The cops took my wheels

16 Mar

How much d’you want for that? (I’m goin’ to the store). Man says three dollars. I say alright – will you take four?  Bob Dylan, Love & Theft Five men, amputees all, sit by the roadside hawking cheap fans. I’m … Read More »

Zen and the art of bartering

14 Mar

Two small porcelain trays have caught my eye. Their rectangular bases and shallow curving sides are painted delicately; Cham patterns in muted greys. Now the fun begins. “How much?” The girl smiles. “Sixty thousand dong each.” I look thoughtful. “Forty … Read More »


13 Mar

Absolutely the way to go here: typically 125cc, and that’s enough. Two things are needed. One, you must know how to control the bike. (If unsure, find a way of practicing at home first.) Two, forget all you know about … Read More »


11 Mar

With a few exceptions I try to avoid writing on my travels of things you can find out your­self in books or online. For instance the walls of Hue’s Forbidden City are ‘crumbling’ due to ferocious US mortar fire in … Read More »

Common People

9 Mar

‘Everybody hates a tourist’, sang Jarvis Cocker, the one phoney note in the most inspired song ever to emerge from my home town. It isn’t true. Tourists who engage – and part with much needed dollars – are liked and … Read More »


8 Mar

The officials at Guangzhou (‘Gwongchow’, Canton in old money) International can smile but it doesn’t happen often. That’s not due to some People’s Republic edict; still less surly disposit­ion. The first time I was there they pulled all the stops … Read More »

We lived like animals

14 Jan

Yesterday I was struck for the first time, amazing though that now seems, by a simple thought. I turned eighteen in 1970. Had we a Tony Blair in Downing Street at the time it’s not too fantastic a stretch – … Read More »

Real Vietnam

12 Jan

A twenty-five minute flight from Phu Quoc had me on the mainland town of Rach Gia before ten am on Sunday in good time for buses to Can Tho, hub town of the Mekong Delta. The first bus smelt strongly … Read More »