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Stand up Paddleboarding, Fiji style. Come to the place where a morning walk is taken along a white sand beach, and exercise is rolling a paddle through crystal clear waters. It’s not hard to see why Fijians are such happy people, and it’s not hard to be just as happy as they are. Make a booking at


A watch with a truly global perspective, the C8 UTC Worldtimer is able to tell the time in three timezones at once. Designed in England, and built at our atelier in Switzerland, its self-winding ETA 2893-2 movement also boasts a power reserve of 42 hours. Steel 44mm ÂŁ899

Swiss movement English heart

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November 2016



114 China In Sichuan province — the realm of the great bear cat — nothing is quite as it seems

74 Travellers’ tales From Bali to Bolivia, our writers’ stories are testament to the unpredictability of travel

102 Zambia A mother-and-daughter trip to the African bush includes a lucky encounter with leopards

140 City life: Amsterdam

90 Hawaii Andrew McCarthy rediscovers his favourite beach, near an old palm tree in Maui

128 In pictures: Mexico Following the preparations for the Day of the Dead festival in the city of Oaxaca

148 City life: Wellington On the windswept tip of New Zealand’s North Island sits one of the world’s coolest capitals

Quirky discoveries on the trail of the elusive canal lobster

Issue 50

Rice farmer in the Ubud district, Bali IMAGE: Getty

November 2016


November 2016






39 Stay at home North Yorkshire tips and advice


17 Snapshot Jens and Timo, Antwerp 18 Big picture Classic British brunch in London 21 Editors’ picks These are a few of our favourite things 23 What’s new Vietnam’s caves and skiing in Greenland 27 Arts & culture Musicals and new stage shows 28 Do it now Kitesurfing is taking off

41 The word Un-Discovered Islands, by Malachy Tallack 44 Events Travel Geeks: Rail travel 47 Author series Andrew Lambert on Robinson Crusoe Island 48 View from the USA Aaron Millar on tribal reservations



177 Inbox Your letters, emails and tweets

33 On the trail A food tour of East Nashville

57 Neighbourhood: Boston Reasons to venture out of the busy centre

34 Rooms Bedding down in the surf city of Newquay

62 Eat: Copenhagen No place for fussy diners

36 Family Rail travel with children

66 Sleep: Doha Plenty of surprises in the Qatari capital

170 Feature: Nepal Homestays offer a slice of Nepalese life

176 Subscriptions Free tickets, great offers and discounts

53 Weekender: West Kerry From Star Wars locations to a chocolate oasis


164 Feature: Diving Memorable underwater encounters

50 Online Weekly highlights from

31 Food Exploring China’s Lower Yangtze region


156 Travel talk The experts’ travel manual, with everything from the anatomy of a snowflake to top tips for wild camping

Win a seven-night trip for two to Fuertaventura, p.43

178 Your pictures This month’s best travel photos with a ‘New York’ theme


14 Photography Competition Enter now for a chance to win a commission with National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Contributors Editorial Director: Maria Pieri

Andrew McCarthy

“Where did Andrew go?” “I think he said something about escaping to Maui.” “When is he coming back?” “I don’t think he is.” My dream. HAWAII P.90

Emma Gregg

“I’d recommend a mother-and-daughter safari to anyone. Zambia is ideal. Time and time again, while chatting around the campfire, women said to us: “You’re so lucky! I’d love to take my daughter/mum on a proper trip, just the two of us!” ZAMBIA P.102

Editor: Pat Riddell Deputy Editor: Helen Warwick (maternity leave) Features Editor: Glen Mutel Assistant Editor: Stephanie Cavagnaro Associate Editor: Sarah Barrell Editorial Assistant: Farida Zeynalova Digital Editor: Seamus McDermott Contributing Editors: Amelia Duggan, Jo Fletcher-Cross, Zane Henry, Josephine Price, Joanna Reeves, Tamsin Wressell Sub Editors: Hannah Doherty, Lorraine Griffiths, Chris Horton, Chris Hughes, Peyvand Khorsandi Project Manager: Natalie Jackson Group Art Editor: Chris Hudson Senior Designer: Lauren Atkinson-Smith Designers: Daniel Almeroth, Gabriella Finney, Lauren Gamp, Danielle Humphrey, Philip Lay Production Manager: Daniel Gregory Production Controllers: Maia Abrahams, Joaquim Pereira, Lisa Poston, Joanne Roberts, Anthony Wright

Special Projects Consultant: Matthew Midworth National Geographic Traveller Business Development Team: Bob Jalaf, Glyn Morgan, Adam Phillips, Mark Salmon Digital Media Manager: John Stergides Sales and Marketing Manager: Rebecca Fraser APL Business Development Team: Neil Bhullar, Chris Dalton, Adam Fox, Cynthia Lawrence, Sinead McManus Head of National Geographic Traveller — The Collection: Danny Pegg Chief Executive: Anthony Leyens Managing Director: Matthew Jackson Sales Director: Alex Vignali Sales Administrator: Melissa Jurado Executive Assistant: Taylah Brooke Financial Controller: Ryan McShaw Credit Manager: Craig Chappell Accounts Manager: Siobhan Grover Accounts Assistant: Jana Abraham Head of Billings and Revenue: Sarah Robinson

National Geographic Traveller (UK) is published by APL Media Limited, Unit 310, Highgate Studios, 53-79 Highgate Road, London NW5 1TL. Editorial T: 020 7253 9906. Sales/Admin T: 020 7253 9909. F: 020 7253 9907. Subscriptions: T: 01293 312166.

Max Anderson

“Cool Panda Fact #237: ‘panda’ isn’t a Chinese word. Cool Panda Fact #238: the panda is one of very few animals the Chinese won’t eat. Cool Panda Fact #239: pandas have six digits on their front paws...” CHINA P.114

Adrian Phillips

“Amsterdam has a real love-hate relationship with the water that runs through it. On the one hand, maritime trade brought it vast wealth and power; on the other, it’s a destructive force that the city struggles to resist.” AMSTERDAM P.140

Kris Davidson

“The festive holiday of Dia de los Muertos is surreal, mysterious yet oddly comforting. I fantasise about retiring to Oaxaca and, after my death, that my Mexican friends will be there to visit again every November.” MEXICO P.128


National Geographic Traveller (UK) is published by APL Media Ltd under license from National Geographic Partners, LLC. Their entire contents are protected by copyright 2016 and all rights are reserved. Reproduction without prior permission is forbidden. Every care is taken in compiling the contents of the magazine, but the publishers assume no responsibility in the effect arising therefrom. Readers are advised to seek professional advice before acting on any information which is contained in the magazine. Neither APL Media Ltd or National Geographic Traveller magazine accept any liability for views expressed, pictures used or claims made by advertisers.

National Geographic Traveler (US) Editor-in-Chief, Travel Media: George Stone Publisher & Vice President, Global Media: Kimberly Connaghan Digital Director: Andrea Leitch Design Director: Marianne Seregi Director of Photography: Anne Farrar Senior Editor: Jayne Wise Features Editor: Amy Alipio Associate Editor: Hannah Sheinberg Producers: Megan Heltzel Weiler, Lindsay Smith Associate Producers: Christine Blau, Rebecca Davis Blog Editor/Producer: Leslie Trew Magraw Deputy Art Director: Leigh V. Borghesani Senior Photo Producer: Sarah Polger Associate Photo Producers: Jess Mandia, Tyler Metcalfe Associate Photo Editor: Laura Emmons Chief Researcher: Marilyn Terrell Copy Editor: Judy Burke Production Director: Kathie Gartrell Executive Assistant: Alexandra E. Petri Director of Communications: Heather Wyatt

Market Research Manager: Tracy Hamilton Stone Senior Vice President, International Media: Yulia P. Boyle Director, International Magazine Publishing: Ariel Deiaco-Lohr National Geographic Society President & CEO: Gary E. Knell Board of Trustees Chairman: Jean N. Case Vice Chairman: Tracy R. Wolstencroft National Geographic Partners CEO: Declan Moore Editorial Director: Susan Goldberg Chief Marketing & Brand Officer: Claudia Malley Chief Financial Officer: Marcela Martin Global Networks CEO: Courteney Monroe Chief Communications Officer: Laura Nichols Chief Operating Officer: Ward Platt Legal & Business Affairs: Jeff Schneider Chief Technology Officer: Jonathan Young Board of Directors Chairman: Gary E. Knell

Copyright © 2016 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved. National Geographic Traveler: Registered Trademark. Printed in the UK.


Editor’s letter


Photography Competition

ometimes it’s the being-lost, out-of-your-depth, seat-of-your-pants experiences that are the most exhilarating, fulfilling and rewarding in life. And sometimes it’s just the ordinary, nondescript events that lead you to the most unforgettable encounters. The fact is, travel is wondrously unpredictable. You can follow in anyone’s footsteps — pick the same destination, book the same flight, take the same tour, tread the same path — but you’ll never have the same adventure. The world is not a theme park, alas. No matter how much you plot and plan, you’ll never completely eradicate the random — those chance events, those unforeseen developments; those factors that ensure you emerge with a tale to tell that’s uniquely yours. Our cover story this issue celebrates those times when things don’t quite go according to plan: the guide that appears from nowhere and asks you to trust him; the tempting side road that leads you out of your comfort zone; the chance meeting that turns your preconceptions upside down. Of course, you should plan ahead, figure out those complicated itineraries — it’s just that sometimes, just occasionally, leaving things to chance could trigger a fortuitous chain of events you’d never have imagined. And sometimes, that’s really why we travel. Isn’t it?

Our annual Photography Competition is now open — for professional and amateurs alike. Enter now online:

Travel Geeks: Rail travel

Our expert panel will discuss all things railrelated at the next Travel Geeks event. p.44

The Alps winter guide

Don’t miss our 68-page guide to the Alps — free with this issue

Digital Nomad

Emma Thomson is travelling the entire length of the Silk Road — from Beijing to Istanbul. Follow her adventure on Twitter, Instagram and online: #NGTSilkRoad

PAT RIDDELL, EDITOR @patriddell @patriddell

AWARD-WINNING NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER Ecoventura LATA Media Awards 2016: Online Blog Feature of the Year • British Travel Awards 2015: Best Consumer Holiday Magazine • British Society of Magazine Editors Awards 2015: Digital Editor of the Year, Consumer (Shortlisted) • British Annual Canada Travel Awards 2015: Best Canada Media Coverage • Germany Travel Writers’ Awards 2015: First Prize • British Travel Awards 2014: Best Consumer Holiday Magazine • British Society of Magazine Editors Awards 2014: Editor of the Year, Lifestyle (Shortlisted) • British Guild of Travel Writers Awards 2013: Best Overseas Feature • British Travel Press Awards 2012: Young Travel Writer of the Year










Today’s weather Today’s weather

Tomorrow’s Today’s weather Tomorrow’s Tomorrow’s

Chief Albert Luthuli, Zulu Tribal Chief 1936-1967 (Durban) Chief Albert Luthuli, Zulu Tribal Chief 1936-1967 (Durban) Chief Albert Luthuli, Zulu Tribal Chief 1936-1967 (Durban)

@dbntourism @dbntourism




22/03/2016 12:18 PM

22/03/2016 12:18 PM



COMPETITION 2017 in partnership with CEWE Photobook





The winning prizes

Our annual Photography Competition is now open Whether you’re a professional or an amateur, this is the competition for you. Simply submit in your preferred category — single-shot, portfolio or video — and you’ll be in with a chance of winning a commission.



Win a 15-night holiday for two to Myanmar and experience Rickshaw Travel’s newest bite-sized trips, which combine famous highlights with hidden gems. Enjoy a cuppa among misty tea hills, explore Bagan’s famous temples by bike and experience rural village life on Inle Lake. The prize includes international flights, transport, accommodation with breakfast, and all excursions.

Single-shot: Upload a single shot in one of four different themes: Action, Nature, People, Urban



Join Tatra Photography in its new ‘travelling hotel’, based at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, for an Aurora photography tour. The tutor for this workshop will be Mark Bauer, who’ll help you make the most of the Icelandic landscapes. The prize includes return flights, airport transfers and six nights’ full-board accommodation, plus a seven-day photography course.

Portfolio: For professional photographers — upload four shots based on the same subject/theme


Manfrotto tripod for each theme

Featuring twist locks for easy opening and closure, the Manfrotto 190 Go! is the lightest and most compact in the 190 range. The 90° column can be easily raised and, with four leg angles, it enables you to get low down like no other. VIDEO

Video: Send us your YouTube/Vimeo link to an edited clip that’s a maximum of two minutes

Apple iPad Mini 2

A 32GB tablet with a 7.9-inch screen.

To enter Closing date: 9 December 2016 at 23.59GMT. OUR JUDGES



Photographer and former photo editor, Time Out


Managing editor, Digital Photo Magazine


Creative director and co-founder, Swhype


Photographer and training manager, Nikon

A CEWE Photobook is for life’s best moments, bringing personal photographs and precious memories to life in a timeless style. It’s the perfect way to relive those special moments and treasure the photos that really matter.

November 2016


SMART TRAVELLER What’s new // Do it now // Food // On the trail // Rooms // Family // Stay at home // The word


Jens & Timo

There are a number of fantastic coffee shops in Antwerp — but one that’s recommended to me time and time again is Normo, which serves in-house roasted beans directly sourced from farmers. When I visit to take photos of the rustic, cosy interior, I meet Normo’s owner, Jens, (right) and his fellow barista, Timo (left) — hip coffee connoisseurs without thez hipster attitude. The duo are more than happy to discuss the different ways of roasting, brewing and drinking coffee. “We just like a laid-back atmosphere and the opportunity to drink great coffee with great people every day,” explains Jens. JAEL MARSCHNER // PHOTOGRAPHER @jael_here

November 2016







Honest Burgers has been one of my favourite places to eat in London for a long time. I used to queue outside their tiny site in Brixton with my flatmates at 11.30am to get one of the few seats inside. A couple of years ago, they started a brunch menu to bring the New York trend across the Atlantic and to up the ante on the Great British fry-up. What’s better than top-quality ingredients and a dippy egg? SCOTT GRUMMETT // PHOTOGRAPHER @scottgrummett @grummettscott

November 2016


pure indulgence

If you’re planning a visit to the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, enjoy a stay in the Lenkerhof spa resort. Experience the gourmet concept of our restaurant Spettacolo, with its regularly changing, daily menu of 15 dishes, as well as our spa, with its revitalising sulphur spring water. Indulge yourself in our 5-star-feel-goodatmosphere. Switch off, leave your daily routine behind you and enjoy being pampered by us.


GOLDEN THRONE With a growing wealth gap in the US, one installation at New York’s Guggenheim Museum is a bold comment on the 1%. Entitled America, visitors are invited to relieve themselves on a working 18-carat gold loo by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. The $2m (£1.5m) commode even has its own security guard.

What we're watching...


Voice-activated lights


Stranger Things

How many times have you gone round a hotel room, desperately trying to turn out the lights? Or worse, to make the room temperature less fridgey/tropical? Starwood’s Aloft is boasting new voice-activated hotel rooms — let’s hope they can cope with regional accents.

Editors' icks


Westworld BBC THREE




Mr Robot


We’ve been here and weʼve been there, and our team have found a few things we thought weʼd share METAXA MAKEOVER WHAT: Greece’s much maligned ‘brandy’

is getting a hipster revamp. HOW: Used by frugal barmen in age-of-austerity cocktails that are low on euros but high on taste and style. WHERE: A scattering of bars across Athens, including at the sceney Baba au Rum, and Molecular Mixology, which serves it flaming in a pan, ‘braised’ with Cointreau and sweet wine from Samos.

88 The number of locations in Japan that are part of a new animé tour, including train stations, schools and shrines featured in the country’s ever-popular animated art forms.


The Pan-American Highway doesn’t run the whole way from North America (Alaska) to the southernmost point of Argentina. Colombia’s Darién Gap is an infamous 100-mile stretch of impassable jungle interrupting the 29,826 mile-long highway. 2

Visiting the Darién Gap is inadvisable. On the border of Colombia and Panama, it’s notorious as a lawless wilderness with dense impenetrable jungle and inhospitable wildlife. 3

Instead, you can traverse, at a distance, the sandy borderlands with the jungle-clad mountains behind them, visiting the tiny Caribbean coastal villages of Capurgana and Sapzurro for a trip with a difference.





November 2016




Vietnam is putting caves on the map — literally. This year alone, 57 have been discovered in the UNESCO-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Caving in

Oxalis began tours to Hang Va (known for its stalactites) in February, while new tours to Hang Tien started in July. A more intrepid version of the Tu Lan tour will run from January 2017, with bouldering, swimming and abseiling on offer.

A speleologist’s special

You can tell a cave is pretty spacious when it accommodates a jungle and a river within its walls — as is the case for Vietnam’s Son Doong. However, despite its jaw-dropping proportions, the world’s largest cave has seen fewer visitors than the summit of Mount Everest. Just 640 people are permitted to visit Son Doong in 2017 and, understandably, these limited spaces are highly sought after — 300 spots were snapped up within 20 hours during the first round of sales in August. The second lot of tickets will be available for purchase on 15 November, each costing a hefty 67,500,000VND (£2,330). Oxalis Adventure Tours is the only operator permitted to run tours to the cave. Each five-day tour requires more than 25 porters and cooks, a tour guide, two cave experts and two park rangers. The expedition includes camping, caving, knee-deep river crossings and 31 miles of trekking.

Son Doong is... 650ft tall and 490ft wide


CLOCKWISE: Son Doong cave; Hang Va cave; setting up camp in Son Doong cave

Going underground // The 57 new caves discovered in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park this June have a combined length of 12.4 miles and offer the potential for tourism in the future

�iscovered in 19 91 260f� high sta�agmites November 2016



The ice age As winter falls, a whole host of adventure travel opportunities present themselves...

Arctic on screen

Don’t miss new BBC2 series Arctic Live this November. Kate Humble, Simon Reeve and Gordon Buchanan will set up camp on Canada’s Hudson Bay, ‘the polar bear capital of the world’.

Cruising for... a bruising? Apart from a few small-ship

Trips start at around €2,500 (£2,150) per person per week, all-inclusive (flights extra). Alternatively, the Nina Soraya can be chartered with skipper and crew, from €10,000 (£8,600) a week.


Icehotel’s Wilderness Camp cabin


Icehotel 365, the sister property of Swedish Lapland’s Icehotel, opens this month on the shores of the River Torne, with 22 rooms, a sculpture gallery and an ice bar, lit and kept frozen, year round, by solar energy. And if that’s not quite adventurous enough, why not take a snowmobile safari across the tundra to spend a night at the hotel’s new Wilderness Camps?



ntil recently, Greenland has largely been off limits for skiers lacking access to a helicopter. But this year, Action Outdoors has made inroads (well, ski routes) into a place largely untouched by blade. What Greenland lacks in ski resorts (there are none), it makes up for in wild beauty and skiable terrain. Fancy exploring remote fjords, 1,000ft-high glacier walls and endless backcountry? Then join a small-group tour debuting this winter that penetrates this vast country’s fjordland by sailing ship, depositing skiers at the base of mountains, where they can use skins to climb up, and off-piste skills to come down. The trip includes ski touring, mountain trekking, iceberg climbing and sailing (should you feel the urge). Trips will likely take in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Accommodation is aboard the six-berth Nina Soraya, specially designed for high-latitude sailing. It’s crewed by an accomplished support team that includes a former Special Forces sniper (someone has to be on guard for those polar bears). SARAH BARRELL

group tours, it’s been tricky to explore the Arctic — until recently. Now, with the arrival of luxury cruise liner Crystal Serenity, a new era of Arctic tourism looms — much to the displeasure of environmental groups, fearful of the impact on the shrinking polar region.


There's no business... Not all musicals are the same — a clutch of new stage shows are converting cynics across the globe


Andy Karl and Carlyss Peer in Groundhog Day

Musicals on the move LONDON


Most of us know where we stand on musicals — you either fi nd them exhilarating and lifeaffi rming or you recoil at the thought of plot being developed through song. But once in a while a production comes along that manages to appeal to even those cynics who consider themselves immune. These cut-through shows often harness the credibility of something outside of the genre: with The Producers, it was the cult film of the same name; with The Book of Mormon it was the South Park connection; and with Hamilton, it was hip-hop.

Groundhog Day — which just fi nished a 10-week run at the Old Vic theatre in London — piggybacks on the enduring popularity of Bill Murray, star of the 1993 fi lm. With its emphasis on repetition — our hero, Phil Connors (the Murray character played by Andy Karl) is condemned to relive the same day over and over again — Groundhog Day isn’t an obvious film to bring to the stage. But the London run could hardly have been more successful, with critics won over by the imaginative production, its breathless setchanges and the songs of Tim Minchin. The show will now attempt to wow critics on Broadway, as it’s set to open in New York’s August Wilson Theatre on 17 April 2017. Musical refuseniks, take note. GLEN MUTEL

The smash hit hip-hop history opens at the Victoria Palace Theatre in October 2017. Tickets on sale in November.



A Roald Dahl story with Tim Minchin songs, Matilda is a transatlantic hit, now at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre.


The Book of Mormon

Outrageous comedy from the creators of South Park opens in January at the Princess Theatre.

Groundhog Day // With its roots in the Christian tradition of Candlemas, which German settlers took across the Atlantic, it’s celebrated across North America on 2 February November 2016



3 places to try



A blend of surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, paragliding and gymnastics, kitesurfing is taking off everywhere from Dorset to Mauritius WHERE? While we shiver through

winter here in the UK, it’s Africa’s summer, with temperatures in the high 20s —the perfect time to learn to kitesurf in Langebaan, a huge lagoon in an idyllic seaside town about 60 miles north of Cape Town. With guaranteed wind, flat water and shallow waist-high areas, it’s ideal for learning the basics. Surrounded by a nature reserve with plenty of affordable places to eat, this surfing mecca also has more to offer experienced kiters who want to jump or tackle waves.

Kitesurf world-class waves at The St Regis Mauritius Resort’s Watersports Centre, which has cut-price deals at the end of this season.


WHY NOW? Thomas Cook's new direct

Cape Town flight from Gatwick runs three times a week from 15 December through to late March, with prices from £500 return. British Airways also offers direct flights from Heathrow. HOW TO DO IT: Planet Kitesurf offers tailor-made tours with safari add-ons and overnights in Cape Town. Six nights’ B&B including flights costs around £1,100 each, staying at The Farmhouse Hotel, which overlooks the lagoon. An eight-hour learn to kitesurf course costs £126 each. SAM LEWIS

Learn to ride the calm, shallow waters of Poole Harbour, with a backdrop of Brownsea Islands and the Purbecks. A two-day beginners’ course, from £200.



Foilboarding uses a hydrofoil, which means less drag and greater speeds than traditional kitesurfing — plus, riders can kite in extremely low winds

A stunning blue lagoon with reliable winds year-round. Get here on same-day connecting flights via Casablanca (new this year). Then learn to kitesurf on one of the lagoon-side camps.


Try a 'heart a�ack': � trick where the rider goes upside down, then holds his board in one hand and the bar in the other PERFECT CONDITIONS

Weather and environment play an important part in deciding where to kitesurf



It’s not really about power, what’s key is that it’s constant. Gusts make it difficult to learn. In low wind you can use a big kite; if there’s stronger, constant wind you can go smaller. IMAGES: GETTY; ALAMY


Some beginners like the security of being able to stand up if they crash their kite but if there's coral or rocks this can be more dangerous, which is why many kite schools teach in deep water.

Q30 BORN TO CHALLENGE With its stunning, fluid styling and advanced technologies like Around View Monitor* and Automatic Park Assistance*, this is a premium compact like no other. Crafted with originality and conceived to take on the status quo. Discover the daringly designed INFINITI Q30 for yourself today. Book your Test Drive now at

Starting from


Official fuel economy figures for the Q30 range shown in mpg (l/100 km): Urban 32.5 (8.7) to 60.1 (4.7), Extra-urban 51.4 (5.5) to 74.3 (3.8), Combined 42.2 (6.7) to 74.3 (3.8). CO2 emission: 156 to 108 g/km. Fuel consumption and CO2 figures are obtained from

laboratory testing and are intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not reflect real driving results. Optional equipment, maintenance, driving behaviour, road and weather conditions may affect the official results. **Model shown INFINITI Q30 1.6t Premium at £22,770 OTR including optional glass roof at £500 and metallic paint at £670. Terms and Conditions apply – see *Available on specific grades.


a taste of CHINA

Steamed pork xiaolongbao, Din Tai Fung restaurant

Award-winning food writer Fuchsia Dunlop takes a fascinating culinary journey through China’s Lower Yangtze region

BELOW: Fried rice with egg and shrimp, Din Tai Fung restaurant

Eat shoots & leaves

Shanghainese cuisine is a cocktail of influences from the Jiangnan region, pepped up with a shot of European flavours. The city is best known for its dumplings and redbraised dishes; less widely recognised are its refreshing soups and healthy vegetable dishes. Local chefs draw on seasonal ingredients — including bamboo, leafy greens and shrimps — and add flavour with cured Jinhua ham, dried seafood and other preserves.

Shanghai souvenirs

Bring back a bottle of aged Shaoxing wine (for both drinking and cooking) and look out for jars of pickled vegetables such as xue cai, a salted mustard green that’s one of the staple ingredients of local fare. Browse the food shops on Nanjing Lu or Huaihai Lu for all manner of ingredients and, if you’re interested in knives, check out the cleavers at Zhang Xiao Quan in Nanjing Lu.

Dumplings & delicacies

Don’t miss steamed soup dumplings with their tidy pleats and juicy stuffi ngs: head to the tiny Jia Jia Tang Bao for an authentic local experience or bag a table at Din Tai Fung if you’d rather take your time. Alternatively, book a private room at Fu 1088 and order steamed river shad or braised Shanghai cabbage with tofu and salted pork (recipe below).

Try typical Shanghainese fare at Old Jesse: stir-fried shepherd’s purse (a flowering plant)




is a writer who trained as a chef at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. She has authored five books, including Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China (Bloomsbury, 2016). @fuchsiadunlop

Shanghai red-braised pork Ingredients 1kg pork belly 1tbsp cooking oil 20g fresh ginger 1 white spring onion 1 star anise 1 piece cassia bark 3tbsp Shaoxing wine 1.5tbsp light soy sauce 1.5tbsp dark soy sauce 2.5tbsp white sugar 500ml pork or chicken stock

Method Cover the pork belly (plus skin) with water and boil for five minutes. Drain, cool and cut the meat into 3cm cubes. Heat the oil over a high flame, add the ginger, spring onion, star anise and cassia bark and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the pork and continue frying until the meat is tinged gold. Add the wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, white sugar and the stock. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Discard the whole spices and turn up the heat to reduce the sauce to a rich, dark gravy. Serve with plain white rice.

November 2016



See the aurora borealis the way it is meant to be seen; far from artificial ambient light and with a front-seat view on the deck of a Hurtigruten ship as she sails Kristiansund Molde into the Arctic Circle along the Norwegian coast. Ålesund

len rå te s Ve Risøyhamn Finnsnes Sortland Harstad Stokmarknes Svolvær Stamsund en Lofot Bodø Ørnes Nesna Sandnessjøen


Brønnøysund Rørvik





Måløy Florø

Mehamn Kjøllefjord Berlevåg Honningsvåg Båtsfjord Havøysund Vardø Hammerfest Øksfjord Vadsø Kirkenes Skjervøy Tromsø


5/6 days | Tromsø – Kirkenes – Tromsø

12 days | Bergen – Kirkenes – Bergen

Arctic Highlights

The definitive 12-day voyage showing off the very best of Norway’s beautiful coastline and culture, visiting 34 ports northbound and southbound. Includes Hurtigruten’s unique Northern Lights Promise.* ITINERARY Day 1: Bergen, the City of Seven Mountains Day 2: Stylish Art Nouveau town of Ålesund Day 3: The medieval royal city Trondheim Day 4: Bodø and the beautiful Lofoten Islands Day 5: Tromsø is the capital of the Arctic Day 6: Honningsvåg, portal to the North Cape

Day 7: Kirkenes is near the Russian border Day 8: Hammerfest, the world’s most northern town Day 9: Stunning scenery of Vesterålen Day 10: Seven Sisters Mountains and Torghatten Day 11: Calling at Kristiansund and Molde Day 12: Post-voyage extension in Bergen

FULL BOARD VOYAGE INCLUDING FLIGHTS FROM 6 REGIONAL AIRPORTS Selected departures from 1 Oct 2016 to 31 Mar 2017




Onboard drinks package included on 2016 departures when booked by 30 Sep 2016 *

Daily departures available from

£999pp (excluding flights). Flights can be added from £330pp. No Single Supplement

Available on voyages between 1 Nov and 14 Dec 2016 (offer also applies to 6, 7, and 11-day Classic Voyages)

© Shutterstock

© Ørjan Bertelsen

© Trym Ivar Bergsmo

Classic Round Voyage

This 5/6-day coastal voyage takes place within the Arctic Circle for an ideal chance to see the mesmerising Northern Lights of Norway and engage in some additional winter wonderland activities. ITINERARY Day 1: Tromsø is the capital of the Arctic Day 2: Visit the North Cape at Honningsvåg Day 3: See the Snowhotel at Kirkenes Day 4: Hammerfest, the world’s most northern town Day 5/6: Tromsø for optional winter excursions

HALF BOARD VOYAGE INCLUDING FLIGHTS FROM 8 REGIONAL AIRPORTS Selected departures from 1 Dec 2016 to 31 Mar 2017

5 or 6


* Full terms and conditions apply. See website for details.

To book, please call 0203 131 0645 or visit your preferred travel agent



Onboard drinks package included on 2016 departures when booked by 30 Sep 2016 *



Stephanie Cavagnaro works up an appetite on a food tour in the laid-back, historic neighbourhood of East Nashville 1 // FIVE POINTS PIZZA

Enjoy New York-style pizza by the slice across from Woodland Studios (where Johnny Cash and Lynyrd Skynyrd have recorded). Options change daily, and include toppings like artichoke, Roma tomatoes and feta, or prosciutto and basil.


Pass Russell St’s Queen Anne-style Victorian townhouses to arrive at Edley’s — ‘a tribute to all things Southern’. Tuck into a hearty helping of ‘meat and three’. Typical fare is smoked beef brisket with skillet corn, coleslaw and mac and cheese (considered a vegetable in Tennessee).


Around the corner on Woodland is a bakery specialising in TexCzech kolache. The owner, Sarah, says: “The cream cheese filling is a traditional Czech-style kolache, the meat ones are Texas-style. There’s a big Czech population in Texas.”


Quirky artisan chocolates with ‘a rock ’n’ roll attitude’. On offer is everything from matcha green tea truffles to handcasted choccies (including a Star Wars-themed range) and ‘hog heaven’ bacon toffee.



NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN This Nashville speciality of fried marinated chicken spiced with cayenne pepper is served with white bread and pickles. Try the spicy bird where it was hatched at East Nashville’s Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack — or at Hattie B’s, where heat levels range from ‘mild’ to ‘shut the cluck up’.


A block along Fatherland past boho boutiques and bakeries, cleanse your palate at this juice bar and plant-based food shop. Slurp up a citrusy Pineapple Rain juice or grab an Açai Bowl and a prime people-watching seat outside.

Swing left on S 11th to finish the food marathon at Nashville’s original coffeehouse. Cool down with an iced coffee and a Las Paletas Mexican popsicle, made in Nashville, with bold flavours like coconut, tamarind and avocado. The Walk Eat Nashville food tour costs $59.90 (£46) per person.

November 2016



NEWQUAY The countryside around Cornwall’s surf town offers unique places to bed down, says Ed Costa

1 LITTLE TRENTINNEY Surrounded by fields and rolling hills, and featuring an enclosed garden, this is a safe, elegant choice for families. The main cottage has three bedrooms, and a fourth is contained in a stylish garden building. From £750 per week.

2 HOBBIT HOUSE Hobbit House is one of three cobwood roundhouses tucked away in the grounds of a hippy retreat. Each one is fully furnished with boho beds, wood-burners and compost toilets; showers are shared. From £75 per night.

3 YHA EDEN PROJECT Situated within view of the Eden Project, this YHA offers a choice of accommodation: Snoozeboxes (made from recycled shipping containers), a campsite and a marquee. From £29 per night.

4 PEDN BILLY BOATHOUSE A thatched cottage on the banks of the Helford River, Pedn Billy Boathouse is the ultimate retreat, surrounded by woodland and its own private beach. The decor is seaside-chic and the two bedrooms overlook the water. From £540 per week.





Why fly if you can help it? Make the rail journey part of your travel experience. Words: Rhonda Carrier



OSLO TO BERGEN: One of the world’s

most scenic rail routes, this Bergen Railway journey takes over seven hours and crosses one of Europe’s highest mountain plateaus.



IN THE UK: Step inside the

beautiful, 1930s-style carriages of Belmond Northern Belle during the Christmas period. Meet Santa and his elves and tuck into a seven-course lunch as you traverse the British countryside.


VANCOUVER: A domed observation car on The Canadian offers in-your-face views of Jasper National Park in the Rockies. The journey covers 2,775 miles (and four time zones) over four nights.





DARJEELING: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway — nicknamed the ‘Toy Train’ — has been taking passengers through India’s lower Eastern Himalayas to the tea plantations since 1881.


SICILY: At the seaside resort of Taormina, the train itself is shunted aboard a ferry to cross the Straits of Messina. Trains run day and night, with the journey taking around 11.5 hours. Sleeper options are available for families.



Rail vs driving vs flying


From £42 per person one-way from Gatwick with British Airways

Reserve a four-seater with a table. Sit back and relax with a family game

Enjoy the comfort of your own car, plus all the luggage you can fi t

Reserve seats 24h before departure, except if travelling with Basic tickets

29h, including an overnight stay in Barcelona (15h45 travel time)

About 23h driving time (and you can stop off whenever you want)

2h45, plus a 40-minute bus journey to Seville city centre

Travel by Eurostar, TGV and high-speed AVE train

Cut driving time with the Motorail train from Paris to Narbonne

Check-in, security and passport control can add extra time


The ability to sit back and enjoy the French and Spanish scenery

The freedom to stop off en route and no baggage limitations

Undoubtedly the fastest way to get there


Can’t travel overnight on any of the legs

Long hours on the road

Least eco-friendly method




Petrol from £290 one-way with your car, for a group of four (not including hotels)



From £211 return for adults; from £177 for children aged 4–12











1 Head to the harbour town of Whitby Port, where Bram Stoker’s Dracula first disembarked onto English soil and where Captain Cook served his seaman’s apprenticeship.


2 Schlep up the steepish walk towards the ruins of Whitby Abbey. whitby-abbey 3 Dine at Quayside and sink your teeth into the best fish and chips around.

Forest trails, woodland walks, mountain biking and the great, great outdoors? Or tea and scones, Yorkshire puddings, steam trains, Dracula and Vikings? You can have it all

Where to stay


Forest Holidays Keldy has 59 luxury forest cabins. We booked a two-bed silver birch cabin with kitchen, living room and shower, plus a hot tub on the deck. On-site activities range from pottery painting to archery, forest ranger activities to Go Ape.


Explore the city of York, the historic estate of Castle Howard (as seen in ITV’s Victoria), the beach town of Scarborough, Falling Foss waterfall and the Jorvik Viking Centre.


The Blacksmiths Country Inn

This award-winning inn at the very edge of Cropton Forest serves up hearty, contemporary food — think pork medallions, Ryedale steak and Guinness pie or ovenroasted salmon with a creamy lobster, prawn and chive sauce.




Steaming ahead

Board the North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway at Pickering and splash out an extra £4 to travel in first-class style. En route, look over the seascape, the desolate North Yorkshire Moors and many pretty market towns — or just sit back and enjoy the ride. MARIA PIERI

The Crooked Billet pub in Saxton is one of many worth seeking out; it serves an entire roast dinner inside a giant pudding. crooked-billet. November 2016


Imagine YOUR





W W W. V I S I T U G A N D A . C O M



ISLANDS OF THE MIND The Un-Discovered Islands by Malachy Tallack delves into our collective imagination, to uncover those isles that have only existed in myth and fanciful maps Products of imagination and human error, the 20 islands featured in this elegantly illustrated book are places of rumour and poetry, myth and legend. Historically organised, they act as stepping stones through time, revealing how our attitudes to islands have changed over the centuries. There is the familiar, such as Atlantis, of course, but also places such as Kibu, where the souls of Torres Strait islanders’ dead were said to travel to; and the island of Brasil… just off the west coast of Ireland. This is a fairytale atlas, fittingly illustrated with full-colour drawings by Katie Scott (known for Animalium, a recent museum-like book of illustrated animals). It’s a joy to island-hop through — with the giant tentacles of a ruby-red octopus reaching across two pages, here, and a horned narwhal and scaly sea serpent swimming across a

page, there. After wowing the world with Sixty Degrees North: Around the World in Search of Home last year, Tallack’s second book is shaped by the same clear, sharp prose and keen curiosity. In spirit, it feels delightfully childlike but it’s anything but childish, packed full of intelligent musings on everything from religion to astronomy, alchemy to the occult. The Un-Discovered Islands also does a wry job of revealing the hubris of early exploration, the epitome of which has to be Frisland, an Atlantic island claimed for the crown by one Dr John Dee, courtier to Queen Elizabeth I. The fact that the place only existed in tales from Venetian sailors meant little to Dee. The good doctor claimed Frisland, along with the entire Atlantic region, should be ruled by Britain. For it was believed that that Welsh prince Madog ab Owain Gwynedd, had made it to America three centuries before Columbus’s journey of 1492. You couldn’t map it up. But they did — Frisland was a common presence in cartography until well into the 17th century. The Un-Discovered Islands by Malachy Tallack is published by Polygon Books (RRP: £14.99). SARAH BARRELL


A rollicking biography of Frank Buckland, a predecessor of Darwin. Buckland was a renegade scientist, journalist and unofficial zookeeper. His house a menagerie, his drawing room a vet’s practice and his dining room… well, let’s just say it was a surreal Victorian scene from which few got out alive. Chatto & Windus (RRP: £17.99).

THE JANUARY MAN BY CHRISTOPHER SOMERVILLE This is one of the most elaborate walkers’ diaries yet. A meditative homage to landscapes present and past, Somerville (walking correspondent for The Times), tramps a calendar through the British Isles, observing seasonal changes, topical peculiarities and creatures great and small, following some 140,000 miles of footpaths. Doubleday (RRP: £14.99).


An illustrated account of the great explorer’s chillier expeditions, this edition of Ranulph Fiennes’ memoirs comes complete with personal photographs, maps and diary notes of his Arctic and Antarctic adventures. This is a vivid window not only into the polar explorer’s numerous achievements but also into parts of the natural world most of us have never experienced. Simon & Schuster (RRP: £25.00).


The collection

A unique book offering (so far) with 800 images, Life on Instagram is a selection of wild, vibrant and downright weird images pieced together as a worldview by Penguin Press art director, Jim Soddart. Particular Books. (RRP: £20.00).

The art a�las

The Vincent van Gogh Atlas is a pictorial guide into the artist’s life, work and extensive world travels, through Europe from ‘Z to A’. Yale University Press (RRP: £16.99).

The Aquarium

The third in the best-selling colouring book series that featured The Menagerie and The Aviary: colour majestic marine creatures from parrotfish to spotted stingray. LOM ART (RRP: £9.99).

The podcast

The Holy Grail of left-field interview podcasts: Adam Buxton has one of his ‘ramble chats’ with Michael Palin (ep. 28). They talk travel writing (Buxton’s father was an esteemed travel editor), plus sunsets, Margaret Thatcher’s parlous misuse of the Dead Parrot sketch and George Harrison’s love of Monty Python.

November 2016


Escape to the

adventure of a lifetime The wonders of the Amazon

await you

Iquitos - Peru

Your time on board is a complete immersion in the Peruvian culture

w w w . j u n g l e x p e r i e n c e s . c o m




National Geographic Traveller (UK) has teamed up with Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahía Real and Classic Collection to offer a seven-night luxury escape for two to Fuerteventura


With a sleek pool scene, six fantastic restaurants and a world-class spa, it’s little wonder that the awardwinning Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahía Real is part of Classic Collection.

TO ENTER Answer the question below by visiting

Where is Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahía Real?

FUEL UP: From an exotic sushi restaurant to the cocktail bar and Balinese beds at Coco Beach Chill Out, luxury is the order of the day here — expect creative menus and excellent service. RELAX: Palm trees surround the two lagoon pools, and the bedrooms boast chic decor and plush furnishings throughout — but it’s the spectacular Spa Bahía Vital that really steals

the show. Guests can unwind in the whirlpool bath, take a swim in the heated pool or indulge in a massage. HIT THE BEACH: White sands stretch from the hotel’s doorstep to the oceanfront. The sand dunes of Corralejo Natural Park are just a few minutes’ walk away, and the island of Lanzarote can be seen on the horizon.

Your prize // Seven nights for two on a B&B basis at the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahía Real. Includes access to Spa Bahía Vital and sunbeds at Coco Beach, plus surf lessons from School of Free Surfers, private transfers and return flights with Classic Collection.

Competition closes 30 November 2016 at 23.59 GMT. The winner must be aged 18 or over and the trip is subject to availability. Full T&Cs available at

November 2016



Rail tavel

Where will you find the world’s most spectacular stretches of rail?

How far can you get travelling just by train alone?


What’s the best way for a first-timer to approach train travel?

In this event, our expert panel will discuss all things rail-related and offer tips on the most worthwhile trips, while sharing their most memorable train experiences. The talk will inspire you to give flying a miss the next time you go away and to start planning your very own railway adventure.

Book now 44


Moderated by Glen Mutel, features editor, National Geographic Traveller (UK) 6 DECEMBER 18.00-19.00 • £10 entry includes glass of wine or soft drink, plus nibbles Wallace Space Rooftop Kitchen, Covent Garden, 2 Dryden Street, London WC2E 9NA

After staying in Nashville and Memphis, I was already falling in love with this part of America. And here we were – right in the hubbub of the New Orleans Mardi Gras! It wasn’t a coincidence – Saga had planned it down to a T so we could enjoy the celebrations. The air was electric with excitement – parades, music and dancing filling the streets. As the main parade approached, the party really started, with those amazing floats filled with dancers dressed in beautifully-crafted costumes. It was so exciting, just to be there, to have seen it for myself and been a part of it. A memory that I’ll always treasure.

Experience your own adventure with Saga’s incredible portfolio of holidays and cruises to over 150 countries worldwide. From a USA tour during the New Orleans Mardi Gras, to voyages aboard our own small ships or tented camps in Africa, you’re sure to be surprised by what we have to offer. Saga. Full of surprises.

0800 015 6512 quoting NGN85 Go online to Visit your local travel agent Sorry – Saga’s holidays and cruises are exclusively for the over 50s (but a travelling companion can be 40+). Some of the highlights detailed may only be seen on optional excursions or by exploring independently. Saga Holidays is a trading name of ST&H Ltd (registration no. 2174052). ST&H Ltd and Saga Cruises Ltd (registration no. 3267858) are subsidiaries of ST&H Group Ltd (registration no. 0720588). All three companies are registered in England and Wales. Registered Office: Enbrook Park, Sandgate, Folkestone, Kent CT20 3SE. With respect to general insurance products sold in the UK, ST&H Ltd is an appointed representative of Saga Services Limited, registered in England and Wales (company no. 732602), which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. NHA-GH5892.



ROBINSON CRUSOE ISLAND Inhabited by pirates and castaways, this remote Chilean island has long been a place of mythology, tragedy and peculiar Englishness



t first sight, Robinson Crusoe Island, formerly known as Más a Tierra, was an unprepossessing speck of rock, picked out from a tiny twin-engine plane. As we came closer, its steep, angular profile, the red desert that occupied half the island and the alarmingly short runway transformed lyrical musings on history and literature into a more pressing sense of adventure. The brand new airport building was empty, the land utterly barren. Nothing was quite as I had imagined. My journey had begun with a phone call — an invitation to contribute to a German film about the men who discovered the island in the 1570s: Crusoe’s real-life alter ego Alexander Selkirk, British naval officer Lord Anson and Spanish sailor Juan Fernández. Having safely landed, we hiked down to Horseshoe Bay and caught a boat to San Juan Bautista, the island’s only village. Escorted by dolphins and overwhelmed by the immensity of the ocean, everyone was lost in thought — apart from the boatman, who seemed to find nothing especially profound in his daily commute. Finally we hove into Cumberland Bay — a strangely English name on a Chilean island — passing over the German cruiser SMS Dresden, which was sunk by the Royal Navy in 1915. Several German soldiers lay in the island’s cemetery, but such distant tragedies paled into insignificance; eight months ago, in February 2010, a massive tsunami had roared into the bay, smashing the beachside buildings, houses, a hotel, bars and the museum to matchwood. There were now fresh graves alongside the German memorial. On the other side of the jetty, a Chilean warship was loaded with bales of wreckage; more lay on the beach, including a large satellite dish festooned with weed. The sole village of San Juan Bautista includes a church, a modern municipal building and some low-rise housing. The population of around 800 is mostly descended from a small band of the late 19thcentury settlers; today, the villagers retain a strikingly small selection of surnames. Everyone was polite, taking our intrusion in their stride, and several got roles in the film we were working on.

Escorted by dolphins, and overwhelmed by the immensity of the ocean, everyone was lost in thought — apart from the boatman, who seemed to find nothing especially profound in his daily commute

The island’s only export, the saltwater crayfish, turns up in every traveller’s account — mute symbols of the culinary riches on offer. Alongside the crayfish, the island has a powerful mythic history, mostly written in English. Daniel Defoe based Robinson Crusoe, the definitive story of castaway redemption, on buccaneer tales, placing Crusoe on a Caribbean island. Readers familiar with Alexander Selkirk and his solitary residence on the island of Juan Fernández imposed the connection, wresting control of the story from the author. Ever since, visitors and islanders alike have melded the two characters into a single occupant. Chile added to the confusion, renaming the isle Robinson Crusoe Island in an effort to boost tourism. In the 18th century, Commodore George Anson arrived; after ending an epidemic of scurvy, he left to capture the fabled Manila Galleon. Needless to say, there was no treasure — and the Lord Anson Valley Mini Market reminded me how Anson’s voyage (the ultimate tale of tragedy, horror, redemption and riches) was written into history. The English took ownership of the island on the pages of their books, in ways that Spanish — and later, Chilean — authors rarely attempted. These stories resonate on a tiny, constricted space, the fragmentary wreckage of a remote volcano in the South Pacific. High up on the cliffs, the last remnants of a unique precontact ecosystem has survived the ravages of civilisation. The lower slopes are populated by stringy cattle and thin horses. Today, the Chilean Government is making efforts to recover what man has destroyed. The island works for those in search of mythology, endless skies and ocean. Very slowly, nothing happens. I left after a month. As I watched the island disappear, I thought about English insularity. The obsession with islands and oceans, rather than continents, is something that shaped responses to everything from the Empire to the EU. But why were the Germans making a film? Read the first page of Defoe’s book… Professor Andrew Lambert is a naval historian and the author of Crusoe’s Island: A Rich and Curious History of Pirates, Castaways and Madness. Published by Faber & Faber (RRP £20).

November 2016






s a kid, I never rooted for the cowboys. Stick on a Western and I was hoping the stagecoaches get robbed, John Wayne flips sides and Tonto rips off the Lone Ranger’s ridiculous mask and rides off to the sunset alone. But as I grew up, I realised those Hollywood Indians are like cardboard cutouts. I wanted to get past the good, the bad and the ugly clichés. I wanted the real thing. But for that I had to go to the source. The Navajo Nation is a 27,000sq mile sovereign state in the high desert of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. It’s the largest tribal reservation in the country, almost half the size of England, and home to more than 100,000 Navajo — or Dine (‘The People’), as they call themselves; many of whom still embrace their traditional way of life. But being in the reservation was strange. A few miles away, there were shopping malls, drive-throughs and supermarkets stacked with food. But here I found weathertorn shacks, broken farms and people living without running water or mains electricity. It was like falling through the cracks of the modern world. And that’s the thing. In the richest, most powerful country on the planet, finding entire communities living in Third World conditions is the equivalent of finding a horse and carriage lining up next to Lewis Hamilton in the Grand Prix. It just shouldn’t happen. But there’s pride here too. I spent a week living on the reservation and, far away from the casinos and tourist shows, found people still living the old ways, tending flocks of paper-thin sheep and dry farming the parched grasslands with heirloom seeds of squash, bean and corn. I hiked to 1,000-year-old cliff dwellings, touched ancient petroglyphs and slept under the stars in the backcountry of Monument Valley, the red rock mesas glowing like silver totems in the milky light. I also found resilience. Over and over again, the people I met told me the greatest threat America’s first nations face today is cultural assimilation. Maintaining a native identity, and traditional way of life in the face of a dominant US ideology is a near insurmountable challenge. But, nevertheless, I found that struggle everywhere. Sometimes


faint, but always strong and patient too. “It’s just endurance,” Ira Vandever, a young Navajo community leader, told me. “We’ll outlast them.” But the thing that changed my life was meeting the medicine man. His face was weathered; his sharp blue eyes fixed me with a hawk-like stare. As I sat before him, he spread a pile of hot coals on the compacted red-earth floor of his hogan, the traditional log-and-mud home of the Navajo, and twisted a translucent crystal before the flames. By looking at the coals in this way it’s believed images will appear to help him divine the nature of a patient’s affliction. “It’s like an X-ray machine,” his nephew translated. “He sees your life reflected in the fire.” Afterwards, he placed a shiny black arrowhead in his hand and fanned me with golden eagle feathers, palming cedar smoke over my body to bless and purify me. Then the chanting began, a low rumble that started as a whisper and got louder and more intense with every minute. He told me to kneel before the fire as he sang, to tell the fire why I’m on this Earth, what my purpose is. I’ve never really prayed before, never been to church, but there, among the dust devils and the last feathers of the setting sun, I found myself asking simple things: to be a better man, a better father. Suddenly, I heard my name called and a flood of emotion washed over me. The medicine man smiled. “This power is strong,” he said. “It comes from the Earth.” That’s why I never root for the cowboys. Because where I live, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, car parks and fast food joints stand where once was the hunting grounds of the Ute, Arapaho and Cheyenne; herds of buffalo tens of thousands strong thundered the high plains. Because where now there are coal mines, once rivers ran clean. Because the real America is Native America too, echoing across the fabric of progress like the memory of an old song. Because the Indians are still here, fighting, not just in the movies. British travel writer Aaron Millar ran away from London in 2013 and has been hiding out in the Rocky Mountains of Boulder, Colorado, ever since. @AaronMWriter


Despite grinding poverty, resilience and a strong sense of identity is evident on a Native American tribal reservation in the Arizona desert

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TURTLE POWER Florida’s aptly named loggerhead turtle faces a threat from humans. Is there hope on the horizon? Find out in this highlight from our Tuesday blog



With daily updates, including a blog every Tuesday and our Travel Video of the Week each Friday, get your fix of National Geographic Traveller online



An encounter with baby loggerhead turtles turns a trip to southern Florida into much more than a beach holiday. By Joanna Reeves “They’re lively,” shouts Eve Haverfield, into the gale. “I opened the sunroof and windows on the way here so they could smell the ocean air.” Uncovering the bucket, she hands me an inky-eyed loggerhead the size of a child’s palm, his tawny flippers frantically paddling the air — it’s hard to believe he could grow up to be 350lb and over 3ft long. Once placed on the sand, he instantly scurries towards the lightninglit horizon, alongside the seven other survivors rescued from a flooded nest here on Bonita Beach. Under a leaden sky, huge waves roll in like unfurling carpets, spreading foam-specked patterns around our feet. “The rough sea’s good,” Eve yells. “They’ll be camouflaged” — the wind steals the rest of her words. “From predators,” she mouths. One has turned, crawling inland. “Wrong way,” says Eve, turning him around. “Sometimes they’re a bit confused.” I silently will mine on, as he clambers over a glistening pen shell. Slowed down by the obstacle, he’s LIKE THIS? READ the last to reach the shore. A wave crashes over him and he’s swept along MORE ABOUT FLORIDA with the swell — reappearing when the tide retreats, a tiny speck on the ONLINE... silvery sand. The second crest makes him disappear. Little is known about the lives of these mysterious creatures. It’s estimated just one in LIKE A LOCAL: MIAMI While it remains as 1,000 hatchlings make it to maturity, due to the many threats they face. brash, boisterous and “I’ve seen some horrific things,” says Eve. “Turtles with fishing wire bling-encrusted as ever, wrapped around their neck, turtles stuck under beach furniture, or Miami’s priorities have crushed on the road — sometimes, trauma from a boat propeller.” changed, with a renewed But it’s more widespread factors such as pollution, development on focus on its Cuban nesting sites, and shrimp-trawling that have kept loggerheads on the heritage and the rise endangered species list since 1978. Turtle excluder-devices have since of its once-neglected been introduced on shrimp nets in an attempt to provide an escape downtown area route for trapped loggerheads who, when relaxed, are able to stay FLORIDA: underwater for hours, but can drown in minutes when panicked. END OF THE LINE That evening, on the foreshore, I pass what looks like a scene At the southernmost tip from CSI: Miami. Yellow tape, fluorescing in the glow of a streetlight, of Florida it all turns a bit cordons off a string of small squares dotted with patches of greenery. wild — swamp alligators Turtle nests, Eve explains — discovered by volunteers from Turtle and pythons in the Time, the non-profit organisation she founded in 1989 that is dedicated Everglades, reef sharks to loggerhead conservation. Every morning at sunrise, from April to and stingrays off the October, they trawl the sun-drenched beaches between Fort Myers and Keys, and a motley crew of eclectic, hard-drinking the Lee-Collier County border, marking and observing new nests or locals soaking it all in excavating hatched ones. They scoop sand out from the nests, count the hatched eggs and release any stragglers into the Gulf of Mexico. FOOD: MIAMI Pinned on a wooden stake is a sign: ‘Violators are subject to fines Tips on cooling down and and imprisonment’. Curious passers-by shining flashlights can disturb fuelling up from Sophie nesting females and disorientate hatchlings, drawing them away from Michell, executive chef of the naturally lit ocean horizon. Hatchlings that wander too far can die the Pont St restaurant in from exhaustion and dehydration or stray into roads and driveways. London’s Belgraves hotel Fortunately, conservation efforts such Eve’s appear to be paying off. “In 1989, there were only five nests on Fort Myers beach,” she says. “This season’s seen a record of 92”. This success is largely due to a shift in behaviour. Tourists and locals are now urged to draw room blinds to prevent glare and rely on moonlight for nighttime strolls — or, if that’s not enough, a turtle-friendly flashlight pointed downwards. Resorts are encouraged to preserve wilder, untamed stretches of dune-lined beach rather than turning them into manicured, raked deserts; and to stash beach furniture away after 9pm. Most importantly, they now have to use amber LED bulbs angled away from the beach. And those few resorts that are a bit slow on the uptake? “A hefty fine would soon sort that,” says Eve. I hope that’s all it takes for them to see the light — or, rather, a lack of it.





�ost �ead Here are a few of the posts with the highest click-rating on (How’s that for saving time?) VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Moments in Morocco

Two weeks’ travelling across Morocco reveals a colourful country full of fervour BRAZIL

Rio de Janeiro’s neighbourhoods

There’s so much more to Rio than sun and samba. Visiting wasn’t easy in the lead up to the Olympics with all the building work, but now the Games are over and the crowds and prices have shrunk, it’s the perfect time to explore the city’s refreshed neighbourhoods BLOG

Kyoto: Flower power

In Japan, flower-arranging is more than just the stuff of village fetes and the WI — it’s an art form in its own right


City life: Trieste

Austrian, Slavic and Roman cultures collide in this unique Italian city on the Adriatic DIGITAL NOMAD

Silk Road: The adventure begins

Our Digital Nomad Emma Thomson begins her six-week journey from Beijing to Istanbul on the road that truly defines the romance of travel.



November 2016



WEST KERRY From Star Wars locations to a Dark Sky Reserve, Ireland’s Iveragh Peninsula is a galaxy not so far away. Words & photographs: Pól Ó Conghaile

�ay 1

Out to sea

It feels like I’ve got Valentia Island to myself ( Before me, a heaving blue ocean stretches all the way to the US. Behind me, a milky-white lighthouse watches over the rocks. At my feet, on this stretch of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way (wildatlanticway. com) route, is a track of small holes that look scooped out of the rock by a spoon — these are the footprints of a lizard-like tetrapod, made 385 million years ago. It feels way off-grid, but I’m just an hour and a half from Kerry airport, where my journey began. Picking up a rental car, I drove from Farranfore out onto the Iveragh Peninsula, whose 111-mile Ring of Kerry drive is the stuff of tourism lore. In summer, it’s also a victim of its own success — with tour buses, cyclists and cars battling it out along roads that work better on Instagram than real life. But I’m not here in summer. I’m here off-season. I got to Valentia

with a five-minute ferry ride from Renard Point. I leave it via the bridge to Portmagee, checking into The Moorings, a bar, restaurant and guesthouse that does a mean platter loaded with lobster, crab claws and other treats from the deep. Gerard Kennedy, its owner, joins me for a bite. He’s been on a roller-coaster ride since a production team showed up on his doorstep two years ago. That set off a chain of events that ended with Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) pulling pints in his bar. Locals are set dancing, the craic is flying, and I ask Gerard about the weather forecast. Will I get out to the Skelligs in the morning? “We’ll have to wait and see,” he says.


Kerry is home to the only Dark Sky Reserve in Ireland — a 434sq mile

area of low light pollution. Galaxies as far, far away as Andromeda, at

two million light years, are visible to the naked eye on clear nights.

November 2016



�ay 2

The force awakens

Punching out of the Atlantic some eight miles offshore, the Skelligs are more than a Star Wars location. They’re the ultimate UNESCO World Heritage Site, a pair of jagged islands topped by the remains of a monastic settlement dating back 1,500 years. Pat Joe Murphy, my boat captain, is a bear of a man with belly flopping over his belt. He advises his 12 passengers to pull on oilskins provided for the crossing. The engine roars to life. Skellig Michael, the larger of the rocks, is raw and rugged. The crossing takes the best part of an hour, slamming over pukey Atlantic swells. The island, meanwhile, has no toilets or facilities. (‘Take care as fatalities have occurred’, a sign warns.) You need to be fit, bring a backpack and come prepared for four seasons. But when you do, you’ll remember it forever. This is Ireland’s Machu Picchu. Climbing over 600 steps, the tang of salt sits on my lips. I stop to admire pink lollipops of sea thrift and huddles of unfazed puffins. Finally, I round a corner to see the reveal — a cluster of corbelled stone huts, crosses and ruins overlooking some of the wildest scenery in Western Europe. For some this is a pilgrimage to pose for selfies with Jedi cloaks and lightsabers. But Skellig Michael beats anything you’ll see on screen. “It feels like New York,” says a woman beside me. “No matter what anyone tells you in advance, it’s still not disappointing.”


Coast with the most

If ‘coasteering’ sounds like a made-up sport, that’s because it is. Squeeze into a wetsuit, old trainers, helmet and buoyancy vest, and head off on a wacky coastal obstacle course that sees you swimming, climbing, jumping, caving and whooping your lungs out along the Wild Atlantic Way (there’s craic beyond the pubs, you know). From €50 per person (£42).



�ay 3

Choice chocolate

Leaving Portmagee, I set off on the small but perfectly formed Skellig Ring (skelligkerry. com), an off-radar drive connecting Valentia with Waterville via the Gaeltacht (Irishspeaking) region around Ballinskelligs. Forget tour buses schlepping through Killarney National Park. The highlights here range from Skellig views to a shrine for the Virgin Mary bedecked with rosary beads near Coomanaspic Pass. Early Christian monks haven’t been the only ones inspired by the landscape. On my drive, I stop into Cill Rialaig Arts Centre, which sells works created by artists on retreat in a cluster of old stone houses nearby. “Some people get freaked out by the isolation,” visual artist Aoife Scott tells me. “We’re literally working on the edge of a cliff.” My final stop is near Caherdaniel. Here I join John and Kerryann Fitzgerald, the husband-and-wife team behind Atlantic Irish

Seaweed (, for a shoreline-foraging adventure. We kick off with a cornucopia of tasting plates (think kelp spiced beef, or chai with bladderwrack and masala spices), before heading out to scour the shoreline for slimy goodies. Seaweeds were eaten by monks on the Skelligs, John tells me. “There’s so much good stuff in them, they make kale and blueberries look like kebabs and chips.” As I’m leaving, he pops a few gifts into my boot — a jar of dried pepper dulse (a strong smelling ‘truffle of the sea’), a bath pack of dried wrack, and a bottle of elderflower champagne with sugar kelp. Perfect.

At St Finian’s Bay, there’s an unlikely chocolate factory: Skellig Chocolate. “People ask what we’re doing in the middle of nowhere,” says owner, Colm Healy, pictured. “But to us, this is the centre of the universe.” Be sure to try the hot toddy truffles, honeycomb clusters and chocolate shoes. From its cafe you can see the Skelligs.

PREVIOUS PAGE: Skellig Islands; seafood

platter at The Moorings, Portmagee

CLOCKWISE: Ard na Sidhe country house hotel; Colm Healy, Skellig Chocolate; Atlantic Irish Seaweed; John Fitzgerald foraging in Kerry; coasteering on the Wild Atlantic Way




Ard na Sidhe, an 18-bedroom country house stashed away in the woodlands overlooking Lough Caragh, may be Kerry’s best-kept secret. The Elizabethan revivalist building dates from 1913, but its warm sandstone and casement windows make it look much older. Interiors are tasteful and elegant, too. B&B from €100 each (£85); May to October.


Derrynane boasts a glorious beach. It was also the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, the 19th century politician who won fame for achieving Catholic Emancipation. Exhibits at Derrynane House museum and park include the duelling pistol with which he once killed a man, and the black glove he wore when receiving Holy Communion. €4 (£3.50).


It’s no joke that Ireland can lay on four seasons in a single day. Luck favours the prepared, so bring sunscreen and an umbrella whatever the time of year — and sturdy hiking boots and rainwear if you have more adventurous plans.

RYANAIR ( flies from Stansted and Luton to Kerry airport (; 1.5-hours by car to Portmagee. The Moorings in Portmagee has a two-night B&B Skelligs package including an evening meal from €160 each (£135) in peak season. Boat trips extra.

November 2016





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Its long-held reputation as a centre of heritage and learning makes Boston’s edgier neighbourhoods all the more refreshing. Words: David Whitley. Photography: Josh Reynolds

Ironically for the birthplace of the American Revolution, Boston is the most British US city — a liberal mind is married to a certain primness of heart, heritage is meticulously maintained and things are to be tackled in a certain way. Headlong rushing into new trends is not the city’s style — there always seems to be a deliberate thoughtfulness even when experimenting. But within this framework, compelling personalities are allowed to emerge. Back Bay

Back Bay is where Boston drops the act of being some sort of prim Olde Worlde historic theme park of breeches, tricorn hats and huzzah-ing patriots. A little newer than the neighbouring Downtown and Beacon Hill areas, it’s also a little feistier and satisfyingly contradictory. The city’s big convention centre-serving hotels cluster here, alongside steakhouses. But there’s dreamy architecture too — churches bulging with ornate features dot the corners. Back Bay is an area that rewards the nosy. The BUKOWSKI TAVERN is a classic dive bar, where locals line up on stools and demolish burgers. The peanut butter and bacon one is, erm, a bold choice.


BAR , which offers a slightly out-of-the-

ordinary Mexican menu featuring the likes of blackened halibut tacos with radish and scallions, plus a bewildering list of variations on the classic margarita. But head downstairs and it’s considerably more out of the ordinary. There’s a red-lit bordello vibe with heavily tattooed cartoon women painted on the walls, OTT gothic chandeliers and enormous black leather couches. Back Bay is also home to what is surely Boston’s most likeable street. Newbury Street is regarded as Boston’s prime shopping strip, but it feels like this is a happy accident rather than a deliberate ploy. The street is lined with handsome brownstone buildings with

bulging bays. Many have carefully tended tiny gardens at the front, and most have steps leading down to a lower level. But it’s the fact that everything is shoehorned in that makes Newbury Street so lovable. Those lower-level stores include world-renowned shoemaker John Fluevog, smoothie bars and hip secondhand fashion boutiques. There’s a similar variance up top, with the likes of the TRIDENT BOOKSELLERS AND CAFE , serving up seemingly a zillion different egg dishes and juice combos among the groaning shelves. But there are also outdoor gear stores, local designers and NEWBURY COMICS — geek heaven, with racks of vinyl, pop culture knick-knackery and action figures from every fantasy and sci-fi show imaginable.

November 2016




The tip of John Harvard’s foot is much shinier than the rest of him. The tradition of kissing or rubbing it has seen to that. “But,” says undergraduate student Mike, who leads The Hahvahd Tour, “it’s the statue of three lies.” HARVARD UNIVERSITY (motto: ‘truth’) wasn’t founded by John Harvard (he merely bequeathed the funds that allowed it to expand); it wasn’t founded in 1638, as the plaque states (it was, in fact, set up two years earlier, as New College); and the sculpture isn’t an accurate representation of John Harvard — it can’t possibly be, as there’s no record of what he looked like. The Harvard Yard — surrounded by handsome, red-brick Georgian buildings and full of the pick of America’s young academics milling about — is what Cambridge is ostensibly all about. Technically a separate city — just across the Charles River from Boston — it’s essentially a suburb, and one that’s quite happy to pile on the mythology.

Every shop, restaurant and bar around Harvard Square seems keen to play up its own heritage and piece of the legend. The HARVARD BOOK STORE boasts of being locally owned and independently run since 1932. The neighbouring GROLIER POETRY BOOK SHOP was founded in 1927 and is the ‘oldest all-poetry bookshop in America’. And next door, there’s MR BARTLEY’S GOURMET BURGERS , ‘a Harvard landmark since 1960’ with a near-permanent queue outside. But Harvard is just one end of Cambridge. At the other is another of the world’s top universities — the MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY. The MIT campus is studded with arresting public art from big names such as Anish Kapoor and Jaume Plensa. English-inspired gentility in the architecture is replaced by a willingness to let all ideas burst free — as typified by Frank Gehry’s dazzlingly chaotic STATA CENTER . Even nearby restaurants, such as the AREA FOUR pizza and craft beer joint, play up the science in their dishes and plump for industrial-looking decor.

When in Boston…


Other sports lag way behind the ball game in Boston’s affections. Baseball diamonds can be found all over the city, but Fenway Park — the home of the Boston Red Sox — is the high temple. It’s open for tours and, if you’re lucky, match tickets. com/bos/ballpark


With plenty of coastline nearby, it’s no surprise that cod, clam chowder, and anything else fishy that Bostonians can get their hands on, feature heavily on restaurant menus.


The 35th president was born and raised in Boston, with his birthplace and presidential library open to visitors. Several other spots — from restaurants he frequented to Harvard, where he studied — gleefully lay claim to their slice of the Kennedy legend too.


The Boston Tea Party kicked off the American War of Independence, and the Greater Boston area is full of key sites. Many are along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walking route weaving through the more historic parts of the city. PREVIOUS PAGE: Sunflower stand beside a farmer’s market in Copley Square, Back Bay; Trinity Church.

Pedestrians cross the Harvard University campus. INSET: Water vendor at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox



Boston has embraced the food truck phenomenon. Key spots include the Rose F Kennedy Greenway, Boston Common and just outside the Harvard Science Center in Cambridge.


CLOCKWISE: Aeronaut Brewing

Company founders Dan Rassi, Ronn Friedlander and Ben Holmes; meat platter with sauerkraut and potatoes plus a giant pretzel, roasted apple mustard and beer, Bronwyn; Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar


Huge brewing tanks reach up for the roof, a projection of Super Mario Bros blazes against the back wall, one table turns out to be a vintage Ms Pacman arcade game, and art is displayed above a fridge stocked with four-packs of beer. AERONAUT BREWING COMPANY is a microbrewery, a bar and a whole lot more. Located inside a hangar-sized former envelope factory, the brewing operation has expanded to be what the barman calls “an incubator for lots of food-based businesses”. So also thrown in are chocolate-makers, a coffeeroaster and a tiny restaurant with just 20 stools surrounding a central bar area. That TASTING COUNTER — a ticket-only tastingmenu dining experience — happens to be the hottest meal in town right now speaks volumes for how Somerville has come on. Once dubbed ‘Slummerville’, the area (also, technically, an independent city) has one of the youngest populations in the States and seems to be hogging all the big new restaurant openings in the Boston area. The renaissance started when the Red Line of ‘The T’ subway system extended to Davis Square in 1984. Now the square has thoroughly gentrified, but with an impish

twist. The DAVIS SQUARE THEATRE advertises ‘shit-faced Shakespeare’ and ‘dirty Disney’, while the speakeasy-style SALOON bar next to it is drowning in sumptuous woodpanelling, old-style gentlemanly class and inventive cocktails. Slightly further down Elm Street, amid a sea of globe-spanning eateries, there’s ROSEBUD AMERICAN KITCHEN & BAR . It has a vintage rail car out front that’s been converted into a tongue-in-cheek upscale diner where jambalaya (Cajun rice and meat dish) happily shares a menu with Korean barbecue sliders and Thai sticky ribs. But Davis Square is no longer an island. Clusters of top eating and drinking spots are now found all over Somerville, with UNION SQUARE the uppity young challenger for the crown. Here, on a Saturday afternoon, a farmers’ market sets up out front and restaurant-bar BRONWYN serves up hefty doses of pork, to be washed down with an extensive list of Central European beers. In the beer garden, there doesn’t appear to be a single person over the age of 35. But no one’s here because they want to be part of a scene — it’s just an enjoyable place to hang out. And that’s Somerville through and through.

At the tongue-in-cheek upscale diner, jambalaya happily shares a menu with Korean barbecue sliders and Thai sticky ribs

BRITISH AIRWAYS HOLIDAYS offers seven nights at the Royal Sonesta Boston, in Cambridge, including return flights from London, from £754 per person.

November 2016



South End

The giant rainbow flag unfurled on Tremont Street covers several storeys. Many others nearby pay testament to the gay community’s role in reviving the South End. Historically a diverse area, by the 1960s it was one of Boston’s poorest neighbourhoods — all tenements and absentee landlords. It was a sad state of affairs for what should have been, and now is, one of Boston’s most attractive ’hoods. It has the highest concentration of Victorian buildings in the city, with several small parks dotted between them. But the gay community stayed during the bad times and helped shape the good ones that followed. Nowadays, the South End is regarded as Boston’s arts hub, with the giant former warehouses flanking the pedestrianised Thayer Street home to scores of studios and galleries. MOHR & MCPHERSON does big statement homewares, GOOSEFISH PRESS uses antique presses to do letterpress printing, BOBBY FROM BOSTON sells vintage menswear. The creative process is by no means confined to Thayer Street, though. Tremont is home to JIM ANDERSON STAINED GLASS, where decorative windows are made for hotels and restaurants in the city. Across

the road is the CYCLORAMA BUILDING , originally constructed to house a huge circular painting of the Battle of Gettysburg and is now the main exhibition hall for the BOSTON CENTER FOR THE ARTS. THE BEEHIVE , a bohemian bar inside, gleefully throws everything into the mix — a quick look at the upcoming events poster shows fiery Latin jazz, a Bastille Day soiree and a Monday night Dub Club with reggae, dub and soul. It’s a fine example of how the South End’s most enjoyable spots don’t limit themselves to one thing. Tremont Street is regarded as a restaurant strip, but the likes of BUTCHER SHOP defy easy categorisation. Chopping boards and cleavers hang from the walls, fridges full of wrapped-up cured meats and cuts of beef line the back, as people gather round the bar on stools to work their way through the wine list. Nearby, recently opened WINE RIOT turns the idea of a booze shop on its head too. The walls are covered in maps of wine regions, explaining the different characteristics of everywhere from Austria’s Wachau Valley to Central Otago District in New Zealand. It’s as much an educational resource as a place to buy a bottle, something backed up by the bar offering free tastings at the rear.

MORE INFO Bukowski Tavern. Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar. Trident Booksellers and Cafe. Newbury Comics. Hahvahd Tour. Grolier Poetry Book Shop. Mr Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers. Area Four. Aeronaut Brewing Company. Tasting Counter. Davis Square Theatre. Saloon. Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar. Bronwyn. Mohr & McPherson. Goosefish Press. Bobby From Boston. Jim Anderson Stained Glass. Beehive Bar. The Butcher Shop. Wine Riot.

Apprentice Adam Choquette (left) and stained glass artist Cecile Coisne in the workshop of Jim Anderson Stained Glass in Boston's South End neighborhood


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FROM TOP: Amass restaurant; gin distiller Henrik Brinks OPPOSITE, FROM LEFT:

Dishes at Amass, Restaurant Palaegade and 108; biscuits from Leckerbaer




The Danish capital is no place for fussy diners, with the city’s chefs, brewers and distillers keen to stretch the definition of normal Words: James Clasper



swallow a slab of salty liquorice at Karamelleriet, an old-fashioned sweet shop, and wince. “That’s because you’ve got a ‘small normal’,” the shopkeeper remarks — a savage, if unusual, indictment of my palate. “But your taste buds can change,” he adds quickly. “You may learn to like it.” Chastened, I’m determined to expand the parameters of what I deem tasty. Fortunately, I’m in the right place. Copenhagen isn’t a city for cautious, cagey diners. Across the Danish capital, chefs, brewers and distillers are pushing the boundaries and stretching the definition of normal. I start at 108, a new Nordic restaurant dubbed ‘Noma’s little brother’ when it opened this summer. Head chef Kristian Baumann shows me round the kitchen and dining room before taking me to the cluster of shipping containers that house Noma and 108’s so-called fermentation labs: seven climatecontrolled rooms containing buckets of fermenting fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. Inside the first room, the air is humid and tangy. Shelves groan under the weight of large plastic tubs. Scrawled labels indicate the contents, which restaurant is responsible for them, and the date they began fermenting. “This is where we make miso,” Baumann says, referring to the Japanese condiment typically produced using fermented soybeans. Not here, though: I spot miso made with mushrooms, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and grasshoppers. Another room contains varieties of vinegar — kelp, mushroom, rose,

celery — and the sauna-like 60C room houses the more hardcore foodstuffs: fermented squid, beef and cabbage. Sensing my bewilderment, Baumann tells me to see ingredients as letters of the alphabet. “It’s up to the chef to arrange them into words,” he explains. “Consider elderflower: we can salt it, pickle it, make a syrup or oil out of it or even ferment it.” My dinner later that evening showcases this philosophy. Cured mackerel gleams with celery vinegar; a selection of pickles (elderberry capers, nasturtium, rosehip) pep up a delicious lamb tartare; grilled monkfish glimmers with a mushroom-miso lacquer. The next day, I discover another kind of fermentation at Brus, a brewpub launched by Tobias Emil Jensen and Tore Gynther, founders of microbrewery To Øl. I arrive to find Jensen making a Gose — a traditional German beer with a sour, salty taste produced by adding bacteria to the wort (the liquid extracted during the mashing process of brewing). Sacks of grain are dunked into a kettle of wort and left to steep for 24 hours at 40C, Jensen explains. Naturally occurring bacteria in the grain will convert the sugars in the wort into lactic acid, giving the Gose its distinctive sour flavour. “I always describe a beer by its base parameters: colour, bitterness and alcohol — but that’s so simplified,” Jensen says. The pair use exotic ingredients, such as tropical fruit and coffee, and enjoy creating a fusion of flavours. “If I combine raspberry and

FIVE COPENHAGEN FOOD FINDS Brød: This tiny bakery produces outstanding organic bread and pastries, such as morgenboller — a croissant-dough roll made with cinnamon and brown sugar. Grisen: Danes love flaeskesteg (roast pork) sandwiches filled with crispy meat, red cabbage and gherkin — and this kitsch cafe does the city’s best. John’s Hotdog Deli: Locals flock to John Jensen’s van outside Central Station — with good reason. He’s the three-time winner of Denmark’s national hotdog competition. Leckerbaer: This sleek pastry shop dishes up beautiful, exquisitely imaginative Danish butter cookies, as well as cream puffs, biscuits and brownies. Østerberg Ice Cream: Exotic flavours such as tamarind, jackfruit, sea buckthorn and yuzu make this the city’s premier ice cream parlour.

November 2016




Copenhagen AMASS

customers at Restaurant Palagade

strawberry, it leads to something bigger,” Jensen explains. “One plus one equals three.” I hear something similar when I visit Henrik Brinks, master distiller at Copenhagen Distillery. He produces gin, aquavit and schnapps, all of which are made by taking a neutral spirit derived from an agricultural product and giving it the dominant flavour of one or more botanicals. “If that dominant flavour is juniper, it’ll be gin,” Brinks explains. “If it’s either dill or caraway, it’ll be aquavit.” Everything else is schnapps, including the Christmas spirit he’s making when I visit the distillery. I peer into a bucket containing a murky mishmash of botanicals — handpeeled oranges, juniper, long peppers, prunes and cardamom — which are left to macerate in alcohol for five days. Rum or whisky producers can mask the inferiority of their spirit by maturing it in a cask. This isn’t the case with schnapps. “You’re completely naked when you distil schnapps,” Brinks says. “It’s all about balance and pairing different botanicals.” I dip my finger into the cool, clear liquid as it begins to trickle out of the still. It tingles my tongue and warms my chest — the perfect balance of sweetness and spice, fire and ice. Schnapps is best enjoyed alongside smørrebrød (buttered bread, typically topped with meats, fish, spreads or cheese), so Brinks sends me to Restaurant Palægade, which serves this iconic Danish dish for lunch. Karina Pedersen, who leads the restaurant’s lunchtime kitchen, tells me smørrebrød’s reputation had taken a battering in recent years, due to many tourist


traps using store-bought products — but eateries like Restaurant Palægade are now leading a return to the use of high-quality, homemade ingredients. I spend the day in Restaurant Palægade’s kitchen and try plating a simple dish of smørrebrød, beginning by laying two fillets of plaice on a slice of buttered bread. “Tails pointing away from the customer,” Pedersen suggests. Having squeezed too little mayonnaise on the fillets, I misalign six shrimps. “Tails pointing in the same direction,” she chides — and then sends me packing before I can do any more damage. A pedal-push away, I find a very different take on smørrebrød. At Bror, a split-level restaurant in the Latin Quarter, former Noma sous-chefs Victor Wågman and Sam Nutter specialise in using unusual animal parts, such as the head, skin, penis and testicles. “With a little bit of work and playfulness, you can achieve results that people actually consider delicious,” Wågman says with a wink. Bull’s testicles are one of Bror’s standout snacks. Breaded and deep-fried, they have the ooze and crunch of a chicken nugget. The latest addition to the menu is cow’s uterus, which the chefs confit, glaze in a pan and serve on crisp rye bread. I wash it down with beer and schnapps — and consider having seconds. Who’s got a ‘small normal’ now? NORDIC VISITOR offers three nights in Copenhagen, including airport transfers, hotel accommodation, breakfast, a sightseeing tour and entrance to the Carlsberg Brewery from £588 (€703) per person.


This new restaurant has a topdrawer approach to traditional Danish cuisine, with novel takes on classic dishes at night and imaginatively crafted smørrebrød at lunchtime. Start with a fish plate, such as herring pickled in apple, and follow it with something meatier, like beef tartar with dehydrated tomatoes. HOW MUCH: Lunch from £20 each (without wine). SPISEHUSET

Navigate the backstreets of Kødbyen (the city's Meatpacking District) to Spisehuset and discover an ever-changing menu showcasing chef Johanne Vestergaard’s creativity. Eschewing an a la carte menu, the staff instead shuttles a series of beautiful dishes to the table. HOW MUCH: Three courses for £35 or five courses including cheese for £45 each.


FROM LEFT: Traditional smørrebrød;

Matt Orlando, formerly of Noma and the Fat Duck, has led a drive to reduce waste at Amass by 80% through recycling, composting and reuse — an idea that's reflected on the menu, with dishes such as flatbread made from fermented potato peel. Berries, herbs and vegetables from the restaurant's garden regularly feature in the chef's cooking; recent highlights include pork with unripe apple, Swiss chard and almond; and fennel frond ice cream with wild blueberry, dried yoghurt and olive oil. HOW MUCH: Six courses cost £75 each, nine courses cost £100 each (without wine).

Find respite

in the luxurious comforts and excellent service of Journeys Namibia run lodges Grootberg Lodge is in the heart of Damaraland, owned by the local #Khoadi//Hoas conservancy. The Conservancy places particular emphasis on conservation and reducing human wildlife conflict. On the western border of the Etosha National Park lies the Hobatere Lodge, situated in a concession area of 8,808 ha which is home to a wide selection of game, including lions, elephant, giraffe, eland, and Hartmann’s zebra Less than an hour away from Windhoek lies the Auas Safari Lodge offering a natural retreat from city life with access to a wellness spar and the added advantage of being one hour away from the international airport.

Hoada Campsite

The Fish River Lodge is the only establishment situated directly on the edge of Namibia’s iconic Fish River Canyon. Awe inspiring hiking trails lead down into the heart of the canyon. Located on the famous Skeleton Coast the new Shipwreck lodge will open its doors in 2017.

Grootberg Lodge

Hobatere Lodge

Auas Safari Lodge

Shipwreck Lodge

Tel: ++264 61 228 104

No 7 Brandberg Street, Eros, Windhoek, Namibia | PO Box 91045, Klein Windhoek, Namibia

Fish River Lodge


DOHA There’s no doubt about it — the Qatari capital does a good line in flashy, luxury hotels. But, from an unlikely youth hostel to a hoarder’s paradise, there are plenty of surprises. Words: Jamie Lafferty

It’s just six years to go until Qatar hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup. While many roads, stadiums and other bits of infrastructure are under construction, its hotels are one step ahead — and there are more to come. Up to $6bn (£4.6bn) is set to be invested in a number of properties before the football comes to town. This means the Ritz-Carlton, Kempinskis and Anantaras will be joined by a Park Hyatt, a Planet Hollywood and a Wyndham, among others. There are more affordable options but it’d be a stretch to call Qatar a budgetfriendly destination. That’s not to say it can’t be fun, though be warned: alcohol can only be consumed in a clutch of hotels with bars and clubs. And there is fine-dining galore with Michelin-star chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Vineet Bhatia among the international names with outlets there.

F 66


From private islands to youth hostels, if you look hard enough, you can find every variety of bed in Doha.

For royalty


Kempinski’s flagship hotel in Doha is surely one of its grandest, anywhere. Located on its own island, off the north coast of the city, only the absence of a drawbridge stops it looking like something from Game of Thrones. That there are 281 rooms — including 69 suites, two ‘presidential’ and two ‘royal’ — only begins to tell the story of just how palatial the Marsa Malaz is. Of its dining options, Al Sufra is perhaps the top pick, with a menu that dances through the best of regional cuisine. ROOMS: Doubles from £220, B&B.

November 2016



For beach bums


There are two InterContinental hotels in Doha, one a giant tower close to the W, the other this beach-front offering further north. Much of Doha hugs the coastline, but few properties can claim to have better beach access; here, little palm-thatched cabanas lead out from a Caribbean-ish bar. If you don’t fancy getting the salt of the sea on your skin, nearby there’s also the largest freeform pool in Doha. Eight different restaurants offer everything from Greek to Belgian cuisine. The rooms are neat and perhaps a bit bland but there’s little need to spend much time there when the hotel has so many reasons to have you outside. ROOMS: Doubles from £127, room only.

Best all-in-one


It’s perhaps a sign of how unlike the rest of the world Qatar is — the Grand Hyatt is but a mid-range hotel in Doha. Located a cabride from most major sites (it won’t disturb guests, but much of the surrounding area is currently under construction), it offers plenty of reasons not to explore the wider city. In Isaan, its brilliant Thai restaurant, it has one of Doha’s outstanding eateries. Other perfectly scrumptious options are dotted around its grounds, too. At weekends, brunches spill over into club nights — if you’ve got a sore head the next morning, there’s a private beach and great spa, too. ROOMS: Doubles from £164, room only.



For island living


Sounds like it might be the sort of place to stop during a booze cruise, but Banana could scarcely be further from a Mediterranean party island. This sprawling private island resort by luxury specialist Anantara is reached by a 25-minute catamaran transfer from the mainland. On arrival, it becomes clear the resort is dry — mocktails yes, cocktails, no. The Anantara seal of quality, on the other hand, ensures that the food is sensational and the spa utterly decadent. A combination of rooms, suites, villas and Maldives-style stilted cottages offer hoards of options, none of which are cheap. ROOMS: Doubles from £342, B&B.

November 2016



They have a right of passage. Let’s give it back. Asian Elephants have patrolled the forests of India for the past 6,000 years. Due to their great size, elephants must migrate constantly, over vast distances, to find food and flourish. The ancient paths they have created are vital not only to their own survival, but to that of countless other wild animals including tigers, leopards and monkeys.

World Land Trust is committed to working in partnership with Wildlife Trust of India to enable local communities to save and protect corridors connecting elephant habitats across India. It is a huge undertaking, but if we don’t act now it will be too late; elephants will be trapped in evershrinking scraps of wilderness.

Once, Asian Elephants travelled over uninterrupted territory that covered the whole of South Asia and beyond, but now they have disappeared from over 95% of their historic range.

October 5th-19th is our Big Match Fortnight. During this time, all donations we receive will be doubled by our sponsors. We will use this money to buy land in the Mudahalli Elephant Corridor, protecting and widening this space to make it safe for elephants to pass.

As human populations expand and shift farms, roads and villages are built across the Asian Elephants’ essential paths, hindering their movement and destroying opportunity for these majestic creatures to feed and unite with other herds.

For more information please call 01986 874422 or visit, For instant donations please text BMFE16 to 70070 to donate up to £10. Help us save the ancient habitats of elephants. #rightofpassage

“The money that is given to the World Land Trust, in my estimation, has more effect on the wild world than almost anything I can think of.” — Sir David Attenborough, Patron, World Land Trust


For villas


It may be close to the international airport, but it could hardly be more different to a traditional airport hotel. Managed by Ritz-Carlton, this sprawling property has 300 metres of private beach, accessed from the wider ‘village’-style buildings. Eschewing a large tower, Sharq instead has dozens of individual villas and a faux-souk — all with carefully planned Arabesque design elements — which helps it feel like its own peaceful little settlement, removed from the rest of the city. Its nine restaurants are joined by a gargantuan, 23-treatment-room Six Senses Spa — one of the best in Qatar. ROOMS: Doubles from £218, B&B.


For weirdness

Best for budget fun

Best for backpackers

The life-size plastic horses and ramshackle collection of vintage cars outside are a clue that Al Safa is offbeat — an anomaly in largely quirk-free Qatar. The lobby is a thing of wonder, resembling the living room of a chronic hoarder. Creepy dolls, guns behind the check-in desk, mirrored side-boards, chandeliers, enormous pots of sweets, plastic flowers which are somehow withering… it’s clear this isn’t a normal property. Sadly, the roomy apartments upstairs aren’t anywhere near as wacky, but this place is still great fun and would suit anyone looking to stay for a longer trip. ROOMS: Doubles from £86, B&B.

An ageing tower in a determinedly non-trendy neighbourhood, the Horizon is surrounded by shops with faded signs, men in long shirts offering watchrepair services, and workmen transporting cargo on push bikes. The hotel seems to be trying to bring an air of respectability to it all, offering budget accommodation with a little class: the doormen wear loud, turquoise suits, and the lobby is filled with string music. It’s certainly not glamorous, but there’s a great pub, Krossroads, and a small nightclub on the top floor. Likely to be great fun when the World Cup arrives. ROOMS: Doubles from £64, room only.

As welcome, and welcoming, as it is unexpected. Like many Hostelling International properties around the world, QYH is not central but it does have good bus links. Located in the middle of a dusty residential district in Doha, this converted villa compound has everything you’d expect of a hostel: comfy seats, shared dorms, ping-pong table. A light breakfast is included and there are cooking facilities, too. Just make sure to have your supplies to hand — there’s no popping out to the shops around here. ROOMS: Dorms from £26 each, doubles from £51, B&B.




November 2016



For the cool kids W DOHA

An unashamed poser. If any of the World Cup contingent have a big win to celebrate, this is definitely where they’d come. Staff are so trendy and good-looking it hurts. Only come here if you’re prepared to share lifts with people wearing shoes worth more than a month’s salary, though. With more than 440 rooms, this hulking tower stands out amid some pretty stiff competition in the West Bay area of the city. People come from far and wide for hedonistic weekends in the Crystal Lounge, while foodies can get a treat at the outstanding Market restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. ROOMS: Doubles from £211, room only.

For city centre


To get an idea of what Doha used to be like, before the influx of oil money, there are a number of accommodation options in the Al Najada souk and its surrounding neighbourhood. This pedestrianised marketplace isn’t as ancient as it appears, but for the first-time visitor it’s convincing enough as Ye Olde Arabia. As well as lots of independent cafes and traders — look out for the guys selling garishly dyed live birds — there are familiar options such as Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Of the boutique hotels in the area, Souq Waqif gets the nod — light and airy, it’s just been refurbished, too. ROOMS: Doubles from £124, B&B.









November 2016







everal days into a trip to Oman, my father and I pulled into a flybothered cafe on the coastal highway to Sur. We were in Tiwi, a seaside fishing village near one of the country’s most mouthwatering gorges, Wadi Shab. Lined with terraced plantations and pea-green pools, the ‘gorge between the cliffs’ is a beaut. The plan was to grab a few photos before continuing southeast. That was when we met Said. Said was a local Omani boy — maybe 16 years old, tall for his age, wearing a cap, sandals and toothpaste-white dishdasha robe. Matter-of-factly, he approached us at our rental car and offered to guide us into the gorge. “First swim. Then walk. Then swim, then walk, then swim,” he said. Swim? Dad and I looked at each other. Said didn’t seem like a tourist guide and he didn’t ask for a fee. Two possibilities played out in my mind — one involving a headline reading ‘Gullible father and son hacked into 2,317 pieces in Omani gorge. Wallets missing’. But there was something about Said’s manner, about the moment in which his offer came, that felt good in my gut. When I was a kid, Dad might have taken this decision for us. But I wasn’t a kid any more. This was the fi rst big trip we’d taken together as adults. We’d had our share of ups and downs so far; our moments of connection and our moments of fistclenching irritation. We’d gotten lost in the souqs of Muscat and wondered at the clouds of butterfl ies on mountain roads. We’d slept inches from each other in grotty hotels; passed unhelpful remarks on each other’s driving habits. I’d gotten food poisoning and lost my lucky hat. He’d been eaten alive by mozzies. By the time we got to Tiwi, on the


Pól is an award-winning travel writer and editor based in Ireland. Ever since he got lost on the Moscow metro (don’t ask), he’s been passionate about travel — and his many adventures have taken him around the world, from the gorges of Oman to the guitar shops of Nashville. @poloconghaile

far eastern coast, the holiday could have gone either way. Dammit, we said, let’s do this. Said nodded and set off with a long stride, leading us away from the car park and into the gorge. He stayed about 20 yards ahead, texting and playing Bob Marley loudly through his phone speaker. The cliffs rose higher and tighter around us. The terraces ran out. Phone signals fl ickered and vanished. After 45 minutes or so, the path stopped and we stood metres above a stream. Said produced a plastic bag, motioning at us to put our phones inside, and held it over his head as he waded into the water. I fully expected never to see him again. But we followed, in sandals and shorts, stepping over rocks and between reeds, picking our way through a canyon that grew thinner and taller with every step. We swam, and walked, and swam and walked, fi nally coming up against a rock face split by a tiny crack that felt like the width of a human head. “Through here,” he said. Said disappeared into the slit. Hearts in mouth, we swam after him. Our heads fitted the fissure like keys, and we doggie-paddled forward, banging shoulders and ears off the increasingly claustrophobic walls. Nightmare scenarios began playing out in my head: skeletons being discovered; mothers weeping. Stupid trip! Stupid me! Stupid Oman! Then we emerged into a cool pool in a cave. A smashing sound turned out to be a waterfall. The endorphins flushed. We paddled, jumped off a ledge, whooped, high-fived and tried to shoot photos in the semi-darkness. Said stared at us in bewilderment, and we felt guilty for doubting him. Looking at each other on that ledge, in that moment, I think it’s safe to say we were back in the groove.



Then we emerged into a cool

pool in a cave. The endorphins


flushed. We paddled, jumped off a ledge, whooped, high-fived. Wadi Shab, Oman

Said stared at us in bewilderment

] November 2016






hey’ve closed the frontiers,” I write in my journal. It’s June 2005, late at night in an anonymous hostel in Cochabamba in Bolivia. “Things are changing rapidly here and as I write, my stomach is churning with something like excitement or, maybe, fear. I think there’ll be a coup within the next two weeks…” I didn’t mean to get involved. I doubt anybody but war reporters deliberately show up to situations like this. I came to Bolivia in search of witches’ markets and jungles and lagoons that change colour with the wind.


In 20 years of travelling, Emma’s been trapped for 24 hours in the Masai Mara and charged by an elephant — twice. She’s written for The Independent, The Times and The Big Issue, among others. To her relief, she’s now head of content for The Mix charity and a mum — so most days she only makes it to Tesco. @emmarubach

When I crossed the border from Argentina, my desert-sore eyes were distracted by red flags and shepherds tending lama. From my comfortable, squishy seat on the overnight bus, the unrest on the news seemed unreal. Yet, within days of my arrival, it was clear something serious was going to happen. And by the time I got to Cochabamba, it was just a question of what. Every day another rumour: there’s going to be a civil war; the airport in La Paz is shut; the frontier with Chile is closed; the president is going to resign; the president is going to be assassinated; the

Americans are involved; the Israelis are being airlifted out. No, the Americans are… But here in the bubble of Cochabamba, the high, thin air is fresh, the sky is blue, the fruit in the market delicious and plentiful, and the ice cream excellent. The only whisper of trouble is at the bus station. Every day I visit it to check whether I can leave. The roads between Potosi, Sucre, Cochabamba and La Paz are all blockaded by outraged campesinos (peasant farmers) burning tyres. People have been trapped here for over a week and the army has started feeding them



Things are changing rapidly here and as I write, my

stomach is churning. I think there’ll be a coup soon ]

Metropolitan Cathedral OPPOSITE: Locals protest


in Cochabamba

from giant soup pots. They form long, forlorn queues of men, women and children, standing quietly and hopefully, laden with bundles and bags, while the old women’s bowler hats and straw boaters bob expectantly. They’re stranded because they can’t get to La Paz, nor afford a hotel, nor, it seems, feed themselves. “I don’t know what course of action to take,” I write. “I could get a plane out of here. The airport is still open. But that would be $300. But if it means saving my skin…” I know I’m being melodramatic. It so happens that my favourite piece of travel

writing is about a coup, one experienced by Bruce Chatwin in 1980s Benin. “This was not my Africa,” he wrote, after being bundled into a truck and forced to stand in the sun for hours by angry teenaged soldiers, then getting his bare toes stamped on by a large lady sergeant. “Not this rainy, rotten fruit Africa”. I feel proud, at least, that I may get to witness a real coup, just like my literary hero. But there our shared destiny ends. I’m stuck in a suburb in a very nice, but small, town. I’m not a campesino waving a banner for justice; I’m an English girl on a jolly. I think

what they’re fighting for is very worthy, but I can be no help to them at all. All I’m doing is eating ice cream and checking the news on a very slow internet connection. I’m about to switch off the light and lie silently, listening for gunfi re, when I’m called to the hostel courtyard by the receptionist. “Mira,” he says, gesturing to the TV. The president, a white-bearded man in his 60s, is making his resignation speech. The next day the bus station opens and, along with the grannies in their bowler hats, I return, unscathed and unnoticed, to my travels.

November 2016






ow,” I wonder to myself, looking out through a hole in the ceiling to the purple bruise of sky beyond, “did I end up in a squat in the middle of a paddy field in inland Bali?” The mattress I gaze up from is slightly damp, as is pretty much everything in the room. It’s that time of year when rain sheets down from the sky for hours on end, only to steam up through clothing, fi xtures and fittings within minutes of the sun appearing again. Gutters run like rivers, carrying away the strung marigolds, pagoda flowers and intricate hand-woven offerings left roadside for the gods in the same slipstreams as perforated plastic bags, ring pulls and cigarette butts. Monsoon season: the great leveller. It’s not a great time to be a tourist in Bali, according to the guide books. But that was OK, I’d thought. I had no intention of staying.


National Geographic Traveller’s associate editor, Sarah, is an itinerant soul who has lived in Australia, New York, Greece and Italy. Easily tempted by exotic destinations, yet rarely totally seduced, Sarah has called many places ‘home’ — though few have truly felt it. Bali, however, did. One day she hopes it might be. @travelbarrell

After months waitressing my way around Australia’s bars and restaurants, Southeast Asia was my reward: a place to spend that hard-earned cash, exploring beaches, temples and, if I felt like it, doing bugger all. Of course, as there often is with youthful backpacking, that ‘bugger all’ was well set out — certain islands to be visited; key sights to be checked off The List. Bali had figured nowhere in my long-held plan for Indonesia. Tainted with the faint praise of beer-fuelled Australian co-workers who’d visited on cheap package holidays, I’d dismissed it as nothing better than a gateway to more ‘interesting’ islands; a place to touch down, check out and swift ly move on from. But that’s the thing about youthful certainty, it’s begging to be blown to smithereens by the fi rst breath of exotica. Back then, how was I to know that the fi rst


Ubud market OPPOSITE: Rice fields around


Tegalalang, near Ubud

sniff of Bali’s richly perfumed air — all clove cigarettes and pungent frangipani — would be the ruin of me? How was I to know that each violent electrical storm would rewire my resolve to leave, rooting me to the ground, eyes to the sky like one newly aware of our planet’s eternal rumbling? Decades later, faced with that same heady air on arrival at Denpasar, I’m as wrong-footed as I was then. And I still don’t really know why. If this had been a better story, an Eat, Pray, Love narrative that jogged along with boys and dinners and spiritual awakenings, I could fi nd cause for this craziness. But it’s not. Decades before the Balinese town of Ubud had become the subject of Hollywood’s spiritual awakening, it had ensnared generations of European artists, misfits and drifters with its gentle welcome, vivid colours and handsomely represented

panoply of gods; and so, too, me. The indefi nable juju of the place: its air, its light, its tropical whiffs and winds swamped any sensible Cartesian spirit, turning me into a gibbering hippie. So I didn’t leave. Four days quickly turned into four months. A homestay took me in, and fed me each morning on eggs haloed with yokes the colour of temple gold. They did my laundry; I walked their dogs. It was no more complicated than that. I’d somehow come home. Friends of the homestay came and went and, as was the way of the place, I came and went with them, eventually to leave the fresh laundry, dogs and eggs in favour of free digs in a patchy patchwork of paddy fields outside Denpasar, colonised by a collective of elaborately tattooed artists. For want of enough willing flesh, the gang had carved,

painted and etched every available table, door frame and leaky ceiling in their ramshackle house with acid-hued colours and spectacular, fantastical creatures, creating a mesmeric decorative landscape only challenged by sunsets that came crashing down outside with a Technicolor equatorial regularity, at 6pm on the dot. Safe to say, I was stupefied. I did leave Bail eventually. Months later, it simply became time to move on. I’d somehow managed to avoid being tattooed by the clan, but I took with me something much more indelible — the strongest, embarrassingly evangelical sense that Bali is a place I’m always meant to return to. Even after going back with grown-up, worldly experience to bolster me, I still fi nd myself blubbering anew at each departure, as if being ripped from the place I’m really destined to be.

November 2016






Adrian is a travel writer/ broadcaster who has covered everything from seafood safaris to swamp-walking. He’s also currently managing director of Bradt Travel Guides. He has a disorganised brain and no sense of direction, which means most trips develop into unintended adventures. @adrianphillips1



ow do you plan to pay?” Henry asked, walking around the car and rubbing his beard with oil-smeared fi ngers. There was something weasely about his expression. “You don’t take cards, I suppose?” “Nope.” “I’ve only $20 in cash. Will that cover it?” Henry just shrugged, and then got to work. It was 11.40am and the clock was ticking. A guided trek into the depths of Haliburton Forest was intended as the highlight of my Canada trip, a last hurrah before I flew home the next day. The group would depart from the visitor centre at 1pm sharp — the sharp had been stressed — but on the way there I’d stopped at a grocery store and locked my keys in the boot of my hire car. I was ten miles away from the meeting point. Henry, the local mechanic, forced a thick piece of wire through the window seal, feeding it towards the unlock button on the inside of the door. It was a painstaking, hair-tearing process. But after 20 minutes of muttered expletives, Henry opened the door with a smug flourish. And then jumped out of his skin. The blare of a car alarm commands urgency. A flustered Henry prodded frantically at the ‘open boot’ button on the steering column. Nothing happened. He clambered into the back, hunting for a lever to drop the seats and gain access to the boot. But this was a convertible and the rear seats didn’t lower. “You should phone the rental company,” Henry said above the din, emerging redcheeked from the car. I punched the digits into my mobile, but the line wouldn’t connect. “It’s because I’m using a foreign mobile,” I explained. Henry’s non-foreign mobile sat on the bonnet of his truck. He looked at it, and then

Winding road through the Ontario forest

back at me. “There’s a phone booth 200 metres up the road,” he nodded. “But I’ve no change, Henry.” He reached into the front of his dungarees. “Here’s a quarter,” he said, and started to roll a cigarette. Those were a lonely 200 metres. It was 12.30pm; I’d surely missed my trek. A bank of gloomy clouds smothered the sun, and the branches of the pine trees drooped like sagging shoulders. “Hey, wait up!” I turned to see a shopper running to catch me up. “I got your key out!” he panted. He’d worked Henry’s wire through a crack between the back seats and used it to hook the fob. I could have kissed his round, pink face.

Henry was leaning against my car with the key. “That’ll be $40 for my time,” he said. “But I’ve only got $20!” He shrugged his trademark shrug and drew on his cigarette. I cast a desperate eye on the ground, seeking inspiration or a $20 bill, and then dashed into the store. “Do you do cash back?” “Cash back, sir?” said the owner blankly, rolling the words in his mouth like a cow chewing cud. “Yes! Can you charge an amount on a card and give that in cash?” He pondered for an eternity. I imagined his tail swishing behind the counter. “Yes, sir, we can do that.” “Wonderful!” I handed him my debit card. He stared at it for a while. “But not on debit cards,” he said. It was the only card I had. “OK, OK. What if I buy something and overpay — could you give me the difference in cash?” Again Mr Moo considered things. “Yes, sir, we can do that.” “Excellent!” “But not on debit cards.” If I’d had a towel, I’d have thrown it in. The group would be heading out in 15 minutes, eyes peeled for wolves and bears, and I was stuck in the company of a cow-like man who... “I’ve paid Henry,” said a voice nearby. It was my pink-faced saviour from earlier, with what I’m sure was a halo on his head. “I can’t let you do that!” I stuttered. “Too late. It’s done! If you follow my car, I’ll get you to the visitor centre in time, too.” He was as good as his word. In fact, I arrived with a minute to spare. And for all the thrilling sights on my forest trek, it’s the faces from the preceding hour I remember best; those of Mr Moo, the kind stranger and the weasel Henry — whose quarter I never did return.

November 2016




So, I’d entered Kosovo through

the back door. No border guards; no passport stamps; no one even knew I was here. Shaking with nervousness, I followed the river…





Emily has worked as a cycle courier in London since 2008. Her writing has featured in The Guardian and her accolades include the 2012 Travel Blogger of the Year award at the British Travel Press Awards. She’s the author of What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story, published by Guardian Faber. @emilychappell


Rugova valley, near Peja



hat does a landmine look like anyway?” I suddenly wondered, as I freewheeled down the Cakor Pass into the canyons of Kosovo. I’d read all the warnings. Stick to the road. Avoid camping anywhere that hasn’t obviously been grazed in the last 10 years. Don’t approach suspicious devices. But I had no idea what qualified as a ‘device’, or what might make it ‘suspicious’. I hadn’t seen another human being the whole afternoon — since, in fact, I’d turned off the main route in Montenegro and followed this narrow lane up into the mountains. Not a single car had passed me. I wondered if they knew something I didn’t, fretting about landmines and roadblocks and kidnappings as I slowly climbed up above the treeline, gazing back at mountaintops that had towered over me the previous day, and sweating steadily in the late autumn sunshine, that morning’s frozen fi ngers and steaming breath already a distant memory. The Kosovan side of the pass was steeper, and within 15 minutes I’d lost most of the

height I’d so painstakingly gained. If it turned out the border was closed, and that was why no one was driving through, I’d have to climb all the way up again, descend back into Montenegro, and fi nd another way. The explanation soon presented itself. At the bottom of the canyon, a patch of road had crumbled away into the river, leaving it impassable to any vehicle wider than a bike. I uneasily stepped between the large chunks of concrete that blocked off the landslide (‘What does a landmine look like anyway?’), before noticing they’d been extensively graffitied and, therefore, couldn’t be explosive. So, I’d entered Kosovo through the back door. No border guards; no passport stamps; no one even knew I was here. Shaking with nervousness, excitement and exhaustion, I followed the river, watching the sunlight retreat to the tops of the surrounding cliffs, and wondering what I’d do when darkness fell. Camping was a bad idea in landmine country and Peje was several hours’ ride away. Eventually, the gorge opened out, and down on the floodplain I spotted what must

be a resort: a large building surrounded by log cabins, with an encouraging plume of smoke emanating from the chimney. The place was deserted save for the owner, an elderly man in a flat cap, and a teenage waiter, who translated our exchange. Of course I could camp here. Anywhere I wanted. The old man swept his hand in a wide arc to indicate that what was his was now mine. Then another brief conference in Albanian. “My boss, he is worried you will be too cold,” said the teenage waiter. “He will give you a room for free.” And so that there could be no doubt about it: “Gratis. No money.” Tears came into my eyes as I thanked the owner in every language I could think of and shook his hand. Within five minutes my bicycle was locked safely in a barn and I was standing in the doorway of a large, clean, hotel room. Within half an hour, I was watching as five days of sweat and grime swirled down the plug hole. Soon after, I crawled naked into the big bed, stretched myself out to all four corners, and fell asleep with the feeling of cotton on my clean skin.

November 2016




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Tom has travelled on assignment to almost 100 countries for The Times, for which he writes a weekly hotel column and oversees ski coverage. He has authored six travel books, the latest of which is Ticket to Ride: Around the World on 49 Unusual Train Journeys, published by Summersdale. @tchesshyre



t the beginning of my train ride from New Delhi to Kalka all I see of Professor JPS Sawhney is the tip of a turban and an arm shooting out to a cup of tea. This is because he’s obscured by his enormous neighbour, Mr Rakesh Wason, a “wholesaler of ladies’ fashion” from Chandigarh, who is blessed with a prodigious belly wrapped in a tent-like lime-green shirt. It’s only after Mr Wason and I have been talking for a while about the state of the Indian economy (“a bit up-down, up-down”), cricket, his love of Virgin Trains’ fi rst-class service in the UK, and his fondness for Madame Tussauds (“The Queen, Margaret Thatcher, Obama, Benazir Bhutto, Indira Ghandi: very good!”), that the Professor makes himself known. The turban beyond Mr Wason’s belly pokes outwards, like a hermit crab emerging from a slumber. It’s attached to the head of a thin, bearded man with a broad smile. He gives me his card. He’s a cardiologist from Delhi, and, like Mr Wason, he’s a rail enthusiast. “Trains!” he says, leaning forward. “Switzerland has the best trains. Stockholm to Oslo: this was also a very good experience. Picturesque, beautiful place. US: trains are not very good; the quality is poor. In India, there is the Palace on Wheels, you know.” Professor Sawhney and Mr Wason say that they always travel fi rst class when they can on Indian trains, which is what we’re taking to Kalka. “I was going to fly this time, but there were no seats,” says Professor Sawhney. “So I called a patient at the Ministry of Railways. I was then confi rmed a ticket.” Mr Wason had been in a similar situation: “I had to pay double. Today is my wife’s birthday, so I had to go urgently.” Professor Sawhney then surprises me: “The Dalai Lama is my patient,” he says.

Passengers travelling on the Kalka-Shimla railway

Shimla, my destination after Kalka, is close to Dharamshala, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile from Tibet, and I’m planning to see the mountaintop town. “I was with him for six days as he had a problem: one of his arteries was blocked,” the Professor says. “It was a wonderful experience. He gave me a book with his autograph.” The Professor had provided the Dalai Lama with advice on his diet, including a recommendation to eat more bananas, with which the spiritual leader was particularly taken. “We had many talks about his teachings — truthfulness, simplicity, honesty, all those things.” He pauses and retreats behind Mr Wason’s belly for a sip of tea as though to contemplate what the Dalai Lama had to say. After a few moments, Professor Sawhney returns and talk moves on to health matters. “Heart disease is the biggest killer of mankind. For the Indian population, the big problem is the lack of exercise. And we are overeating, like the Americans.”

Mr Wason keeps quiet during this exchange — he really is extremely large. “We can live off about one quarter of what we eat. We can eat milk, meat and eggs but also take lots of fruit, vegetables and nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashew, pistachio. Soya milk, it’s good. And don’t use too much oil when cooking food.” Professor Sawhney gives me the telephone number of the Dalai Lama’s main doctor, whom he believes will be able to arrange an audience with the spiritual leader (I’m intending to travel by vehicle from Shimla to Dharamshala). Then Professor Sawhney takes my pulse using a device attached to his mobile phone. I’m running at 71 beats a minute. He makes another calculation, murmurs and makes a clicking sound. “No problems for you. No problems,” he says and, satisfied that I’m not about to drop dead, retreats once more behind his neighbour. I appear to have been given the all-clear by the Dalai Lama’s cardiologist. You don’t get that on the 8:23 from Reading.

November 2016





The marina at Lake Te Anau


n February 2011, I was in New Zealand to research a set of features. It was a tricky time to be there. A week earlier, an earthquake had savaged Christchurch, but I’d crossed the planet anyway and found a country dealing with its difficulties in a calm manner. I’d explored at length, even to the foot of Mount Cook, then gone farther south to Queenstown. Perhaps it was the hot afternoon, but on realising I’d arrived in the city early, with a three-day stay ahead of me, I’d had an urge to keep driving. Suddenly, the idea of dashing to Lake Te Anau, 110 miles south-west, seemed feasible. I could be waterside for sunset and back in Queenstown for dinner.


A regular contributor, Chris is a full-time freelance travel writer, who has managed to visit 80 countries, 35 US states and six continents during more than a decade in the profession — long enough, you’d think, that he’d have learnt by now when to stop for petrol. @leadbeaterchris

A 220-mile round trip in a few hours? Why not? I had half a tank of petrol. In my wild enthusiasm to keep moving, I stopped to add a splash more, using the NZ$30 (£16) in my wallet — not pausing to think that this was the only Kiwi cash on my person, nor that the meagre purchase had merely pushed the gauge to three-quarters full. I was lost in the urgency of the daydream: sighting Lake Te Anau at 6pm as it turned a golden hue. It was as I was retracing my tracks that I realised I’d underestimated my fuel needs. But I’d spotted a petrol station in little Mossburn when I’d sliced through the town three hours earlier. No need to panic. I pulled back into what, at 4pm, had been a beehive. Now the place was deserted, including its petrol station. I had no chance of making it back to Queenstown — less still of locating a hotel when my car could conk out anytime. Then Margaret appeared, picking up a free newspaper outside the supermarket. Probably in her early 70s, she seemed an implausible saviour. But nobody else had passed me in 20 minutes. “Do you know where I can buy petrol?” I called across the car park. She looked up, unperturbed by the random man shouting at her. “Alan’s out tonight,” she said, glancing at the shuttered gas station. “Wedding anniversary.” “Is there anywhere else?” “Yes, in Limehills,” she replied. “Thirty miles from here. That’ll be shut too.” I explained my predicament, and why I was loitering in her quiet corner of the South Island. She peered at me with incredulity. “Shouldn’t a travel writer know how to travel?” she asked, shaking her head. “Still, you’re in luck. I’ve a gallon of petrol in my garage for my lawnmower. I’ll sell it to you.”

“Ah, I don’t have any New Zealand currency,” I admitted sheepishly. Her face chalked up another notch of disbelief. “Well, you’re having a bad day, aren’t you?” she muttered, and promptly turned and walked away. I’d been standing in the car park for five further minutes, telling myself this was not a huge issue — I could sleep in the car and wait for Alan to reopen in the morning — when Margaret returned. Perhaps this willingness to help a stranger was somehow linked to the disaster New Zealand was experiencing. Maybe it was because — as she would later tell me — she had a grandson travelling in Europe. But she’d decided the petrol was mine. “Take it,” she said. We drove to her house. And suddenly, as we were fi lling the tank from a battered canister, I was aware of the disparity between us: she half my height and twice my age. I could have been anyone. But she was prepared to trust me and my story. We talked about what I’d seen in New Zealand, and where I’d been in my career. And we struck a deal. She didn’t want reimbursement, but would I send her a copy of the feature I was writing? I don’t know why but I ignored our pact. I was back in Queenstown that evening. The next morning I posted her NZ$40, with a sincere note of thanks. A day later, up popped an email, lightly admonishing me, saying that we’d agreed the petrol was a gift, and that she’d given the sum to charity. Just the feature would suffice. So six months later, I dispatched the fi nished article back across the globe and later received a Christmas card. “I hope Santa brings you some petrol, and a little common sense,” it chided gently.




marks the spot


If everyone in the world has one treasured place where they’re most able to be themselves, then a beach on Maui ticks all the boxes — an enchanting Hawaiian island that’s changed so much and yet so little over the years Words A N D R E W M C C A R T H Y Photographs S U S A N S E U B E R T

November 2016



�s it �os�ible tha� �here's one single s�ot in the world,

just a small area, perhaps only a few square feet in size, where you’re most content, most relaxed — a place where you can hear yourself, and trust what you hear; a place where you’re most like the person you know yourself to be, or at least most like the person you want to be?

If so, then my spot is a few square yards of sand in front of an old twisted palm tree on Keawakapu Beach in south Maui. It doesn’t hurt that the water is lapping at my ankles and the view is of the setting sun burning up the sky over the neighbouring island of Lana’i. I’ve known this spot for 30 years. For 10 years, my home was just back from the sand — my hammock hung from that twisted palm. For the past 20 years, I’ve done all I can to return to this very spot on a regular basis. Perhaps it’s some kind of personal vortex or energy field or perhaps there’s some other New Age type explanation I don’t generally believe in, but no matter, this is it — my spot. It simply offers me something the rest of the world can’t. It’s ever abiding, yet constantly changing — forever being altered by the sea. That feeling of change could apply to the rest of the island as well. Of course, Maui, like all of the Hawaiian Islands, has come of age since I first arrived in the 1980s as a very young man. That quiet island I landed on morphed into a super power destination, with all its muscled-up attractions, and then into a grandiose playground for the wealthy that went through tough times when boom turned to bust a decade ago. Recently, a welcome restraint, a casual sense of hipster aloha, has begun to emerge — particularly at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, where I station myself. And yet the old Maui I’ve always known is still here too. In my spot — and elsewhere.


High up on Haleakalā — the 10,000ft volcano that dominates the island — the ‘upcountry’ community of Kula feels forever unchanged. “We live in our own little bubble up here,” John ‘Sheldon’ Wallau tells me. We’re leaning against the doorway of his Keokea Gallery, watching the occasional pickup truck roll past. The gallery is one of just a handful of shops on this lightly travelled part of the island. For the past 27 years, Sheldon has often been found standing in this doorway accompanied by his scruffy dog, Ipo. He’s the proprietor, sole artist on display, and neighbourhood philosopher. “Not everyone is happy living at the end of a dirt road — but I am.” Far from the sea, the air is cooler up here and the land more fertile. Jacaranda trees explode in purple bloom, nene birds flit freely, horses graze lush pastures. Beside Sheldon’s gallery is Grandma’s Coffee House, a small, plantation-style shed, serving my favourite cup of coffee on Maui — and worth the drive just for that. Sipping my second cup out on the porch — another of my favourite spots — a red-crested cardinal hops between tables. My mind rests, and I gaze down thousands of feet across the slope of the volcano to the sea. Intermittent clouds below me paint the water shades of blue. Owner Al Franco walks out of the shop. He’s a native, and like many Hawaiians I know, he has an easy-going demeanour that masks a fierce pride in family and community. Al knows just about everyone in the place this morning — each of his conversations punctuated with laughter.


PREVIOUS SPREAD: Local body boarder at Kaanapali beach

John 'Sheldon' Wallau and dog Ipo in the doorway of his Keokea Gallery

November 2016



Far from the sea, the air is cooler up here and the land more fertile. Jacaranda trees explode in purple bloom, nene birds flit freely, horses graze lush pastures

CLOCKWISE: Keokea Gallery; Patricia Iwamoto, owner of Yee’s Orchard; mangos for sale at Yee's stand; the prison built by King Kamehameha III



November 2016



A group of young surfers are catching their first waves in the gentle swell, just as the generation before them did at this same beach when I first arrived, before graduating to the big breaks like Jaws on the north shore, just beyond the town of Paia 96


Keawakapu Beach, Kihei LEFT: Local bodyboarder at

Kaanapali Beach

He’s been trying to get me to go night diving for sharks with him for years. “Not yet,” I tell him. So instead I’m invited to a pig roast he’s serving up later in the day.

The sweetest mango

Back down the hill, I’m cruising the main street through Kihei, the rambling seaside town where I used to live. Adele is on the radio singing about When We Were Young. Thirty years earlier, along this same stretch, Madonna belted from my radio about feeling Like a Virgin. There were no traffic lights on this road then — today I lose count after six. From the corner of my eye, I spot a small, hand-painted sign and swing my car into an unpaved parking lot. A chicken scampers across my path, a half-dozen fuzzy offspring giving chase. Yee’s Orchard, the sign says, is selling fresh, local mangos. A small lady named Lorma is slicing a coconut behind the warped, wooden countertop. “How long has this stand been here?” I ask. “Yee’s? Oh, I don’t know. Forever.” I’ve driven this road hundreds and hundreds of times. How had I never noticed it before? The mango is perhaps the sweetest I’ve ever tasted. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief when I pass Ukumehame Beach. A group of young surfers are catching their first waves in the gentle swell, just as the generation before them did at this same beach when I first arrived, before graduating to the big breaks like

Jaws on the north shore, just beyond the town of Paia. No town seems to represent the evolving Maui as much as this one-time hippie haven. The tanned beauties and dudes with dreadlocks and guitars hanging from their shoulders, piling out of wornout vans are still here, but so now is the artisanal ice cream shop with cones being served up by the guy with the man-bun and the girl with the full-sleeve tattoo. Posh boutiques are displacing the tie-dye. Yet Paia is wearing its transition to success loosely. It’s an easy place to spend more time than you planned, but I’ve got a craving that can only be satisfied on the other side of the island. Across the isthmus that connects Haleakala and the conical volcanos that created the West Maui Mountains, the road funnels inevitably toward Lahaina, the island’s tourist centre. Front Street swarms, as it always has, with red-skinned visitors in floral shirts jockeying to get on whale-watching boats, or have their pictures taken with rainbow-coloured parrots on their heads. Art galleries are stocked with oversized sculptures of noble-looking sea turtles and twisting, smiling dolphins. You can buy prints by Picasso, or Chagall, or Dalí, and then step next door and have a beer at Moose McGillycuddy’s pub. But just around the corner, a few minutes’ walk from the sprawling banyan tree beside the docks, a vestige of Maui’s romantic past sits virtually unnoticed. In the mid19th century, Lahaina was the epicentre of the whaling

November 2016




Kahakuloa from the road; Julia's roadside stand; interior of Julia's stand; Julia's famous banana bread

trade in the Pacific. Apparently not all the visiting sailors acquitted themselves with conduct becoming of a gentleman. The preserved Hale Pa’ahao (‘Stuck in Irons House’) has a well-manicured yard shaded by mature monkeypod trees — it’s an improbable haven of tranquillity in chaotic Lahaina. The old jail was built by King Kamehameha III to detain unruly sailors who refused to return to their ships by sundown. A quick look at the freely available records shows 1855 to have been a busy year — 330 convictions for ‘drunkenness’, 169 for ‘fornication’ and 89 for ‘furious riding’. But apparently prison life was not all bad. Seaman William Mitchell Stetson, of the whaling bark, Arab, confided in his diary: ‘Male and female all had freedom of the prison yard and mingled promiscuously, we had a very sociable time.’ And if the hardships of prison life ever did become too much of a strain, then the coral restraining wall, at a little over 10ft high, was easily scaled once the sailors sobered up.

Into the wilderness

Beyond Lahaina, developments at Ka’anapali and Kapalua line the coast — and then it all stops. No more resorts, no more condos, no more shops, no more houses. Whatever success Maui is having hasn’t encroached out here. The more famous road to Hāna carries you around Haleakalā on a wonderland of hairpin turns, but over on this backside of the island, the going is more remote and challenging. The West Maui Mountains shove the

crumbling road around like a piece of twine. Tight switchbacks yield to long, swooping arcs that bring me deep into valleys and then propel me back out toward the coast. My radio is filled with static. My phone has no reception. I pull to the side of the road and step out. Looking over the Pacific — open sea for thousands of miles — I breathe deeply. This is the Maui I think of when I’m a long way from it. Ahead, at the apex of a hairpin bend, a young man sits alone in a folding chair, miles from anywhere. He smiles. “Buds. Maui buds.” He gestures — forefinger and thumb pinched together, rising to his mouth. I drive on. A sign tells me the speed limit is 25mph — that’s wildly optimistic. Then over a rise, Kahakuloa comes into view beneath me. Wedged in a small valley on a black-rock beach, it’s a settlement of roughly 100 native Hawaiians. Old Maui — insular, slow. Kahakuloa has no shops, no services, just a small green-and-yellow shed that has what I’ve come for. Moana Coston is the youngest of eight, and she’s selling her Auntie Julia’s homemade banana bread from the roadside stand. The bread — famous throughout the island — is still warm. I sigh after the first bite. Moana laughs, and we begin to talk. “It’s nice here in the valley,” she says vaguely, glancing away. “Ever think of leaving?’

November 2016



“I did. It wasn’t for me. I came back.” She has a wide, easy smile. “I was on Oahu for a year. Too fast.” “So that’s it then?” I wonder. “Might be nice to marry some day.” “Someone from the village?” Moana laughs wildly. “No way. I see them every day, I know everything about them all.” “Is Julia around?” Moana nods in the general direction of the stream cutting through the valley to the ocean. I wander down the hill; a small kid is carrying a large chicken in his arms. He points over to the one-lane bridge and I find Julia in her ‘Julia mobile’ — part tractor, part golf cart, sitting by the side of the road. I’ve known Julia for years; she invites me back to her house on the black-rock beach where the surf crashes then chatters as it recedes over the stones. We talk and laugh about nothing much at all. The dog comes by for a pet. Her grandson, Andrew, preens — he won a local talent contest and is going to LA for his ‘big break’. We laugh some more and dream big. I eat more banana bread. The Kahakuloa welcome is warm — and transitory. This is a place for locals, true locals. Eventually I ease back onto the road. Beyond Kahakuloa, sheer mountain walls flank one side of the curved road; plummeting drop-offs with no guardrail hang from the other. Then I take a hill and the land opens and without warning I’m in grazing country: I swear I could be in Connemara, in the west of Ireland. Eventually, the road leads me back to Wailuku, the island’s historic business district, with a worn-out charm, and I find my way up into the Iao Valley in the heart of the West Maui Mountains — the way I always do when I’m on this side of the island. This is sacred Hawaiian land, home to a historic battle for control of the Hawaiian Islands between King Kamehameha the Great and Kalanikupule. Today, it’s tranquil, lush rainforest. Low clouds race between jagged cliffs, waterfalls plunge. It’s a soulful place. But the light slashing through the high walls tells me the day is wearing on — and I’ve got to get back. Back to a few square yards of sand by a crooked palm tree. Sunset is coming. My spot is waiting.








Kihei Wailea


More info


10 Miles


Getting there & around Fly to Maui’s Kahului Airport from Heathrow with American Airlines, United Airlines or Delta via Los Angeles daily. You can get around Maui by shuttle, tour bus, taxi or public transportation. But to really experience Maui, consider reserving a rental car in advance from the Kahului or Kapalua Airport. Lonely Planet Hawaii. RRP: £15.99





How to do it WESTERN & ORIENTAL offers seven nights at Andaz Maui at Wailea

Resort, Hawaii, from £2,955 per person, based on two adults sharing an Andaz Garden Room on a room-only basis. The price includes return economy class flights from Heathrow with United Airlines and private transfers.


Kapalua Kaanapali



Flowers of a monkeypod tree


37 -�ea�-old

It’s never too late to experience the wonders of the African bush — as a mother-anddaughter trip to Zambia proves. And it helps if your mum happens to have a lucky knack for spotting leopards Words & photographs E M M A G R E G G 102

November 2016



On safari, every day brings fresh discoveries. Elephants as bulky as ambulances file silently through the bush. Hippos wallow in weed-covered pools, clumped together like dumplings in soup. Rival impalas clash horns with shocking force, while others pronk and stare. Fish eagles screech, starlings shimmer in the glare and lions stagger into the shade to snooze. But the best things of all? They happen when you least expect them to. It’s an hour or so past sunset, the last rays have ebbed away and we’re motoring slowly back to our lodge. Beyond the sandy track, the visible world has shrunk to a patchwork of shadows, swept by the beam of our spotlight. Occasionally, we pick out a glimmer of eyeshine: a wakeful antelope, or a scrub hare quivering in the grass. Frogs clink and quoip from a nearby lagoon and our noses twitch, alert to the cool, damp aromas of night. Suddenly, there’s a flash of movement. Like lightning, a trio of zebra dash across our path, lit first by the beam, then by our headlights. Manda Chisanga, our driver and guide from The Bushcamp Company, brakes swiftly. “There must be a cat on their tail!” he whispers. The zebra are in tight formation: a mare, a stallion and between them, sprinting for dear life, a tiny youngster. In a split second, their pursuer appears, a blur of sinew, muscle and spots. It’s a leopard. The stallion kicks out and the cat, foiled, stalls. “That baby could have been born today,” says Manda. “Welcome to the world, little zebra! Looks like you’ve passed your first test.” My mother, who’s in the front beside Manda, is beyond excited. Her eyes are out on stalks. We’re exploring the world-class South Luangwa National Park, where leopards thrive. But we hadn’t


PREVIOUS PAGES: Colony of white-fronted beeeaters on the bank of the Chongwe River, Lower Zambezi National Park FROM TOP: Manda Chisanga of The Bushcamp Company beside the Luangwa River, overlooking the Chindeni Hills, South Luangwa National Park; herd of elephants in woodland, Lower Zambezi National Park


November 2016



CLOCKWISE: Handpainted cushion covers drying in the sun after an art session at Tribal Textiles, Mfuwe; hippos at a water hole covered with water cabbage; mother and baby zebras, South Luangwa National Park; on safari with The Bushcamp Company OPPOSITE: Emma’s mum, Sally, paints a cushion cover during an art session at Tribal Textiles, Mfuwe


dared hope to see one on our first evening, let alone in such dramatic circumstances. Sightings of this calibre don’t happen every day, even here. “Trust you to have world-class beginner’s luck!” I say. I’m fortunate to have been on safari many times, but for my mother, aged 73, this is a first — her first safari, her first visit to Africa, her first journey south of the equator. You wouldn’t guess it, though. Fascinated by everything, she’s in her element, chatting knowledgeably with Manda and revelling in every experience. For me, our adventure is a first in a different way. My mother and I have travelled together before, lapping up art exhibitions and lingering in cafes in European cities. But this is my first chance to show her a different world, one I love with a passion. In the process, I’m hitting refresh on an experience I know well. By sharing a safari with someone I’ve known all my life, I’m seeing Africa with new eyes. Zambia offers its visitors two of Africa’s mightiest rivers, the Zambezi and its tributary the Luangwa. Back in the 1990s, when The Bushcamp Company started

running safaris beside the Luangwa and two of Africa’s best riverbank camps, Chiawa Camp and Chongwe River Camp, opened in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia wasn’t an obvious destination for first-timers. Most stuck to Kenya and Tanzania; the adventurous few who travelled further south typically chose Zimbabwe or, if they had deep pockets, Botswana and South Africa. It was only when Zimbabwe’s tourism industry collapsed in the early 2000s that neighbouring Zambia stepped into the spotlight with a safe, competitive alternative. These days, its best safari hideouts are classics in their own right — rustic, intimate and committed to excellence in guiding and conservation. Unlike many African countries, Zambia allows night drives in its national parks — a treat if you’re intrigued by the dark and its pungent, velvety mysteries. Zambian safari operators have a knack for bringing tourists and locals together through sensitive, effective development projects. I’m aware that, although reasonably fit, my mother isn’t interested in Zambia’s more famous speciality, walking safaris — pioneered by legendary local guides like Norman Carr, Phil Berry and Robin Pope. An eager traveller, my mother took to our predeparture preparations with minimal fuss — getting jabs, asking neighbours to water her plants, buying antimalarials at Asda and insurance from her bank. Once you’re over 65, travelling carries hidden costs. Even with a loyalty discount, my mother’s single-trip policy was well over twice the price of my annual premium. Undaunted, she paid up and worked through our packing list. The promise of same-day laundry meant we didn’t need much, but on safari, clothes in neutral tones are best. Blue and black attract tsetse flies and bright or pale colours stand out too much, even if you’re not going walking. “That’s my entire summer wardrobe out, then,” said my mother. A shopping trip ensued. Primed for strict luggage limits, my mother proved expert at packing light. Before we checked in at Heathrow, she pulled out a few items to ask my advice. I’d recommended a sun hat that wouldn’t blow off in an open vehicle, so she’d sewn ribbons onto hers. “Brilliant,” I said, feeling like a teacher checking my pupil’s coursework. She then produced three types of insect repellent, bought in a rare wobble of indecision. “Let’s just take them all,” I said, feeling a sudden need to preserve all my mental energy for the journey ahead. I needn’t have worried. My mother coped patiently with our three flights, despite her artificial hip causing a frenzy of beeping at each security check. She loved people-watching at the airport in Nairobi, her first taste of real-life, modern-day Africa — a mishmash of travellers in smart heels, showy trainers, urban sportswear and elaborate traditional gowns. By the time we arrived at Mfuwe Lodge and Manda greeted us like old friends, I knew everything was going to be fine. Manda had a suggestion. One of the local schools that Bushcamp sponsors had won a music and dance competition and was holding an impromptu concert to celebrate. Would we like to drop in? Tired but keen, we said yes. So we found ourselves in the schoolyard of Chiwawatala Primary School among ranks of radiant children, their faces glowing as their friends and teachers sang and danced. It was the best welcome we could have imagined.


November 2016






My hunch that Mfuwe Lodge would suit a first-timer of a certain age is proving correct. Famous for the elephants that, in mango season, parade through reception to feast beneath the tree beyond, it’s also highly professional, with thoughtful staff, a beautiful, unfussy spa and comfortable vehicles — invaluable for anyone with creaky joints or a bad back. After a couple of days of superb wildlife-watching, we agree we’d like to learn more about life outside the park. Bushcamp’s imaginative approach to community engagement earned it a National Geographic World Legacy Award in 2016, but it’s the villagers who are the real winners. Operations manager Mtimba Zulu guides us around the scattered settlement of Mfuwe, home to secondhand clothes traders — their wares spread on the ground — and businesses with colourful names: Captain Biggie General Dealers, God Is Able Phone Accessories, Pillar of Cloud Restaurant. On a back lane, we chat to women using a borehole funded by the Luangwa Conservation and Community Fund, created by Bushcamp’s director, Andy Hogg. “The pump is a big time-saver, as well as a life-saver,” says Martha Njobvu. “It used to take me three hours a day to bring water from the river.” As we prepare to visit Mfuwe Secondary School, I check how my mother’s holding up, but she’s not flagging. A retired university dental school administrator, she enjoys the company of young people, and smiles with approval as scholarship pupils discuss their favourite subjects. On another day, we get creative at Mfuwe’s successful social enterprise Tribal Textiles. Workshop manager Moses Musa gives us a guided tour of the batik and sewing studios, then we settle down with paints and brushes to spend a blissful couple of hours decorating cushion covers. “By creating jobs for local men and women, we’re helping conservation,” says Moses. “With money coming in, people are less inclined to set snares to trap wildlife. But tourism in Zambia dropped last year, and that hit us hard.” As our trip unfolds, my mother delights in the little surprises that safari companies love to spring on their guests, from brunches in the bush to sundowners on the banks of the Kapamba River, a shallow tributary of the Luangwa — its crocodile-free water cooling our feet. Meanwhile, the wildlife continues to wow her. Familiar with Africa from a lifetime of watching nature documentaries, she’s fascinated by the subtleties that film-makers rarely show — tiny harvester termite mounds, for example, and the abstract patterns traced by larvae onto rain tree leaves. Some phenomena are definitely best appreciated in 3D — how an elephant can disappear into a wall of green foliage, why zebra stripes provide perfect camouflage and how similar South Luangwa looks, at certain times of day, to an English pastoral scene. Encountering everything from excitable hornbills to endangered wild dogs on the prowl, her beginner’s luck is soon proving something of a lucky streak. One evening, near Chindeni — one of the seasonal hideaways that give The Bushcamp Company its name — we spot an aardvark in plain view, a sighting so rare that afterwards we all laugh at the magic of it. It’s as if we’re ticking off the entire safari alphabet, from A to Z. To continue our trip, we fly south to the Lower Zambezi National Park, swooping along the Zambezi itself on our descent. Below, the purple-brown, Paisley-shaped outlines of hippos pattern the shallows. If protected, hippos can

live to 50 years of age and on this stretch of river, flanked by national parks, they’re prolific. At our first stop, Chongwe River Camp, they make their presence felt through a round-the-clock chorus of chuckles and honks, like louche old men telling jokes in the bar. Our other neighbours, to our delight, are a colony of white-fronted bee-eaters, whose aerial ballet plays out over the bank near our glamorous tented suite. Even they deliver something unexpected — when a monitor lizard appears, they switch into battle formation, mobbing it so fiercely it buries its head in an old burrow to escape. With freshwater at its feet, graceful mahogany and winter thorn trees shading its banks and russet hills at its back, Lower Zambezi is one of the most beautiful swathes of wilderness in the region and indeed in Africa. Once the private hunting reserve of Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, it’s now a conservation powerhouse; as of 2016, it’s also Africa’s first carbon neutral national park. The engine behind its success is Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ), which runs educational workshops for local schoolchildren and helps villagers tackle the challenges of living alongside elephants and predators. CEO Ian

OPPOSITE: Lions in front of a safari vehicle, Lower Zambezi National Park BELOW, CLOCKWISE:

Hippo at the confluence of the Chongwe River and the Zambezi, Lower Zambezi National Park; afternoon snacks at Chiawa Camp; Conservation Lower Zambezi anti-poaching patrol dog handler with tracker dog; red dragonfly on the bank of Chongwe River, near the Zambezi River

November 2016



ESSENTIALS Getting there & around There are no nonstop UK-Zambia flights. Airlines that fly to Lusaka from Heathrow with one change include Kenya Airways, Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines. Proflight Zambia flies from Lusaka to Mfuwe in South Luangwa and to the Lower Zambezi Royal Airport.

When to go While the best time to go to South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi is between July and September, with dry weather and manageable temperatures, the rainy season from December to June can also be enjoyable for its green landscapes and abundant birds. The seasonal bushcamps are closed for at least part of the rainy season, but permanent lodges such as Mfuwe Lodge remain open and offer discounted rates. October and November, however, can be uncomfortably hot.

Places mentioned Mfuwe Lodge and Chindeni Bushcamp. Chongwe River Camp and Tsika Island Camp. Chiawa Camp.

More info

Sally, and Manda Chisanga enjoying safari sundowners in the Kapamba River, South Luangwa National Park


How to do it NATURAL WORLD SAFARIS can create a 13-day

bespoke safari combining seven nights with The Bushcamp Company in South Luangwa (two nights at Mfuwe Lodge and five at any of their six bushcamps) and four nights at Chiawa Camp in Lower Zambezi from £6,770 per person. Alternatively, their Two Rivers Secret Season Safari special includes three nights with The Bushcamp Company (one night at Mfuwe Lodge and two at

Kapamba Bushcamp or Zungulila Bushcamp) plus three nights at Kasaka River Lodge, Lower Zambezi from £3,680 per person. Both options include full-board accommodation, safari activities, transfers, internal flights and flights from Heathrow with Kenya Airways.








Z am




a ng






ABOVE: Emma’s mum,

Stevenson chats to us about its latest project: a programme to train local dog handlers who’ll be deployed on wildlife protection patrols. By the time we reach our last camp, it’s hard not to brag about how much we’ve experienced. But Chiawa Camp is a place that makes you feel refreshed, it’s as if we’re starting our trip all over again. Grant Cumings, a co-founder of CLZ, launched Chiawa with his father, Dave, and brother, Kevin, in 1991, when Lower Zambezi was still in shock from the loss of many of its black rhinos and many of its elephants to poachers. Originally pretty basic, now its luxurious tents are full of pleasingly old-fashioned touches. Conservation informs everything Grant’s team does. “For years, we’ve been working towards bringing back rhinos to Lower Zambezi. It’ll take a high degree of collaboration, but we’ve proved that’s feasible. I’m hopeful the time will come,” he says. We enjoy gentle drives and serene boat trips, watching elephants inch down the river bank to drink. Finally, it’s our last evening with head guide Daniel Susiku, and we’re conscious we have a record to maintain — a leopard a day. Sure enough, we encounter a beautiful female, reclining like a sphinx beside the track. As Daniel turns the vehicle to leave, our tracker urges him to stop. In an instant, the leopard has sprinted across the clearing and pounced on a male impala considerably bigger than her. Astonished at her strength, we watch her bring him down, only for a pair of thieving hyenas to barge in. We drive away, railing at the injustice of life in the bush. But there’s a postscript to this. Word later reaches us that a nearby herd of elephants, fearful for their young, came thundering up, scaring the hyenas away from the kill and allowing the leopard a chance to return. My mother, who likes a happy ending, is delighted. And so, I have to admit, am I.

Zambia, by Chris McIntyre (Bradt Travel Guides). RRP: £18.99 First-Time Africa, by Emma Gregg and Richard Trillo (Rough Guides). RRP £8.99





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the realm of the great

The vegetarian bear that sometimes eats meat; the big-spending hotel guests who bring their own food; the grand irrigation system as old as Archimedes — nothing is quite as it seems in Sichuan Province Words M A X A N D E R S O N Photographs D U N C A N L O N G D E N


November 2016



PREVIOUS PAGE: Looking out from Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain towards Mount Qingcheng FROM TOP: Giant panda at the Dujiangyan Panda Base; locals and visitors enjoy the breeze on the ornate North Bridge in Dujiangyan




an Pan has been doing his bit for modern China, and at the grand old age of 30, he’s earned his retirement. “Pan Pan means ‘Hero Father,’” my guide, Jack Feng, explains. “He’s sired 130 cubs in 20 years.” I look at the world’s oldest male panda, lying on his back in a generous green enclosure — one of 40 at the Dujiangyan Panda Base. The vegetarian bear chews noisily on a length of leafy bamboo. “That’s over six cubs a year,” I say. “No wonder he’s taking it easy.” I ask Jack if the word ‘panda’ actually means something in Chinese? “People think it’s the Chinese name for the animal, but it’s not. We call it xiong mao, which translates as ‘bear cat’. There’s a story that the word ‘panda’ comes from a French missionary called Father Armand David, who was the fi rst European to discover the animal. In 1869, he was shown a panda skin by a hunter and he asked what it was. The hunter described the animal using the words ‘fat’ and ‘big’. Which in Chinese is ‘pang da’.” The word is also said to have some Nepalese roots too, but, regardless, during my two hours in the reserve, the animal I thought of as an ‘endangered vegetarian panda’ turns out to be none of these things. The bear cat is an omnivore — in fact, eight million years ago it was a lean carnivore (it still retains relic canines in its lower jaw). And, thanks to the efforts of six panda reserves in Sichuan Province (as well as some heroic copulation by Pan Pan), it’s no longer endangered: in May 2016, the WWF officially reclassified it as ‘vulnerable’, with over 1,400 animals now doing quite nicely in the wild. Pan Pan has also helped to reveal a simple truth. Like most people in the West, I think I know China — it’s the place where 1.35 billion people live in choked-up

cities, marching inexorably towards lifestyles enjoyed in the West. Clearly I’m in need of some re-education.


My lessons are conducted in a mountainous corner of Sichuan Province. I base myself for fi ve days at the new Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, a luxury resort located at the foot of Mount Qingcheng. It’s on the edge of a small city (‘small’ meaning half-a-million people) called Dujiangyan, which in turn is a satellite of the Chengdu megalopolis, peopled with a rather more substantial 15 million. The resort is owned by US venture capitalists and offers a contemporary escape for wealthy Chinese — an almost unthinkable proposition 35 years ago, when the only five stars that Chinese people saw were those fluttering overhead on Chairman Mao’s red flag. It’s a walled compound with a distinct Zen vibe, with 113 suites that echo an ancient village and the sort of gardens that once moved emperors to poetry. Its three restaurants, spa and 30-metre swimming pool offer perhaps the greatest luxuries of all for Chinese guests — space. But it’s not long before the very otherness of China becomes apparent. There’s the internet for instance. Or more exactly, there’s not the internet. I’ve got wi-fi in my suite but the ‘Great Firewall of China’ means I need to do a complex virtual private network workaround to access non-Chinese websites — and no amount of geek trickery will get me onto Twitter or Facebook. Unlike in the West, the resort is practically empty most weeks. This is because the Chinese take their breaks according to a well-defi ned calendar of public

November 2016



Tianshi Cave has a crude timber fascia built across it and smells like the mountain — of earth, damp vegetation and wood smoke holidays; it’s also because in 2013 President Xi Jinping cracked down on lavish (read ‘corrupt’) corporate hospitality, which had become a mainstay of Chinese luxury hotels during the working week. At the weekend, however, it’s the exact inverse. The entire resort gets booked out, and an oddly Chinese tableau plays out: guests gather in the genteel courtyards with cardboard boxes fi lled with their own vegetables, fruit and even tea. They spend the afternoon reclined among the sprays of bamboo and trickling streams, indulging and snoozing. Ninety-five percent of guests are Chinese and most of them come here to de-stress and, in particular, to breathe the air. Mount Qingcheng, which rises to one side of the resort, is thickly clad in forest and often wreathed in mist. The Chinese believe it to be the nation’s richest source of ‘negative ions’ — oxygen molecules with an extra electron to purify mind and body. At 6am, I get to taste the air for myself in the grounds of Puzhao Temple. Built into a sheltered cusp of the mountain, the 200-year-old complex is surrounded by equally antique pine trees, which soar into the swirling clouds. A woman sweeps the flagstones of a courtyard and peacocks cry from tiled rooftops that curve upwards at either end. I’m here to get personal instruction in Qingcheng tai chi, the slow-mo version of a local brand of kung fu. My instructor is a very serious 25-year-old grandmaster called Mr Liu, who demonstrates his elegant, tautmuscle ballet and bids me to follow his patterns. It all goes quite well until he becomes irritated by (of all things) my hand positions, and repeatedly halts his instruction to painfully yank my thumbs into more acceptable right-angles.


My interpreter, Una, whispers to me, “The hands are important; they’re like coded messages of the soul!” After my session, I decide the negative ions haven’t done much for me, especially my thumbs. But there’s no question — the solace of a Chinese dawn in a misty temple courtyard is dizzying.


The forests surrounding Mount Qingcheng are home to scores of far older temples, their tiled roofs crowned with dragons and other beasts of the zodiac. But the most famous of all, Tianshi Dong, is a plain thing by comparison. It takes three hours to climb over 2,620ft on a mountain path, mostly in the company of Chinese tourists who stop frequently to pray or eat Sichuan hot pot and take selfies. The path climbs through gorges and forests, past a 2,000-year-old gingko tree before reaching the Tianshi Cave. It has a crude timber fascia built across it and smells like the mountain — of earth, damp vegetation and wood smoke. Two thousand years ago, Zhang Daoling is said to have sat in this cave and taught his acolytes that a natural harmony could be found in all things, that yin could be balanced with yang. It’s why Mount Qingcheng is regarded as the birthplace of Taoism. China has been steered by Taoism ever since, the philosophy influencing the practitioners of astrology, martial arts and traditional medicine. Chinese alchemists spent centuries concocting potions in the pursuit of Taoism’s purity of spirit and body and, in the ninth century, they happened upon three powders that would violently ‘fly and dance’ when mixed. Frankly, I’m astonished to learn that it was Taoists who gave the world gunpowder.


CLOCKWISE: Suite at Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain; tai chi practice at Puzhao Temple; statue of Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, Puzhao Temple; prayer candles, Tianshi Cave

November 2016



From our vantage point we can see Li Bing’s man-made river splitting from the natural channel to ow through the ancient centre of Dujiangyan. It was shaped to naturally purge itself of excess silt and as a consequence, the water is the colour of jade



November 2016


This is


The Yongning Gate in Xi’an was the main access point to the ancient walled city, dating back to the 14th Century. Here a procession of women participate in a greeting ceremony to welcome an important guest. Traditions like these are handed down from generation to generation.

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I encounter braised bullfrog, stewed yak, sliced pig ear, hot and sour jellyfish, deep-fried scorpions...

PREVIOUS PAGE: South Bridge, Dujiangyan FROM LEFT: Prayer ribbons adorn carvings of deities in a temple in a traditional Qiang home; Qiang villager

A little over six miles from the cave, down on the floodplains of Dujiangyan, another monumental experiment was underway in ancient times. In 256BC, at roughly the same time that Archimedes was crying ‘eureka’ after displacing water in his bath, the governor of Chengdu embarked on a massive hydroengineering project that’s still in use today. Jack Feng patiently explains the complexities of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), while we look upon it from the flanks of Mount Yulei. “Governor Li Bing needed to control the Minjiang River which flooded regularly,” he says, pointing out the broad, fast-flowing waterway, heavy with grey sediment. “So he used tens of thousands of people to build a levee. Then he dug this new river alongside it.” From our vantage point we can see Li Bing’s manmade river splitting from the natural channel to flow through the ancient centre of Dujiangyan. It was shaped to naturally purge itself of excess silt and as a consequence, the water is the colour of jade. Adding to the celestial vista of mountains and rivers are ornate bridges and the spectacular Dragon-Taming Temple. The whole engineering project took four years and meant removing part of the mountain. Today, Chinese visitors walk a three-mile circuit around the site to marvel at the ancient feat. Not only was the dragon tamed, the floodwaters were diverted for irrigation, turning Sichuan into the most

fertile and richest of China’s 31 provinces. Today, it’s still a veritable food basket that wants for nothing, and the people of Sichuan are still caricatured as indulgent sloths, happiest only when eating themselves silly. Personally, I don’t blame them for indulging; Sichuan cuisine is spicy, rich and oily. In the small noodle shops along the ancient streets of Dujiangyan, the plates come in small blizzards. Similarly unrelenting is the variety of ingredients. On my visit, I encounter braised bullfrog, stewed yak, sliced pig ear, hot and sour jellyfi sh, deepfried scorpions… At the Cerelia farm alongside the Minjiang River, I’m introduced to another oddity of Chinese cuisine: an ugly, triangle-headed, armour-plated monster that grows to over 6ft in length. Cerelia has 10,000 sturgeon in a vast grid of concrete troughs. The largest of the fi sh put their shovel-sized faces out of the water. Office director Mrs Yu tells me the bigger fish are fattened up to provide caviar, which is exported to Dubai. The smaller ones are culled for their prize flesh. When I admit I never knew sturgeon was a delicacy, I’m whisked off to the family restaurant, where I’m treated to an impromptu banquet of sturgeon done not once but seven ways. It’s so good that the caviar is almost a sideshow.


“What are you doing here?!” asks an English-speaking Chinese woman. “Even most Chinese don’t know this place exists!”

November 2016



Jack Feng has driven me two hours from the lush forests surrounding Qingcheng into barren mountains to the north where only goats seem to thrive. The steep rocky slopes are inhabited by marginalised people from one of China’s minority groups, the Qiang people. The village of Taoping dates to 111BC, and is built of stone so carefully mortared into the slopes that it appears to be part of the mountain. We duck into cool dark passageways, to the sound of snowmelt gushing through channels underfoot; overhead, the dwellings are piled high, with four ‘blockhouses’ reaching a full, nine storeys. They’re reminiscent of the ancient dwellings of the Pueblo people of the American Southwest — the difference being these dwellings are still occupied. Swarthier than the majority Han Chinese, the Qiang are more similar to China’s largest minority, the Tibetans, who neighbour Sichuan to the west. Their roofs are crowned with goat horns, symbols of animistic beliefs that, like them, have survived to the modern age. I talk to an old lady selling trinkets to tourists. She wears brightly coloured silk and invites us to feel the quality of her handmade jacket. She speaks Mandarin to Jack, telling us she knows her family has been here for at least 1,000 years, but is unsure exactly when they fi rst arrived. “She says that only the rich families have records,” Jack tells me. Inside the houses we see extraordinary layers of Chinese history. One owner, Mr Chen, shows us into his kitchen; it has a wooden floor and central fi re pit, the ancient walls are lined with pictures of Mao and the rafters hung with fatty slabs of air-dried pork. There are even slits where arrows were once fi red to repel invaders. He shows us a photo of his father in army fatigues in the 1950s when he was fighting with the North Koreans against the Americans. We climb handmade ladders to the top of a blockhouse and survey the village. Jack says it’s a miracle the structures are still standing after centuries

Interior of a traditional home, with meat hanging from the ceiling to air-dry

Taoping Qiang

Getting there & around


















When to go


nja ing Rive




10 Miles

British Airways flies nonstop five times a week between Heathrow and Chengdu. Airlines that fly with one stop include Singapore Airlines, Air China and Cathay Pacific. A one-hour transfer from Chengdu city to Dujiangyan by high-speed train costs around £1.50. Day trips for guests at Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, with an English-speaking guide and driver cost around £100-£140 per person.


March to June and September to November are best. Avoid the cold winter, and July/August, which can be wet.

Places mentioned Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain. Dujiangyan Panda Base.

More info Lonely Planet China. RRP: £19.99

How to do it STEPPES TRAVEL has five nights, B&B,

at Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain from £1,560 per person based on two sharing. Includes international economy flights with British Airways, plus private transfers. Each private tour day-trip cost £100-£120 each. Alternatively, budget travellers could share a room at Xiuxishu Boutique Hotel (from £40 a night), use Chinese tour companies booked through Ctrip ( and/or take local cabs and do the whole trip for around £800-£1,000 each, flying with Air China.

November 2016



I feel like an acolyte who’s come down out of the mists of Mount Qingcheng having found answers


Wenchuan Earthquake Memorial; greengage season in Taopin Qiang Minority Village


of warring between the Han Chinese and the Tibetans. He adds that there was also a much more recent threat to their survival. On our return drive to the resort, Jack detours down a long, rough road through a narrow mountain gorge to show me what he means. We arrive at the village of Yingxiu, which looks very new and is nestled within a ring of green mountains. At its centre is a lively outdoor market where gaily coloured stalls sell toys, panda souvenirs and bowls of hot noodles. We pass through them to emerge on a scene of staggering violence. I’m looking at a modern middle school, a five-storey complex. Only, it looks like someone has tipped it over at one corner and sent it crashing to the ground like a stack of crockery. Elevated boardwalks circle the entire upended school building. We peer into classroom floors, steeply angled and littered here and there with the accoutrements of contemporary secondary education. At one corner, five floors are pancaked into a single layer. The ruin looks oddly ancient — more ancient than the upstanding blockhouses I’ve just seen. “What is this?” I ask, both perplexed and shocked. “It’s a monument. Yingxiu was the epicentre of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.” In May of that year, Sichuan was hit by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake that was felt as far as Beijing. Around

90,000 people died, 350,000 were injured and five million made homeless. Yingxiu was flattened; 5,000 people were buried in a pit because the town was cut off for a week and the survivors feared disease. When I return to the resort I soon learn that everyone has a Wenchuan story. Marketing manager Una Zhang lived with her family in a car for a week, so fearful were they of aftershocks. Guide Jack Feng remembers cowering with his school friends in a stairwell. Fellow guide Olaf Klotzke recalls the shock of seeing naked people in the street — they’d been showering when the earthquake struck and had fled for their lives. My visit to Sichuan lasts only five days, but there’s a strange intensity to the trip that makes it feel twice as long. I think it’s down to the fact that I’m constantly exposed to things that are unfamiliar — the ancient genius of the irrigation system, the modern genius of farming river monsters for caviar, the ancient stone ruins crowned with horns, the contemporary school ruins hung with sadness, the five-star resort where wealthy guests bring their own comfort food, the ‘Hero Father’ panda doing it for China… I’m left feeling like an acolyte who’s come down out of the swirling mists of Mount Qingcheng, his eyes just a little more open.

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OAXACA The dead are never far away in Oaxaca — the locals

believe they’re are just around the corner in Mictlan, the underworld of Aztec myth. Once a year, a lively food- and dance-filled celebration spills out from the cemeteries to greet the returning spirits Words & photographs K R I S D A V I D S O N 128

November 2016



Preparations get underway at Casa de Las Bugambilias, a boutique hotel in Oaxaca City, on the eve of the Dia de Los Muertos holiday to welcome back the dead. Mariana Arroyo picks marigolds for the altar; the next day, guests gather together to honour loved ones.



November 2016



A family in the village of San Lorenzo Albarradas tend to their Dia de Los Muertos altar — these are often quite beautiful creations, painstakingly constructed with great attention to detail. Sometimes they include offerings that the departed enjoyed in life.



November 2016





As the week-long festival gathers momentum in Oaxaca City, a comparsa (group of singers and dancers) of devils, skeletons and other underworld characters, snakes out of Panteon General cemetery and into the streets, later joining a children’s parade in the city square.

November 2016



The sound of singing and a lone guitar fills the Panteon Nuevo cemetery in the city of Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán as family and friends commune with beloved spirits. As the Mexicans say,

los cielos se abren (‘the heavens open up’).



Disappear to


Closer than you think, and more captivating than you could ever imagine, the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda isn’t just the stuff of idyllic island holidays. With pink sand beaches and beautiful blue waters, Bermuda makes the perfect climax to an unforgettable twincentre holiday on the East Coast of the US


WHAT CAN YOU DO IN TWO HOURS? In the time it takes to watch a film, you could be lounging on sandy beaches, whale-watching, mountain biking or playing golf. If you’re heading state-side, Bermuda is only a two-hour jaunt from New York, Washington D.C., Boston and Philadelphia.

What do you know about Bermuda? That it’s a beautiful British island territory blessed with coral-pink sands and achingly blue waters, warmed to perfection by the Gulf Stream? Does mention of the island evokes a slideshow of sigh-inducing images? Of cliff -jumping at Royal Admiralty Park, and diving to explore shipwrecks and coral reefs; of mouthwatering cuisine inspired by the freshest seafood; and of quaint British street names, pastel cottages and lush, subtropical nature? What you might not know is just how easy it is to experience Bermuda for yourself, particularly if you’re already booking a break on the East Coast of the US. Bermuda is just over a two-hour flight from New York, Washington D.C., Boston and Philadelphia but, on arrival, even the most gridlocked soul is transported to a new world.

In the time it takes to watch a movie, you could fly away to watch migrating whales, mountain bike along 18 miles of railway trail, go back in time in the colonial town of St George’s, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or sip a Dark ’n’ Stormy as masked Gombey dancers seduce onlookers into an impromptu street carnival. Love golf? Bermuda offers the world’s highest density of courses per square mile. Smitten by sea life? Discover world-class diving or take the opportunity to swim with dolphins at the Royal Naval Dockyard. Just want to relax on the beach? From worldfamous Horseshoe Bay to the hidden Hog Bay Beach, Bermuda’s sands offer sunshine, sanctuary and water sports aplenty. So, make a beeline for Bermuda or add it to your East Coast adventure; either way, it’s time you explore this island paradise.

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ABTA No.V2043

ABTA No.V2043

City life

AMSTERDAM Amsterdam’s canals were built in the days when the Dutch ruled the waves. Once polluted, today they’re thriving again, having welcomed back pike, eels, herons and even swimmers — not to mention the mysterious canal lobster WORDS: Adrian Phillips PHOTOGRAPHS: Richard James Taylor



ou can’t claim to really know a city until you’ve had a conversation about its sewage with an aquatic ecologist from the local water board. I’d not given much thought to what goes on beneath Amsterdam before I met Laura Moria in a coffee shop near the Anne Frank House. Laura spends her life scrutinising the canals, scooping and testing and doing whatever aquatic ecologists do to keep tabs on microscopic nasties. Until recently, it was a job that required a strong stomach and a nose peg. “The canals used to stink,” she tells me. “They contained untreated sewage, and if you fell in you’d be rushed off to hospital for a tetanus jab.” But the past decade has witnessed a concerted push to clean things up. Thousands of houseboats have finally been linked to the sewer system, and a special vessel patrols the channels with a net to skim off floating rubbish. There’s even a boat dedicated to hooking out the 12,000-odd bikes that are chucked in the water annually. The results have been dramatic — so dramatic, in fact, that around 2,000 people jump into the canals of their own accord during the Amsterdam City Swim each September. “Even our Queen has taken a

dip,” Laura says. The flora and fauna are also flourishing in the purer water. Yellow water lilies flower in summer, while water fleas zip about eating algae and are in turn gobbled up by fish that had previously given the canals a wide berth. Pike, eels and carp have all returned, along with the herons that stalk them, and coots that dabble among the reeds. There are bullhead fish, sponges and mussels, and — Laura’s favourite — a snail with a head like a smurf. It’s a smorgasbord of life. “Our tap water is filtered through the sand dunes — you must try it,” Laura urges, as she pays for her cappuccino. “Oh, and look out for canal lobster on the menu,” she adds cryptically over her shoulder before the door closes and she’s gone. Canal lobster?! While there’s a limit to how exciting I can find the prospect of a good glass of tap water, the mysterious canal lobster sounds like something altogether more enticing. I vow to track one down. But first — a boat tour.


If there are newfound riches hidden below the surface, those above have been plain to see for centuries. Amsterdam is a city built

November 2016



on water, both literally and metaphorically, the horseshoe of canals at its heart constructed during a period when the Dutch ruled the waves and this was the world’s greatest port. The stylish way to explore the trappings of that 17th-century Golden Age is aboard a saloon boat with teak flooring so polished you can skid from bow to stern. The Tourist is moored outside the equally dapper Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam, which fills a row of converted canal houses. My skipper has a smart epaulette on each white-shirted shoulder and a sailor’s cap sitting level on his head. Even the letters of his name are arranged tidily. “I’m Onno,” he says. “Although people who know me tend to cry ‘Oh, no!’” Onno’s justly proud of his craft, a 43ft beauty built in 1907 to transfer guests to their accommodation. Today, transformed from diesel to eco-friendly electric, it carries a maximum of 12 passengers. “A more personal sightseeing experience — this is the cork we’re floating on!” says Onno, nosing us through a low-slung bridge separating the grandly titled Emperor’s Canal from the more blue-collar Brewers’ Canal. Reminders of the city’s ocean-going history are everywhere. We pass the monumental sweep of Amsterdam Centraal station, a wind dial on its tower to assist sailors, and the Basilica of St Nicholas, dedicated to the patron saint of seafarers. The waterway widens and we round the green hull of Science Center NEMO, designed by Renzo Piano to look like the prow of a hulking tanker, and then a full-size replica of the Amsterdam — a Dutch East India Company cargo ship that was stranded off Hastings in 1749 — a sign we’ve reached the jetty of the Maritime Museum. The Dutch East India Company is synonymous with the Golden Age. Founded in 1602, it was the first-ever multinational, making gargantuan profits importing spices from the Far East. Amsterdam grew into the ‘warehouse of the world’, handling everything from timber and wine to subtropical fruits and porcelain. The 17th century was a very good time to be a Dutch merchant, and their lavish mansions are strung along the most exclusive stretch of canal. Onno spins his brass wheel to take us there, making a lazy arc into the broad-beamed Oudeschans — a former ship-building canal where vessels like the Amsterdam would have started life — past a tilting lock-keeper’s house that’s now a pub. Past the Rembrandt House Museum, the site of the artist’s home for 20 years, where he painted the masterpieces that make him a totem of the Golden Age. Then a left and a right and we reach our destination: Herengracht (‘Gentlemen’s Canal’). This was for the wealthy set. Lofty merchants’ houses with gables like elaborate headdresses face each other across the water, as if waiting for the orchestra to kick-start a masquerade


dance. And the so-called Golden Bend boasts the grandest residences of all, their doublewidth plots available only to those with pockets as deep as ditches. “The fronts are nothing,” Onno comments as we drift past. “You should see inside!”

PREVIOUS PAGES: Merchant houses along the Damrak at sunset; chef Luuk Langendijk holds a freshly caught canal lobster, Restaurant AS CLOCKWISE: Exterior of Science Center NEMO; Onno, the skipper of the Tourist; Science Center NEMO


Museum Van Loon, here at Emperor’s Canal 672, offers the chance to do just that. “The van Loon family made its money in herring,” Tonko Grever, the museum’s director, tells me. I glance around the cavernous entrance hall with a new respect for rollmops. This was a powerful dynasty: Willem van Loon became mayor of Amsterdam and his son ruled over the East India Company for 30 years. We walk through reception room after reception room, up a sweeping staircase to bedroom after bedroom, out into gardens with manicured hedges, a golden sundial and a brick-floored coach house flanked by classical statues. There are cherrywood chests, four-poster beds, stuffed peacocks on mantelpieces. And, everywhere, vast portraits of van Loons in ermine or pearls, for Amsterdam’s merchants loved commissioning paintings of themselves. “Rembrandt’s paintings weren’t for museums,” Tonko reminds me. “They were hung in private houses like this.” But for all the bounty earned on the high seas — all the piles of pearls and peacocks — Amsterdam’s elite has found that water can be foe as well as friend. Canal houses stand on wooden foundation piles driven deep into the mud, and when the water drops the piles rot. This is why some houses are oddly lopsided, leaning against neighbours like walking wounded, their foundations subsiding beneath them. Nowhere is wonkier than the restaurant De Silveren Spiegel (‘The Silver Spoon’), where I eat that night. Christopher, a waiter — “and storyteller!” — takes me on a tour. The restaurant occupies a pair of houses built in 1614 by Laurens Spiegel, another leading merchant and city mayor (although Laurens made his name in the glamorous world of soap-boiling rather than herring). With skew-whiff windows below its stepped gables and floors that sag like washing lines, The Silver Spoon is the crooked house of fairytales — so it’s perhaps fitting that it requires a rainbow’s pot of gold to maintain; the foundations have been reinforced once already, and further work is required next year. What doesn’t need fixing is the cooking — dishes of Dutch shrimp, beef loin and blood-orange mousse are as good as anything you’ll eat in Amsterdam. But what about canal lobster? “Erm, no” says Christopher, carefully, as if humouring a madman. “If that’s a real thing, the Kitchen of the Unwanted Animal might sell it. They’ll be at Rolling Kitchens.’’

My skipper has a smart epaulette on each whiteshirted shoulder and a sailor’s cap sitting level on his head. Even the letters of his name are arranged tidily. “I’m Onno,” he says.


November 2016





ABOVE: Rob Hagenouw and Nicolle Schatborn, owners of the Kitchen of the Unwanted Animal food van LEFT: Typically wonky merchant houses along the Singel canal

Even with all the weird and wonderful foods around it, the Kitchen of the Unwanted Animal still swivels heads. Where else can you wash a My Little Pony Burger down with a glass of Japanese knotweed juice?


Rolling Kitchens is a five-day food festival in a ‘culture park’ north west of the centre. I’ve barely time to be heartened by the banner above the entrance, which shows a plump lobster on wheels, before I’m enveloped by noise, smell and colour. Scores of open-sided trucks — row upon row of them — are serving food cooked at little hobs or on coal-fired grills, while musicians bang drums or strum guitars outside. Every corner of the globe is covered. There’s Indian cuisine at the Bollyfoods van (slogan: ‘Get curried away!’) and Vietnamese street food at Nom Nom. Let’s Salsa has Mexican tacos, Just Say Cheese (‘Sweet dreams are made of cheese, who am I to diss a brie!’) offers cheeseburgers, and Everything on a Stick is exactly as described. I pass Duck & More (‘Not just duck!’), Mr Brasa (‘We smoke it all!’), Shrimp & Co and Dutch Weed Burger (made from seaweed rather than the other sort) before finally reaching the truck I’m after. Even with all the weird and wonderful foods around it, the Kitchen of the Unwanted Animal still swivels heads. Where else can you wash a My Little Pony Burger down with a glass of Japanese knotweed juice? Its origins are as unorthodox as its menu. “I’m a

conceptual artist, not a cook,” says founder Rob Hagenouw, handing me a goose croquette. “My kitchen was meant as a statement.” Rob is pained by society’s profligacy. On discovering that geese shot at Schipol airport — to cut the risk of bird strikes — were simply thrown away, he decided to highlight the waste by creating something tasty from these unwanted animals. Hence his croquette, which is creamy inside with a spicy coating. After that, he turned to other ‘pests’: musk rats, city pigeons, parakeets, even the ponies abandoned by cash-strapped owners during the financial crisis. His van goes down a storm at festivals. “Kids dive straight into the pony burgers — it’s the mothers who aren’t so sure!” “And canal lobster?” I ask, hopes raised like pastry on a parakeet pie. “Yes,” says Rob. “But I don’t have any here. Your best bet might be Restaurant As.” Thwarted again, I seek consolation in a coffee at the Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam. Originally built in 1912 as the headquarters for a number of the city’s shipping companies, this is a place dripping with symbols of the Golden Age, from the world map in its stained glass roof to the billowing sails in its mahogany panels. But what also strikes me is that it represents the last gasp of a glorious maritime era — the shipping companies

November 2016



ESSENTIALS Getting there & around There are many flights to Amsterdam from London and regional airports, with carriers including British Airways, EasyJet, KLM and Vueling. Travelling by rail is almost as quick as flying. Take the Eurostar to Brussels, then the high-speed Thalys train to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a compact city with an excellent public transport network, which includes buses, trams, metro trains and ferries. Bikes can be rented from MacBike, near Amsterdam Centraal station. Free ferries to Amsterdam North (including NDSM Wharf) depart regularly from behind Amsterdam Centraal. Sightseeing trips on the Tourist can be arranged through the concierge at Pulitzer Amsterdam.

Places mentioned Pulitzer Amsterdam. Grand Hotel Amrâth. De Silveren Spiegel. Restaurant As. National Maritime Museum. Museum Van Loon. NDSM Wharf. A’DAM Toren. Rolling Kitchens. Kitchen of the Unwanted Animal. T: 00 31 641 797 683.

More info The main visitor centre is outside Amsterdam Centraal station.

travel and accommodation at the five-star Pulitzer Amsterdam on a B&B basis from £876 per person. B (B re r o w e WESTERDOK uw rs er ’ Ca s gr nal acht )

Hotel Pulitzer JORDAAN

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500 yards

ABOVE: Freshly cooked canal lobster (red swamp crayfish), Restaurant AS



Central Station

Basilica of St Nicholas NEMO NIEUWE Science Museum ZIJDE Grand Hotel Amrâth OUDE ZIJDE


How to do it KIRKER HOLIDAYS has three nights, including

Em p e


the others. A canal lobster. Or, more properly, a red swamp crayfish, an invasive species originally from the US that’s flourishing in the cleaner water of the canals. I feel a pang of sympathy for the condemned as the crayfish eyes me from his container, but the pang quickly disappears when I reach out to pick him up and he clamps his claws onto my finger. In between the yells (mine) and stifled giggles (his), Rick explains there’s no place for sentimentality. “Red crayfish eat fish eggs, they kill the native European crayfish, and they dig holes in the dykes. It’s our duty to eat them!” So, when Luuk Langendijk — the chef here at Restaurant As — brings me a starter of crayfish tails with a mustard dip, I grab a fork and do my duty. Then I do it again by consuming a main course of crayfish bouillon with ribbons of white asparagus. The meat is sweet, a touch smoky, and quite delicious. As the plates are cleared, I ponder how many other people can claim to have been bitten by their own dinner. For all the canal lobster’s allure, I decide the van Loons had it right. It’s safer to stick to herring.

Gentl e m

having shipped out long ago, their offices now given over to guest rooms. It’s a similar story elsewhere. NDSM Wharf — Amsterdam’s biggest shipyard before it went bankrupt in the 1980s — is now a gritty hub of contemporary art. The industrial wasteland behind Amsterdam Centraal has been transformed by the spaceage architecture of the EYE Film Institute Netherlands, while the oil refinery tower next door has just reopened as the A’DAM Toren, its focus on cutting-edge music. Perhaps this is the new Golden Age, a waterfront renaissance driven by culture and food, an age of experiment and urban expression whose eddies and swirls will throw up their very own Dutch masters to be lauded in years to come. But that’s for the passage of time. Right now, I’ve a dinner reservation to keep. An hour later, and there it is at last, pinkyred against the bucket, pincers raised at me with justified mistrust. This is one of several caught last night for the restaurant by Rick Kruyswyk, who’s brought it to the table for me to see before it’s dispatched to the pot with

Schiphol Hotel Shuttle

The easiest way to get to your hotel! • Links the airport with almost every hotel in Amsterdam • Situated immediately outside the terminal at platform A7 • Tickets are available online, at the Connexxion Amsterdam Shuttle Desk in Arrivals Hall 4 (opposite Starbucks) or at your hotel Website : Email : Telephone : +31 88 339 47 41



City life



On the windswept southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island sits one of the world’s coolest capitals: a confident, creative, harbourside city where good living is second nature. WORDS: Glen Mutel


he sign says it all. Ten tall letters perched high on a hillside above the airport. The original plan was for them to read ‘Wellywood’, a reference to the city’s recent contribution to world cinema. But the locals deemed this too predictable. So instead, the sign says ‘Wellington’, with the last three letters apparently blown off course by two swirly, blustery lines. By most indices, New Zealand’s capital is the world’s windiest city — a fact with which it seems entirely comfortable. Down on the waterfront you’ll find a bronze statue of a naked man, leaning into the breeze. It’s a pose every Wellingtonian knows all too well. It doesn’t help matters that it’s a particularly hilly metropolis, so much so that many houses have their own private funiculars. But these challenges seem to have helped forge the city’s sense of identity; I’ve even heard some locals admit the icy blast of the dreaded Antarctic ‘southerly’ wind makes them feel strangely at home. For all its dubious weather, Wellington is an impressive place, a mini San Francisco with a bohemian streak and idyllic bayside location. The seat of government it may be, but there’s a palpable coolness here that takes you by surprise. Yet that central tenet of the hipster revolution — the stripping away of bland distractions, so as to focus

on what’s really of value — has been the Wellington way for the best part of two decades, ever since it first emerged as one of the world’s coffee capitals. Nowhere is this enlightened approach more evident than in the Laneways, a series of narrow thoroughfares in the CBD (Central Business District), currently being spruced up by the city council. The pick of these is the little alley between Leeds and Eva street, home to a micro chocolate factory, bottled soda shop, cocktail bar, craft brewer, boutique coffeehouse and a tiny basement outlet (Fix and Fogg) selling intriguing varieties of peanut butter out of a small, ankle-level window. As alleyways go, it certainly packs a punch, and it’s a great starting point for any newcomer. But, in reality, it doesn’t require much planning to catch Wellington at its sparkling best. Within my first 48 hours here, I’d watched an Iranian documentary at an arthouse cinema; dined three tables away from Peter Jackson; drank craft beer in a converted garage; watched chocolate being made from scratch; sipped nitrogen-enriched iced-coffee dispensed from a pump; and eaten oysters by the waterside. Compact, cosmopolitan and full of character, Wellington really is a first-timer’s dream. Just remember to pack a few layers.

November 2016





WELLINGTON CABLE CAR: It’s hard not to

fall for Wellington’s elderly yet distinguished 114-year-old cable car. Having trundled gracefully up its tracks, it delivers passengers to the city’s hillside Botanic Gardens, where alongside fitting views, they’ll also find Carter Observatory, home to the Space Place planetarium. ROXY CINEMA: A 1920s theatre that was turned into a shopping mall in the 1960s, the Roxy was restored to its former glory and given a new purpose in 2011, having been bought by Weta Digital founder Sir Richard Taylor. Located in Miramar — Wellington’s movie-making district — it hosts film and documentary festivals, and even has its own restaurant and cocktail bar. WETA CAVE: The starting point for the Weta Studio Tours, where enthusiasts can marvel at fake guns, custom-made vehicles, latex heads and remote-controlled battle helmets — in short, many of the eye-catching props Weta crafted for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, plus other films such as King Kong and District 9. The Cave is also a retail store and an exclusive documentary is shown at regular intervals.

PREVIOUS PAGE: Friendly staff at The Beanery by Mojo coffeehouse CLOCKWISE: Fix and Fogg peanut butter; Weta Workshop Personal Tour artists; elevated view over Wellington; Cellar Door off-licence; Leeds Street

Jovial brewers with beards flogging beers by the flagon from a converted garage — it all makes for a wonderfully Wellingtonian retail experience. The Cellar Door is the brewery’s on-premises off-licence (its bar, the Taproom, is across the road), and features an everchanging line-up of wondrous, unorthodox grog. Plus, there’s fancy glassware for those looking for a more lasting souvenir. WELLINGTON CHOCOLATE FACTORY: Does chocolate taste better when you’ve just watched it being made? Hard to say, but this is the place to find out. Here, at this bijou little dream factory on Eva Street, they ‘roast, crack, winnow, conch and temper’ on the premises, before the agonising, purchasing and devouring can commence. UNDERGROUND MARKETS: You won’t find any Kiwi Del Boys here, as this covered waterfront market is more a vehicle for the city’s artists, bakers, crafters and designers to showcase their finely wrought creations to a discerning weekend crowd. Regular live music makes for a pleasant atmosphere.

ZEALAND): With its eye-catching, six-storey waterfront building, earthquake simulator, Maori treasures and the body of a colossal squid, Te Papa already had quite a bit going for it. But throw in the outstanding Gallipoli exhibition (running until 2019), featuring Weta Workshop’s large-scale sculptures of the WWI campaign’s doomed protagonists, and you’ve got yourself a genuinely hot ticket. CUBA STREET: Wellington’s ‘spunkiest’ thoroughfare is worth more than a cursory glance, filled as it is with many of the city’s best and most bohemian restaurants, bars and cafes, not to mention the obligatory vintage clothes shops, street art and laudable busking. A great spot to meander if you’re feeling lazy or a little weather-beaten.






FIELD & GREEN: Having relocated from London with her business partner, chef Laura Greenfield drew upon her Jewish roots to produce a menu of ‘European soul food’ — essentially, high-quality comfort dishes. While lunches and dinners are reasonably elaborate and pricey, it’s the small yet filling simpler dishes on the all-day menu — Welsh rarebit, homemade crumpets, sardines on sourdough — that make this restaurant both affordable and special. SHED 5: Housed in a Victorian woolshed in Lambton Harbour, Shed 5 really plays to Wellington’s strengths: stunning seafood dishes accompanied by fantastic Kiwi wine. The seafood risotto changes daily, ‘depending on what the tide brings in’, while anyone who can resist the oysters must be tired of life. HIPPOPOTAMUS RESTAURANT & BAR: If you came to Wellington hoping for a hipster dining experience, then French fine-dining might seem a stuffy option. But stuffy it ain’t, and, besides the food, the impressive third-floor harbour views and fancy decor make this a smart choice. Located within the Museum Art Hotel.


COFFEE TIME: If you want to feel like a

local, then the first thing to do is grab a coffee — Wellington has been in the grip of bean fever for two decades and every type of brew is available. Head to The Beanery by Mojo where you can sample cutting-edge Nitro, Cold Brew, Steampunk and Pheonix coffee, among others. DIVE IN: If the weather’s fine and you find the waters in Wellington’s harbour too much of a temptation, head to Taranaki Wharf, outside Te Papa, where you’ll find an elaborate diving platform, and — if you’re lucky — a small crowd of curious, well-meaning spectators. SEAL COAST SAFARI: For all its charms, Wellington is a small city and longer-stay visitors would be mad not to get out and explore. Take a 4WD tour along the city’s rugged coastline for the chance to meet a local colony of fur seals.

Timber! // The majestic Old Government Buildings on Lambton Quay is the largest wooden structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Its timbers come from the kauri tree and it was the world’s first building to ban smoking November 2016



— the kind of conversations from which you’ll generally emerge with a rather fine cocktail tailored exactly to your mood. FOXTAIL CHAMPAGNE & COCKTAIL BAR: No city can consider itself truly cutting-edge without at least one fashionable, hard-to-find speakeasy. Wellington has a few, the cutest of which is the Foxtail. To get there, you must first go to the Foxglove Bar & Kitchen and then head upstairs to its snug Sitting Room bar — one of three intimate lounges inside the building — where you’ll find a wardrobe, which is actually the secret entrance to a charming little bar with a surprisingly huge whisky collection.

Cup of Joe // A coffeeloving capital, Wellington is considered by many to be the city that gave the world the fashionable flat white — though this claim is disputed vigorously by Sydney Z SLEEP

GOURMET STAY: A 13-room boutique hotel with a strong European design ethos near Cuba Street, offering varying levels of affordability, from smart-yet-basic hostelstyle rooms with shared bathrooms to apartment-style family suites, all the way up to a rooftop studio with a terrace and outdoor hot tub. COMFORT HOTEL WELLINGTON: A good mid-range option, not least because it puts you right in the heart of Cuba Street. The location means you probably won’t need to frequent its cafe, restaurant and bar, but they’re there should you wish to do so, as is a lofty, and rather welcome, swimming pool. MUSEUM ART HOTEL: This aptly named silk purse of a hotel positively bulges with art, be it painted, sculpted, daubed onto its outside walls or grafted onto the upholstery of a well-placed bedroom chair. Similarly ornate views of the harbour accompany breakfast, during which guests can ponder how, in 1993, the entire five-storey hotel was shifted wholesale 120 metres across the road to its current site.

There’s no way to reach Wellington from the UK without having to stopover twice. Air New Zealand flies from Heathrow via Los Angeles and Auckland, while other flight options include Qantas, Emirates and Singapore Airlines. The best way to explore Wellington is on foot, as the city centre can be traversed within 20 minutes and all the key attractions are within easy reach. There are easy-to-use buses, trains and ferries, if needed.

When to go Wellington’s al fresco potential is best realised in summer (mid-December to mid-March), when


temperatures average around 18-20C and there’s less rain, although there’s better availability and value to be found in the shoulder seasons.

More info The Rough Guide to New Zealand. RRP: £17.99

Wellington Botanic Gardens

Wellington Cable Car

Hotel Oriental Bay, Wellington, staying in a superior room from £2,125 per person. The price is for travel in June 2017, based on two sharing, and includes flights with Air New Zealand from Heathrow.

Te Papa Tongarewa


500 yards





How to do it KUONI offers seven nights at the four-star Copthorne



Getting there & around

o Lambt n Q uay


L amb t o n Har b o u r Or ie n

P tal a r a d e

Mount Victoria Lookout MOUN T VIC TO R I A Miramar

2 miles



The plush interior of a Museum Art Hotel room

a St

doors at the end of a long corridor on Cuba Street, Matterhorn is something of a Wellington institution, having started life in the 1960s as a Swiss-style cafe, before evolving into a restaurant, popular weekend brunch spot, late-night supper club and a highly imaginative cocktail bar. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also regular live music, too. HAWTHORN LOUNGE: The archetypal cosy nook, designed in the style of a gentleman’s club, the Hawthorn Lounge is the perfect place to hide away with a drink from the blustery world outside. Its compact size makes chit-chat with the bar staff inevitable



MATTERHORN: Found through swing





The maze of small shops offers a dazzling array of Middle Eastern merchandise, from spices and seasonal delicacies to perfumes, jewellery, clothing, handicrafts and a treasure trove of souvenir bargains. Traditional music, art and culture shows add to the ambience of this special place. Relax and soak up the vitality and atmosphere at one of its eclectic mix of great restaurants and cafes.


Experience 14 centuries of art in a few hours. The MIA’s imaginative displays of the finest art and artefacts from across the Islamic world have earned it recognition among the world’s top cultural institutions. Housed in an architectural masterpiece designed by IM Pei, the MIA offers an ever-changing programme of special exhibitions. A fee may be charged for these temporary shows, but admission to the permanent galleries is free.


Located on Qatar’s northwest coast and comprising the immaculately restored Al Zubarah Fort and surrounding 150-acre archaeological works, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most extensive and bestpreserved examples of an 18th- to 19th-century settlement in the region. It covers the remains of a walled coastal town that once ranked as one of the Gulf’s most important pearl diving and trading centres, with links extending to the Indian Ocean.


Some 35 miles from Doha in the southeastern corner of the country lies one of Qatar’s most impressive natural wonders, the ‘Inland Sea’, or Khor Al Adaid. A UNESCO-listed natural reserve with its own ecosystem, this is one of the few places in the world where the sea encroaches deep into the heart of the desert. Inaccessible by road, this tranquil expanse of water can only be reached via a 4WD desert safari experience.


A man-made island off the West Bay coast — AKA the ‘Arabian Riviera’ — The Pearl-Qatar features Mediterranean-style, yacht-lined marinas, residential towers, villas and hotels, as well as luxury shopping at designer boutiques and showrooms. A popular dining spot, its waterfront promenades are lined with cafes and restaurants serving everything from a refreshing ice cream to a five-star culinary experience.


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November 2016





Q // How easy it is to arrange a trip to the ’Stans? What do I need to know?


For starters, the ’Stans include Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. While you can explore the them alone, bear in mind English is not widely spoken (a little Russian goes a long way) and public transport options are limited. You’ll be able to see much more in a short space of time by booking with a recognised tour operator, who can assist with multi-centre options and visas. For Kyrgyzstan, visas can be arranged upon arrival, but visas for Uzbekistan need to be arranged a month in advance. The ’Stans are considered safe, with no FCO restrictions on travel, although there are warnings about potential flashpoints on

some of the borders. For first-time visitors, it depends if you’re more interested in natural beauty, or the history and culture of the Silk Road. For nature, head to Kyrgyzstan, a land of towering mountains, flowing rivers, crystalclear lakes and clean air. This is typical nomad country, and you’ll spend much of your time staying in yurts in a rustic backto-nature experience. For culture, Uzbekistan offers unrivalled Islamic architecture in its Silk Road cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. A tour combining these two countries offers a great overview of the area but, for something different, visit Turkmenistan (apply for a visa a month ahead), home to

one of the world’s more unusual tourist attractions, the Darvaza Gas Crater (aka the ‘Door to Hell’), the result of a Soviet engineering accident that’s been ablaze since 1971. Turkmenistan is also home to the Silk Road city of Merv — infamously and ruthlessly sacked by Genghis Khan — and the bizarre capital city of Ashgabat with its many spectacular marbleclad buildings. Contrary to popular opinion, the food is pretty good, with influences from the Caucasus, China, the Middle East and India very much evident. Be ready for the odd neat vodka, too, a welcome hangover from the Soviet era. MICHAEL PULLMAN




Q // I’ve heard you can see a total eclipse next year — where’s the best place to see it?

Q // Can I claim compensation if a flight is more than three hours delayed when travelling outside the EU?

Q // What’s the best and cheapest way to get a visa to India, bearing in mind the change in visa rules?

You can see a total eclipse — where the moon completely obscures the sun — on 21 August 2017 at various locations in the US. It’s the first total solar eclipse in the continental US since 1979 — although on that occasion it was only visible in five states and cloud cover was an issue. Next year, you can view it from west to east in around 10 states, from Oregon to South Carolina. Some of best

places to view it are Nashville, Tennessee (on the tourism map as the nation’s music capital), and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — one of the most scenic spots in the country. For details about the duration in each location, how to safely view the eclipse, what to expect and why it occurs, visit greatamericaneclipse. com/best-places-to-view

Flight compensation within the EU is relatively straightforward. Under EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are entitled to compensation for flights that are cancelled or delayed for more than three hours. For flights within the EU (plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway) it’s €250 (£215) for distances of 1,500km or less, and €400 (£344) for flights longer than that. From an EU state (or Switzerland, Iceland or Norway) to a non-EU state, it’s €250 (£215) for 1,500km or less, €400 (£344) for 1,500km to 3,500km and €600 (£515) for more than that. This applies irrespective of which airline you’re flying on. Where it gets tricky is return legs. The EU doesn’t get to legislate over delays on flights coming into the EU — and passenger rights vary wildly from nation to nation. But the

EU can force airlines based in the EU (or Switzerland, Norway or Iceland) to comply. So as long as you’re coming back on an EU-based airline, you can claim the same amounts you would if you were on the outbound leg. So if flying back from the US with Virgin Atlantic, British Airways or Aer Lingus, you could claim under the EU rules. If with Delta, United or American Airlines, you can’t. The same applies to EasyJet and Ryanair flights from outside the EU (ie from Marrakech or Tel Aviv) — you can claim. But you couldn’t coming back from Dubai with Emirates, for example. Full information and template claim forms are available from travel/passenger-rights/air/ index_en.htm

Deserts can be a challenge for contact lens wearers. Blowing sand means an increased risk of dry eyes, abrasion and infection, which can lead to ulceration and eventual blindness. It’s advisable to: • Wear sunglasses and a hat • Never sleep in your lenses • Discard lenses at the first sign of infection and switch to glasses • Pack rewetting drops • Use sanitising hand cleansers • Use daily disposable lenses • Never ignore a red or painful eye • Beware of other symptoms of infection including excessive tearing or discharge, photophobia (sensitivity to light) and foreign body sensation • Consider carrying antibiotic drops if far from medical care



As a British passport holder, you have the option to apply for a single-entry e-Tourist Visa or a regular, six-month, multipleentry tourist visa for India. I’m assuming you require the former. The e-Tourist Visa (eTV) allows a maximum of two visits in a calendar year and is valid for 30 days from your date of arrival. To apply, go to indianvisaonline. Be aware that a recent front-facing photograph with a white background needs to be uploaded at the end of the application (JPEG format) along with a scanned first page of your passport (PDF format).

Once the application is completed, you’ll need to pay a fee of $60 (£45) at least four days before the expected date of travel — the application takes 48-72 hours to process once the fee is paid and you’ll receive an email confirming whether the eTV is granted for that time period. You should carry a copy of your eTV when you travel. If you need any assistance in applying for the e-Tourist Visa, operators can apply on your behalf. For example, Greaves Travel can process the application for an administration fee of £30 plus visa fees of £45, payable to the High Commission of India.

health corner Q // I’m off to tour the Namib Desert. I don’t want to wear my specs, so what precautions should I take when wearing contact lenses?




November 2016





SNOW SURE Essential tips for finding great snow?


Stellar dendrite // The most common snowflake type and the best for skiing. ‘Dendritic’ means ‘tree-like’ and the crystals have branches and side branches. At 2-4mm in diameter, they’re easily visible to the naked eye.




POWDER: Dry snow composed of loose, fresh ice crystals. The best powder snow is made of stellar dendrites. NORTH FACE: Ski resorts with the greatest snowfall are both high and close to the northern or western periphery of the Alps. Such resorts include Avoriaz (France) and Lech/Zürs (Austria), all of which receive around 8 metres of snow at village level. WET SNOW: Around 3-6% water, dense and heavy: excellent for snowballs, not so good for skiing. Snow of this type mainly comprises larger flakes and falls on the windward side of coastal mountain ranges where moist air approaches from the sea.



10 quintillion

The saying ‘no two snowflakes are alike’ is impossible to prove but very likely to be the case, as each is made of 10 quintillion (1019) water molecules, formed in varied atmospheric conditions. Snowflakes differ wildly in shape depending on the temperature and humidity in which they form.

MAN-MADE Machine-made snow, fired onto the piste from snow cannons/guns, develops from water droplets, as opposed to the water vapour required for stellar dendrites. As as result, the compact clumps of ice they spit out have a liquid core; this is why the snowpack at a resort using artificial snow turns slushy and icy more quickly.



Snowflakes can take on almost any shape, but they are almost always symmetrical. In a typical year, about a million billion snowflakes fall every second. There are 35 distinct types of snowflake. Here are some of the most common.

























Skeletal branches of blanched coral are tangled on the seabed, like antlers fly-tipped from a ransacked hunting lodge. That might sound appealing to the sort of traveller who takes Edgar Allan Poe as holiday reading but most of us expect to see the Great Barrier Reef in living Technicolor. For the uninitiated, the thirdever global coral bleaching event has been sweeping reef systems around the globe for a couple of years now, with dire consequences for a number of holiday hotspots. Coral bleaching is commonly caused by the water in which it lives becoming too hot, causing the coral to turn white — hence the name. A strong El Niño phenomenon — a periodic surface temperature fluctuation around the equatorial Pacific Ocean — coupled with unusually warm ocean temperatures caused by climate change, have triggered the worst coral bleaching event in history. Now for the science part: corals get their colour from zooxanthella, a single-cell algae with which they share a symbiotic relationship. The zooxanthella nourishes its host with carbohydrates from photosynthesis, and even produces a pigment that absorbs UV rays, thought to act as a sunscreen to the coral. When corals become stressed, however, their relationship sours. As Mark Eakin, coordinator




The NOAA’s Mark Eakin says: “Coral bleaching has been increasing in frequency and intensity since it was first observed in the early ‘80s. Global-scale events in 1998 and the ongoing 2014-16 event show global warming is increasing the damage to corals.” HOW CAN WE HELP ?

Ditch fossil fuels. Buy an electric car, put up solar panels, and try to offset your carbon emissions if you’re going to fly. Prevention of pollution and overfishing is essential — the reefs need clean water to survive and require a delicate ecological balance.


of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch, explains: “High temperatures cause photosynthesis to run too fast, causing overworked chloroplasts to release compounds toxic to the coral.” The corals eject their unruly tenants to avoid being poisoned, leaving them an eerie white. This doesn’t just mean diving trips will be less colourful. When coral remains in its bleached state for a sustained period of time, it dies, and although coral reefs constitute just 0.1% of the ocean floor, they harbour a staggering 25% of all marine species. The knock-on effect from losing such a significant chunk of our ecosystem would have devastating repercussions.

Coral reefs also provide billions of people living in coastal communities with their main source of food protein and income, through fishing and tourism. Research even suggests corals have a role to play in breakthrough cancer treatments. This summer it was reported that 93% of the Great Barrier Reef has been affected by bleaching. But the devastation doesn’t end there. Coral bleaching has also struck Florida, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Japan’s Ryukyu Islands, the Red Sea and every other major reef region. A total of 60% of coral colonies assessed in the Maldives have been bleached; 80% of Kiribati’s are dead. Already at risk from rising sea levels, the Maldives really can’t afford to lose its reefs, which act as buffers against storm damage and weather events. In the Caribbean island of Bonaire, Fabien Cousteau, grandson of legendary oceanographer Jacques, is experimenting with 3D printing to build artificial coral. These sandstone and limestone structures will be virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, and it’s hoped they’ll attract fledgling coral polyps to build upon them and repair reef damage. The NOAA’s Mark Eakin is less optimistic: “It’s a bit like 3D-printing trees for a dead forest. Artificial reefs are exactly that: artificial.”






Website Vizeat connects foodies and local hosts around a meal at the host’s home or a foodie experience.

This experience-led platform allows travellers to locate and connect with locals with shared interests.

Touted as ‘Airbnb for food lovers’, Airdine connects travellers to homes that have become makeshift restaurants.

A peer-to-peer hosted accommodation network/ membership club aimed at travellers aged 50-plus.

Rental service allowing travellers to hire all manner of floating craft, skippered by locals or self-piloted.

November 2016







Hunka XL bivvy bag. RRP: £40.

in numbers

50 metres...

Terra Nova Jupiter Bivi. RRP: £300.

...from water sources. This is the ideal loo location (also downstream from other camp spots). Also dig a loo hole 20cm deep if you can, and carry paper out with your rubbish.


The number of places where it’s legal to wild camp in England: the Lake District and Dartmoor National Park.

100 metres

The distance you need to be from a road to wild camp in Scotland.


Nordisk Voss Diamond Sl. RRP: £90.


Wild camping means pitching up in an untamed, non-campsite environment. In many countries and regions, it’s a no-no. That said, convention dictates that people still flagrantly do it in some places. In the UK, Scotland offers endless legal wild camping terrain, but it’s largely illegal elsewhere. That said, if you get permission from the landowner and follow camper’s etiquette (see below), there are lots of places in the UK where you can wild camp.






Wild camping is free — that means zero pounds spent.

Be courteous, arrive at your destination late in the day and leave early doors, before walkers or farmers trip over you, leaving nothing behind. Don’t light a fire unless you’re sure it’s safe/ legal (carrying a stove means you shouldn’t need to light a camp fire). Always camp on high ground and keep your site discreet.

3. KNOW THE LIE OF THE LAND In exotic, wilderness areas, where you’re miles from the nearest town, you want to know what’s a risky spot. When setting up camp, check the ground for holes and crevices where spiders or scorpions might be lurking before laying a tarp. Dry riverbeds may make great flat camping spots, but ensure flash flooding isn’t a possibility.

4. TRAVEL LIGHT You need to be self-sufficient but the whole idea of wild camping is to get back to basics and feel free. The very basic wild camping essentials are: a tent or other shelter; sleeping bag and mat; compact stove, pot and spoon; basic food and water bottle; torch

and compass; and a rucksack lined with a drybag. The clothes you hike in are enough, plus an extra layer and hat.

5. TENT OR BIVVY BAG? You don’t need a tent to stay outdoors. From zip-up suspended hammocks to lightweight bivvy bags (a sleeping bag with an inbuilt mat), there are lots of options. However, in certain exotic camp spots you may need a tent to keep bugs and beasties at a safer distance. Keep your provisions sealed and away from sleeping areas. Snakes, for example, aren’t keen on human food but love to eat reptiles and insects that are attracted to food waste.

6. GRIN AND BEAR IT If you’re camping in the US or anywhere else that’s home to brown, black or grizzly bears, anything that smells makes you a sitting duck. Most US national parks that allow wild camping will have a bear locker at the trailhead to dump stuff you don’t need overnight (and this should include highly perfumed cosmetics/ toiletries). The rest should go in a bear canister — a tight cylinder with a Pooh-proof lid.

7. GO NORTH, MY FRIEND Wild camping in Norway and Sweden is considered a human right. Allemannsretten (right of public access for all, enshrined in law) means it’s easy to find a wild pitch throughout both countries. Pick your season carefully to avoid a plague of biting flies, and go north for the most dramatic destinations. Anywhere inside the Arctic Circle comes with the bonus of sleeping under the midnight sun. SARAH BARRELL


DD Frontline Hammock. RRP: £52.


Tech trave�er INSPIRATIONAL ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL From destination guides to accommodation reviews, a wide range of online resources caters to travellers with disabilities Booking the perfect trip can be stressful, but especially so if you’re travelling with a disability as traditional holiday companies offer precious little by way of information and advice. A good place to start if you’re doing the research yourself is, a free website to help find suitable accommodation. It offers 600 listings in 60 countries, and the entries are carefully curated. It’s also worth following its Twitter account (@Accomable), as it posts links to articles and features about accessible locations and other key issues for travellers with special requirements. Another good site to find venues and attractions is It aims to offer an unbiased view of how accessible certain sights and transport stops are for disabled people. Again, the Twitter feed (@AccessAdvisr) is a gold mine of useful information. posts regular podcasts about all things concerned with disabilities, with topics ranging from fashion to sex and politics. There’s a section dedicated to travel, with great advice about mobility aids and features to inspire you to take a hassle-free trip. If you want real inspiration and perhaps the confidence to get out and see the world, there are lots of great bloggers with disabilities who write about travel. Sian Wootton, an ME sufferer who describes herself as ‘Trying to live my life the best that I can and keep the ME in ME’, has a great blog: howtodealwithme.blogspot. Her section on travel tips is a great read (howtodealwithme. Another blog of note, jayonlife. com, is written by a Nigerian-born woman who suffers from polio. She writes about travelling with her disability in such a heartwarming and engaging way it’s impossible not to smile as you read. Her Twitter account (@herroyalj) has lots of uplifting and positive posts about accessible travel experiences.


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Peak Design’s travel bags One of my biggest frustrations with hand luggage and backpacks is trying to find stuff when you need it: at check-in desks or from between your knees on a crowded aeroplane. Peak Design’s new range of hightech travel bags achieved $1m of crowd-funded orders on Kickstarter in less

than 24 hours. With two sizes of backpack, a tote or sling, this collection comes with loads of adjustable internal compartments and external straps to keep your stuff organised and protected.

Designed by photographer and global adventurer, Trey Ratcliff, they’re ideal for travellers with high tech equipment such as camera kits and laptops to keep safe. From $155 (£188). @katerussell

November 2016







The Dujiangyan irrigation system is the world’s oldest — originally built around 256 BC by Li Bing and his team of labourers. Locals and visitors hang out on the historic bridges and enjoy the relief the breeze along the cool, fast-flowing river brings from the heat of the day. Restaurants, mostly serving fish, freshwater crab, shrimp and the occasional very large frog, line the river on either side. Arriving around three o’clock, I scouted the area for my shot. I knew I wanted to use a long exposure, so a tripod was a must; I set up and settled in. Sundown was between six and seven, giving me a three-hour wait for the scene to develop — lots of time for peoplewatching. Many would come and


As the sunlight faded, the river began to glow blue, contrasting against the orange and red street lights. I took the photograph I’d set up for, but now felt there was a more interesting story to be told.

lean on the rail staring motionless at the ferocious water churning below; they appeared hypnotised. I was set up for long exposures, my Nikon D800e and Nikon 1424mm F2.8 mounted firmly on my Vanguard Tripod. I had the ISO set to 100 for the long exposure, but now I needed to adjust for this scene to my right, the one I’d been avidly viewing most of the afternoon. I upped the ISO to 2000, setting my aperture to F7.1 to gain enough depth of field, and a shutter speed of 1/6th of a second, slow enough to blur movement, just fast enough to capture someone standing still, even just for a second. I watched, cable release in hand, as a lady stepped into the frame and looked

This feature can be found in our new free, digital-only Photography Magazine. iOS/Google Play/Amazon

along the river. I raised the mirror, counted to five to let any vibration settle and released the shutter. She stayed still while the people and river flowed around her; I’d got the shot. Scenes like this are hard to meter, I don’t use HDR; but that wouldn’t have worked — it had to be a one-exposure deal. Using the spot meter on my camera I found a good average setting, made two tests, reading my histogram to adjust slightly. With film, we expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights. With digital, we expose for the highlights and process for the shadows, looking after the highlights. @duncanlongden



Get to know India through its food, from Mumbai’s Parsi cafe culture to Goa’s Portuguese-inspired cuisine. Plus, the recipes and places that changed chefs’ taste buds forever


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Chris Stevens, PADI AmbassaDiver and travel blogger Manta rays are incredible to dive with as they effortlessly ‘fly’ underwater using their wings, which can have a span of over 20ft . The Maldives is home to over 2,000, which migrate year-round to different islands depending on the monsoon season. The best place to spot them is at pinnacles and cleaning stations (sections of reef where cleaner fish gather to pick dead skin and parasites off large marine animals and fish). The weaker currents here will suit less-advanced divers. The mating season (Oct/Nov and Mar/Apr) is when the rays are most numerous. The pinnacles are their favourite feeding grounds, where they take advantage of nutrient-rich currents being pushed towards the surface. This is the ideal place to dive alongside a group of mantas. DIVE RATING: Depends on the dive site, but at Manta Point all levels of diver (PADI Open Water Diver and up) depending on the current. DEPTH: Around 12 metres, but at other parts of the Maldives it’s possible to snorkel with manta rays too. HOW TO DO IT:

LEFT: Bait fish at

Sisters Rocks, Grenada


Jill Heinerth, technical diver, photographer and inaugural explorer-in-residence, Royal Canadian Geographical Society Having deftly manoeuvred the small craft into position, Georg Schmitt yells “Dive, dive!” and we quickly roll and splash, plunging rapidly towards the bottom. The flow catches us and we join a current that whisks us past giant soft corals, sea whips and bountiful gorgonians. Above us, purple Creole wrasse rain down as we look upward through the crystalline water to see our boat following our trail of bubbles. The stormy seas crash against the pillars of rock, creating a wash of white and turquoise, when suddenly the sky darkens and we’re engulfed in a cloud of bait fish. Huddling as a group, the fish pulse in the water, moving together in a murmuration of motion. My dive partner, Conny, points her camera towards the sky and the bait fish swirl in a vortex around her. A small shark zips below us, finding refuge in a cave, but it’s the bait fish that hold our attention. DIVE RATING: PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, comfortable with drift diving. DEPTH: 12-30 metres. Bait fish typically seen in 2-12 metres. HOW TO DO IT:


John Butland, sales executive, Regaldive, and PADI Advanced Open Water Diver You can bet that pretty near the top of every diver’s wish list is an encounter with the biggest fish in the sea, the whale shark, a filter feeder that lives in warm tropical climes and lives up to 80 years. My chance to tick that one off came a few years ago while on a liveaboard in Oman. It was right place, right time: autumn. The first encounters were while snorkelling, which is good, but I hoped better was to come. It eventually happened when we were least expecting it. We were diving on a pretty reef, looking for tiny critters, when I caught sight of something big out of the corner of my eye. I was amazed to see an eight-metre whale shark cruise by just above us. They can grow up to 12 metres, so not the biggest, but still pretty impressive. And while they can move fast when they want to, this one just took a lazy swim past, giving us as long as possible to enjoy the view. DIVE RATING: PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent, with 30-plus dives. DEPTH: Max 30 metres. FIND OUT MORE: To see whale sharks in the autumn in Oman or year-round in the Maldives, contact Regal Dive.

November 2016


An intimAte hAven mAde for two vAbbinfA ru, m A ldi v e s

Sanctuary For The Senses Ba nya n t r ee .com


Freediving with dolphins, Mozambique




Patrick Voorma, PADI regional manager South Africa & subSaharan Africa I’d just finished a dive when someone shouted that there was a shark behind me. I turned and saw a fin disappear three metres away. Thinking it was a whale shark, I grabbed my camera and finned towards where it’d gone. The visibility wasn’t good and I swam into the side of a huge great white shark. I don’t know who was more surprised. She had massive eyes that looked straight through me, then she was gone. DIVE RATING: PADI Advanced Open Water Diver. DEPTH: 30 metres. HOW TO DO IT: Great white encounters off Durban are scarce; most divers head to Aliwal Shoal (off KwaZulu-Natal).


Mat Howell, dive specialist & travel consultant, Dive Worldwide The mimic octopus is the only creature known to mimic multiple animals. What’s more, it’s clever enough to select which creature to impersonate to present the greatest threat to its most imminent predator. Scientists have observed the octopus mimicking the banded sea snake while under attack from damselfishes; other impersonations have included a lionfish and a flatfish. They’re most often seen in the Lembeh Strait, Indonesia, though I’ve spotted them in the eastern corner of Bohol, a Philippine island. DIVE RATING: PADI Open Water Diver and up. DEPTH: Areas with sand or silt at depths of under 15 metres. HOW TO DO IT:

Two young males leave the pod and swim around me, the coveted ‘circle-swim’, the dolphin equivalent of a hug and friendship

Hanli Prinsloo, freediver, ocean conservationist and founder of I AM WATER Ocean Travel It starts with intense waiting: your eyes are small slits against the sun reflecting off the water, your whole body tensed, waiting for that flash of dorsal fin or cloud of breath. Then a sleek grey body leaps out the back of a wave and a shout goes up: “There! In the surf!”. Now we watch. It looks like they’re playing — good; we don’t get in the water with pods that are sleeping or mating. Then... it’s a go! Masks on, deep breath, and a quiet slide off the boat. Suddenly, the water is alive with the clicking and whistling of 20-plus dolphins. We hear them before we see them, as they scan us. ‘Who are you? What are your intentions? Want to play?’ With one big breath and a strong kick down, I leave the sun and accept their invitation. Two young males leave the pod and swim around me, the coveted ‘circle-swim’, the dolphin equivalent of a hug and friendship. Keeping eye contact, I swim faster and faster as they set the pace without seeming to move a flipper. A mother and baby come in close — miniature light-grey body, still slightly uncoordinated, sticking close to mum’s side, always touching as they race alongside me. Is the mother showing me her young one, or is she showing me to the baby? Together, we swim to the surface and I gasp for a breath, echoed by the puffs of dolphins breathing around us. We are kin; cousins of a kind as they breathe and weave and play around us. DIVE RATING: Swimming ability. DEPTH: 3-10 metres. HOW TO DO IT:

November 2016





Ally Toullec, PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and staff blogger at Sea Sand & Fins Finding your first pygmy seahorse is really quite magical, and will make you feel pretty proud. Not only is it the smallest seahorse species in the world, but it’s a master of disguise, frequently hiding in matching coloured sea fans. This camouflage expert is so good, it wasn’t until 1969 that it was discovered, completely by accident, in New Caledonia. To spot it, you’ll have to be patient — although that’s no bad thing; it’s a great opportunity to test your buoyancy control! DIVE RATING: PADI Open Water Diver and up. DEPTH: From 16-40 metres. HOW TO DO IT:


Birgitta Mueck, PADI AmbassaDiver and guide at Waterproof Expeditions There’s something magical about snorkelling just above the Arctic Circle, in the far north of Norway, where you can spot the Northern Lights and some fantastic wildlife below. It’s here you can find one of the world’s largest gathering of orcas. November to February is the best time to go, when large shoals of herring seek shelter in the fjords of Troms before migrating south to spawn. These attract the orcas, as well as huge amounts of humpback whales. DIVE RATING: You should be in good health and have previous snorkelling experience. DEPTH: Surface snorkelling. HOW TO DO IT:

There’s something magical about snorkelling just above the Arctic Circle, in the far north of Norway, where you can spot the Northern Lights and fantastic wildlife below

TURTLES: Take a turtle-tagging safari at Amanyara, Turks & Caicos, to help conserve these endangered turtles. amanyara SEALS: The UK is home to half the world’s population of grey seals, with large colonies on the Isles of Scilly and the Farne Islands. SEA LIONS: If you dive with these curious creatures around San Diego and Monterey, California, don’t be surprised if one has a little nibble of your wetsuit. PENGUINS: Head to Academy Bay in the Galápagos Islands to dive around Bartolomé and see cute Galápagos penguins glide through the water. academybaydiving. com TIGER AND HAMMERHEAD

SHARKS: Close encounters are guaranteed at Tiger Beach or Cat Island, Bahamas, where the hammerheads can reach up to 18ft in length.

Two killer whales surfacing with a

seabird fl ying over, Andfjorden, Norway




Join a liveaboard exploring Australia’s Barrier Reef, where a large population can be found on Ribbon Reefs, May-July.


See the world you thought you knew, from a whole new perspective. Discover breath taking beauty and serenity below the surface. Experience life changing adventures and encounters others can only dream about.

Become a PADI Open Water Diver

Learn to dive. Get your PADI. Find your nearest dive centre.



t was a day like any other. Rickshaw drivers, feet balanced on bike handlebars, were stealing 40 winks while waiting for a fare. Street-savvy dogs nosed the litter and stallholders were plying bananas and trusses of tomatoes. And then, at four minutes to noon on 25 April 2015 — while many were still digesting their mid-morning dal bhat — a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. In the first 50 seconds, and during devastating aftershocks, 600,000 homes were levelled, killing 8,856 people — 22,309 people were injured. “It was fearsome,” says Hari, my Kathmandu guide, one year on. “Everyone slept outside in the street, food prices soared and roads were blocked.” Hari — who has a dusting of grey hair at his temples and a fresh red tika dotted on his forehead from temple — is showing me around the capital’s UNESCOlisted Durbar Square whose ancient temples bore the brunt of the damage. Crumbling bricks cascade onto the street like spilt sand. Fragments of carved stone and wood are propped up, awaiting repair. On the outskirts are a dozen tented camps, funded by USAID and the Red Cross, to


house those whose homes are still too fragile to live in. An elderly lady is sweeping the earth outside her canvas shelter, while above her droops a mass of electricity wires, as tangled as liquorice laces. Rebuilding of the central Durbar Square and Swoyambhu Buddhist stupa complex, aka Monkey Temple, was slowed while they waited for permissions from UNESCO — a three-year rehabilitation project was given the green light in April. The earthquake was Nepal’s worst natural disaster in 80 years. In fact, the damage may have been prolonged by the West’s reaction: tourism is key to the Nepalese economy and it took nearly 10 months for the US and UK to lift their travel bans to the country, despite only 14 of the 75 districts being affected. Well, it’s time to go back! I hop into a taxi and head straight for the hills. Neydo Buddhist Monastery sits above the town of Pharping, 15 miles south of Kathmandu. Tourists can sleep in its simple guesthouse and attend puja (prayer ritual) at dawn. The barks of local dogs lever me from my bed, and I pass under prayer flags trembling in the breeze as I climb the steps to the monastery. I slip off my shoes and

tiptoe inside. Every column and wall is covered in paintings and I’m the only tourist. I sit crosslegged on the floor and watch as the rising sun filters through the roof down onto the almighty statue of Amitabha Buddha, whose palm is raised as if to wave ‘hello’. I watch him slowly turning golden as the monks — some as young as six — chant their prayers; their voices meld together to form a deep hum. Occasionally, they turn their hand-written prayer sheets or blast their breath into a conch shell.

Let bygones be bygones

The eldest monk opens the great doors behind me and a cold wind rushes in. “Would you like to move to the side,” he asks. “Mind you, cold is just a state of mind,” he winks. Once prayers are concluded we walk barefoot together through the monastery. In a twist of fate, he’s named Karma. How has the earthquake affected people, I ask. “They stay together,” he says, pulling a Samsung smartphone out of his robes to check the time. “Any arguments were forgotten and now families are much closer.” After the earthquake, many set up homestays to earn a living, he

adds. Indeed, it’s one of the best ways for visitors to direct cash to the people who need it. As it happens, UK-based responsibletour operator Rickshaw Travel arranges stays with local families and I’ve come to try some. It’s mid-afternoon when I’m dropped outside the four-storey townhouse of 37-year-old Shila Amatya. She whisks my bag off my back and ushers a cup of chai — milky masala-spiced tea — into my hands. “From now on you’re not a guest and I’m not a host,” she beams, so I seat myself on a wicker stool and watch while she entertains customers who’ve come to buy hair dye, earrings, panty liners or phone cards from her open-fronted shop. Shila is one of 15 families in Panauti — one of the oldest towns in Nepal, southeast of Kathmandu — that run a homestay cooperative. Guests are rotated between the families to ensure even distribution of earnings, with 80% going to the host and 20% going to the collective for projects such as scholarships for poor children and a new community hall. “I’m a hairdresser too,” she says, pointing to a worn leather chair facing a broad browning mirror on the wall. I pull at my own messy

November 2016





HE DESPERATELY DREAMS OF GOING BACK TO DIE IN THE LAND HE WAS BORN IN locks and frown at the split ends that haven’t seen a pair of scissors in over a year. “Would you cut mine,” I say. “Of course,” she replies, whipping a silky black coverall off a peg and laying it across my shoulders. “I’ll give you a modern Nepali style.” Her sister-in-law, Ambika, and 15-year-old daughter, Amy, look on, amused, as she shears off a clump of hair. In 15 minutes I’m lighter and redesigned — a bargain at around £1.50. “What’s for tea tonight, Mum?” I tease. “We’re having a momo party,” she says — dumplings. We gather round the kitchen table in the basement. Amy rolls out small circles of the flour-and-water dough, while Shila and I massage grated water buffalo meat, onion, garlic, coriander, ginger and masala spices together. I watch as she spoons a little into the centre of the floury circle and nips the edges together into a neat little bundle. I try to copy but fail. “Pinch and release, pinch and release,” she says. “What time does the electricity cut out tonight,” Shila asks her daughter. Amy shrugs and, comically, we’re plunged into darkness five minutes later. We continue rolling by torchlight. Once steamed, we dip the parcels into homemade tomato pickle and take sneaky sips of the alcoholic home-brew raksi. Like the tectonic plates beneath it, Nepali culture is a meeting of Indian, Nepali and Tibetan influences, so for my second homestay we drive to the Tibetan settlement of Jampaling on the outskirts of Pokhara — Nepal’s second-largest city. We overtake pimped-up trucks with handpainted bumper stickers asking drivers behind them to ‘Care-Full Drive’ or ‘Bolw Horn’, and pass leafless silkwood trees whose bright-red blossoms burst from the tips of branches like fireworks, until the snow-covered triangle of Machapuchare (Fishtail Mountain) juts above the horizon. My Tibetan guide Thupten Gyatso, is waiting

by the roadside. We shake hands through the window, then he jumps astride his moped and motions for us to follow him along a deeply rutted dirt track that weaves down to the Seti River. When we stop, the wood smoke wrinkles my nostrils and roundabout coloured prayer flags flutter from every beam and rooftop. Home to around 600 people, Jampaling was established in 1975 to house refugees fleeing the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. It is one of 12 such places in Nepal. “I was a year old when we arrived,” says Thupten. “My father had been ‘rich’ with 10,000 sheep and 1,000 yaks, but we had to exchange jewellery for food. Many died on the journey. He remembers vultures circling in the sky.” Thupten has led us into the compound of his sister’s house, where his father — now in his late 80s — sits on the floor weaving wool on an ancient spinner. “He desperately dreams of going back to die in the land he was born in.”

Further trials

We meander through the village, visiting the school and snacking on strips of dried water-buffalo skin from the community shop. Displaced Tibetans have been in exile for more than 50 years. The earthquake is just another setback for them. “Tibetans arriving after 1989 were denied Nepali passports,” says Thupten. “Even if you study to become a doctor, you can’t get a job because you need citizenship to work.” It’s getting dark and time for Thupten to drive back to town. His sister, Nangsa, and I wave him goodbye from the gate and wander inside to finish preparing dinner. Her ebony hair trails to her waist and I watch her, standing in her slippers behind the gas-ring cooker, as she carves off a chunk of drying chakampo (water buffalo meat) and dices it into a blackened skillet with some onions. Her father sits in the corner fingering his red prayer beads, his lips

moving silently. She hands me an ‘I Love Tibet’ mug brimming with po cha (salty butter tea), and we dip kabse — a rock-hard traditional Tibetan snack made from fried flour — into the hot liquid, listening to the rain battering the corrugated tin roof. On her phone, she shows me photos of her three children. “I only see them for two months a year, the rest of the time they are at school in India,” she says. After eating, we pass the time painting my nails with glitter-laced polish and, in broken English, she teaches me how to play the card game ‘marriage’. Warsang, the family’s white Japanese Spitz lapdog — small as a wind-up toy — has a barking fit every time I slip out of the gate to go to the toilet. When it’s late, Nangsa shows me to a bed set up in their altar room. A buttermilk candle, the sole light source, shows up posters of Lhasa and the Dalai Lama. Drizzle marks the next morning. Even Warsang is quiet and happy to huddle inside his hutch, as I wander outside to the water pump to brush my teeth. Sitaram, my driver arrives and signals it’s time to go. Nangsa runs to her ageing chest of drawers and fishes out a white scarf and places it tenderly around my neck. “For a safe journey and prosperous life,” she whispers, pressing her hands together in prayer and bowing her head. I break tradition and give her a huge hug. Two days after I leave, Prince Harry flies in for a royal visit. As part of his five-day tour he spends the night in Leorani village at the home of 86-year-old Mrs Mangali Gurung, the widow of a World War II Gurkha soldier, whose house was destroyed by the quake. Back home at my desk, I recall words Thupten said to me: “For us, death is more important than birth. Not that we wish to die sooner, but rather we look forward to our rebirth.” It’s an apt motto for Nepal, which from the rubble deserves a new beginning.

PREVIOUS PAGES: Earthquake rubble

in the UNESCO-listed Durbar Square in Kathmandu

CLOCKWISE: Overlooking the farming fields surrounding Panauti; Ambika, sari seamstress, Panauti village; buying Pani Puri with Amy (Shila’s daughter), Panauti; Buddhist prayer flags fluttering above the Tibetan settlement of Jampaling

HOW TO DO IT RICKSHAW TRAVEL builds responsible-tourism holidays from a series of bite-size trips. These include ‘In the Foosteps of Buddha’, ‘Warm Welcomes in Nepal’, ‘Hiking to Ancient Newari Villages’ and ‘At Home with the Tibetans’, which cost £45-£445 per person based on two sharing. Flights can be arranged too. A 15-day single-entry visa can be bought on arrival at Tribhuvan airport from $25 (£19). Two passport photos are required.


November 2016




ndia’s great Laureate Poet Rabindranath Tagore was always deeply moved by Nature. And wherever he travelled his poetry and writings were beautifully inspired by the wonder of the natural settings he was journeying through. It comes as no surprise then that he felt strongly enough about the magic of Spring to introduce the celebrations of that loveliest of Indian seasons—‘Basant’, heralded by the festival of Holi, to the beautiful Vishvabharati University he had set up. The university is situated at Shantiniketan, in the charming pastoral expanses of Bhirbhum district, on the outskirts of Calcutta—the Kolkata of today. For Tagore Basant was one of the most joyous festivals of India. It is a time when the mind and body became one with Nature —which had emerged young and rejuvenated once again, from the fold of winter. Seeing how beautifully it was received by the students, who threw themselves wholeheartedly into the spirit of the festival with traditional prayer and music, dance and

colour— he decided to make it an annual fixture on the University’s calendar. The refined celebration of Shantiniketan’s Basanta Utsav has made it a hallmark of a great cultural experience—making it one of West Bengal’s most alluring tourist attractions.


Held on the occasion of Holi in the month of March on the university grounds, the Basanta Utsav celebrations are participated in by the students and teachers and its alumni. The festival attracts thousands of people from home and abroad


Tagore initially set up an experimental openair school with the idea of educating students in close proximity to nature. He felt that children should spend time amidst nature, which it-self is a great educator. While it has accommodated the needs of today, in essence and ambience the university continues to maintain Tagore’s vision of education in the

For more log on to


midst of Nature. The Pous Mela held at the end of December celebrates the founding of the university.


Tagore’s Ashram, Uttarayan Complex, Kala Bhavana (College of Art) Vidya Bhavana (Institute of Humanities), Rabindra Bhavana, Sriniketan, Amar Kutir, Patha Bhavana, Sangeet Bhavana (Institute of Dance, Drama and Music), Siksha Bhavana (Institute of Science) and (Institute of Agricultural Sciences).

Hangin’ with the locals... With a kick of my flippers, a bustling community of locals came into view. A school of neonyellow tang fluttered by. A bobbing turtle leisurely crunched on a reef-made lunch. And looking closer, the wide eyes of an eel peeped from a crack in the shadows. Every nook teemed with life. Snorkeling, island-style.

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The £19.50 price applies to UK subscribers paying by Direct Debit. Prices for credit card payments and overseas delivery vary. The full UK subscription rate is £39.50 for 10 issues. To find out more call: 01293 312166. All gifts are subject to availability. Hoodie sizes are: S/M/L /XL and XXL. If no stock is available an alternative gift with the same or higher value will be offered. Gifts are dispatched to the person paying for the subscription within 4 weeks of the order being received. All Christmas gift orders will start with the March issue which will be posted out to recipients during the first week of February. All non-gifted subscriptions will start with the next available issue. Closing date for Early Bird offers is 30/11/2016. Final closing date for all Christmas Gift orders is 31 December 2016. If you are not completely satisfied, you may cancel your subscription at any time during the first 7 days following a payment by calling 01293 312166 and we will give you a full refund, otherwise a minimum subscription period of 12 months applies. National Geographic Traveller (UK) is published by APL Media Limited. Company no: 3393234. VAT 701391176. Registered office: 30 City Road, London EC1Y 2AB.






Room with a view

I’m a relatively new subscriber to National Geographic Traveller (UK) and enjoyed reading the ‘Rooms with a View’ feature in the July/August issue. The piece reminded me of an amazing place my wife and I stumbled upon last year in Africa: the Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa on the Oribi Gorge, an hour or so south and inland from Durban. Our room felt like it was right on the edge of the gorge and the area has so much to offer — from the longest zip-line in Africa to game-driving and fabulous nature walks. The place itself is so beautiful that it was used as the setting for some scenes in the Hollywood blockbuster Blood Diamond.

Readers, this is your space. Let us know what you think about the magazine, give us your unique travel tips or simply ask us a question. Get Instagramming, emailing or tweeting!



Next issue’s star letter wins a Vel-Oh Commuter Bag worth £185! Designed by cycling couture brand Vel-Oh, the versatile Commuter Bag can be used as both a backpack and a tote. The stylish bag is crafted from high-quality, 100% waxed cotton that helps to keep its contents dry, and features superstrong pouch magnets and chunky leather straps.



Big Apple & beyond


As a member of airline cabin crew, I often have stopovers in New York City — so it was great to read your ‘Tales from the Five Boroughs’ feature in the October issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK). We stay in Long Island but many of our crew seem reluctant to explore anything other than Manhattan. If I mentioned checking out The Bronx to most of them, the suggestion would be met with shock, horror and fear that they wouldn’t come back alive! I have high hopes that on my next trip to the Big Apple your article — along with my enthusiasm — will convince my colleagues to venture into uncharted territory and broaden their horizons of this amazing city. Thanks! JONNY HOPPS

Twee twee

Going it alone

As the subject of solo travel has come up in recent issues, I’d like to share a few tips with females travelling on their own. I recently returned from a solo trip around the world, having visited 23 countries in 21 months. The most important rules are: don’t do that what you wouldn’t do at home, and spend a little extra money on taxis instead of walking. Observe people around you and listen; even in a different language you can usually sense something out of the norm. When staying in hostels, always remember to lock your expensive belongings away (bring your own lock) and never leave your things unattended. Finally, never be afraid to ask for help from strangers should you fi nd yourself in an uneasy situation. ALEXANDRA WAGNER

Tips on wild camping kit?

@KIERANCAIN Always pack a pair of flip flops for post-hike feet freedom, fireside lounging & late night trips out of the tent // @NGAIREACKERLEY Take a head torch — never underestimate the need for the simplest gadgets and objects when camping // @JOHNNY_MET We tend to pack our insecurities. You always need less than you think #wildcamping #NGTUK SEE OUR WILD CAMPING TIPS, P.160

Tag your Instagram pics with #NGTUK for the chance to see your snap as our Photo of the Week






November 2016



our Pictures


We give you a theme, you give us the photos, with the best published in the next issue. This month is ‘New York’ — the theme of our October 2016 cover story Paul Caddy’s winning entry really caught our eye. Thanks to the misty night, the image almost appears to be a vintage, monotone photograph — but then the punch of colour brings you back to the 21st century and reminds you of New York’s vibrancy.

The theme: ‛India’. Upload your high-res image (one for each category only), plus a sentence describing your shot, to by 10 November 2016.


The winner will receive an award-winning Sony RX10 III — a premium fi xed-lens bridge camera, which helps capture enthralling stills and movies in up to 4K quality. It features a large-aperture optical 25x telephoto zoom lens and 1-inch stacked CMOS sensor. RRP: £1,549.


1 PAUL CADDY // SALFORD: On a miserable, foggy night in Manhattan, I loved the contrast between the colourful neon of the hot dog stand and the dark sky behind the Empire State Building. 2 REBECCA RADMORE // LONDON: A skater boy glides over the Williamsburg Bridge on a hazy summer’s evening. Despite the bridge’s wonderful frenzy of geometric shapes in steel, concrete, paint and shadow, the suspension and the wide expanse of water and sky all around create a feeling of calm. 3 RICHARD BROMLEY GARDNER // LONDON: This is the Financial District in downtown New York, on a wet and windy evening. I love that the pilings in the water draw the eye in to the imposing skyscrapers that resonate with the brooding sky above.

To find out more about the next theme, to enter and for T&Cs visit NATGEOTRAVELLER.CO.UK


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