Travels

A Visit to the Hermit Kingdom

North Korea is perhaps not the first place many people would think of for a holiday, but if you look beyond the newspaper headlines there is a fascinating country well worth a visit. The Korean peninsula has a long and rich history.  The first kingdom there was founded in 2333 BC.  Others followed and competed […]

The Vanishing Sea

The Aral Sea has become synonymous with environmental disaster resulting from human activity. Once the world’s fourth largest lake, it used to stretch some 400km from north to south and 280km from east to west.  Now, only a small part of it remains, the waters that fed it diverted for cotton production.  I had the […]

62 Degrees North

The Faroe Islands are a small volcanic archipelago in the North Atlantic midway between Scotland and Iceland.  Rising out of the cold grey waters that surround them, the rocky Faroes exude a rugged beauty and give the visitor a real sense of isolation.  The 18 islands are a self-governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark, […]

An Encounter with the Inca Sun God

The Peruvian city of Cuzco, high up in the Andes mountains, was the capital of the Inca empire from the 13th century until 1533 when it fell to the Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro.   Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the city now attracts over two million visitors a year, many […]

The Channel Islands – Crown Jewels off the Coast of France

The Channel Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Normandy, northern France.  Their unique history has created an unusual combination of English and French cultures.  This, together with the pretty scenery and sunny climate, makes them a popular holiday destination.  The Channel Islands are not one of Europe’s microstates, but like Andorra, Liechtenstein […]

Armenia – Land of Mountains and Monasteries

Armenia – or Hayastan to give it its Armenian name – is a small, landlocked country in the South Caucasus, a mountainous territory between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.  Lying at the eastern most boundary of Europe, the region is a strategic crossroads linking the ‘Old Continent’ with Asia.  Over the centuries, Armenia […]

Rapa Nui

Before visiting Easter Island, I had not really realised quite how isolated it was.  In fact, it is one of the remotest inhabited places on our planet.  Set in the south eastern part of the Pacific Ocean, the small triangular island lies over 3700km west of Chile and more than 2000km east of tiny Pitcairn Island […]

Oman and the Al Hajar Mountains

During my latest visit to Oman, as well as visiting the coastal capital Muscat, I ventured into the interior to the Al Hajar Mountains, to Nizwa with its fort, and to the impressive Jebel Akhdar, or Green Mountain.  Click on the pictures below for a description of each place. Situated at the South-Eastern corner of […]

The Island of Dragon’s Blood Trees

Socotra is a place of legends and myths.  In ancient times, the Phoenicians – the seafarers from what is today Lebanon – believed that it was on this mysterious island in the Indian Ocean that the phoenix lived.  It was also thought to be the home of another mythical bird, the giant roc, which featured […]

Somewhere Over The Rainbow…

So, I’m just back from the so-called Hermit Kingdom, or the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea as it is officially known.  Stepping out of the Air Koryo Tupolev at Pyongyang Airport, I was met by a scene that could have come straight from some film depicting a stereotypical image of a drab dictatorship:  grey skies […]