Travel Writing Competition 2013 Entries Page1

17 hours isn't too long

What if the worst journey of your life ironically became the most memorable one? What if that one journey that makes you cross your fingers every time you remember is the same journey that makes you wish to experience...

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2010: A Greek Odyssey

There have been many epic journeys: Columbus’ voyage to the New World, Moses’ pilgrimage out of Egypt, Armstrong’s moon landing. Few were as nerve-wracking, time-consuming or rain-soaked as our trip to Corfu...

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A Bad Trip

I was a stranger in a strange land so it seemed right to visit the two women in a Haitian prison. I spoke their language and the friend I was visiting on holiday told me they might be innocent.

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A Costa Rican Parody

My friend and I went on an adventure to Costa Rica without an itinerary per se. We both wanted to have a good time and play it by ear, so we rented a car and let the adventure happen. And happen it did.

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A Dangerous Vision

A hush of expectation lay upon the land. The black hole yawned at the travellers as they stood gazing at this outcrop with excitement and some trepidation.

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A Morning In Bursa

On every journey I take (no kidding – even a walk down the road), I encounter a… problem. You can always bet that I’ll be embarrassed as soon as I step outside my front door.

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A night on Indian rails

It was 1:30am when the train inched its way slowly into the eerily empty station, lit only by a single orange light that managed to feebly cast its dim hue just a few feet, more of a magnet for flying insects...

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A stay in a haveli

My parents and I had been on the road for two days. For me it seemed like forever since we had left the buzzing metropolis New Delhi and since I had started to fulfill my long held dream: a roundtrip through North India.

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A Transvestite in a Taxi

The New York cab driver pulled a urine-soaked business card out of the pocket of his grubby grey sweat pants and pressed it into our unwilling hands, passing it over the seat-back.

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Above the clouds; The Journey that was

It was indeed my first time to be in the air (apart from the few times I have ever tried high jump). The whole excitement was all over me and could hardly wait to get to the airport for the journey.

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All at Sea

"Turn to wind!" shouted Jamie, as a squall knocked the yacht sideways.

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Andes Express

I suppose I should have known I was going to be in trouble when the bottle of water arrived at my dinner table without the cap on, but the waiter was such a nice man. Surely he wouldn't play Russian roulette with my innards...

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Bangkok Airport

I stood in the Bangkok airport with no plane ticket, no plan, and no personal belongings aside from the care package from my Mom that I picked up at the post office that morning.

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Beach-bound

'It will let me go soon...Just a little longer.' I flew across the sea bed, the shingle becoming my skin and bubbles coating my eyes. The surface gleamed deceptively bright above me, but daylight was too far away.

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Becoming One with the Elephant

I was in Luang Prabang, Laos. The loudest noise I heard was birds chirping and stress seemed far away as I sat on a bean bag and sipped my mango smoothie.

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Blacklisted

I had spent my last few months eating rice and lentil soup with my hand, going to the toilet next to buffaloes and showering once a fortnight. I'd failed miserably at washing my clothes in a bucket and squeezed udders...

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Blindness in the Jungle

One of the first things I noticed when we deplaned was the oppressive blanket that the locals shrug off as normal weather. I adjusted because I was so excited to be out-of-country, on my first big international trip...

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Boss, take to me GalleAHH...!!

This was the instructions for our friendly rickshaw driver, Chimanda, as myself along with two friends, Vladimir and Pamela descended on a 300 km road trip in his three wheeled motorised rickshaw.

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Buses and trains but no sights

I had started my day in Carlisle. I was on a rail rover ticket which meant I could travel anywhere in the UK for a week. This was day 6 of my travels and I started early with the intention of visiting Cambridge and finishing in York.

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Cambodia - Inter city bus of doom

After spending some time at the shocking killing fields of Phnom Penh, I set off on my trek North-East to Siem Reap where I would go explore the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat.

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Catch-up Catastrophe

Had I known the harrowing anguish about to befall us, I would have booked another night at Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls Hotel and saved many grey hairs and considerable expense.

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Colombo confidential

The bomb went off on platform three of Fort Railway Station as passengers got out of packed railway carriages. 12 were killed, and over 100 injured by the blast.

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Come another Day

It was a Saturday, When we were in Bhubaneswar (Odisha, India). A road trip by car was finalised to explore ‘Lalitagiri Caves’, around 90 Kms from Bhubaneswar city.

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Cruise to nowhere

Some years ago, the shortest holiday my husband and I and two friends ever had, turned out to be the worst experience!

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Darjeeling

So after Varanasi we made a plan to go to Darjeeling - the top don tea place (of which I did not know about) so we needed a train from Varanasi to Siliguri so that we could take the jeep to Darjeeling.

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Diesel

As I lifted the fine pottery tea cup to my nose to smell the diesel, the absurdity of the scene struck me. The school children waiting round the corner were relying on me buying this fuel, and soon.

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Dis is Nepal

Tihar, or Diwali, came last week and I went to Pokhara for a mini vacation. After a rainstorm, dinner at a Nepali family’s house, and an impromptu whiskey with an old friend passing through Kathmandu...

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Disaster Response Work: The Gift That Keeps On Giving...

My worst journey didn’t seem so at the time… I have been a disaster response worker since 1998, and in 2005 I was deployed to Louisiana...

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Discovering truth in cliches

Had I bothered to think about it logically, when I first heard that foreigners were not allowed to buy fourth class seats on trains in China, I would have realized there was probably a very good reason.

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Down A Cliff And Out To Sea

It all starts in an overheated coach on the overheated island of Tenerife. I’ve survived the Mars landscape of Mount Teide and come out of the Hobbit-esque lava tubes underneath it alive.

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Elephant Riding

Horror of horrors, I’m slipping through the bars on the wide red cushioned seat and as I look across at Bernard he is going the same way. Trouble is, we’re on the back of an elephant and beginning to ascend a long climb...

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Escaping Red Army Grandma

My four friends and I sat down for a snack under a thatched roof in a traditional Korean village in Jilin Province, China during one of our travels.

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Exotique Indian Journey

It was group travel to India we were 90 persons hence hired 3 coaches – everything was going perfect and we were on our last leg of journey. We were supposed to travel from Shimla to Chandigarh.

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Faith, Guts, and Grace: Notes from Latin America

It was 1975 and I had decided to take a year off and see the world. Not wanting to go alone, I talked my unwilling but malleable boyfriend into going with me. Neither of us had much money, but we had heard...

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Finding God at Mardi Gras

Spiritual journeys often accompany physical travel. In fact, sometimes the whole reason for travel to a strange place is the spiritual journey. There is no place stranger than New Orleans at Mardi Gras and no venue less likely...

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From Whorehouse to Crystalline Archipelago: Travelling to El Nido

I’ve travelled some trying journeys in my time, a rickety 13-hour train from Shanghai to Beijing with only a toilet-hole straight onto the tracks, a mental prickly-skinned 36-hour plane ride home from New Zealand...

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Happy Birthday to me

“You must empty your bag now…please”. This strong suggestion came from the poor airline security chap on day two of my 40th birthday trip to Africa.

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Here goes...

It all began when my Great Uncle Bryan told us all about his climb up a volcano.

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How not to spend a Sunday in Malawi: The worst journey of my life

After a month travelling in Africa my husband, Doug and I felt we'd become fairly well acquainted with the public transport system in Malawi.

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I Hate It When My Mother's Right

I know people are staring at me, I would stare at me too. I'm the girl with the 45kg suitcase, lumbering through central Manchester clothed in yesterday's tracksuit and yesterday's pessimism.

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IF I WANT, I CAN

KABOOM! “What the heck was that?” “Think the engine’s blown up and it’s on fire.” “When’s our flight leave?”

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Indecisive in DC

It was 2am and here I was sitting in McDonald’s in one of the most energetic cities in the world, New York City. My friends who I was spending the weekend with are what you’d call indecisive.

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Into the Arabah Desert Storm

“Imshi! Imshi!” Our driver shouts, pounding impatiently on the car’s horn. His wrath "Go! Go! Hurry." directed at the car creeping slowly along the road ahead of us, its hazard lights flashing.

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Journey To Heaven And Back

Keeping aside spiritualism, heaven can have a deep physical presence . According to human knowledge, heaven is an abysmal void situated towards the upper reaches of the sky. Hence people often look up - ‘heavenwards’!!!

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Journey into the Bolivian Pampas

I’m at the side of the track, which more resembles a muddy swamp, watching in disbelief as one jeep after another makes a desperate bid for freedom only to become stuck at this impasse.

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Journey, Irony and Justice

My friend has exams in a few days so I cycled to his house with a bag full of fresh mangoes. It was afternoon and jasmine was out, and also being Hanuman Ji's birthday...

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Just Stay Cool!

My journey in Paris during Easter holiday 2005 was the worst journey ever! How come? I let you know ....

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Landlubber's leap into hell

It had never been my intention to live with rats but sometimes life takes a surprise turn.

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Leapin Leeches, Alf

Short days, endless nights, mountainous snow abounds. Hark. A golden beam of hope appears, an invitation: "Do you want to go to Borneo?” Warm, exotic, saying goodbye to this tundra, sign me up.

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Lost in Tayrona Park, Santa Marta, Colombia

Eventually we clamber to the summit of the tree-laden mountain side, stopping to catch our breath and consider our limited options. I check my watch, its 1:00pm.

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Lost in translation pilgrimage

There was a gaggle of us on tour who had booked to Egypt. As a last minute add-on we decided we should take a day trip to Jerusalem. Naturally, we were enthusiastic as the trip included a float in the infamous Dead Sea...

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Mad Dogs and English Women

“And when were you born?” the wizened gentleman asked Anna and I in a bar one night in Thailand. He opened the astrological oracle he always lifted from place to place.

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Manual Misfortune

On my four-day trip to Guadeloupe, a French Island in the Caribbean, I didn’t want to waste one second. Knowing that public transportation can be unreliable I decided to rent a small car to get to the surf school...

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Mega Late Bus

Sometimes when an offer looks too good to be true – it often is!

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Mixing Business With Pleasure

The trip to Europe was set! Business before pleasure was the itinerary. At the Tampa airport, my flight to Atlanta was delayed due to bad weather.

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Mount Merapi, which I'll never forget

Traveled on the mountain is a very interesting thing, enjoying beautiful scenery and natural. The sense of fatigue and stress disappear blown by the coolness of the mountain air.

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Mozambique Hitchhike

A drunken Mozambican man in a stained vest and cheap sunglasses, rolling a matchstick in his mouth, had invited himself to play a game of Sh1thead. He had lost the card game we played, and his pickled, uncoordinated...

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My Guard

My finger is deep inside my right sock when I spot Him. Furtively glimpsing over the headrest in front of me, I spy the dark uniformed figure holding out an imperious palm to halt the bus.

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My honeymoon in Zimbabwe

Sitting next to this stranger - wandering what to say next, or should I say anything at all? What was wrong with me? Why did I marry this man?

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My Sanity

As a young girl, while others were busy playing dolls and dress up, I was busy reading, writing and considering where to live when I grew up.

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My Worst Journey

When you say this to someone who hates being on the sea, so many stories come to mind. The ferry journey to the Scilly Isles; the boat trip to see the mail being delivered to Bishop Rock lighthouse...

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Naive Crossing

Wrapped up in very little besides thick fog and damp air we looked at each other and didn't know whether to laugh or cry. This was far beyond the brochure image of white sands and curious coves.

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Near Misses, Mountains, Minibuses and Mistranslations

When Robert Louis Stevenson said “It is a better thing to travel hopefully than to arrive”, he had clearly never travelled on the road I was on. Had he done so, the “arriving” part might suddenly have...

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On Hot Tar and Tow Trucks

I don’t know what we were thinking. Starting our summer holiday camping with two toddler girls was craziness itself. Throwing in a pregnant, hormonal thirty year old was madness.

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Queen of the Skies

Dreams of sun-kissed beaches, golden sunsets and golden rum supped to the soundtrack of steel bands ran round my head. The prospect of the weekly party on Shirley Heights; the island steeped in a shared...

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Riding the death wagon to Dalat, Vietnam

We had just spent the best part of 3 days on the sauce. Nha Trang is the party capital of Vietnam and we now understood why. I was by far feeling human.

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Rudder Trouble

A thousand miles out into the Atlantic Ocean, with more than two thousand miles before we saw land again, my crew ‘The Rowgirls’ were sat aboard our rowing boat, and we were worried.

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Short Life

An Indian bus journey is always interesting; usually long, usually crammed, usually going to the wrong places, usually breaking down, but this you can deal with because you're on 'Indian time'.

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Thailand... Relaxation

Having travelled to India on my last visa run, I seek an alternative destination. What have I been craving in Bangladesh, that I may be able to experience elsewhere? The answer - the opportunity to swim.

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The 10.20 to Varanasi

February 2000 - Five months into our Indian odyssey my girlfriend and I walked off the Khajuraho- Varanasi train with … the clothes we'd slept in, a little money, passports, 2 sleeping bags.

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The 7 o'clock to Dehra Dun

Shimla bus station was hardly a hive of activity in the pre-dawn chill of a December morning as my travelling companion and I tried to locate the bus to Dehra Dun.

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The Achilles heel of trekking

A keen sense of adventure led me on an ancient trek along an old pilgrim's route in the Himalayas. I had just conquered the Kuari Pass, 5000m high and nicknamed ‘the doorway’.

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The Best of the Worst (we all float on)

When I was 13 my parent's and I traveled to India to see my sister and her husband. She had married a Naga Indian Baptist preacher from India.

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The Dangers of Drinking and Bus Riding

Ok, so when I was an innocent University Fresher unused to clubbing and the general alcohol induced merriment associated with University, I endured what I still consider to this day to be both my worst...

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The Descent

The hacking cough of a fellow traveller kicks up clouds of choking dust. Fine grains of sand scratch my eyes and the air tastes like a filthy cloth stuffed down my throat.

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The Fear of Beauty

I’d call it a road, but it resembled a wide path: a dusty, grey path which was approximately 5 metres in width and had 2 lanes. Cars, trucks and even motorcycles were racing down, overtaking each other as if tomorrow...

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The Harrowing Journey

The worst journey of my life is travelling alone to a new country and getting lost at the airport. It was my maiden trip but I went all alone, obviously to satisfy the adventurous streak in me...

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The Maiden Voyage of the S.S. Pukebucket

Bali grew small in the water behind us. We were jetting to Gili Meno, a tiny island with more donkeys than humans, and more beautiful, sun-dappled beaches than either.

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The Quickest Trip Ever To Russia

Happily, we boarded a British Air flight to Moscow on a Thursday afternoon. After the successful completion of a business trip to London, my husband and I were headed for a reunion with our son Wes and his Russian wife...

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The Remarkable Cow Truck

I do believe about struggle before we can achieve something good. Just like when we must climb the mountain in order to watch sunset, sunrise, or the whole city.

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The Road They Blew Up In The Terminator

Flip flops. They’re not really that practical in the summer, let alone in winds strong enough to blow a house down. But we were Brits abroad and we were going to wear them even if it killed us, which in a way, it nearly did.

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The Terrible Funk...Iris The Virus

When you're a Boon Docking camper, you've got to be a hearty individual. You had better know the status of your holding tanks. Now we have been RVers for over 30 years and have never maxed out a black poop tank.

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The Trek From Hell

My wife and I are not geriatrics. Neither are we spring chickens. We are greypackers: fit for our age; but Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay we ain't.

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The Wall

Traveling cheap, on a shoestring, is truly a balancing act, requiring trapeze-like skills. Every cent saved comes at a price, a trade-off with one of the finer elements in life. But every adventurer taking the economical route...

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The Window Seat

While traveling through India, I had to take a bus to Udaipur. The bus had two stories: one level of chairs and above was a space about three feet high for passengers to lay during the trip.

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The Worst Journey Of My Life

“Wakka wakka eh eh, This time for Africa”, I unconsciously drummed my fingers on the steering wheel as I drove my white BMW through the uninhabited suburbs of Bahawalpur, Pakistan. I slowed down the car’s AC since the car...

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The Worst Journey Of Your Life

Easter at the end of March in Cornwall was bound to be cold and wet but we went with happy hearts out into the freedom to Hellman Tor.

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Travelling by armpit, and terror

It wasn’t so much that it was the complete journey from hell, more that it was a journey not in the least what we expected it would be; it was long, dangerous for anyone with a heart condition, smelly, and uncomfortable...

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Two Hours in Greece

It was 11:00pm when the clouds parted and I saw Athens, Greece for the first time glistening through my window. “I Have a Dream” from the Mamma Mia soundtrack, was playing softly in my ear, and my boyfriend...

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Walking With The Man-Eating Lions

I was working in Nairobi and my wife with our three children aged 15, 13 and 10 had iust arrived for Christmas. We were booked to stay at Watamu on the coast, 400 miles from Nairobi if we travelled via Mombasa...

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War Remnants Museum - You should know how lucky you are

Today, I and Bejal Karia, my Indian friend who is now working as IT officer in London walked a lots from Ben Thanh market to War Remnants Museum

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Welcome to Scotland

I was tired, full of mulled wine and ready for a nap. I’d spent the day at the Edinburgh Christmas market with my friend and my husband, watching people ice skate and admiring the beautiful but impractical trinkets...

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Welcome to the Jungle

It was the event that would solidify my love for travel. It was also the most intense moment of my entire life.

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Whales and waves

The sun had shone all day yesterday, a perfect day on the New Zealand coast. Today however was dull and raining; I could have been back home in an English winter.

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Will This Flight Be Terrible

My long, horrifying voyage took place in 2008. I’m fairly accustomed to travel at this point in my life but at the time I was still terrified of flying. So naturally I was due a series of nightmarish flights, one right after another.

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Worst fishing trip ever

Typically, we were an hour early just to make sure we didn’t miss the boat. My cousins, my brother and I all excitedly waited for our first fishing trip.

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