Archive | Travel

One thousand little kindnesses

It’s headline news on the BBC when a British tourist, backpacker or student is killed in the Far East, Latin America or Africa. But the good news doesn’t get reported. People warn me about backpacking in foreign countries, full of the fear that prevents them from going to far-off lands. They know that other countries […]

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A first class train ticket to Varanasi

I had booked myself a berth in a first class sleeper compartment for the overnight journey on the Indian railways from New Delhi to Varanasi. But it didn’t work out as I’d planned… My first impressions of India, arriving in New Delhi a few days before, were of the overwhelming noise, the crowds and the […]

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A lump in my throat in Alice Springs

It was the redness of the earth below that impressed me most as the plane descended into Alice Springs. Now I saw vividly why this part of Australia’s Northern Territory is called the “Red Centre”. This is a vast terrain of dusty scrubland and deserts across the middle of this island continent. And right in the […]

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Travel photos

I’m not a photojournalist. I deliberately I don’t add photos to my travel blogs. Why? Because I’m not usually writing about the normal photogenic tourist things. In any case, my photos generally aren’t good enough to do justice to what I’m writing about. Also, I don’t want my writing to be just a description or […]

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Going back to the Murder Capital of the World

It was Sarah Dodd who told me that the city I’d chosen to visit next was the “murder capital of the world”. I’d already booked my hostel accommodation in San Pedro Sula and bought my bus ticket. Sarah and I were staying in the same backpackers’ hostel in Granada, Nicaragua and I was heading next into […]

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Stranded in Saudi Arabia without a passport

Would you dare enter Saudi Arabia without a passport? No, me neither. But I did. The first time I went to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was on a business trip. I was honoured to be the keynote speaker at the first ever conference and exhibition on the creative economy in the country: the Ejadah Confex. […]

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Getting around the islands of Cape Verde

There are many worse places than Cape Verde to get stranded, but it’s more likely to happen here than most other countries. Cape Verde is made up of 10 islands 400 or so miles off the coast of Senegal in West Africa. I had to decide which one to fly to, which ones I’d like […]

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Kidnapped in Mexico

I was outnumbered: it was three of them against one of me. I was in Mexico City after dark. I didn’t have a choice; there was no point in putting up a fight. They took me in a car to a gated house in one of the suburbs. I wasn’t blindfolded but I might as […]

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What I Learnt from a Birthday Party in Shanghai

It was only after the birthday party that I learnt why some people we had invited came and why others didn’t. Even during the celebration I was puzzled and a bit rattled because of what had happened just a few hours earlier, in the afternoon, before the birthday meal in the evening. At the time I […]

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A Decision at a Spanish Port

Sometimes we are at a junction, unsure which way to go, and it’s only many years later that we reflect on how a particular choice of path took us in a direction that changed our life irreversibly. I was in Spain without a plan, travelling solo, just me and my backpack, taking each day as […]

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