Crowded House on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

In the world of an arts PhD candidate, living on less than minimum wage, it is worth making the most out of the one extra source of candidature-related finance available: conference funding. Last year I managed to wring enough out of two funds to get to a Victorian Studies Conference and Steampunk festival in England,…

Constructing the Roof of Indochina

The roof of Indochina – the last foothill of the Himalayas before the ocean and the highest peak of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam – is a construction site. By the time you read these words, these images from Christmas Eve of 2014 will be almost irrelevant. The speed of change and the appetite for construction…

Impressions of Hanoi

My trip to Vietnam actually began in a most quintessentially Australian manner. It was 3am, and the alarm had ended the three hours of sleep I’d had since I’d finished packing. A few more minutes of sleep were tempting… but at 4am I was facing 21 hours of transport before Hanoi, and the temptation of…

Cat Ba: Exploring Ha Long Bay without a cruiseship

“Well, it’s definitely cheaper. Instead of being locked up on a boat we can choose a new place to have dinner every night!” The speaker gestures at the waterfront strip of restaurants with his 5,000 dong beer*. “And we get to do different things each day, like kayaking and rock climbing and motorbiking. Yeah, being…

Only 60 Miles to Scotland

It all started on a dark and stormy night… which isn’t an uncommon thing in England, since there’s only a small number of daylight hours and it’s always raining, at least in the Cumbrian winter. I was living as a volunteer in the Lakes District at the time, and I’d just seen the Rydal Hall…

Tanzania, I presume – Safari and Safari Blue

NAAAAAAAAAA TSA BENYAAAAAAAA BABA ITSI BABAAAAAAAAA! * Apologies to my Zulu friends, but it was this poor reproduction of the opening words to the song “Circle of Life” from Walt Disney’s The Lion King that was most definitely going through my head as the sun rose over the Serengeti behind a pair of giraffes. In…

Tanzania, I presume – Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro

“Hakuna Matata!” I grin, though I am still not sure whether the local Tanzanians would actually employ these words quite so often if Disney’s The Lion King had not made the Swahili phrase so famous. I’ve already heard it half a dozen times since landing in Kilimanjaro International Airport two days before, though there seem…

A Winter’s Tale of Tasmania

I am not a Tasmanian. Yet in spite of this, the southern isle always feels like home to me, and flying into Hobart a week after the winter solstice was no different. The quarantine beagle nosing items on the baggage carousel felt like a familiar friend, and – as I discovered to my amusement some…