Travel Writing Competition 2012 Entries Page4

'Peppery' Tales From A Weird Abuja-Calabar Trip

The day began with tragedy. A building collapse in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, had gulped 10 lives in a calamity that underscored the fragility of human life. It happened exactly adjacent the hotel I lodged in, on Gimbiya Street...

More Details

A Dip into Hell

The thing that strikes you about Rwanda is how green it is. As green as we were in March 1994.

More Details

A Dusty Smile

When I was at Varsity in Cape Town, my parents came to visit and we decided to travel up the West Coast of South Africa. There are basically two roads to choose from when travelling in this part of the world, the main...

More Details

A Few Moments in Merida

I wake up in Merida, sweating and alone, a double bottom bunk to myself. I kick my foot out across the lumpy emptiness and wish the whirring fan could blow me out of the bed. I turn the fan off and hear the faint tinkering...

More Details

A Fijian recipe for disaster

I’d followed him into the bazaar like a dumb animal. “We will make ika-va-ko-lo-lo,” he said, rolling the word and flashing a white smile from his handsome face. “Ika-va-ko-lo-lo. Fish with coconuts.

More Details

A French Mechanic

‘Excuse me?’ I asked with stress in my voice. The mechanic stopped drilling and looked up. He stamped out his cigarette and babbled. I looked at my friends, none of us spoke a word of French and we were all tense.

More Details

A man's world...Amman

No pun intended but I love playing with words. My son asks: “Is this place called Amman because a man sings all day?” He was referring to the mosque calling, my seven year old boy. “Maybe it’s because a man...

More Details

A Night under the Stars

Night was falling, and fast. One by one, the stars put on their lights against the wide canopy of a purple sky stretched out between the Himalayas. In other circumstances, I would have been standing rapt...

More Details

A night with a stranger to find a missing bag

I was 20 years old at the time and it was my first time travelling by myself and my first visit to South East Asia so as you can imagine it was a bit of a culture shock. I was visiting one of my university friends...

More Details

A Piece of Cake

“It’s uta” Frank said gloomily. Such an innocent, little word. Yet one which every researcher who sets foot in the Peruvian rainforest dreads to hear. We looked in dismay at the ulcer on his wrist.

More Details

A Room With A Cloud

The back streets of Rome were lumpy and bumpy. The cobbled roads erratic as a choppy sea. My husband swore loudly as one of the nasty cobbles twisted the wheel off our obese suitcase.

More Details

A Somber Procession

They were moments I would never forget, but not for the reasons one might expect from a dream vacation in Spain.

More Details

Accidental Storm Chaser

I couldn't sleep. I sat next to the window in our small, cramped car, staring wide-eyed into the mess of black outside that seemed to be collapsing in on itself over and over. My hands and knees trembled in time with the bats...

More Details

Altiplano Bus Drama

It had all started so well. Uyuni, several thousand metres up in the Bolivian Altiplano, was a traveller’s hub with a frontier feel. Backpackers had either just arrived across the Salar de Uyuni salt lake from the lunar-like...

More Details

Aosta

So this is how Mary felt, I thought: Tired, worried, a bit desperate. Homeless. Only Mary had Joseph - and I was alone. I imagined Joseph would have reassured Mary. I’ll find somewhere.

More Details

At the mercy of Mumbai

When finding yourself in a dismal situation, it is easy to imagine that everyone you encounter is revelling in your misfortune. It therefore becomes acceptable to wind up bitter and twisted when considering their intentions...

More Details

Aussie Vacation

My story begins on a winter’s night on a rooftop in Surfers Paradise where I was relaxing in a hot tub with my daughter Katrina and daughter-in-law Louise. Our original plan had been to jump into the spa in the apartment...

More Details

Baltic roofs

The lighting was perfect, the set-ups flawless, the camera suitable expensive and yet my holiday photographs were still an enormous disappointment. Beautiful shots of Baltic roofs and sweeping views failed spectacularly...

More Details

Blue moon Kayak

“A full moon kayak?” I asked, intrigued. Dan, whom I’d met a few days ago in Bellingen, a village on Australia’s East Coast, had just invited me to join him for a paddle down the local Bellinger River.

More Details

Cha-cha and the church

The door slammed shut. With it the tin frame of the Soviet-era bus rattled into my head. Jolted awake, I rubbed the gauze of recycled air from my eyes and blinked into reality.

More Details

Cold Welcome

I learned I had failed the bar exam in October. I had months until my next chance to retake it. Tired of living in Memphis after over a decade, I relinquished my house, scattered my possessions across a dozen...

More Details

Communal 101

At sixteen, I received honorable mention of the most memorable experience, which jolted my juvenile American perspective, as a student ambassador to Japan. During my three weeks, I attended an English Camp...

More Details

Congo Crossings

It feels like I should stay longer in Brazzaville. It calls to me - the European feel of the city - but there is really nothing more to keep me. The only reason I can think of for not leaving Brazzaville immediately...

More Details

Conquered By Corcovado

I met my friends at the same café where Snoop Dogg filmed a music video. It’s tucked at the base of Corcovado Mountain, home to a statue of World Wonder status, Christ the Redeemer.

More Details

Copenhagen is a condition of the heart. That street a bit less.

There’s a place I didn’t want to be, better, to end up to. It all happened this Summer I still can’t figure out a concrete explanation...

More Details

Destination: I Do

Hundreds of guests were seated inside the Golden Royal Hall. From where I stood though, it looked like the entire city of Nanjing was present. I felt dizzy, then fainted in my itchy cheongsam and torturously heavy headpiece.

More Details

Detour

We shouldn’t be here, that was my only thought as we sat uncomfortably in the dark interior of the now precariously tilted jeep. Doors firmly locked but windows open slightly to try and mitigate the dead, suffocating heat.

More Details

Do you smell that

“Do you smell that?” asked my husband Scott. “I do,” I replied. You couldn’t miss the toxic smell that hung in the air; a combination of feces, piling garbage, and cramped living conditions.

More Details

Dublin

In a shower room, located in a Dublin apartment, I did my best to manuver myself and my hiking pack in the generous 36 x 12 inch standing space. The compartment, for it was hardly a room, was a small sink and bathtub...

More Details

Escaping Kaza on 340 Rupees and a Cracker

Two weeks before my sister’s wedding in Norfolk, England, I was stranded in Kaza, on the edge of the Himalayas in Northern India. This was due to an unexpected snow fall blocking the road to the North...

More Details

Everybody Loves Florida, Except Me.

I’ve been traveling to “the place I don’t want to be”, Florida, for the past 12 years. My parents and in-laws have condos, which are within ten minutes walking distance from each other.

More Details

Eyes Closed, Full Speed Ahead

The searing temperatures of the mid-Australian outback sap my energy. The Stuart Highway stretches ad infinitum and the monotony of the featureless landscape and intense heat are getting to me.

More Details

Far Out Man

I had hit the two-week mark of my three-month trip travelling around Europe and I was yet to see sun. As the ferry began gliding through the Aegean Sea, and the sun began making our pale winter skin prickle...

More Details

Flying Over The Pond

I was on a long haul flight, my first, and doing it alone, and I was scared, sure I would not survive the trip. What with terrorists lurking and storms rising, not to mention a rogue pilot and metal fatigue...

More Details

Forgotten in Cairo

In 2010, I lost my job and decided to travel the world. I was adventurous but naďve, a fact that finally became clear when I went to Egypt.

More Details

Grounded in Axum

I glanced over my lunch at the dreadlocked and infuriatingly cheerful Ethiopian sitting opposite. He was shifting in his seat, trying to attract my attention, looking as though he was preparing to engage me in conversation.

More Details

Guns, Bacon, and Boogers

I currently dwell in Mexico and most people imagine my day-to-day life involving shoot-outs and cowboy clad ‘narcos’ strolling down the street. And yes, those two things go hand-in-hand; just like Bonnie and Clyde...

More Details

HOGWASH!!!

I woke up that day with a cloud of uncertainity hovering around my head.I didn't know where my life was carrying me.All I wanted to do was to travel,travel and travel and learn,learn and learn.

More Details

Hotel Sleep Less

The sun was shining so brightly that I instantly felt the urge to jump right into the clear blue ocean. I decided to go to the seaside for a few days and since my budget was pretty low, I wanted to stay in a youth hostel.

More Details

How the Other Half Travels

Bound in a straightjacket of double backpacks, waiting outside my guesthouse for a shuttle to the bus station, I just can't shake the menacing feeling that I’d been forgotten.

More Details

Humour Me (Because I Know The Forecast)

‘Your name is Vinay, madam?’ asks a taxi driver, suddenly appearing at my side, he smiles a toothless smile. I nod, noticing his bright friendly eyes, wondering how he knows my name. From the pocket of his shirt he...

More Details

I can't and I won't...Let's do it again!

The only “travelling” I did was on the internet. It was just a matter of time before I met someone of interest that in a way made my heart flutter. Unfortunately, my love interest was way over the border of the...

More Details

Infinitesimal Isolation

I stood 1 floor down, miles from view. I took another step forward. My lungs crammed tight as they sifted through the zephyr. The cluttered backdrop of traffic roared across the city, blinking lights in my peripheral vision.

More Details

Into the Colombian Wilderness...

As I stood overlooking the sand grave that had been dug for me, my jaw dropped open and I nervously glanced around for an escape route. Julio’s beaming face lent little reassurance and when he started gesturing towards...

More Details

Is there a paradise on earth

The program looked nice: three nights in a good hotel, transfer from and to the airport, one day on an uninhabited island, and the flight from Tokyo to Naha, on Okinawa's main island. For a short family trip...

More Details

It was the best of meals, it was the worst of meals...

It was staring at me. I was sitting next to my boss, the principal of the Korean school were I teach English, when he dumped a spoonful of soup containing the dead cat fish in my bowl. Dead. Cat. Fish.

More Details

Knight of the night

From my position I could get a clear view of the rib cage and the insides of the stomach, the sight of which churned up my own insides. I tried to move away but the rudimentary wooden floor beneath my feet began to creak...

More Details

Lobby

“F#ck off, old man,” wasn't quite the response I expected from the dreadlocked young woman sitting at the computer in the hotel lobby. Or, perhaps, it was.

More Details

Long Wall of Ten Thousand Li

- “Elisabeth, we´re going to the Great Wall of China tomorrow.” - “But!...” - “I know what you´re thinking, we´ve been on a train for twenty-one hours, we only have two days...

More Details

Lost in Lesotho

We had to be weary of rock falls along the winding road up to Bokong Nature Reserve in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho. At more than 3000m above sea level, the nature reserve is one of the highest in Africa.

More Details

Lubuagan: The Young Child of Tradition and Innovation

I am not a traveler. I’d rather stay at home and watch TV all day long rather than explore places and meet different faces. I never imagined that I will be travelling for almost 48 hours-back and forth- to a world-renowned...

More Details

Making it as a Cowgirl

My childish enthusiastic shouts of “giddyap,” always gained the same response. An exasperated blast of sour nicotine tinged breath followed with the sullen instruction to, “pipe down, kid.”

More Details

Misadventure by Rail

Clawing my way gradually up from the depths of sleep, I awaken to find the cabin bathed in an eerie, orange Sodium glow. I'd been lulled to sleep by the rhythmic sway of the train as it sped its way through the night...

More Details

Misba: Bereavement, sorrow, disaster, calamity, catastrophe

It is also the word used for the grieving ceremony which follows a death in East Africa.

More Details

My Travel Story

As I sit in the dark, I watch in awe as seven priests ring bells as they each hold large candle holders containing over 100 lit candles.

More Details

Naraka or Bust

23h17 - Like trying to dodge the cracks on a pavement I manoeuvre myself over and around sleeping bodies that litter the platform in Agra. The pungent vapour reeking from the urinals burns my nose so I hasten my step...

More Details

Nervous

Getting into Guatemala shouldn't have been that complicated. David and I had taken a bus from San Pedro, Belize, to the border, but we hadn't known about the exit fee. So, there we were, lining up with the rest of the...

More Details

Nipple Rescues Vietnam Vacation

At a noisy Colorado hair salon, I'm describing my adventure to my stylist......... My wife and I had arrived in Hanoi, late. Exhausted, she fell asleep but I was hungry.

More Details

Oh! Home Sweet Home

Our decision to travel to Korea (1994) was based on the many wonderful accounts we had had about the country from our Korean colleagues in Australia. Besides, it was not too long a flight from Brisbane...

More Details

On a Bamboo Raft

Sometimes you know the answer but you can’t help asking the question. Just as I did that day when I looked at a bamboo raft on a river bank in northern Thailand. “For river rafting tomorrow?”

More Details

Ou est le Printemps

At -40 Fahrenheit and Celsius are the same. That was the cold in Quebec City in January – so far below freezing, it ceased to matter.

More Details

Perplexing Moments In The Shadows Of April

I arrive in Rwanda after traveling hours on end. What a contrast! From a city defined by gutters to a stunningly clean city that brings good thoughts to mind. What I had in sight was well worth waiting for.

More Details

Pineapple. Pineapple. Mango.

This is how our group was split—the mangoes were to finish painting inside the newly renovated ranger station, while the pineapples had been drafted to complete trail restoration, all in Costa Rica’s Palo Verde National Park.

More Details

Pongola Rafting Trip

Andrew, an office colleague, convinced me to accompany him and some explorers on a relaxed rafting trip down a stretch of the Pongola River, on the border of the Ithala Game Reserve in Kwazulu-Natal.

More Details

Questioning Stares

I’d been in the country less than 24 hours before I became lost—and I don’t mean I struggled to locate the campus cafeteria; I mean LOST in the border between Hong Kong and Mainland China.

More Details

Rain

Water trickling down the back of your neck. Water beating on your knees. Water soaking through your boots. Somehow, water trickling upwards inside the sleeves of your jacket. When you ride a motorbike, there’s nothing...

More Details

Riding the Southern Ocean and 'Driving the Porcelain Bus'

Things are flying around the cabin, leaving me in no doubt that the ship has left the protection of the pack ice and and has hit the Southern Ocean...

More Details

Riyadh Taxi Journey

The plan is to get a train to Dammam. I’m only going because I want to keep my visa multiple and I have to cross a border and the nearest and most accessible is Bahrain. To do this I need to get to Dammam and then get...

More Details

Sleepless

I had no idea what time it was but I was tired and I could not close an eye. Dark thoughts, darker than the room I was in, were swirling through my tired brain. Where is my friend? I have been twisting and turning...

More Details

Smile

“Don’t go in.” “Oh my God, this is so gross.” “Oh, Jeez!”

More Details

Stalked

It is surprisingly difficult to identify a psychopath. You may think that instinct will kick in when the time is crucial and that you, as a functional, relatively sane individual, will recognise the potential for darkness in another.

More Details

Sweet Justice

It was one of those times when silence would have been the best policy. Unfortunately, for my sister and me, a few sharp words said aloud had brought about its own kind of justice.

More Details

Sweet-talking Immigration Officers and their Unstoppable Flattery

He let the cigarette dangle from his mouth while we battled out our argument via the most intense staring contest I’ve been honored to be involved in since perhaps grade school.

More Details

Tahiti Titanic

Feeling like Kate Winslet in Titanic, I balanced on the bow of our yacht, my salty hair swept back in the breeze, my sheer cotton shirt billowing behind. Dolphins raced us in the turquoise waters, so clear we could see the seabed.

More Details

Tamarindo

I could have planned the trip better, I admit that. Vivian and I were trying to get from Arenal, Costa Rica, to the small beach town of Samara, on the Pacific Coast. I hadn't arranged transportation beforehand...

More Details

The Cliffs of A'Mhaighdean

Your thought process is a unique one when hanging by the tips of your fingers from a ledge above a 25ft cliff. The overpowering knowledge that imminent death is a reality makes it difficult to move.

More Details

The day I was going to die in Malta

It was a killer of a schedule. Three working days visiting hotels, historical palaces and magnificent private gardens, popping in restaurants and beach clubs. God bless Le Meridien hotel for pampering me with a complimentary...

More Details

The Eighth Day

Everyone should do it, the rite of passage holiday. Seven days of no sleep, no memory and enough alcohol to start the onset of cirrhosis of the liver. I’d spent mine in Magaluf. But as the coach pulled into Palma airport...

More Details

The gift of Altitude sickness

Our destination, The Hampta Pass, was to be reached the following afternoon. The rainy mist of Vashisht village lay far behind us as we penetrated the upper reaches of the Kullu valley.

More Details

The Inner Teen and the Mighty Hurler

(A place half of me did not want to be)

More Details

The Night I 'Met' Ikizukuri

It was a late evening in Tokyo. Heavy clouds wrapped the city in a grey robe and the darkness just intensified the dullness. It was about time to find a warm, cozy shelter to enjoy some good food and above all...

More Details

The Olympic Games were in London, not Paris y'know

Humans are fragile beings; our lives can change in an instant for reasons voluntary or involuntary. I would say that, like most 24 year olds, I had not given much thought to my own fragility, I was too busy having fun...

More Details

The Picnic of Despair

The fingernails were longer than hygienically acceptable and what was crusted beneath them was a substance far more ominous than dried grease. There was no alley to flee to, no dumpster to dive in, and absolutely...

More Details

The Third Day

There was no dusk those first few days at the Torres del Paine; evening just came down. It seemed to rush in randomly minutes after we’d arrived at the campsites and Alejandra muttered Argentinian curses against it...

More Details

The Trouble With Reason

My decision to spend my dream vacation in the corners of South West China, Yangshuo, felt similar to choosing exotic food on a menu, based solely on the name. I was spinning the wheel, randomly trying to pick...

More Details

Threadless and Thoughtfree

From the locker room as I looked at the bathing area through the glass partition wall, the first thing that caught my attention was a completely unclothed teenage girl being vigorously and voraciously scrubbed by...

More Details

Time Out London

As two immigration officers strategically walking in front and behind me to prevent my escape escorted me through the London Stansted airport and onto a plane heading to Germany, I couldn’t help but think that in...

More Details

To Thee I Will Give-Barcelona

Last July, Brittany and I met while study abroad in France. While in Europe we were encouraged to travel on the weekends. Half way through our trip, we decided that we should head south, fleeing the unusually rainy and cold...

More Details

Travelling in India

Travelling in India is tough. You spend your time wishing you were tucked up in your own, comfortable bed in familiar surroundings, where you understand the street signs. My partner, Luke, and I backpacked round...

More Details

Trip To The Mosquito Land

July is a great month to go Kayak touring right? My husband and I spent a week in mid-July on the South coast finding great spots to kayak. We spent a day paddling around combo Island on Long Island, Nembe Bayelsa...

More Details

Twenty-four Little Hours

One year, my husband and I visited Tangier. We had been spending time in Seville, Spain and decided to break up our stay with a weekend in Morocco. I read our travel guide before going and it warned against staying...

More Details

Underground Yucatan

In the mist of the Mexican drug war, swine flu, hurricanes, and oil spill disasters, I decided to take a solo backpacking trip though the Yucatan peninsula. After the sudden, tragic death of my fiancé, I learned the painful...

More Details

Underworld

“Get down, there’s going to be an explosion!”

More Details

Via U-Tapao

She wasn’t the sort of travelling companion I would ever choose. Not in a pink fit, much less when trying to evacuate a country, through an airport not designed for its task. The press had promised chaos, mayhem...

More Details

WHAT IS IT!

is? ''IT''... because my expectations are too high, because your appreciation is too low.

More Details

Where Is David Attenborough When You Need Him

Africa is a dangerous place. Very dangerous. Actually, that’s a bit of an unfair generalization. A generalization I had speedily reached in a moment of blind panic.

More Details

Wild animal like Tiger, Lion etc

We drove along a track of corrugated mud towards the river. Manjit, our driver, parked the car in a fog-bound clay pit, and disappeared into the wasteland with promises of an early morning chai. It was still dark.

More Details

You're So Lucky!

“You’re so lucky” Monica said to me and I beamed with unbridled anticipation as we poured over pictures of the beautiful Zane yacht depicted on the web, her glorious wooden deck bedecked with a lavishly laid table...

More Details