Category: Travel articles

Kakadu  is a World Heritage Listed area in Northern Australia and one of the most amazing places on earth!  20,000sq klms of wilderness that encompasses; massive escarpments bordering Arnhem  Land,  stone country, monsoon forest, savannah woodlands, coast, billabongs and floodplains and up to 20,000 years of Aboriginal rock art.   Wildlife is prolific and the national park is also a protected corridor for migratory birds.  The area is jointly managed by the traditional Aboriginal owners and national parks. Hopefully the images will show some of its extraordinary beauty.



Darter on Yellow WatersJabiru Cooinda  BillabongJacana on Lily PadsFloodplain




Kakadu Saltie SwimmingDarterKakadu Floodplain  Nourlangi Rock ArtRed Flying FoxKakadu Sunset    Lotus Lily KakaduTermite Mound Ubirr KakaduWhite Bellied Sea EagleSaltwater Crocodile  Tree Silhouette Ubirr Ubirr Whistling DucksWetlands

Scenery Prince Christian Sound  GreenlandBirds on Floating Iceberg

Greenland –   the least populated country in the world & the largest island on earth.  What an incredible country – most of the landmass, certainly in winter, is covered with ice and snow.  I was there at the end of Inuit Girl and Puppythe European summer and the ice had melted in the south, the grass was green and wildflowers bloomed inIceberg in Prince Christian Sound Greenland profusion.   Travelling through the spectacular Prince Christian Sound, we navigated the large and beautiful icebergs, gazed in awe at the hanging glaciers and those that had crept to touch the aquamarine waters of the sound. A small Inuit village was tucked into the shelter of a cove, as usual the large white church dominating the tiny settlement.

The capital, Nuuk is not so beautiful but an interesting capital city and surrounded by spectacular scenery. The small towns of Nanortalik and Qatortok were deInuit Kids Playing in a Fountain on a Summer Day in GreenlandGlacier Prince Christian Sound Greenlandlightful, with their brightly painted houses, small harbours, and friendly Inuit people out and about enjoying the daylight and the occasional warmth from the short summer’s sun.

 House at Nanortalik

House at NanortalikLocal Inuit Family Preparing Freshly Caught Fish in Their BackyaTown of Nanortalik

Seaweed Harvesting at Dusk  W The 3 islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Cenangan & Nusa Penida are off the coast of Bali in Indonesia.  They are islands where the people of all ages work incredibly hard to scrape a living from harvesting the rich, green seaweed around the coastal fringes of their islands.  The seaweed is then sent to Japan and China for processing where it is used in diet foods, icecream, cosmetics etc..    Lembongan and Cenangan are becoming a haven for travellers and the islands are bringing more prosperity to some of the population and as a result they are beginning to change.  Nusa Penida is the largest and the most intriguing, because it is the most ‘untouched’ and gives the visitor an insight into what Bali must have been like before being discovered  by westerners.Unloading At Toyapakeh Nusa Penida W Elderly Seaweed Farmer On  Nusa Penida W Lembongan Beach at Sundown W Seaweed Harvesting off Lembongan Beach Public Boat Lembongan W Fisherman Nusa Lembongan WBreakfast on the BeachUnloading the Public Boat on Nusa Lembongan


I was first in Myanmar (or Burma as it was then) many years ago. Once illegally over the Thai border by motorbike into a ‘Karen’ stronghold near Three Pagoda Pass and again flying in on Burma Air or as we called it Bummer Air and travelling around by truck, bus and train.  I was back there last December and found a country determined to embrace modern tourism.  However, it doesn’t take much time or effort to wander beyond the well -known and find yourself back in an amazing ‘real’ Asia of yesteryear!

It is a wonderful country of shining, golden temples, ancient, heritage sites, a dramatic coastline and  high mountains.  Colourful, tribal people gather at the local markets and everywhere the people of Myanmar are full of warmth and friendliness,   seemingly now, without the fear of mixing with foreigners.

Young Nun in Central Yangon View of Yangon from The RiverBeggar and Baby at Local Market in Bagan, MyanmarEgg Seller at a Temple in Bagan Ballons Over Bagan   Monk and Mobile PhoneLocal Market Bagan Older Monk at Mahagandayon Monastery in MandalayTheravada Buddhist Scriptures at Mahagandayon Monastery in Manda   Daily Life on the Ayeyarwady River in MandalayMonk With Alms Bowl at Mahagandayon MonasteryKuthodaw Pagoda Mandalay


Malaysia is a country of contrasts.  The capital, Kuala Lumpur, appears as a modern, progressive city with fabulous architecture ranging from the restored, British colonial buildings to the sky – reaching  Petronas Towers. It is a show piece that belies the divePenang an 'island' state of Malaysiarsity of its peoples,  living standards,  and awe-inspiring natural environment  – from islands with beautiful beaches to jungles with some of the world’s most fascinating creatures.   The ‘island’ of Penang, with its World Heritage Listing for its colonial history and architecture is worth several days just wandering the streets especially in the Indian section, where an alternative culture is very prominent.

Penang an 'island' state of MalaysiaPenang an 'island' state of MalaysiaPenang an 'island' state of MalaysiaPenang an 'island' state of Malaysia Penang an 'island' state of Malaysia Penang an 'island' state of Malaysia 7989 Sugei Kelim   Langkawi  W7968 Sugei Kelim   Langkawi  W  7380 Petronas Towers K L W  vccvcvc7363 Independence Square  K L W7374 Central Market  K L W

MEDAN – Capital of Sumatra.

My last blog was about Singapore – a modern, dynamic, city constantly changiTrishaw Driver Wng and concealing a lot of its Asian-ness.  In total coRubbish Picker Wntrast, a few days later I was ankle deep in mud, inhaling the exhaust fumes of trucks jammed abreast on the only road to the port (where my ship was waiting), overturned lorries, traffic clogging the city streets, beggars darting between moving cars and rubbish pickers collecting anything recyclable – this is Medan!  Sumatra is a very Muslim Island in Indonesia, but Medan, its capital is not in, or near the radical, Sharia state of Aceh.   Medan typifys the old Asia and I was delighted and a little surprised by

Medan Traffic WMotorbike Travel in Medan W

the warmth and friendliness of the local people.

Women in their hijabs offered soft, welcome smiles.  School girls with their cell phones wanted selfies – well,  with us in them and the men in the mosques nodded their acceptance as we admired their place of worship.

At the lavish SultaRoyalty For a Day Wns’ Palace, families donned for a few hours, the gold clothes of royalty again, for those photographic moments.

The Grand Mosque – is very grand, the old Chinese Temple offers advice for wealth and prosperity and roadside ‘repairers’ fix bicycle tyres from the gutters and trishaw drivers, without passengers, snooze in the sun.

Chinese Temple Medan W

Repairer W


I have been going to SingaSingapore Harbour Wpore for many years – usually as a stopping off point on longer hauls or as a cheaper gateway into Asia.  It is a city that never seems to stop changing and re-inventing itself. Every time I’ve been back it looks different.  Years ago when I used to stay in the cheap dumps that were scattered around Bencoolen St, you knew you were in an Asian country just by walking outside the door.  It was exciting and exotic. It smelt of Asia it looked like Asia and it promised adventure, excitement !and cheap shopping – not so much anymore

Singapore Port W

If you Merlion Singaporewant to experience ‘Asia’ – Singapore is not the place.  Forget tourist traps like ‘Little India’ – where you are constantly hassled and ‘Chinatown’ which is a tourist precinct of organised stalls selling the worst of cheap bling.  Forget the ‘Asia’ thing and enjoy Singapore for what it has become –  a dynamic, modern city state that is not only unique but constantly transforming itself.  The city heads for the skies with tall buildings show casing amazing design and innovative architecture. Acres of gardens and parklands transform a city of glass, concrete and steel.  The preservation of the old colonial buildings is a reminder of its history, while the Changi Museum makes you realise its considerable achievements after years of war.

It has clear traffic flows, a super- efficient underground rail system, cafes with excellent coffee, world class hotels and restaurants and designer stores in every shopping mall.  It is slightly sterile, safe, with some of the lowest crime figures in the world.  Littering, graffiti and chewing gum are all forbidden. It is controlled but its citizens Helix Bridge Singapore Wseem content with the status quo.Shop Houses W

You can still wander the waterfront and see the old ‘shop houses’, find a snake charmer, drink Turkish coffee in the Arab Quarter or just escape in the new and beautiful Bay Gardens fashioned from reclaimed land.

Back in Singapore last week – I have decided that I have great respect for this tiny country.  In the years when I visited between the Asia of decades ago and the period when everything ‘authentic’ was pulled down to make more sky scrapers and block housing, I despaired of it.  Now, due to lack of space they are still pulling down and puModern Singapore wth Art & Science Museumtting up – but in this era, with a lot of style and consideration.

Singapore hSnake Charmer Was much to be proud of and one outstanding achievement is tolerance and harmony. With its diversity of citizens and religions – Indians, Chinese, Malays and ex-pat Europeans – its people all live as and are proud to be, Singaporeans.

Orchid Gardens W

Malay Quarter Singapore

Ulaan Bataar – Capital of Mongolia  


Not the most attractive of capital cities, Ulaan Bataar in Mongolia is not without its charms.  Perhaps not a city to spend more than a few days, the sights of UB can be enjoyed as an example of a capital totally alien to the rest of its country.  You can eat in international restaurants and cafes where there is more on offer than boiled mutton and morestimulating beverages than fermented mares’ milk!

Battling the dust, rubble and broken roads, looking further than the soviet style, grey, block buildings andsurviving the life-threatening traffic, the visitor can enjoy an array of fine museums, theatres offering spectacular concerts of traditional music and dance, German bUB Monasteryakeries, Austrian coffee, modern shops and breathtaking ancient palaces and exquisite, Buddhist monasteries – the few survivors of the brutal Stalinist purges that destroyed not only the buildings but the monks themselves. In the Museum of Persecution, the names of 20,000 lamas, intellectuals and soldiers line the walls.

The Central Market is a must and a great insight into Mongolian life as you walk through rows of torturous wooden saddles, assorted horse paraphernalia, genuine antiques, the bright orange ger furniture alongside the 50s style furniture for the more modern apartment. It’s not called the Thieves Market without reason – I managed to ward off a couple of chancers by creating a lot of noise which sent them scurrying in embarrassment!  Boots for every occasion are displayed in long rowCamel Trains, assorted hardware, shimmering silks and satins and tables of dissected sheep sit beside piles of onions, potatoes and summer fruits.

Inspite of all the NGOs based in the city, the large numbers of destitute and homeless children are disturbing.  They beg with desperation and hunger in their eyes and sleep next to sewer pipes in the freezing winters for a bit of warmth.

On the outskirts of this ramshackle place, the tent houses (gers), the horses, goats and people still in traditional dress, stimulate your curiosity to go beyond this city and find the  true attraction of this wild, frMongolian Horsesee and fenceless country with its wild,  beautiful landscapes and its warm, welcoming people.

Robben Island – Off the coast of Cape Town and famous for its political prisoners, especially, Nelson Mandela.   The name means seal island and it does have seals, penguins, antelopes and prolific bird life.  It appears a peaceful place, far from the throb of Cape Town but the reminders of the brutality of apartheid are preserved for those intRobben Island Prisonerested enough to take the little ferry across Robben Island Prisonand visit.

Nelson Mandela and his fellow prisoners had found this island an impossible place to escape and they suffered long years of an intolerable, incarcerated, existence.  Today, ex-political prisoners conduct tours around the prison and island.  They show you Mandela’s cell and the lime quarry, where he and other ‘enemies of the state’, were forced into back-breaki3686 Mandela's Cell Robben Islandng labour.   Chilling stories of the previous apartheid policies and punishments, are told calmly, without hatred, by these guides as they relate their personal stories.

You leave, more than just a little subdued, chastened by the compassion and courage of these men who had shared a little of their lives and taught you some important history.  You also leave learning a little more about the humanity among the prisoners and their desire to forgive.   Ahmed Kathrada was one. Not as well-known as some of the others, he was imprisoned for 26 years, aftLimestone Quarry  Robben Island  South Africaer which he could write

“While we will not forget the brutality of apartheid, we will not want Robben Island to be a monument of our hardship and suffering.  We would want it to be a triumph of the human spirit against the forces of evil.  A triumph of wisdom and largeness of spirit against small minds and pettiness; a triumph of courage and determination over human frailty and weakness; a triumph of the new South Africa over the old”.

I’ve been to Robben Island many times – it is a must if you are going to try to understand South Africa.




Well this is a novel addition but they are so beautiful in their own earthy way, that I wanted to write about them!

The Pilbarra is a half million square kilometre wilderness area in Western Australia.  It is where Australia’s huge iron ore industry is located.  The rich deposits of iron ore are being shipped off to China as fast as it can be hauled out of the ground.   This landscape is Pre-Cambrian –  two billion years in the making and therefore  ’pre-life’.   Fortunately in 1969 the Karijini National Park was established preserving this strikingly beautiful landscape.  Deep, blood-red  gorges, steep cliffs, bone white Snappy Gums, golden spinifex and the stunning ochre coloured termite mounds define this  ageless land.  These structures are built by the industrious collectives of the Spinifex Termites.  There there may be a million    of these little creatures in one mound surviving their harsh habitat by utilisiIMG_3675 Karijini Termite Mounds Smrng their    extraordinary engineering skills to control the heat and humidity of their homes.  Their  mounds also act as a defense against predators, a food source and a recyclable way of  enhancing the nutrients in this ancient soil.

The Aboriginal people of this area understood this habitat and the animals that survived     here.  The Spinifex Termites were used for medicine and as a supplementary food source.   They only took from the land what they needed and also survived for tens of  thousands of years.

Iceland is now becoming a popular tourist destination but with such a small population and being remote from the rest of Europe it never feels crowded.  Iceland is a beautiful wilderness with  prolific bird life and amazing geothermal and geological landscapes.  Mountains, rivers, lakes, fjords and a wild coastline dotted with tiny fishing villages.  The capital, Rekjavik, is a delightful, arty, tiny city with brightly coloured houses and welcoming people.  

0209 Godafoss Waterfall in IcelandSeltun Geothermal Area IcelandMain Street AkureyriReykjavik Residents Icelandic Pony on Grimsey 0280 Namafjall  Iceland Thermal Area0272 Lava Fields at Dimmuborgir, IcelandGullfoss or Golden Waterfall IcelandEskfijordur IcelandModern Reykjavik and Cathedral
1034 Seltun Geothermal Area Iceland

Blue Lagoon at Grindavik Iceland
 Bolungarvik Cottages  Iceland
Seltun Geothermal Area IcelandGodafoss

The ‘story of  Antananarivo or Tana for short – can be viewed on the menu bar.     

It is an amazing, vibrant capital that pushes you to explore further into the country of Madagascar.



Captain Mamie  A GLIMPSE OF TANA

Antananarivo – hardly pronounceable, the capital of Madagascar, a country I had  yearned to explore, yet one that had alluded me over many years of travel.

On arrival you are met with a landscape of pink brick houses, muddy waterways, and smoking kilns and an expectation that this place is very different!   See Dashboard to access the full story and for more images from Madagascar.


NB:  The full Norfolk Story can be accessed from the menu bar.

Drop in the Ocean….Norfolk Island

This tiny 5 x 8 kilometre speck was thrust into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, three million years ago – a violent, volcanic birth with no attachment to any other land.  It is an island where large green turtles break the surface nLandscape Of The Rocky Coastline Norfolk Island Wext to your kayak and a variety of nesting birds eye you with only a little caution.  Where fish once caught, are either traded perhaps for wild guava jam, or merely given away. Where locals still come to the whaBoatmen Transporting Goods  Wrf to watch the supply ship being unloaded, where, when you die, your mates dig your  grave for a crate of beer.


Norfolk Island images from

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