A long way from home

Well, this beats the A12. If I were at home, I would be drinking my morning coffee in our fifth-floor flat, watching and listening to the traffic hustle its way along the busy road and junction below. The trains would be rolling in and out of Newbury Park tube station taking thousands of commuters to work in busy and noisy central London. I’m not at home. In fact, I am a long way from home. Continue reading


Navigating the Li River, China

I was backpacking with a friend through China in 2008 (my first big trip out of Europe!) and was keen to see as much of the country as possible.

So, when we arrived in Guilin after a long flight, we decided against the bus journey to Yangshuo and opted instead to take a boat (really just a motorised raft) along the 83-kilometer section of the Lijiang or Li River as it’s also known.

It proved to be one of the best decisions of the trip. Despite taking four times as long as the 80-minute bus journey and costing more (as in three or four pounds more), gliding along the Li was a fine way to travel. Our pilot, so to speak, was an elderly man who spoke no English and, likewise, we spoke no Mandarin other than the basics. Continue reading

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Climbing Kilimanjaro: Africa’s highest peak

Why climb? Because it’s there… and it can actually be done by most.

Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest freestanding mountain, meaning it is not attached to a mountain range. I trekked it in 2010 and it was inspirational to say the least. It was part of a big trip for me to East Africa — and after an extensive safari throughout the Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater, coupled with several days on the exotic and dreamy island of Zanzibar — Kilimanjaro could easily have been overshadowed. But it wasn’t. Climbing Kilimanjaro was exhilarating, awe inspiring, breathtaking, incredible and one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I recommend it to anyone who has the time (and the energy). Continue reading

Travel Essentials

10 travel essentials

Here are ten travel essentials I never leave home without. From waterproofing to a friendly smile, these items are a must for every backpacker.

1. Waterproofing – stuff sacks and electronics

Trekking across Scotland is the best way to learn about waterproofing. In Scotland, it rains. You can have a good run and believe me I was having a good run but eventually, in Scotland, it rains. And after six days of glorious sunshine, on the final day of an eight-mile trek out of the Highlands, it started to rain. Really rain. We didn’t make it out the Highlands that day – the going was too slow and too miserable that by mid-afternoon we called it a day and set up our tents in the downpour.

My sleeping bag was soaked through. My camera, by some miracle had survived the drenching. It was a cold and damp night’s sleep that night. Before I travelled or trekked again, I bought some waterproof stuff sacks in a range of sizes for my sleeping bag, clothing and electronics, which have been invaluable. Continue reading

Chittorgarh Fort

Not the Taj Mahal: Chittorgarh Fort in India

If you decide to take that trip of a lifetime to go and “find yourself” in India, it will probably include a trip to the Taj, a date with the Dalai Lama, a tour around the pink city of Jaipur and any number of other “spirit of India” experiences the guidebooks will throw at you. These sights are all, of course, worthy of your time but don’t miss Chittorgarh Fort, the Rajasthani gem rarely promoted as a must-see. I arrived in Chittorgarh after a 48-hour journey from Mumbai which included delayed trains (plural) and a rough night on a station platform at Ratlam Junction (another story altogether).

Continue reading


Not surfing in Taghazout, Morocco

You don’t have to be Australian, a sun-bleached “dude”, or even a surfer to enjoy this quiet little gem. Most people, including me, go to Morocco for the deserts, the Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh or to visit some of the romantic (sounding) cities of Casablanca or Essaouira. Some may venture south to the resort-town of Agadir, which unfortunately feels more Costa Del Sol than Arabian dream. Few, though, will visit Taghazout, a small, quaint village 20km north of Agadir on the main coast road. Continue reading


The otherworldly ruins of Beng Mealea, Cambodia

I love playing Indiana Jones on my travels and regularly get into character whenever the location seems right. I’ve done The Temple of Doom in India, The Last Crusade in Jordan, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Nevis Peak. Even though Cambodia was never a location for the films, Beng Mealea seemed just so right for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Unfortunately, Kia prohibits me from posting videos of my silliness on the internet. Perhaps clips of me humming the Indiana Jones theme tune, jumping around in a hat and pretending to whip things embarrass her more than I like to think. Needless to say, when I suggested an Angelina Jolie impression for Angkor Wat, she was quick to veto that too. You’ll just have to make do with her far less cinematographic clip of Beng Mealea. Continue reading


The raging Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland

Kia has many talents but there are three things she just doesn’t do: cook, drive and navigate. This is fine – unless I’m on a snowy and slippery road with low visibility and she’s by my side insisting that she can’t read the map. Luckily, on this occasion, I spotted a sign with a familiar name, þingvellir, and managed to navigate to our destination without the help of my lovely ‘assistant’. Continue reading


10 tips for travelling in a developing country

I’ve been lucky enough to experience a decent cross-section of the world – rich and poor – and all the charms it has to offer. From the pristine streets of Berlin to the dusty roads of Delhi, from the clockwork metro in Austria to the rickety network of dalla-dallas in Tanzania careering along at breakneck speeds, and from 5-star luxury in the Maldives to a cockroach-infested Cambodian dorm – they all have their allure and if I’m honest, I’ve enjoyed my trips through the latter destinations more than the former. Travelling through a developing country can be arresting yet terrifying, breathtaking yet prosaic, tender but heartbreaking, thrilling and frustrating. Continue reading


5 tips for talking to strangers

As an avid traveller, teacher and part-time photographer, I’ve been lucky enough to meet lots of people from lots of different backgrounds. Some became lifelong friends while many more melted into the heap of faded friendships and acquaintances we all leave behind. That’s not to say that these fleeting encounters are immaterial – even a short conversation can prove to be unexpectedly enlightening or, at the very least, thoroughly entertaining. Continue reading

return to india

Return to India

Six years ago, Peter retraced his parents’ footsteps on a return India to track down his father’s long forgotten friends…

When I was younger my father would write out my name in Hindi Sanskrit on scraps of paper. I thought it was some magical language from a fantasyland like Narnia or Lilliput and Blefuscu. When I was older I would sit with him and my mother in front of the TV and listen to him exclaim at Michael Palin’s latest travels through the foothills of the Himalaya or the dusty roads of Rajasthan. “We have to go back,” he would declare with gusto, turning to my mother. “The smells,” he would say. “The colours,” my mother would respond. “We have to go back…” Continue reading


How to keep a sense of humour when travelling

Sometimes – not often, but sometimes – travelling proves better in theory than in practice. This might be when you arrive in your cheap hostel room in Delhi to find rotten prawns in the shower, or when a random guy in Nairobi blatantly tries to distract you so his friend can get in your bag, or when the bus that’s meant to pick you up is three hours late leaving you alone on a Cambodian roadside at three in the morning. Continue reading


What qualifies as having ‘travelled the world’?

Who has travelled the world?

How many times have you heard someone say it? Or seen a blog post about it? Seen it on a status or ‘hash-tagged’ in a bucket-list? Many people (including me) say they want to have ‘travelled the world’ but how can we quantify this? By the number of countries visited? Stamps in our passports? Borders crossed? Cultures experienced?

Kia asked this question on Quora a while ago and received a response from Jay Wacker, a former Stanford professor who offered up Hasbro’s Risk Map as a measure, suggesting that you can say you’ve travelled the world once you have visited half the territories on the map – that’s 21 out of 42 in total.  Continue reading