trains

Elephant No. 25: Saigon, Vietnam

I’ve been informed that my last post was “too historical”, so I’ll try and stay more on track with this one! This is a little elephant I found in the Reunification Palace in Saigon. At the time I thought it made a rather nice stool but looking at the photo now it looks far too small for me! Perhaps a good stool for a child though, with its beautiful deep green colour.  (more…)

Transport and travel

Usually, I love travelling by train or bus when abroad, particularly if I can nab a forwards-facing window seat, plug in some music, and watch the world go by outside. There’s something more satisfying about getting from A to B while still seeing everything between the two out the window, not just disappearing underground or into a plane and then popping out somewhere different with no conception of where you have actually travelled to or from.  Often, too, you get a glimpse from the window of everyday life in a country that you wouldn’t otherwise see as a tourist – I especially remember setting out from Beijing on the Trans-Siberian railway with my family many years ago and watching with great curiosity groups of old men practising tai chi at dawn in deserted patches of ground in various grey suburbs, and indeed many of my favourite travel memories involve the trains (or, less frequently, the buses) I took along the way, even if it’s just watching the fields speeding past under an afternoon sun. I used to find travelling by plane pretty exciting as well as a child, but alas no more – the spate of recent air accidents in the news has me feeling terrified rather than thrilled everytime I step through those strange curved oblong doors, and I tend to spend most of the flight trying not to think about how ludicrous it is to travel up in what is essentially a tin box high in the sky…  (more…)

China

The exams are finished, the celebrations are over, my Oxford room stripped bare for the last time – and now I’m counting down the days until I leave for China with Katy on Saturday. It’s the first big trip abroad I’ve done in years and I couldn’t be more excited! We’re starting off in Beijing for two weeks, taking some Mandarin lessons in the mornings and planning to explore the city in the afternoons (if we can survive the heat and smog – judging from the last few days in London I’m not too great at dealing with the heat!). (more…)