Borobudur By Chance

WHERE TO:  This  is the saga of a year long back packing  journey of two middle aged teachers, myself, fussy husband Jim, and our two pre-teen children. By train we travel to Berlin, Moscow, Beijing and then to far away Urumqi in western China.  Local busses ferry us over the Karakorum Highway to 3000 km distant Abbottabad in Pakistan where we celebrate Jim’s fifty-fifth birthday in the city of his birth.  We spend many weeks in India travelling from the mountainous village, where the Dalai Lama resides, to exploring Rajasthan with  a small rented van and driver and riding the night train to Goa where after all that hard travelling we find refuge on a beach in Colva before continuing with our journey for another six months.

R&R IN WONDERLAND:  Together with a flotsam of burnt out teachers, a metaphysics professor, a holy fool and other worldly misfits, we spend a wonderful month of leisure at the C-Roque Resort, eating water buffalo steaks, fish right out of the ocean and rum soaked banana pancakes; we  listen to “Fools Rush In” and nightly toast the fiery fall of the red hot sun into the ocean.  Jim persuades the group to adopt two large stray dogs.  He washes and medicates them and then trains the pair to keep the pesky, persistent peddlers at bay.  Years later we were told the tradition had been continued and Blackie and Lady were still alive.  Our trip then continues through other countries of South Asia.  Back in Europe again we explore western Europe with an old car and trailer.

THIS WAS EXCITING:  Our odyssey included a visit to the Brandenburg Gate, the Kremlin, the Forbidden City, the Taj Mahal, Mother Teresa’s hospice in Kolkata and the Mother Temple in Bali; we had lunch in a Mongolian yurt, overnighted in a caravanserai on the Silk Road, experienced a political rally in Rawalpindi with hundreds of thousands of riled up people, we cried for a dead baby floating down the Ganges River at Varanasi, rode in a Rooster Tail in Bangkok, we climbed to the pinnacle stupa of  Borobudur in Java and danced in a German beer tent.  We sampled tasty tripe in Beijing, the soup of heavenly delights in Urumqi, tsampa in Dharamsala, barfi in New Delhi,  steamboats in Bangkok, fish ball soup in Marang, rambutan and mangosteen in Padang Bai in Bali and Fallorena Hasen in Struer in Denmark.

NOTEWORTHY:  Robert and Jennifer succeeded in completing all their school assignments way ahead of time and Jim who was in charge of our money, lost his money belt only once.

THE BOOK :  Although not written as a “how-to” book it addresses the nitty gritty of daily life on the road such as getting a cheap bus ticket, a good meal at a reasonable price and affordable and clean accommodation at night. Travelling in such far away places with children opens doors, is exciting and many scary, odd and funny events happen.  Famous places become sources for educational projects.  Travelling en famille proved support and comfort when things got tough -which they frequently did-  and there was always the consolation that “one day this will make a very funny story”.  And we remembered everything because we came home with a stack of diaries.

P.S. What is Borobudur?  It is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments ever built; it was constructed in the 9th century in Central Java in Indonesia.  Today it is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Maureen Johnston from Edmonton read the book and commented: “So You’re thinking of Taking the Kids on a Year’s Travel?”

An adventurous Canadian couple travels through Europe and Asia with  their ten and eleven year old children.  Experience their eight month backpacking trip through Asia and their motor trip through Europe.  For all you arm chair travellers, ‘want to try this with kids’ people, backpackers and just those of you who like a good read, I think you will enjoy this book.  Gudrun enriches the story by providing educational value with both personal and historical information along with her pen sketches and vivid verbal descriptions.  Her folksy way of story telling will take you right along with them to experience the many different worlds they encounter, and the people they meet.  Few of us will ever travel so widely through Sumatra and China and India.  So a delightful trip with the Moores will provide that adventure.