Lilly the Land Yacht

Lilly the Land Yacht

Thu May 23 7:30 2019 NZST
Run: 5446.2nm (9857.6km)
Avg: 26.3kms
24hr: 631.6kms

It seems like we caused a bit of a panic at home as we have been out of contact for a week, but all is well! We finally have internet again so can get everyone up to date. We picked up our camper van, Lilly, on Wednesday a week ago and had a few issues to sort out....insurance, minor maintenance items and a new house battery required, plus the fridge was playing up. It sounds like the usual issues we have when we leave Aradonna for a while, almost like a protest about us being away. By the time we got to the fridge repair shop after 2 hours of driving, the fridge was working again! Typical. Anyway, all is well and we got underway for our next European journey...
Over the last week we have been exploring WWI sites from the western front. Last year we visited many WWII sites, especially in Normandy, so this year we decided to take a look a bit further back in history.
The first stop was Peronne in France, liberated by the Australians, which still has a Main Street called ?Roo de Kanga?. The war museum here was very interesting too. As we drove through the French countryside we noticed that everything looked so lush and green. Vibrant spring colours sprouting forth on trees and deep green crops growing across the rolling landscape. Beautiful.
We visited Grevililers cemetery with 153 NZ graves, drove to Flers where the NZ troops started at the same time as the first ever use of tanks in the war. We also stopped at the NZ Caterpillar cemetery. At Longueval there is a memorial to the NZ men, including the name of Lindsay Parlane - lost, with grave unknown.
The very large crater at La Boiselle was worth a look, including reading the stories from survivors of this battlefield. From there we visited the town of Albert where we experienced the Museum Somme 1916 including underground tunnels and a wealth of information. Then it was on to the Newfoundland memorial where well preserved trenches and craters from WW1 can still be seen today.
Near the town of Arras is a memorial to the NZ tunnellers and a fabulous museum that has preserved some of the network of tunnels dug by NZ men that housed 24,000 men in safety 20 m underground during the war.
We then went on to visit the town of Le Quesnoy (pronounced Kenwaa) which was liberated by NZ troops in September 1918. Here there are streets dedicated to NZ, including Rue Neo Zealandias, Rue Helene Clark and All Blacks Place! This is a fortified town with very high walls and a moat around it. The Germans were occupying the city and the NZ men had to scale the wall one at a time to get in to fight the Germans. An incredible effort and still remembered by the people of this town today.
Memorials to the NZ soldiers in several places around town.
Yesterday we reached Belgium and visited the war memorial sites at Mesen (Mesinnes) where we found 128 NZ graves and a list of 828 NZ men with unknown graves from battles in this area.
At Ypres we walked through Menin gate, with the names of 54,896 soldiers from the Commonwealth that were reported missing in the Ypres region from 1914-August 1917. The gate was designed to hold all the names of the missing but it was not big enough. A further 35,000 names are on the memorial in Tyne Cot including almost 1200 NZ men who do not have graves. We went for a short bike ride to this memorial today, and learned that 2700 NZ men lost their lives in just 4 hours during one battle on 12th October 2017. Incredible. The most memorable site of the week was the Passchendale museum. We spent three hours there today, completely absorbed by the artefacts, stories from survivors and video clips that still exist from WWI. The museum includes reconstructions of tunnels, dug outs and trenches we could walk through to visualise what daily life might have been like for the soldiers - without the fighting of course!
There is also a large Maori carving here to commemorate the Maori soldiers from NZ. Another interesting fact was that USA supplied 3.2 million tons of food to Belgium during WWI to help support the people. Who knew?
During the third battle of Ypres mid 1917, in just 100 days, the allies had gained just 8km of territory - land that had been turned into sloppy sucking mud by rain and shelling. In this time, 245,000 allied troops and 215,000 German soldiers ended up either dead, wounded or missing. It is all so sad.
The countryside around this area is now peaceful, dotted with picturesque villages and fields of wheat. Life goes on and memories fade. I am glad we had this week to look, to feel, to ponder. So many families had an empty chair at their table that would never be filled again. So many family members had to carry on with an empty spot in their hearts. Lest we forget.

Tue May 14 16:32 2019 NZST

We have now been in Chiang Mai for three weeks and today we will pack our bags in preparation for the next leg of our journey, our flight to Paris. Before we leave, here is a snapshot of our time in Chiang Mai...
This is a less chaotic place than Bangkok, which is crazy busy! But there are still plenty of cars and motorcycles on the roads. Footpaths are non-existent in most places, so you have to walk on the dusty shoulder of the road. Where footpaths do exist they usually have trees growing out of the middle of them about every 5 meters, so you have to step onto the road again to walk around the tree. Larger sections of footpath are rare, but if you find them you see they have been turned into parking spots for motorbikes, so again you have to walk on the busy road to get around them!
Crossing the road is a challenge. Every now and then you find a pedestrian crossing - ha! They are meaningless! Nobody stops. The cars and motorbikes whizz by without even slowing down. Even if you put your foot onto the crossing and make moves like to are going to cross, the cars just keep on coming. We have learned to watch for a gap in the traffic and make a run for it! Every time we cross the road here we feel like we are taking our life in our hands!!
But Chiang Mai has some wonderful redeeming features.
We have seen magnificent temples - golden temples, white temples, blue temples, wooden temples, brick temples, old temples, new temples. It is fair to say that we are templed out!
The other thing that strikes you here? statues. Plenty of Buddha statues of course, but also statues of horses, elephants, roosters and mythical creatures. Everywhere you look you see a statue with several heads or too many arms looking at you. Fascinating.
We love Thai food, the cooking class was fun and trying various local restaurants has been wonderful, well nice for Heather anyway. Karl has been having major dental surgery with bone grafts and implants so has been on soup and bread most of the time but in the last few days he has been able to enjoy eating again! The surgery has gone well and he now has to wait for the bone grafts to heal before he has crowns fitted in September when we return.
The staff at the hotel have been wonderful. We could not have asked for a more caring and kind bunch of young people. They made Karl special meals after each surgery. Rice porridge, pumpkin soup, butter cake - all soft things he could eat. Today they made him a Birthday cake for breakfast!
We have both been enjoying tropical fruit and will miss our daily fix of mangoes, coconut juice, pineapple, rambutan and various melons. We have discovered a new fruit, mangosteens, which are nothing to do with mangoes, but have their own unique, intense flavour and are very yummy!
Going to the markets to buy fruit is an eye opener though, produce markets also sell a wide variety of other foods, like crickets, bamboo worms, frogs, turtles and large bugs! Not so yummy!
It has been hot. Most days we have had 38 degrees. Some days it has gone up to 41 degrees. But still we walk each day and ignore the toots from the Tuk Tuk drivers who tell us it is too hot to walk! For longer journeys around town we catch a Grab. Grab is like Uber. We have an app on the mobile phone, put in where we want to go and a driver is found within a few seconds. The price is set for the ride. Inside 2 minutes our driver arrives in a nice air conditioned car and takes us to where we want to go. Cheaper than a taxi and more comfortable than a Tuk Tuk.
We have enjoyed swimming in the pool each day to cool off. Some of the staff at the hotel were amazed to see us doing so much swimming. It seems we might have inspired some onlookers - Karl has ended up giving swimming lessons to a few people here!
The highlight of our Chiang Mai visit was going to Tiger Kingdom. Heather went into an enclosure with two white tigers, they seemed quite large but only 12 months old. It was a real treat to pet them, and literally hold a tiger by the tail! Karl went into a different enclosure, with three older and bigger tigers. He fed one some chicken meat and watched them play in the water bath. So much fun!
Some of you might be alarmed at us getting up close to tigers, but we felt much safer with the tigers than we do when we walk across the roads here!
Another treat we had was attending a local Toastmasters meeting. A friendly group of people and a fun meeting. Heather won the Table Topics speaker award!

Fri May 10 2:40 2019 NZST
Run: 5540.2nm (10027.8km)

Hello all, just in case you are wondering, no Lilly the Land Yacht is not really in Thailand, but Heather and Karl have been here in Chiang Mai for more than two weeks now. Karl has been having some serious dental work - bone grafts, implants, and more. Extensive work at less than half what it costs in New Zealand. The work will not be finished until we come back again in September to get crowns fitted, but the worst part, the surgery, is now done. In between dentist visits we have had some fun sight seeing and exploring the area around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Next week, on 15th May, we fly to Paris to collect our camper, Lilly, once again and will spend a few months touring in France, Holland and Scandinavia. Watch this space!

Look forward to your great blogsagain.Enjoy your travels xx

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