Travel Writing Competition 2011 Entries Page2

A Carpet to Ride

"Money comes and goes, but a carpet you have forever" according to Mohammed, the smoothly spoken owner of the carpet emporium I chanced on in Marrakech. "You know Paul McCartney and Brian Ferry? - Well they've bought carpets from me"...

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A Chance Encounter on the Road from Cape Town to Cairo

“Do you want to come on my felucca?” “Later?” “Tomorrow?” “Next week?” “Next life?” Egypt was wearing me down. The patience that I had built up through Africa was rapidly being eroded. A vulnerable veneer of...

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A change of mind

It was 11 years ago yet very few travel encounters have come close to matching the experience of myself with six of my, then, close friends on a bus across the country from our university in the small city of Grahamstown...

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A Grass Skirt from TANNA

I still have the grass skirt; it’s lasted amazingly well. All around it in the wardrobe, woollen coats get eaten by moths and cotton fades, but this fragile piece of clothing made of dried pampas grass and vegetable...

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A Lesson Ill never forget

‘Madam, it’s the perfect weekend getaway from Bangalore’, the travel agent had promised us.

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A Meeting In Paris

Almost three years ago, as an excitable eighteen year old, I finally visited France’s capital for the first time, and between the icy temperatures and regular downpours of November, the sights and sounds were just...

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A Moroccan Proposal

We sit, just a friend and I at the edge of a deserted road, edging closer to the bushes lining the road, desperately trying to stay in the shade.

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A night to remember in Burma

Morning was greeted by beating drums and chants as the locals carted their colourful donations towards the Nyaung Shwe monastery. It was the second last day of the national holiday and the annual donations...

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A Paris Encounter

It sat in the corner by itself, a silent menacing presence. It gave no clues as to its family of origin, terrifying in its brown ordinariness.

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A Single Moment

To adequately portray a pilgrimage through Vietnam on paper is a seemingly impossibly task. When a naïve, untravelled, well-sheltered teenage girl embarks on a mission of compassion, a mere few minutes...

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A Sweaty, Painful Kind of Groove

2 pairs of steely eyes followed my every move, the faces belonging to the eyes, emotionless yet purposeful. It didn’t take long for me to crack. “Ok! Ok! Fine! I will go jogging now!”

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Adens Own Daddy Cool

“How did that song go?” he asked. We sat in the back of the taxi, in forty degrees of heat, not quite believing our ears. Selim had just declared his love for Tina Charles.

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Alicante

“You? YOU are going to Alicante?” My friends continued to interrogate me in disbelief. “You do realise it’s full of retired British couples with faces so sunburnt you’d think they’d just finished running there from Scotland?”

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An Addendum

I’ve been lucky to have done some really neat things in my life drive the Alaska Highway, hike Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit, swim on Wake Island. And one thing has always been for sure: when you...

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An African Encounter

Hands in my pockets I walked towards the border clutching my possessions. The atmosphere of a street market mixed with a fervent desire by natives and foreigners to cross the border encouraged a hostile atmosphere.

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An Encounter with the Gods

With each clap and roll of thunder, another small chunk of roof fell into the hut on the steep mountainside, peppering the six inhabitants with wood. We were late into the night, but none of us dared sleep.

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An Unexpected Gift

In Bolivia, the sun is king. It is the first to greet you as you arrive and the last to bid you farewell, peering at you over the horizon as your plane climbs far above the steamy rainforests and endless roads.

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Anna

“I don’t love you,” Anna started one typical warm, sunny, Goan day. My lean-to stood on the bluff. Overlooking the beach and the Indian Ocean, it faced west.

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Aotearoa a womans journey

In the midst of this woman’s journey she is making each day count, she is visiting Aotearoa land of the long white cloud, commonly known as New Zealand. The woman sees a clearing and she can rest once more.

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As my father

As my father and I exited the Lagos airport, I was filled with wonder, because I had finally returned to Africa after 13 years. Reportedly the motherland of us all, it was a completely different world.

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Cambodia Flash

A full passport is every traveler’s dream – until it becomes an immigration nightmare.

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Change But The Name

Kibera is a stretching vista of refuse-strewn tracks and refuse strewn streams, between which polygonal clusters of concrete, wood and sheet iron house nigh-on a million people. On the fringe of this district I ambled...

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Charity in Seville

Visitors to Seville today might claim that the Real Alcazar is more palace than fortress but thankfully, I found it can still provide a refuge for the unseasoned traveller.

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Close to Death on Lake Baikal

Anya and I had just done something which still gives me nightmares when I close my eyes. It was the 20th of February, and we were adventuring deep into Siberia.

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Crashing Weddings and Beehives in Turkeys Wild Northeast

We open the hive and at least 100 bees hit my face like bullets. As the bees dart for my exposed hands, I curl my fingers, feeling flesh swell against the crunch and hum of stingers and bee-wings.

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Crossing Borders

Her name was Estrella, and she lived behind two borders, and I was stuck among many more. I had stumbled upon her during one of my many wanderings. Exoticism, traveling, and the corresponding arrogance...

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Cusco to Lima

Protests had stalled our journey from Cusco to Lima. After dropping out of altitude overnight we inexplicably stopped outside the sandboarding town of Ica. We puttered into the arid town of Pisco, ten hours from Lima.

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Desert Search

As we clattered through the Kyzylkum desert in the battered shared taxi, the driver reached across and offered me some pills.

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Dizzy

Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor is deliciously overwhelming. Neon-clad children ride scooters across it at midnight, navigating their way through clusters of tourists. University students, in scarves and sunglasses...

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Dotty the Dolphin

Today, I stepped into an ice cold lagoon and made a forever friend. Dotty, the mischievous bottle-nosed dolphin, may have cost a fortune to meet but she was worth every penny. In true dolphin style, she made her first appearance with a splash.

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Duck Daddy and his Village

‘I am Joseph, Duck Daddy,’ a voice booms. A spectacle covered in silt emerges like Neptune from the mud in Malta’s Sliema creek, clutching a rake.

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Earthquake...

It sounded like trains rumbling through the quiet of night, only you never quite knew when to expect them. Most of the time my heart was beating as if I’d been running away from these invisible trains...

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Elephants and tigers and leeches, oh my!

10 Nov 2008: Somewhere in the bowels of Taman Negara, the oldest rainforest in the world, eating glorified pot noodles, whilst pulling a reluctant burrowing leech from my trainer.

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Fijian Rose

Our white minibus hurtled down the gravelly mud road like an apparition against the indigo blanket of night. Besides crushing of heavy wheels against small stones and thumping of hearts against ribcages...

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Final Frontier

It’s a jawbone, the crunch beneath my hiking boot. A HUMAN JAWBONE! And there are still teeth attached. It is a grizzly reminder of why I’m here and to distract myself I focus on the colourful strings of prayer flags flapping around me.

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Finding More Than Just Myself In Malaysia

Researching family trees and ancestral blood lines has always been a popular hobby. Especially for those whose families moved to the new world - finding connections to ancient lands is incredibly novel.

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Finding My Inner Guacha

“Riding a horse,” said Juan Manuel, “is like sex. Do it with confidence and personality.” My previous experience consisted of trail rides.

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Georgie

The rain shot down without an ounce of mercy. It pounded on every inch of Georgie’s cab—it trickled down the sides and danced down the windows.

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Giants of the Mekong

Cambodia with its Indiana Jones style temples, bustling market places and beautiful south-east Asian beaches is a must-see for any intrepid traveller.

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Gun in Istanbul

We were escorted by three waiters down a dark, airless corridor, the smell of cigarette smoke clinging to the air. In disbelief 'Welcome to Istanbul' I thought to myself. Only five hours in Turkey and I was in trouble.

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Hope From the Eyes of A Tukik

The rough road to Pangumbahan Beach was nothing compared to the emotional experience that greeted me the end of it.

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How Now Brown Cow

We begin our 4.5 hour trek from the Hotel Posada in the Asturian Arriondas hills, with the suggestion from the walking guide to keep an eye out for red squirrels. Now, if I look out into my garden...

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I dont think her mother taught her anything

“I don’t think her mother taught her anything,” whispered Josefina to her daughter, Maria Santana, both of whom sat on the back step of the house smoking their pipes.

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I met a holy man in India once

I met a holy man in India once. Well, sort of. And not in an Eat, Pray, Love kind of way.

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If you re lucky

If you’re lucky, one day, you’ll get to go to this village, named Odede. You won’t find it on a ma; to get there, go to the matatu station in Kisumu, and ask someone for the right bus. Then, pray they’ll tell you where...

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Istanbul a Mystifying Experience

This is the first time I have ever gone to Istanbul and what a mystical, exotic place it is with so many sights and sounds to see.

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Last Moment in Bali

Everything was packed and prepared. I saw my girlfriend with her friend was sitting in the terrace facing the beach. They were having cup of tea and cookies. I came to join in and then soon we have pineapple to share.

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Let it snow

Adrian and I are seasoned winter travelers due to the availability of cheap flights and our anniversary falling at the end of February. We’d seen some of Europe’s finest cities at their coldest...

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Majorca

The island of Majorca is one of the favorite holiday destinations of German tourists. So I always wanted to visit it, to see with my own eyes, if it was as nice, as everybody said. One year me and my husband finally went there.

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Making Friends in Kefa

“Excuse us for staring but we’re not used to people like you here.” Smiling broadly, staring intently, ten or more people seem to emerge from invisible crevices of the tardis-like...

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Memorable encounter

As I walk under the hot sun in the walled city once called Ragusa, I leave my passengers behind, get on the small side streets and find Tina waiting for me by the restaurant’s door.

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Moment In Time

The sun bathed my face and back in a warm, all-encompassing glow. I heard the rubber tyres of my wheelchair grip the wooden boardwalk.

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Mount Bromo: A Mercurially, Mesmerizing Janus

A trip breezing by without a glitch easily fades into the recesses of blasé memories. The foregoing description immediately disqualifies Mount Bromo, an active volcano, towering at 7,641 feet in East Java, Indonesia.

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My most memorable encounter

My most memorable encounter happened on a Jeep Safari in Turkey where my family and I met six great people who formed a micro army that would fight together for 6 hours to protect one jeep!

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My Pretend Family

The sun beat relentlessly onto the red sandstone floor of the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi. Already sweating and parched, I staggered around the shaded cloisters on the perimeter of the courtyard...

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My sixth scuba dive at Luganville

My sixth scuba dive at Luganville, Vanuatu, was the most amazing experience ever, and so very nearly my last. I was one of a small group of divers following the rope down to the wreck of the USS President Coolidge.

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Night fishing in Gumusluk

Sami is a Turkish waiter who persuades my friend Jane and I to go night-fishing on his restaurant's boat.

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October 2008

It was October 2008 and the notes from the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics were still hanging in the air as I began my journey along the grandiosely named "Trans-Sumatran Highway".

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Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

To walk down the streets of Old San Juan is to walk in Old World Europe. The narrow streets, the cobblestone, the 16th-century forts all belie the fact that this is the New World and one of the busiest...

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On the Road to Cape Maclear

The white Mazda truck gleamed in the gathering dusk. The driver was smoking under a nearby baobab tree. As he ground the cigarette butt beneath his feet and ambled to the truck, people appeared from nowhere...

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On the Streets of Mandalay

It was a balmy night in Mandalay. (Sometimes it’s hard to avoid clichés, especially when writing about exotic tropical locales that evoke nostalgia.)

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Palmyra By Night

My bus casually rolls through Palmyra, an ancient town lying against a backdrop of a fertile oasis and Roman ruins dating back centuries. It’s located in Syria’s central desert and flies the flag to a prosperous history...

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Peruvian Perils

‘No, I’m not doing it,’ I stated calmly but very firmly. ‘You want to, you do it,’ still said firmly but with a hint of hysteria creeping in.

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Peruvian Perils

‘No, I’m not doing it,’ I stated calmly but very firmly. ‘You want to, you do it,’ still said firmly but with a hint of hysteria creeping in.

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Rome - Stuck in History

People were banging on both sides of the train trying to get in, even as it started to more away sluggish at first from the overload, more people ran alongside desperate to get inside.

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Scaring The Demons

In Delhi the tempo increased as the third night of Diwali –the Indian festival of light - approached. There was excitement in the air and a buzz of expectation.

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Silence in Killarney

The small, blue cockleshell in the reed didn?t look very confident. We climbed carefully into the boats and the boatsmen started. The snort of the ponies died away behind us.

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Soba in Shizuoka

“Yokoso!”, an honorific warm-hearted welcoming expression from Sumiko-san and Shinji-san, or Mrs. Sumiko and Mr. Shinji, decorated my first arrival in a small, serene, and green village of Yuno, at Shizuoka prefecture, Japan.

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Sometimes its the People, Not the Places

I hadn’t slept well despite the airport hotel’s comfy bed. My first flight had been delayed, and I’d arrived at Heathrow late, set the alarms on both cell phones, asked for an alarm call from reception for back up...

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Sumbawanga... The meeting place of witches

Cabin crew, prepare for landing! My six year old's hand of comfort squeezing mine tightly as we hit another ground in a different place. He is so used to our frequent travel, protecting mum as I pretend again that I’m afraid of a fall.

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Taking a Bite of the Big Apple

Arriving in New York can feel rather overwhelming. With hurried people, noisy conversations, cars and skyscrapers surrounding you. You may start to feel as though you’ve stepped into a whole different universe.

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The Antennae

"Are you afraid of heights?" he asked. Had I learned nothing? A month earlier, when asked that same question, I got strapped to a cable, ziplining above traffic. My stubborn streak finds trouble for me.

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The Canadian 002

The Canadian 002 from Vancouver thunders steadily along the steel rails and timber sleepers, cajoling its way through the majestic rocky mountains deep into British Columbia.

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The Day I met the Pachyderm

As I open my eyes on a warm monsoon morning I realise I am not at home. As drowsiness lifts, I walk up to the window to take a look outside. I see a warm monsoon mist ascending the green mountains of the “Nilgiris”.

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The First Flight

The cold, hard all-night unforgiving concrete of the North West Australian Main Roads Department depot floor, told him more about his real condition than any guide, best friend or philosopher ever would.

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The Flight of the Condor

It was January, 2000 and my dad and I were sitting on top of a rocky promontory in Torres del Paine National Park, in southern Chile, withstanding the strong cold Patagonian winds that pierced through our parkas...

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The Heart of India

The drive to Pench Tiger Reserve, in central India, is long and the air thick with dust. Throngs of cars choke the road and roadside cattle stare at me with eyes yellow and insolent.

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The Kangaroo Chronicles

At the turning of the ninth month my girlfriend and I decided to take a road trip to Augusta on the West Australian coast. I confess that my heart harked for a return to telephone banking as I yearned for the chance to...

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The Many Faces of Hanoi

One of the great things about travelling is that you get to meet a lot of new people in a very short space of time. Remembering exactly who they all are and what they all look like, however, is not always easy.

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The Otter

Isle of Mull, October 1st, 2010, and I was on a quest for otters. Two days before, I had joined a wildlife watching tour, and at the very end of this tour we had spotted an otter...

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The Sento Dilemma

It was with some confidence that I parted the blue noren obscuring the door of the Tokyo bathhouse, slipped off my shoes and strode up to the 'bath mistress', a formidable woman of middling age, with forearms like a sumo wrestler who was staffing the counter.

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The Still Of The Canyon

It’s just before seven and the shadows are slowly lengthening. To the right, monolithic mesas and buttes stretch to the horizon and glow orange, scarlet and copper red as the rocky outcrops absorb the last rays of the sun.

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The Turning of the Bones

Thirty miles away from the stamp of our feet and the crash of our laughter, an eagle flies over the capital city of Antananarivo. He banks away from the sun, fleeing the urban shout of the underlying concrete.

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The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans

Marie Laveau is staring at me from her tomb. The Voodoo Queen is gloating, amused that after years of swearing that I did not believe in magic, I have the audacity to stand there like a hypocrite tempted to knock on her tomb.

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To be or not to be!!!

Munnar- the place I’ve travelled most. The land packed with misty mountains that rise up to the clouds. It seems like the hills are painted with cascading waterfalls and carpeted in tea plantations. And the weather...

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Tour Guide Versus Snake

I hate tours but this tour of Rajasthan looked awfully cheap. And I like cheap. I turf up at a decent hotel in Karol Bagh, Delhi.

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Trip to Vietnam from My Home in China

When the bus stops at the border, one has to drag one’s bag for about 150 metres to a huge building of the Chinese border security still under construction. Once they examine all the papers — old visa, current visa...

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Turkish Delight

I came to Istanbul to get over a boy. That may seem a bit insane but I had always wanted to come here. Then I woke up ‘the-morning-after-the-heart-breaking-night-before’ and just thought running seemed...

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Tuscan Olympia

“Let me take you someplace.” We followed a narrow, hazardous route at a considerable speed, rounding hair-pin turns on a one-way road without shoulders.

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Uncharitable acts in Seville

Visitors to Seville today might claim that the Real Alcazar is more palace than fortress but thankfully, I found it can still provide a refuge for the unseasoned traveller.

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Vito a real Italian

I had a typical aupair girl - day. Discussions about homework and limiting playstation and computer-time with the eight year old Guido.

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Waiting at the bus stop for our Thresher Shark

The island of Malapascua is renowned for its Monad Shoal dive site, the “cleaning room” for Thresher sharks. This was our final destination after a journey which can only be experienced when trying to reach...

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Watching the sky turn red

Watching the sky turn red over the Valley of the Kings is a moment very few people will ever forget. One of the world’s great panoramas, the ancient city of Luxor sprawls on the east bank and the Valley of the Kings dominates the west.

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Wise Men

A swarthy cut throat little man perched on the frame of the camel cart and steered us into the twilight. My wife and I reclined on embroidered silk cushions, spread around to engender some sense of grandeur...

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You Have the Cutest Monkey...I mean baby

Is this even safe? My arm flies across my body grabbing the blue metal bars in the back of the songthaew—which is basically the bed of a pickup truck with a roof—as we take a sharp right turn.

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Zenab

„Tell your friends please don’t be afraid, come visit Egypt and see what is changing here.“ Her eyes glint with tears, which she holds back as she offers her hand and continues, „I’m Zenab.

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Ziller River Thriller

“We need to relax this holiday, so let’s not do any crazy activities for once,” I suggested to my fiancé, to which he concurred.

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