“Why don’t you like the UK?” I hadn’t expected the question and, to be honest, didn’t have much of an answer. I don’t dislike the UK, I don’t really think about it all that much. I just don’t want to … Continue reading
Southeast Asia has been reinventing itself in the reflection of tourists’ expectations for a long time now. Similarly, tourists project a reality onto Southeast Asia – and Vietnam specifically – that has never really existed. This is where they come to lose themselves, get their hair braided, buy long baggy clothes, discuss the natural simplicity of the people and lay the groundwork for the hundred anecdotes they’ll tell over a hundred dinner parties. Continue reading
I was on a beach in Quang Tri province, again, in the centre of Vietnam. It was incredibly hot. The kind of heat that causes the sand on the beach we were stood on to burn your skin. Anyway, there I was, staring at a rusted piece of American Ordinance, while the bomb expert was explaining its blast capability, (one hundred and fifty metres) and how, due to its age, how incredibly unstable it was. I took pictures. Continue reading
In any event, the night and a cheap bottle of cognac wore on, with Oleg raising chipped tea cup after tea cup in any number and variety of toasts as the dim outline of the steppe rumbled past outside. I remember trying to take stock of the situation, to step outside of my circumstances and somehow apply a context to it all. However, Oleg’s endless toasts and his firm pronouncements on the clear connection between a man’s alcohol intake and his ability to satisfy a woman – nods were made in the direction of the harassed Uzbek woman here – proved too great a distraction, and it was soon enough to sit back, relax and listen to Oleg’s cheerful boasts as the sun slowly climbed up over the steppe. Continue reading
You see, and this is really where I’m going here; taking a look at the world can be tough. It’s hard to make yourself an alien. We’re human beings. We’re herd animals and, without a herd of your own, life can feel pretty vulnerable. I think it’s this that sort of underpins both my understanding, mistrust and occasional revulsion at any Ex Pat Community. Continue reading
I knew I was going to do this as soon as I heard about it, but still, holding the beating heart of a recently living animal is quite another thing. However, like so much in life, there comes a time to silence the voices, close your mind and take a step forward.
In this case, a swallow forward. Continue reading
Within what must have been ten minutes of entering the city, it soon became apparent that he was using my bike more as battering ram than paying cargo. Roundabouts, chaotic at the best of times, were approached with a speed and confidence I’ve never experienced as a xe om passenger. The Bonus and I would be pushed mercilessly into the midst of the whirling traffic, while his grinning face would take refuge against the deafening roar of the approaching motorbikes in my lee. Continue reading