Travel Writing Competition 2012 Entries Page2

A Flow in Florence

It happened on a trip to Florence, at none other than the Uffizi Gallery. The very same Uffizi that guidebooks recommend you pre-book because of how crowded it gets. Scores of people flock to it daily to get an eyeful...

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A Lesson In Humility

I could've marvelled at the night sky for hours - the stars were uncountable diamonds on an epic black dome, there were ethereal arcs of colourful matter, the stars blinked in an unpredictable sequence - but I was lost.

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A Place In Between

The empty cafeteria has just closed for the night but, seeing this stranger arrive, the old woman goes back to make one more coffee. Gas flames caress the heavy blue kettle and her hands are animated in their amber...

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A Red Sweatshirt

It wasn’t so much that my husband and I wanted to tour China as that we thought we should. Now that we were here, despite the cultural marvels, the affability and kindness of our guide Lee, and the omnipresent street...

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A Very Yuppie Adventure

As we looked down upon the map the red lines that crisscrossed the route we were to take looked ominous on the page. It was with trepidation that we checked to see their description as ‘dangerous’ in the key.

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A Walk in the Park

“Kilimanjaro is a walk in the park,” they said. “My aunt did it and she’s really old,” they said. What they don’t say is that ten hikers a year will die trying to climb to the top of ice-crusted Uhuru Peak, standing shy of six kilometres...

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A worthy Overseas Experience

A couple of years ago I embarked on a plane in direction to India for a Diploma training course scheduled to last two years. Being originally from Ivory Coast(Cote d’Ivoire) a West Africa country, and being on my very...

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Abu Dhabi: diamond in the rough, or just rough

The first destination of my time abroad was Abu Dhabi, or as I like to refer to it, ‘not without a hubby’. For a single white female, this would not be number one on my list of places to visit.

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An Acacia Tree in Libya

Maybe I wasn’t properly scared until I was back in England. When you are sitting under an acacia tree in the Libyan Desert everything feels so far away. Even when the text on your mobile says: ‘Civil War feared.

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An Everglades Off-Road Experience: Unplanned and Unprepared

It happened quite by accident, not by choice. A torturous three hour journey through the deep Floridian Everglades. One minute we were soaking up the heady art deco delights of South Beach, Miami, with its dazzling...

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An Unexpected Encounter in Jerusalem

I had certain expectations of Jerusalem: churches and mosques and Western Walls, an assortment of weird and wonderful new food, and maybe a political discussion or two. What I hadn't anticipated was being hit on by...

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Another Planet (AKA Christchurch)

On February 22nd 2011 Christchuch, New Zealand was hit by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake which and struck at a depth of 5km, 10km south-east of Christchurch CBD. 182 people died.

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Baguio The Beautiful And The Horrible

Baguio is the one of the coldest places in the Philippines simply because it’s perched at a height of five thousand feet above sea level. And it is one of the most happening places in the morning and at night.

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Bidding Cape Town goodbye was bad enough - then came the horror train ride

The Shosholoza train to Johannesburg is to leave at 10am. Before then, I need to make a few meetings.

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Blown Away Down Under

What was I thinking when the tour company asked if I'd share a room with someone whose roommate decided to trade her for a male companion, leaving Hilda# with a $600 single supplement to pay unless she could...

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Bottoms up in Budapest

As an afternoon of dunking and frolicking about in a Turkish Bath in Budapest drew to a close, I suggested to my ‘other half’ that we indulge in one of the onsite massages offered in this ambient, moist establishment.

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Buckets of Blessings

I squinted out the window. The apartment where we stayed was only 2 blocks away from the supermarket, but strategically situated between the apartment and the supermarket was the now ominous “Swan Lake,” where at...

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Cape of Death

As I entered the stands, the silence emanating from the arena was palpable. The dull, distant thud of hooves on sand came and went, but for the most part it was silent. Taking a seat, I allowed myself to look at the action.

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Carry on Camping

Things I hate: anything cold and wet, boisterous children, camping. As an English lady of a certain age, I enjoy a bit of comfort, peace and quiet these days. Or so I thought..

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Cheese Smuggling Through Serbia

Two graffiti covered carriages and a pair of rotund guards loomed out of the murky fog like buoys in a sea mist. One nonchalantly confirmed it was the train I wanted with a booming “yar, Belgrad, Belgrad,”

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Claptrap-Blackjack

Brother-in-law hung up his mobile. “That,” he said, “was Mr Ching.” “Mr Ching?” Across the table, brother-in-law’s smile sent...

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Cock and ball(s)

The spa director, whom I'm increasingly picturing as a former primary-school teacher of mine, is hovering. Which is miIdly irritating as I’m eager to get in the sauna. To accelerate past the awkward silence preventing my entering...

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Confucius Flavored Confusion

I was descending through the clouds wrapped in an air conditioned metal tube. I had to rub my eyes vigorously, in a futile attempt to wake myself up to the reality of the mission I had undertaken.

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Cruiseshippin

I literally had one day between returning home from Hawaii with family & friends, to leaving again for a cruise through Scandinavia with my mom and grandma. It was 2004 and I was 14. My grandma was somewhere...

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Cycling Across The Himalayas

The 1,200-km Highway 318 from Lhasa to Kathmandu has suddenly become one of the most fashionable, gruelling and wondrous trails for intern-ational mountain bikers.Originally an artery of the famed Silk toad of the...

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Dark River

I could sense the impending danger ahead. Dread rushed through my body, creeping right to my fingertips. Who knew what deadly creatures lurked beside us? Or how long we would be trapped here?

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Dear Mr Hasselhoff

I catch a cab at Bonn Airport and shoot across the Hohenzollern bridge on route to city center. The Cologne Cathedral's gothic spires hover in the distance as the great Rhine rushes beneath.

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Death by fire and elephant

‘Sorry’ said Romey, my guide, ‘we cant sleep here tonight’, there’s a forest fire, pointing to a thin wisp of smoke high up in the surrounding hills. We were due to sleep in a tribal bamboo cutters camp after a days trek...

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Detained

Technically, I am committing a crime every moment of every day. Fear of southern Africa’s courtrooms, trials and potentially prison for existing sans-Visa motivates a journey to Windhoek, the capital city.

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Diary of Americanas Abroad

October 7th, 2010 || Paris, France. We’re standing at the information desk in Paris Beuvais Airport, equipped with only the basic French phrases:

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Down and Out in Phnom Penh

In the morning I realised my wallet was gone. I searched every pocket, every bag, every corner of the room, tore through every useless page of my guidebook: the wallet had vanished in the night.

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Eating Cookie, Travelling Java

A Smiling face welcomed Samaresh inside the flight. The beautiful Air hostess of Jet Airlines International flight handed over the Menu card to Samaresh.

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Echo Chamber

My father loves to travel. He is not a patient man. I quickly discovered that is not always a pleasant combination.

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Everything is an experience

My motto in life for when things turn bad or unaccordingly to plan is that it’s an “experience”. Something I can tell my grandchildren when I am nothing but an old lady with no more than her stories of a life once lived.

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Ghost's High-noon

Daniel and I were three months into a working holiday around Australia. Our wonderful, sugar and spice adventure was about to change into a nightmare with an unforseen and terrible, bone-chilling encounter.

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Ghosts of Guadalajara

The tiny traffic light stood before me. The airport was busy; there wasn't time for me to take anything in. I shuffled my feet forward, one anxious step after another. We'd been on Mexican soil for less than thirty minutes...

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Girls just wanna have sun!

It was 3am in the morning and I found myself crammed into the back of an over-crowded, cut-price aeroplane, jostling for arm space and breathing air amidst a bevvy of slightly drunk (okay VERY drunk) young holiday makers.

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Hashing in Barbados

The sound of the bugle blows, the runners and walkers rush through the sugar cane fields dashing searching for clues to where their next clue was. “On, on” someone cries, the signal to a clue of rice found on the ground.

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Highway Robbery

If you mention Via Plebiscito to a Catanese, they look askance. "You shouldn't go there. It's dangerous." For the three months since I arrived I've avoided it. However, tonight my sense of direction has failed me and...

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Hitching a ride on the Murchison

Sun pierces my parched skin while grit kicks up from the Murchison Highway. As I pace back in 40 degree heat, I think of a million other places I’d rather be. The black bitumen cushions my lethargy underfoot...

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How to dig a hole in Africa

For over 200 million years turtles as a species have inhabited this planet. Of the 222 species of living turtles, 7 are classed as ‘sea turtles', normally spending most of their lives out in the vast blue expanse of...

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I know you are going to say no

“I know you are going to say no. But, I have to ask anyway!” With the warning that my request was going to get refused nonetheless, I started my 5 minute non stopping talking request.

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I WHAT

“I gave it to you” “No you didn’t!! My ears bled with disbelief. My passport hasn’t been taken out of the bank...

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Incident in Africa

My first day in Zambia found me lagging behind my family, having spent longer mooching around a marketplace near the breath-taking Victoria Falls which we were visiting, but they were only five minutes ahead of me...

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Inside the Exclusion Zone

Russia was burning, and northern Ukraine was blanketed in smog. As the day crept on and the temperature exceeded 40 degrees we drove further from Kiev on roads that seemed topped with treacle.

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Juicy Tales from Peru

The completion of four days hiking on the amazing Inca Trail from Cuzco to Machu Picchu was being celebrated with lunch at a restaurant down the mountain in Aguas Calientes. I was on a high, having finally seen...

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Kampala's Unlikely Hero

I sprinted down the stairs, round the corner and onto the street. Left then right, right then left I ran through the maze of streets. Eyes over my shoulder, I stopped only when certain nothing was behind me.

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La Shukran Luxor !

The plane touched down in Luxor , Egypt on a baking hot June evening . I prized my knees out of the seat in front of me , got my bags and walked outside . A man ran over shouting , “ Taxi sir , I take you to hotel...

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London Tube Interlude

It was wet and soggy in London. My sister and I had spent the morning in Harrods, ignoring the insolent weather, refusing to let the drippy drizzle ruin our city break buzz.

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Low on Gas, My Ass!

July 2007 was a holiday that could be considered perfect.

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Lusaka

I was booked on the 1 o’clock flight from Dar Es Salaam to Lusaka courtesy of Aero Zambia. They had advised me to get to the airport early because in Africa planes sometimes leave ahead of schedule if they get enough...

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May

It’s May and every local I spoke to said the weather was “unusually hot” for the time of year. We were making our way long the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Our guest house owner in Galle recommended we get a taxi...

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Middlesbrough to Amsterdam

So there we were, two best friends, 20 years old, sat in my 1997 Vauxhall Corsa which had a dodgy clutch and engine, ready to go on a stupidly ill-advised trip spanning across through 4 countries in the space of a week...

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Never have I wanted more to be wearing boots instead of flip-flops

Harry had finished his Sunday guys catch up around 7pm. I'd pottered around tidying up, food shopping and writing, and had a nice Skype chat with my parents back in England. Korea's stench-inducing heat had driven me...

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No place Like Home

IMAGINE how interesting it would be to take a trip to see how your ancestors lived. In a sense, I made such a trip to the home of my ancestors. I was born in the city and my parents had lived all their life outside the home of...

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Not the destination but the journey

After two minutes on the road we were plunged into darkness, I panicked and reached out to check that Geoff was still sitting beside me. To compensate for the loss of a sense, my nose was working overtime to make sure...

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On Overcoming Elephantine Obstacles

There are obstacles, and then there are elephantine obstacles. In the summer of 2010, I was driving from Mysore to Calicut in South India - through the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary.

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One Persons Hell can be another Persons Heaven.Family Bonding In Vietnam:

What do you do when you have to take your teenager on holiday without his older brother for the first time? I know! What was I thinking, don’t do it...

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Our Turkish Holiday where the earth moved!

In June 2012 we had an unforgettable holiday in Hisaronu – West Turkey. It was a very exciting adventure as neither of our boys had been abroad before. Billy is 7 and Jamie is 4.

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Out of Africa

I saw a dying soldier Little more than a child His new uniform concealing his wounds

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Paradise Lost

Sunlight twinkled on the glassy water and tiny, gentle, almost imperceptibly flickering waves disturbed the surface in a way that merely accentuated its flawless imperfection. The mountains rose on all sides of...

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Paris

Have you ever had to suffer the trials of an overnight train journey? ‘Travel while you sleep.’ They say. But sleep, hah!

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Peculiar touristic attractions

Inside the hospital, the narrow, dimly lit hallway is packed with the young, the old, the tired. I sniff my way in by the scent of starch and antiseptic. There are no official rules in a public Romanian hospital...

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Precautionary Chopper Tale

I’ve seen reality TV where the sweet young thing is impressed with the new suitor treating her to a helicopter ride over the city. She trots on board in a mini dress and stilettos. Someone should tell her these rides can get ugly.

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Prisoner

“I want to go back to Wadi Musa with you,” I said to the bus driver.

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Psssssst Whitey!

Well....I've experienced some squalls in my life but nothing like the fortnight that i've just had. It all started just over a week ago when after work me and a friend decided to go for sushi. As the rain fell we ran into the restaurant...

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Pure Trouble In Picturestique Puri

During summer vacation my aunty Mithila who stays in London came to India in one of her visits . She had always been a happy go lucky person .My cousin brother Nikhil and I started pesturing her so that she could manage...

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Roads less travelled-the Australian outback

There are two roads between Karijini National Park and Millstream National Park, Western Australia - one is sealed and takes about six hours. The other is unsealed, corrugated and takes about half the time...

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Scream and He'll Come Running

Maya grandmothers spank their grandchildren—at least this one did. I’d been expecting a quiet afternoon of authentic cacao making in a cozy outdoor kitchen. Now, I stared at my blue tennis shoes on the brown dirt floor...

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So this is how...

So this is How People "Enjoy" and all-inclusive Vacation in Cuba...

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Somewhere Else

Finally, my family and I were going to be expats in Asia. An adventure I had dreamed about all those years, holed up at work in my shoebox of an office trying to save the world. I had spent our last year at home gathering...

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Squatting Squabbles

We were on the air-conditioned minibus traversing from Vietnam’s Hoi An passing through smaller city Qui Nhon on the way to Nha Trang. We kept to the bigger cities and the cleaner rest stops.

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Standing at the entrance of Uluwatu Temple, we were already sceptical.

My best friend and I had looked forward to sampling the Balinese delights of Ubud for weeks, and almost hadn’t even made the journey. A day earlier, we had quite the dubious experience in Vietnam where the...

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Stop this bus!

Like all great adventures, many of the lasting memories come from the journeys we make. Boat, camel, canoe, you name it- there is a story waiting to be written. Three incredible weeks in India with my travel buddy and...

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The Bad Trip I Had

Last year we went on a school trip to Lapalala wilderness school for practicals. i was very excited in fact overjoyed because it was my first time going on a long journey with class mates and staying for a week.

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The Bikers, The Typhoon, And The Kraken

We were somewhere on the edge of Kiga when the storm finally broke. We’d been successfully outrunning the brute for the past 20 minutes, but in the final 5 before it had hit the beast had made more ground up on us...

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The Caribbean

The jumbo-jet engines whirl down as you make your way down the tarmac and as if in some movie, the sound is cut and all you are left with is the visuals of a foreign land that you studied through the pamphlet of the...

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The Deciding Spoonful

Securely plunked upon the lap of a sumo-sized ne’er-do-well in the backroom of a low-lit Rodriguan restaurant, an airplane of fishball soup approached my lips.

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The detour

“The mountains turn people crazy,” said the farmer’s wife as her husband filled up our water bottles from a cattle trough. Given we’d just attempted to hike down an overgrown valley littered with rock falls and leading...

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The Dog Show Nightmare

For those of you who have yet to visit or take part in a dog show, let me give a few short words on exited stress that involves the entire procedure. With blasters and bubbles, barks, howls and the odd accident...

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The Family I Did Not Want to Meet

It was my first close encounter with wildlife. And the last, I was telling myself. I had been to jungle treks and mountain climbing which were understandably strenuous but never dangerous.

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The Great Escape From Africa

Having found myself in the cliché of having it off with the tour guide, I had spent a large part of the evening flirting over the pool table. Subsequently, the importance of listening to the mid-night toilet trip...

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The Land of Smiles... (and Tsunamis)

Having been jokingly referred to as The Focker’s and The Griswold’s it was really no surprise when our Grand Asian Adventure turned in to a comical misadventure.

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The Luck Of The Irish!

“Welcome to Dublin!” greeted the receptionist at our hotel. “We’ve just had a nightmare journey from the port!” I cried, “It’s taken us an hour and a half to drive here!”.

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The Stranger Beside Me

“Promise you won’t scream,” Cody says, fixing me with a steely glare. “I promise.” “Cause if you scream we’re both off the bus, ok?”

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There are two types of express coach to the Cameron Highlands

This can’t be right. The bus driver has his foot down on the accelerator, is wiping the sweat away from his forehead, yet traffic is passing us with ease.

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This is Not a Holiday

The old, weary bus sets off from Asmara at 4am, overflowing with passengers and luggage. This is one of the most crowded vehicles it has ever been my pleasure to experience. The aisle is piled with bags, including our...

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Thoughts By Streetlight

Sometimes I feel warm and safe. The atmosphere envelops me and mysteries and dangers seem only theoretical. Nothing is psychically haunting. But I cannot maintain this state, and I come upon a cold exposure.

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To sleep, perchance to Dream

To sleep, perchance to Dream; Ay, there's the rub for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come William Shakespeare

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Too close for comfort

Whatever you do, don’t run! I could clearly hear the voice of the game ranger telling me not to run when being in the presence of one of the Big 5, because they could outrun me anyway. Well, here I was all alone...

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Trapped

Fourteen hours -- that's how long I'd been stuck on that infuriating, twisted road. Trapped in ninety degrees of pea soup humidity, scratching the sweat-covered, raw bedbug bites that covered my limbs and torso...

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Trials in Tribulation

“Are you sure this is the right place?” “Positive, gal. Now get out and save some bats.” Our Aboriginal driver, George, gave his deep boom of laughter, a now familiar sound after the long journey north from Cairns...

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Truffle in Paradise

The slithering, grey shadow grew larger and darker as it swam toward me and the last thing I saw before I died, with my cry for help drowning in my throat, were two rows of razor sharp teeth and the sweet face of my...

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Walk in Silence Atop Buganunggu

My country is made up of thousands of islands. Many of them are visited by domestic and international tourists. They go there for relax while enjoying the views. And the most popular one is Bali. I’m never bored with this place.

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Wound Walk

In Madeira a real place meets a nightmare as we enter the levada tunnel single file. A dead toddler was found inside by hikers. No explanation. A ghost story enhanced by the scent of mossy moisture.

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