Category Archives: Travel

TERIMA KASIH (Thanks!) JAGA ISLAND!

We don't speak Bahasa, they don't speak English, but we can all learn handgames. handgames.

We don’t speak Bahasa, you don’t speak English, but we can all learn handgames.

Not many people visit Pulau Jaga, Indonesia. It isn’t easy to find. Google Maps doesn’t even name it. ‘Did you mean “Java, Indonesia”?’ says the Google search engine, trying as ever to be helpful.

No, I did mean Jaga, an island in the Riau Archipelago, two and a half hours by boat south of Singapore. Jaga is some 2.5km long and 500m across, home to perhaps 90 families, most of them supported by fishing. There are no hotels, no restaurants, no roads and no cars. There is a school, however, and we were invited to visit it. It was a privilege and a pleasure. Continue reading

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: (accidental) selfie, Rajasthan

At first I thought, 'Damn! Look at that reflection.' Then I reflected further...

At first I thought, ‘Damn! Look at that reflection.’ Then I reflected further…



It’s been a while since I entered the Weekly Photo Challenge, and this week’s topic ‘SELFIE’ wasn’t immediately appealing. I hadn’t heard the word until a few months ago. Then I decided perhaps I did have something to offer…

On our recent luxury train trip through India on the Maharajas Express we often found ourselves staring through the tinted glass as Real India, non-airconditioned India, slid past.

This shot, which had been consigned to the ‘reject file’ seemed to capture the spirit – fascination with what we were seeing, tinged with a little guilt that we were so insulated from it.

The writer was the guest of Railbookers. See www.railbookers.com.au

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RICHARD SAY: “Holiday should not be hard work”.

The Merricks-Red Hill trail. Where nothing much happens, fortunately.

The Merricks-Red Hill trail. Nothing to write home about, fortunately.

Trust Confucius to put it in a nutshell: ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’

That’s all very well for him to say. Chinese labourers swarming round him, slaving themselves towards an early grave, while he sat under a shady tree thinking up a few quotes. I bet he had days he couldn’t even be bothered being pithy and original. And he fell back on the same old lazy start to every sentence: ‘Confucius say…’

By Mr Confucius’ reasoning, most of a writer’s life is a holiday, and so it must appear to those who do jobs that actually need to be done. In vain do I grumble to friends about producers breathing gently down my neck while deadlines loom (or ‘whoosh by’, to quote Douglas Adams). There’s little sympathy for a writer from people whose work actually matters.

But there’s a flip side to my relaxing chosen career; in recent years most of my holidays have been taken for purposes of writing about them, either for money or in a pathetic attempt to attract blog hits. In other words, they have been work. But not this time. Continue reading

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MEN WITH CAMELS – Bikaner

Yes, this is a show camel, but it's a good show.

Yes, this is a show camel, but it’s a good show.

Bikaner is a small town by Indian standards, with a mere 2 million people eking out a living on the fringe of the Rajasthani desert. It also has an awful lot of camels. Continue reading

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OLD JODHPUR IN SEPIA

They're probably just farmers off to do some ordinary job, but it looks like part of a film story.

I guess they’re just farmers off to do some ordinary job, but it looks like part of a mysterious story.

I’ve been so overwhelmed by the colour that is everywhere in India, that I’d forgotten to try this arty photo experiment…

With the stroke of a key in iPhoto Effects I can make my shots look as if they were taken by an intrepid explorer traipsing across India in the days of the Raj, with an entourage of bearers carrying his photographic equipment. Continue reading

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SAVING INDIA’S MONA LISA

Hey, have a look at this...

The beautiful Padmapani, holder of the lotus and protector of the Buddha, herself preserved by being hidden in a cave for 1500 years. India’s Mona Lisa?



John Smith of the 28th cavalry was out looking for tigers in 1819, when he found a cave, full of bats and rubble and used by local people for religious ceremonies.

He’d stumbled upon one of the world’s ancient wonders, man-made Buddhist caves dating back to at least the fifth century AD, and probably seven hundred years before that. John was so excited he scratched his name on the wall, as explorers were wont to do.

Since word got out about the discovery, millions of people have followed him into the Ajanta Caves, and although we take off our shoes or pull soft covers over them, we’re all doing our little bit to damage them.
Continue reading

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SIGNS A SOURCE OF INNOCENT MERRIMENT – India

Fair enough too. It's at the door of a family fun fair, "Kingdom of Dreams", in Delhi.

Fair enough too. It’s at the door of a family fun fair, “Kingdom of Dreams”, in Delhi.


It’s a free, harmless and apparently endless source of amusement in someone else’s country to spot signs you would be unlikely to see at home.
Continue reading

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