Coping with Covid

Published in Pique Newsmagazine - November 13, 2020

Reflecting on the past nine months and the prospect of what lies ahead resembles a parallel reality. If somebody had shown me a video of life under lockdown when I was 18, I would have thought it a scene from a sci-fi movie. Having lived under lockdown in France for two months and entering a new round this fall, sci-fi has become reality.

Traffic at the windward mark 3.jpg

A funny thing happened at the lake

Published in Pique Newsmagazine - May 17, 2020

I crossed into southern Portugal from Spain's Rosal de la Frontera border and turned northwest to nearby Grande Lago Alqueva. In 2002, Portugal completed the 96-metre-high dam on the River Guadiana, creating Portugal's largest artificial lake.

Busuanga Island, Palawan, Philippines

Coasting the Calamanian Islands

Published in Pique Newsmagazine - April 26, 2020

The "Amihan," a northeast wind that blows from mid-December to mid-April in the Philippines, was howling and massive rollers hammered the Overcomer, an oversized banca boat bound from El Nido, Palawan, to Coron Town, Busuanga. Screams rang through the air with each deluge and the crew worked the hand pumps.

These boats are built light, habitually overloaded—Overcomer was licensed for 40 passengers but carrying 52 today—and crossings can be sketchy, as the record of sinkings confirms.

Promenade des Anglais, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France

Anatomy of a Lockdown

Published in Pique Newsmagazine - March 29, 2020

On Thursday, March 12, the French government announced schools would close the following Monday, crowds over 500 were prohibited, people over 70 were recommended to stay home, yet, for some bizarre reason, voting in municipal elections would go ahead Sunday.

Koh Yao Yai, Thailand

Paddling Panoramic Pha Nga Bay

Published in Pique Newsmagazine - February 29, 2020

Pha Nga Bay National Park is iconic for the dramatic karst limestone landscape and famous for its "hongs" (rooms), entered via cave passages that open to colossal chambers walled by sheer cliffs open to the sky above. Although full of day-tripping tourists, late afternoons and early mornings are conceded to the few yachties and kayakers.

Crossing the river, Laos PDR

In Search of the Ho Chi Minh Trail - Part 1

Published in Pique Newsmagazine - January 19, 2020

The sleepy border town of Tha Khaek, Laos, is best known for the “Loop”, an easy 4-day motorcycle circuit. We were here to rent dirt bikes, find tracks less travelled and seek out the historic Ho Chi Minh Trail for the next three weeks.

In Search of the Ho Chi Minh Trail - Part 2

Published in Pique Newsmagazine - January 26, 2020

Astried’s clutch cable was on its last strand so we found a repair shop and the guy said he would install it. The cable was short so he tried to jury-rig it, but the clutch would not engage. I tinkered with it to get it going while Astried found a shop with a proper cable. We limped over, the boys looked at the crude installation, chuckled, and had the correct cable installed in minutes.

The Gorgeous Gorges of Verdon

Published January 5, 2020

"It's not the destination, it's the journey," or so goes the adage, and there is a kernel of truth in that declaration.

I was behind the wheel of my van, winding through rural southeastern France en route to the Parc naturel regional du Verdon. The Verdon River slices through this part of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence on its descent to the Mediterranean carving an impressive series of canyons that run nearly 25 km and, in places, 700 meters deep.

Paddling Palawan - Part 1

Published August 11, 2019

It was a natural distraction.

I was trying to assemble my Vancouver-made Feathercraft Wisper XP collapsible sea kayak, but my eyes were repeatedly drawn to the implausibly clear, blue-green sea dotted with islands. The Karst limestone outcroppings of panoramic Bacuit Bay exploded from the water to extraordinary heights, demanding attention. My eyes darted from the kayak's frame assembly to another island and back. I could hardly wait to begin the adventure.

Paddling Palawan - Part 2

Published August 18, 2019

The mouth of Malampaya Sound is chock full of rocks and we needed to run the gauntlet between them and a perilous point. As I pondered how best to do this, I watched the local bancas (central dugout-style hulls with two outriggers) run the narrow channel and set course—splitting the crazy currents and the wild waves left little margin for error.

"Follow me and don't stop paddling," I said to my travel companion Ian Taylor ....

Old World Craftsmanship

Published July 14, 2019

The Whistler downhill crowd is no stranger to Finale Ligure, the "Italian Eden of mountain biking," with its picturesque Mediterranean backdrop. It is also home to Oddone Bici, a bike shop that's been in operation for more than 90 years—a true gem, which blends tradition and technology.

Walking in the historic centre of the Italian seaside town, I stumble upon the Oddone Bike Café and am immediately drawn in.

Sea Kayaks & Wild Camping in Thailand

Published in Travelmag, August 31, 2016

Imagine an exotic destination where cyan waters meet cerulean skies. Throw in a handful of downy-white cumulus clouds scudding overhead. Picture dramatic karst limestone outcroppings soaring hundreds of feet vertically from the sea. Add iconic sea gypsies plying the waters in timeless traditional wooden dories.

You have arrived in Pha Nga Bay, Thailand.

Deserted Beaches, Mangrove Forests

Published in Ottawa Outdoors, April 15, 2015

"I can make Kang Khao Island," my paddling partner said. "It's only 15km." We had just rounded the southwestern point on Phayam Island and conditions were good to cross the strong currents of Ratchakrut Channel.

Ian Taylor and I were on our third kayak expedition - this place is hard to shake - down 600 km of Thailand's western coast in 22 days.

Remote Ranong, Thailand

Published in Paddling Magazine, April 18, 2014

Remote Ranong is typified by the extensive mangrove estuaries of Ranong Biosphere Reserve and Khlong Kapoe. Offshore, a couple dozen islands are scattered along the coast and a large portion is designated national park.

 

Access is difficult from land. From the sea, everything is possible and this is where you encounter virgin stretches of barren beach.

Brent Bateman's Asian Canoe Building Business

Published in Paddling Magazine, September 3, 2008

No loon call from the middle of Khao Laem Lake as Brent Bateman slips his canoe into the water and pushes off toward the Buddhist temple across the lake.

Sangkhlaburi is a Thai frontier town near the border of Myanmar, also known as The Country Formerly Known As Burma. It’s full of Burmese refugees, Buddhist temples and soldiers—not the place you would expect to find someone launching a Prospector canoe; let alone a canoe-building business.

Sunset Paddle

Published in Thai Surfrider Magazine, May 31, 2011

Matt Morch takes a sunset paddle at Aow Yai Beach, Koh Phayam, Ranong, Thailand.

This photo remains one of my favourites in spite of the magazine reversing the image.

© 2021 by Tim Morch

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