Travel Writing Competition 2013 Entries Page2

*Lesotho Promise

Passing Letseng Diamond Mine on previous visits there has always been the anticipated promise of children splashing happily as dikkop around the kraal or patient girls smiling a stubborn Basotho ritual of polite enquiry...

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11 hours in a chapa in Mozambique

“We should experience how the Mozambicans really travel,” my boyfriend and I decided one fateful day in the capital city of Maputo.

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12 hours

The man fidgeted and fumbled as the bus pulled away into the night, a nod proffered in acknowledgement met with an icy cold stare.

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A 143 Euro Taxi Ride

9:00 AM: “Am I a backpacker or a Flashpacker?” – I asked myself while enjoying a fine Bavarian breakfast in a 3 Star hotel in Munich. I knew I must hurry, so I had to leave the delicious breakfast in the middle...

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A Central Asian Hangover

I've always felt there’s something wrong with vodka. It takes a sick mind to look at a sack of wheat, or a potato, and declare: “From this, I shall make alcohol.”

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A journey to the top of the world

"Delayed" reads every line on the single TV screen suspended from the ceiling.

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a moribund sight

For critics, Nick should have held the ice-axe to his left, on the opposite side of that sheer cliff.

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A recipe for disaster: taking the train from Delhi to Mumbai

Ingredients: 1 mutton bhuna, 1 23-hour train journey from Delhi to Mumbai, 1000s of Indian fare-dodgers...

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A Riotous Journey

Forrest Gump was playing on a small television above the driver’s cabin. As Forrest met Jenny, there were heavy thuds that, in my groggy state, I confused for rainfall.

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A Summer in Ireland turns into a Horror Show

It's early July and I'm in Dublin teaching summer school and sharing a large, gloomy Georgian house, at the end of a cul-de-sac off the North Circular Road.

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A Sunset Shining End

On one bright and shining morning I woke up as usual to get ready for my assignments related to tourists guiding but on that day onwards and for three consecutive days, I had to entertain the largest number of guests...

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A thousand rupee, 14 rollies, one elephant

"No more buses today, Sir. You must wait until tomorrow." I was waiting to hear him say "my cousin has a guesthouse, come!" But this one didn't.

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Abandoned in Allahabad

To call the experience I had driving an auto-rickshaw 2,000 miles across India the worst journey of my life would be unfair. True, we were stopped by bandits and spent a night in a police cell.

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Almost Stuck in Dubai, Almost.

There is nothing worse than not being allowed to board your plane in Dubai. Unless of course you are a young black woman, with dreadlocks, who talks back, not being allowed to board your plane in patriarchal Dubai.

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An Arduous 2-Day Train Journey In India

There is a sea of pilgrims at Jammu’s small railway station. I am travelling with my aunt and grandparents and the only way to travel is the 32-hours train ride to Calcutta. We wait among the Victorian wooden pillars...

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An Unexpected Adventure (or always charge your phone)

It was time to leave Hyderabad and there was no reason, on that cold and rainy night, for me to think that this train ride would be any different to any others.

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And finally YEMEN!

It’s 4 am in the morning and I’m taking the taxi direction Beirut airport. After year and a half in the city I’m leaving behind so many friends, parties, tabboulehs[1], broken hearts!

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Another day, another adventure.

So it's 4 am again, and it's another bus journey. After 6 months on the road this was now part of the norm. Buses do not go at civilized times in other countries, no they go at dawn or at midnight...

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Are We There Yet

Heading out for my summer holidays with a group of friends to Corfu, it was a holiday that we'd been looking forward too for many months. Living in Nottingham we'd decided to fly from Gatwick due to the holiday package...

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Away from home when disaster strikes

Struggling to coax my loaded bicycle up Switzerland’s formidable Furka Pass I am all but spent. Compensation is a spectacular mountain upon mountain backdrop and tinkling cow bells.

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Awful Amalfi

The danger signs already loomed as we saw what looked like a mile long bus queue snaking along the path. The sun was beating down without mercy on the poor unfortunate souls waiting patiently for the local bus...

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Battling the elements and my thoughts

The rain was unforgiving and completely relentless, my skin was white, spongy and had been pruned since day one, but until now it hadn't really bothered me.

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Becoming a Vampire

I kissed the ground. I actually walked off the plane, knelt to the ground, put my hands beneath my shoulders, and placed my lips to the pavement and kissed it. This display was not because I had been kidnapped or robbed...

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Between a Hump and a Lump

I'm nauseous and, despite sitting, my body sways ever so slightly. My stomach threatens to revolt every second, my lungs whoosh whenever I exhale, and the steady drizzle of rain just makes the ache in my bones...

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Bus Trip to Kashmir

There stood the bus. Just as the agent had promised, a “luxury, air-conditioned video bus”! My son, who had been in India for some months, compared with my own few days, had been wary.

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Cambodian hangover

I woke up this morning with a terrible Cambodian hangover - I had to find a good reason to go back to London. I sat in the bar where the girls call me handsome while feeding rice whiskey for $0.50 the bowl...

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Chanceux

I opened my eyes slowly, expecting the soft mountain morning rays to invigorate my irises. Instead, I was greeted with harsh florescent bulbs. My mouth was unbearably dry—I didn’t even have enough saliva to lick my lips.

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China Crisis

During dinner on the plane to China the stranger sitting next to me made an odd glugging sound, then started convulsing and flapping his arms around wildly.

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China Find a Way Out

I get off the plane in Guangzhou; my first stopover. It's thirty-five degrees Celsius and I drag my luggage across the tarmac through a thick muggy haze. I've just taken a nine hour flight from Perth and I haven't slept.

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Christmas mayhem in Bremen and Berlin

Months prior to Christmas 2010, booking flights back to the UK from Poland, I had done the highly reckless mental conversion of potential cash saving to units of beer and, as usual, it had been a no-brainer.

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Chunyun Travel

The worst journey of my life came when I was travelling during the Chunyun period, the largest annual migration of people in the world. The people of China were either headed home for the New Year to visit relatives...

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Close Call

Egypt. Hot, dry, and the color of sand—the streets, the buildings, its people, and even the Nile. For a visit to the pyramids, our friend, Pericles, picked us up at our hotel. My husband sat in front, while I kept order...

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Colonial colombia and the rabies team

Residents of Bogota will often tell you about the most well preserved colonial town in Colombia, Villa de Lleyva, a 4 hour bus ride from Bogota. Arriving there is a welcome sight after the busy streets of the Bogota...

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Dangerous Creatures

Don’t worry; I am not going to tell you another story about delayed Indian trains, broken rickshaws or food poisoning. Indian trains are not all that bad, and certainly can’t be blamed for ‘the worst journey of my life.’

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East Side Story

We were taking the train from Budapest to Prague. The first of many inspectors came along. We asked him what time the restaurant car opened. He laughed quietly to himself and kept repeating the words.

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Haiti for a week

I‘ve been in Haiti for a week and just spent the week-end in the mountains near the town of Hinche. We are heading back to Port-au-Prince today and the journey is full of surprises.

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Home for Christmas

I had been travelling for months; months of infrequently laundered clothes, muddied boots, lousy diet, bug-ridden solitary beds, communication misunderstandings in unfamiliar languages.

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How Do You Say Vomit In Thai

First trip away from home and in the humid musk of Thailand, where we lay our scene. My friend and I had to travel from Phuket to the Malaysian border in a series of first class coaches, or so we thought.

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How to Die on Fraser Island

We were told that it would be a short briefing before our departure for the beautiful Fraser, the world’s largest sand island off the east coast of Australia.

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It can only be put down as culture shocked

I had never visited Cambodia in my whole twenty three year existence, in early April I had the opportunity to venture back to my ancestral home.

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Jebbe

In March of 2003, my girlfriend, Amy, and I trekked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. Circling for 210 kilometers (130 miles) around the entire Annapurna range—which contains six peaks over seven kilometers (23,000 feet)...

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Jumping into an illegal cab in China

The worst journey of my life was a short one, and the reason that led to this journey was a small one. It all began with a tiny Chinese character that looked like this “ 北“ .

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Later 'Louise': Hurricane Season On Tortola, BVIs!

John M. Edwards hunkers down in the hallway of his Caribbean concrete-block hotel to sit out a hurricane tempest more powerful than Peter Potamous’s “Hippo Hurricane Howler”!

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Learning to Read the Signs; A Tale of Close Calls and Near Misses

Do you know that feeling when you’ve found yourself exactly where you’re supposed to be, the air feels as warm as springtime? When you reach an agreement with the universe, and everything falls into place?

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Left in Solitaire

The darkness collapsing the horizon was a call to action. Dusk meant my companion, Glenn, was not late, but lost in the desert, and ahead of him was an icy night somewhere along the last 85 kilometers of austere desert road.

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Lost Between the Land and the Sea

We broke into a run. There was insufficient oxygen in our lungs. The pied skies gave way to a looming darkness threatening to engulf us.

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Lost in a Zanzibar forest in flip-flops and shorts

After have been backpacking the world in the most challenging and amazing places for almost one and a half year we ended up in Zanzibar, this was going to be our last stop before heading home to Europe and Sweden again.

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Lost in the military zone in Iran

I love highways and road trips. There is no better way to experience a place, feel its breeze in your hair, smell the countryside, share tea with friendly strangers and see it change shape, size, texture and colour...

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May The Seat Rise To Meet You

Oh my God is that a gun! Only an hour ago I was wondering in the sultry heat of Orchidtown Road, drinking in with envy the latest high-end fashions. The stores luring me inside with their promise of self confidence...

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Mistaken Assumptions in Delhi

I’d taken the plunge. After backpacking from Nepal through India, I decided I was bold enough to brave the hectic cacophony of India’s capital city. My reason for visiting Delhi, a city renown for tenacious touts...

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Morris Meadow

Ethan, who was camping in Morris Meadow with a few of his friends, came to where I was collecting firewood and said this guy Ron was looking for his friend Hosea, a 6 ' 3”, African American backpacker in his early 60s.

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MY PHONE! I'VE LEFT IT AT THE HOTEL!

These are not the words a boyfriend wants to hear as he arrive at Rome’s Termini train station, an hour before their bus is due to leave for the airport.

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No Roadside Rescue

RL Stevenson wrote “to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive,” but here in Tibet I am not sure if all the pre- trip planning gives me hope of travel, let alone an expectation of arrival.

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Oat Porridge and Tibetan Bread

In my grogginess, I rolled over in my sleeping bag to check on my girlfriend.

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Organicked

In 1804 colonial England christened their coal-mining port in Australia with a strikingly original name – Newcastle. On the big island down under, Newcastle was where the very worst-behaved convicts were sent to...

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Our Bovine Nemesis

We were high up and the air seemed more see-through than usual. The only people around for miles, we felt good and ready for our New Year’s Eve in the Peruvian Andes. We spent the day exploring Huascarán National Park...

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Over The Road Training

First of all, I have to say until February 26, 2013 I never left my hometown but always dreamed of traveling the nation. I was headed towards Fort Wayne, Indiana from Chicago, Illinois for job orientation.

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Overcoming Modesty

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you show up at work naked? The one where you can’t remember where you left your clothes and you are trying to act normal in front of your boss and coworkers?

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Photos from Hiroshima

The sky was a mottled grey as my train slid elegantly into the station. It was early morning and the air still held a cold crispness to it, the kind you feel really penetrate your lungs.

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Rail bound Misery and the Indian Monkey Mafia

In Hindsight when a monkey steals your Samosa, scampers onto the station roof then pees on your backpack, it’s a bad omen.

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Returning to the Scene of the Crime

I call it “returning to the scene of the crime”. It’s one of the dumbest things that a single male can do. So why do I keep doing it over and over and over? I must be a glutton for punishment.

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Running in Paradise

Back when my sisters and I were on the same spring break schedule and our family spent our spring breaks relaxing on beaches rather than ‘spring cleaning’, we went to Florida.

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Sikasso To Bouake By Bus

According to Google Maps it should take me seven hours and twenty-nine minutes to get from Sikasso, in Mali, to Bouake, in Cote d’Ivoire. That seemed pretty optimistic after a twenty-six hour bus ride.

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Slow Boating

When I try to choose “the worst journey of my life” there are a host of brilliant contenders. Flicking through my little leather-covered journal I recall the train ride when dinner was made up of miscellaneous meat...

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Snot Rocket to Paradise

I’ve been sitting at the side of the road for three hours with a chicken pecking selectively at the ground. She takes no note of the sun slicing up the hard grass our side of the fence.

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Stationed

As I watched the train leave, the realisation that I had made a mistake, came surprisingly quickly. The station was obviously deserted and appeared to be unmanned. The locked ticket office confirmed this...

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Stony Roads

Stony roads, stony-faced travellers and stoned drivers: Luang Prabang to Hanoi, August 2013

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Stormy Engagement

Staring at the sparkling new ring on my finger, I couldn’t stop smiling as I began this romantic adventure into marriage.

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Stuck Between The Mud

Fourteen hours -- that's how long I've been stuck on this twisted, infuriating road. Trapped in pea soup humidity, scratching the sweat-coated, raw bedbug bites all over my body, trying to ignore my growling stomach...

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Surviving the Sarajevo Hostels

As someone who was born and raised in Bosnia, I am by no means biased against that great country and its citizens. In fact, I have nothing but great memories of the friends I grew up with, the generosity of the Bosnian...

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Tanzanians, Tyres and the Passport Thief

It was late February 1998 and we were considering our options. We needed to get from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to Blantyre, Malawi, by early March. We could wait five days for the TAZARA train or we could leave...

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Terrified in Tegucigalpa: A Close Encounter with a Taxista

I sat squashed in the back seat, my bags occupying more space than I was. I had heard so many stories about taxistas driving off with people’s luggage in the boot that I wasn't going to be caught out!

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The Big Blue Indian: A Floating Nightmare

Had I not been blinded by my desire for adventure, I would have gotten off the yacht while it was still in the Langkawi marina. But instead I watched the hull cut a path through the calm Malaysian water...

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The biggest cemetery in the world

Imagine, please, the idyllic natural landscape of Central Europe – old forests, wide blue rivers, green fields, and hills of Southern Poland. What fantastic natural beauty. I promise, you will fall in love with this in a few minutes...

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The Bus from Barcelona

My leg looks like the pork trotter that seems to be a feature in the window of every tapas bar here. I have self diagnosed myself on www.webmd.com and think I have deep vein thrombosis.

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The Bus from Hell

“I’m not getting back on that bus ever. I’ll live here” I said as we got to Flores to see the Komodo Dragons.

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The Flood of Mestre

Toilet paper floats past as we wade deep though flood waters in Mestre. I look at my companions Sara and Dinh, and I can see they also recognize precisely what we are walking though. We are well and truly in the merda.

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The Gambia Experience - No. Not The Airline.

The story begins February 24th 2013 in Fajara, The Gambia. I, university film graduate, was in the country for 3 months self-shooting some documentaries for a few medical institutions.

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The Great American Road Trip

I was too old, and I knew it. We all knew it. Now 8 years old, I was too old to be wetting the bed. I could not (and still cannot) understand why the accident happened when it did, as 23 agonizing days spent...

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The Kandalashka Station Incident

The rail trip itself couldn’t be faulted. The Express train which had already done the 18 hour overnight haul up from Petrazavodsk was itself in quite reasonable condition, surprisingly clean, and not too crowded.

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The Present

I am walking along Thanon Chang Khlan at dusk, carrying a copy of Robinson Crusoe –purchased from a side street bookseller, and contemplating what brought me here.

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The Road to Labe

10 hours, one dugout canoe, one motorbike taxi, three shared taxis. I have arrived - at my starting point.

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The Sleeper Bus

I had no choice but to allow the weight of my sizeable rucksack to tip me off the back of the motorcycle that had brought me from the hotel to the bus.

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The Train to Botswana

Many journeys are difficult. I made numerous journeys round Malawi where I was stuffed into the back of a tiny truck surrounded by chickens and sacks of maize. The epic bus journey from Lilongwe, Malawi to Harare...

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The Worst Journey of my Life 4

Hired the bike, shiny silver ,basket on the front, what could possibly go wrong, and set sail from Hoi An.

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The worst journey of my life2

Being the grumpy traveller that I am I have plenty to choose from. But the worst would have to be the sewage train ride from hell. My father and I had headed off on a daughter/dad-bonding trip in 2001.

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The Worst Journey of My Life3

I should have guessed that this year's annual pilgrimage to my parents house in the south of France would be a "my worst yet" winner. Consider the ingredients: four children under seven, an eight hour ferry crossing...

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Tjomeward Bound

I am no athlete. My Norwegian friend is a compulsive rower. These two simple facts should have warned me against making the worst journey of my life while I stayed with her this summer in rural Norway.

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Travels in a hearse

“Lift to Greece” read the now crumpled advertisement I held in my hand as we approached the gate. It opened with a tingling of delicate bells. My friend regarded the grey haired gnome-like man with suspicion.

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Trek to Heaven (and Hell)

Day 5: Tilcara Trek, Argentina Morning: We wake up and make oatmeal. (water) We unfortunately get off track of the GPS and have to backtrack about 60 minutes up a mountain through wild brush.

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VIENNA, VIDI, VICI

Waltzing Through The Kaffehaus Kultura Of The Austrian Capital: Wien

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When it rains...it rains rocks

I had just finished my summer removing bushes with 1 inch thorns and chiseling trails into the dry, dusty rock of an Arizona canyon and making teenagers do the same thing in the equally harsh burn zones of Idaho...

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Who's the man of the jungle

On that day, temperatures rose high at the Borneo’s Orang Utan Sanctuary...

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Wined, dined and poisoned on the Mekong

Like most catastrophes this one begins with the best of intentions.

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