South West Coast Path: Perranuthnoe

My inaugural walk for my new ambition to travel the length of the South West Coast Path in England started in the old village of Perranuthnoe, in the middle of the southern coast of Cornwall on Christmas Eve Day.

Why Perranuthnoe? No particular reason other than it was close to the B&B. No long analysis about being in the middle of the area, about what segment I intend to cover. I went in quite blind, with very little planning other than hearing of the existence of the hiking trail and being 630 miles long.

Highlights:
– Perranuthnoe is a charming tiny village. Visited the church while someone was practicing the organ, presumably for the Christmas mass that night. Victoria Inn is supposedly one of the oldest inns.
– An unexpected highlight in Perranuthnow is the Cabin Cafe, on the road down to the beach. The cabin is literally that, a rectangular building that is two-thirds kitchen, one third dining space. Orders are made on the outside, the side of the building with an open counter, not unlike the beach food stalls. The cabin is surrounded by a large lawn picnic space for the larger fair weather crowds. It’s a family-run enterprise, focused on simple fare such as sandwiches, pudding, soups and drinks. Service is extra friendly and it feels like a community gathering place with people greeting each other and catching up for the holidays.
– The view of St Michael’s Mount as I approached Trebarvah Cliff. I happened to look back down at the beach as the clouds separated and the sun shined down. As mentioned, I had not read up any background and had no idea it was the St Michael Mount at that time. Just awestruck.
-At the same time, the view of Perranuthnoe with its hilltop church standing out in the same view.
– The caves in Piskies and Little Cudden. I was *so* tempted to clamber down and check them out. I almost missed them.. it wasn’t until I climbed out to Little Cudden point that I saw the huge caves on both sides. The cliffs were so steep it would be easy to miss them if not looking at the right angle. This is home to one of the famous smuggling operations led by John Cater, “King of Prussia”, active in the late 1700s.
– The old fishing huts in Prussia Cove. My question is how and why the hell did they build fishing huts on the top of a cliff?

The walk to the west of Perranuthnoe curved around a beautiful rocky point that offers a nice sunset view, weather providing, but otherwise was a easy but dull stroll between fields with an approaching view of St. Michael Mount.

Tally:
Miles walked: 8.6, two loops, with Perranuthnoe as base.
End points of SWCP reached:
– N50 06.105 W5 24.949 and
– N50 07.164 W5 27.468
Weather: Cloudy, gusty winds on occasion, sun breaking out
Conditions: Oi. So muddy… I now see why wellies are so common

 

2011-12-24 SWCP: Perranuthnoe
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Nyuangshwe: A deeper look

I spent a total of five days in Nyaungshwe, the longest I stayed in any part of Myanmar. It was the best segment of my entire trip.

I didn’t realise the boat tour was so short.. that in one day I would have “seen” all of Inle Lake. The Lonely Planet guide book didn’t have much suggestions but I decided to do them all. One each day.

One afternoon, wandering around town, I decided to check out the monasteries. I walked in on one when the novices were chanting their prayers. Startled and awed, I stood for a while just watching. I have heard the Chinese transcription of the Buddhist scripture from its ancient Pali language, when they were read out in their entirety for my grandfather’s funeral. The Burmese transcription sounded similar enough without being the same. I must have stood still for a good ten minutes before I started to take pictures. By that time, some unfocused novices in the back and side were giving me furtive glances and snuck a wave here and there. I smiled in acknowledgement and snapped a few more shots. I crept down before chants were over, in fear of getting the inattentive novices in trouble, only to descend and find myself face-to-face with an amused attentive abbot.

The highlight was my guide hike up the hills. My guide was a no-show. Family emergency. By this point, I’ve lived in Asia long enough to roll with these punches. The agent scrambled to find a substitute guide. And what a substitute he was.

The new guide didn’t speak much. He however knew everyone, even up in the hilltribes. He was moonlighting, his regular day job was as a teacher. He wasn’t even a local, being a Mandalay native. But he knew everyone. Monks, elders, kids all waved to him. We were invited into houses for tea while the hosts gossiped with my guide, discussing land sales, children’s school plans, weather, health problems. He was kind enough to give me the gist of the conversations but, for the most part, I sat silently with a smile, sipped my tea, and people-watched.

No matter how basic their living, they had something to offer me. A biscuit? Some tea? Without fail, every time I complimented a host or hostess on the tea or food (all of which truly were delicious), they immediately shuffled around for a plastic bag to contain all they had of that item to give me. There is some truth in the statement: the less people have, the more generous they tend to be.

Children followed us like pied piper. I think they were following me more than him. I learnt on this entire trip that if I showed them playbacks of photos I took of them, they will fall into infectious giggling. As much as I want to capture the reactions, I often catch their infectious laughing and enjoy playing with then more than I want to photograph the moment.

By my last day, the market vendors all recognised me from my daily stroll through the stalls. The hat vendor scolds me for not wearing the straw hat I bought from her. The tea vendor waves a fistful of her freshest product for me to sniff. The vegetable lady’s toddler waddles up to hold my hand. The butcher humourously tries again to sell me a raw chicken drumstick.

In truth, I probably can’t live in a place like this for long. I am too spoilt, too modernised, too independent, and too potty-mouthed for a society like this. Yet, coming to a culture so ancient, a lifestyle so simple, and a country so isolated has made me appreciate the simple things in life, and given me an awareness of the ubiquitous nature of joy, curiosity, and kindness.

Jumping Monkeys and a Near Miss

We were hiking in Sitou Mountain, Taiwan. The mountain is beautifully manicured and asphalt laid. But animals are not advertised as a common sighting. So imagine our surprise when we found ourselves following not one but a pair of monkeys on our descent. They tolerated us for quite a length, walking along the electrical wire bundles above the path. When they tired of us, they jumped off to a tree. Monkey #2 wasn’t as graceful.. if you look carefully, you’re see it almost missed altogether. Made me wonder how often an occurrence monkey miscalculations are. I still chuckle every time I watch.

From mountaintops…

I celebrated my 30th birthday in grand style.. by rewarding myself with a ten-day vacation in a whole other continent with a girlfriend. And reminded myself that I’m still young, healthy, strong, and loving life by climbing up Egypt’s highest peak, Mount Katherine.

And, boy, was I hurting up there! By the last bit of the ascent, I could barely keep up with my 61 year-old guide who probably weighed 95 pounds soaking wet and whose soles were about to fall off his ancient shoes.

The view was absolutely gorgeous. No green, but the variation of stone, terrain colors, lava rock, made it all awesome when looking from the top. This self-pic is just beyond cool. I didn’t expect to capture so much detail.