Cherie Davies and Clive Bennett

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17.  THAILAND : 1995 - 13 November :  Damnoen Saduak, floating market
Different is an understatement. All the bustle of a market with ‘stalls’ selling fruit, vegetables and cooked foods,   But on water! From a multitude of small boats! It has to be seen to be believed.

..            ..


 Walking through a vineyard       and Grape drying


20.  CHINA : Mingsha Mountains – Gobi Desert  : 1994 - 19 September 2.00 pm

Yet another memory from school geography lessons - three miles south of the town of Dun Huang stand the Mingsha [Ringing or Singing] Mountains, a range of sand dunes, 25 miles long, 12 miles wide and up to 500 feet high with the Crescent Moon Lake and spring nearby which has never silted up in over 1,000 years. The first view is impressive, driving along a road that ends with an ornate oriental wall and gate leading through to the desert and massive sand dunes towering towards the sky.

21.  THAILAND : Chakri Mahaprasad, [Grand Palace]  :  1995 - 12 November : 2.15 pm

Approaching the Palace you see a rather plain low white wall, but showing above it and stretching up are decorative spires and roofs - a hint of what lies beyond ……. Unbelievably ornate structures.

On the banks of the Chao Phraya River at the heart of Bangkok is The Grand Palace the official residence of the Kings of Siam (later Thailand) from 1782, when the state capital moved to Bangkok, until 1925 Today it is still used for official events.


22. PERU : Sacsayhuaman  : 1996 - 17 October : 2.00 pm

A short drive from Cusco brings you to the huge structure of Sacsayhuaman although only about 20% of the original fortification remains.  Not the best known Inca ruins but a very impressive site.  It contains three different areas the most obvious being the three tiered zigzag walls of the main fortification. The blocks are enormous, some weighing many tons but all hand shaped and transported long distances to this site.   Amazingly they are so well shaped and fit so tightly together that it is not possible to insert even a piece of paper between the stones. For sheer size it must rival the Egyptian pyramids.

23.  MEXICO : Uxmal  : 1999 – 25 September : 9.15 am

The extensive ruins of the Maya civilisation at Chichen Itza which he had visited earlier are impressive in size but due to being largely reconstructed lack something in atmosphere. Uxmal however, although a smaller site, possessed much more of an aura. The buildings are closer together and more inter-related.  Founded around 500 AD Uxmal was largely abandoned around 1000 AD - partly because of successive failures of the rains and partly as the result of war that shifted power to other cities.- although there are some signs of habitation as late as 1500 AD …

Piramide del Advina : Oval shaped Pyramid of the Magician

Piramide del Advina : Oval shaped Pyramid of the Magician

24.  PERU : Colca Canyon  : 1996 - 13 October : 10.30 am

Having stayed overnight at Colca Lodge [10,000 ft] and suffered altitude sickness first thing in the morning he then drove up to the Cross of the Condor [11,200 ft] situated at Colca Canyon which, with a depth of 10,725 feet, is one of the deepest in the world and twice that of the Grand Canyon.

While there he watched a condor take of from the floor of the canyon and ride the thermals up and past where he was standing to soar high in the air above him. Spectacular!

 Cross of the Condor [11,200 ft]                   Locals selling souvenirs at

                                                                              Cross of the Condor


16.  INDIA : 1995 - 9 November - Jaipur street market : Land of contrast and colour

The ancient lifestyle that still exists in today’s modern world. The everyday dust and dirt against the vibrant colours and cleanliness of the people and the old style street sellers against modern shops and of course the inevitable cows walking freely wherever they liked. India - land of contrast.

Every day street scenes and then …

     Jaipur: Hawa Mahal – Palace of the Winds …….. the other face of India

25.  CHINA : The Great Wall

 1994 - 19 September 10.00 am : Dunhuang

             20 September 4.00 pm : Jiayuguan

            29 September 12.15 pm : Badaling

The problem here is where to start with a site that stretches some 3,700 miles across a country.

It started out some 600 years BC as several walls but around 220 BC during the Han Dynasty these were joined to create a single wall.

His first encounter was south of Liuyuan near Dunhuang although these are small ruins and not easily identified as part of the generally accepted Great Wall.

Next the garrison fortress at Jiayuguan the recognised western end of the wall. This was built around 1372 AD and has two walls the inner being 39 feet high. It was constructed to guard the Jiayu Pass where the silk route divides into the northern [summer] route and southern [winter] route.

Finally the more widely know section at Badaling 53 miles North West of Beijing. Here the wall is 26 feet high and 20 feet wide. Built over a period of around 2,500 years by different Dynasties it was largely restored in 1957 while the oldest section dates from around 500 BC

First sight near Dunhuang


Then …. from the fortress at Jiayuguan

26.  EGYPT : Rather more complex memories .. Not a single site but an entire civilization dating back 4,000 years

1996 – 28 May 8.30 am : Luxor – Amon-Ra Temple complex

1996 – 29 May 9.00 am : Luxor – Valley of the Kings

1996 – 29 May 11.00 am : Luxor – Colossi of Memnon

1996 – 30 May 1.15 pm : Edfu Temple

1996 – 2 June 9.30 am : Giza [Cairo] – Pyramids & Sphinx

1996 – 2 June 3.45 pm : Saqqara [Cairo] – Imhotep’s Step Pyramid

1997 – 4 September 11.00 am : Abu Simbel

A different problem here because there is so much preserved from ancient history but the link to all of the sites is the river Nile, the main artery of civilization running from the Mediterranean in the north to the southern border of the country.

Amon-Ra Temple complex at Luxor - The largest in the country spanning 2000 years of Egyptian history           Colossi of Memnon

Abu Simbel - discovered in 1812 Dating from 1250 BC                 Edfu Temple dating from 237 BC                      Valley of The Kings

Moved in 1968 to its current site 210 feet above the river                                                                                      Tomb of Tutankhamun

when the Aswan High Dam was built to create Lake Nasser.

and of course.. The Pyramids at Gizza, Cairo

                                                                                               Step Pyramid, the World’s oldest monumental structure built around 2670 BC

27.  GERMANY : The Berlin Wall - modern history in the making.

 1989 – 4 March late morning : Berlin – Check Point Charlie

1989 – 22 December 1.00 pm : Berlin – close to The Reichstag

1989 – 23 December 2.00 pm : Berlin – close to The Reichstag

1990 – 22 December 2.00 pm : Berlin – Brandenburg Gate

Three visits to the same location over a period of 22 months as modern history was created.

With construction starting on 13 August 1961 the German Democratic Government divided Berlin into East and West with ‘The Wall’. This restricted and eventually stopped the movement of Germans from the East to the West. However as the city was occupied by the four major powers following the war they each exercised their right to patrol through to other sector via set crossing points the most well known of which was Check Point Charlie where it was also possible occasionally for civilians to accompany military patrols through to the other sector.

1. On 4 March 1989 while visiting West Berlin he was fortunate to be able to travel with a British military patrol through Check Point Charlie for a short tour of GDR East Berlin.

 Check Point Charlie:

On 9 November 1989, following uprisings in the Eastern Soviet Block, GDR Government announced that East German citizens could visit the West and with a short space of time additional crossing points were opened. People were soon queuing to take advantage of this relaxation and also stated trying to climb up on to The Wall and chip the graffiti off the western side.

2. His next visit to The Wall was on 22 December 1989. Walking through a small copse close to The Reichstag he could hear a strange chip, chip, chip sound and upon emerging next to the wall found dozens op people busy chipping souvenirs pieces of graffiti from The Wall. Some were trying to climb up but there were East German guards standing on top to stop them from scaling it or making them return to the ground.  Close by was a long queue of people waiting to pass through a narrow ‘gate’ to visit [or return to] East Berlin.

The following day, 23 December, he again visited The Wall and found the East German guards were now much more relaxed and allowing people to not only scale The Wall but also use ladders to climb up and were chatting and sharing cigarettes with them.  By now large holes were appearing in The Wall as people continued chipping away at it.

3. A year later on 22 December 1990 he paid his third visit to the area.  

There was no sign of The Wall instead he was able to walk through to and beyond The Brandenburg Gate in the newly unified Berlin

28.  CANADA : Columbian Icefields Parkway : Jasper to Lake Louise

 2000 - 29 March : 8.15 am to 1.00 pm

A 94 mile drive through superb, breathtaking, mountain scenery. Along the way passed Mts. Edith Cavell and Hardisty, visited Athabasca Falls, passed  Mts Kerkeslin and Kitchener, the edge of the Columbian Icefield and Athabasca Glacier, Mts Athabasca, Cirrus, Saskatchewan, Coleman, Amery, Wilson, Sarbach, Murchison, Chephren, Patterson and Bow to Lake Louise. [for lunch]

Jasper                                                                                              The start ….                                         getting closer to the mountains



the Athabascar Glacier


1971 - September 13: 8.00 am

1996 – October 14 : 3.00 pm

This is about two different locations with similar eerie atmospheric airs but separated by thousands of miles and visited many years apart.

In 1971 he joined a group on a camping holiday across Europe. Starting in Belgium touring across Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia and Greece before crossing to Turkey on the Dardanelles ferry. There at about 8.00 am on the 13 September they visited the ancient ruins of the historical and legendry Troy. The site is situated on a wind swept hill top overlooking the plain below and the Scamander estuary leading to the coast some 5 km away.  At that time of the morning there were few people about and it was very quiet and bleak but within minutes he recalls feeling an eerie sense of a presence and the hair on the back of his neck seemed to rise. An altogether odd sensation and one he thought he’d never experience again.

Then in 1996 in Peru on the way to Juliaca to visit Lake Titicaca the tour group stopped off at Sillustani set on a hill top overlooking Lake Umayo. The Inca Empire was known as Tahuantinsuyo, or ‘The Land of Four Quarters’. The southern quarter was called Collasuyo after the Colla tribe which, along with the rival Lupaca tribe, dominated the Lake Titicaca area. The Colla people were a warlike tribe with unusual burial customs for their nobility. Their dead were buried in funerary towers called Chullpas the most impressive of which are at Sillustani. This is where they arrived in the mid afternoon with the warm sun shining but again there was a gentle wind blowing, few people and the area felt strangely bleak and again within minutes of arriving he had the same eerie sense of a presence similar to the one he’d had experienced at Troy 25 years earlier causing the hair on the back of his neck to rise.


PERU : Sillustani



30.  EGYPT : SUEZ CANAL ZONE …. But not on holiday

1953 - March 3

1954 – November 17

The first time you travel abroad is always memorable and possibly a little tense. Clive’s first flight certainly was.  As a National Service conscript with the Royal Air Force he completed 8 weeks basic training and was then posted to Middle East Air Force 107 Maintenance Unit based at Kasfareet alongside the Great Bitter Lake which forms part of the Suez Canal.  

On 26 February 1953 at 1.00 pm he flew out from RAF Lyneham, Wilts to Valette, Malta. Landing apparently ‘safely’ just after 9.00 pm he spent two hours in the NAAFI waiting for the plane to be refuelled and then reboarded. After taxiing out they then taxied back to the voice of the pilot cheerfully saying ‘Sorry chaps you’ll have to disembark. We have a slight problem she won’t fly. Not really sure how we got her down.’ Several anxious hours later shortly before 2.00 am he nervously reboarded the same plane and took of for RAF Fayid, Egypt. Where, despite an electrical storm and several ‘air pockets’ which caused the plane to drop suddenly, he arrived safely at 9.00 am the following morning and stayed for the next 21 months.

             Camp main gate                           Rear gate leading via the village to Great Bitter Lake             Kasfareet village

   Sweetwater Canal

      between the camp and village

       Home 1953 - 54

       Billets : interior and exterior

 Gateway to the Dunes


  and a tame Condor

   the infamous … Juego de Pelota [Ball Court]

      Gran Piramide


    Colca Lodge [Hotel] - 10,000 ft                     Colca Gate

Finally the best known section at Badaling, north of Beijing

Jiayuguan fortress  



The Sphinx


Lake Louise Hotel and [frozen] Lake



Today travelling around the world inevitably includes many, sometimes long haul, air flights but Clive however has never forgotten his Geography master’s vision of going round the world by rail and riding trans-continental trains remains his inspiration for travelling. It is not only the starting point for his memories but each journey provides a unique memory of places passed through and people he met.

TRAVELLING : Trans Continental Train Journeys

[1] 1962 June 13 to 20 : Oostend to Salzburg : Belgium, Germany and Austria.     

[2] 1994 September 14 to 17 : Samarkand to Nanjing : Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China.

[3] 1998 June 11 to 14 : Sydney to Perth : Australia.                                         

[4] 2000 March 25 to 27 and 30 to 31 : Toronto to Vancouver : Canada.

Although ever since school days he had dreamt of transcontinental train journeys his first long continental journey was in 1962 with the Chichester Folk Dance and Song Group mentioned earlier. A coach ride to Dover then ferry across to Oostend where they caught the overnight express across Belgium and Germany to Salzburg in Austria.

That served to increase his desire to travel by train. He feels it is so much more relaxed, time to meet new people and talk, no sudden time zone change of several hours maybe just one a day. By air you sit around an airport for hours, take off and a few hours later land possibly a thousand miles away having seen nothing of the countryside in between.  By train you have a sleeping compartment with a bed, a dining room, a bar and lounge and all at a relatively leisurely pace to view the passing scenery and talk with fellow passengers.

A trip across Russia by the Trans Siberian railway was another dream from schooldays geography lessons. Instead, but no less impressive was his second trip on a Russian charter train along part of the old silk route from the ancient city of Samarkand through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan via Almaty to the Chinese border then a change on to the Chinese Orient Express to Nanjing via Urumqi, Jiayuguan, Lanzho, Xian and Luoyang..

       The luxurious dining car of the Russian train       An informal chat on the way to the border      Russian train at Almaty

His third opportunity for transcontinental travel was in 1998 when he visited Australia and took a trip on the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth via Bathurst, Broken Hill and Adelaide, across the Nullabor Plain and Kalgoorlie:

   Ready for boarding               A single cabin for daytime… then converted for sleeping             Lounge/bar on ‘The Indian Pacific’

Later he travelled on the world famous Ghan from Alice Springs to Adelaide with a similar cabin and Club Car [Lounge/Bar]



                                   ‘The Ghan’ at Alice Springs                                           Lounge/bar on ‘The Ghan’

The trip along the silk route from Uzbekistan to China has already been mentioned but the original ‘dream’ was to use the Trans Siberian from Moscow to Vladivostok then across to Vancouver in Canada for the Canadian Pacific to Toronto and home across the Atlantic. Having compromised by travelling the Silk Route across Asia he did the other half of the ‘dream’ in reverse. His fourth long distant train journey was in 2000 when he travelled from Toronto to Vancouver on Via ‘The Canadian’ through Sioux Lookout, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Jasper, Yellow Head Pass [through The Rockies] and Kamloops.

                                                          ‘The Canadian’                                                    with observation turret

                                  Inside the observation turret on ‘The Canadian’             ‘The Canadian’ Club Car [ Lounge / Bar ]

Clive’s memorable holiday sights : 16 to 31

Clive’s most memorable sights and experiences 16 to 31


INDIA, Jaipur street market


PERU, Colca Canyon


THAILAND, Damnoen floating market


CHINA, The Great Wall


CHINA, Turfan Oasis


EGYPT, Ruins - Abu Simbel to Cairo


CHINA, Goachang ruins


GERMANY, Berlin wall


CHINA, Mingsha Mountains [Giant sand dunes]


CANADA, Icefields Parkway


THAILAND, Chakri Mahaprasad [Grand Palace]


GREECE, Ruins of Troy &

 PERU, Ruins of Sillustani


PERU, Sacsayhuaman, Inca ruins


EGYPT, Suez Canal military zone 1953


MEXICO  Uxmal, Maya ruins


WORLD WIDE; Long distance train travel