Travels

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 […]

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

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 – lava and land crabs, turtles and terraforming

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 by 3600 km at their furthest points – that make up the British Overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.  One of the […]

The highlands of Northern Ethiopia

Mountains are perhaps not the first thing one associates with Ethiopia but, after spending a couple of weeks in its northern region, I think I shall forever equate the country with dramatic, rocky landscapes.  In this the second of two postings about my trip to Ethiopia, I look at Lalibela, the rural highlands and Lake […]

Ethiopia – land of mountains, myths and mysteries

Ethiopia is a country of contrasts:  jungles in the south, fertile soils in the west, and seemingly endless mountain ranges in the north.  It is also a land of legends, where, when talking to the locals, the boundaries between history, archaeology and myths seem difficult to distinguish. It was to the north of the country […]