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!
Welcome, below is a free chapter from my upcoming book, enjoy! Chapter 1 Peace. Everyone wants it, everyone desires it. So strange that I only found it when I finally stopped looking for it. Like some cosmic version of hunting for my keys, I only needed to stop from tireless [...]
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 background to the film was that Cesca’s Garden Design class had headed down to 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. I always ask them if they have been to Angkor, as the quality of temples [...]
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 monastery atop. Through the clouds and out of oneself, you really feel a part of [...]
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 mind, followed by many years wondering if the real country actually looked like that. Many [...]
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 things. The reality of what we had done was before me and it came in [...]
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 spending all that money, or - as commonly happens - someone else's money. But, this [...]
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 entire history of Zen Buddhism flashed through my mind. In short: this city was 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! At its basic level, Zen is an exotic a form of Buddhism. The Buddha lived [...]
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, the famous hot bath houses of these islands. The small courtyard contained a number of [...]
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 free. Now, you have to pay and cannot arrive before 9am, but we were one [...]
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 (districts) dedicated to different aspects of the culture. How these districts come about is fascinating. [...]
I have always looked at maps of the world and wondered if they skew perspective. America appears massive while Australia and India are diminished and Japan… well, miniscule. Even when I was young, I knew somehow that reality didn't concord with this portrayal. I know now, for example, that India [...]
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 one place to another. Getting to the end location as quickly as possible is the [...]
"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 around, wiping water running down my chin. Yes, we were standing bang in the middle [...]
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 Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than [Pandas] because he had [...]
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 using that most ignoble of human faculties; the so-called common sense, would say that this [...]
Flanked by several enormous mountains, Tiger Leaping Gorge is top contender for the deepest gorge in the world. The upper road of the gorge makes for some breath-taking hiking and winds slowly up the edge of the left side ridge, through villages, past the odd farm and eventually, after cresting [...]
"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.
At one point in our journey I actually advocated to Cesca that we skip China. That she didn’t listen, and talked me round, proves clearly that I don’t know everything and Cesca has some great ideas herself. Oh, boy were my eyes going to be opened! Entering the country via a [...]
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 city of them all is the great bay of Hong Kong. I grew up on [...]
Very little survives a man’s death. I have commented before that most of the “Great’s” from history did not write much down for themselves and Gandhi is no different. For while he did write many letters (all available online) he did this not because he wanted to leave lessons for [...]
Delhi. Many people say they have “done” Delhi, but in all honesty they haven’t. They have perhaps done the tourist parts of New Delhi, or maybe spent some time in an Ashram there – which amounts to the same thing: a tourist experience. Delhi is so large to be beyond [...]
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 violent monkeys that tumbled and swung over the closely knitted but strangely British architecture. That [...]
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 over the river to Kowloon Bay to look back. The buildings all come to life [...]
Jaisalmer is a town located 575 m west from the state capital Jaipur. It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert On the road, and neatly tucked into our bus seats, we were also well placed for scamming. A guy came up to Wendy and handed her a phone. [...]
Cesca left me snoozing in our room and went out to the roof top café/restaurant to take some photos of the city. The city is blue, blue of the Brahmin caste we were told, but I can’t help wondering if there is another reason for its popular -nay ubiquitous-shade. I [...]
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.
Ask a hundred people where in the world they would like to visit most of all and a significant percentage of them will say Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Indeed there are tours (and we met a few people on such) that fly into Delhi, drive to Agra for [...]
Many Indian cities are a jumble, a mix of the ancient and modern, but nowhere I have ever been compares in this regard to Varanasi. I come from a country, and from a city, which has a long history and many ancient sites of worship, but even the 1000 year [...]
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 was in my first hour in Varanasi. We arrived on the train from Bodh Gaya [...]
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 you?” “My grandfather, Ghandi and the Buddha,” I said quickly. “You’ve obviously thought about this!” [...]
There are two questions I am most asked about travelling the world. The first is, “What was our favourite place?” This is by far the harder of the two. There is so many wonderful places and so many moving times to be had when travelling that cutting [...]
Varkala is a very popular tourist destination with western travellers. Similar to Goa in many respects, it is a large beach front collection of Happy Bars and cheap hostels. Our taxi from the bus station tried ever so hard to force us to chose the hotel he wanted us to [...]
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. Kerala the advanced; an Indian state with amazing reading levels, excellent English, vibrant and – [...]
Welcome back! This is the second podcast in the This Is India collection. It tells of Cesca and my journey high above the sweltering plains of India to the mountain retreat of Ooty. We recorded it last night and both really enjoyed revisiting what was one of the most pleasant [...]
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 is the epitome of the “two tier” society outsiders see when they look this country. [...]
Hello and welcome to an experiment! Cecsa and I have sat down and recorded a podcast of our time in Anegundi in India. This is a total-first for us and so please strap yourself in as we try and capture our feelings about the amazing Hampi area without really knowing [...]
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 it is terribly exotic. as everything is familiar (especially the road names), but rather because [...]
I lay on my back and tried to relax. The sound of rolling waves crashed back and forth in the distance, which helped. However, the sun was beating down, heating the air and leaving me gasping like I had my head in an oven. It was also making the sand [...]
One of the unique things about India, and one that you never quite come to terms with, is the trains. I would even go as far as to say that if you could understand Indian trains, then you might well lay claim to being truly at home in India. For [...]
The November terrorist attacks on Mumbai was something we had worried about before landing in the city, but to look at the place it was as though they had never happened. In any city with such a varied and ethnic population, it had probably not fully been disseminated. Sometimes, I [...]
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, but it is this particular peak that is the most famous. This is due to [...]
I flipped out my phone and called the hotel. We were waiting outside the Mumbai airport, it was late, dark and the pickup area was badly lit by the low lightbulbs common all over the country. There was a long line of waiting taxi drivers all holding placards, but none [...]
**UPDATE – LOTS OF NEW IMAGES!* Welcome back to the travel blogging. Our amazing, 12 month, around the world journey had so far taken us to the far side of the world, the jungles of South East Asia and now was to come our most incredible experience yet. Now we [...]
Many people speak of trekking in the north of Thailand, but such over-popular options are not the flavour we go for. Instead, we had read of tours starting from Bangkok that would combine the amazing jungles around the Burmese border with a trip to the Bridge on the River Kwai [...]
Thailand, again we arrived in Thailand, but this time by air. The siege of Bangkok airport, which had messed us about so much the last time, was over. The president was back in country (he sneaked in via Chiang Mai) and the king was appealing for calm. In fact, the [...]
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 is Tet in Hanoi. The next day we were taken to a large island and [...]
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 the company of nothing more exciting than a fox or a cow. On my travels, [...]
Note: This is the second part of a complete three part article that completes our time in Vietnam. We continue with our trip into Halong Bay The trip cost us $85, and we were lucky, others on our boat later told us what they had paid anything from $80 [...]
The travel blogging is back! Note: This is the first part of a final three part article that completes our time in Vietnam. The next part will be auto posted in 4 days and the third part 4 days after that. This was the last stop on our tour of [...]
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 the train service is split into multiple classes. You have the scrum and battle of [...]
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 Rajasthan. Up here the bright sun is tempered with the breeze blowing off the snow [...]
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.
Happy Christmas everyone! Here is a short film of Cesca and I giving all our Christmas greetings from sunny Cambodia! We have been away for 6 months now - half way! - and are missing all our friends and families, especially around Christmas, however the modern cost of mobile roaming [...]
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.
A short fun film highlighting our trip to Australia, showing some of the fantastic things we saw in this wonderful country. A tribute to the nation before we move on to New Zealand... Oh! comments about the new intro welcome!
Welcome, Here is the latest short film for your enjoyment. This one shows our amazing time at Uluru over sunset and sunrise. See how the colours of the rock change in response to the light! As always comments are most welcome, Regards, Basho
Here is the next in the line of Basho Films. I am working hard on the next one and have something a little special in mind from then on. I love creating them and hope to show some vastly improved technique over the coming months! I have some simply amazing [...]
Thanks for all the fantastic feedback on the last Basho Film! Here is the latest, I present Sydney Harbour! There is already another to upload and many more to come including Australia Zoo! If you like it please either leave a comment or digg/stumble it. Regards, Basho
I finally found enough bandwidth to upload my first travel film; San Francisco! I hope you like it and all comments are very welcome. This is the first of a ongoing set of films outlining our travels over the next year. Next to come is Sydney (complete) and Hunter Valley [...]
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 going global. On the 22nd of June, Cesca and I are leaving these shores to [...]