Monthly Archives: May 2011


The Great Hot Springs Disaster

clouds and mist overhanging volcanic gorge, ruteng, flores, indonesia

The rhythms of life at the convent in Ruteng do not encourage sloth. The sisters start their day early, in their cells up the hill, and long before dawn, according to the typed roster that hangs beneath a particularly dyspeptic portrait of Pope Benedict, they are up buying bread, preparing breakfast and cleaning rooms. After […]


The Sunday Six: Hanoi With Kids

lenin park, hanoi, vietnam

1: Play at Ho Tay Waterpark We defy any child visiting Hanoi — and plenty of adults, for that matter — not to enjoy the slides, zipwires, wave pool and high dive boards of the waterpark on Ho Tay lake, all backed by the amazing skyline of Hanoi. 2: Ride a Merry-Go-Round Lenin Park is […]


Emergency Use Only

Shipwreck of the Amstar 7 by Wollex at Wikimedia Commons

There’s a trend among the gnarlier long-term travelers to eschew international travel insurance. The logic seems to be that travel insurance is for wimps. Real men — and the naysayers are overwhelmingly blokes – travel light and cheap with few encumbrances, in the grand knapsack tradition of Wilfred Thesiger et al. And it’s true that […]


We Stay With The Sisters

rural church in flores, indonesia, on road from labuan bajo to ruteng.

“Let me explain the rules,” says the young, smiley nun, jiggling the world’s most-indulged baby who’s balanced on her shoulder. “We close the gates at 9pm every night, so you must be inside by 9pm. Breakfast is from 5.30.” Z, not an early riser, gasps audibly. We’ve had a lovely ride here from Labuan Bajo, […]


The Sunday Six: Places to Ride A Submarine

USS Chicago off Malaysia via Wikimedia Commons.

You don’t have to be in the navy to ride a submarine any more. Here’s six places where you can do just that as a tourist. 1: Honduras One of very, very few deep sea submersibles available to tourists is based out of Roatan, Honduras. Two people and the pilot can descend to the deep, […]


Sharks in the Land of the Dragons


After a challenging couple of weeks, to be lolling ‘twixt sun and shade on the roof of a dive boat, flying fish flitting across the sea like steely dragonflies, cruising past rocky islets crowded with stilt fishermen’s houses, treacherous sand bars, arid limestone cliffs and rugged, volcanic islands watching the reef appearing and disappearing in […]


Visas – A Horror Story

Labuhan Bajo harbour

Now, I’m normally quite cautious about visas. I apply in the right town of the right country for them to be delivered cost-effectively and easily; I avoid overstays; I get everything correctly stamped on every border. But when it comes to extending Indonesian visas, after a solid (and very expensive) week of visa hell, it […]


Across Sumbawa on a Bike


After our bad break with the surfing, Z and I hunker down in our sterile boudoir to discuss what to do about Sumbawa, given we are here now. One of the things these last couple of weeks – by far the most stressful and challenging in well over a year of travel – has taught […]


Beginner’s Surf? I Wish.

z stands up

The surf camp has a locker room air to it. Bunk bed dorms sit off a lino-clad lounge with a grubby floral sofa, where one muscular chap is stretching out his impressively knotted deltoids and substantial thighs. “Hello,” I say. “You guys don’t know where we can hire or borrow surfboards do you?” He curves […]


The Sunday Six: Theme Parks and Waterparks

dreamworld bangkok

1: Disneyland, Paris, France A dream choice for younger children’s birthdays, Disneyland is one destination where holiday packages offer value. Expect all the magic and schmaltz of Disney with a distinctly Parisian edge. The ghost train leads through an enchanted, magical ballroom that’s truly graceful – and you can enjoy a mean steak frites in […]