After our bereavement - the recent loss of the family's matriarc, our dear mother - and the enforced change of plans that necessarily followed, the time had finally arrived to temporarily leave behind my somewhat lazy and sedentary lifestyle for another 60-day escape from the cold and waterlogged winter conditions of my home county of Cornwall, England, at latitude approx 50°N.
But it's not all bad at this time of year in the far southwest of England. With the Winter Solstice now well behind us (December-21) Sunrise and Sunset both occur two minutes earlier and later respectively nowadays, which means that as every day passes we get and extra four minutes of daylight.
Standing cheerily to attention, after what seems like a very long dark winter indeed; the cold, with all the doom and gloom and contemplation of mortality .. emerged this recent view, which was quite an uplifting sight - Cornish daffodils offering a glimmer of the sunshine to come. The picture below, taken by me just a week ago, early in the morning on the way to work, clearly shows that the northern European springtime is now just around the corner.
Here lies the remnants of the tens of thousands of narcissus after the recent mid-late January harvest. Most of the pre-bloom budding flowers have, of course, already been picked and lorried 'up country' to the big cities, in and around London especially.
I'll be back in two months' time, when Sunrise will occur at 06:01 and Sunset at 20:34 - British Summer Time (BST).
So Long, Cornwall.
Right now though, having just concluded a Great Circle direct distance route of 10,044 km [6,800 mi] - although the dog-leg via Hong Kong added another 1,239 km [770 mi] to the journey on this occassion - I arrive, with my travelling companion (my best mate Ellen) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the fourth and probably the last time; at latitude 3°N, where the temperature at this time of year hovers around a comparatively scintillating 28°- 30°C.
We’re back in a familiar place .. and feeling very comfortable with our surroundings. Back to the humidity; the mozzies, the friendly smiles .. and the Mullahs' 4:00am call to Allah.
Glad to be back.
The basic itinerary over the next eight weeks will be to:
- Get on the road as soon as possible and head northwest through the Cameron tea plantations - staying a night or two around Tanah Rata - then descend this highland plateau region to stopover in the city of Ipoh, followed by a night or two somewhere along the Strait of Malacca coast in the state of Kedah, close to the border with Thailand.
- Travel for the following couple of weeks up through the Malay/Thai Peninsula; then further northwards, to eventually touch the frontier with Myanmar (Burma) at the townships of Tha Song Yang & Mae Song, en route to Chiang Mai, which is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. Followed by a clockwise ride around the Mae Hong Song Loop; before heading east into:
- Cambodia, with
- maybe a brief excursion into Vietnam