Tag Archives: Day by day

Hunting for happy dolphins and ‘clean’ coal – Hallbarhet Day 2

The first day on the road got off to a fast and early start and continued the pace through the day. Although, you can’t complain about being too busy if your first appointment is cruising the beautiful Port Stephens for a cruise on the estuary looking for dolphins. These dolphins are worth seeing, in fact between the 90 of them, they bring in $40 million dollars of tourism income to the region. However teir happy lives entertaining humans are under threat due to the sheer volume of boats, and from a proposed new water treatment plant that would dramatically increase the level of nutrients in the estuary.

I enjoyed reconnecting with the sorts  of issues I used to deal with as a coastcare  facilitator, but also sensed I would get quite bored if I had to ever be restricted in the scope of my work to single-issue, conservation- focused  projects.

The new CSIRO Energy Technology research centre in Newcastle was the next stop, where the facilities host the research, but are also a research project in themselves. The solar tower, thin film panels and died titanium oxide wall coverings all generate power on-site. While the whole intelligent building design is not new, but is not something I have personally seen close up. The neat integrated automatic climate control system incorporates user feedback accounts for human psychology and even the clothing that occupants are likely to be wearing at different times of year.

I was happy to visit this site, and proud that CSIRO was doing some cool stuff. But, as we drove off I also had the feeling that it was also a monument to the lost opportunities when Australia was leading the world in solar research, and decrease in freedom and funding of the CSIRO in past decades.

Then, dashing off to the Tom Farrell Institute at Newcastle University, set up to be a credible voice for the region as well as research and run projects that may be relevant to other similar regions in the world. John Rodger of the institute introduced Dr Joe Herbertson of Crucible Carbon. Dr Herbertson emphasised useful distinctions between environmentalism that focuses purely on impacts, versus a sustainability approach that emphasises value over impact. I was happy to here this, as it is the way I often introduce sustainability, especially referring to maximising satisfaction of human needs within ecological constraints.

He also presented some information and perspectives that challenged those who only think simplistically about the transition period from our current unsustainable energy and agricultural systems to sustainbility. Specifically, he warned against seeing coal as ‘evil’ versus understanding the challenges and opportunities related to such unsustainable practices. He provided examples of how coal could be complemented by burning biomass and pyrolitic processes to generate carbon neutral or ‘net negative emissions’ energy. The resulting materials, such as biochar, can then be used to increase agricultural productivity. It is these technologies and applications that were featured on recent online and television reports in Australia.

During the following presentation, I witnessed and participated in a very interesting clash of cultures and worldviews. The general manager in charge of operations at Delta energy, Chris Horner, presented their strategy and thinking on the short and medium term future of coal. Some of the grunts and shifting in chairs hinted at the audiences distaste for some of his company’s strategies, and there were many questions that challenged the assumptions underlying their priorities. For example, Delta energy are projecting ongoing increases in energy demand, while Professor Broman from BTH cited Swedish studies on the 50% decreases in industry energy demand after simple efficiency changes. Chris didn’t believe what Goran was describing was possible.

Ultimately, I think it was quite a challenge for our group to a) understand the context in terms of the nature of Australia’s economy (coal exports being a major earner) and b) being willing to accept that the context, understanding of the system, and strategic options can not be reconsidered.  Whatever Chris doesn’t understand that we do, it is our chosen role as sustainability professionals to be intelligent about engaging and working with those whose knowledge, behaviours and impacts we wish to affect. I really enjoyed it, and really appreciated the opportunity to hear from someone like Chris and especially from someone like Joe Herbertson.

Their presentations provided more than enough food for discussion during the subsequent bus ride to Pittwater and a hostel set in bushland on an isloated headland….

First big steps – Hallbarhet Day 1

Today we took our first steps on the Hallbarhet2009 sustainability learning journey. And it really is ‘we’. For me, months of traveling alone have given way to reconnecting with people who speak the same ‘language’ and have a great depth of shared experience and perspectives.

Already, in our morning meeting about the evolution of The Natural Step (as an organisation) in Australia and the afternoon introductions with the wider group, the magic of what we have already achieved became apparent. With no budget, no central management, no two people in the same geographical location (or time-zone) and just a compelling vision we have managed to gather people from around the world in Australia, but also to connect at other parallel ‘regional’ gatherings.

Some of the things we managed to co-create across the oceans (thanks skype!) included: detailed menu plans to be made with local food, an impressive carbon emission minimisation and offset strategy, plans for sourcing biofuel for the bus, a zero waste strategy….all in addition to an amazing agenda of events, speakers and a three day intensive retreat.

The evening opening event was another example of the learned ability of alumni of this Master’s program to be entrepreneurial, leverage our networks and show real leadership. Hosted and driven by University of Technology Sydney, but seeded by two MSLS alumni (Richard and Shawn) over 100 people turned up to hear Alan AtKisson speak via webcast from Sweden, and participate in a conversation about how we make sustainability mainstream.

Alan’s presentation was a recording of an earlier presentation to a gathering of the influential and successful Sustainable Seattle initiative, but also include lots of singing and performance, His on-stage sills are a really unique way to introduce systems thinking, exponential rates of change, and the urgent need for us to think ‘within the box’ of global ecological and cultural constraints.

In the Q&A session, Alan fielded questions on the opportunities that economic downturn presents for transitioning to a zero-growth sustainable society; the opportunities for young people moving into this field, the importance of doubling advocacy efforts to push at opening doors (e.g. on the back of Obama and Rudd’s election), and reframing the population challenge as an example of one area where global society has actually done pretty well by bringing population growth well below projections. Through all these questions, what stood out for me was AtKisson’s positive, humorous and creative way of engaging with the questions. Certainly if we are considering how to scale up the uptake of these ways of thinking about our global situation, having engaging, articulate people like Alan as role models is a good start.

The other speakers were also great.

  • Scott Grierson from our group but also Director of TNS Australia spoke from a strategic perspective, and linked it to his personal experience of rapid change in Australian attitudes and awareness, driven by a rapidly warming climate and severe drought in Australia.

  • Cynthia Mitchell from ISF talked through her organisation’s approach to transdisciplinarity and the interesting projects on Phosphorous (see my previous post on pooh, or perhaps this more informative  site). Increasing our collective acceptance of multiple ways of investigating and knowing is critical in a situation when we know we need to think creatively, laterally and collaboratively.

  • Nik Midlam Manager of the Environmental Strategy for City of Sydney talking about the Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan. The plan seemed like it had a really thorough consultation strategy, some significant changes (70% cuts in carbon emissions by 2030) and strong support from the CEO and councillors. Perhaps an example for other cities to follow?

All these presentations were very pragmatic and positive and got me excited about where the conversation and action are in Australia, but my enthusiasm was somewhat tempered by individual conversations. New friends who had all been living in the UK, and are now involved in corporate compliance work, Landcare and doing strategy consulting to large private businesses all suggested that Australia was years behind the UK. This question of the Australian context, and what is the real need in this space will continue to be a question I hold over the next 10 days…and perhaps 10 years.

Sumatra, Java and Bali – Indonesia

For such a large and diverse country, I did it no justice whatsoever. Since doing some planning in China, I knew I would have to rush through Indonesia to make Sydney in time (it was going to take me at least 5 days to get from Darwin to Sydney). I tried various things to squeeze a few more days in Indo, at the very least to see some volcanoes, forest and go surfing, and here is what resulted.

In between boarding the boat towards Sumatra on the morning of the 16th, and midnight on the 22nd of January (nearly 168 hours), I spent all but about 24 hours sitting on my bum on some form of transport.

First, a ferry, then bus, then 60+ hours on the bus to the ‘cultural capital’ of Yogyakarta, then 11 hours on the bus the next day to Bromo. Arriving in the evening, not sleeping, then leaving at 4am to watch the sun-not-rise over a volcano in the mist. At 8am I walked down off the volcano and back into a jeep, then bus, then an expensive 3km in a 4WD, then ferry (Java to Bali), then bus, then shared but relatively luxurious taxi for the final 19km into Kuta.

I was, at times during this journey, quite pissed off. It was hot, humid (it’s summer here) crowded, people were continuously trying to steal my stuff, or sell me rubbish, or rip me off (and sometimes succeeding). I’m not exaggerating about the proliferation of dishonourable people – and have missing sunglasses, a shirt, money and a few good stories as a result. My saving grace through all this was that I always asked to choose my seat in advance – for the 60 hour trip this was the difference between having my knees around my neck, or stretching out across the stairwell while sitting, then sprawling across the back seat to sleep.

Pekanburu to Yogyakarta gang with goats

Pekanburu to Yogyakarta gang with goats

The view for 60+ hours

The view for 60+ hours

And, at times, I was really happy. As in life always, whenever I wanted to be somewhere else, I was usually not happy. And, if I thought everyone was trying to steal stuff, then it is so easy to notice all kinds of things that reinforce this perception, and so the opposite. I was happy when I loaned out all my clothes to other cold people in the bus, then unhappy 24 hours when one of them had left and taken my shirt with him, and another was hiding my jacket hoping I would forget it. I was happy when guys with guitars or girls with karaoke machines would get on and sing for money, but not happy when the girl expected me to give her ‘money, money, money’. [I’m destined to be sad if my mood swings so much in relation to external circumstances, aren’t I!?]

I must mention some of the transport. It’s worth saying that you will pay more for an A/C vehicle, but I suspect not get one, or one in which the A/C is not working. I am fine with heat and humidity actually, but not when I am expecting the A/C to work. The ferry was great. Superficially, if you squinted, it looked like a quality ferry that would do the crossing to Rottnest from Perth. Open your eyes and you start to see the rust, and patchy repairs to the hull. Step onboard and you see the odd welds, and realise that what looks like metal (e.g. hull) is actually all fibreglass. Sit inside, and you learn that fibreglass is pretty bloody thin as the whole wall of the boat flexes inwards a foot when docking against the jetty. I never used to understand how these Indonesian ferries just ‘sank’, now I know.

batam-seaworthy-ferry-2

The food along this whole journey was OK. But only when I tended to explore other options apart from the one the driver was directing us in to. The designated stops on the local buses were ok, but on one with only fellow tourists the driver directed us to a place that was literally ten times as expensive as the little local place 30m around the corner.

Anyway, rushing through Indo like this was not really going to give it a good chance to impress me. Nor was I going to many destinations (I.e. bus stations) that are set up to impress. Some things did, however, leave a positive impression:

  • great street food in Yogyakarta, including a breakfast that competes with my yoghurt/banana/many grain/muesli/porridge in Kolkata for the best meal so far

yogyakarta-great-breakfast

  • being entertained (and bemused) by the shadow puppet show and distracted gossiping puppeteers and musicians at the Sonobudoyo Museum, Yogyakarta

yogyakarta-puppets-behind-closer

  • the run-down but still cool ‘kraton’ (palace), then Buddhist monuments (Borabudur) in Yogyakarta and hanging out with two great Indonesian guys, both with amazing stories (one is like the winner of Indonesian idol, the other has been lifted out of poverty and it at Univeristy thanks to the generosity of a Dutch woman)

borudubur-buddha-foreground-stupa-back

borudubur-new-friends

  • stumbling upon an amazing (funeral?) ceremony at the southern end of Kuta beach amongst the heart of sunburnt tourists

kuta-burnt-cowkuta-krazy-high-priest-close

  • wondrous Balinese architecture, even on new-ish hotels,

  • beautiful and handsome Balinese, with women sporting an attractive combination of bright saris and fitted tops

  • totally awesome tailor in Kuta who impeccably re-created two pairs of my favourite pants/trousers, but in a way that means I can wear them to more formal meetings

  • enjoying moments of genuine friendliness (heart-warming), adoration (weird) and laughter (the universal language) in between the hassles and nastiness

  • early, early morning worshipping and locals doing their thing  everywhere before it all gets busy, smoky and nasty

My last couple of paragraphs can be devoted to Kuta.

I arrived late, found somewhere expensive, slept, looked around, then found somewhere cheaper. I then went to the beach! I had heard it was beautiful, and with very consistent waves – perfect for relaxing, but also getting back into my surfing. But being Dec/Jan the winds are blowing the wrong way, which is not so bad for the waves, but awful for pollution. I surfed several times, but in a thick soup of plastic, rotting fish, and all kinds of things that made my eyes water and make my skin crawl, even now. It was really awful, but I still got some alright waves.

Having lost my drivers licence on a German train a while back, I didn’t want to rent a motorbike (which EVERYONE else does), get hurt, then be in trouble with travel insurance. Having no board, I needed to surf wherever they rented boards. Having some meetings and wanting to just relax a bit and catch up on sleep, I didn’t have a whole lot of days to wander to other parts of Bali or Nusa Lombongan. Not being confident about my surfing or paddling, I was reluctant to get a lift to somewhere that the surf guides suggested might be crowded and unrideable.

So Kuta was a bit of a loss for me. I wandered the streets quite a bit, doing chores and checking out temples, different parts of the long strip of development along the beach, and confirming that every single shop sold exactly the same crap as every other. I did get back into the groove or surfing (it’s like riding a bike!), and felt much more aware of my weight, and what the wave was doing than ever before. And, I did get to see Uluwatu the day I was due to leave. I paid the guy from the surf shop to take me out on his motorbike. It looked ok, considering it was the wrong season, and I could have totally handled surfing there! It was a beautiful loooonggg wave, and I enjoyed the ride back into town (read upcoming ‘size of reality’ post).

kuta-uluwatu-cliffs-2

So, that was Indo. I think I will be back, and may be even more likely to learn Indonesian than Mandarin when in Oz. Afterall, it is Australia’s closest neighbour and therefore lowest-carbon overseas travel destination. It really does have the best waves on the planet, in warm water, with great food, beautiful people, amazing landscapes covered by much of the world’s remaining tropical forest, a wondrous range of languages, stunning and wearable art. And a warm friendliness and sense of spiritual reverence (whether Hindu, Muslim or indigenous) that still shines past even the worst rubbish, brazen hookers, sleaziest drunks, most aggressive salespeople and rudest bumper stickers you can find in Kuta.

The Size of Reality

Sitting on a motorbike, being ridden back from Uluwatu (Bali), I had one of those extended moments of unselfconscious, blissful contemplation.In this case it was on the sheer size of reality. All of it. Just trying to comprehend the literally unimaginable scale and extent of the reality (or dream) we live in. Like our planet, billions of different people, billions of plants, ants, leaves, worms, animals, tiles, stones, bits of twisted iron, mobile phones…then you start thinking about the stars and everything out there…then if that’s not enough you can start to think about the interiors of everything – the billions of thoughts that go through each individual’s mind in their time in this body, multiplied by billions of people, multiplied by thousands of generations, added to the experience, reactions and impulses of every other non-sentient being. It is all quite, quite, large and dwelling in amazement is something that could take up a long time.

Lucky I was only a passenger…

Singapore, then Batam (Indonesia)

Emerging from the low-key Singapore train station, I headed to what I was told was the nearest source of tourist information. In my mid-trip wisdom I had decided not to purchase the Singapore section of the digital Lonely Planet guide (you buy them in sections). That decision cost me hours and dollars straight away, and much more later. Anyway, I enjoyed the clean and silent bus ride, towards a massive, cold, shopping mall that doubles as the ferry terminal to Batam.

I spent a few hours at the mall, working, wandering and planning until my Singaporean host, Callan, had finished work. Frustratingly everyone at the mall could sell me a ticket to Batam, Indonesia but had no idea how to find out about onward boats from Batam. All I knew is that they go regularly to Dumai, then Pekanburu (central Sumatra) but only once every four days to Jakarta. The Indonesian ferry company I knew of, Pelni, has a bad website (as in, it looks good, and gives you hope, but ultimately has no useful information) and they didn’t answer their phones.

So, I paid $6 (jeepers!) for a mocha chocollito at a smarmy coffee shop, and used their WiFi for a few hours. I then started to feel ill. I attribute it to the mocha thing, because I was irked at having to pay so much for something after months of cheap food and drinks. But, actually, I could also attribute my illness to the awful cheese sandwich on the train from KL, the milky drink in a can I bought at the Singapore train station, or my lunch from the cafeteria in the mall. Or perhaps it was a general allergic reaction to consumerism, on my part and in my surrounds.

The illness put me off food at all for a few days, but I enjoyed hanging out with Callan and his flatmates (all with great musical talent), and experiencing the diversity of Singapore that exceeds that of Georgetown. And, having some good conversations about climate change, sustainability and its relevance to banks and logistics companies.

The rest of Singapore I did not like. It was urban (cities have not been my favourite places this trip), expensive, chock-a-block full of shopping malls supporting a consumerist culture, and I spent far too long trying to get online. I think also, I had realised that getting through Indonesia overland was going to take a long time, that I needed to go fast, and that I was really starting to get excited about going for a surf.

I was, despite Callan’s warm welcome and the chance to relax a bit, thinking of getting on a boat the day after I arrived. Not knowing when the ferry to Jakarta went, I suspected it would be the day before whenever I got to Batam.

I didn’t leave end up leaving Singapore early, but was right about the ferry leaving that day! The following morning I got what I thought was the first ferry across to Batam, but it turns out it was still too late to connect with the boats to Sumatra [another bad decision caused by not buying the Lonely Planet for Singapore].

If anyone is reading this wanting to follow my footsteps, the Pelni boats currently pass though on their way to Jakarta on Wednesdays, from Sekupang on Batam. Or, if you just want to go to Dumai, ask around the different ferry operators from Singapore, and make sure you get the very earliest boat, which should get you to Batam in time to connect to the 7:30am Sumatran ferries. Again, noting that Batam is one hour behind Singapore. Boats, apparently, also go straight to Pekanburu, rather than via Dumai (which is a bus/boat combo). But, I am really not sure. No-one had maps, I was in a bad mood, and seemed to have arrived in a place (Indonesia) where I suspect almost everyone was trying to rip me off. Taxi drivers, as always, but also a kid who tried to charge me to use the free wireless he was stealing from his neighbour.

If you miss those connections, you wil suffer the same fate as me: an expensive taxi ride to town to stay in mid-priced but seedy hotels (which, it seems, all double as brothels). The Lonely Planet is pretty harsh on this place, suggesting it is full of “multinational industrial plant sweatshops, bizarro retirement homes, low-end golf courses and sweaty, doughy business executives getting loose in girlie bars“. All that, and only ten years ago it was a tropical island with no cars and population of 7000. Welcome to the glorious benefits of globalisation, free trade, tax-free zones. This truly is development and progress, Not.

I ended up wandering around looking for a bookshop, after foolishly ignoring the expensive books in Singapore. I had a lot of traveling ahead, and it was not going to be in a mode of transport with powerpoints, airconditioning and a table. No luck with the books, but I did buy some muesli in the supermarket for breakfasts and snackng on the move.  But I did eventually find fast internet. I spent the next long while holed up in a darkened room with dozens of school-age kids killing monsters (them, not me) while drinking cans of Red Bull (still cheap!). I woke the next morning,  opened the museli to find it full of weavils. Not a good start for Indo…

Ok, enough whingeing, click here to learn about the rest of the likely unrepresentative sample of what I experience in Indonesia.

Update from Batam, Indonesia

A quick note whilst hunched in darkness in a internet-gaming centre in the quite unpleasant town of Nagoya, on Batam, Indonesia.

After delays attrbituble to poor planning, desire to do it right (i.e. upload photos), and the impenetrable internet-firewall of the Chinese government, I have updated much of my blog.

The posts are updated to halfway through China, the route description is complete all the way home, the Google Map is 80% there, and the photo album is also only a few days behind.

My online time has recently been devoted to

* planning the three-day retreat during Hallbarhet2009, which I am very excited about,

* updating pages on the Arising site, and LinkedIn, so I am professionally up-to-date,

* making arrangements to connect with old and new friends in Australia, and

* planning how to complete my journey, after roads have been washed away in northern Australia, and trains have been booked out. I am now spending Australia Day in Darwin, then catching the train to Adelaide, and bus to Sydney (via Melbourne) to make it in time  for the start of the sustainability learning journey. Then, it will be back on the train from Melbourne across to Perth when I’ll finish up on the 21st February.

In the real world, I have also:

* finally gotten sick. Yes, I think it was actually a mocha chocollito from a Starbucks-like coffee shop in Singapore (for $6, and just so I could use their WiFi) that gave me awful stomach cramps,  forced me to take some of the medicine I have been carrying this whole way, and led to me induce vomiting.  It had to happen, and Callan Walker could not have been a nicer host while I was weak  and lame. Who would have guessed it would happen there, and not the local water or streetside food I have been drinking and eating this whole time

* started to really crystallise what I want to work on in Australia,  who with and where (Geraldton!!),

* loved Laos, quite enjoyed Bangkok, found a few surprises in Georgetown (Padang), and am getting bloody excited about going for a surf in Bali,

* not been writing so much. I have, however, sorted out three or so years of mindmaps, notes, and other bits of work. I actually feel really good as things start sliding into a bit more work, and

* checking out Rhys’s blog (great travel photos and writing) and downloading podcast episodes of ‘The Night Air’, ‘Big Ideas‘ (e.g. a new podcast on eating our native flora and fauna) and ‘Background Briefing’ from ABC Radio National site. I can do all this whilst waiting for all these damn photos to upload to WordPress!

Actually, the act of updating the blog has actually got me re-excited about some of the more considered posts which didn’t make it up yet. Some of the new updates are pretty standard-fare, and  don’t share much of the depth of my experiences and insights into culture, nature, and the world. So, I have a few days on ferrys and buses to hopefully polish some of those.

Alright, off to the ferry!

Transport SE Asia – China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia Singapore

I have posted this brief survey of several thousand kilometres of travel, because much of it was a blur of days and nights spent on trains and buses. Soon followed by another blur through Indonesia.

Yuanyang (China) to Luang Prabang (Laos)

This was actually very, very interesting. Slow, bad roads, but absolutely amazing scenery with rice paddies and plantations (tea, palms) climbing high up remote and incredibly steep valleys. I enjoyed a day of this journey in the company of an intelligent, muscular, young Dutch doctor.

It takes a good three days to get from Yuangyang, to Luchun, then Jingcheng, then Mengla, Mohan and into Laos. The buses range from small, local mini-buses to the luxury sleeper that got me across the border and right through to Luang Prabang. The roads on the Chinese side are variously washed out and bumpy, but the works being done at the time I went through suggest it should be smooth sailing sooner rather than later. The necessary stops in two small towns are fine because they are worth a wander for an hour and the accomodation is really cheap.

More on the Laos side here.

Luang Prabang (Laos) to Nong Khai (Thailand)

An overnight buses of varying quality are available- I took the cheap option which had hard seats, and additional locals jammed on plastic stools in the aisles. The bus dropped us in Vientiene at 6am, where it is a short shared tuk-tuk ride to the local bus station in the centre of town. From there you can get a taxi, bus right through to NongKhai, or local bus to the border. I chose the latter, and it was quicker, and cheaper than the other options. It is then another bus for the short ride across the bridge (or tuk tuk), then tuk tuk to the train station where I bought my ticket for the overnight train that night.

I was quite happy with how quickly and easily I did this, but only because at every single change I knew exactly where I was going and how much it would cost, so could bargain hard or move quickly. By refusing to buy the train ticket from the agents in Luang Prabang, getting the local bus, bargaining etc. I reckon I saved at least 2/3 on what I could have paid for this 18 hours of travel.

Nong Khai to Bangkok

A lovely sleeper train with crisp, clean sheets (I MUST buy myself some beautiful linen sheets when back in Australia, and hire a maid to wash and iron them everyday), helpful attendants, clean bathrooms and sink area, and good airconditioning. You sit opposite one or two other people, and your facing seats convert into upper and lower beds. More expensive than trains in India, but still great value.

Bangkok to Butterworth

1100 Baht. Again, a comfortable, air-conditioned cabin with similar set-up to the previous train, although I think the seats were a bit wider to accommodate two people for just the daytime part of the journey. Third class isn’t even available, so you just have to go for something nice. I think you could sit, but that would be a bit awful. I even scored a berth adjacent to power supply (exactly mid-cabin in seat 13 I think, so choose that if you are booking online), so was able to work while also enjoying the warm evening light over the countless fields and plantations of southern Thailand. Ends at Butterworth which is a compulsory stop – the connections are not immediate. The train station is immediatley adjacent to the ferry across to the island of Penang, and everything on the other side is walking distance.

Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur

Same same (sami sami), after the better part of a day wandering Georgetown (Penang).

Kuala Lumpur to Singapore

The train from Butterworth arrived early morning via a smoke-clogged tunnerl, and I then waited for two or so hours in the terminal at KL. I only moved about 100 metres from where I got off the train, with toilets, food, newsagent, a quiet spot to meditate and powerpoints all nearby.

The KL to Singapore train is just a day journey, and when booking online go for the seat at the very end of the cabin. There you get leg-room, and a table right in front of the TV: first-class while everyone else is in third. Exccept, of course, when what’s on the TV is utter shit, like the scratched, skipping Harley Davidson doco and American princess movie I got. The scenery is also not that interesting – endless palm plantations.

If you want any more details of these trains, do check out seat61 for every little detail of timetables,  how to book, through to the style of bedding

P.S. Spread across these trains I worked a lot. While not producing much new of value, I was in a good mood (tired) for sorting out the piles of ‘reference’ and ‘reading’ material stored in email folders, folders on my desktop and scans of notes and mindmaps from the past three years. While not directly conducive to happiness in itself, it is something I have been wanting to do for a long time.