Return to Adventure, Your Free Copy
Prepared by Harold Stephens
Travel Correspondent for Thai Airways International
Last week for Weekly Travel Feature I wrote how to get your free copy of Return to Adventure, a book I wrote that was sponsored by Thai Airways and distributed by Royal Orchid Holidays. The book is still available, and the publisher is offering free copies to anyone who wants one. All that is needed is to pay the handling and shipping charges. The process is simple: just e-mail the publisher, www.wolfendenpublishing.com for information on how to get your free copy.
For those who might be interested in adventure travelling, I’ll tell a bit about the book and what you can find inside.
I divided the text into chapters so that readers can turn to those subjects that interest them the most. Chapter One, for example, is Digging Into Southeast Asia’s Past, The Search for Lost Cities. Other chapters are about jungle exploring, diving for treasures, cave exploring, river adventures, getting behind the driver’s wheel and motoring, mountain climbing in southeast Asia, yachting, biking, archaeology finds, the wonders of volcanoes and monsoons and there’s a chapter I added on mysterious Asia, plus another one on returning back to nature.
Let’s look at some of the chapters. I’ll begin by quoting from Chapter One, The Search for Lost cities.
“Ever since man learned to build great cities, he also somehow developed the knack for losing them. It may sound impossible but it's a fact. Cities simply disappear. When this happens, if it isn't a farmer plowing up his field that makes a discovery, it's the countless stories, legends and myths that keep our imagination fired up. And they have done so for centuries. The tales of lost cities are endless.
“In the Western world it started as far back as the Book of Genesis which tells of disasters in which whole cities were swallowed up. Even the Greek philosopher Plato got into the act. In his Dialogues he writes about the disappearance of Atlantis, where "there occurred violent earthquakes and floods and in a single night and day the island of Atlantis vanished beneath the sea." The search for Atlantis has never stopped.
“Asia, too, has its legends and myths. Early Chinese chronicles tell not only of lost cities but lost kingdoms as well. Only recently have we begun to find that they are not all legend, such as the findings in northern Thailand near the village of Ban Chang and the recent one at Ban Wang Haad. Strange and mysterious as it may sound, lost cities in Asia do exist.”
From there I tell how cities become lost. “Man, for centuries, has sunk foundations and built cities on shores of sheltered bays, at mouths of rivers, high on plateaus and deep in jungles. But not always did he give thought to the column of smoke rising from the distant, cone-shaped hill. And did he consider the sea would rise up and deluge the land, or that the lake would swell up and swallow his fine temples within their stone walls?”
The chapter on the jungles results from my many years on expeditions with the Malaysia Wild Game Department. I have attempted to clear up some of the misunderstanding about jungles and zoom in on the Malay Peninsula. “The Oriental Jungles of the Malay Peninsula are the oldest in the world, so old they make the tropical rain forests of Africa and South America seem adolescent by comparison. While creeping ice fronts were swelling and shrinking across the northern hemisphere, the jungle here slept through an estimated 100 million years of uninterrupted slumber. And while far reaching climatic changes were affecting the rest of the globe, and the animal species there were forced into new evolutionary channels, the jungle wild life was left undisturbed and developed into unique species.”
I especially enjoyed writing this chapter for I was able to tell readers about Muda, a Negrito aborigine with whom I befriended and made several expeditions. He taught me much about the jungle, and sadly I relate what eventually happened to him.
In Treasure Beneath the Sea we can read about how diving first began in Southeast Asia and then we go on some real adventure like the discovery of the HMS Repulse of which I was a part. My own schooner Third Sea played a major role in many diving expeditions.
One adventure that I have enjoyed in Asia is cave exploring, and I wrote about that in Chapter Four, Spelunking vs. Speleology. I wrote that the sport of cave exploring is little known in Southeast Asia, and yet, beyond any doubt, the caves and underground caverns of Southeast Asia are the most challenging and interesting in the world. And they are everywhere from south China down through Thailand and the Malay Peninsula and scattered across Indonesia and the islands of the Philippines. I took readers on several cave-exploring trips, and that included meeting up with some real live hermits living in caves.
Southeast Asia has some mighty big and exciting rivers. I had the thrill of exploring many and wrote about it in Chapter Five, River Exploring. My opening to the chapter covers the theme: “Which are the great rivers of Asia? The Yangtze? The Mekong? The Ganges? The Irrawaddy? There are others, which, though they may not be as big, or as world known, are by no means less exciting. Borneo has the Rejang, Malaysia the Endau and the Pahang, Thailand the Chao Phraya, and together Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam share the Mekong. Even tiny Singapore has its Singapore River, all ten kilometers of it.”
In the chapter we walk the banks of the Singapore River and cover the Chao Phraya from end to end. And I had to tell readers about my favourite, the Rejang in Borneo. It’s not a great river like Mekong or the Irrawaddy but it does have some mighty interesting natives living on its banks. We meet a few of them, past headhunters.
Not all will agree that motoring can be an adventure, and for those who think that, then they should get behind the wheel of a car as I suggest readers to do in Driving in Thailand. Thirty years ago I wouldn’t have recommended it. Today it’s quite different. Where else – maybe in Africa – do you have to stop to let an elephant pass? There is a difference, however, between Thailand and Africa. In Africa you are not the driver.
Mountain Climbing in Southeast Asia, am I kidding? In Chapter Seven, you will find it is not only possible but it is also challenging. To climb one peak, you have to hack through tiger infested jungle for two days to reach the base of the mountain.
Everything you wanted to know about yachting you will find in Chapter Eight, Yachting Comes to Southeast Asia. You can charter your own boat, sail on a junk or get a berth aboard a Macassar schooner in Indonesia.
There’s more. How about biking, then go to Chapter Nine. If you are interested in archaeological digs check out Chapter Ten. You can ride a train on the Singapore Express, partly through jungles and later ride high into the Himalayas aboard the Toy Train to Darjeeling in Chapter Eleven, or climb a volcano or two in Chapter Twelve and Return to Nature in Chapter Fifteen.
One adventure that always got me into trouble, and I had to quit writing about it, I cover in Chapter Sixteen, The Mysterious Orient, Lost Tribes and Jungle Giants. No one wants to believe my encounter with Asian Big Foot. The facts are there, and the decision will be yours.
You can read all this in detail in Return to Adventure, and the book is free. See www.wolfendenpublishing.com.
E-mail: ROH Weekly Travel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Note: The article is the personal view of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Thai Airways International Public Company Limited.
Your free book
There might be more Lost Cities
Read about a castle found in the jungle
Diving for treasure and WW11 wrecks
Mountains to climb like Kintabalu, Borneo
Read about jungle natives the author met
The author fishing for marlin, another adventure
The author with human sacrifice stone at ruins
You can explore cave and find treasures
Author points to Bigfoot prints, are they real