Travel Writing Competition 2013 Entries Page3

1980: A Bloody Kung Fu Fight Against the Finnish

As gangly nineteen year olds, Jon Seal and his mate Brains have cycled two thousand miles through Europe, arriving in Finland. They are only two days away from their destination - the Arctic Circle.

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A journey deep into the Tanzania forests

The banana leaves wilted in the noon sun and assumed the features of the faces that they covered. Temporary shrouds offering a hint of dignity to the row of corpses that lay by the roadside.

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A journey from Resistencia, the buses: holding on until morning

Having stupidly chosen a window I evaluated my route to the toilet in the underside cabin. It seemed simple… just climb over…

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A Matter Of Inconvenience.

It’s the damned lock. As cutely antiquated as the key is, the lock doesn’t respond to any form of manipulation. I rotate the thing clockwise in the keyhole until I hear the click, and then twist the doorknob.

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A Serbian, a Bosnian and a Croatian walk into a train car...

“The government always lies. It’s all corrupt. Today, the thermometer in my garden shattered, yet they tell us it’s 32°c. That’s just how it is here. Biscuit?”

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Across deepest darkest Peru

She was the Scarlett Johansson of buses, glamorous, curvaceous and beautiful. Her silver skin glimmered in the high Andean sunshine, the interior oozed opulence, from the fully reclining leather seats to the over stocked bar.

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An Embarrassing and Painful Cycle Ride

I was doing well on my bike. I had my tent and other essentials rolled up and balanced carefully on the back - the chain was oiled, the wheels were fat, I was enjoying myself.

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Attempt at romance in Paris

After an abortive attempt at romance in Paris, I left suddenly for Greece. For as long as my travel memory, I’d wanted to go there. It would be an affair with place. The train departed near midnight.

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Authentic Morocco

The heat penetrated every crevice, draining each drop of energy. Straining to my feet under the shade of a tree I rolled up my mat, secured my panniers and readied myself for the road once again.

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Backpacks, Tuk-Tuks and Miming in Thailand.

Many years ago, I went to Thailand for the first time. I had an amazing two weeks of adventure, shopping and new experiences.

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Bad Company in Campania

Some journeys are just longer. To others, there’s simply no end. My thoughts exactly as our train halts for the third time in the last three hours in a station which is still not our final destination.

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Best of luck

I slip out of the hearse and my feet land softly on damp tarmac. It’s about 2am, and pitch black apart from the lights of the car, which illuminate three faces. We blink dimly at the driver, trying to keep our eyes open...

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Borderless

A ship’s horn resonates through the Aqaba seaport causing a flock of seagulls to dramatically take flight. The crumbs from our measly bread offerings rain down upon us as they pass overhead.

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BREATHLESS

Everything is black. My suit wasn't weighted properly and I am having trouble with my descent. I can't see my dive buddies or the dive master. I am surrounded by murky waters and a bit of saltwater has gotten in my goggles.

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Chased

"I'm going downhill!" my sister yelled, as she grabbed her bike, hurled herself over the seat and vanished down a twist in the mountain road.

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Climbing with the Fire-Diggers

Hot fumes rammed in through my lungs. My cheeks burned. Have I caught fire? The wind had suddenly changed its course bringing along earth’s fiery belches. We should have heeded the banner at the entrance, “Temporary Closure.”

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Costa Rica to London: The Long Way Round.

I dropped my battered, dirty, mountain of a rucksack on the floor, said a weary hello to my family and dragged myself upstairs into my quiet, calm, clean bedroom. My head hit the pillow and I was happily unconscious...

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Crisis in Kashmir

We’ve always wanted to go to India. We’re euphoric! The snowy sinews overlaying the iron-grey Himalayas drift beneath our small plane as we fly from New Delhi to Srinagar, Kashmir.

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Crocodile Gandhi

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.

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Cuba's A Crowd

I’d imagined being greeted by a group of young, upbeat travellers excited to experience a place renowned for its anachronistic politics, its managed poverty and its thrusting, fluid hips.

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Descent into Darkness

We are dressed in full outdoor gear; down jackets, thermal underwear, hats and gloves. Temperatures in Gangwon Province, South Korea can dip to -30 degrees Celsius in winter and we are taking no chances.

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Essential Lessons for the Peruvian Wilderness

I met Lester in Paddy’s, the world’s highest altitude Irish pub. Maybe it was the scanty oxygen, or maybe it was an excess of pisco sours, Peru’s national cocktail – either way, I inexplicably agreed to join him...

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How not to note a long bus ride

This story happened in Romanian town Sinaia where after seeing the local sight – Peles Castle my friend and I decided to come back to the seacoast. We chose the bus which would arrive in town at 3.20 a.m. and then...

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Huddled on Hard Benches

“When you go to jail tomorrow, do not be angry. Anger might work where you are from. In Serbia, you must laugh.” The cigarette salesman in the driver’s seat lets out a rumbling chuckle, giving a thumbs-up as he jumps a gear...

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Ice Age. From Agra to Varanasi.

I love India a lot, its people, its unique culture. India has not changed for many decades, as if the country has frozen in the past.

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In the Amazon's Embrace

“Call home.” The jungle's oppressive torridity instantly chilled. In this remote Peruvian province, far from roads and transient-backpacker haunts, lost in a paradise that fully stoked my wanderlust flame...

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Into the Desert

It was night-time, and darker than anything I’d ever experienced. The bus was hurtling through the blackness of the Moroccan Sahara region.

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It's Not All Plane Sailing

I was excited as I was going to Mulu National Park. Proper rainforest. Proper Borneo. Up to this point, the Borneo I had experienced had been a disappointing excess of shopping centres and not enough trees.

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Journey Home

When I had occasion to cross the English Channel from Le Havre to Southampton, I was not only heavy with child, but full of delight because I was finally on my way to South Africa after several anxious months...

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Just a Stranger's Car

They had seen my money belt, so I had to treat it as lost and with it my bank card and a fistful of Vietnamese Dong. SLR camera, notebook computer, iPhone, Kindle, sunglasses…but it was pointless to make an inventory.

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L.A to London.

The floor beneath my feet shudders, groaning, and I grip the plastic arm rests a little tighter. I don’t know why I think flimsy arm rests will save me but we’re only three hours into the 11 hour flight from LAX to London Heathrow...

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La Route d'Espoir

“Salaam aleykum.” He paused. “Salaam aleykum.” I awoke to a man standing over me, his silhouette distorted by his traditional Mauritanian bou-bou flapping in the wind.

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Lesson learned: always take the bus.

“So, no windscreen wipers, then?” He beamed as I almost burst into tears. “Yes lady! No windwipers, no!” our taxi driver exclaimed, the inexplicable look of joy on his face grating on my already-worn nerves.

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Lonely in the Road of Darkness

When you get hurt, you feel pain in your body. But when your heart is hurt, how do you feel? Heart is something that cannot be counted by a number.

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Looking Back

Looking back, it seems that my luck remained in Ireland the moment that the plane left the tarmac, because by the time I touched down in Edinburgh an hour later, I was about to have one of the unluckiest days of my life.

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Lost and Found in the Lakes

“IT’S YOUR FAULT WE’RE LOST…TURN BACK,” was just some of the irate lingo bawled out at me when things started to go wrong. And, because of my noticeable driving gaffe, it was certain that ample more tongue-lashings...

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Mary, Me and DofE

It was the second car-ride to the airport that day; neither of my parents spoke. The air inside was thick with unspoken resentment. They had laughed at me the night before when asked if I needed a passport to fly to Scotland.

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Next Time, Bring Ear Plugs

Picture this: a beautifully sunny day, spent indoors, with no physical human contact, surrounded by masses of books as you attempt to cram for your university exams.

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No Hope On The Road To Marrakech

WE guessed he was dumb or maybe he just had nothing to say. As the big Arab shook us awake the travel clock flashed 4.30am.

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Not so grand, not so grand at all

“It’s not about what you can see, it’s what is missing that is the true genius” a man with large, black-rimmed glasses and a tweed jacket exclaims.

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Nun the wiser

Four nuns unpicked the quinine drip from my sister’s blackened arm before wheeling her to the foot of the aircraft. From the white cloth of their habits shone the purity of their intentions...

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Off The Road

My boyfriend and I planned to leave Rome at 7 a.m. so we could meet my parents for dinner in Annecy – a French mountain town built around Europe’s purest waters.

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One of those days

You know its going to be one of those days ; because it the day we planned to go to Alton Towers. So the car is packed, three teenagers sat in the patiently and I am about to drive.

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One Path, Many Journeys.

I’d agree it wasn’t the best way to start a marriage. Spending three months walking 1,500 kilometres across France and Spain with my new husband was one thing. With my father-in law was quite another.

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Platzkart

Before our Kiev-bound sleeper train left Moscow, my boyfriend and I shared an impromptu picnic: heavy bread, pale cheese and half-litre bottles of dark ale, procured from a gold-toothed hawker at Kiyevsky Station.

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Racing against the flying fish

We would be travelling by ship between the Indonesian islands of Flores and Sumba. I and my wife, Lobo, were imagining ourselves to be Magellan. Several unfortunate accidents happen every year in these seas...

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Road chill: To mock a ghost

I counted 20 hairpin bends, whooped with excitement and watched the vista change colour at every turn. At the 21st and the last of the Gata Loops, I had a closer look as I was sliding on the gravel.

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September 2013 - en-route to Italy...

Day 1. - twenty-year old Mazda changes into steam engine 250k south of Calais and expires at petrol pumps, blocking access; re-watered and pushed aside.

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Star Wars Monopoly and the Seven Capes.

My mother screamed as a jet of blood erupted from her hand. I stumbled over to her, slipping on the wet deck. I was drenched. “Get back to your father” bellowed my mum above the storm.

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Staying in Heaven, with a visit from Hell

The place looked idyllic. The green mountains across the water on the Fijian mainland, created a false reflection, as the clouds swirled like cigarette smoke above them. The name of our destination, Nananu-I-Ra.

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Sweet and Sour

I slapped at a nagging mosquito. Mozzies? In broad daylight? “This is just ridiculous,” I muttered. “Well,” Frank said, consulting the compass, “I think it’s to the south.”

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The City that never sleeps (cos you can't)

I landed on my ass – HARD. Jet lagged and grumpy, I was jolted out of my sleepiness with a rude bump – Literally! I had barely arrived in New York before my grandiose plans of living it up in the Big Apple unraveled.

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The Evolution of Survival

Several million years ago, our ancestors lived in the endless forests of Africa. The trees were their home, and they moved through them as easily and effortlessly as modern-day Chimpanzees.

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The Joys of Motherhood

One of the worst journeys of my life was on a flight from Brisbane to Bangkok… My travelling companions were friend Sylvia, my twenty year old daughter Katrina and her friend Kerri.

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The long road home

The land was so uniformly flat I could see the foreign contractors a mile to our right. Even flatter than the landscape, the dark tar that spread behind them would become the main route through the ever dryer...

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The mark I left on the Inca Trail.

Having survived emergency uplift in a plane courtesy of the dog on the runway, being locked in a coach toilet for 4 hours travelling through the mountains of Bolivia when the flush was broken, a 14 hour flight...

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The road to Yakel

Ozzy Osbourne would have loved this, but I was not Ozzy.

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TIA: This is Africa

There was a crunch, then the impact jolted me into the back of the seat in front. Paul, with faster reactions, braced himself as the coach slid forward on the greasy tarmac, stopping with its front wheel...

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To see the sea

Have you ever had that strange feeling drilling you inside, the feeling of unexplained inner compulsion, the urgent need to do something, like for example to see the sea?

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Train Ride from Hell

Tears streamed down my face as I tightly hugged my knees in the stifling, comically narrow hallway of an overnight train from Hanoi to Hoi An.

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Travel like a local in Russia

You know the feeling. It is late in the afternoon; you have just spent several hours on your feet and you are simply exhausted. All you want to do is get home. Now.

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Up in the air and nowhere to go

9 p.m. Bags packed. Shopping completed. Tickets double checked. Checkout done.

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Welcome to the UK

I never knew the name of The Place. But it was about a twenty- minute drive from Gatwick Airport. The neighborhood seemed quite lovely, with its rows of brick houses with large protruding windows and neat rose gardens...

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What an eye-opener!

What better way is there to see a country than by train? Having already experienced the 24 hour train journey from Hong Kong to Beijing, with its postcard-perfect rice fields and run down villages...

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