On my second trip to NZ I heard this fascinating true story, while travelling through the northern regions of the Auckland area. Back in the day, there was a group of German people experiencing persecution in their home country due to their religion, and many of these people were forced to leave home and travel to far off countries like Australia and New Zealand. This particular group travelled across Europe to get away (which took approx. a full year) to then board a boat headed for the wild unknown of New Zealand (this journey took another year!). When they arrive into Auckland, they have been assigned some land to the north to start their new settlement and community. But little do they know, this area is a total forest with nothing cleared. Also, they have been sold this land by the original owners, a Maori clan with enemies to the north, who are hoping this new European community (with their weapons etc.) will help them protect their territories. So this group of European men, women and children, who have travelled across the whole world into a total unknown on a one way ticket, are picked up in the Auckland port by Maori warriors on canoes, and brought upstream to their new home. I always imagine that trip. What would that have felt like for those displaced people? Unfamiliar terrain, an unknown future, and being canoed to their inhospitable new home by Maori warriors. History is filled with interesting and strange stories, and I like to sometimes sit down and think about them.
The best thing that happened to me in Beijing was a collection of stolen moments spent dancing in the shadow of the Drum and Bell Towers. Listening to Chinese pop songs. In the pitch dark of night. It was about zero degrees. I wondered if it was perhaps my happiest moment. Ever. Simple things.
Ta Prohm, an overgrown temple near Siem Reap in Cambodia, is truly a strange and magical place. Walking around this crumbling place under the (slightly) cooler forest canopy was one of my most favourite memories from our Cambodia trip. You may recognise this temple from the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie.
After the fall of the Khmer Empire Ta Prohm was abandoned for centuries, and the jungle basically took it back. Now you can see massive twisted roots growing over the whole thing, and instead of cutting the forest away, the authorities left the temple as is. We visited a few other temples in this same style (overgrown) so I have included some pictures of those as well.