A Kimono Story

  The first time I wore a kimono I was ten years old. I had been catapulted into the humid Japanese summer on a school exchange. Everything felt surreal and vivid. In a small mountain town during Tanabata, star festival, I was dressed in a pink and purple kimono by my host family, and we […]

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Meditation on skepticism

From the outset, I had an inkling that Hariharalaya yoga and mediation retreat, near Siem Reap in Cambodia, would be a pretty hippy and new-agey place. As someone who has been known to wear long, multi-coloured skirts with little bells on them, I probably am not in a position to be too judgemental. But if […]

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Words on meditation

In a post-Eat Pray Love world, self-discovery is as integral to travel as having cocktails on exotic beaches and taking selfies. Accordingly, when I was in Cambodia, I got on the bandwagon and went to a yoga and meditation retreat in a village outside of Siem Reap. I’d done yoga sporadically over the previous five […]

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Table for one – learning to travel alone

Before I actually tried it, the idea of travelling overseas on my own made me anxious. I wasn’t concerned about being lonely. The few times I had travelled alone in my own country I’d loved the sense of freedom and time for reflection that it gave me. What I was worried about was dealing with […]

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Why you need to be mentally tough to work in conservation

A few days after leaving Vietnam I found myself in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Something in my bathroom was leaking a clear fluid (hopefully clean water) all over the floor, and Don, the American expat-owner of my guesthouse, who had lived in Cambodia for 20-odd years, was hunched over the toilet trying to fix it. We […]

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Getting high in the conservation trenches of Vietnam

My volunteer stint at Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) began with a baptism of fire. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had been eating lunch at the sleepy village restaurant with a couple of other volunteers when SVW’s director Thai cruised past on his motorbike. They were going to rescue 22 pangolins that had been found smuggled […]

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The problem with the ‘poor but happy’ myth

‘They have so little but they’re so happy!’ I’ve heard this so many times from fellow travellers. The inference usually being that local people in the country they’ve visited are much happier than us stressed-out, time-poor and anti-depressant-popping westerners. I know it comes from a well-meaning place, but this statement makes me feel really uneasy. I’m […]

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Welcome to the world of the plastic beach: Halong Bay

When in Vietnam, doing a cruise on Halong Bay is apparently a non-negotiable itinerary item. If you are foolish enough to say you might skip Halong Bay, you will be treated by locals and other tourists alike as a stupid and miserly pariah. I had no doubt that thousands of limestone pinnacles rising out of […]

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The Graduation

It was 8 AM in the Sumatran village of Lempur. I emerged bleary-eyed from my homestay bedroom to find myself surrounded by high school beauty queens, giggling and chattering as they sparkled in colourful dresses and elaborate headscarfs. They all wanted selfies with me so, despite my dishevelled state, I dutifully complied. It was graduation […]

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Searching for the real thing in Sumatra

Since I was little, I’ve been drawn to rainforest. The way it drips with life. Like a promise that organic life on this lonely planet will live on forever. And anyone who loves rainforest dreams of going to Sumatra, a place where the romantic jungle of storybooks still exists in this age of the anthropocene. Most […]

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