6 strange things about travelling in the Balkan state of Kosovo

Visiting a European country half the world doesn’t recognise When I told my boss I was going to Kosovo, he looked at me like I’d just set fire to his desk. “I drove through Kosovo in a tank,” he said, after a long pause. My boss used to be a soldier. In 1998, he wasContinue reading “6 strange things about travelling in the Balkan state of Kosovo”

Why do plot writers rely on your lack of geography knowledge?

The real reason producers make up countries that end in -stan Urzikstan hasn’t had it easy. The country endured 20 brutal years of Russian occupation between 1999 and 2019, and its cities are scarred with terrifying reminders of a long-running conflict between insurgent factions. Urzikstan also doesn’t exist; not outside the fictional setting of CallContinue reading “Why do plot writers rely on your lack of geography knowledge?”

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The most epic road trip in Thailand

Navigating the famous Mae Hong Son Loop Northern Thailand has a lot that appeals to sensitive Englishmen like me. It’s a bit less hot than the South, the food is a bit less spicy, and the pace of life a bit less frenetic. Tourists who don’t make a beeline for Thailand’s southern beaches often headContinue reading “The most epic road trip in Thailand”

5 things you might not know about Georgia

A top-tier Eurasian destination that most Western Europeans haven’t visited yet I’ve always felt sorry for people who have the same name as someone famous. Georgia is a small country in the Caucasus, a mountainous strip of land between the Black and Caspian Seas. But everyone thinks it’s in America. The US state that sharesContinue reading “5 things you might not know about Georgia”

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Identifying as a “traveller” does not make you superior

The comparison between travellers and tourists smacks of snobbery “The Traveller sees what he sees; the Tourist sees what he has come to see” is one of the most tedious inspirational quotes. Wannabe vagabonds come out with this adapted passage from G.K. Chesterton’s autobiography like a call to arms. “Why would you want to beContinue reading “Identifying as a “traveller” does not make you superior”

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Albania is one of the most criminally under-appreciated tourist destinations

The country where reputation definitely doesn’t reflect reality “When someone from the Albanian Mafia is choosing a new car, uppermost in his mind will be this: ‘Can I get a dead body in the boot?’” Having set the scene, Jeremy Clarkson and his two Top Gear co-presenters struggled to lift a stout Albanian man theyContinue reading “Albania is one of the most criminally under-appreciated tourist destinations”

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How to spot and avoid travel braggers

A critique of the backpacker who has been there, done that and told everyone I stumbled upon a travel blog post the other day that had stirred up a lot of controversy. Lurking in the bowels of the Internet is “‘I did Europe this week’. Please stop saying this!!” The article admonishes tourists who sayContinue reading “How to spot and avoid travel braggers”

What do you think when I say ‘Azerbaijan’?

My trip to an unexpectedly endearing Eurasian state The word ‘Azerbaijan’ probably doesn’t make you think of your next holiday. Because Azerbaijan is far from a ‘bucket list’ destination for most of us. In 2019, Europe could only scrape together 224,000 visitors. The UK accounted for 36,000 of them. But Azerbaijan really wants you toContinue reading “What do you think when I say ‘Azerbaijan’?”

How to cure Southeast Asian temple fatigue

The top ten temples, so you don’t have to bother with the rest I know it’s sacrilege, but I have been feeling increasingly indifferent towards Southeast Asian Buddhist temples. Which is a shame, because they are arguably an integral part of the tourist experience. Several years ago, on my first trip to the region, templesContinue reading “How to cure Southeast Asian temple fatigue”

Why no one really knows what ‘authentic’ travel is

We should not feel guilty for being typical tourists I recently realised that I always hear variations of the same complaint when I meet people somewhere exotic. “It’s too touristy here”, bemoans the Dutch backpacker, latte in hand. “It’s so fake.” “This is definitely not authentic”. I had this very conversation in Luang Prabang, aContinue reading “Why no one really knows what ‘authentic’ travel is”