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A new beginning

Starting a new project for the old jonesnz site. The site was most recently providing information and allowing queries about Karapiro Accommodation but that no longer exists (at least we don’t run a place of that name anymore).

Over here in Pirongia we are in lockdown for 4 weeks so let’s see what we can find to occupy ourselves. Fair warning, it may be less than riveting.

There will be some Minecraft and many walks to see the goats. beyond that we’ll see.

On this, the day before we started lockdown I worked on a site for Pirongia Heritage and Information Centre:

If you want to comment or contribute to the blog, let me know via richard who resides at jonesnz and com.

I recently also transferred posts from richardnz.net to this site.

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Around & about Memories Personal Travel

Desktops 1

I have a number of photos that I have used as desktops on various computers. Most of them hold some memory or have a background of some meaning for me. The quality of the photos however, is quite variable.

In this occasional series I will describe some of those. We might sub-title this one “tranquility”.

Dawn breaks over Angkor Wat as the chattering crowds gather. Their talk is mostly drowned out by the din of crickets. Few notice the young monk who has also come for the view.
Ta Prohm in the days when crowds were few, late afternoon with the day cooling down. Lucky enough to see it in 1999 and had it mostly to myself.
On the trans-Siberian in Inner Mongolia, headed towards Ulan Bator. Long train journeys are great getaways with a sense of timelessness that air travel could never equal.
A riverside cafe, a snack made of river weed, a beer and watching the sun set over the Mekong River in Vientiane.
The sole campers, Hania and I, at Spirits Bay in the far north of New Zealand on Christmas Eve 2002. No cellphone coverage, cold water, a long drop and a beach that stretched as far as the eye could see. Heaven. At least until the possum screamed in the middle of the night.
The home of Frederick Chopin at Zelazowa Wola, Poland. A great place to visit and, if you are lucky, someone will play the piano as you relax on the terrace or stroll round the grounds.
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Memories Travel

Tabitha Cambodia

Today I heard from Janne Ritskes that Tabitha Cambodia is closing down.  Janne says the reasons are:

Covid has had a significant impact on Cambodia and on our projects as it has worldwide. The level of donations to Tabitha Cambodia have fallen significantly over the last two and a half years. Many staff have had to find additional income sources to support their own families. Government restrictions on the movement of people around the country has impacted the number of new families joining the savings program and existing families in the program are now well established. House building has been severely limited, and our silk products/ cottage industry has all but decimated, overall, Tabitha Cambodia staff numbers have reduced. The senior staff of Tabitha have been with us for more than 20 years and they are reaching an age where many will retire over the next two years.”

It is a reminder that everything changes eventually.  Hania and I were supporters from nearly the beginning, elsewhere on the blog you can read about our first trip in 1999. By 2008 we had left teaching and the opportunity to organise trips. In 2010 we moved to Australia for a few years and I closed the website http://tabithanz.com although you can find it on the Wayback machine.

http://web.archive.org/web/20080214102834/http://www.tabithanz.com/

This is by way of remembering the journey we partly shared with Janne, Heng, A Von, Serei and many others down the years.

1999 Our first trip to Cambodia

You can read a fuller account here: https://jonesnz.com/index.php/2020/04/01/cambodia-1999/.

A group of teachers from United World College, Singapore. Tabitha was building houses of wood at that time, it later became too expensive. Janne forbade us to go out into Pnohm Penh during the night and it was largely deserted by day.

We built within the suburbs of PP and nearby in the country.

We visited Angkor Wat and there were very few tourists at that time.

2000 with teachers from UWCSEA

We were still building with wood, in Siem Reap and out on the road to the lake.

One of the houses was for a family of 7 women (3 generations) who had been living in a tiny kiosk over a storm drain.

In other places Tabitha were replacing huts made from coconut and sticks with wooden houses on concrete pilings (as the land flooded every year).

More helpers and volunteers. Sisowath Quay deserted as you can see.

2001 UWCSEA again

AS I remember this was the first year we went out of the larger toens into Neak Leung on the Mekong River where the ferry crosses the main road to Vietnam.

Again the capital was largely deserted.

We ate some odd things on that trip. The hotel doubled as something else judging by the HIV posters on the wall of our room and the condoms in the drawers. Heng is in the middle of the second row I think.

2002 Last trip with UWCSEA

Hania and I were headed out to NZ in the summer/winter so this would be our last house-building trip with Tabitha, or so we thought at the time.

Instead of the usual Angkor Wat visit, we stayed around PP and took a day trip out to Udong. It was a good chance to see something of the country.

Some life seeps back to the capital. As I recall we built 6 houses on that trip, mostly in the same small village which had a large central fish pond. At this time Tabitha was building with matting type walls rather than wood.

2005 with Staff and Students of AIC

By 2005 I had already moved on to Te Wananga o Aotearoa as their eLearning Manager but I still kept touch with my former students at Auckland International College. I had introduced them (the local and global service group – LGA) via Janne Ritskes’ video and they were keen to help. Subsequently Maggie Hannan took over the leadership and organised the trip which I also went on.

Tabitha were now building with corrugated iron, houses went up quickly. We were deep in the countryside in December so everything was pretty lush.

2007 Staff from Dulwich College

Hania and I were in Beijing 2006-2008. It was a great time for us, fabulous people in the country, the city, the school, great students. A lot of friendly young people who were about the same age as our own children. So many memories. The highlight must be the Trans Siberian railroad, but I digress and will save that for another time.

2007 November, last trip with staff and students of Dulwich College Beijing.

This last time we went out to Parrot’s Beak, an enclave of Cambodia that sticks out into Vietnam on three sides. Not a great place to be when the US was visiting death from everywhere back in the 70’s.

I wish Janne and all the Tabitha staff the very best in their next venture.

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Around & about Daily posts Travel

South Again – Day 28/29

An overcast day with a little, thin drizzle. After a splendid breakfast at the Neighbourhood Cafe we set out for Lake Wairarapa.

The granola was amazing.

We followed the signs to Lake Ferry which turns out to be on Lake Onoke where it meets the Southern Ocean at Palliser Bay.

We were watching a stick being tossed about on the incoming waves when it suddenly grew a flipper. Eventually a young sea lion hauled itself up the opposite beach.

We had lunch on our balcony finishing up the last of our food. Then to the Margrain Winery where we first stayed in Martinborough perhaps 17 years ago. We bought a six pack of decent wine.

Nga Waka vineyard.

In the evening we ate in the restaurant, steak at last, then rolled into bed.

End of the holiday really (next day), one stop for a delicious soup on the road home.

A good cafe between Hunterville and Taihape.

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South Again – Day 27

Up at 5:45 for the Wellington ferry. Straight into the cabin and slept another 2 1/2 hours.

Hania had a lunchtime appointment so I had a KFC probably the last for a decade. Honestly I couldn’t find anything else in downtown Upper Hutt.

Over the Rimataka’s to Martinborough without incident unless you count the usual hysteria from my companion who really, really doesn’t like narrow, winding, steep roads.

We booked for two nights at the Martinborough Hotel and in the afternoon we both had huge hot baths.

We ate at Tonic Bistro, good food and wine and vegetarian. A variety of smallish dishes, very well presented.

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South Again – Day 26

Pretty uneventful day. Woke up to this view.

Loaded up the car and North to Picton. Whitebait fritters for 11’s.

Checked in at the Top Ten.

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Around & about Daily posts Travel

South Again – Day 25

End of the campervan trip and back to the little car.

Then SH1 to Kaikoura. Not the most exciting trip but found time for cake.

Kaikoura was hot and sunny and we sat in the sun drinking, not the best idea. Nice waterfront hotel.

Booked into Picton Top Ten for tomorrow, then the ferry first thing.

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Around & about Daily posts Travel

South Again – Day 24

We left Geraldine in rain and continued north towards Christchurch. I wanted to see Lyttleton and it’s harbour so we drove through the tunnel and looked for a nice cafe. Sadly the town is not large vehicle friendly. However the harbour is impressive.

We decided to go to the South side to a campsite and so drove around the shore – which is a narrow, winding, steep road. Just what Hania likes.

It was getting late by the time we reached Orton Bradley Park and no internet. I was too tired to take photos and anyway we were busy sorting out the van so we could transfer our belongings smoothly.

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South Again – Day 23

Morning at Lake Opua, the geese flying again, magpies, seagulls, herons, ducks, a bittern (?) and others I wasn’t sure about.

It is a great campsite for free camping. The fish were jumping too.

On the way out we stopped at a cafe on the main road (Farm Barn maybe) which had an excellent location with views all around.

At Geraldine again tonight, rain. Overall we have been lucky with the weather.

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South Again – Days 21 & 22

Round Bush Camp was still mozzie central so after breakfast we went to Twizel, the Hydro Cafe and Twizel Bookshop, where else?

Having finished 16 Trees of the Somme I’m now reading Bewilderment by Richard Powers.

After that we headed over to Lake Benmore and had more or less given up when Hania found this spot at Falstone Camp, pretty much the end of the line. Also no internet and no phone coverage.

I suspect we probably shouldn’t have camped there but no one said anything so we paid our dues and stayed.

We liked this sign on the toilet door.


Beautiful Benmore.

So breakfast in Twizel and more books.

After that I needed some exercise so we went to Tekapo so I could walk up to the observatory on Mount St John. Fantastic views of McKenzie Country on all sides.

We finished the day at Lake Opuha near Fairlie, a place with masses of bird life of which the most impressive were the Geese forming up presumably getting ready to migrate.

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South Again – Day 20

What next and where to go? We read about Maniapouri but it’s half a day there and another back, with a few days left it didn’t seem worth it.

We headed out to Twizel again for coffee and cake at Hydro Cafe. Also popped into the Twizel Bookshop (shout out – fabulous microbookstore). Umm, the store is small the books are normal size.

Don’t have a photo of Hydro Cafe

In the end we decided on Lake Ohau and the Round Bush Camp. Lovely site down by the shore but lots of bities (funny Judd didn’t mention that). All part of the experience I guess.

Seeing the weather forecast we wished we had stayed in the far South but then we wouldn’t have had a fab afternoon catching up with friends. C’est la vie. View from the van this arvo.