Outside Context travel writing has been featured on some of the world’s top websites. Articles have been purchased by Airlines, featured in iPhone Apps, published as questions in degree level English examinations and comments have been posted by everyone from Lonely Planet writers to US Special Forces Lieutenant Colonels!
We often take arriving at the destination to be the purpose of travel. Taken in this way the journey itself is not the point, rather it is the serious business of transporting our bodies from [...]
In the last of my series of films re-examining my output over the last 10 years, I present the definitive edition of my film celebrating my wife’s silver gilt award at the RHS show. The [...]
Come see the ever changing colours of Uluru in all its unbelievably rich and mesmerising splendor at sunset. Followed by the next morning as the sun rises and the colours grow as the sun bathes the rock faces in light.
The magic of the temples of Angkor are almost beyond imagination. I met many people on my travels who have claimed to be “templed out” – tired of seeing one similar looking temple after another. [...]
A journey to Wudang Mountain; the small mountain range in the northwestern part of Hubei, China, just south of Shiyan. This film details the 20,000 steps up this magical mountain and the strange Daoist religious [...]
After watching LOTR for the first time I started a long journey of the heart. The first steps were the reading of the book itself, now and forever with the New Zealand landscape in my [...]
Endings are actually beginnings too. This is what I told myself as I sat in the tiny, oh so tiny, room in Osaka. It's one of those glass half empty or half full sort of [...]
I have written before about travellers wanting a point to it all, to travelling. In part this is perhaps seen as them wanting to justify the vast cost of travel; to have a point for [...]
The bullet train pulled smoothly and serenely into the station, totally belying the speed it had demonstrated when blistering through the Japanese countryside. As I stepped down into the shiny and neat Kyoto station the [...]
Writing an article about Zen is almost a contradiction in terms. That is unless I simply leave the rest of it blank... Just a finger, pointing to the moon… But, I don't want to do that! [...]
I wallowed comfortably in the exceedingly warm waters, the balmy mountain air was cool and smelled of the rich wood my surroundings were constructed from. I was butt-naked and in my first real Japanese onsen, [...]
4am in Tokyo, Japan trickled around and we were ready to go. We skipped breakfast and headed down to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. It opened at 5:30am and back then you could wander in [...]
Tokyo, like Beijing and especially like Delhi, is a city that one could spend a lifetime in and never feel a sense of completion. The Japanese way of doing things enhances this feeling with wards [...]
"So," said Cesca loudly and clearly, just as I was drinking from a water bottle, "What's all this about China and Tiananmen Square?" I almost did a spit take. "Quiet!" I said and I looked [...]
Everyone loves Pandas and at the Panda Conservation Centre near Chengdu, China is probably the best place to see them in the world. Watching them reminded me of the Douglas Adams quote: "...On the planet [...]
In China, Daoist temples atop mountains are so numerous that there must be something about these high places that answers a longing for cliff edges and being above the clouds. A simplistic analysis of this, one [...]
"You have to imagine," said the man in broken English, "that this..." he gestured his hands at the view in front of us, "big lake... flood wide and deep... great water!" He broke into a wide toothy smile.
Certain cities in the world are instantly recognisable from hundreds of classic movies that have been set there. No one could mistake Paris, New York or London on film, but for me the most recognisable [...]
When you travel through a country, especially if you are using a published travel guide, you are walking a well trodden path. Indeed maybe a thousand people are doing it with you simultaneously. This has a very strong effect over time, as more and more guest houses start catering only to the backpacker and spring up all along the route, which had myriad knock-on effects. Such as: taxi services who know the guide books better than you do and hordes of travellers at ever corner all "experiencing" the local atmosphere; all the time failing to realise that they are in a "bubble" like a Disney theme park ride.
I sat on the balcony and considered the view. The remote 7800ft high mountain town of Shimla flowed over the hills in front of our hotel. The roofs were the playgrounds of large collections of [...]
This is a “Special Edition” of my Hong Kong at night film. The beautiful skyline of Hong Kong at night! Come with us through the brightly lit, and empty of people, Business District and then [...]
As a traveller you know, and even expect, the unknown to occur. You want this; for some it’s the whole point of leaving their home in the first place. It’s usually to do with the fun stuff like walking the Great Wall, eating Sushi in Tokyo Fish Market or jumping off a bridge in New Zealand with only an elastic band to prevent your death.
There was only one time in our journey around India that I didn’t feel entirely safe, one moment where I thought to myself, “Ah, this is potentially a dangerous situation” and took measures accordingly. That [...]
Eating food in India is no joke. On one hand there are high-end coffee cafes that have prices that could only make sense to the gainfully employed. High-end coffee needs to be carefully metered out as it is too comforting and familiar a western experience to eat in such a cafe. Not only does it take you away from your local-encounters in this mighty country, but also takes a large amount of Indian coin from your purse and that directly affects how much you have to spend on the fun things.
“Who are your inspirational hero’s?” I asked a friend. “Dunno. King David, I guess, would be one.” “Awesome answer,” I said impressed that he hadn’t picked a modern actor or, worse, a footballer. “How about [...]
Kerala the beautiful; the green of a million palm trees, the blue of warm waters. Kerala the red of the sun at set; its light rays refracted to a ruby colour that captivates the mind. [...]
In India, catching a tuk tuk and negotiating the fare – or even the simple existence of the destination – is a national pastime. Not one driver, in three months, took us where we wanted to go without comment, argument or an all out fight. At first, this grates on the nerves and then you cant help but be brought down by it. Then you feel victimised for being western and (relatively) rich. You start to think that they are all out to get you personally. However, it is none of these; it is an official sport. Take it as a sport, a sparring match, and you suddenly find it fun.
Bangalore is a strange place because it is just like cities at home. Almost slap bang in the middle of India, it sits like a jigsaw piece put in the wrong box. To some, it [...]
The most common question I have been asked by people after returning home is, “which was your favourite country to visit?” For Cesca and I it has to be the majestic New Zealand. Not because [...]
In 2009 Cesca and I visited the amazing slopes of Wudang Mountain. The mountain is located roughly in northwestern part of Hubei Province of China. This peak is part of the larger Wudang Shan mountain range that runs through the area, [...]
The travel blogging is back! Note: This is the third part of a complete three part article that completes our time in Vietnam. This entry continues our adventures in Halong Bay and the wonder that [...]
Introduction and warning Travelling in the hotter parts of the world brings you mano a monster with all sorts of creatures that you’re not used to. I am an Englishman and normally to be found in [...]
This is a cross post written by Basho, originally posted on www.rohantime.com Why this train? This night on this train? The Calcutta to Delhi train is one of the classic overnight Indian journeys. In India [...]
This is a cross post written by Basho, originally posted on www.rohantime.com Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. Escaping to the cool of the mountains was essential after the 40 degree heat of the deserts of [...]
Vietnam was always on our list of countries to visit, but I must admit to having been slightly nervous about it. Not because it was Communist or “different” from home- by then, Cesca and I had been through all sorts of strange cultures including Muslim nations, Eastern Block style Communist havens and even Australia. What was actually getting us nervous was the constant reports from our friends about the Vietnamese unfriendliness. Time and time again people, who had already been through Vietnam, would display a sort of nervous laugh and glance at each other before answering our questions. This was exacerbating our reaction to another incident right back before we even left English shores.
Spend any time in Laos and it quickly becomes clear that tourism has the potential to ravage this beautiful culture. Travelling through the Laotian hubs is to see history in action. Starting with Luang Prabang; the epitome of French colonialism, forever been preserved for the future by UNESCO.
One of the things that strikes you in Cambodia is the lack of any social services. Thus, it is very common to be approached by beggars missing various limbs or even their eyesight. Indeed, it is so common that since experiencing Cambodia I have been totally impervious to other countries beggars; none could reach the suffering of these poor souls.
They say the better part of travelling is meeting the people from the countries you visit. They do not say how much that meeting will affect you, neither how heartbreaking such encounters can be. The first time I met a one legged man in Laos, while visiting COPE – the charity for the war injured, I asked him how he lost his leg? “The American’s took it,” he replied.
The Cameron Highlands, well named that they are, are the tea growing centre of Malaysia. The temperature up the top is a good 4 degrees less than in the cities and a nice breeze helps take off a few more. It is a place of gentile rolling tea fields under mountainous peaks. I found this much more to my liking!
Our first port of call in Malaysia was the UNESCO town of Melaka, which is nestled on the west coast of the peninsula below Kuala lumpur. The journey from Singapore to the town was uneventful being mainly two good roads (the 1 and the 5), but I was feeling an increasingly vivid sense of excitement about truly getting into SEA and taking that first footsteps on our journey.
The hottest cold One of the first things that hits you on arrival to Singapore airport is the intense cold. Litres of Icy cold air is blasted at you from almost all directions from a myriad of air-conditioning machines the size of skyscrapers and it is quite nice to get outside and experience a little heat for a while. Air-conditioning has been taken to new heights by the Singaporeans, indeed the entire Tube system is frosty cold conditioned, as is every single mall and many of the pavement steps surrounding them. To walk around Singapore is to be blasted by heat and cold at such extremes you wonder if you have wandered into a new form of torture.
A short (10 minute) film highlighting New Zealand. Includes whales in Kaikoura, Fjords, Glaciers by Helicopter, The far north, the Volcanic heart, the sounds and a trip through the forests of this magical country!
New Zealand is a country Cesca and I have longed to visit for many years. Tales speak of this island and its seemingly unique people. That they are more friendly than the most sociable of Australian’s, more “outdoors-loving” than even Scottish highlanders and more into extreme sports than anyone outside Cirque-de-soleil! Moreover, all of the “Kiwis” I have met have been the most persuasive of ambassadors as they have a deep and abiding love of their country, a great love of sporting life and and all of them stand a pint.
The flat is empty - everything is in storage. I leave work tomorrow for good - can't wait! The bags are packed - full to the brim for a year’s worth of travel! Basho is [...]