Having come all this way, of course we had to make sure we were as close as possible to the centre of full totality, so the morning of eclipse day (Monday 21st August) saw us collecting a rental car and hitting the road to Greenville, South Carolina. As always we’d pre-booked our car, and I was particularly glad on this occasion since apparently no spare cars were available. The roads were correspondingly crammed with eclipse-chasers, and we spent a boring couple of hours in heavy traffic before the satnav took pity and re-routed us via a series of much emptier minor roads, but happily we’d set out in more-than-plenty of time. Continue reading
Tom started considering possible viewing options as soon as he found out that a full solar eclipse was occurring over North America this year, but as the date drew nearer and nothing was booked I assumed he’d decided against it (or just forgotten). Then, a mere two weeks out, he came up with a plan – a thirteen hour Amtrak ride to Charlotte in North Carolina, then a Greyhound bus into South Carolina to experience the total eclipse. I was welcome to join him, or not, but he was going regardless!
As regular readers of this blog may recall we usually travel to the south western states in winter. February is clearly an excellent time of year to visit the desert (at least in the northern hemisphere), but when I had the opportunity to go to Arizona for a June conference I jumped at the chance to spend a couple of days experiencing the summer heat. Continue reading
Having seen Borobudur at sunrise, it seemed fitting that we should visit Prambanan, Yogyakarta’s other great temple complex, for sunset. Of course, we didn’t exactly plan it that way, but it was one of those coincidences in life which I find disproportionately satisfying, and satisfaction was definitely needed that afternoon. The site’s entry fee was hefty, according to the signs we only had about 40 minutes until closing, and the whole site was swarming with loud schoolchildren and selfie-snapping tourists, so of course I was determined to hate everything about it.
If I were to attempt to characterize Yogyakarta into a short expression, lively organized chaos would probably be the words I’d choose. It didn’t feature on my (lengthy) list of places I want to visit – in fact I don’t think I’d even heard of it until I was invited to speak at a conference there (about which I’ve written more on my other blog) – but that all just goes to show how much I know, because it really was fantastic.
Visiting the historic Buddhist temple of Borobudur was our first stop in Indonesia, which turned out to be a good thing for all kinds of reasons. Indonesia is, of course, quite different to Singapore, and it was very nice to be met at the airport by a driver booked through our hotel. Navigating the Yogyakarta traffic was a fairly eye-opening experience (although it’s actually quite tame compared with some other places), and retreating to a fancy resort hotel softened the culture shock still further.
I’m not really sure why I was so keen to visit Singapore. Family history, the allure of Asia, the Raffles Hotel’s famous Singapore Sling, these all had something to do with it, but even I think twice about travelling half way around the world just to try a cocktail.