travels in elsewhere

travels in elsewhere Content tagged as travels in elsewhere.

Bako in Sarawak: Monkeys, metaphysics and heavy metal music

Bako in Sarawak: Monkeys, metaphysics and heavy metal music

There are many things you can expect at the famous Bako National Park in Sarawak, some 40 minutes from the capital Kuching by car then a small boat across the river. At Bako you could expect proboscis monkeys, biting ants the length of half a matchstick, the Borneo bearded pigs which are so solid you feel you could throw a saddle on them,...

THOMAS KOHNSTAMM INTERVIEWED: Finding comfort and hell on this Lonely Planet

THOMAS KOHNSTAMM INTERVIEWED: Finding comfort and hell on this Lonely Planet

Some years ago I was invited by Lonely Planet to write for them. This was flattering and exciting, but there was a catch: I would have to undertake a research trip at my own expense and write it up within their strict guidelines. Around the same time the American writer Thomas Kohnstamm was also approached. He abruptly quit his boringly...

THE WEEKENDERS: ADVENTURES IN CALCUTTA edited by ANDREW O'HAGAN

THE WEEKENDERS: ADVENTURES IN CALCUTTA edited by ANDREW O'HAGAN

According to Gunther Grass the sprawling city of Calcutta is like a pile of shit dropped by God. That may or may not be true, but the Maker’s handmaiden, Mother Teresa, confirmed the impression in the minds of many that this was a city of abject misery peopled by the dying and hopelessly infirm. Only a fool would deny Calcutta its...

Sydney, Australia: The Coastal Track

Sydney, Australia: The Coastal Track

To tell the truth, I lied. When The Coastal Track people sent information about their three-day hike through Sydney’s Royal National Park there was a section asking about my fitness. I exaggerated enormously and said I exercised “once a week“. And on the first day when I queried Colin, our guide, about the route he...

Ireland: Ancient stones and pathways

Ireland: Ancient stones and pathways

As an example of Kiwi understatement it was masterful. As he emerging from the 5000 year old tomb, blinking into the bright Irish sunlight, the strapping lad from Taranaki was asked what he thought of it. “Yeah, pretty good, eh?” he said, then strode off purposefully, leaving behind him one of the most ancient and...

Sydney, Australia: Up, up and away

Sydney, Australia: Up, up and away

The American poet William Carlos Williams had an astute and true observation about travel: “I have discovered that most of the beauties of travel are due to the strange hours we keep to see them.” There was certainly some bleary-eyed beauty at Parramatta Park west of Sydney as night wheeled towards a red dawn to the sound of...

Glencoe, Scotland: The past on the wild wind

Glencoe, Scotland: The past on the wild wind

The plaque at the reception of the Clachaig Inn at Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands reads: “No hawkers or Campbells”. It is amusing -- I’m sure Naomi would be welcome should she show up in this beautiful but largely unpopulated region -- but it also reminds you of a fault-line of deep feeling that runs through...

Blue Jeans: Reflections of My Life (1988)

Blue Jeans: Reflections of My Life (1988)

Does anyone buy CDs for their covers? Hmm. I've certainly bought more than a few records (more than a few score at a guess) for the cover art, whether it be funny, bizarre or just plain cool. The reward is that when you play the albums you always find one thing which has been worth it (because, let's face it, you never pay more than $10 for...

Samoa: The Biblical land

Samoa: The Biblical land

Samoa is hardly short of a church. To the casual eye it seems as if each village has its own Catholic, Mormon, Methodist, Assembly of God and whatever else building, many of them are quite breathtaking. And new ones are being built all the time. But high above Apia in Vaoala is the Shrine of the Three Hearts, an enormous, airy and very...

Seoul, South Korea: Now and then Zen

Seoul, South Korea: Now and then Zen

Soo Bool Sunim smiles broadly and asks, “Can you see your own eyes?” This is not a question that has ever occurred to me, but now it becomes troubling as I turn it around in my head, looking for an angle into it, and wondering whether there is an answer at all. Or even if that is really the question. This bewilderment...

London, England: Inglin swings, and more

London, England: Inglin swings, and more

With due respect to Dr Johnson who said, “When a man is tired of London he is tired of life“, he was speaking before the chaos of modern life: Tube delays; pubs with pokie machines and football on the flat screen; young bankers with few lagers in them who think they are East End ‘ard men . . . It’s possible to...

Red Hot Chilli Pipers: Music for the Kilted Generation (Rel Records)

Red Hot Chilli Pipers: Music for the Kilted Generation (Rel Records)

This can be brief, and perhaps something of a consumer warning for those who only scan things. Look very, very carefully at the band name here. Yes, this is Scotland's revenge, a group of rock'n'roll bagpipers (Bagrock by any other name), and if you don't like the sound of the pipes then you should pass by rather quickly. It's a weird...

Various Artists: The Sound of Siam (Soundway)

Various Artists: The Sound of Siam (Soundway)

Increasingly the globe becomes a village -- and the local radio station is broadcasting oldies and archival stuff. Consider the recent excavating of music from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sixties South Africa, Dengue Fever's take on Cambodian psychedelic pop, the Shanghai lounge divas project . . . You sometimes get the sense that in every...

GREAT FESTIVALS; GLOBE TEKKER, a doco series by IAN CROSS (ABC TV)

GREAT FESTIVALS; GLOBE TEKKER, a doco series by IAN CROSS (ABC TV)

This two and a half hour, fast-paced doco is edited down from the popular Pilot Guide series in which the presenters (the very funny Ian Wright formerly of the Lonely Planet programme, Justin Shapiro and others) toss themselves into the middle of sometimes strange and remote places and see what happens. The advantage this series has over...

NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU by various directors (Madman DVD)

NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU by various directors (Madman DVD)

This compendium of distinct but sometimes overlapping slice-of-life stories comes from the same production team which presented Paris, Je t'aime. But here, rather neatly, they sidestep picking the most obvious "New York" writer/directors (Scorsese, Woody Allen, Larry David et al) in favour of those who bring a fresh, often immigrant,...

Will Crummer: Shoebox Lovesongs (Ode)

Will Crummer: Shoebox Lovesongs (Ode)

Perhaps because my father-in-law was a member of the short-lived and largely anonymous Sixties band the Samoan Surfriders (one album, a gem, no names on the cover) or maybe because I came to New Zealand from the chillier climes of Scotland, I have always felt a great affection for music of the Pacific. Probably not helped by my dad being in...

U-THEATRE OF TAIWAN: The sound of one drop dripping

U-THEATRE OF TAIWAN: The sound of one drop dripping

On Laochuan Mountain just 20 minutes drive from the motorcycle-clogged and fume-filled streets of Taipei is a remarkable series of open-sided wooden buildings. Part meditation retreat, part cultural centre and part performance space, this is home base for the country's acclaimed U-Theatre. It houses around 20 members who live communally...

Dropkick Murphys: Going Out in Style (Born and Bred)

Dropkick Murphys: Going Out in Style (Born and Bred)

At one level this is another installment of raucous, shot-slamming, singalong rowdiness from Boston's Celtic-punk outfit . . . and in that it is not only effective and enjoyable. It certainly makes you want the bartender to splash another shot of whisky into your jar before you throw an arm around the shoulder of mate and bellow "burn me to...

Dublin, Ireland: Hold your hour and have another

Dublin, Ireland: Hold your hour and have another

The black and white image of the man on the small television screen looks like something from a remote world of more than a century ago: wearing a white shirt, braces to hold up wide flannel pants and heavy work boots, he shaves timber slats into shape, arranges them carefully and then hammers an iron hoop around them. Against the...

THE PENINSULA, HONG KONG: A building through space and time

THE PENINSULA, HONG KONG: A building through space and time

Only a fool would try to suggest that a single building – in this instance, worse, a luxurious hotel – could refract the story of city. But let's be foolish, because the history of the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, and the way we see it today, contains bright flashes of that unique city's history. The first time I saw the...

Various Artists: Watch the Closing Doors (Year Zero/Southbound)

Various Artists: Watch the Closing Doors (Year Zero/Southbound)

This ambitious double disc compilation of New York's musical melting pot (1945-59) by writer Kris Needs – who delivered the free-wheeling collection Dirty Water; The Birth of Punk Attitude – scoops up jazz (Ellington, Armstrong, Mingus), pop (Frankie Lymon), folk (Dave Van Ronk), blues (Sonny Terry, Big Maybelle) and Latin...

Edinburgh, Scotland: Rosslyn Chapel and the Da Vinci Code

Edinburgh, Scotland: Rosslyn Chapel and the Da Vinci Code

Given the straitened British economy you wonder if someone might bend the rules and put the name of the American writer Dan Brown forward for some royal acknowledgement come Queen's Birthday: Services to British tourism perhaps? Brown's blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code – over 83 million copies sold – is single-handedly...

Bali: Turn off your mind . . .

Bali: Turn off your mind . . .

Being a travel writer – as I have sometimes grandly described myself – means never being able to say you're on holiday. Every destination – even the most mundane or local – may hold an experience, a story, or a character you feel compelled to explore and perhaps convey in print. And so I have gone out of my way to...

Edinburgh, Scotland: Lauriston Castle and New Orleans

Edinburgh, Scotland: Lauriston Castle and New Orleans

Although separated by culture and the vast Atlantic Ocean, there is a curious link between the multi-cultural, musical city of New Orleans and an antique-filled castle in a leafy suburb of Edinburgh. Lauriston Castle – more a refined stately home than a castle with cannons – is one of those fascinating places where cultural...

Far North Queensland, Australia: Rock of ages

Far North Queensland, Australia: Rock of ages

By the time we get to the top, and it is only a slight uphill walk for 15 minutes, we are breathless in the dry heat and reaching for our water bottles. Below us the smooth sealed Peninsula Development Road leads south to Cairns some 180km away, but up here on the top of this valley near Laura, where a sign indicated the population was 70,...

Kayenta, Arizona: Into the valley

Kayenta, Arizona: Into the valley

Kayenta is a wide spot on the highway through north east Arizona. There's not much there worth reporting: a Wal-Mart, a small and somewhat pitiful town which shimmers in the dry heat, and a few motels. Kayenta -- between not far from Four Corners where Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico meet -- offers no reason to stop, unless you are...

San Francisco, California: Feeding the inner man

San Francisco, California: Feeding the inner man

He didn't give his name and it didn't matter actually. My guess is he just wanted someone to listen. So I did, and it wasn't a pretty story. It was mid-afternoon on a weekday in the 21 Club, a bar in the rundown Tenderloin district of San Francisco with a handwritten sign which read "No bicycles inside" on the battered glass door....

Austin, Texas: The dream deferred

Austin, Texas: The dream deferred

For a sensitive, gay New York Jew he sure picked a helluva place to live: Texas, the home of rednecks, Stetsons, and chicken-fried steak, that peculiar delicacy which is a perfectly good piece of steak deep fried in thick batter. But Austin in Texas is where David now calls home, and where he runs Summit House, his tastefully decorated,...

Portland, Oregon: A light in the window

Portland, Oregon: A light in the window

Dusk was dropping into night when I saw her. She was on the corner of North Russell and Mississippi in an industrial area of Portland, Oregon. She looked old and slightly painted up when I spotted her near the underpass, but she was inviting with her stories of shanghai-ed sailors and musicians who had taken comfort in her company. So I...

Grimes, California: Tales of the riverbank

Grimes, California: Tales of the riverbank

The fact was, when you walked from the cool, fresh air of the Sacramento River into the restaurant at the RV park you could barely breath for the smell of cooking oil. It coated the tongue and hurt the eyes, and penetrated your clothes instantly. You immediately felt like you had spent a day working over a vat of simmering oil. Emily...

Ko Samet, Thailand: Lonely days

Ko Samet, Thailand: Lonely days

Greg would have been hard to miss in most places, but on the small beach at the southern end of Ko Samet -- a tiny teardrop-shaped island off to the east of Bangkok -- he was impossible to overlook. It wasn't just that he was, shall we say, a large man. Or that he was conspicuously gay. And it wasn't even that he carried the pampered Miss...

Hanoi, Vietnam: Milking it

Hanoi, Vietnam: Milking it

Marcel was so French you could spot it across the cafe. The shrug of the shoulders, the downturn of the mouth and sulking bottom lip, the sleepy eyes and cigarette permanently attached. He was a beret short of a stereotype. It was Hanoi on a hot afternoon when we met, both of us escaping from the sticky humidity. I had been around the city...

Rome, Italy: When in Rome

Rome, Italy: When in Rome

I don't know his name, never did, and it isn't important anyway. Let's call him Big Marco because that's who he looked like. I arrived at Big Marco's small hotel in Rome early one morning having been directed there by a sad-eyed gentleman at the hotel bookings booth in the nearby railway station. I had said all I wanted was a cheap room,...

Nga Trang, Vietnam: He wears my ring

Nga Trang, Vietnam: He wears my ring

Within an hour of us meeting, Mama Thiu was knocking me up for money. Then her brother had a go. It was at Nga Trang in Vietnam and Mama ran a small, outdoor restaurant at the northern end of the gorgeous beach close to the port. Mama's place was near the centre of town but it wasn't a favoured area with tourists who headed for the quieter...

Kakogawa, Japan: Taking the heat

Kakogawa, Japan: Taking the heat

Wisdom is not -- perhaps fortunately - contagious. But of that triumvirate of desires alongside fame and wealth it might be the most valuable and so actually be worth working toward. At the end of the race it might be nice to go out thinking you actually knew a thing or two. Miki-san did. And he also possessed that rarest of gifts, a sense of...

New York, USA: Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning

New York, USA: Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning

Stanley liked to talk but, to be fair, he had a lot to talk about. Stanley -- portly, smiling, intense -- was the manager at New York's famous, notorious even, Chelsea Hotel at 222 West 23rd St. He had inherited the position from his father David Bard who bought it in 1940, and Stanley had grown up in the corridors of this building which...

Mendocino, California: On the road again

Mendocino, California: On the road again

Sal introduced himself in the lounge bar of the Hotel Mendocino in the mellow seaside town about four hours north of San Francisco. "I'm a Ferrari doctor," he said. That figured. The hotel dining room had been fully booked by those on the Mille Miglia, a 1000 mile tour for cars manufactured between 1927 and 1957. The street...

Crescent City, California: Redwoods and dead wood

Crescent City, California: Redwoods and dead wood

So, he said leaning over me in a slightly menacing manner, how do you get to meet people when you travel around? "Just like this,"I said, and the big man looked puzzled. "By coming into a bar, buying a drink and talking with people. Like you." The big man with the bleary look paused just long enough for it to be...

Kolkota, India: A confusion of Nevilles

Kolkota, India: A confusion of Nevilles

He said his name was Stephen and my father and I were too weary to disbelieve him. It was only mid-morning near Kolkota's Dalhousie Square and already we were worn down by the press of hands-out humanity, hucksters and humidity. So when Stephen walked up and introduced himself we just kept on moving. He did the usual persistent questions: Can...

Lubbock, Texas: Lubbock or leave it

Lubbock, Texas: Lubbock or leave it

There comes a time when anyone who travels becomes Blanche Du Bois, the woman in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire who famously said, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers". We might not always be as needy as that faded southern belle -- but when you need help strangers are often the ones you depend on....

Tokyo, Japan: Night cries

Tokyo, Japan: Night cries

The sound of a baby crying in the night is a terrifying thing. The screams go on and on, no one seems to be taking care of it, you look out your window into the darkness but cannot see where the cries are coming from. You feel helpless. My ryokan in Shin-Nakano, a suburb to the west of central Tokyo was perfect -- except at night when I heard...

Flagstaff, Arizona: Night of the hunter

Flagstaff, Arizona: Night of the hunter

Brent was a mountain man. That said, as he sat in the bar of the Monte Vista Hotel in Flagstaff -- drinking what I took to be another of the many whiskies he'd got through before I arrived -- he didn't seem like a Grizzly Adams or Jeremiah Johnson. He looked like woozy, if fit, hardware salesman in town to buy a new line of garden tools. But...

Central Park, New York: Pride of the south

Central Park, New York: Pride of the south

He was at the south-west entrance to Central Park, sitting by himself with a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag on a cool September afternoon. Pride was his name, Pride Wilson from Louisiana but mostly Kentucky. Been in New York maybe five, maybe seven years. We walked into the park where yuppies in expensive workout gear would glide by...

Gold Coast, Australia: The singer not the song

Gold Coast, Australia: The singer not the song

The night we scattered my mother's ashes on the Broadwater at Surfers Paradise where she had lived, Silvio sang to us. I recognised him as soon as we entered Fratelli's restaurant, he had sung to me in another place in Surfers a few years back. The story then as I remember it was that it had been one of his sons' restaurants and Silvio, a...

Mekong Delta, Vietnam: History and its victim

Mekong Delta, Vietnam: History and its victim

Hai was using English again. He'd learned it many years before but it had been beaten out of him. Literally. It was a humid afternoon on a ferryboat on the Mekong when I noticed him through the crowd. He was making his way toward me, his eyes wide with yearning. As with so many Vietnamese he wanted to practice his English, and like so many...

Nye, Oregon: The man who could draw air

Nye, Oregon: The man who could draw air

He introduced himself at breakfast as Hippie Mike -- his business card had a nuclear disarmament sign on it -- and told a story. "One time I walked into this bar with my walking stick, wearing my big hat, and moccasins and the whole place went silent. You could hear a pin drop, man." I believed him. Mike stood two metres...

Hua Hin, Thailand: Heavy metal in Hua Hin

Hua Hin, Thailand: Heavy metal in Hua Hin

The night was noisy, the drinks were free and free-flowing, and this small corner of balmy Thailand seemed like it had been sent down from heaven -- with an endless buffet of European, Chinese, Thai and Japanese dinners. The party at Hua Hin had started just before sunset, the dancers and fashion show came on shortly afterwards, and beneath...

Amsterdam, Holland: Another invisible city

Amsterdam, Holland: Another invisible city

To be honest, to this day I couldn't tell you what it was all about, but I spent the best part of an afternoon trying to figure it out. It was in Amsterdam and I had done all the right art galleries and museums, and had been to one of the hidden churches in the red-light district. Tomorrow I would leave so on this warm afternoon I settled in...

Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville Cats

Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville Cats

The cliche and joke about Nashville, the country music capital of the world, is that every bus driver, real estate agent, waitress and desk clerk is an aspiring songwriter. Spend more than a minute in their company and they will be pressing their demo tape on you just in case you can be useful to their career. I'm not sure what Roger thought...

Guangzhou, China: The sour sound of respect

Guangzhou, China: The sour sound of respect

When you travel to foreign parts it is good to be respectful of local customs, and usually they are common courtesies or pretty obvious: you don't wear shorts or a halter-top to St Peters -- or in various Muslim states -- and you should always take your headgear off (or put something on, depending on the faith) when you enter a place where...

Sydney, Australia: I'll be back. Or not.

Sydney, Australia: I'll be back. Or not.

My recollection is this, that after having interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger for some ludicrous and subsequently unsuccessful movie I went back to my room overlooking Sydney Harbour and read the booklet about my expensive hotel's many merits. Among them was a cigar bar and -- having talked cigars with Arnie -- I decided this might be a nice...

Guam: Lost in the outposts of America

Guam: Lost in the outposts of America

The two places I thought I'd never go were Guam, and a Hard Rock Cafe. Guam -- essentially an island-cum-aircraft carrier for the American military in the north west Pacific -- just seemed well off any track, and a Hard Rock Cafe because turning revolution into marketing, with a side order of fries, isn't my idea of progress. As with...

The Dalles, Oregon:  The man who rode the wind

The Dalles, Oregon: The man who rode the wind

We had been at Chuck's bed and breakfast fewer than five minutes -- through the front door into the enormous lounge, into the kitchen and then out past the pool to the back gate -- when I asked him if he wind-surfed competitively. It seemed a fair question. We were standing by his van which had a board strapped to the top, there was...

Miami Beach, Florida: The goofy gunman

Miami Beach, Florida: The goofy gunman

In the fuzzy Polaroid I am standing next to a short, goofy-looking guy with a curly blond Afro. He is holding a multicoloured cocktail. And I have a parrot on my head. It was at a travel industry function in Miami Beach some years ago and representatives of various countries, every American state and dozens of major cities, and many small...

Pompeii, Italy: New days in the old place

Pompeii, Italy: New days in the old place

Alfonso lives in the hills behind Sorrento and is Neopolitan by birth. "But the two places are very different, you know. I don't want to say anything against the Spanish . . ." he says, but the pause is the giveaway. "But when that pope, you know the one maybe 400 years ago, when he came to be pope he appoint a Spanish king...

St Maximin, France: The love of life

St Maximin, France: The love of life

My friend Amanda's reputation -- some might say cheerful notoriety -- is well known around Uzes, a charming medieval town in Provence about 40 minutes north of Avignon. Amanda's village of St Maximin -- 10 minutes outside Uzes and where the writer Jean Racine used to stay -- has visitors and residents from all over the world, and many of them...

Florence, Italy: A long way from Footscray

Florence, Italy: A long way from Footscray

The instructions on how to get to her hotel were quite specific: she said they were located directly opposite Cartier. Which was true, but it might have been equally easy to describe it as being just down the street from the enormous Palazzo Strozzi which dominates this block in central Florence 10 minutes walk from the Major Attractions: the...

Rome, Italy: The only sure thing in life

Rome, Italy: The only sure thing in life

It's all in the odd juxtaposition really. Just off the Piazza Barberini in Rome with its magnificent Fountain of Triton by Bernini -- and only a short walk from the more famous Trevi Fountain -- is the Autocentri Balduini on Via Vittorio Veneto. In the window glistening Lamborghinis are displayed like shop mannequins in a clothing store....

Florence, Italy: The passing strange parade

Florence, Italy: The passing strange parade

Ever been in a place where everything is the same, but different? Let me illustrate. It was close to midnight in Florence and after a fine dinner I went for a lazy stroll through the lamp-lit streets, then stopped at an outdoor cafe in Piazza della Repubblica for a nightcap of grappa. From across the broad square the distant sound of a...

Southern Thailand: The untreated truth

Southern Thailand: The untreated truth

The bamboo and thatch bungalows on the beach had the feel of a village: the family which owned them lived there, so did the staff of the small restaurant and their extended families, plus a few other unspecified people who came and went every day. I stayed a week or so in this quiet part of an island off Thailand's central east coast,...

The Pacific Ocean: No time to stop and chat

The Pacific Ocean: No time to stop and chat

She was what my mother would have charitably described as "unfortunate". I saw her first on the Promenade Deck as the ship slipped its lines and slowly headed for the open sea. She was standing alone, but even in a crowd she would have been hard to miss: overweight, in her 30s at a guess, her dark hair pulled tight at the temples...

Dallas, Texas: The shots heard around the world

Dallas, Texas: The shots heard around the world

A simple wrong turn and the pressure of traffic forced us to carry on down the road, looking for an exit. But then, through a set of traffic lights, we were there. "This it," I shouted. "Look. This is it." I drove on as slowly as the urgent traffic would allow but we looked around at the slow dip and curve of the...

Vietnam, China and Elsewhere: First cut is the deepest

Vietnam, China and Elsewhere: First cut is the deepest

Much in the way that I always take a photograph out of the window of any room I stay in when I travel (if there is a window, and often there hasn't been), it has also been a habit of mine to have a shave in a country I am passing through. It's always an interesting experience and, if a cut-throat razor is involved as it often is, then a very...

Rome, Italy: The healing doll

Rome, Italy: The healing doll

There are few churches in Rome more interesting, or more overlooked, than Santa Maria in Aracoeli, tucked in beside the famous Vittoriano, the massive white monument which dominates Piazza Venezia and looks like an old Olivetti typewriter. But walk up a very steep flight of old steps and after a wheezing climb you enter one of the more...

Fiji to Vancouver and beyond: My life lovin' friends: Parts One and Deux

Fiji to Vancouver and beyond: My life lovin' friends: Parts One and Deux

Part One: Travel isn't usually conducive to long-term friendships. Any fork in the road can mean you and your new-found companions may part company, paths never to cross again. Which made is such a rare pleasure that I have seen Bob and Mary (from then-Vancouver and now-Victoria BC) a couple of times since we first met on a cruise around...

Perth, Western Australia: Journey to the end of the world

Perth, Western Australia: Journey to the end of the world

For many years I thought Perth was in Western Australia. Then I went there. My recollection is this: up at around 5am to get a taxi to the airport to wait two hours before departure, three hours to Melbourne or Sydney or wherever it was to wait another two hours before the five hour flight to Perth. It seemed to take a couple of days to get...

Sydney, Australia: High, wild and gone

Sydney, Australia: High, wild and gone

Frank was never going to make old bones. He was an Aussie wide-boy and after a wild, suburban youth and service in Vietnam he'd returned to Sydney and become a stuntman. He was stocky, but larger than any room he occupied. His speaking voice terrified children and his raucous laugh set off car alarms, but he was gentle with his young...

Thailand and Vietnam: Things have changed

Thailand and Vietnam: Things have changed

Good news came by e-mail: Raymond is in touch again. The last time I saw him was a year ago when he was managing a luxury hotel in Thailand's Golden Triangle. He was a young and handsome Swiss guy who had the world's best job: making sure the lodge ran smoothly, tasting imported wines, being nice to nice wealthy people, eating beautiful food,...

Rarotonga: A moment in the frame

Rarotonga: A moment in the frame

Every now and again -- if we are really lucky -- we realise we are in that postcard perfect world we have lingered over in the pages of glossy magazines, but images which we persuade ourselves only the combination of weather, a talented photographer and PhotoShop could allow to exist. But then, suddenly, there we are. We are the person just...

Taipei, Taiwan: Red room for a blue man

Taipei, Taiwan: Red room for a blue man

I wish I could remember the name of the place so I could recommend it -- but then again, maybe it's best I can't. I had spent a tiring week travelling around Taiwan by myself, negotiating train timetables and ticket offices, and finding hotels, temples and places to eat. By the time I got back to Taipei where I could count on a tiny bit of...

Baton Rouge, Louisiana: The Kingfish in his kingdom

Baton Rouge, Louisiana: The Kingfish in his kingdom

The bullet holes from the shoot-out are still there. It's a narrow corridor so you can imagine what the gunplay must have been like: shots echoing around, one man falling from his wounds and the other shot dead, the shouting and clack of heels resonating off the marble floor . . . Today of course all is quiet, just a few people getting in...

Samoa, USA: What's in a name

Samoa, USA: What's in a name

The mere name of a place can act like a magnet for the curious traveller -- and not just those evocative and familiar ones like Paris, Barcelona, Beirut or Beijing which have been burned into us since childhood. But when you finally get to such familiar places they can look . . . well, pretty familiar. Years of watching movies set in them,...

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