Monday, 30 November 2009

From Italy to Phuket

My first experience of Italy was Sardinia, an island that I would come to reflect on when I moved to Phuket, Thailand and opened a restaurant at Bon Island. The two have some similarities, beautiful clear water and a rocky coastline. That trip to Sardinia would be followed by trips to Bologna, Florence, Milan, Padua, Piza, Rome, Sicily, Udine, Venice and Verona. Sometimes for pleasure, sometimes for business. Just like all tourists I fell in love with Venice and would return several times.


Taormina, Sicilia. My favourite place to sit and think about life.



Palazzo della Carovana in Piazza dei Cavalieri 2 Piza

Some people only look at the Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower), and forget to look around to see the real beauty of Piza.





Ponte Vecchio, Firenze. History captured for all to experience.


Il Doumo, Firenze. Dominating the city in all it's glory.




The colours of Burano.



Balcone di Guilietta, Verona.



Venice






The thing that fascinated me about Venice was the way of every day life. Having spent my life relying on cars and roads, it was fascinating to watch the Venetians dealing with life on the waterways. Everything had to be done by water, and at the time I didn't really realize just how complicated that could be. On January 29th 1996, nine years after my last visit, the problems of life without roads would be seen by the World when fire destroyed the theatre 'La Fenice'. Reading the article about the disaster made me reflect on the things that I had seen during my visit.



The narrow waterways, low bridges and a maize of badly lit alleyways were the delight of tourists but at the same time a recipe for disaster.


The water was, even back in the 1980s, alive with taxi boats, ferries, gondolas, and delivery boats.






The alleyways filled by market stalls and people.







Flooding was already a big threat to the future of this wonderful place.








In 1987 my last visit to Europe would be by a trip on the VSOE from London to Venice and a train ride into what was then Yugoslavia.



From Yugoslavia I would say goodbye to Europe for a trip that would take me to India, Nepal and Thailand. As the plane took off from the airport I had no idea that I would not be returning, nor that I would start a new life in Phuket.


India

My first trip to India was on the typical Kuoni package tour. A few days in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. It had been an interesting trip that started with the 'disappearing luggage scam'. The airport staff had hidden a few bags so that they could earn baksheesh by returning them. The airport was old, full of hustlers and taxi drivers that had to be fought through to get to the exit. So it was with these images that I waited for the plane to land in Calcutta in 1987, just a few years on from my visit to Delhi. On reaching the arrivals area I was in for a surprise; a modern clean and organised airport waited to greet me!

With no hotel booked and after a short bus trip I eventually checked in to the Lindsey Guest House a small simple but friendly hotel.




The back streets of Calcutta fascinated me, a glimpse of real life that probably hadn't changed in years.





Kathmandu, Nepal


A magical place unlike anywhere else on earth.


Farm Terraces.


On the road through the village, the locals dried their produce in the sun.


Central Restaurant, Bodnath.



The Fabric Factory



Kathmandu Market



The Locals


In Durbar Square.

Sadly I have lost track of my old photos, many were slides that god damaged when I was first living in Phuket. I may have some photos back in the Uk, I hope so, and if I get reunited with them one day then the story of India and Nepal will be completed. So until then I close my trip to Nepal here and head off to Thailand, it was late November 1987 when we took the plane to Bangkok..................

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