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Our trip to south-east Asia this winter is very different for us in at least a couple of important ways.  First, as we are back-pack virgins we are going to have to get used to carrying our gear on our backs instead of each dragging a wheeled suitcase around.  And second, our usual practice is to fly to each major destination and then hire a car to drive around to get aquainted with the area.  This trip, however, once we touch down in Kuala Lumpur airport, we will only have one flight within SE Asia before we fly out of Bangkok on March 10th on our way home.  We will be taking the train as much as possible and, where we can’t, we will take the bus or a boat. Not only will this give us a good opportunity to see plenty of the countryside, but I get the chance to keep up with my writing (hopefully).

Indeed, we began our journey from home today exactly as we wanted to proceed – only getting a lift down the mountain-side to the coast, from our wonderful neighbours (who were gracious enough to be smiling when they collected us this morning at 7am).  We then caught the bus to Malaga where we boarded the direct connection to Madrid. 

Once we had left the coast and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains behind, the rolling landscape soon revealed its precious secret – millions of olive trees.  Because of the nature of the countryside, these olives can be picked mechanically instead of the method used nearer to our home where each tree has to be whacked manually with a big stick.  Three countries are the major olive oil producers in the world. First is Spain, second is Italy and third is Greece. Together, they produce more than 75% of the world production – and it was easy to see how, when we were driving through Jaen province today.  There were lines and lines of trees as far as the eye could see, for mile after mile.

Anyway, I shall bid you adios from the Spanish capital, Madrid.  We fly to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow lunchtime (via Jordan), so next time I chat with you, we will be in Malaysia,

Hasta luego!