Travel Stories

Some of Graham's travel stories with an emphasis on odd destinations, or a different view of the familiar. Must-see places and some to avoid. and encounters with unusual characters, usually in colourful places in Elsewhere. All stories copyright Graham Reid.

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Dubai International Airport: Aww mama, can this really be the end . . .

3 Sep 2016  |  5 min read  |  3

If a bug no bigger than a pinhead flying into your mouth is a memorable moment in your day, then your short time on this earth is being frittered away needlessly. Such a bug flew into my mouth as I needlessly frittered away a precious day. Only a crazy person would want to spend 24 hours in an airport, even a fancy one. But by circumstance then choice, that's what I did in Dubai... > Read more

Singapore: Drinking with an angel

22 May 2016  |  2 min read

It's always a pleasure — and sometimes even necessary given the humidity — to just plonk down in one of those cheap street-corner eateries in Singapore and take in the passing parade of diverse humanity over a cold bottle of Tiger beer. But sometimes you might want for ambience which is a little more classy . . . and for that you need Divine, a huge bar (maybe half the size... > Read more

Stockholm, Sweden: Full moon party with a wind-chill factor

10 Apr 2016  |  2 min read

Just before 7.30pm at Koh Phangan the kitsch fairy lights wound around the trees and handrails of the bungalows start to flicker. Suddenly there is an enormous clap of thunder overhead, a terrified two-year old runs back from watching fish in the little stream to cling to Mum and everywhere people are visibly startled. Then there is another, even deeper but slightly more distant,... > Read more

McCloud, California: You are what you eat

26 Mar 2016  |  4 min read

This is just an opinion: but nowadays it seems more difficult to find a really bad meal than a good one. That is unless you are in McCloud, a small town at the base of photogenic Mount Shasta in northern California. McCloud isn't on too many tourists' agendas---it is well off the highways and seems to be at the end of long dead-end road---and that is probably just as well if the kitchen... > Read more

Rarotonga, Cook Islands: Clocking Off

22 Mar 2016  |  3 min read

At 3.20 in the afternoon the clock on the bus taking us from the airport to the hotel reads 9.07. This could be an early and welcome sign that things here in the Cook Islands -- as in most such balmy places in the Pacific -- run to a different clock. And so it proves a few hours later when I am sitting in the bar at cocktail hour. The hotel is heavily booked so we have been... > Read more

Jerash, Jordan: A city of goats and ghosts

22 Jan 2016  |  3 min read

The Bedouin boy smacks a stick on a bleached rock and his small herd of goats, alarmed, leap forward a few metres then begin again fossicking for weeds and tufts of grass in this parched landscape. As the late afternoon sun creates long shadows and the blue sky turns a watery orange, you might wonder how often – over thousands of years – this same scene has been acted out... > Read more

Newcastle, Australia: Whiskey and taxidermy

31 Dec 2015  |  3 min read

When I was told the bar-cum-restaurant was speakeasy-themed that seemed enticing enough, but then it had three other attributes which were beguiling: it “specialises in fine whiskey, taxidermy and provisions of the Europas” the note said. Dunno 'bout you, but they had me at “taxidermy”. And when I mentioned I was keen to check out a particular bar to the... > Read more

Newcastle, Australia: Walking on sunshine

19 Dec 2015  |  4 min read

It's only when you get to Newcastle – which few New Zealand tourists do – that you're impressed by it. As I learned, this is the Australian coastal city – about 90 minutes drive north of Sydney – which gave the world coal and steel, Arnott's biscuits and the rock band silverchair. I also didn't know the famous Star Hotel – which closed with a riot in... > Read more

Melbourne, Australia: Little photos, big stories

6 Dec 2015  |  4 min read

Barely two minutes walk from furiously busy Flinders Street Station in central Melbourne is an extraordinary sixth floor museum which few locals know about. And even fewer visitors to the city. “Amazing, isn't it?” says Andrew Gaynor when we get back down to Bourke Street afterwards. “I didn't know about it myself until 18 months ago.” And if anyone might... > Read more

Central Coast New South Wales, Australia: Killing care on the road

27 Sep 2015  |  4 min read

About halfway across, when traffic slows to a fume-filled crawl, I glance sideways to see the city's most famous icon. And it occurs to me this is the first time in three decades I've been across Sydney Harbour Bridge. As the Opera House falls behind I also realise I don't have a clue where I'm heading – north is all I know – but that somewhere up ahead will be the luxury... > Read more

Buenos Aires, Argentina: Days of Heaven

19 Sep 2015  |  3 min read

There’s a typewriter in Heaven. I’ve seen it -- and for me, who has spent a good part of my life tapping on a keyboard, this was a depressing discovery. I’d thought Heaven, if I got there, would mean happy-hour all day and my favourite bands playing every night. Seems it’s going to be Groundhog Day at an old Underwood instead, not even a laptop with... > Read more

India, Outside the Window

16 Jul 2015  |  9 min read  |  1

The three hatchet-faced young men behind the desk at the upmarket hotel made it clear by their haughty indifference they didn't want us there. And frankly -- impressive as their vast, luxurious, light-filled but conspicuously empty lobby was -- I didn't want to be there either. But they were stuck with us. And we were stuck with them in a place which was allegedly Goa . . .... > Read more

Everywhere Elsewhere: These are grave matters

27 Jun 2015  |  3 min read

Last year another of those annoying e-mail arrived, and it wasn't offering subsequent riches from Nigeria. It seems some years ago I subscribed to a newsletter from the Jimi Hendrix estate – and you'd be surprised how much on-going news there is about a man who's been dead for more than 40 years. There are limited edition reissues of albums on vinyl, live concerts remastered... > Read more

Erina, Central Coast Australia: Bottling up the passion

7 Jun 2015  |  3 min read

When a micro-brewery is called Six String and the company logo is a guitar pick you do feel slightly stupid having to ask. “Ah, that’s my business partner Chris,” says amiable Ryan Harris. “He plays six string bass.” Which also explains the tiny stage set up in their small brewery-cum-bar in Erina, just 80km north of Sydney. Opened in 2012, the Six... > Read more

Central Coast NSW, Australia: Just drive, he said

29 Mar 2015  |  3 min read

When you've signed the waivers, strapped on the helmet and given the thumbs-up to eight hearty young men who are raring to go, you can't really put your hand up when the instructor asks, “Is anyone afraid of heights?” In truth, I'm not. Going to top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – 124 floors – was one of the highpoints of my life, literally. And when someone... > Read more

Madrid, Spain: Hello, sailors

28 Feb 2015  |  2 min read  |  1

Just five minutes walk from the inevitable queues of art enthusiasts and the curious outside the Prado and across the road from the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza which is chock full of classic and contemporary art is another, quite remarkable but less known Spanish museum. It contains among other treasures the oldest existing map, drawn around 1500, which shows the Americas, North and... > Read more

Mumbai, India: When terror called on the Taj

10 Feb 2015  |  3 min read

In many places – notably around the higher end hotels which accommodate foreign tourists, and at popular attractions – Mumbai is a city on lazy high alert. The apparent languor and good humour of many security guards and police doesn’t change the fact most are armed with seriously powerful weapons, stand before impassable barricades and usher people through scanners... > Read more

Buenos Aires, Argentina: A users' guide

12 Dec 2014  |  5 min read

The bronze statue in the museum towers over us. It is twice life-size and the national hero has a hand on his heart, his eyes looking to the distance. At his feet are the faithful, young and old, gathered reverently or taking photographs. In another place, this statue might honour a military leader, statesman or great poet. But here in a museum of futbol (soccer), in the... > Read more

Kuching, Sarawak: A welcome return to cat city

1 Nov 2014  |  4 min read

When the explorer and entrepreneur James Brooke sailed up the Sarawak River in northern Borneo in 1838, he encountered a small village of local people and, if we believe the legend, an unnaturally large number of short-tailed cats. At this point in our story the cats become more important than the people, because the village – which grew into a city of half a million people today... > Read more

Kuching, Sarawak: A clowder of cats, and then some

26 Oct 2014  |  4 min read

I'd just stepped outside into the 36 degree heat and humidity when my phone rang. It was my wife back in New Zealand where the weather was wet and cold. We had a quick chat about various things and then she told me our new cat Otis, described by the SPCA as “a handsome gentleman with a sense of adventure” seemed to be missing me. And had taken to tearing up the furniture.... > Read more