Monthly Archives: September 2011

30Sep2011

The Friday Photo: Heavenly Palace

Pagoda-Kunming

Yesterday we wandered through the skyscrapers of downtown Kunming to gawp at this ninth-century pagoda, set in a quiet garden where grandmothers take their grandchildren after school. In the evening, we watched the first module of China’s space station, the Tian-Gong 1 (Heavenly Palace), soar into the sky. The history and the future of an […]

28Sep2011

Anyone for Chicken Claw?

Pineapple beer

Wandering around Kunming, our “home” for the past week, I sometimes feel a little like those British journalists inspecting America during the Gilded Age, marvelling at how bright and shiny and, well, BIG, everything is. You see, they make things bigger in China, this giant nation just entering its Gilded Age. They really do. And, […]

23Sep2011

The Friday Photo: Inside an Underground River

Konglor Cave

In Khammuan, Laos, we took a boat inside a mountain, up the underground river that runs 7.5k through the Konglor cave, and out into the green the other side. We stopped, in the dark, at a white sand beach and climbed up to this chamber of stalactites and stalagmites, illuminated in blue. It’s even more […]

22Sep2011

House-hunting in China — Easier than it Seems

View over Kunming

This morning, I woke up on the 32nd floor, looked out of my bedroom window, across the smog that clouds the rising sun, across the skyscrapers, across the building sites, to the mountains in the distance and thought, “My GOD! I’m in China.” For a child of the Cold War, nothing quite beats arriving in […]

19Sep2011

Cave Tubing: Every Bit As Dangerous As It Sounds

Happy Good Mud

“Where have all the rope swings gone?” I ask the chap at the Slingshot bar, on the Nam Song river, in Vang Vieng, Laos, where Z, H and I are alternating between jumping into his mudbath and firing slingshots at a row of cans. I highly recommend jumping into a pool of warm, squishy mud, […]

17Sep2011

Work Is Work, Wherever You Are…

broken down car in Coober Pedy

I see a lot of blog posts selling the dream. The dream of location independence. Of life as a digital nomad. The dream of the laptop propped in your virtual office, looking out over the Mekong, the Sahara, the high Andes. And, yes, location independent working can be great. It’s magical to be able to […]

15Sep2011

The Friday Photo: HOW Beautiful Is Central Laos?

Khammuan Central Laos Karst

We’ve been off the grid for the last few days, riding the Khammuan loop around Khammuan province, central Laos. And I’m coming to the conclusion that Laos, especially during the rainy season, is one of the most consistently beautiful countries on this earth. There are gothic pinnacles of blackened karst. Reflecting pools below scalloped limestone […]

14Sep2011

Family Values

H and Z on bikes in Laos

As a trio, H, Z and I cause no little confusion to the good and tolerant folk of Laos, where we’re exploring en route to China. “Two loom?” folk at the guesthouses ask, eyeing the flabby white lady, the skinny white child and the tall, built, black chap, and trying to work out the dynastic […]

08Sep2011

What Does An 80p Whisky Taste Like?

Tiger Whisky Label

This is Tiger Whisky, Laos’ finest intoxicant. Or, as the label has it, “Finest blended SUPER Tiger Whisky Smooth and Mellon” [sic]. And who wouldn’t trust a whisky with the manufacturer’s mobile phone number on the label? Free shots of this stuff fuel the riverside bars of Vang Vieng, Laos, where we’ve returned for tubing, […]

06Sep2011

Comedy Highlights Of Motorbiking Asia With A Child

Z on our motorbike in Indonesia.

I have a bunch of funny motorbike stories from our trip across Indonesia and Timor Leste that I never got time to write up. Here’s a few of them. The Time I Drove Our Motorbike Into The Hotel Bar On arrival in Dili, Timor Leste, we were kind of knackered. There’s something about a challenging […]