Travel Stories

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Kyongju, South Korea: The Sleep of the Just

29 Dec 2013    1

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

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei: The Sultanate of Slow

25 Dec 2013    1

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

Vancouver, Canada: Sex and the City

15 Dec 2013

The bar-cum-restaurant in Vancouver's trendy Yaletown district was a sports shirt and sunglasses kind of place. At the outdoor tables office workers took off their jackets, and a few groups of tourists carrying shopping bags of their purchases sat down to enjoy the afternoon sun and the excellent beer. Both men at the table next to me were in their 30s. They were well-groomed, neatly... > Read more

Dover, England: Just passing through

25 Nov 2013

For generations of tourists and travelers, Dover – half of the year within sight of France just 35 kilometers away across the Channel – was the town that never was. Hardly more than a name on the map where boats came in or departed from, Dover was a place glimpsed in the memory's rearview mirror or seen across a blanket of water and spray as clusters of buildings huddled... > Read more

Essaouira, Morocco: The world according to Muhammed

10 Nov 2013    1

The words most travelers hear in certain countries, and understandably shy away from, come from street people or those with something to sell who ask, “Where you from?” But in Morocco you need to be wary of waving people away, even street vendors carrying stuff you have spent all your life avoiding, because many locals seem genuinely curious and want a conversation. So... > Read more

Colonia, Uruguay: So pretty, so mundane

2 Nov 2013

Excluding the journey by boat from Buenos Aires (an hour each way), the time difference with Argentina (another hour) and queuing for tickets then Custom’s clearance (yet another hour), our “day” in Uruguay came down to little more than six hours, some of which involved embarking and disembarking at both ends. However, I feel confident enough to offer an in-depth... > Read more

Mumbai, India: A day in Bombay; an in-depth report

15 Sep 2013    1

It's a joke of course, ticking off things to see in a day in Mumbai (which many still call Bombay). Here's a city of around 18 million souls where it can take three hours in stop-start traffic to get across “town”. Just a day? But with an English-speaking driver – as cheap as $20, you tip extra, hotels will find one – you can pick off a number of must-see... > Read more

Miami Beach, Florida: Riders on the storm

1 Sep 2013

“This corner here?” says Marty. “These individuals would mostly be dealers or users. Crack mostly. That girl over there, the skinny one? That was her brother, the guy in the red shirt we saw earlier I told you was a dealer. “And this girl here, when she was about 19, her boyfriend used to beat up on her. Now she’s using. What can you say? “Hey,... > Read more

Highway 101; West Coast USA: My way or the highway

25 Aug 2013

Frankly, it doesn’t come much less glamorous than Crescent City in northern California. Fast food outlets encircle our motel and cooking oil hangs heavy in the night air, so I wander the vacant streets. In a nearby bar two overweight, heavily made-up women are impaled on bar stools like meatballs on toothpicks. One tells me they are waiting for something to turn up, and later it... > Read more

Maharashtra state, India: Riding the rail, Part Two

18 Aug 2013    1

It's strange but true: Some of the most important discoveries of historic sites have been remarkably recent, and have often come about by accident. It's hard to believe, for example, that it wasn't until 50 years ago when a couple of road workers near Laura in northern Queensland decided to climb a hill for a bit of a look-around . . . and discovered Aboriginal rock painting dating... > Read more

Niue, South Pacific: A whole lot of lovely nothing

18 Aug 2013

There is a truism about travel: Get up early rather than stay out late. That way you see the people, village or city starting to go about its daily life. In the early morning – rather better than through 2am beer-goggles – you can more closely connect with the world you have dropped in t. The fact is though, there's not a lot that would keep you out late on the wonderfully... > Read more

Savannah, Georgia: Midday in the Gardens

11 Aug 2013

Mary's words float, wisps of cloud in this hot Georgia afternoon. She speaks in a charming, slow drawl, her voice rarely rising with inflection. We walk through Columbia Square in the old heart of Savannah where Spanish moss hangs like whispers from dogwood trees. "Now, we had a gennel-man down he-ya one tahm recently," she says, her words dragging like slow woodsmoke in the... > Read more

Holly Springs, Mississippi: A Little Less Conversation

28 Jul 2013

Holly Springs in north Mississippi has some interesting historic attractions. Probably. I wouldn't know. I didn't bother looking for them. Holly Springs is a bit out of the way even if you happen to be in the state, but this picturesque town -- which apparently changed hands 62 times during the Civil War -- is a useful midpoint on the Elvis Trail between his birthplace in Tupelo... > Read more

I Was the One

Southeast England: Rye, wry and makes you cry

7 Jul 2013

While in Winchelsea in south east England, I went to pay my respects to Spike Milligan at his grave in St Thomas' churchyard. Unfortunately, Spike was out. More correctly, his famously funny headstone had been taken away – they left Spike down there – because, when his third wife Shelagh Sinclair was buried beside him June 2011, her family wanted her name and dates added to... > Read more

Morocco: You want nuts with that?

23 Jun 2013

So you will be seeing the goats in the trees, said the man in the marketplace. I laughed because I'd clearly misheard. I thought he'd said, “goats in the trees”. The other man patting a pile of bright yellow spice back into an attractive pyramid stopped and turned to me, “Oh yes, there will be goats up in the trees. You will see them, I guarantee.”“You... > Read more

Maharashtra state, India: Riding the rail

9 Jun 2013

In the historic, temple-filled and rather wealthy Indian city of Kolhapur a couple of hours north of Goa there's a glimpse of a past which is appealingly distant but also curiously contemporary. The day I arrive at the New Palace – an imposing 150-year old building in the Indo-Gothic style commanding spacious grounds – it is the day of the famously crazy and colourful Holi... > Read more

Canterbury, England: Murder and more in the cathedral

25 May 2013

So the murder was good for business then, Mike?“It was the biggest cash cow the cathedral had known,” laughs Mike Evans, one of the guides at Canterbury Cathedral, the spiritual home of the Anglican Church and where Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170. Evans, who retired from a sales career in London and returned to his childhood home of Canterbury some years ago, mixes... > Read more

Canterbury, England: Some different tales, bear with me

17 Feb 2013

Although the famous cathedral is rightly considered the physical and emotional centre of Canterbury in England, the historic old town holds other delights and diversions, especially if you are there with children who might not see the point of dead people made of stone and really big stained glass windows. And, after a few hours of peering at strange inscriptions about people we never... > Read more

Essaouira, Morocco: Light at the end of the day

6 Jan 2013    1

He was offering cakes, small dry round things which looked pretty unappetizing, but that wasn't what he was really selling. After the tray had been presented and I'd waved it away, with a flash of his hand he opened his palm and whispered urgently, “You want?” There, in a tight dark ball, was a lump of hashish. In earlier times we might have done the deal, but these days .... > Read more

Kunming, China: The song of the stones

16 Dec 2012

At one point Lily, our guide from the Yi people -- a prominent ethnic group in this area of southwest China – stops as we visitors negotiate our way through the surreal formations of the famous Stone Forest near the city of Kunming. As the four of us stand beneath sky-pointing fingers of blue-grey rock, Lily says this area is the traditional home of her Yi people (pronounced... > Read more