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Back from South East Asia

30th August 2010 – 10:02 am

A week has passed already and only now have I had a moment to update everyone on my trip.  Mostly the weather has been good since my return so a number of people have had glorious days on Table Mountain.
Mt Rinjani is very spectacular and for the most part not a difficult hike.  Having said that the terrain at times is tough going and most people are crawling in part to the summit rather than walking.  We camped three nights in total and did a point to point route across the volcano including one night in the crater itself.  The last eruption was only in May and one can see evidence of the most recent lava flow.  The one criticism I have is the lack of care the park authorities are providing to this pristine area.  There is an amount of rubbish that I have never seen anywhere before and if steps are not taken the number of people wishing to visit this area  will drop dramatically.
I was also lucky enough to see seven or eight Komodo dragons on Rinca Island.  The dragons appear docile and you can get quite close to them.  However their bite is lethal and I saw evidence of this as an unfortunate water buffalo lay trapped in mud, unable to move.  The dragon would have his meal in a couple of days.
On returning to Bali I managed to fit in a quick jaunt up Mt Batur  – also a volcano – and was witness to a spectacular sunrise.  This is not a difficult ascent but again the terrain in places requires some persistence to get right to the top.  Many folk remain a short distance below to avoid this tricky section.
I had  a couple of weeks to see some of Vietnam and Cambodia and to take in some cultural experiences rather than exert myself.  For me the most interesting was visiting the Cu Chi  tunnels outside Saigon, the hideout of the Vietcong during the war.  In Cambodian the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple is worth a visit and I opted for a microlight flight to see it all from the air.  Of course the turbulent history of Cambodia is very much part and parcel of any visit and although the infamous S24 prison in Phnom Penn is not for everyone to enter, it does bring back to life those terrible years.
Table Mountain is still a welcome sight on my return and I now look forward to meeting people from all over the world who have come here to experience all it has to offer.  Definitely comparable (if not better!) than anywhere I have ever been.

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