Travel Writing Competition 2014 Shortlist

A photograph never taken

It is a photograph I never took; of a man of my age gazing warily down one of the many dusty seen-better-days streets in the half-light before dawn.

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Bears and how to beat them

‘Stephen it’s inside! My God, it’s inside! INSIDE!’ Since we were biking through British Colombia, there was only one reason my girlfriend could be panicking this much, at this dingy hour.

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Cumbre o Muerte

Somewhere in the pitch-black above me our guide Mario is shouting in Spanish while below my friend Julien is trying to give me advice in French and I begin to panic in English.

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Cycling to the end of the world

In 1980 two gangly teenagers cycled across the arctic tundra to find themselves heading over the rocky wastes of Mageroy to the Nord Kapp - the most northern tip of Europe.

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Headache at the border

The Afghanistan/Iran frontier, 1973. Even at mid morning it was hot. We’d already wrestled with the Afghan border formalities and ahead lay the Iranian customs post.

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Mogamma

There’s a building in downtown Cairo, an imposing off-white structure that sits in the tempest of noise swirling around Tahrir Square. It’s called the Mogamma.

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Night Watch

On lookout. Twenty-three hundred hours. My eyes are distracted from the horizon by a strangely glittering star.

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One Ear Open

I’m snuggled in my tent in the mayor’s backyard, in a dusty village lost in the Malagasy brousse. The mayor has malaria, but it seems routine here and nobody is worried.

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The Number One

Ireland is the most romantic place in the world. Its not Paris, “The City of Lights” or “The City of Love.” It’s not the sunny vineyards of southern Italy or the art of Rome...

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The Reluctant Butcher

The previous evening as I walked the dusty orange path watching the sun set behind the distant Dzonzi mountains I had said to my friend Chisale ‘I believe that if someone wants to eat meat, then they should be willing to kill the animal’.

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