Welcome to Clive Bennett’s web site
1952 1973 1992 2000 2010
Memorable Holiday Moments 25 to 30
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. My 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 was 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 Jiayuan
The best known section at Badaling, near Beijing
Not a single site or memory but a ‘collection’ of historical structures reflecting an entire civilization dating back 4,000 years :
1996 : 28 May 8.30 am : Luxor Amon-
A different problem here because there is so much preserved from ancient history but the key 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.
Edfu Temple dating from 237 BC Valley of The Kings
Tomb of Tutankhamun
Abu Simbel -
Moved in 1968 to its current site 210 feet above the river
when the Aswan High Dam was built to create Lake Nasser.
And, of course, the Pryamids at Cairo
Step Pyramid, the World’s oldest monumental structure built around 2670 BC
1989 – 4 March late morning : Berlin – Check Point Charlie;
1989 – 22 December 1.00 pm and 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 I was fortunate to be able to travel with a British military patrol through Check Point Charlie for a short tour of GDR East Berlin.
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. My next visit to The Wall was on 22 December 1989. Walking through a small copse close to The Reichstag I could hear a strange chip, chip sound and upon emerging next to the wall found dozens of 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. [below left and centre]
The following day, 23 December, I 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. [above right]. By now large holes were appearing in The Wall as people continued chipping away at it. [below left]
3. A year later on 22 December 1990 I paid my third visit to the area.
There was no sign of The Wall instead I was able to walk through to and beyond The Brandenburg Gate in the newly unified city of Berlin
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]
The start …. getting closer to the mountains
the Athabascar Glacier
Lake Louise Hotel …………. and a frozen Lake Louise
1971 GREECE : Troy -
1996 PERU : Sillustani – October 14 : 3.00 pm
This is about two different locations not just thousands of miles apart but also visited many years apart.
In 1971 I joined a group on a camping holiday across Europe. Starting in Belgium we toured across Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia and Greece before crossing to Turkey on the Dardanelles ferry. There at about 8.00 am on the 13 September we 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 I felt an eerie sense of a presence and the hair on the back of my neck seemed to rise. An altogether odd sensation and one I thought I’d never experience again.
Then in 1996 in Peru on the way to Juliaca to visit Lake Titicaca we 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 we 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 I had the same eerie sense of a presence similar to the one I had experienced at Troy 25 years earlier causing the hair on the back of my neck to rise.
GREECE : Troy : my 1971 ‘photo of the site and walls and a modern commercial ‘photo at the same site [virtually unchanged after 40 years]
PERU : Sillustani
The eerie feeling was
particularly strong around
this stone circle
The first time you travel abroad is always memorable and possibly a little tense. Certainly my first flight was.
Having completed 8 weeks basic training as a National Service recruit I was posted to RAF 107 MU based at Kasfareet alongside the Great Bitter Lake which forms part of the Suez Canal. On 26 February 1953 at 1.00 pm I was part of a group of service personnel who flew out from RAF Lyneham, Wilts to Valette, Malta. Landing apparently ‘safely’ just after 9.00 pm we spent two hours in the NAAFI waiting for the plane to be refuelled and then reboarded. After taxiing out we then taxied back to the voice of the pilot cheerfully saying ‘Sorry chaps you’ll have to disembark. We have a slight problem she wont fly. Not sure how we got her down.’ Several anxious hours later shortly before 2.00 am we all apprehensively 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, we arrived safely at 9.00 am the following morning.
As the posting to Egypt at that time was classified as ‘Active Service’ -
RAF Kasfareet Main Gate Rear gate leading via the village to Great Bitter Lake Kasfareet Village
Sweetwater Canal between the camp and village
Ruins of Salamis St Hilarion Castle