Hiroshima, Mon Amour

Hiroshima Memorial Park...

Hiroshima Memorial Park…

Hiroshima was once a vibrant castle town. And the Sarugaku-cho neighbourhood was a lively place of noh actors, artisans, physicians and shops.

Until the day that everyone died.

At 8:15am on Monday August 6, 1945 an American B-29 bomber called the Enola Gay flew over and unleashed the greatest destructive force the world had ever known.

Taiwan Tea Plantation Exploration

I wouldn’t do that for all the tea in…. Taiwan?

That’s right. Taiwan grows some of the best teas in the world. Tea cultivation only really began there in the mid-19th century. But it spread like crazy, thanks to strong domestic demand.

Taiwanese teas are also greatly sought after by foreign tea connoisseurs.

Reflections in a Broken Mirror: Impressionist Sketches of Istanbul

Istanbul is a city of memory.

The past permeates every street, shop, iconic edifice and passing face. As I walked through its streets and explored its buildings, I began to detect the city’s dominant themes.

Bet You Didn’t Know THAT About Camels!

I’ve done a number of expeditions by camel — both dromedary and Bactrian. And I like to think I’m fairly well read in the lore of this noble beast.

Well, I learned a pile of new camel facts yesterday when I cracked open the cover of Camel by Robert Irwin.

My 10 Favourite Cities


I’ve got “top ten” lists on the brain these days…

I thought it’d be fun to dredge through the foggy corners of my memory, brush aside the cobwebs, and post a list of my top 10 favourite cities, taken from 25 years of travel.

Will North Korea Change?

Jeez, I disappear into the deserts of Namibia for a couple weeks and the news world turns over…

Happy Gnu Year 2011!

Happy Gnu Year!

It’s been several weeks since I’ve had a chance to write. I’ve been offline in the South Pacific, and now in northern Japan celebrating the New Year Japanese-style. It’s the big family holiday here (rather than Christmas), with lots of amazing food and far too much to drink.

Rangoon 2: Attacked in the Night

As I wrote in the prior blog, I still don’t know how I found the “guesthouse” where we spent that first night in Rangoon. At first it seemed like a great value. But in the end we got more than we bargained for…

Burmese Days


Of all the places I traveled in Southeast Asia, I liked Burma the best.

It was by far the most traditional country in the region. It was free of Thailand’s 7-11’s, paved roads and fast food. Free of Vietnam’s scams. And it lacked that uncomfortable undercurrent of violence and broken psyches that seemed to blight Cambodia.

Baybee Don’t Fence Me In!


I read an excellent book about Mongolia a couple weeks ago by Jasper Becker, called “Mongolia: Travels in the Untamed Land.” Becker was a Western journalist based in Beijing, and one of the first to cross the border from China when Mongolian communism fell apart in 1991.