You can feel the tension in the Iranian town of Piranshahr. Here the police are more alert and better armed than in the rest of the country. They maintain a larger buffer around themselves, keeping locals at arm’s length in the crowded market places and the chaotic streets.

This region contains a majority Kurdish population who have historically represented a potent internal threat to the Iranian state. Continue reading “Red Ink Run: Iraq and a hard place”


Dec 5, 2012


If you suffer from motion sickness, are a stickler for the law or have a problem with being gawked at — do not attempt the Albanian bus system.

I had been totally over-confident about this. I was well-travelled, having worked as a tour guide in Europe for two years, and I knew how to bus myself around. I had worked on boats in both Croatia and Greece, so I knew how to deal with seasickness. I had also mastered the art of “faux patience”, having calmly told passengers the location of the toilet over 1582 times, usually in the space of one night, even though I wanted to vomit on their shoes if they asked me once more. Continue reading “Eaten up by the east: embarrassed in Albania”