece was born when I was over there and she just turned 27. Anyway, I was initially travelling to Europe to kind of chase a Swiss girl called Corinne I’d met on a train at Hurstbridge, an outer suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

That can’t have been the only motivating factor as I’d headed to Ireland, where I hold citizenship due to my grandmother Bee born in County Sligo, rather than Switzerland. But plans change. And for that trip in the 90s I didn’t plan much at all.

I’d been working on a farm in Nutfield, Victoria, not far from Hurstbridge. I had met Bev Brock, the partner of a famous Australian racing-car driver called Peter Brock. They weren’t married but Bev had taken on Peter’s surname.

Bev had offered me a job when, unemployed and on the dole, I decided to go out to do some volunteer work on an organic farm in East Gippsland through a scheme called Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF). This still exists, I just googled them and there’s a bunch of happy looking people in shirts picking chilli and talking to cows.

Bev was doing a weekend yoga retreat on the farm and we got to chatting and I said something like I wanted to help the planet by growing organic vegetables and she’d given me her number on a piece of paper on which she wrote Bev & Peter Brock. See, even back then some of us wanted to help the planet! Well back a long time before I was born many of us did too, it just seems like now it’s starting to get mainstream appeal as we’re on the precipice of turning the place into Venus where no life will live in the fiery inferno, nuked by UV radiation.

I didn’t know at the time Bev gave me the bit of paper that it was ‘the’ Peter Brock, the famous race-car driver, who, despite my general lack of interest in motorsports even I had heard of as he’d won the most prestigious endurance race in Australia at Mt Panorama Bathurst many times. A bit like Muhammad Ali, I’d never watched a boxing match in my life but all us kids in the 70s knew who he was. And we all knew who Peter Brock was.

I’d gone out WWOOFing, as they call it, following my first 10-day meditation course of Vipassana style meditation. There was another famous person who took that course with me called Michael Leunig, a cartoonist who drew ducks and teapots. He is also an Australian icon. As it was a silent retreat for most of the time (9 of the 10 days) I never chatted to him. I also didn’t recognise him, and being a bit shy I may not have really talked to him anyway. I probably said hi though, and I remember his curly hair and peaceful demeanour. I just like to mention that because I’m intrigued by famous people and where they pop up. I guess it’s not too uncommon to be drawn to fame, testament to this is the rise of Instagram and all those other attention seeking apps.

I’d finished the Vipassana meditation course out somewhere in country Victoria. I think it was at an old scout camp. It was around Easter. I remember as one day the servers on the course had given us all a few of those little chocolate Easter eggs wrapped in shiny foil. It was welcomed as they only gave you breakfast and then a lunch which they served around 11, in keeping with the monk and nun lifestyle of not eating after 12. They did give us a bit of fruit around 4ish but still I was starving. I can still remember the smell of the chocolate.

So I came back to a share house after the meditation course. I’d signed up for 3 months at a place in Fitzroy after my sister, who I’d been living with in Melbourne, ran out of space and asked me to move out. She had 2 kids by then and I’m not sure they wanted some hippy hanging about the place for too long. The shared house in Fitzroy seemed to have about 5-6 people in it. Some who lived there and others who were girlfriends or friends of the rent-paying occupants.  I’d rented the room off some woman who’d gone over to Europe or Asia or somewhere for 3 months.

I came back from the silent retreat all enlightened and all – actually not really, I’d found the course extremely tough and like in those pictures where the Buddha sits cross-legged and all tranquil like! My housemates were all sitting around the TV basking in its warm glow. I looked at their profiles on the couch, said ‘hi’, which was barely acknowledged and then went upstairs to my room. I dropped my bags down.

I’d picked up the number for WWOOF somewhere in Melbourne, maybe on a lamppost or at the organic, anarchistic, hippy organisation, Friends of the Earth food store and coop in Collingwood where I bought rolled oats and beans. I’d got the WWOOF people to send me the printed guidebook so I could contact host farms. It had arrived while I was at the retreat so I started flicking through the pages.  I found the yoga place in East Gippsland which looked interesting. I went out. I got on a public phone. I rang them up. They said I could go out the next day as they were going into Bairnsdale and they could take me out to the farm in Buchan. I went downstairs. I announced to the zombie TV people I was heading to a farm the next morning for a few days to which I got some grunts and what have you.

I went back up to my room. Since it was getting chilly I decided to try and start a little fire in the room’s fireplace. I quickly realised the vent was closed or something so the smoke didn’t go up the chimney, it just went into the room. I panicked and put the fire out before too much damage was done. But the chick’s clothes who’d I rented the room off got all smokey.

So I went out for a week to the yoga farm, planted cabbages and lettuces, tended to goats, picked corn, had cups of tea and went for bush walks in the days I had off. I got the number of Bev while I was there. I came back to Fitzroy to the same zombie glow of the house people, I rang Bev and then went out to the farm in Nutfield where she said I go live there and work on the place. I took the train back to Fitzroy, I announced I was moving out, I think I’d paid up till the end of the 3 months anyway. They grunted again. I never knowingly saw them again.

I’d like to say I’m sure they were nice people. But I’m not confident of that. They seemed like jerks anyway.

After moving out to the farm in Nutfield I’d noticed a few racing trophies and the like, not really in prominent positions but obvious enough for me to put 2 and 2 together. I realised I was working for ‘the’ Peter Brock, famous race-car driver and I rang my mum and said, ‘I think I’m working for ‘the’ Peter Brock’ out on a farm in Nutfield. To which she was maybe not that surprised.

The Brocks had a beautiful pink house on a hill overlooking a gully with a huge gum tree in front where they fed the cockatoos, galahs and a semi-tame kangaroo called Tilley bird seed in the mornings. They also fed the magpies and kookaburras a bit of minced meat which occasionally they’d forget and which we’d discover once it’d gone smelly.

The house was surrounded by ponds, one of which went inside and outside the house so fish could swim in. It was pretty amazing. Bev and Peter had their own part of the house where the kitchen and the inside outside pond were.

A few weeks after starting there I met Corrine, a Swiss architect who’d been studying English in Melbourne. She came to the farm and Bev and Peter welcomed her as well.  Bev showed her pictures of the house in architectural magazines and we had dinner together with the family. After spending a few days on the farm together I announced to Bev that Corinne and I were going to travel north. Winter was coming so there wasn’t much to do on the farm at that point anyway. So we travelled up and down the east coast of Australia as far as Airlie Beach. Somewhere along the way I’d discovered Corinne was married, and my newly found Buddhist values said she should go back to Switzerland to finish that before she started a new relationship with me. Besides I actually had a job – and one I was really passionate about – now so I thought I should go back to it.

You can read a fictionalised version of that in my online novel: The Adventure of Kosio & Juanito (& Corinne) – a novel of sorts about fishing, love and life.

It was an amazing time of my life. I regret pushing her away back to Switzerland. But that happens sometimes in life. I should have also probably called the novella the Adventures (with an ‘s’) of Kosio & Juanito (& Corinne) but I’ve since rectified that with the title of this website and I’m going to keep the original name as well as all the typos I’m sure it still has. It’s not Hemingway’s Fiesta, but it’s worth a read in my opinion.

I’m now married to a beautiful Mexican whom I met on my travels to Mexico, so perhaps I’m learning from my regrets and proving the adage there’s more fish in the ocean. Although I also married her like 20 years or so later (than my days in Nutfield with the Brocks) so perhaps you should also be patient both in fishing and love (both themes of my first ‘book’:

So back to Bev & Peter Brock’s farm in Melbourne. After pushing away Corinne and only having her Swiss Army knife as a memory – as we didn’t get any photos together due to her being married and not having phones capable of taking photos in that day – I went back to the farm in Nutfield and spent the rest of the year tending to goats, chickens and vegetables, planting thousands of gums, casuarinas, wattles and fruit trees, seeing snakes, wombats and foxes and walking around in nature.

I still had, and still have, Corinne’s Swiss Army knife which she’d sent me by mail from Sydney while she waited to go back to Switzerland. She liked painting and had sent me a water colour of the Sydney harbour bridge with a beautiful note and the knife. I kept the knife, and for years the water colour and note.

I regretted not spending more time with her.

Bev & Peter paid me $10 an hour cash in hand (take it up with the tax office – their accountant made me some sort of director of a trust or something), but since I ate with the family every night, had no bills or rent to pay, and also that $10 was worth more back then, I was able to save up a few thousand dollars by the end of the year. I used to keep it in some books at my sister’s house to avoid the prying eyes of the taxman and the dole office.

So, after saving enough for a ticket to London return I decided I would set off and see if maybe I could find her. I had my WOOFing guide after all which included a few farms in Switzerland.

Early in 1995 I had my ticket, which included stopovers in Bangkok and either Kathmandu or New Delhi. I sent a note to Corinne in Switzerland to say I was keen to see her again. She’d left her address with the Brock’s but not with me. Come to think of it I wasn’t sure if I’d sent the note before I left or perhaps when I was in Europe. It seems more like me to wait until I was closer by. Still I sent her something at some point.

I think the plan was to go to Switzerland, spend some time on farms and maybe see if I could catch up with her again in her town of Elgg, Switzerland.

That was the plan at least.