What a difference a day makes
It is well known that mountain climates can be unpredictable, and Mount Rainier in the US North West is no different. After a perfect day in Paradise we had fallen asleep under clear skies; but we woke to thick fog obscuring all the surrounding mountains and indeed everything apart from the trees closest to the lodge. A perfect demonstration for us of the way that the mountain creates its own micro climate, although not an especially welcome one.
Video: flying to the Okavango Delta
Sometimes how you travel to a place can be as much fun as the place itself. The small planes that serve the various camps in Botswana’s Okavango Delta operate much like buses, dropping off and picking up passengers along the way. For some people, a flight in a small prop plane would be their worst nightmare; for me it was almost as much of an attraction as the destination itself!
Gallery: up, up and away, in the Namib Desert
Deserts take many forms, but to most of us the word conjures up rolling dunes as far as the eye can see. Such a desert is the Namib, home to the world’s highest dunes. Many of them surround the clay pan of Sossusvlei, and one of the best ways to appreciate the scale and sheer number of these dunes is from above, in a hot air balloon.
Meeting a survivor of S-21, Tuol Sleng
When the Khmer Rouge prison Tuol Sleng, in Phnom Penh, was liberated by the invading Vietnamese army in 1979, the guards killed all but a handful of prisoners to try to prevent them telling of the horrors perpetrated there. Chum Mey is just one of thousands who were imprisoned here. He is also just one of a very few to have survived the experience – to have lived to tell that story.
When the Olympics came to London, 2012
As a sports fan there can little that is more exciting than the Olympics coming to your city - and in 2012 they came to London. I still remember the announcement in 2007. Everyone thought that Paris would win, so it was a wonderful surprise to hear that London would be the host city.
Gallery: the birds of the Gambia
You don’t need to be a keen birdwatcher to be captivated by the variety and number of birds to be found in the Gambia. The country is considered to be a birdwatcher's paradise, and even as a non-expert and fairly mild enthusiast I had great fun spotting and photographing (or in some cases trying to photograph) the myriad species here.
Gallery: statues of the Great Leaders
When Kim Il Sung, President of North Korea, died in 1994, the role of Leader passed to his son, Kim Jong Il, but the title of President did not. Instead, Kim Il Sung was declared ‘Eternal President’ of the nation, and the presidential office was written out of the constitution.
Tales of death in Jaisalmer and beyond
Deep in the Thar Desert in the far west of Rajasthan is a golden city. A fairy tale fort sits on a ridge overlooking the town, still home to many families whose houses cluster within its sheltering walls. I loved Jaisalmer's remoteness, its border-town mentality, and the beauty of its golden architecture. And I enjoyed the personal stories of life (and death) as told by our Brahmin guide Gaurav.
Newcastle: a city and its river
Rarely is a city defined so clearly by one single feature in the way that Newcastle-upon-Tyne is defined by its river. The city’s history has been shaped by the river, especially by shipbuilding; and now that the ship-yards are largely lost to history, the life of the city, especially its cultural and social life, continues to flow from the banks of the Tyne. A favourite walk in the city is along the Quayside past the Tyne’s famous bridges.
The Bake-Jizō of Kanmangafuchi Abyss
Red, in Japan, is the colour of the sun (not yellow as in other cultures). It stands for life, power and protection, but also for death. It is thought capable of expelling demons and illness. You see red everywhere; on temple roofs, torii gates at shrines, lanterns and pagodas. And in the bibs and caps worn by the haunting Jizō statues of Kanmangafuchi Abyss in Nikko.