Journey Pt. 12 – Borneo – Banda Sera Begawan – tropical city with stilted village, mosques and temples.

Journey Pt. 12 – Borneo – Banda Sera Begawan – tropical city with stilted village, mosques and temples.

We have just crossed the equator heading for Borneo!  As usual there is the same silly pageant on deck with people dressed up with seaweed and gowns, covering volunteers with shaving foam and  dunking them in the swimming pool. The Captain asked Neptune for permission to cross the equator. It was a farce. Yet it was a farce with a history. At one time, back in the days of yore, this was a solemn ceremony. Sailing was dangerous. The seas could be terrifying as mountainous waves swamped ships and little wooden craft were tossed about like toys. Back then they believed the Gods created the storms and needed pacifying. We see in the Odyssey how sacrifices were made. Back then gods such as Neptune were real. Now, we look back at those beliefs as daft. The ceremony is now ‘a bit of a lark’. There were amazing feats of creativity on deck as the chef did the most amazing ice carving in no time at all!We were back into the northern hemisphere. Just 50 days left!Borneo is hot. 31 degrees!!! We headed off to the local town and boarded the local bus. The locals were extremely friendly and interested in these Westerners joining them, fascinating for us. It was a 30 minute journey, bumping along and hurtling down the roads. Around us was the lush tropical rainforest. We were heading for Banda Seri Begawan – the capital city.  Off the bus we walked along the waterfront looking over to the stilted town and back towards the impressive bridge. Then it was straight off to see the wonders of the Mosque. There was a fantastic reflective water pool in front complete with large colourful tiled ship. As mosques go it was a beautiful example. They build to impress and Muslim architecture, ceramics and abstract art is extremely beautiful.           The next stop was the stilted water village. We took a local boat and he took us round the village, out to the mangrove swamp, complete with crocodile, and over to the Royal Palace. The village was extensive with stilted hospital, schools, fire-station and police station.        Back on land we headed for the shopping mall to cool off with air-conditioning and a local cinnamon and honey ice-drink with tapioca – very different.Refreshed we set off to check out the Chines Temple. The gruesome warriors, demons and gaudy red, blue and gold, bells, dragons, drums, idols, incense and bonsai trees all part of the rich pageant. It all goes into the rich tapestry of religion. You have to wonder at what people believe.         Hot, and sweaty again we headed back to the boat on the local bus.Quite a day!!Off somewhere else tomorrow!! Just have to plan a five course meal in the restaurant for today. It’s a hard life but we’re not wilting yet!!




Like an ant on a leaf

                Contemplating what may be underneath.

Life is too brief.

Like a bacterium in a toilet bowl

                Trying to fathom some higher goal;

Stuck in a minor role.

Life, life is so weird;

                Stranger than we feared.

The universe is not geared;

                                                Understanding is never neared.

Space is so vast

                Though light is so fast

We see into the past

                                                But it leaves us all aghast.

Like a moth around a light

                Understanding the orbit of its flight

With all its might.

Like duckweed in a pond

                Thinking about what may be beyond;

It can’t abscond.

Like a human in his small life

                With work, child and wife;

The daily strife.

Looking for a purpose

                Above the daily curse

That doesn’t make things worse.

Life, life is so weird;

                Stranger than we feared.

The universe is not geared;

                                                Understanding is never neared.

Opher – 25.8.2022

Given the amazing size of the universe and the tininess of our brains it’s incredible that we understand any of it.

In the past we created religions and gods to make sense of what we fail to understand.

We’d rather believe in mysticism than reality.

Yet the universe has enough wonder without us creating layers more.

Life is miraculous enough without us imagining unreal layers.

We are no different to the ant, bacterium, moth or duckweed.



Everything’s the same

                Until it changes.

Stays the same

                Then rapidly rearranges

Life’s so strange.

                We think it lasts forever.

In the face of infinity

                We find we’re not so clever.

Day segues into day

                Til finally they run out.

Final minutes fade.

                That’s what it’s all about.

Oblivion to oblivion.

                Something to nothing.

Life into death:

                Lines that we are fluffing.

Opher – 1.12.2022

Death hangs over us in its many forms. Part of us knows that it will call one day but we chose to ignore that. In youth we challenge it. With age and experience, coupled with the loss of many that we love, we respect it more.

Our lives go on much the same, day after day, then, suddenly it all changes. We face death.

The universe rearranges itself.

Life is change. That’s reality. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing stays the same.

The Cabal – A Sci-fi novel of social intrigue

I felt I had to share this. I have just completed the second rewrite of this new Sci-fi novel. I then wrote this blurb for the back cover. All comments are gratefully received.

I’m going to catch my breath before looking to publish. Before I do I’d be glad of any feedback.

I don’t do space opera or action stuff. I work at exploring social situations. This novel is as relevant today as any book even though it’s based in the future.

I’ll put up some extracts for comment over the next few days.

Thank you!

The Cabal Blurb

It is the year 3960 of the System – a sprawling confederation of planets spanning hundreds of thousands of worlds.

Human beings have come a long way through space and time but nothing much changes.

This is a tale of war, political intrigue, greed, power and conspiracy.

The Cabal are a ruthless group of the wealthiest people that have ever lived. They have everything but they want more and are prepared to do anything to achieve their goal, even destroy worlds.

The President is equally selfish and greedy and is in their pay.

A young hacker is all that stands between the might of the evil establishment, who are busy plotting a war that would kill billions, and a brighter, fairer future.

The Sun Don’t Mind

The Sun Don’t Mind

There’s a war in Ukraine

                But the sun don’t mind.

Though millions starve

                It will continue to shine.

One day I’ll die

                But eternity won’t care.

My mind will cease,

                My atoms everywhere.

While we’re fed conspiracy

                The universe expands

Unaware of devastation

Oblivious to our plans.

Fleas on an elephant,

                A tear in the ocean.

Voyagers on a rock

                Living without a notion.

So big in our heads

                So tiny in reality.

An invisible flash

                In the uterus of infinity.

Opher – 25.6.2022

So important to bring things into perspective.

We take ourselves too seriously.

Yet our lives are important.

The wonder of life is quite unique.

We take so much for granted.

We are busy trashing paradise for a pocket full of baubles.

How can we give this life purpose?

Life Goes By

Life Goes By

Life goes by

                With us

                                Or without us

                                                Despite us

                                                                All around us

But for how long?

Just once

                On a bombarded rock

                                Dancing in the rain

                                                Wearing just one sock

A profound dunce capered.

Opher – 25.6.2022

It always seems amazing to me that on this tiny barren rock, in the middle of a vast ocean of stars, life began.

So much we don’t understand.

So much awe and wonder.

So many coincidences.

Instead of appreciating the stupendous circumstances that surround us we have to make up rigid fables and tie ourselves down.

Instead of respecting the wonders we are surrounded with we have to carelessly ignore them, destroy them and try to rule over them.

I can’t help thinking that we’re destined for a big fall.

Brexit Blues

Brexit Blues

A shortage of staff.

                We’ve driven them away.

Cut all the standards.

                Robbed them of their pay.

They’re still in denial

                As Brexit takes it’s toll.

The economy’s shrinking.

                We’re digging a black hole.

Can’t get the workers.

                Haven’t got the skills.

There’s no raw products.

                Hit with soaring bills.

They tell us it’s global forces,

                We’ll soon be in Brexit heaven.

But there’s no sunny uplands.

                Worst in the G7!

The cost of living

                Has gone through the roof.

How much misery

                Before you have the proof?

Is it worth all this poverty

                To take back control?

They promised us the earth

                Now we’re buried in the hole!

Opher – 11.11.2022

Project Fear turns out to be Project Reality!! We should have done what parliament was urging – to compromise!

We should have left the EU and stayed in the Customs Union and Single Market!

Johnson, Gove, Farage, May and the rabid loony ERG forced us to shoot ourselves in the head.

Now our economy is freefall. After twelve years of Tory cuts and austerity, during which they’ve been breeding millionaires and billionaires like maggots, we are rewarded with another decade of cuts and austerity.

Nothing is working.

Poverty, food banks, warm hubs, closures, shortages, low pay, strikes, cardboard cities, homelessness, freezing pensioners, crime, lack of care and support, education in crisis and Tory millionaires.

The huge amount of money squandered, wasted and doled out to Tory donors through VIP lanes – £37 billion on a test and trace system that never worked, tory contracts for useless PPE, £40 Billion lost in handouts. What a shambles.

But people like Rees-Mogg have made millions out of it.

Cameron, Osborne, Johnson and Farage are making millions.

Even Hancock, in the jungle, is not freezing to death!!

Rubble to Rubble

Rubble to Rubble

Rubble to rubble,

Dust to dust,

Nothing survives,

Especially the just.

When the man decides

To clench his fist

It becomes impossible

To resist.

Rubble and dust

Rubble and dust.

The whole world runs on greed and lust.

A game of power;

Flex of meat;

Callously cruel;

Shrapnel and heat

Putin’s gamble;

Existential threat;

Where’s it going?

Place your bet!!

Rubble and dust

Rubble and dust.

The whole world runs on greed and lust.

Opher 5.3.2022

Power is corruption.

Putin lives in his palace with full control of millions. His generals quake before him. The Czars of the past would have recognised him as one of theirs.

Yet power and greed have no limits.

Paranoia builds.

There is always a threat. Lots of similar psychotic minds want what he has.

Do not fool yourself that it is any different where you live. Trump, Johnson, Modi or Erdogan, Bolsonaro or Macron; they are part of the same elite, tools and puppets with power.

Power corrupts.

They want more!!