Travels

Tajikistan

Tajikistan is a mountainous country nestling in the heart of Central Asia.  Traditionally, it has been at a cultural crossroads and over the millennia has formed part of various empires that have straddled the region.  Over two thousand years ago it came under the sway of the Persian Achamenids before in 336-330 BC falling to […]

Berbera

In ancient times the port of Berbera in Somaliland was known as Malao.  Ships would sail into its harbour on the Gulf of Aden bringing tunics and cloaks, cups, copper and iron and left carrying frankincense, myrrh and cinnamon.  Berbera is also thought to be the town of Bobali, referred to by the 9th-century Chinese […]

Somaliland

When I told people I was going to Somaliland most people thought I meant Somalia and once again assumed I was trotting off to a war zone – something I do not actually do but for which I seem to have acquired a reputation.  In fact, Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1992 but has […]

The Hyenas of Harar

The fortified town of Harar in predominantly Christian eastern Ethiopia is said to be the fourth holiest city in Islam.  Although as a trading place it is a melting pot of African and Islamic cultures, historically Harar was relatively isolated in the region.  As a result, it has developed certain unique cultural aspects, such as […]

The Salt Caravans of the Danakil Depression

The Danakil Depression on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea is one of the hottest places on earth.  Temperatures can exceed 50 degrees centigrade, with the year-round average being 35 degrees.  For most of the year, there is virtually no rain.  The Depression is also one of the lowest points on the planet, reaching 125 […]

2015 – A Personal Retrospective

As the new year gets into the swing, it is time to look back on 2015.  Our world has many natural and cultural riches and I was fortunate to be able to experience some of them. The first big trip of the year was to Ethiopia, a country with a wonderful mix of culture, history […]

A Tale of Three Cities

Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macao – three cities, each with a different colonial history.  Discovering the nuances – and the contrasts – between them was what inspired me to visit the oriental trio this autumn.  I was not disappointed! The first time I became aware of Shanghai’s colonial past was as a child when I read […]

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is perhaps not at the top of everybody’s bucket list – indeed, it gets only 6,500 tourists a year – but it has a lot to offer the traveller looking for a trip with a difference.  From spectacular landscapes worthy of the best sci-fi movies to ruins of ancient trading cities, from its quirky, […]

Ascension Island

Ascension Island is a volcanic island just south of the equator about halfway between Brazil and Africa.  It was the second stop on my trip to the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, three small islands scattered far apart from each other in the South Atlantic.  My journey had begun […]

A Slow Boat to Saint Helena

Saint Helena is perhaps best known for being where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his final days in exile.  It is one of six South Atlantic islands – separated from each other by 3600 km at their furthest points – that make up the British Overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.  One of […]