Subscribe: A Regular Travel Digest from Mark Moxon
http://feeds.moxon.net/traveldigest
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: English
Tags:
ago  city  cuba  india  march years  march  ndash  north  panama  place  south  written march  written  years ago  years 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: A Regular Travel Digest from Mark Moxon

A Regular Travel Digest from Mark Moxon



A selection of travel tales by Mark Moxon.



Published: Tue, 28 Mar 2017 07:05:02 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2017 Mark Moxon
 



India: Thoughts on Leaving

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 28 March 2007, 10 years ago. Yet again, India managed to tug at the sides of my mouth and make me smile, even though I took forever to acclimatise and spent most of the 18 days of this visit feeling sorry for myself. The homesickness kicked in big time on the backwaters, the humidity and heat totally drained me in Kochi, and the effects of budget travel wore us down in Periyar, but despite all this, India refused to tolerate my bad mood and jumped around, tugging at my shirt sleeves as if to say, 'Don't be glum...



India: Thoughts After Three Months

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 28 March 1998, 19 years ago. So that's the end of my first three months in India, but am I any the wiser? I'm not sure, really; all I can think of is a phrase from James Hawes' A White Merc with Fins where the anti-heroine, Suzy, is joking about going to India for three months. In a fit of accuracy, she decides not to bother because she'll just end up 'losing two stone and talking shite'. Unwittingly, Hawes' description is accurate as hell. It's easy to talk shite about India, if only because it's so full of...



India: Kovalam

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 27 March 2007, 10 years ago. Kovalam has something of an image problem, at least among backpackers, who think it's far too touristy and is probably best left to people who like egg and chips for dinner and their culture packaged up and delivered along with a rep. This is rather unfair, because although Kovalam does have a slight air of package holiday about it, it's still a charming little place with much to recommend, particularly if you're looking for a restful and stress-free spot for a few days before moving on...



India: Bhopal

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 27 March 1998, 19 years ago. Wednesday was one of those days that makes you want to throw in the towel and bury your head under the pillow. I was trying to get from Mandu to Indore in time to catch the train to Bhopal, where I could buy an onward ticket to Gorakhpur, just south of Nepal, but almost everything that could go wrong went wrong. It didn't start well. The bus from Mandu to Indore arrived two hours late, missing the train to Bhopal by ten minutes, so I had to jump on another bumpy bus to Bhopal instead. This bus...



New Zealand: Learning to Dive

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 27 March 1997, 20 years ago. After my visit to Rob and his yacht Zeke in Northland, I thought no more of it until Rob got in touch to say that he'd be delighted to have me on board for his trip across the Pacific. It took a while for it to sink in, but soon enough I was back in the Bay of Islands and staying on Zeke, who was still holed up in Paihia harbour. Perhaps the biggest sign that I'd mentally committed to crossing the Pacific in a 36 ft sloop was that I took advantage of a delay in our departure to enrol on a...



Australia: Flinders Ranges

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 27 March 1996, 21 years ago. It was a shame to leave World's End behind, but I had plans for some serious bushwalking in the Flinders Ranges to the north, after some hearty recommendations from Dave and Karen. After a quick bath in the creek and porridge for brekkie cooked on the fire, I headed north up the dirt road, aiming for Burra. Driving down dirt tracks is an art, and one you learn quickly if you know what's good for you. There are plenty of hazards, like the massive dips that indicate floodwater channels, potholes...



London Loop, United Kingdom: Kingston to Donkey Wood

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 27 March 2003, 14 years ago. This is a fascinating walk, not because it's full of amazing scenery – it's not – but because it's a lesson in how varied London really is. This section of the Loop starts out in Kingston, one of the poshest parts of suburban London, and ends in Hatton Cross, right under the screeching flight-path of Heathrow's jets. It's a walk from rich to poor, a journey from a place where people complain about an imaginary litter problem, to a place where people do nothing about a...



India: Ringing the Changes

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 26 March 2007, 10 years ago. I first visited India some nine years ago, and a lot has changed since then. India is developing fast, and it seems to be doing so without selling out its culture too much, which is a huge relief, because it's the culture and the people that make India such a phenomenal destination. Here, in no particular order, are the things I've noticed that are completely different to 1998: Mobile phones are everywhere, and don't you know it. India is still at the stage where having a mobile phone is a...



India: Sanchi

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 26 March 1998, 19 years ago. Sanchi is a hill topped with some spectacular Buddhist ruins, 'among the best in India' according to my guidebook (which says more about the other Buddhist ruins in India than I care to know). Certainly the ruins are Buddhist and they're reasonably interesting, but after my recent visits to the astonishing rock temples of Ellora and the deeply atmospheric Mughal fortresses of Mandu, stupas aren't quite as thrilling. Dome-shaped and topped with strange spires that look like something out of...



India: Mandu

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 25 March 1998, 19 years ago. After two days of long bus journeys north from Ajanta, through dusty landscapes and the transit city of Indore, I finally arrived in Mandu. I've been getting itchy feet while exploring the hot, dusty, flat plains of central India, and I'm beginning to dream of lofty hill stations nestling at the feet of snow-capped Himalayas, but Mandu has reminded me once and for all why the arid desert areas of India are in a world of their own. Mandu is a huge fortress built by the Muslims, a combination of...



Australia: World's End

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 25 March 1996, 21 years ago. My world is very small tonight. There's a babble from the creek as it pours over the stepping-stones, and the stars are visible over the light from the fire. The shadows flicker up the multi-coloured trunks of the Red River Gums surrounding the little clearing where my tent and cooking equipment reflect the light. The nearest civilisation is 20 miles away, and I'm totally alone; there isn't a human for miles around. The fire is incredibly hot, but it's throwing off enough red light to light my...



Panama: Thoughts on Leaving

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 24 March 2014, 3 years ago. In the end, we loved Panama. After our early exit from Costa Rica, we landed in the northwest without much of a plan and without any expectations, but Panama has turned out to be one long story of pleasant places, nice people, good food and, to top it off, a bona fide adventure on the high seas. What's not to like? True, the sights of Panama are rather more low key than, say, Guatemala or Nicaragua. Bocas del Toro is a pleasant spot, but we've visited much more beautiful Caribbean islands on...



Panama: San Blas to Cartagena

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 24 March 2014, 3 years ago. Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I do not like ocean passages. Back in 1997, after crossing half the Pacific from New Zealand to the Gambier Islands, I wrote, 'I don't regret going. I'll just never get on an ocean-going yacht again.' And here I am, on an ocean-going yacht again. What the hell just happened? Well, the appeal of a trip through the amazing San Blas islands just happened, and the fact is that this time round, I'm not a member of the crew, I'm a passenger. And I'm also...



India: Periyar

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 24 March 2007, 10 years ago. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a funny old place. Yes, it might be one of the few places on earth where you can theoretically see tigers – though with only about 35 tigers in a 777km2 park, your chances are slimmer than slim – but it's also faintly depressing, particularly at the moment, because the veneer of tourism is so thick you have to dig quite deep to get away from it all. Luckily, when you do, Periyar is a delight. First impressions are pretty awful, because most of...



Panama: San Blas (Cayos Coco Banderos)

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 22 March 2014, 3 years ago. I thought that the Cayos Holandeses were pretty beautiful, but the best was yet to come. Unfortunately, as day four of our trip dawned, the weather that had arrived the night before started to pick up even more (as Jan had warned us it would), and as we dropped anchor and headed south for a two-hour sail towards Cayos Coco Banderos, the seas began to swell. Switzerland is not known for its maritime expertise, so the 3m swell that greeted us was cause for whoops and yells from the rest of the...



India: Munnar

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 22 March 2007, 10 years ago. Ah, that's better. The oppression of India's mini-heatwave has been really grinding me down, and like the British before us, we've taken refuge in a hill station. Munnar, which the British Raj made their southern capital in summer, is 1500m above sea level, and like all India's hill stations, it lets you function. The novelty is palpable. Munnar is clearly taking off as a tourist destination – both Indian and foreign – because the outskirts of town are under construction to...



India: Cricket and India

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 22 March 1998, 19 years ago. Everywhere you look in India, someone is playing cricket; look out of bus windows, along dusty streets, in tiny villages and big cities, and you'll see a bunch of youngsters playing the game with rudimentary bats and branches for stumps. It's in the blood in much the same way that football is in South America and ice hockey is in Canada, and wandering past the locals as they bowl polished stones at baobab-stick stumps, you can't help wondering why cricket is such a deep obsession in India. My...



India: Ajanta

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 21 March 1998, 19 years ago. I made a beeline north from Aurangabad as soon as I could, and stepped from the world of 1950s Christian values into what can only be described as the Twilight Zone. A three-hour journey north soon saw me and Ian, a fellow inmate at the Youth Hostel, booking into a hotel in the little town of Fardapur, a speck on the landscape that has all the atmosphere of a motorway service station. Fardapur's claim to fame is its proximity to the cave temples of Ajanta, but as with Aurangabad, something...



Australia: Adelaide

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 21 March 1996, 21 years ago. When is a capital city not a capital city? When it's a capital town. Adelaide, capital of South Australia and home to 957,000 Australians, two-thirds of the population of the state, is miniscule when you're used to cities like London, Birmingham and more locally, Melbourne and Sydney. It's only seven times bigger than Hobart, and Hobart is tiny – indeed, even those who live in Adelaide refer to 'the town' rather than 'the city'. This has its advantages. The most obvious is that you...



Panama: San Blas (Cayos Holandeses)

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 20 March 2014, 3 years ago. El Porvenir might be the capital of the San Blas archipelago, but it's not exactly the most beautiful place in the world; the island is home to an airstrip, a museum, an immigration office and a handful of buildings, and just next door is another island that is so crammed full of houses that they practically spill off the edges and into the ocean. It certainly isn't one of the idyllic islands that the San Blas is famous for, so although we'd gone to sleep in the ocean swell and had woken up...



India: Kochi

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 20 March 2007, 10 years ago. Now that I come to think of it, the last time I was in Kochi I spent a day wandering around the sights of Fort Cochin on the northern end of Kochi island, and another day killing time in Ernakulam, eating in the Indian Coffee House and enjoying a James Bond movie in the company of the locals. I didn't hang around, and two days was probably one too many. I'm glad to say that, nine years later, Kochi is still the kind of place that forces you to kick back and relax. I say 'glad' because India is...



India: Aurangabad

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 20 March 1998, 19 years ago. It was a long transit day on the bus north from Bijapur to Aurangabad, where I'd originally planned to stay for three nights. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the sights around the city – such as the wonderful caves at Ellora and Ajanta, and the atmospheric fort at Daultabad – but in the end I was happy to move on after just two nights. This early departure was entirely down to the place in which I stayed, rather than Aurangabad itself. Aurangabad is home to a genuine Youth...



Panama: Portobelo to San Blas

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 19 March 2014, 3 years ago. After we'd booked our passage and paid a deposit, we didn't hear anything further until a week before the departure date, when the Norwegian captain of The Black Dragonfly, Jan Kåre Stenberg, got in touch to confirm the final details. We were to meet at the westernmost pier in Portobelo at 10am on 18 March, and he listed the items we should bring, specifically highlighting the need for seasickness pills. My stomach lurched at the thought; all of a sudden the trip was real, and not just a date...



Cuba: Thoughts on Leaving

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 19 March 2005, 12 years ago. Cuba took a very long time to grow on me, but by the time it was time to leave, I'd grown rather fond of the place. Cuba's greatest asset is its people. They are simply wonderful; they're always eager to have a conversation, they're unfailingly polite and pleased to see you, and even the touts – who are few and far between compared to most countries – are a delight. If you politely tell them that no, you don't want to buy a cigar, they apologise for interrupting you and go...



Cuba: A Funny Sort of Socialism

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 19 March 2005, 12 years ago. Cuba has to be one of the most famous communist countries still going, not least because it's a continual thorn in the side of the US government. But you could be forgiven for thinking that Cuba has cast off its Leninist-Marxist approach to life and gone all capitalist, because the signs of socialism are surprisingly subtle. Certainly Cuba feels nothing like the old Eastern bloc; there are few grey, monolithic concrete structures, and although there are featureless housing estates dotted...



India: Daultabad

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 19 March 1998, 19 years ago. Ellora is impressive, but so is another sight around Aurangabad, the mighty Daultabad Fort. Always a sucker for a good fort, I stopped off at Daultabad on the way back from Ellora, and I wasn't disappointed. Soaring from the desert plains is a mountain that forms the perfect natural defence, with sheer cliff walls petering out into a hilly crown that makes an excellent setting for a fortress. But even though the fort is a wonderful sight and provides great views of the surrounding desert...



India: Ellora

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 19 March 1998, 19 years ago. The main attractions around Aurangabad are the cave temple complexes of Ellora and Ajanta, and for them it's worth putting up with any amount of social asphyxiation. I spent a whole day at Ellora, and it's simply magnificent. Television and computers must be the most destructive forces known to man, because before either of these (admittedly excellent) developments came along, man actually achieved things. The caves at Ellora are prime examples of what man can do if he doesn't get hooked on...



Panama: Portobelo

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 18 March 2014, 3 years ago. The bus ride from the gleaming skyscrapers of Panama City to the grungy port town of Portobelo is a bit of a shock, to be honest. It's been a while since we took a proper chicken bus, and I'd forgotten just how much of an assault on the senses they can be; the last one we found ourselves on was back in Nicaragua, because for some unfathomable reason Costa Rica and Panama seem to be doing all they can to phase them out and replace them with modern buses. But the process isn't complete in Panama...



Cuba: Santa Clara

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 18 March 2005, 12 years ago. Most tourists visit the city of Santa Clara for one thing, and we were no exception. Handily positioned right by the ring road is the resting place of the most famous guerrilla of them all, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, and it's a superb place to visit. Che Guevara is an icon, and you'll see his picture everywhere in Cuba, alongside less famous revolutionary characters like José Martí and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes; in comparison you see almost no images of Fidel...



Cuba: Remedios

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 18 March 2005, 12 years ago. From Camagüey we had to start heading back west towards Havana, and we chose as our halfway point the colonial town of Remedios, from which we figured we could visit both the coral islands off the north coast and the revolutionary city of Santa Clara to the south. It turned out to be a good plan, but for slightly different reasons that we'd first anticipated. It happens at some point in almost every trip I make abroad, and this time it happened on the way to Remedios. I hung on as...



India: Bijapur

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 18 March 1998, 19 years ago. Waving goodbye to my Hampi friends as they boarded the bus for the southbound train, I felt a strange yet familiar feeling. Yes, it was sad to be seeing newly discovered kin disappear into the evening sun, but I suddenly felt that little thrill associated with being alone again, with being independent and having to make my own decisions. Those decisions included leaving Hampi the next day and jumping on the train to Bijapur, a major town to the north. It struck me on arrival that Bijapur feels...



India: The Keralan Backwaters

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 17 March 2007, 10 years ago. I first travelled the Keralan backwaters back in 1998, when I took the tourist cruise from Kollam to Alappuzha, and I loved it. The serene waterways that lie just a stone's throw from the sea are relaxing, smothered in coconut palms and perfect for unwinding. Given my complete lack of ability to acclimatise to India's heat and noise without throwing a tantrum, the backwaters seemed like the perfect place to relax for a few days. We hadn't meant to jump straight onto a boat, but India being...



Cuba: Cayo Santa María

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 17 March 2005, 12 years ago. To the north of the Cuban mainland are some of the most idyllic spots on the entire island – the cayos of Cuba. Cayos are coral islands, which in English we call 'cays' or 'keys'; hence we have the Florida Keys strung out southwest from the Florida coast, not a million miles from Cuba itself. The cayos are being developed for tourism at a frantic pace, so it probably won't be long before they're home to the kind of sprawling hotel complexes you associate with Varadero, the package...



Australia: The Coorong

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 17 March 1996, 21 years ago. On Sunday I left Kingston SE, passing the 30 ft model of Larry the Lobster on the way out, and headed north to a little coastal town called Port Elliot, via the Coorong. The Coorong is completely strange. It's a National Park that goes along the coast below the Fleurieu Peninsula, just south of Adelaide. Essentially the coast goes north-south, with the sea on the west; running parallel to the coast, in the sea, is this huge sand dune called the Younghusband Peninsula, which meets the coast at...



Panama: All Aboard The Black Dragonfly

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 16 March 2014, 3 years ago. For travellers heading south through Central America and into South America, there is one big obstacle: the Panama-Colombia border. If you keep on driving south through Panama down the Pan-American Highway, then you'll eventually get stopped by a very big man with a very big gun, and trust me, you don't want that to happen. It hasn't always been this way. When Panama gained independence from Spain in 1821 it immediately joined Simón Bolívar's confederation of Gran Colombia, which comprised...



India: Hampi

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 16 March 1998, 19 years ago. A night-train ride northwest of Bangalore, Hampi seems to exist in a sphere of its own, a self-contained combination of timeless natural wonder and historical human impact. Here the ruins of ancient civilisations pepper the rocky landscapes while restaurants pander to the requirements of the tourist classes, and all the time the slow turbulence of the Tungabhadra River meanders along the valley floor, only months away from the raging tumescence of the monsoon. Describing the atmosphere of...



Australia: Mt Gambier

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 16 March 1996, 21 years ago. Setting off from the Grampians, with the car crammed full to the brim with Pom, Dutchmen and extra backpacks, I noticed the car was rather unsteady on the road, so I slowed the pace down. At first I thought that the car was giving up the ghost, which was a bit worrying this early in the trip. But no: in fact a serious wind storm had started up, which buffeted us all the way to Mt Gambier, across the border in South Australia. Apparently there was a cyclone in Western Australia, and we were...



Panama: The Taxi Scam

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 March 2014, 3 years ago. So Panama City is a little gem on the Pacific coast, with its ancient sites, lovely walks, impressive skyline and modern engineering marvels. It's an easy place to recommend, but there is one thing I've got to mention, and that's the taxi drivers. Panama City's taxi drivers don't use meters, which isn't much of a surprise, as they don't really go in for metered travel in this part of the world (even in San José in Costa Rica, where they are supposed to use meters by law, you'll be...



Panama: Panama City

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 March 2014, 3 years ago. To be honest, Central America isn't the best place to go for world-class cities. Most of the region's capitals are dirty, crime-ridden dumps that are have very little to attract the average traveller: Belize City, Guatemala City, San Salvador, Managua and even San José are all places whose mothers would have trouble loving them, let alone complete strangers. And even if their edginess is interesting in its own right, you rarely find yourself wanting to hang around for too long. And then, pow!...



India: The Beer Shop

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 March 2007, 10 years ago. The sun sank slowly behind the palm trees separating the backwaters from the Arabian Sea, the evening meal on board our houseboat was a sublime mix of chicken in Keralan spices, aubergine chutney, chapatis and large-grained rice, and as we sat on the prow of the boat, watching fireflies wink past and enjoying the rare treat of a peaceful evening in India, Peta said,' Do you fancy a beer, then?' 'Sure,' I said, and wandered down the end of the boat to ask Anil, the chef, whether we could have a...



India: Cash Card Crisis

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 March 2007, 10 years ago. Sometimes I make a really piss-poor traveller, you know. Hot weather makes me irritable and lethargic, especially when it's humid; if I don't get a good night's sleep, I get irritable and lethargic; I get ill at the drop of a hat, which makes me irritable and lethargic; and I suffer from regular bouts of homesickness, which would probably make me irritable and lethargic if it wasn't too busy wallowing in self-pity. On most short trips, this homesickness peaks around day three or four, and it...



Cuba: Música de la Casa

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 March 2005, 12 years ago. Cuba is world famous for its music, and rightly so. Everywhere you walk in Cuba, music pours out of the buildings, whether it's the sound of a live band serenading tourists in the Casa de la Música, the booming bass of a hi-fi pounding out rumba down a back street, or the tinkling of a piano from behind shutters in the suburbs of Camagüey. Music is in the blood of the Cubans, whether it's salsa, son, timba, danzón or cha cha cha, and it makes travelling through...



Cuba: Camagüey

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 March 2005, 12 years ago. The casa of Ricardo and Gladys was as delightful and friendly as that of José and Daisy. The Cubans are such welcoming people, and Gladys's evening meals of pork, chicken and top quality home cooking were simply delicious. Without a doubt, eating in private houses is the way to go. But Camagüey itself was slightly disappointing, probably because our hopes had been raised to fever pitch by the write-up in the Lonely Planet. 'Camagüey enchants on sight,' it said....



Australia: The Grampians

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 March 1996, 21 years ago. Interestingly – at least, interestingly when compared to Warrnambool – Tuesday turned out to be a Bad Shoe Day. By accident I left my pair of incredibly smelly and rotting canvas shoes in the car park at Loch Ard Gorge, which was sentimentally tough but a good thing in retrospect, and then that night my thongs snapped. I prayed that God would look after their little lost soles, and tried to move on. On Wednesday I headed off to Hall's Gap, 200km away to the north and deep...



London Loop, United Kingdom: Hamsey Green to Banstead

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 15 March 2003, 14 years ago. The biggest challenge with this section of the Loop is getting there. Hamsey Green is in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and if you're coming from west, east or north London, you're in for a hell of a journey. The guidebook recommends going via East Croydon train station, but that's the easy part; then you've got to find the bus stop for the 403 bus (you'll probably have to ask where it is as it's a fair walk from the train station), and even then it's a good 30 to 40 minutes to Hamsey...



India: Beer, What Beer?

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 14 March 2007, 10 years ago. Not every restaurant in Varkala has a licence to sell alcohol, but that doesn't seem to discourage them from doing so, and it's one of Varkala's more amusing traits. 'We also have beer, yes,' is a common enough introduction to the menu, at least at those restaurants whose menus completely fail to mention alcohol. At restaurants such as this, the waiter is only too happy to bring you a bottle of slightly chilled Kingfisher, though depending on how jittery the restaurant owner is feeling, it...



India: Blowing the Budget

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 14 March 2007, 10 years ago. There is one habit from my previous trip to India that I am finding hard to break. When I last visited, it was towards the end of a three-year jaunt around Australia, Oceania and Asia, most of it funded by money I had earned en route. One of the effects of travelling for so long is that you learn to budget mercilessly, because each penny you save translates into more time on the road. It's a simple equation, and it makes it easy to slip into a pretty mercenary attitude to budgeting. I stayed...



India: Lagging Behind

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 14 March 2007, 10 years ago. It's a major stroke of luck that I have a lazy streak as wide as the grin on an Indian salesman's face. It means that although I love planning my travels and enjoy poring over guidebooks and maps, when it comes to actually making a decision and booking anything in advance, I'm a total ditherer and tend to avoid the issue until I'm faced with an ultimatum. In the case of this two-and-a-half week visit to India, this meant that I booked a return flight to Trivandrum... and precisely nothing...



India: The Holi Festival

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Written on 14 March 1998, 19 years ago. As a therapy, regression often proves effective. From the simple weekend routine of playing knock-about football with your mates, to the psychologically intriguing exploits of businessmen who dress up in nappies and suck their thumbs in oversize cots while paying a mistress a small fortune to act as their mummy, reverting back to childhood is a glorious release from having to fake an adult outlook every day. Not surprisingly the Indians are fully aware of the positive energies associated with...