Ancient Angkor: Stories in the Stone
The history of the Khmer Empire is written in the ruins at Angkor, from ancient Roluos to Hindu Angkor Wat & the Buddhist Bayon
The Reincarnated Capital: A History
Southeast Asian history is mostly the story of competing city-states like Bangkok and Ayutthaya, which are reincarnations, in their way, of one another, with the same karma.
A Sunday Service Among the Akha
In Mae Salong, a Chinese minister and his wife invited us to a Sunday service, attended mostly by the Akha, one of Thailand’s hill tribes.
Luang Prabang: The Elements of Heritage
Luang Prabang is a riddle that photographs can solve. It is a town popular with tourists and a World Heritage site, but it rarely feels [...]
The Chinese of Vientiane
A portrait of the Chinese immigrants transforming Laos’ sleepy capital.
The Curse of Gokarna
Gokarna is a village growing awkwardly and uncomfortably into a town. It is in this sense an adolescent, unsure of itself in the modern world, but in every other sense Gokarna is old, with a history that stretches into the remotest parts of human memory.
Bubbling Over: Attukal Pongala
Celebrated in the South Indian city Trivandrum, the Attukal Pongala Festival is the largest annual gathering of women in the world.
Mark Twain visited Varanasi in 1895, while following the equator around the world. “Benares” he wrote, referring to the city by its Raj era name, [...]
India’s Touts: Journal Entry, Day 75
India’s touts treat tourists like walking wallets. Why should tourists treat them any better?
Holi: India’s Festival of Colours
Two days ago, the Times of India’s Delhi insert included an article on the “ten dirtiest things crazy revellers had played Holi with.” It was impenetrable, like so [...]
Murudeshwar and the Millionaire
The ancient temple at Murudeshwar in Kerala, India, is like a Hindu Disneyland. It has the largest gopuram in the world, and even the dustbins seem borrowed from the idea of a theme park.
One Minute at Attukal Pongala
Claire is writing a post about it, but in the meantime here is a short, shaky clip from the Attukal Pongala Festival. (That post is [...]
Hyderabad / Cyberabad
I awoke to the muffled beeping of my mobile phone’s alarm, heard through airline issue earplugs and the metal of the train clattering on its [...]
Backwaters and Beer Teapots in Cochin
The train rattled along, inducing in me the sluggish fatigue of rock-rocking train travel and blanketing heat. I sat atop a wooden luggage rack in [...]
Mysore: The Demon, the Goddess and the Indian Prince
Mysore, which was one of India’s most important princely states, traces its history back to a Hindu goddess and a demon doing battle on Chamundi Hill.
A predawn haze lit the kilometre of road before us. We trudged along it, still groggy from the half hearted slumber of our bus ride [...]
Sharia ath-Thawra was a jumble of shining yellow taxis, fearlessly zipping between moving metal. Their drivers rested weary elbows on horns, hooting, blind to all [...]
Ramazan in Istanbul
“Allaaahuu Akbaarr.” The muezzin paused, drew breath. I held out a public phone’s plastic receiver, stretching the wire, and hoped my father on the other [...]
Misadventures in Rome
A single coin thrown into the Trevi Fountain, with your right hand, over your left shoulder, is said to ensure a return to Rome. The [...]
An earthy rainbow of suede belts hung from rows of open air market stalls, iron railings groaned under the weight of plush leather jackets. Wallets [...]
Dodging traffic in London, chests heaving, burdened by still unfamiliar and uncomfortable backpacks, Claire and I started our ambitious trip, on a tight budget, through [...]
An almost missed bus drew the two of us into Oxford, bleary eyed and recovering from my birthday, celebrated over the previous two days. I’d [...]