Men of the Forest: the primates of Borneo

Sabah, Borneo, 21 April 2016 I’m staring out the window of a 737 as we clear the coast of Borneo. Down below me is a sea of palm trees, one of the many palm oil plantations which have taken over the island in recent years, causing untold damage to the ecosystem. But from up here they…

A blessing from Mother Ganges

Evening is falling, and I am in a boat on the Ganges. We are in Varanasi, and have made our way downtown by cycle rickshaw, two of us ladies squeezed into a seat which was surely made for narrower hips than ours, pedalled through slums and down busy city streets to the river’s edge. It’s late…

Moldova: Europe’s Last Frontier

I went to Moldova in March 2016. It was a fluke, really. I was in Bucharest for work, and having already spent some free time in Romania on a previous trip, I was keen to go somewhere different. Moldova is one of those places which have fascinated me for years, in part because I was never…

Auschwitz

Oswiecim, Poland, 02 January 2017 I was lucky enough to grab the opportunity, while I was in Poland, to visit Auschwitz. I had been to Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum in Jerusalem, back in September 2016 and really felt that Auschwitz was somewhere I needed to go to complete the picture of what I had…

On being vegetarian in Poland…

Szczawnica, Poland, December 2016 So I’m vegetarian. Or not really; I eat fish, which makes me a pescatarian, but that always sounds pretentious so I usually go with “vegetarian who eats fish”. Which normally either (a) confuses people or (b) prompts them to say “don’t you mean pescatarian”? But I digress. Anyway, I have recently…

Weathering the storm in Cuba

Trinidad de Cuba, 23 October 2014   The following are notes I made during a memorably rainy night in Cuba, October 2014. My attempts to miss the wet season on this trip failed miserably, but it made it more of an adventure. The notes below have not been edited since I scribbled them at the…

Camping in Namibia: On toilets and preconceptions…

Ngepi, Namibia, 03-04 August 2009 The year is 2009. I’m in Africa for the first time in my life – specifically, in the Namibia “panhandle” which extends along the top of Botswana, close to the border with Angola. In short, it’s one of the most exotic places I’ve been in my life so far. We…