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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Morocco: A practical guide

Morocco: A practical guide

The deserts and mountains of Morocco have seen a bewildering array of oddities: Egyptian zombies; Carrie, Samantha and the other Sex and the City gals traipsing through the sand; Jesus tortured and flecked with blood; a time-travelling highlander from Scotland trying to return home; a rather camp Alexander the Great . . . But more interesting than these – characters from movies... > Read more

21 Sep 2014

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Live it like a local

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Live it like a local

The view across Kuala Lumpur at sunset from here – 35 storeys up – is spectacular. Over there, glistening gold in the last sun-flecked flickers of this typically humid day, is the chandelier-like Petronas Towers which are the most obvious eye-catchers. But in any direction the cityscape of office blocks, apartments, domes of mosques and distant hills seem gloriously romantic... > Read more

31 Aug 2014

Far North Queensland, Australia: The writing's on the wall

Far North Queensland, Australia: The writing's on the wall

If you're heading south on the Mulligan Highway from Cooktown in Australia's Far North and turn off onto Shiptons Flat Rd towards Lion's Den Hotel, chance are you're going to the Lion's Den Hotel. Because beyond that the road is an endurance test unless you have a four-wheel drive, an iron constitution able to withstand the rugged terrain and nerves of steel when you come to the Jump Up... > Read more

17 Aug 2014

Buntal, Sarawak: The small things in life

Buntal, Sarawak: The small things in life

If they were brutally honest, most people would concede there's not a lot to recommend the small fishing village of Buntal in Sarawak, about 20 minutes drive from the capital city of Kuching. Understandably then the place is not on many people's radar and even just an amble around its few streets reveals a small, clean town with a nice mosque and some quaint little houses tucked away,... > Read more

10 Aug 2014

India: A nation on steel wheels

India: A nation on steel wheels

Look through any window . . . For the past couple of decades I've taken a quick and unfiltered photo out the window of every room I've stayed in, if there's been a window. The views are inevitably varied: a dramatic sweep of deserted beach in remote Australia; car-clogged streets in China; and a filthy brick wall in filthy rich Brunei. Traveling by train in India meant every day... > Read more

Thiruneeril

6 Jul 2014

Maharashtra state, India: The Taj Mahal that isn't

Maharashtra state, India: The Taj Mahal that isn't

Among the many thousands of photos taken of the late Princess Diana a few stand out, mostly for the weight of emotional meaning imposed on them. One of the most notable – taken on her 1992 trip to India with her husband Charles while their marriage was in tatters – shows her seated alone and pensive at the Taj Mahal. Here, at the great monument of the... > Read more

Oru Magumai Nindru

28 Jun 2014

Niue, South Pacific: Front seat storyteller

Niue, South Pacific: Front seat storyteller

About 90 minutes into our drive around the island – during which he has kept up a running commentary full of digressions into local history and politics, fishing, geology and much more -- Hima Douglas happens to mention he was once assistant finance minister in the Niue government. Then he laughs and says, “Now you're going to ask what I haven't bloody been!”... > Read more

29 May 2014

Niue, South Pacific: Paradise with a smile

Niue, South Pacific: Paradise with a smile

As with most people, I neither want, nor expect, to be held up at Immigration. But on Niue – a charming, tiny tropical dot of elevated limestone in the Pacific about three hours from Auckland – I was stopped. For a chat. Niue is different like that. In the Customs and Immigration hall musicians and dancers greet family, friends and guests, and at Immigration the big guy... > Read more

11 May 2014

South East England: What's the deal with Deal?

South East England: What's the deal with Deal?

The chatty lady at the Canterbury Tales Museum is surprised when I tell her where I'm going after leaving historic Canterbury with its famous cathedral and fascinating history which starts at pagan Britain and moves through Roman occupation. “Deal?” she says. “What do you want to go there for? There's nothing at Deal, love.” She's not the first to express... > Read more

11 May 2014

Stockholm, Sweden: If the spirit moves you

Stockholm, Sweden: If the spirit moves you

The song on the sound system couldn't have been more appropriate. Or more inappropriate. Playing quietly in the restaurant-cum-bar is the Pogues' boozy and woozy Fairytale of New York which may seem appropriate in Stockholm's Museum of Spirits which documents Sweden's encounters with alcohol. But in the elegantly designed room where patrons dine on beautifully prepared dishes and... > Read more

27 Apr 2014

Jordan: The country at the crossroads of history

Jordan: The country at the crossroads of history

Far below us a camel train makes its way slowly across the bone-dry dirt of the valley floor carrying its precious cargo. In times past this burden would have meant silk, spices, fruits and pottery from distance places. But today, here at the ruins of Petra in southern Jordan – where the Nabatean civilisation pre-dated their Roman conquerors in this long hidden place – the... > Read more

20 Apr 2014    1

River Jordan, Jordan: The land where saints and profits walk

River Jordan, Jordan: The land where saints and profits walk

On this bright morning when a barely visible film of rain evaporates before it hits the dry desert floor, the River Jordan – down the long path past the empty Pepsi stand – is an unremarkable sight. Today this river – which runs between Israel and Palestine to the west, Jordan to the east, and through the pages of religious history – is little more than a... > Read more

30 Mar 2014

Niue, South Pacific: The world according to Tony

Niue, South Pacific: The world according to Tony

There's a simple phrase for what Tony Aholima does. It's "sustainable living", but for him it's more complex than that. As a young man he left his homeland, spent three years in New Zealand, then moved to Australia. As best as I can understand it between the laughter and sudden bouts of homegrown philosophical seriousness, he ran a company and employed quite a few... > Read more

9 Mar 2014    1

Madrid, Spain: Our man in Madrid

Madrid, Spain: Our man in Madrid

Over the last drink in our night of bar-hopping James mentions in passing the reason why you always see food visible in Madrid's bars. “It goes back to when people were illiterate so couldn't read a menu,” he says. And then later as we are walking the busy streets of Latina at 1.30am he drops another piece of relevant information. That at the time of the Spanish Civil... > Read more

6 Mar 2014

Belvedere Estate, Republic of Ireland: When families fall out

Belvedere Estate, Republic of Ireland: When families fall out

When posh people fell out in the old days they often did it with a grand statement. Not for them cutting up the clothes or taking a key along the side of the car. They went for the big gesture -- at least Robert Rochfort, later to become the very nasty first Earl of Belvedere in County Westmeath in Ireland, did. When he and his wife Mary, the mother of his four children, split... > Read more

1 Mar 2014

Dover, England: History in the rear view mirror

Dover, England: History in the rear view mirror

Deep in the dark belly of Dover Castle – from which on a clear day you can see France just 35kms away – there is a place forever on the cusp of war. Down here is where the voice of a shaky Neville Chamberlain tells the British people they are now in mortal conflict with Germany, then there is King's famous speech and Sir Winston Churchill's bulldog rumble. I... > Read more

16 Feb 2014

Hobart, Tasmania: Where the past is present

Hobart, Tasmania: Where the past is present

On the foreshore of Sullivan's Cove – the tourist hub of Hobart, Tasmania's capital – is a collection of interesting bronze statues. The largest is of a man holding aloft a wind-blown flag, his other hand patting a dog at his side, and they are posing before an old squeeze-box style camera on a tripod. This heroic figure – whipped by spray in winter, burned by... > Read more

16 Feb 2014

Cairns, Queensland: Getting away from it all

Cairns, Queensland: Getting away from it all

Nah, she said emphatically as our flight descended into Cairns. “I'm in the Atherton Tablelands now. Used to live here. Fifteen years. Got sick of the rat race.” Maybe Cairns – 26 degrees on a cloudless June day when bitterly cold Auckland was being drenched – is hectic in tourist season, but a “rat race”? Traffic moves at an easy pace... > Read more

31 Dec 2013

Kyongju, South Korea: The Sleep of the Just

Kyongju, South Korea: The Sleep of the Just

The middle-aged man was upset I had woken him at the unacceptably early hour of noon. But I guess that's the kind of inconvenience he has to expect if he runs a yogwan, one of the cheap travellers inns in South Korea which are easily identifiable by the sign which is like a U with three wiggly lines coming out the top. I had seen his sign---which represents a bath---as I wandered... > Read more

29 Dec 2013    1

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei: The Sultanate of Slow

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei: The Sultanate of Slow

Short of being accosted by a wild-eyed mariner, I can't say I wasn't warned. “There's a reason why people don't go there,'' barked an e-mail the week before I was due to go: “It's boring!'' Another simply said, “Don't bother''. There sounded little promising about Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei. But I was convinced I knew better. If others said it... > Read more

25 Dec 2013    1