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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 icy Neretva River below. I’d just witnessed something that wasn’t possible two decades before. 

In 1992 the Bosnian town of Mostar, until then a peaceful mix of Muslims, Serbs and Croats, self-imploded; a microcosm of all that went wrong in the former Yugoslavia. Neighbours who had fought a common enemy turned on each other. The pointlessness was summed up by one act: the destruction of Stari Most – Mostar’s old bridge which had stood for over 500 years was destroyed by Bosnian Croat shells. ​

I was in BiH (Bosnia & Herzegovina) to see how the country had progressed since the Bosnian War. What I found was a vibrant, f...

May 12, 2011

Before you pull out the atlas, a word of warning: Patagonia isn’t officially a “place” as such. Rather it’s the name given to an area spanning southern Argentina and Chile, and everything you have heard about it – barren, windswept, sparse and beautiful – is true.
 
Patagonia is also exceptionally remote, with the remotest of the remote being the small frontier town of El Chalten. A far cry from the wide avenues of Buenos Aires, El Chalten was only established 30 years ago as a base for those seeking out the jagged spires. Complete with roaming dogs, micro-brewery and no ATMs, this was to be the starting point for our Patagonian adventure. To be honest, I didn’t have any great expectations on the glaciers, mountains and lakes nearby; I just assumed they would be similar to our Franz Joseph, Cook and Hawea. How spectacularly wrong I was…

Our very first excursion brou...

October 27, 2010

Platform 3, Beijing Railway Station. And there she was - the fabled Trans-Siberian, ready to take me on the longest train journey in the world. A surreal three countries, five time zones and 8300km of steppe, snow and stations lay ahead... but first of all there was Beijing.

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Had it not been for this trip I doubt China would have been high on my list. But the Forbidden City, where the last emperor was waited on by eunuchs, and the vast Summer Palace with its myriad of bridges, easily proved me wrong.​

Thankfully I’d made a pact with my alarm to avoid the hordes of flag waving guides and my reward was an aged souvenir map highlighting the Lingering Interest Courtyard and the Realm of the Multitudinous Fragrance. The palace itself was like antiquity on steroids; a make-believe world that was only opened to the public last century. It was hard to comprehend that I had...

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