Tag Archives: island

Wishlist – The Ten Places I would most like to see in my lifetime

For those that know me or regularly check back to this blog, you know that I love to travel. I have been to thirty five countries in my lifetime, which is a fair few in my short time on this Earth. But there is a lot more that I want to see, and so, here is a top ten of places I would really like to see before I die. From the impossible to reach to the high tourist footfall, here are the places that I have not yet visited that I really want to get to sometime in the near future.

10) Prague.

I thought I would start with a simple place. Even though I have been to the Czech Republic, the reality is that I drove through the country in the middle of the night. For me the Czech Republic provided toilet breaks, a small fine for not paying the motorway tolls and lots of crazy driving. I hope to rectify this in the not-too-distant future, and visit what is regarded as one of Europe’s prettiest capitals.

9) Bolivia.

In fact I would like to visit all of South America. I have never stepped foot on this continent and so anywhere on here would be great for me. But for me, Bolivia really stands out due to its combination of natural beauty and spectacular culture. In particular, I would really love to see Salar Uyuni, the largest salt flats on Earth.

8) Ethiopia.

Oldest civilisation on Earth after China, this is one of the world’s great cultural treasure troves. In fact the whole of the Horn of Africa is culturally rich. After all, humanity itself evolved here. Next door Somalia also holds a great allure, but that is not looking like a place I could visit anytime soon.

7) Ooty.

India is going to feature heavily on my list. Officially my new favourite country to visit, I have only been here for a few brief weeks and really only saw the North East. I would really love to see more, and Ooty has the combination of all that is magical. An old steam train puffing up the mountains, stunning scenery and a romantic edge that makes it popular with honeymooners the world over. Out of all the destinations on this list, this is probably the best combination of exotic and ease of travel.

(From Pratheept2000)

6) Tokyo.

What can I say. Cute gadgets, cute food and cute chicks. But behind all the cuteness, Tokyo really is one of the world’s great cities, and out of the ‘Big 4’ Global Cities, Tokyo is the only one I have not visited. It is big, crazy and expensive, but it is still worth a look in. One day…

5) Easter Island.

Well, the remotest place on Earth, one of the real outposts of civilisation with a fascinating Archaeological story. There is so much to learn from Easter Island, and so much tragedy too. The planet in a microcosm, and it shows on one small spot the great achievements of humanity and also the worst ravages of man. Expensive and hard to get to, but this is definitely one of the more likely destinations to reach.

4) Aksai Chin.

Yeah, right. The likelihood of getting here is about as good as me becoming a world class sprinter. At this moment in time, all entry is virtually impossible. But for me, it is the perfect combination of my two favourite types of scenery – desert and mountain. I have always been fascinated by the Himalaya, both from a scenic and cultural point of view. But, out of all the places on my list, I doubt I will see this place in my lifetime.

3) Istanbul.

Out of all the places on this list, Istanbul really should have been one that I should have arrived at sooner, but have so far been thwarted at every turn. I did once have a flight booked here, but, yeah, Easyjet changed the flight days, and so I plumped for the refund. Maybe I should have just jumped, but with my work being impossible to work around, it is one that is on my ‘to-do’ list.

2) Madagascar.

It may have been popularised by the cartoon, but for me, this island in the Indian Ocean really has it all. Exotic wildlife, a spectacular fusion of Polynesian and African culture and a landscape that is simply divine. For me, this destination is more about money and time rather than anything else.

(From Frank Vassen)

1) Arunachal Pradesh.

Again, this is one place I really should have visited sooner than I did. Arunachal Pradesh in India’s far North East is simply divine. Nestled in the slopes of the Himalaya, this is where the mighty Brahmaputra gets its power. All of India’s North East is fascinating, which is why on my two journeys to this great country, I focused my efforts here. Arunachal Pradesh would be the jewel in the crown, and it is just a case of getting round the bureaucracy. Unfortunately, it is Indian bureaucracy…grr…

(From Rajkumma1220)

So there you have it. Ten places in the world that I have not yet visited, but would so love to. What do you guys think, and have any of you been to anywhere on this list?

And what would be your wishlist of places to visit? And anything you think I should have included on this list but missed out (and trust me, it was hard to compile). Answers in the comments below!

2 Comments

Filed under Goals, Hopes, places, travel

Amigos Amigos – Teaser 2

I am happily editing away at this project, and so I have released this teaser from Amigos Amigos. Just two more people to slot into the documentary then I can begin cleaning up the sound and picture. Oh, finally, there is light at the end of this tunnel. Never again will I do a documentary, but for now, enjoy this little snippet, and see how Johnny Dingle got his stage name…

And here is the link!

3 Comments

Filed under film, music

A New Airport for London? No chance…

So this is it. I have visited far too many of London’s airports, and we do have a ridiculous amount of them. At the moment in London, we have five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City. Southend is reopening next year, but the fact is that London, with the world’s busiest airspace, is running out of airport room.

So what is to be done. For all their environmental impact, aeroplanes provide a cheap, easy and convenient way to travel. From my perspective, they link me to the people important in my life, provide me with exotic food, allow me to explore the world, and come at a price which is cheaper and quicker than train or coach. Imagine trying to travel overland to Sri Lanka. Nope. Or take the train to Poland. Please, the cost of one train ride would pay for three air tickets! Also, they are far more flexible than the train or road. Living on an island really does restrict my travel horizons and it is the real reason why London has the world’s most congested air system – it is a megacity on isolated from its immediate hinterland on the Continent.

So with that in mind, how do the plans for the new airport in the Thames stack up. Bear in mind that these are only plans, and yet two put forward seem to have an air of the possible within them. There is definitely a shift from Maplin Sands but it is in essence the same idea. Stick an airport somewhere to the east of London in the Thames Estuary and link it to the greater metropolis by any means necessary. With the completion of HS1, the possibility of linking this airport to the rest of Europe (certainly northern France) is also a possibility.


Isle of Grain Porposals.

And again for Grain.
Bors Island Proposals.
Boris Island again.

The pros are that it can be built to a huge size, operate 24 hours a day and free residents from the blight of aircraft noise by shutting Heathrow and free up valuable land in West London for a massive expansion of housing.

The cons are wildlife concerns, the logistics of changing air traffic patterns that close to Dutch and Belgium airspace, a blow to the West London economy and of course, rising sea levels.

There are arguments that it has been done before. Replacing the old airport with a new one, and yes in Hong Kong (magnificent), or Kansai airport in Osaka. But each of these cities only had one airport.

London currently has six, and here is the major mis-step that everyone seems to have missed. All the airlines and passengers will jump from Heathrow to the new island hub in a flash.

No, they won’t.

The reason why Heathrow is such a popular airport is simple. It has the best ground connections of any airport I have visited in the world. Heathrow may be an absolute nightmare to navigate, but there is no simpler airport to get to on the planet. Try it. And there is no cheaper airport to get to either.

The UK has a perverse transport policy. Let private companies run pseudo monopolies and charge an exorbitant price for the privallege. As a result we have an expensive, run down and shambolicly run railway. We have a long distance coach system that has to absorb the inefficiencies of the rail system and clogged motorways because it is perversely cheaper (and often faster) to drive from one end of the country to another. And it is one of the stupid reasons why in a country as small as the UK, that domestic air travel is so popular.

The UK’s perverse transport policy stops at the borders of Greater London. Here, the warm embrace of TfL takes over. Heathrow is located within Greater London, and as a result, it is connected cheaply to the rest of the city by an efficiently run tube system and to its local neighbourhoods by a plethora of buses running 24 hours a day.

Which is why it is so easy to get to Heathrow. Instead of fleecing passengers, the transport authority looks to getting people to and from the airport as quickly and cheaply as possible with a minimum of fuss and shareholding.

Do not get me wrong, I have no problem with private transport companies. But our transport policy (outside London) is neither fully privatised or fully public but a mixture of the worse of both worlds.

And this is why people choose Heathrow. Yes, the airport itself sucks, but getting to the airport is easy.

Yes, there is a fast, expensive (and fully private) option on the Heathrow Express, but it is still cheaper than getting the shoddy Stansted Express and despite its credentials, the Gatwick Express is only 55p cheaper, but infinitely slower. And there is a choice of how to get to Heathrow, as it is not isolated from the rest of the world. Gatwick, Stansted and the rest are basically islands of development in the middle of nowhere. You are forced onto a range of limited ground transport options.

So a new airport in the middle of the Thames Estuary. How easy and more importantly, how cost effective will it be to travel there? Knowing the UK’s transport policy, it will be fast, and expensive. Looking at the current fares on the UK’s only domestic high speed rail line, it is 拢27 to get from St Pancras to Ashford. And I have to get to St Pancras station itself, a mission from my location in South London.

If train tickets to Boris Island are priced similarly, a one way journey for a family of four will cost 拢100. Compare that to Oyster Card fares to Heathrow, and you can begin to see the major flaw with putting an airport in the middle of the Thames. Air Passengers will choose to travel to an airport that is cheaper.

Now, as the six London airports are currently owned by five different companies, do you really think that they will all roll over and let Boris Island take their business? Of course not. They will try and take Heathrow’s mantle, as the most convenient airport to Central London and the cheapest airport to get to. If Heathrow closes, the owners of Gatwick would immediately expand their airport to attract the high spending business traveller and yes, intercontinental airlines would move there, not to Boris Island.

Building an airport in the Thames would probably require the closing of most if not all of London’s other airports in order to force airlines and punters to use it. Something, that in a country filled with free trade and property rights, would be unthinkable.

So what are the alternatives? Continue the way things are? Of course not! Expand the airports? Of course not! Reduce air travel? Of course not! How does the circle get squared? It will be interesting to see how air travel in London adapts to the future. What is probably going to happen is more of the same. Sticking tape and plaster to mend the broken system. Reopen an old airport like is happening at Southend, tweak the existing rules, and make bigger aircraft. But in the end, matters will come to a head…

Of course, the above arguments will all pale into insignificance if oil runs out 馃檪

2 Comments

Filed under britain, london, news, places, political, travel

A Wander through West London (3) – Eel Pie Island

In London, there are plenty of islands, or Aits/Eyots as they are known, in the middle of the Thames. West London is where the bulk of the islands exist, and Eel Pie Island (one of the few on the Thames not called an Ait or an Eyot) is one of the most famous, partly as it has a great history to it. Plus, it is one of the few that is partially accessible to the general public. Many others require a boat ride to get to it, but for Eel Pie, you can simply walk across the bridge.

Eel Pie Island itself is a hidden gem. Much of it is very artistic, probably due to its history as an old Hippie Commune. Today, the island is filled with a mixture of rustic buildings, and slightly more modern fare.

And it is surprisingly tranquil. It is only a small wander over a footbridge, but the lack of vehicles makes this a very peaceful island. Despite the nearby rattle of Twickenham town centre, once you are on Eel Pie, everything is surprisingly quaint and quiet. No cars, no cycles, just people and postmen wandering around the island, taking random photos of what is around…

Getting there and Away:

Eel Pie Island is just across the river, over a footbridge, from Twickenham Town Centre. Most of the island is a private nature reserve, so look out online for the special open days, when a hike to Twickenham actually becomes worthwhile. The nearest railway station is Twickenham, (which is a ten minute walk away). There are also plenty of buses that make the quick journey (usually 15 mins) from Richmond Tube Station on the District Line. Alternatively, it is a very pleasant walk from Richmond.

3 Comments

Filed under london, places, travel

Charlie’s Second Holiday to Poland – Poznan’s Ostr贸w Tumski

Poznan’s Ostr贸w Tumski – it has Cathedral Island just like Wroclaw – is situated just to the east of the city centre in the middle of the Warta. This is the oldest part of Poznan and if you are looking for the foundation of the Polish State, it is not Krakow, but here, on this island that the first rulers of what would later become Poland set up camp.

Poland’s ancient (well, ancient by European terms) history pretty much start on this island. The mechanics of what would eventually become the Polish state originated on Ostr贸w Tumski. And today, Poznan’s Cathedral Island hosts the impressive Cathedral of Pozanan. Pretty, towering and of course, like Catholicism across this nation in general, a symbol of the city.

Inside the Csthederal, it is just as pretty as on the outside, but in contrast to many other Catholic places of worship that i have visited in Poland, it is quite stark and devoid of any obvious decoration, following its rebuild after WWII. Still, the pews fill up for mass, and the faithful flock here at all times to pray. As I have mentioned previously, Poland is Devout and whether you are comfortable or not with Catholicism it is a fact in this country. So just go for the ride, and enjoy it I suggest…

Around the island there are plenty of attractions including the usual ecclesiastical buildings attached to the Cathedral as well as a Museum (not open on a Monday). There is also a lot of parkland and a genuine water pump that you can play with! As I had visited the Cathedral just after the anniversary of John Paul II’s death, there were also plenty of people paying tribute to the former Pope. Just like in other Polish cities, there is a statue to him outside the Cathederal, which he visited on one of his nine pastoral trips to his homeland.

Overall, this island is one of the prettiest parts of Poznan and is well worth the trip and time spent. Fascinating, some may say holy, and historical, take some time out and head here to Poznan’s Ostr贸w Tumski…

2 Comments

Filed under places, travel

Charlie’s Holiday to Poland (6) – The Love Bridge, Wroclaw

Ah Valentine’s Day, the most romantic day of the year. So much flowers and happiness and unexpected trips to New York or Paris where thousands was spent on wedding proposals, oh, the stuff of magic. Yeah, and that was a week ago. Remember it so clearly now. You can see why I am so cynical about the whole event. A lot can happen in a week. Arguments, beatings, affairs, the whole caboodle. After all, a Valentine is not for life, just for the evening…

In Poland they do it slightly differently. Yeah, they have the flowers and all that junk, but they are far more likely to buy them spontaneously (as is evident by all the flower shops dotted around their cities). But they also decide to wander over a river…

This is the Ostrow Tumski Bridge in Wroclaw, straddling a loop the Oder river, you can see Wroclaw Cathedral in the background. It was built in 1861, replacing a crossing that dated back to the 11th Century. Now from this angle it may not seem like much, but that is because you are not with your Valentine. You need to wander over to the bridge, which is where the magic begins…

Little padlocks are slung onto any available part of the crossing. Now, it is fairly obvious to the reader why this is so. But of course, I was one of the foolish strollers in this part of Wroclaw. The locals knew what they were doing. No one knows how the tradition started, but this crossing point in Wroclaw is the original love bridge. Other cities may have copied these lovers by tying their padlocks and throwing the key into the river, but it was here where the tradition first began.

Martelka & Karol, ‘Chas and Dave’, I 鈾 MILF – the inscriptions mean many things to many people. The lovers come from, near and far, they hold hands, lock their love onto the bridge and toss away the key into the river below. Many return year after year, creating a chain. Surprisingly, the authorities have decided to allow this to happen. Well, they are Polish, not British. For them, public property is just that…

3 Comments

Filed under places, travel

The Biycycle Diaries – Mannar

Hot, dry and dusty – this is an appropriate a description as you could give to Mannar, a small island off the North Western coast of Sri Lanka. And thank goodness for that, as it meant it was the dry season. That’s right, I had managed to sneak into the north of Sri Lanka before the onset of the NE Monsoon (the same monsoon that makes Tamil Nadu in India as wet as a bucket) which meant no mosquitoes, 45C heat and plenty of opportunity to explore this tiny patch of land without the threat of torrential rain.

My precious bone shaker while I was in Mannar. Far too small for me, dodgy brakes and a pain to pedal as there are no gears on the bike, but what a great way to get around. Until the wheel punctures 馃槮

Still, I managed to see a little bit more of Mannar, and now with the current peace looking as if it will hold for the next few years, it was a great time to explore this remote part of Sri Lanka.

Cut off from pretty much the rest of the world, Mannar is really a land to itself. Different from much of Sri Lanka, and even from the rest of the north. The island also has a distinctly Catholic feel that adds something special to the local identity. The beauty of Mannar does not come from the lush green that usually characterises much of Sri Lanka, nor does it come from the verdant beaches that the rest of the country is famous for. The beauty of Mannar comes from its stark nature. Remember, this place is quite unlike anywhere else in the region. It is dominated by the heat, and unlike the rest of the country, seems to operate on its own timetable, with mornings and dusk being very busy times, while the middle of the day is devoid of humanity – only crazy tourists on bicycles decide to brave the heat of midday in order to take photos and explore…

This is my fourth time to Mannar, but my visits, as always, have been far too quick and far too rushed. Unfortunately, I do not know the next time I will be able to return, nor how much of my family will remain on my next sighting of this land. The last remaining sibling of my father lives here, which is why I spend so much time actually travelling to this remote part of Sri Lanka. Next time, I could well be bringing my own family here, so it is probably my last visit to Mannar that I will make as a free man. Life changes, I suppose I must grow up, but throughout my twenties, Mannar has been a very cool place to always visit. But onto the rest of my Sri Lanka tour…

1 Comment

Filed under asia, life, travel