July, 2012

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Finding mercy in a Peruvian slum

, Jul 02, 2012

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It is a bumpy, unpaved road and our driver carefully maneuvers around the potholes. Joan laughs and says this is her weekly massage. We pass dry, dusty shells of buildings, box-shaped with flat roofs. It seems as though it hasn’t rained in forever. Joan points to a truck coming the other way. "That's our weekly water delivery", she says.
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Learning to speak Queens’ English

, Jun 15, 2012

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As a native English speaker I was hardly expecting language difficulties in the US, a nation that’s smeared my mother tongue across the globe like Coca-Cola on a Southern-glazed ham. Yet my wife and I had a heck of a time getting coffee up, eggs easy over and our point across in a recent trip.
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Red Ink Run: scammed in Shanghai

, May 16, 2012

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They say the best scams are when you're not sure you've been scammed. But you do have to decide and the options aren't great: you're either a sucker or a cynic. Marty and I, after extensive deliberation, decided that anything is better than being a sucker.
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Morning prayer with rock star monks

, May 10, 2012

Emma Koehn's stay at a Buddhist monastery in Japan was a puzzling affair, with monks dressed in Foo Fighters tour t-shirts and Japanese MTV available in her monastery guest room.
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The problem with siestas

, Apr 16, 2012

Once upon a time in a land far away, two naïve and rather idiotic girls set off to find a fabled land near the border of Spain and Portugal. Rumours of its unsurpassed beauty ran rings around them as they eagerly planned their journey, their excitement growing by the minute. Little did they know that these plans would soon become unravelled due to one small detail -- the siesta.

Getting absinthe-minded in Prague

, Mar 28, 2012

Our gang had been wandering round the same slippery streets, of the very same two blocks, for over half an hour -- and the bouncing rain wasn't easing up. The alleyways of the Old Town of Prague are honeycombed and complex, even managing to defeat a whole group of tour guides such as ourselves, who have been here numerous times.
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The kitsch charm (and crappiness) of Coney Island

, Mar 16, 2012

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As the Big Apple itself rotted in the 1970s and 80s, so too did Coney Island. Once the global synonym for fun, for decades it mouldered through slow decline, a byword for urban decay. Fairy floss and hoopla gave way to hoods, graffiti and gang-banging.
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Running from landslides on the Inca Trail

, Feb 29, 2012

I stood in the middle of the famous Inca Jungle Trail and felt only nauseating fear. Every two minutes for two hours straight, someone would yell, "Lights up!"and ten small torch lights would point to the mountain towering straight above us. The sound of rocks falling had started again, but luckily they were still twenty meters behind us.
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The Nanny Diaries: from sunshine to snow, from dream to nightmare

, Feb 23, 2012

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Crikey intern Freya Cole writes: I had no idea what I was getting myself in to when I applied to be a nanny for six months. I had romanticised the idea in my head, thinking that a nanny would look after polite little children and take them to the local park, where they would meet […]
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Stuck in deep sh*t in the Big Apple

, Feb 17, 2012

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Freelance journalist Carla Pratt writes: I’ve seen people hail cabs in all the movies set in New York City. Carrie Bradshaw can hail them with just a whistle, it surely can’t be that hard. Out went my hand in the air. Zoom…….straight past me. There are 4.5 million residents in NYC and 50 000,cabs. I didn’t […]
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The Swiss wedding survival guide

, Feb 08, 2012

Claudia List writes: “Wear jeans, you’ll end up in a field afterward.” Not something I’d usually consider when going to a wedding, but I found this interesting piece of advice on an expat forum when I was wondering what to wear to my very first Swiss wedding. The comment thread continued, with several expats agreeing […]
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Zipping through the jungles of Laos

, Feb 03, 2012

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There are worse ways to spend Christmas then zip lining in the southern jungles of Laos. We began our journey in the small dusty village of Ban Nongluang, two hours drive from Pakse. Dust covered everything; our van, foliage, food stalls, cattle, sleepy domestic pets — everything. Brushing away the dust we headed on foot […]
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Welcome to Albania, where ice on the road gets the bus driver dancing

, Jan 25, 2012

At a certain point I asked someone when the bus to Theth would arrive, at which he laughed heartily, said “minute!” and shrugged. So the two of us have just stood here, watching local life cartwheel by, until, just as we’ve given up hope, everyone around us starts shouting “Theth!” and pointing to an ancient yellow minibus that has magically appeared across the road.
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A visit to the world’s biggest fetish market

, Jan 06, 2012

Visiting West Africa’s largest fetish market turns out to be a powerful and pungent experience not for the faint-hearted.
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Rocky Road: the challenges of returning to your hometown

, Dec 26, 2011

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There are certain situations in life that force you to take stock. Sitting at your parents dining room table, alone, on a Friday night at age 30, is one such situation, writes Anna Daniels.
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Madame Bessiere and the gypsies

, Dec 20, 2011

John Newton writes: This story was written in 1982. I was travelling from Rome to Barcelona on the way to Mallorca with my lover at the time (and for some years after) and her daughter.  We arrived in Arles at around ten o’clock in the evening in a sickening Seat Ritmo, having driven all the way […]
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Visiting Japan’s tsunami-devastated towns eight months on

, Dec 13, 2011

Paul Johannessen writes: Weeks have passed already and a good deal of time has been spent reflecting over my very short but intense trip to Ishinomaki. The town lies in Miyagi prefecture, a few hundred kilometres north of Tokyo and over a hundred kilometres north of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear absurdity. I had wanted to go […]
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Seeing red over a trip to the Gold Coast

, Dec 09, 2011

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I was seeing red when I boarded my flight to the Gold Coast. No, Alan Joyce didn't casually end my holiday before it began. I was staring at the red, second degree sunburn all down my friend’s back and legs.
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A visit to Joyce’s beloved Trieste, the ‘mongrel city’ of Italy

, Nov 07, 2011

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Freelance writer Grant Doyle writes: The modern day meaning of ‘mongrel’ is somewhat misplaced: etymologically, ‘mong’ means ‘mixture’ while the Old English ‘gemong’ means to ‘mingle’. The contemporary pejorative association comes with the suffix ‘rel’, and shifts the connotative meaning to ‘mixed race’ or ‘person not of pure blood’. Can there be a ‘mongrel’ city? […]
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Generosity in the oldest city in the world

, Oct 13, 2011

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It’s that combination of history that got me, and the people, so unexpectedly warm and full of generous ways -- from sharing their sweets with you on a bus trip from Damascus to Palmrya to searching up and down the street for someone with sufficient English to guide you back to the Ummayad Mosque, after you have become hopelessly lost in the myriad labyrinthine ways of the Old City of Damascus.