Asia, Culture, Flying, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, Sport

Atoll tale – the Maldives

It’s a good drying day on Kuramathi but then every day is… the temperature rarely dips below 28 degrees at any time of the year.

And so I’ve got the spare togs and towel hung up on the clothesline by the outdoor shower.

Wet after my early morning swim in my infinity pool which overhangs the Indian Ocean.

Look at me… still doing my household chores

But how to dry out myself after a Champagne and cocktail-fuelled karaoke and beach party the previous night?

A leisurely one kilometre walk around  Kuramathi is guaranteed to sweat off the booze. 

And we’ll meet some interesting characters along the way. 

Won’t you join me?

My new best friend

My pal Gordon

Gordon, my house gecko is the first to greet me, dancing around my feet as I leave my room before scuttling off through the reeds.

Somewhere above him in the palm trees a Xxx warbles a morning song and memories of me murdering The Eagles, Elvis and Neil Diamond the previous evening come flooding back.

It’s 8am on Kuramathi which would be rush hour back home.

Ttopical flowers

But here only the occasional electrical buggy bus or old-fashioned staff bicycle passes by on the sandy path while the only jaywalkers you’ll encounter are cooing couples.

Some gentlemen even hold parasols for their sweethearts to shield them from the sun. 

I like this kind of traffic

Does this look big in me?

My own sweetheart is probably wrestling with a brolly back home in blustery, rainy Ireland… the thought quickly passes.

Ne’er a flutter of wind comes off the Indian Ocean.

Bus stop: On Kuramathi

Just as well really as this is a conservative island and it wouldn’t do to have a gust lift up my sarong as I amble along the coast.

Not that you’re likely to see another soul but still.

There’s every chance though that you’ll spot turtles and black finned sharks in the clear blue sea. 

Teardrops on the ocean: The Atoll

If you do see a turtle it’ll likely be Selma, who is something of a celebrity on Kuramathi as is her minder, Vanessa.

A German eco warrior and curator at the Island Eco Centre she claimed Selma as her own turtle and named her. 

Turtle power

If you can snap a new turtle with your Go-Pro camera you too can get to adopt a turtle.   

On a 1.2km island resort repeat with hoilidaymakers, staff, restaurants and bars and all the necessary infrastructure to make an island bobbing along on the ocean to work only the best husbandry will do.

Luckily Mother Nature lends a helping hand.

Mother Turtle: With Vanessa

I check out Kuramathi’s living, breathing pharmacy of plants on my Botany walk.

Where they cater for every ailment and condition known to man and are used in the medications.

They also infuse the dishes you will taste at the half a dozen high-end restaurants around the island. 

Chicken lickin’: And I’ve got started on that lager

This being Asia you will get your share of Eastern delicacies at the bars and restaurants you pass.

Tuck in

I have my hosts Farooz and Fern and a host of hospitable and knowledgeable waiters to thank for walking me through their dishes.

My favourite the Malaysian chicken curry, while obviously Kuramathi is a fish-lovers’ dream with the red snapper and scallops also worth a special mention.

And being Asia you can even order Chinese at breakfast… well, it works for 1 billion Chinese after all.

And this is breakfast

The European palate is also catered for with a particularly good Italian specialising in risotto on the island.

And you never have to put your hand in your pocket (just as well if you’re wearing a sarong) as you settle your bill at the end of your holiday. 

There are three options, B&B, half-board and all-inclusive.

It probably depends on your appetite and your liver, but if you come all this way and can afford to push the boat out I’d say save yourself the stress and go all in.

Howzat!

Champagne Jimmy

Back to my morning constitutional and with the breakfast of champions already in me I’m off to take part in the big game.

Buggy driver Renga helpfully gives me a lift to the palm tree-lined pitch and introduces me to Hassan and the rest of the cricketers.

It’s 38 years since I picked up a bat in anger.

Who cares about the world beyond this?

My dear Old Dad had high hopes for me and in my maiden school innings I went in to open only to be bounced first ball before surrendering my wicket the next.

Yes, I learn my lesson here watching these big hitters and go in at the fall of the first wicket .

I manage to amass a mighty two before being run out picking up a bruise or two diving for the crease.

And footie

Football the next day will be more successful with me setting up the winner.

And by the end of the week my party are telling me that their buggy drivers have been asking if they are here with Jims (sic) who is ‘a very good player.’ 

‘I’m asked if I would like to come back. 

‘Does Roy Keane like a crunching tackle?’

I can always do home games

Bruised though I am, I have discovered over the years that I am still considerably safer on dry land than in the water.

The ocean is better suited for the turtles and sharks.

Too many bubbles

Who I fear will only lick their lips at the sight of my blood the next day as I snorkel off the island of Kandolhu.

It is one of the five islands on this, the Rasdhoo Atoll.

But the sharks are actually quite tame.

And they are clearly so busy laughing at my flapping anyway to be bothered about nibbling my nobbly knee.

I’m consoled too that I’ll get a warm down later (yes warm down in this weather!) in Kuramathi’s spa.

A wee, wee island

He does know how to land this thing

When I say Kandolhu is an island, it really is just a bit of sandbank and floating coral.

Beautiful coral, but floating coral all the same.

And there is just 200mx120m of it. 

So it would take Usain Bolt 19.90secs to run the whole island.

Sea plane sailing: With Turkish Airlines’ Onur and my host Brian

Not that that curtails them, there are 30 high-end villas and four restaurants on Kandolhu.

So how did we, and the Maldives, get here?

Well, Kandolhu and Kuramathi are just two of 1,190 coral islands situated in 26 atolls or clutches across 90,000sqkms of water south of Sri Lanka.

Sea planes

I had started counting them as I was flown into the main and only truly populous island Male (133,000).

And gazed down in wonder at these teardrops on the ocean. 

Even better our barefoot pilot took us up really close to the islands by then flying down on them on his sea plane.

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

The atolls I am told take up just 10% of the sea mass that surround them, I make a start on drinking the other 90% while snorkelling.

But I did manage to spot me a turtle who, Go-Pro or no Go-Pro, I name Vanessa… or Mother Turtle, my own name for her.

A day and a night

I clearly have a taste for this island life though perhaps not the water activities.

But I will go on to make my own splash on the island and the islanders in the time I’m here.

As a guest of Kuramathi Island resort and Turkish Airlines.

I have flown us here via Istanbul.

Turkish Airlines Business Lounge… and you can always get a tune out of me

It is a 24-hour joyride with all the trappings of business class, and a stop-off in the world’s best business class lounge in Istanbul.

On our last night on the island we take a sunset cruise out onto the ocean before settling in for the night at the Sand Bar.

I’ll sleep it off

I fall into the beanbag on the beach where I almost fell asleep the first night. 

And order my Kuramathi cocktail and another and another and listen to house band Limestone.

I had heard them on the way back from the football that afternoon where they gave us a sneak rehearsal of the closing number of their set, Hotel California.

I know my way around now

I lie back and look up at the stars while letting the sound of the waves lapping up against the sand wash over me.

The only breaker is Limestone’s natty singer making a better stab at The Eagles than I had done at the Karaoke Bar:

‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’

All right by me!

Travel facts

Mali in the Maldives

Resort info, see www.kuramathi.ie and www.kandolhu.com. Bookings: www.GoHop.ie/(01) 2412389 or www.TravelMood.ie Tel. (01) 4331000. Kuramathi Island Resort: Beach Villas from €2,155 pp; Over Water Villas from €2,895 pp for seven nights.

Including flight, taxis, transfers, full board. Optional basic all-inclusive package. €59 per day. Dine around select package. €99 per day. 

Kandolhu Island: From €3995pp. Jacuzzi Beach Villa. 

And always time for a drink

Ultimate Inclusions basis. for seven nights, prices correct at time of print.

Based on travel in May/June 2018 inc. flights with Turkish Airlines. 

Round trip economy class starting price Dublin- Maldives from €748.59; return business class starting price for same route, €2,166.59.

Yes, palm trees everywhere

See www.turkishairlines. com, or call: (01) 525-1849. Baggage allowance: Economy class, 30kg + 8kg hand luggage; Business class 40kg +16 kg for hand luggage in total.

*This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in early 2018 and I travelled with Island Marketing http://www.island-marketing-business-site.

And if you like a sunshine island… counting Britain and Ireland out obvs… then try the Caribbean https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/22/rumba-in-barbados/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/

America, Asia, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday… whiskies around the world

I’m indebted to my old pal Tony Flynn for this lockdown game… use the initials of your Christian name for what you need when you’re holed up at home.

But Tony, I know you better than that… Tea, Onions, Noodles, Yogurt?

And you know me better too… and that’s why I went for Johnnie Walker, Ardbeg, Mossburn, Elements of Islay, Springbank.

You must have known I’d have used my full Christian name… more whisky, you see.

It’ll put a smile on your face

And in this regular feature, ‘Hungry and Thursday’ that’s what it’s all about, and being in lockdown my whisky is my best friend.

And while punters snap up the cheap lager from the supermarket shelves I’m happy to report that there’s still plenty of uisce beatha, or water of life, to be had.

So here’s a trawl of whiskies around the world…

Smoky Scotch

For peat’s sake

Scotland: The original and the best, Scotland is the home of whisky.

It has five clearly defined regions, of which the smoky and peaty whisky from the isle of Islay is the best. Think an ashtray of water… no, seriously, it will grow on you.

See www.visitscotland.com and https://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk.

Irish highs

We’ve been drinking here since 1608

Ireland: Yes, the Irish dispute that Scotland is the home of whisky and with some justification.

Bushmills https://bushmills.com/distillery/on the Antrim coast is the oldest licensed distillery in the world.

King James, a Scot to his boots, had granted the Ulstermen a license as early as 1608.

The Kilbeggan, from 1757, is thought to be the second oldest althougb when it comes to quantity Scotland has seven of the top eight.

With Glen Garioch near my old stomping ground of Aberdeen Aberdeen – a light in the north a particular favourite.

And Meldrum House where they keep adopted son of Aberdeen Sir Alex Ferguson’s whisky in a special locker for him…

And check out www.discovernorthernireland.com and www.tourismireland.com

The American dram

With my Portland pal Laura

USA: You might not expect to see the Oo Es of Eh third in a top ten of the oldest distilleries in the world.

But that is the claim of the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, two years ahead of Scotland’s oldest, Glenturret.

I have my fave cousin Kath’s husband Mark, a native Kentuckian, to thank for introducing me to proper bourbon and rye.

And that’ll be Woodford Reserve and Bulleit Frontier Whisky.

I drank my way through the Deep South https://www.deep-south-usa.com. Sign up for the Civil War… it is Virginia

And my American Trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

While I’ve let ‘er buck with my friends in Portland which has it’s very own distillery, House Spirits, in its airport www.travelportland.com.

Swiss swhisssky

Switzerland: Who’d have thought that you could get whisky at the top of the Alps?

In the Ice Bar, at the end of your Jungfraujoch train, the highest railway journey in Europe.

In a nod to Scotland too you can also have a game of curling up there too… www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks

Czech out the whisky

Fill ‘er ip

Czech Republic: I was too busy testing the beers… for research purposes obvs.

So I didn’t even know of Czech whisky.

Hammerhead is considered the Father of Czech Whisky, the Cold War whisky.

And I got a taste of Prague’s Cold War history on my recent trip to the Czech capital, a city I love… www.czechtourism.com and Hope springs eternal.

Read more about how Vaclav Sitner fed the bourgeois tastes of wealthy Czech and Russian officials… www.scotchwhisky.com.

And back to the lockdown word game and the initials of your Christian name…

I bet you that Celtic player of yesteryear wishes it was a surnames game…

I mean your pantry would be packed if you were called Jan Venegoor of Hesselink.

Japanese (and Scottish) girl

Masataka Taketsuru, the Father of Japanese Whisky

Japan: When the Japanese put their minds to it they go all in.

Masataka Taketsuru, the third son of a sake brewer, switched to the Japanese elite fave whisky.

And even came over to Scotland to visit the distilleries, study science at Glasgow University and marry a Scot Rita.

And take his knowledge back to Japan and spawn the Japanese whisky industry. Visit https://www.japan.travel/en/

And while we’re in lockdown I’ll try to revive my Jocktails feature Jocktails – Whisky Sour particularly now the Son and Heir is home.

And he has taken over the shaker and improved on his Old Msn.

Slainté

Africa, America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying

In defence of Travel people

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts – Mark Twain

Cathy’s clown: DC Easy DC and www.washington.org

The next time you see a cinema usher, a football steward.

Ave Maria: www.CanariaWays.com In defence of Travel people

Or if you even run into a sports writer, then I trust you’ll pick them up on getting in for free!

Muriel, my pal: With Muriel Bolger

Only you won’t because you’ve got class.

King Louis: Friends of racing in Tobago, Louis, Nadine and Clem. www.visittobago.gov.tt Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago

And you know that they’re doing their job.

Kythera: My Greek odyssey www.athensattica.com

And that they’re good at what they do or else they wouldn’t get asked.

Herr for the beer: Hamburgers and ships and www.hamburg.com

My friends

I ran a gauntlet of abuse on my way to becoming Ireland’s Travel Editor of the Year – and from the very people I was helping, my own staff.

Aer we go: With Paula and Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com

Who would, and to be fair it wasn’t all of them, put me down when I was on my Travels (in my own time).

Oo Es of Eh: www.visitusa.ie and www.kennedyspacecenter.com

And snidely refer to my trips which always produced articles, written on time and to the brief I was given, as…

Wooah. Barbados: www.visitbarbados.org Let’s rumba in Barbados My kiss with Rihanna

Junkets, Jollies, Beanos, freebies.

Of course it didn’t apply when I sent them.

Fab Four: With Maria www.spain.info/en Eoghan www.travelextra.ie and Sharon www.ttc.com

And they would be the ones who would be late with their copy.

Petra time: With Zuhair… www.vistjordan.com and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time

Sometimes even embarrassing themselves and a host.

Your Onur: And www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam

While their articles would often have to rewritten..

Your USA: With www.visitusa.ie

And all because it was a ‘junket’ and not given the same attention as any other article.

I would then have to apologise profusely to the providers who thankfully and very generously considered me worthy of the ultimate accolade…

Your South Africa www.southafrica.net: With Siseko in Dublin What’s new pussycat?

Their Pleasure To Work With award which was sneered at when I got back to the office.

LA story: Universal Studios’ www.universalstudioshollywood.comJon, The Scottish Sun’s Heather and Tickets Direct’s www.ticketsdirect.com Kate. And My Weekend With Marilyn and Stair Wars.

Back then, and it’s only a year ago, I would call on the services of the finest freelancers who never let me down.

Star women: The Irish at IPW

On the other side

Now I’m on the other side of the fence I have been glad to say that the holiday providers I cultivated then and many writers and editors remain the best of friends.

Zach the lad: My old pal Zach from my Deep South The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings odyssey www.deep-south-usa.com,

And you always know who your friends are in your time of need.

Give it a twirl: At Pic du Midi. www.hautes-pyrenees.com and The Lourdes prayer

Don’t Cancel

So that’s why I’ll not rest in promoting our industry which, like Twain, I believe is vital to the human condition.

Live like a Royal: Messi around on the water In Barcelona www.barcelonatourisme.com withPaula and www.royalcaribbean.com.

And that’s why I’ve been sprinkling this polemic with pictures of us around the world.

Grand oul tome: With BA’s Tara and Queen of Vegas Tryphavana. And www.lvcva.com and www.ba.com. And Strip… the light fantastic and The grandest canyon.

So join me to support #DontCancelPostpone and #tourismstrong.

America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Flying, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

In defence of… air travel

If you’re reading, Greta Thunberg and the Flygstam (or flying shame) brigade…

I can’t tell you how many air miles I racked up last year.

I was away more than a dozen times with everywhere from Tobago www.visittobago.gov.tt and Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago

Through the Oo Es of Eh www.visitusa.ie and https://www.visitusa.org.uk and living the California life www.visitcalifornia.com My Weekend With Marilyn and Stair Wars.

Down to South Africa www.visitsouthafrica.com What’s new pussycat? and up to Jordan www.visitjordan.com The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

I only mention them over the other equally fabulous and welcoming destinations who hosted me because they were at the extremities of my Travel footprint.

Do I feel guilty, or should you? Well, yes. How could we not the way Greta goes on?

Of course there’s a multitude of evidence out there on the world wide web to back up Greta.

And like everything on the net you can find anything to support your view.

But I wax taken by the research done by https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-bad-is-air-travel-for-the-environment-51166834/ on the subject.

And their contention that air travel was better for the environment than car travel.

They estimate that the world’s drivers go through 1 billion gallons of fuel a day against 750 million gallons for air passengers.

Of course the fact that one form of transport is less harmful than another is not a strong enough argument.

Against that I would propose the positive effects of air travel… in expanding our minds, our frontiers and our appreciation of other peoples.

While fielding the accusations of the Flygskam brigade that the world is only in lockdown because of selfish air travellers who carried it across the globe…

In big monstrous metal birds.

Just imagine though a world in which our possibilities were restricted by a lack of air travel, or if you will, the past.

A world where we only learned about other peoples through the books and information we are given.

Now I’m not suggesting Boris Johnson or Donald Trump are feeding such a narrative but here is a cautionary tale of what could happen when we close ourselves off from others…

Legend has it that the people of Hartlepool in the north-east of England hanged a monkey who they mistook for a French spy during the Napoleonic Wars.

I have always believed that we are at our best as humans when we are being progressive rather than regressive.

While obviously being respectful of the world around us and those with whom we share it.

And being aware of our limitations with many a salutary tale out there from time immemorial of when to pull back.

Such as the tale of Icarus who flew too close to the sun only for the wax on his wings to melt.

This, and many more moral fables of how we should live with the natural environment around us, are all around you in Greece.., https://athensattica.com and My Greek odyssey.

But like Odysseus I have gone off on a tangent.

I will deal with the other forms of transport in the next parts of my ‘In Defence of’ series which will include cars,.

And no car hater me… how could I be? I should by rights be driving through the Florida Keys right now.

But to leave you on an up… the South Africans have discovered a balancing solution to carbon emissions under their feet.,, This plant can save the world.

And our shared history has shown too that our medicinal cures too can be found in the natural world.

So here’s to when we can all travel again.

And a shoutout to all our friends in the aviation industry who are our dreamcatchers… #DontPanicPostpone.#loveairtravel.

Africa, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe

Read a book and see the world

We all of us heard about the world, saw the world or were told about the world before we ever saw it… and for many of us we fell in love with the world through books.

I’m not talking about the holiday page-turners where Major Jeremy or Lord Montgomery crosses the class divide to elevate Mary the chambermaid.

A novel travel experience

Rather these are the books which mark out a country as somewhere we strive to visit and then do so:

The Story of an African farm girl (South Africa): Olive Schreiner unsurprisingly wasn’t on my school syllabus growing up in Scotland in the Seventies.

South Africa was completely off my radar until my best friend Thomas was taken out there to live with his family.

Thomas was addicted to the Commando wartime comics from the DC Thomson stable which includes the Beano and the Dandy, and who I am working for now.

But I digress. Olive, as I discovered on my trip to the Karoo in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, was a feminist pioneer.

And her homeland looks as if it hasn’t changed very much since it was written in the 1880s. Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know.

Deep South

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (USA): Arguably one of the most influential books in the history of the modern world

With Abraham Lincoln purportedly greeting Harriet Beacher Stowe with the salutation: ‘So this is the little woman who started this great (American Civil) war.’

Tom was based on a real-life slave, Josiah Henson who lived and worked on a plantation in Bethesda, Maryland.

Much changed and much gentrified as an exclusive suburb of Washington DC where I always receive the best of welcomes from my cousin… www.washington.org and Easy DC.

While learn more about the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman, above, in my American Trilogy trawl through the Deep South… The Promised Land, The story of the Blues, The King of Kings. And https://www.deep-south-usa.com.

Time Travel

SlaughterhouseFive (Dresden, Germany): War revisionism hadn’t reached my Glasgow school but Kurt Vonnegut seeped into my consciousness a few years later at Aberdeen University.

The cult Sixties novelist placed his time-travelling hero Billy Pilgrim in and around the Allies’ firebombing of Dresden

And it infused this student to seek out the city, the Florence of the Elbe, 30 odd years later… https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php and Dresden’s renaissance.

The castaway

Robinson Crusoe (Tobago): Where I clambered onto the very beach the castaway found himself on.

And raced with the goats, the descendants of the ones Crusoe had raised 300 years before.

See https://www.visittobago.gov.tt.

All Greek to me

The Odyssey (Athens); As a student of ancient Greek (private school, you see) I studied excerpts from Odysseus’s (or Ulysses) journey home from Troy.

And just to get into part I had an odyssey of my own through Munich Airport onto Athens and around the island of Kythera where he ventured.

See https://athensattica.com and https://visitkythera.com.

The Good Book

The Bible (Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Heaven and Hell): The first place names that we learn of other than our home addresses are the Holy Lands.

And where John the Baptist is reputed to have baptised Jesus at ‘Bethabara beyond Jordan’, or Bethany.

Which the Jordanians claim as Al-Maghtas.

But the Israelis say is where they are on their side, actually in the place where the River Jordan now flows.

And these Orthodox Christians repeated the ceremony.

See https://www.baptismsite.com, www.visitjordan.com and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

So which books transport you to a far-flung place? Tell me and we’ll share…

America, Asia, Canada, Countries, Culture, Europe

The Elbow and other greetings around the world

I’ve had the elbow before all right…. when it was a bad thing.

I was on the receiving end of the elbow again at five-aside football this week… when it’s usually me who is giving it.

As well as its human disruption coronavirus is forming new cultural mores and challenging old established ones.

I mean… when will we able to shake hands again, never mind hug?

We’ve been shaking hands since at least the 4th Century BC with evidence in a frieze of Greeks Thraseas and wife Euandria handshaking.

After some household drama, no doubt!

The alternatives

The thought is that handshakes developed as a sign of peace by showing that you had no weapon in your hand.

But now that the germ is potentially the weapon in our hand then let’s run through the alternatives used throughout the world.

RUB NOSES: Qatar and Oman. Probably the least advisable of all the alternatives particularly if you’ve got a big, drippy nose. See https://www.visitqatar.qa and https://omantourism.gov.om/wps/portal/mot/tourism/oman/home.

STICK OUT YOUR TONGUE: Tibet. Again one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

And while in the Western World this is considered rude, or at least cheeky, in Tiber it’s their greeting.

Because they used to have a particularly bad king who had a black tongue and this shows that you are not a reincarnation of his spirit.

We heart you

PUMP YOUR HAND ON YOUR HEART: Jordan: And I dare say elsewhere in the Middle East too, and thanks here to guide par excellence Zuhair for initiating me…

See www.visitjordan.com and read my desert meanderings The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

And also there’s the Millennials greeting the hand-made heart. Love you, no love you!

AIR KISS: France, Italy, Portugal, Latin America, The Philippines, Ukraine, Quebec, Canada: Mwaaah!

And Hollywood too obvs and all around luvvieland www.discoverlosangeles.com and www.visitcalifornia.com.

We were airkissing in Cannes The Boat D’Azur and www.france.fr.

But as much as I appreciated all who looked after me throughout Italy.

On my CaminoWays www.CaminoWays.com 100km walk from Viterbo to Rome.

While as much as we loved our time with our host Jose in Portugal Centro www.visitportugal.com and Secret Portugal.

BOWING: Victorian England, India, Japan and Thailand: Honoured, I’m sure.

And probably the best alternative of all.

And it differs between the three.

In India https://www.incredibleindia.org/content/incredible-india-v2/en.html and Thailand https://www.tourismthailand.org put your hands at prayer level at heart level or above before bowing.

In Japan https://www.japan.travel/en/ men keep their hands by their side, women with their hands on their thighs.

And the modern-day thing is a nod.

Tell me your favourite greetings… and flicking the finger isn’t one of them.

NAMASTE

Asia, Countries, Deals, Europe

Holidos and don’ts – keep it clean in Istanbul

No, I’m not talking about schoolboy humour, though I don’t blame you for assuming, but rather keeping it clean and germ-free on holiday.

And, of course, I must start with the Coronavirus.

Word reaches me from my friends at Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com about the measures they take to disinfect your plane.

And let’s face it airplanes ate a magnet for germs.

Let it slide: At Turkish Airlines HQ

Well Turkish have sent us a video of their health guys in protective white suits spraying throughout the plane.

I’ve also seen first-hand from my visit to Turkish Airlines headquarters in Istanbul how far they go to protect our health and safety.

On my trip to the city Wham bam, thank you Hamam where their safety precautions are space age.

This is your captain speaking

There are pools with water the same temperature as the sea to replicate emergency conditions.

And slides, though these days you and me can’t whizz down them…

They’re right to worry that I’d get my stiletto heel stuck.

While, of course, in the event of the call going out for an emergency pilot I have had training on the simulator.

Turkish also put the fun into function with their multi-award winning Business Lounge at the swanky new Istanbul Airport.

Where you can eat and drink your heart out.

My cars faster than yours

And play golf, drive model cars, watch a movie or have a snooze…

A few more words on the Turks… they are one of the cleanest people I have ever met.

It’s their religion and culture and it is also true throughout the Middle East The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

And that’s probably why they make such good barbers – the good chat is free. Turkish barbers – and berbers

Now more information on the Coronavirus… I’m reliably informed that it doesn’t like the heat.

Turkey shoot at the TA Business Lounge

So guess where I want to go… well, you have to keep safe!

Our friends at TUI www.tuiholidays.ie have the very thing…

Dublin to Turkey: Seven nights, staying at the 4* Club Candan, Marnaris on a self-catering basis (family 2+1) from €1439.

And family 2+2 from €2019. Both for August 16.

Africa, America, Asia, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Give us this Day – funerals

It’s not been a typical Sunday – when I got to my new church today the regular priest wasn’t there because he had died the previous week.

A monseigneur, the good man who was clearly well liked had worked until his mid-eighties.

But then again my Dear Old Dad would have done the same.

The Big Man in Donegal

Should you be passing through somewhere on your holidays, and like me you go to where people play and pray, then you might witness a funeral.

I did in Marrakech when I was trying to get out of the souk without being robbed blind, by a jewellery seller trying to thrust a mint tea into my mitts.

And so here is an unscientific funeral procession around the world:

The Marrakech Express

Souk life in Morocco

Morocco: The Muslim tradition is that the dead should be carried shrouded through the streets with their feet exposed.

Through a busy souk cheek-to-cheek with a Moroccan huckster… https://visitmarrakech.com.

The funeral pyre

Fiery funeral

India; Note to family and friends, I’m considering Antyasti…

Being burnt on a pyre by a river where Hindus like to put rice into the dead person’s mouth among other rituals.

Being of the Glaswegian variety, I’d ask for some chicken tikka masala in there too. Visit https://www.incredibleindia.org/content/incredible-india-v2/en.html.

Hang ’em high in the Far East

Hillside haven

Philippines, China, Indonesia: The superstitious people of the Far East like to get a rung up on the route to heaven.

By hanging funerals to the side of hills.

They don’t say what happens when there’s a landslide or avalanche though! Visit http://www.tourism.gov.ph, https://www.discoverchina.com/article/china-tourism,

They do them well in Ireland

Life is just a bowl of cherries, Dad

Ireland: And naturally there’s drink involved.

On the night before the funeral traditionally the body is laid out for the wake.

And that would mean in the front, or best, room where the deceased would be togged out in their best clothes.

And drinks would be had around them and stories told. Slainte. See www.tourismireland.com and https://www.failteireland.ie.

And for some country life see Monaghan’s country roads.

The Saints are coming in New Orleans

Let the music play

New Orleans: This is the way to go… with trumpet blast at a jazz funeral.

And its the way that the good people of Norleans do it.

Me, my introduction to Norleans was at the American Travel Fair, IPW, when the New Orleans convention treated us to gumbo, jambalaya and Sazeracs…. for breakfast.

My type of town… before the famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band piped us in with When The Saints Go Marching In, and we did, to the conference.

Where I think I fell asleep. But I will visit https://www.neworleans.com.

And if you like the Deep South you may want to try out my American Trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day – missing Mass

Nothing much got past my Dad… he had rows of the Western Catholic Calendar in his bookcase to check when I was missing Mass.

Which I did today… and I’m only hoping that he’s not telling The BIg Man although He sees everything anyway, a bit like my Dad.

I did get up for 10am Mass today, albeit I cut it a bit fine… the trouble was I got lost. Obviously.

I’m still getting used to my new town, North Berwick, near Edinburgh.

North Berwick RC church

And I can find it if I set out from my Outlaws where we were living when we first turfed up here a fortnight ago.

But not from my new demesne, near the North Berwick sign on the main road.

I also missed Mass last week in the Czech Republic.

But my Dear Old Mum who is still alive and kicking, going to Mass, and telling everyone what they’re doing wrong, says: ‘You don’t have to go when you’re on holiday.’

It’s just that I do… my mantra is go to where the locals pray and play.

Old Czech Protestant service

And so on my previous sortie into the Czech Republic www.czechtourism.com I stumbled upon the first Protestant Jan Hus… Hope springs eternal.

I caught up with the one we know better, Martin Luther, in Dresden Dresden’s renaissance.

While in Tobago I sought out a happy-clappy West Indian Mass… On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago and Give us this Day – Sunday School.

At the Blue Cross, Medjugorje

I’ve also been on pilgrimage.. to Lourdes The Lourdes prayer, Fatima Secret Portugal and Medjugorje What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know.

Where I went to Mass every day and wore out my Rosary beads.

While there was also the Camino A pilgrim’s prayer and the Via Francigena Small roads lead to Rome and Jordan The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Do I protest too much?

Bernadette and me in Lourdes

It’s not just Christian Masses though… I seek out Mosques in Istanbul Wham bam, thank you Hamam and Sarajevo.

And synagogues and Jewish history in the Czech Republic and Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam.

So, I’m ready for my penance… and, yes, I know the tariff off by heart by now. Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS

Africa, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe

Turkish barbers – and berbers

You’ll be seeing a little less of me from now on… my luscious beardie has been shorn, by order of the management.

And all credit to Gokhan, my new Turkish barber in my new home in North Berwick, near Edinburgh, for giving me a face finesse.

Gokhan, it transpires, hails from Bodrum, my first introduction to Turkey, on a family holiday. 17 years ago. And i fell in love with the country.

Turkish pal: Me and Onur

It was there that I had my first Turkish wet shave… back when I didn’t allow hairs to sprout from my cheeks.

And that and a million other things has made me a Turkophile.

Especially the generosity of my pal Onur from Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com who calls me Jim Jim.

And shows off his home country to me… Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

A hamam will do nicely too

I never forgot how good my first Turkish shave felt in Bodrum and sought out a Turkish barber again when I visited Morocco 17 years ago.

Only to run into a charlatan – I suppose the clue was in the title ‘false guide’.

He took me around the alleyways before introducing me to his pal, Morocco’s Sweeney Todd.

And then when I challenged the cost of the haircut ahead of the cutting they tried to pin me to the chair.

Keep an eye out: In Marrakech

Loosening myself from my predicament I zig-zagged around the Mall to give my false guide the slip.

Only to see him waiting for me outside, shouting ‘thief’ at me… ‘you, pay me, I am your guide.’

I put on a sprint and ran through the Marrakech downpour into the arms of a Berber snake charmer who was anything but chatmimg.

Me-Me and Dee-Dee in Batbados

But more of that and other Moroccan mishaps another time…

just let me flag up here another cool people other than the Turks to get your hairs cut… the West Indians.

Or beardie pimped up.., Let’s rumba in Barbados.

Desmond’s, the old Channel Four Eighties sitcom set in a London West Indians’ barbers.

Dab it on: Irie, it’s Tobago

And so in Tobago On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago and www.visittobagogov.tt in December I had my last haircut before Gokhan.

Only he was out of red and black colouring dye for my beardie.

The search goes on although the Tobagonians do have a cool plant where you can colour your whiskers yourself…

This lovely bronze orange.