Category Archives for Places


The Friday Photo: Sunrise on Mount Batur

The sun makes its first appearance, midway up Mount Batur, Bali.

Mount Batur is an absolutely classic volcano climb that, to my shame, we’d not yet done in Bali. It’s an easy enough hike, once you take the 3am start out of the equation: 2 to 3 hours up an occasionally rocky path. And you catch the sunset twice, first on the way up, then a […]


The Friday Photo: Hobbit House

Hobbit House Manila-5

This is Hobbit House, Manila, a regular on lists of the world’s weirdest restaurants. It seems, at first blush, like an absolutely horrible concept: a Hobbit-themed bar staffed almost entirely by little people. But it isn’t. These are the staff. They’re also the owners, now that Jim, the Peace Corps dude who set up Hobbit […]


The Friday Photo: Jellyfish Lake

Kakaban island in Borneo's Derawan Archipelago, blurred in a wave.

Ever snorkelled with jellyfish? Deliberately, I mean? We did, in the jellyfish lake on Kakaban Island, in Indonesia’s Derawan archipelago, off Borneo. Kakaban is a marine lake, with only the slightest connection to the sea, so it’s evolved its own ecosystem. These spotted jellies have truncated tentacles and have almost entirely lost their sting, while […]


The Friday Photo: The Leang-Leang Caves

Hand stencil in the Leang-Leang caves of Maros, with truncated ring finger.

Maybe 17,000 years ago, maybe 40,000 years ago, someone scrambled up to the wall of this cave and left his handprint. It’s a large hand for prehistoric times, about the size of mine, and his ring finger is severed at the first joint. Was he an artist? A priest? A warrior? A chieftain? And was […]


The Friday Photo: Our Mahakam River Boat

Mahakam River Boat

I felt like Madame Mao taking this photo, signalling from the bank to get the boat in what I hoped was an appropriately scenic position against the sun. Zac and I spent four days on her, exploring the Mahakam River, in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo – for work. There’s something just wonderful about sitting on the […]


Photo Essay: Bau Nyale in Lombok, Indonesia

Actors perform the story of Princess Mandalika.

Once a year in Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia, the palolo worms that live in the reef come out to spawn, and locals celebrate with the Bau Nyale festival. Child jockeys come from Sumbawa and East Lombok to race horses on the strand. Like Firman, 7, from Bima in Sumbawa. Who fell, horrifically, yet cried not from […]


Our Big Australian Road Trip in Pictures

View from the headland at Byron Bay.

For the tightwad with a loose schedule, a relocation camper is the perfect way to travel Australia. This is the behemoth that brought us from Brisvegas to Sydney – not bad for a dollar a day, right? I can’t speak highly enough of Byron Bay, the hippie-divey-weedy-yogaish surf town that feels like anywhere other than […]


10 Things You Should Do in Rome (With Kids or Without)

Last Judgement by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, Rome.

Headed to La Bella Italia? Here’s a few things you should do in Rome. Get a Seat in the Sistine Chapel As befits the headquarters of a wealthy and ancient global institution, the Vatican museum is full of good stuff, from Ancient Egyptian sculpture through to contemporary art. And the Sistine Chapel is one of […]


The Unknown Artists of Ravenna

Apostles on the domed ceiling of the Baptistery in Ravenna.

I’ve not always liked my name — one of my first acts on hitting puberty was to rebrand myself from “Theodora” to “Theo”, an innovation I’ve failed to reverse ever since – but I have always liked the story behind it. Why? Because I’m named for a woman who grew up among the bears of […]


Sun, Sea, Sand, Scuba – Sinai! In Association with HolidayGems

Ein Khodra Oasis, Sinai Desert.

South Sinai is like nowhere else in Egypt: a stark landscape of desert and mountains, lapped by the clear blue waters of the Red Sea. The Sinai is the place where Moses supposedly received the Ten Commandments, home of the Bedouin since time immemorial – and a world away from the chaos of Cairo and […]