Category: Travel

December 29, 2016

  Let’s play a game. What do you get when you mix Destiny’s Child’s Bootylicious  with Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker? No, not a Channel 5 post-watershed movie or a character from 50 Shades of Grey. No, you would have no other than the President of Algeria: Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Ladies and gentleman, please remove your hats and take a bow:   So, my next major trip has taken me to the land of Bouteflika: a charming chap who has ruthlessly ruled Algeria for over 15 years (despite some health complications). And well, why not? Sure, the name Bouteflika may be a misnomer…

April 24, 2016

Ayatollahs. Head scarves. Fanaticism. Nuclear bombs. Perhaps even revolution. These may be the first words that come to mind when you think of Iran. A country which is estranged from the West, which has seemed (at least until recent years) to rejoice in flouting the demands made by the UN and other international bodies, and which seems to revel in stoking its own concept of Islamic rapture: it is not that surprising that most people looked on in dismay when I told them that I would be going on vacation there with three friends. But if there is one revolution…

August 30, 2015

According to Greco-Egyptian myth, when the brother of the Goddess Isis – who was also her husband – was murdered, the tears she wept resulted in the Nile River flooding every year. Now, over 2000 years later, it appears that Egypt is being haunted by a namesake of the Egyptian Goddess. This time, however, the acts of savagery haunting not only Egypt but the Arab world at large (plus more), is not resulting in an abundance in the same way Isis’ tears generated a torrent of water. Rather, the converse is materialising; it is resulting in scarcity, as parts of…

October 1, 2013

    Expectations tend to lead people astray. Utopia to one person is perdition to another; paradise lost may be deemed to be paradise gained. Equally, the grapevine is often thorny and any opinion, although usually taken at face-value, should be unbundled from the context in which it is given.     Returning from Southern Africa in August (and having time to reflect on the same) gave rise a series of difficult dichotomies. Race, class, nationality: they all matter, but to differing degrees to different people. The one nightmare which nobody can escape, however, is history.     For example,…

August 1, 2011

  Let’s play a game. Guess how many people you can fit into the following vehicle:   The answer is below, just after the video of the car.   So, following on from the previous entry, after my second foray in Rwanda’s Kigali, I went to Musanze. This town was my base for gorilla tracking. I had no plans to go gorilla tracking before I arrived in East Africa, but became seduced by superlative stories people told me once here. The problem is that it is notoriously difficult to obtain a permit to do this: in Kigali, the tourist office…

July 20, 2011

What will the next global battle be over? Received wisdom deems it will be a war between an ailing American and a rising China. Some point to a resurgent Russia instead, or those oil-rich nations with immense Sovereign Wealth Funds. Others, such as Tony Blair, expect strife to occur not over ideology, but over values, notably of the religious variety. Perhaps they are all wrong though. The next global battle may be peaceful. It is arguably already under way. With the globalisation of markets being the main paradigm through which countries plan their economic strategies, communication is pivotal. And what…

July 8, 2011

  Where in the world has an entire continent, a myriad of cultures and multitude of histories, peoples and languages been reduced to a few singing lions and a warthog? Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Africa. Or to be specific, East Africa, as Africa is a continent not a country. Believe it or not – and take a deep breath here whilst clutching your chair – there is more to East Africa than famine, wars and poverty. In fact, almost immediately upon arrival it was startling how normal everything was: yes, the roads were slightly more tumultuous than those in…

September 1, 2010

I almost made it. Until two days before my return flight to England, I had not been mugged since my last update. What a wonderful swan song for South America, I thought; it would be nice to leave on a high. Instead, I broke a new record: two mugging attempts in two days, both in the same city, Buenos Aires. So, what savage attacks did I encounter this time? The one on the final day was a wonderful parallel of the Quito experience, albeit sans the excrement. Whilst passing by the intersection dividing Florida Av with Peru Av (one of…

August 17, 2010

San Pedro Prison is located in central La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. Approximately 80% of the inmates are imprisoned for drug related purposes; the remainder have often committed more serious crimes, including murder. The exterior of the prison is unremarkable. In fact, it looks roughshod and decaying. What makes San Pedro Prison unique, however, is what lurks inside. The outer perimeter is secured by armed guards; inside, the prisoners run riot (sometimes literally). Guards do not step foot inside. The prison is controlled by the prisoners. The result is fascinating. It functions as a microcosm of society – a…

July 23, 2010

In 1970, the captain of England´s football team, Bobby Moore, was arrested in Colombia under the false premise that he had stolen an expensive bracelet from a jeweller. In retrospect, he probably got off lightly. When I was in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, something worse – much, much worse – happened. I was walking around the Old Town; an area renowned for archaic architecture. It was midday. I was near the Plaza Grande which could be called Quito´s equivalent to Trafalgar Square. In other words, it is the centre of the city, bustling with tourists and, supposedly, security. So,…