Category Travel

Sun, sea and civil war: holidaying in Myanmar

In the grand lobby of a Yangon hotel, a senior Myanmar tourism official told me she was meeting government officials to “rebrand” the country to focus international attention on pristine beaches instead of conflict and military atrocities. It was March 2018, and Myanmar was governed by an elected civilian administration. But instead of standing up […]

Guns, not monks, at monastery on Myanmar’s Thai border

CHIANG MAI PROVINCE, Thailand — In a different world, Wat Fah Wiang Inn would symbolize the power of faith to transcend the borders between two largely Buddhist nations. Trust and tolerance, not guns, would hallmark this monastery straddling the Myanmar and Thailand border in the hazy Shan Hills, which stretch from Yunnan in China through […]

Myanmar’s nascent surfers make waves

(Nikkei Asian Review, October 2018) NGWE SAUNG, Myanmar — From a beachside perch next to a group of sunburned Japanese surfers, betelnut seller Let Let Khine studies a reedy figure being swallowed by a meter-high swell. It is the first time she has seen anyone on a surfboard. The surfer, her son Myat Thura Aung, […]

The Last Days of the Mekong Snake Hunters

(Roads and Kingdoms, August 2016) Trampling through thick vegetation off a remote trail near the southeastern coast of Vietnam, Ba looks back, grinning boyishly, and then dives into a wall of green. All morning, the 36-year-old snake hunter had been taciturn, guarded, but now, under a scorching midday sun in the Mekong Delta, he’s suddenly […]

The Roof of Indochina

(Oi Vietnam, July 2016) An easy 20-minute cable car ride versus an arduous two-day trek to Mt. Fansipan I was wiping the sweat off my brow, scanning the jungle canopy we had just broken through, when the old Australian took his first fall. Seventy-two-year-old Will missed his footing and the pull of his backpack threatened […]

Crocodiles bite back in Vietnam

(AsiaLIFE, January 2016) Commercial crocodile farming in Vietnam has soared since its introduction 30 years ago, with most of the activity taking place in the Mekong. Lorcan Lovett visits one of Saigon’s largest farms to explore the reptiles’ story. On 29 September 2012, the bulky body of a Siamese crocodile was found floating in Ea […]

Meet Sapa’s Ultimate Guide

(Oi Vietnam, August 2015) A few dozen groggy tourists shuffle off the sleeper train and board a transfer bus to Sapa, one of Vietnam’s top destinations. Inaudible slurs on the bus develop into excited chatter as they beam at guidebook photographs of terraced rice paddies swirling around lush green hills, a trademark image of the […]

Saigon’s hidden resistance

(Oi Vietnam, July 2015) Pho Binh, or Peace Soup, is a modest restaurant churning out pho bo, Vietnam’s traditional beef noodle soup, just like hundreds of others in Ho Chi Minh City. However, hungry customers who venture to the second floor of the three-storey house will witness the room where men and women debated, planned […]

A Walt Disney fantasia of the East

(Oi Vietnam, June 2015.) It’s minutes before noon when a flurry of arrivals stir people from the blistering heat. Monks draped in flowing white robes, along with nuns and priests, stride across the baked asphalt to the airy relief of a vast temple in southwestern Vietnam. Visitors slip off their shoes and enter through a […]

Bradt Travel Guide co-founder shares her globetrotting adventures

(, Buckinghamshire Advertiser and Buckinghamshire Examiner, 2014) Travel writing – the two words spark images of adventure and romance. So it is fitting to imagine a travel writing series beginning, say, with an intrepid couple tapping on a borrowed typewriter as they float on a barge down an Amazon tributary. This was the case for Hilary […]