Tag Archives: Travel


Students from Pulau Jang school.

The coolest guys at Pulau Jang school!

I almost feel guilty about sharing this. There is a part of Indonesia that is unspoilt, with beautiful beaches, patches of dense forest, skies in which you can see the stars and friendly local people with a relaxed attitude to the very few tourists that come here.

Would we want it to become the next Bali or Phuket? Despite my raving about it, I don’t think a blog post is likely to make that happen. Continue reading


Filed under Indonesia


There are plenty of good things to do in Amsterdam, so why waste time and money on the dross.

There are plenty of good things to do in Amsterdam, so why waste time and money on the dross?

A popular article just appeared on the web – The 12 Worst Things to Do in Paris. I’m pleased to report that I’ve only made French travel mistakes numbers 1, 3, 11 and 12 – having visited the Champs Elysees, the Mona Lisa, Gare du Nord and the Forum des Halles.

The article inspired Mevrouw T and me to consider the dozen worst things to do in the city we love, and to pass our warnings on to potential visitors. Continue reading


Filed under Holland


I sat by the washing, waiting for an old man with a dog to walk by.  A lady with a stick was just as good. How's that for an authentic Italian cliche?

I sat by the washing, waiting for an old man with a dog to walk by. A lady with a stick was just as good. How’s that for an authentic Italian cliche?

Venice is popular. For good reason, of course.

Venice is popular. For good reason, of course.

Naturally, much of the Italy we tourists see looks like the picture on the right, but as photographers we prefer the privacy of deserted places.

So although it’s not possible to avoid the well-trodden path altogether, you can glance sideways into every little alleyway, point the camera at it and hope that it might be free of visitors.

If you’re really lucky, you might even spot a local doing something colourful and charming. Continue reading


Filed under Italy, travel photography


The gentleman behind the car hire desk at Geneva airport had heard enough of my halting Melbourne high school French, so he asked me gently, ‘May I speak English with you?’

Not the usual ‘Do you speak English?’ but ‘May I speak English with you?’ He gave me a line I’ve used hundreds, if not thousands, of times since. At a hotel reception desk in Ystad, before getting into a taxi in Istanbul, when lost in a maze of Estonian alleyways, I now begin my chats with strangers with ‘May I speak English with you?’

Here’s why. Continue reading


Filed under Travel

OUT OF OFFICE AUTOREPLY – back soon(ish)

We'll be somewhere near here. Naturally I can't give really specific info or the paparazzi will be around.

We’ll be somewhere near here. Naturally I can’t give really specific details or the paparazzi will be lurking in the bushes hoping to glimpse us.

I’m taking a little time off. Back soon. But first a thankyou…

Thanks to all the people who’ve visited this blog during the year, even if you were just researching a school project on the Aboriginal flag or Googling ‘buildings that look like penises’, ‘goddess Kali’ or ‘poo’. It’s a regular source of cheap entertainment for me to log on each morning and see the search terms people entered. I hope at least some of you found what you were looking for.

It is encouraging to a blogger to see visits growing, followers signing up and a steady stream of thoughtful, interesting comments being added. I’ve met some lovely people in cyberspace this year.

Thanks again, visitors. Stay safe over the holiday period, drive carefully and don’t overindulge and cause damage that can’t be rectified by a therapeutic walk or bike ride.

I look forward to regaling you with more tall tales and true of our travel adventures very soon.


Filed under Writing

HAS TRAVEL MADE US NICER? – Steven Pinker’s Angels.

AngelsWhatever happened to the good old days?

The days when all members of the tribe were equal and everyone was looked after. The days when villagers knew their neighbours. The days when community spirit overrode individual ambition. The days when families prayed together and stayed together.

The days when there was no word for genocide. The days before weapons of mass destruction, suicide bombings, drug wars, street crime, terrorism and Call of Duty computer games. The days before most people had heard of Syria, Iraq, Darfur, Afghanistan and Rwanda.

According to Steven Pinker’s provocative book, The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined, the good old days have been overrated.

In the good old days your chances of being assaulted, bashed, raped, chopped up, enslaved or tortured to death at the hands of a fellow human being were far higher than they are today. There are shocking glitches in the trajectory, but we are now living in the safest, most peaceful and crime-free era our species has ever known.

I’m delighted to hear that, and I’m delighted that my particular interests – education, writing and travel – get a little credit for helping the process along. Continue reading


Filed under Writing

ALCOHOL ON PLANES – my Huffington Post debut

So tell us, Richard, how did it feel when the guy threw up on you?

Early start this morning. My day began with an invitation to appear on Huff Post Live, in a panel discussion about whether alcohol should be banned on planes. I qualified as an expert witness on this topic, apparently, having once been the recipient of a projectile vomit from across the aisle.

It was my first appearance on an American talk show. I soon discovered that it’s not a hard gig since the Americans do most of the talking, and all you have to do as a panellist is laugh at their jokes.

That was easy too. The discussion between my fellow guests (a flight attendant, a passengers’ rights advocate and the Huffington Post travel editor) was very entertaining and I could comfortably play the straight guy.

Moderator Marc moved us around the topics. From drinking on planes we discussed other bad behaviour by passengers, screaming kids, use of mobile devices and finally, inevitably, Mile High Club adventures. I had little to contribute on that last subject.

Thanks for having me aboard, Huff Post Live. It was fun.

Here’s the link to the segment.

What do you think? Would you prefer alcohol to be banned from flights? Have you had any bad experiences with airborne drunks? Could you manage without the booze or is it all that gets you through the long haul?


Filed under Travel