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In Sicily we hired a Jeep to get from Palermo around the island.

I had my doubts about this steed. Our two big bags wouldn't fit in the boot. One had to be strapped in on the back seat - a bit disappointing.

At above 130, the speed limit, there's something odd about the steering – so much so that I stopped quite soon to check the tyre pressures. I was regretting my choice.

Reassured about the tyres we set off again.

On the plus side the fuel consumption seemed OK and the zoned climate control worked well.

After two days of me complaining about the odd steering we got to Toarmina.

On entering we discovered that there was no parking in the old town, with roads one car wide and unbelievable traffic snarls – cars and tourist coaches moving around each other like tiles in a puzzle. We wound up and up then down and down, when at last a big blue P appeared. Hooray! - maybe we could actually stop and get out and maybe get something to eat!

Down a narrow street we went. Then up a one-way ally. Mistake! Someone's driveway. Jeep's GPS is suggesting the way. Then suddenly we are on dirt - but still a named road on the GPS.We pass two old codgers who look surprised to see us but don't offer any warning.  More like sharing a sly grin. We are climbing upwards again. This time out of town in the countryside. The dirt road begins winding crazily between tall gum trees. But GPS insists that this' the way.  Now along the cliffside 2.5 metres of width, Bushes scraping the side. No way to turn around now. Then a potholed and eroded 30 degree incline appeared.  A car wrecking drop to one side. This is the back of nowhere but there is some kind of dwelling up ahead.  Even Jeep needs to take a run at it. I doubt my car could do this!

Thank goodness we have a Jeep.

Back on proper roads again we have completely by-passed the tourist road blocks.  We get out and admire the view.

 

Jeep

Wendy n Jeep

 

Still in one piece.  Shaken but not stirred. But Jeep is unconcerned.

As we recover it starts to pour - big rain drops. Spectacular lightening streaks in the distance.

 

 

Storm aproaches

Town

 

On the slippy winding roads Jeep's traction control comes into play.

Now we're back on the expressway. The rain is getting heavier. Soon there is running water on the road and some big puddles. Now it's a shallow river. Cars ahead throw water high up to their sides.  So do we. Some slow to a crawl. Jeep doesn't mind. No need to slow below 100. No aquaplaning for us and the steering is rock solid. Jeep is teaching me a lesson. It's OK! I should never have doubted it.

Say sorry:  "Sorry!"

 

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Travel

Hong Kong and Shenzhen China

 

 

 

 

 

Following our Japan trip in May 2017 we all returned to Hong Kong, after which Craig and Sonia headed home and Wendy and I headed to Shenzhen in China. 

I have mentioned both these locations as a result of previous travels.  They form what is effectively a single conurbation divided by the Hong Kong/Mainland border and this line also divides the population economically and in terms of population density.

These days there is a great deal of two way traffic between the two.  It's very easy if one has the appropriate passes; and just a little less so for foreign tourists like us.  Australians don't need a visa to Hong Kong but do need one to go into China unless flying through and stopping at certain locations for less than 72 hours.  Getting a visa requires a visit to the Chinese consulate at home or sitting around in a reception room on the Hong Kong side of the border, for about an hour in a ticket-queue, waiting for a (less expensive) temporary visa to be issued.

With documents in hand it's no more difficult than walking from one metro platform to the next, a five minute walk, interrupted in this case by queues at the immigration desks.  Both metros are world class and very similar, with the metro on the Chinese side a little more modern. It's also considerably less expensive. From here you can also take a very fast train to Guangzhou (see our recent visit there on this website) and from there to other major cities in China. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Chappaquiddick

 

 

 

'Teddy, Teddy, I'm pregnant!
Never mind Mary Jo. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.'

 


So went the joke created by my friend Brian in 1969 - at least he was certainly the originator among our circle of friends.

The joke was amusingly current throughout 1970's as Teddy Kennedy again stood for the Senate and made later headlines. It got a another good run a decade later when Teddy decided to run against the incumbent President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

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Opinions and Philosophy

When did people arrive in Australia?

 

 

 

 

 

We recently returned from a brief holiday in Darwin (follow this link).  Interesting questions raised at the Darwin Museum and by the Warradjan Cultural Centre at Kakadu are where the Aboriginal people came from; how they got to Australia; and when. 

Recent anthropology and archaeology seem to present contradictions and it seems to me that all these questions are controversial.

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