Author Archives: thesewalkingboots

About thesewalkingboots

I left my job in favour of adventure and reflection. I have no idea where this journey will take me, or what I hope to find. This is about exploring!

Hope in motion – #ride4inclusion

On the 6th of March 2016, Mike and I will embark on the challenge of completing the 109km Cape Town Cycle Tour. We will be clad in the colours of the Chaeli Campaign, an organisation  dedicated to “mobilising the minds and bodies of children with disabilities.”


The Chaeli Campaign was founded in 2004 by five young friends who wanted to raise funds for a motorised wheelchair for co-founder Michaela Mycroft. The organization continues to strive to promote and provide for the mobility and educational needs of disabled children in South Africa.

Among her many achievements, in 2011, Chaeli was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize and continues to inspire people around the world. This year, she was featured in Season III of 21 Icons.

In choosing to cycle for the Chaeli Campaign this year, part of our challenge is to raise funds for the Chaeli Campaign, and we need your help! We’re appealing to our communities to sponsor our ride by making donations to the Chaeli Campaign. If you would like to be part of our #ride4inclusion campaign, please scroll down to find out how you can make a donation, or simply show your support by using the following Twitter handles and hashtags:tweet

#ride4inclusion        @ChaeliCampaign        @mikehathorn
@walking_boots      @CTCycleTour                #CycleTour2016

Sponsor our #ride4inclusion

There are three payment methods. Please send us an email with the amount and your physical address if you would like to receive a tax certificate for your donation.

  1. Direct EFT (old school)

Account Name:                  The Chaeli Campaign
Bank:                                     Standard Bank
Branch:                                 Blue Route
Branch Code:                      025 609
Account Number:             076 674 150
Reference:                           1618 and your name (i.e. 1618 J. Smith)

     2.  Snapscan (new school)

If you have the Snapscan app you can scan this QR code and use the reference below.


Reference:                          1618 and your name (i.e. 1618 J. Smith)

  1. Givengain (international school)

International donations may be made via Givengain:

Reference:                          1618 and your name (i.e. 1618 J. Smith)


Face Your Abyss

Life doesn’t stop when you travel; your light and your dark follow you as you move, and as much as you might try to purge yourself of all evidence of a former self, if you don’t confront your dark places honestly, you will simply be running away from you.

So travel. Face your abyss. You might discover beautiful things in the darkness.

Photographs from the Phong Nha and Thiên Đường Caves near Dong Hoi, Vietnam. 

Dong Hoi Caves, These Walking BootsDong Hoi Caves, These Walking Boots Dong Hoi Caves, These Walking BootsDong Hoi Caves, These Walking BootsDong Hoi Caves, These Walking BootsDong Hoi Caves, These Walking BootsDong Hoi Caves, These Walking BootsDong Hoi Caves, These Walking BootsDong Hoi Caves, These Walking BootsDong Hoi Caves, These Walking BootsDong Hoi Caves, These Walking BootsDong Hoi Caves, These Walking Boots

You Like-a Boom-Boom?

Clutching a ticket for the night train headed south, I stood outside the hostel in the dim evening light and said goodbye to the friends I had made in Hanoi.

Adam worked at the hostel, and had just arrived on the back of a Vietnamese man’s motorbike. They shook hands like friends, so I asked Adam if he’d arrange for this man to drive me to the train station. I hopped on to the back of his motorbike and waved a final adieu as we tucked into the tangled traffic.

“You and Adam make-a boom-boom?” he asked me over bubbling the noise of the engine.

“Excuse me?”

“You and Adam make-a boom-boom?” this time with pelvic thrusting.

Ah, he was asking if I had had sex with Adam. A standard kind of enquiry. What?!

“No, we’re just friends,” I answered, trying to hide my indignation, pretending I wasn’t completely taken aback by his brazen vulgarity. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, I thought.

“You like-a boom boom?”

What do I say? “Um, that’s a very personal question,” by now, starting to giggle a little bit.

“I like-a boom-boom,” pelvic thrusting again. Oh my gosh!

I’m not sure if I was trying to divert the conversation, or spark some sense of responsibility in the man’s mind; I asked, “Do you have a wife?”

“Yes, but make-a boom-boom many women,” now reaching back and stroking my leg! Shit, wrong question! But at least we had some silence for a little while after that. And then…

“You like a leekie-poosie?” At first I wasn’t sure what I had heard.


“Leekie-poosie.” He turned his head and demonstrated enthusiastically, flapping his tongue about in front of his face like a chameleon with Tourettes, somehow managing to punctuate this terrifying display with a self-congratulatory grin.

“How far is it to the train station?” I asked, timidly.

The Heart of Hanoi

I couldn’t wait to leave Singapore; its sterile streets and overbearing rules had depressed me, and I was in search of a different kind of adventure.

Before I knew it, I was standing on the side of the road beside the Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, waiting for a gap in the thick flood of traffic so that I could cross – and slowly, like water climbing to a boil, it dawned on me that I had found the sweet disorder that I had been craving. I had landed myself in its centre. I was going to have to enter this amoebic mass of vehicles, to become part of it, and then to emerge from it a new person.

Hanoi traffic, These Walking BootsHanoi street scene, These Walking Boots

Hanoi is a vascular system; a complex twist of narrow streets and tangled wires, walled by the looming romance of crumbling French facades. Scooters flow staccato through the city’s veins and arteries, from a throbbing heart somewhere nearby. There are no interludes, there is no order, but there is synergy. Beautiful synergy.Hanoi traffic, These Walking BootsHanoi traffic, These Walking Boots

The pavements in the Old Quarter are not for pedestrians. Shops spill out onto the road, rows of scooters stand stationary on the sidewalk, and street-food vendors somehow preserve for themselves sacred little spaces amid the chaos. The streets ooze at the edges and pulsate in the middle. You have to have a new kind of spatial awareness to survive it.Hanoi traffic, These Walking Boots

Always lost; overwhelmed by the city’s unyielding onslaught, and never able to take it all in, I was in love with Hanoi. I moved, purposeless, through its streets; at first trying to gain some kind of traction and then gradually, finally letting go, simply absorbing. The colourful disorder fed my soul, and the contrast of my solitude against the unrelenting chaos became my quietest comfort in the heart of Hanoi.Hanoi street scene, These Walking BootsHanoi street scene, These Walking Boots

Tiong Bahru: everybody’s welcome

When I go to an upmarket city like Singapore, I’m less interested in visiting the world class shopping districts or experiencing the shiny Singapore Flyer, or any other high class tourist attractions as I am in getting as close to tasting local life as I possibly can. I struck gold when I hopped off the subway at Tiong Bahru, following a recommendation from The Culture-ist which described it as a suburb “where Singaporean ‘Aunties’ shop at the market for durian, ‘Uncles’ chow down on a bowl of Bak kut teh and their hipster twenty-something kids sip on a latte around the corner at 40 Hands”. I had to see it.

I started my tour with a walk through the Tiong Bahru Market, which is a smorgasbord of fresh produce, seafood and meats, cheap clothing, plants and cut flowers. The Culture-ist was quite right, I saw several Aunties there, shopping for their week’s supply of durian or their two bananas. It has a very local feel about it, not in the least bit pretentious.


I slipped out onto the street to find said latte. I had hoped to sit on the street outside the Tiong Bahru Bakery and do a little people watching, but my plan was thwarted by its sheer popularity on a Saturday morning. And it’s no wonder; the offerings are delectable, and the atmosphere magnetic. So instead, I slunk sheepishly away, coffee and croissant in hand, to find a shady step to sit on. Not very glamorous. Being around hipsters always makes me feel ultra un-cool. At least there are lots of old people in Tiong Bahru; sometimes I feel more at home around the aged anyway.


There really are loads of little hipster handouts and shops in the area; cafes, bars, speciality book stores and even a male grooming parlor. That’s when you know. But they are indeed refreshingly interspersed amongst old school Chinese eateries and tea shops. It’s a pretty cool confluence of old and new.


Tiong Bahru is a residential suburb. The low rise, “International Style” blocks were built between 1948 and 1954 to provide extra housing after WWII. They provides a stark contrast to the typical high rise apartment buildings that characterize Singapore’s public housing. With so much construction and reconstruction happening in Singapore, this little bubble of architectural history is rare, as is the leafy atmosphere between the buildings. The suburb feels a bit like a university campus. It made me realise how much I appreciate the large gardens and big open spaces I enjoyed growing up.



20131202-131224.jpgA new apartment building going up just around the corner from Tiong Bahru