Cartography of Hope

I carry a map in my bag as a talisman against misery. A map on which to plan a physical journey. And it will be very physical: it will be on my bicycle. And that journey is itself a physical manifestation of this other journey that I am replanning. Life is a journey. That metaphor. So…

Santar’s Home

Journeys within Journeys. Two of us on hired motorcycles, up somewhere near Laos’ border with China, with a handwritten note we can’t read. Two of us tootling about on New Year’s Eve, looking for Max’s mom. Seeing a group of women sunning themselves outside a small shop, I stop the bike and head over, bowing slightly…

What lies beneath 

In your head, in your Head they are fighting With their tanks and their bombs And their bombs and their guns In your head, In your head they are cryin’ Lady in red. Super-short dress. Looking so stylish in the particular way of stick-figure women. The way they manage to avoid looking sleazy through the mere fact…

Orchestrated. Curated. Moderated.

Fooled me. But I’m back at Bassac Lane, that Phnom Penh alleyway I discovered and gushed about on Facebook last night. Perhaps it is the old character motorcycles – all of a look – parked randomly and insouciantly around the neighbourhood… Perhaps the lack of resistance or surprise at my wandering around taking pics of…

The Luck Tour

“You mean that’s it? I feel cheated!” That’s Dominique reaching the top of the forested mountain pass after 2597m of altitude gain over a 22km sustained climb in cold, drenching rain. A happy Dominique. The very same one that whined to Facebookland not two weeks earlier: “Unfitness. It’s a Thing. Not just mere Lack of…

Life’s like that: Lessons learned motorcycling in Laos

1. Look ahead. Edge-suck. Rock-suck. Tree-suck. Every mountain biker, snowboarder, kayaker — and anyone else who attaches themselves to hard physical objects to throw themselves across the earth on a dodge-‘em course of hard physical objects — knows this. I know this. I knew it before I began motorcycling a year and a half ago. I knew it before…

Dreams Afloat

This week, on what was a normal schoolnight in the Western world, we lit candles under a full moon and, with thoughts of future, sent scented flower rafts on a downstream Mekong journey. The festival of Ock Pansa, or known regionally as Loi Kratong, takes place on the evening of the full moon of the…

Most Secret Place on Earth: Long Chen ain’t tellin’

It slowly dawned on me that I had a tail. There I was on the runway of what was once both one of the busiest airports in the world and the most secret places on earth. It were the adolescent water buffalo wot dunnit. I’d been taking pics of the family of ducks strutting across…

In the Clouds of Forever

And they call this work! I went hiking last week in the remote north or Laos. Hiking a brand new trail that’s just been cut, to ‘survey’ it for the Wildlife Conservation Society. I’ll be writing it all up at http://www.NamEt.org, and creating material to send out to media in time for the October launch of…

In Transit

At four minutes to midnight I begin to write. In a limegreeen room with pink satin rose-swirl bedding, sneaking a belated blog update into this abbreviated April 1 day. For I’m in transit from the US, having left Washington DC in the dark of March’s last dawn, to arrive in Vientiane at noon tomorrow, the…

Northern memories

The steely spitfire glint of a prosthetic leg under hard labour winks at me roadside as I speed by, faffing with my camera mount and missing the moment. The sheen of black, pin-striped satin beneath a large gingham umbrella… In the dust as I pass, my mirror reflects an earnest man, bespectacled, clad in that formal suit…

The tide is turned.

Peace is returned. Outside Glass-Half-Empty (thanks, Nancy) Bill Cat sits in his tree and aloofs (thanks, Jonika) me. Inside, all is quiet, the only movement the mozzie-coil smoke that rises languidly to keep the biting hordes at bay. Peace at last. Peace in spirit and heart, and back to enjoying an empty house. Bradley is…