VIETNAM: RED FLAGS AND PINK SUNSETS

DAILY MAIL An ethereal, ghostly mist shrouds Hanoi before sun-up and the city’s early morning traffic is nothing but a quiet hum.  Yet there’s more life on the street than you might expect at this ungodly hour.  Dozens of locals gather beside the shores of West Lake in the Tay Ho area to gently practise tai chi and insomniac fishermen wobble precariously on stepping stones as they cast their lines into the grey waters. Continue reading

AMERICA: SURFING FOR STARS

DAILY MAIL My star-spotting credentials are a little dubious. I once enjoyed a drink with a nice guy called Johnny; utterly oblivious to the fact that his surname was Depp. And on a film set I casually asked an actress her name; a puzzled Barbara Streisand soon put me right. This lousy track-record needed improving, so I set out to four of Hawaii’s islands to hone my skills and unearth some of the places where A-list stars hang out. Continue reading

CHINA: SHANGHAI CITY PORTRAIT

INTELLIGENT TRAVELLER Shanghai’s modern skyline would be recognised immediately by Buck Rogers. The ever taller and preposterously capped skyscrapers look like they’ve been designed en-masse by a comic-book illustrator from the 1950’s. It is, quite simply, a wonderful twenty-first-century futurama of both beautiful and ugly architecture. Continue reading

CHINA: HIGH ON THE HOG: YEAR OF THE PIG

GUARDIAN This won’t make me popular north of the border, but here goes anyway: Hogmanay is for wimps. There, I’ve said it. If you want to play with the big boys during new year celebrations, you’ll have to travel a lot further afield than Scotland; and you can forget the end of December, too. Six thousand miles and February will get you the real deal. Continue reading

KENYA: SELF-CATERING BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT

GUARDIAN The ceiling fans in Mombasa airport were barely able to paddle in the heat. What air they churned up only served to make the place welter some more, so I was pleased to escape it and travel a couple of hours north up the coast road to Kilifi and spend time in Baumontia House. Perched high on a ridge overlooking an enormous creek, it captured small breezes that came trickling out of nowhere. Continue reading

EAST AFRICA, KENYA, TANZANIA & ZANZIBAR: FANTASY ISLANDS

GUARDIAN It is said that many of the baobab trees are older than Christ; but then all of equatorial Africa’s east coast is riddled with hearsay. Over a few days, I was given the gen on an infamous murder case, informed of cheetahs dancing in mangroves, and of a giraffe who fell in love with a windsock. All wildlife was covered. Continue reading