October 12, 2019

“Li-ber-tat! Li-ber-tat!” The chant was sweeping across the square like a Catalan wave. The crowd ignored the soaring heat to remind the world that their pro-independence leaders were still in exile or jail. “Libertat-del-presos-politics!!”

But we weren’...

August 20, 2019

Vasillia gently touched my arm and leant in. “You are an Orthodox at heart,” she whispered, her eyes lighting up. “Yes, yes, I can see it inside you!” For the first time in my life I had to disappoint a nun. 

Upon learning of my Protestant upbringing Vas...

December 11, 2018

"Um, aren’t we a little low?!” shouted my fellow passenger over the Cessna’s engine.

She was right of course, we were only 50 metres above the ground and below us impala were scattering everywhere. “No, of course not,” I reassured her while secretly enj...

April 6, 2018

I was warned about getting shot in Colombia. The balaclava, reflective sunglasses and combat fatigues in the southern city of Pasto were a giveaway. I should have just run. Instead, I'm hit twice - not with bullets but with white foam shooting out of a...

February 24, 2018

“Smash it on the head” yelled Geranio, our guide. “Quick!” The freshly caught piranha was flip-flopping in a desperate attempt to get back to water, sharp teeth biting at air as I brought a rotting stick down upon its head. Minewa, a 60-year old local t...

October 24, 2017

“Hold on, I just need to scrape something off…” My guide had removed his gumboot and was reaching for a knife. Slowly he sliced the blade down his leg to remove the blood sucking leech that had attached itself to him. “Welcome to Mentawai!” he said with...

May 9, 2017

Even the most ardent solo traveller at some stage will need a guide - someone who knows their cantons from their arrondissements better than you do. I’ve used more than 20 guides around the world, from well-known tour companies to local specialists to r...

May 2, 2017

“In the olden days,” began Apinelu, a tone of longing in his voice, “it was never this hot. Never. Now everything has changed, not just the sea.” It was a very still 33° and my earlobes were sweating. Welcome to the small island nation of Tuvalu.

“Tomorr...

May 3, 2016

“Y’all not from round here, are ya? Ain’t nobody drinks Buuuud. This is Shiner Bock country, sir.”

And with that the barman passed over a golden-labelled bottle of ale. I was in Luckenbach, Texas, population 3, a small town in the Hill Country west of Sa...

January 24, 2016

The lion was just metres away now. “Look, he’s trying to find some shade so the meat doesn’t rot quickly,” whispered my guide, Nicholas. In the big cat’s mouth was a Maasai calf, being unceremoniously dragged across the plain towards a desert date tree....

January 12, 2016

“Don’t worry ‘bout a thing, cause every little thing, gonna be al-riiight…”

It seemed only appropriate that Bob Marley blared out the front of the pick-up as we bounced along the dirt road. After all, this was the country of Emperor Haile Selassie, recog...

April 26, 2015

We both looked up. It was a strange sound, obviously unfamiliar to my host. “When was the last time it rained here?” I asked. A pause. “Um… this is the first time this year. Might settle the dust though,” said Nick laconically. Perhaps a good omen to ma...

February 5, 2015

“When the alarm goes you grab this,” Officer Cadet Dusan said as he pointed to my lifejacket. “And this.” An orange survival suit. “We muster on C Deck, starboard side.” I didn’t know if it was a good or bad thing that my welcome was bringing up Titanic...

June 4, 2013

“Why Albania?” 

“Why not?”
“What have they done to us?” 
“What have they done for us?”
“Nothing….” 

“See, they keep to themselves. Shifty. Untrustable.” 

No, not a weird conversation about where to holiday but a scene from Wag The Dog, where Robert De Niro...

January 22, 2013

Oh my god, he’s going to do it!” screeched the American teenager to my left. Sure enough with a quick wave to the crowd, a furtive glance downwards and a tuck of the pants, over he leapt. One of Mostar’s bridge-jumpers had just taken the plunge into the...

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