Istanbul Wonders

Every once in a while the traveller reaches a city long thought about, then wonders why the visit was not made so much earlier. That captures the last week for Sandi and me spent in Istanbul, once Constantinople and headquarters for the long-dominant Ottoman Empire, later home to the Orient Express and intrigue on an … Continue reading

New Roads: Crimefest Writers, and Camilleri’s Sicily

After three days of an excellent crime fiction convention, what’s the next move? Go to Sicily and the province of Ragusa to visit the setting for Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano novels and home to the TV series, of course. Um, how did this happen? After a lifetime of research and a string of non-fiction books, … Continue reading

Back In New Zealand

Whatever the artistic merits of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and the more recent Hobbit (undoubted in the former and more questionably in the latter), what really wins in the films is the New Zealand landscape. So much so that much of the tourism to Aotearoa now is focused on visiting Jacksonland, complete with … Continue reading

Sihanouk Boulevard

There were no elephants. In the past, a Cambodian royal family funeral would have featured them, perhaps even to the point of one carrying a royal casket. This time, King Father Norodom Sihanouk was carried in a jasmine covered massive gold casket, conveyed on a motorised and stylised mythical flying animal, flanked by officials and … Continue reading

Cricket and the Politics of Representation

In the current round of the never-ending grind that is now international cricket, there are strong reminders that the game, like sport generally, carries strong social and political symbolism with powerful meaning and resonance within the broader communities involved. Take the Australia-Sri Lanka series, for example, in which a rebuilding home side is inflicting heavy … Continue reading

A Week in Chennai/Madras

I am not long back in Phnom Penh from a week zipping about Chennai during the Cambodian Water Festival period – a good time to get away, particularly as the Chennai weather is now about as good as it will get at any time in the year. And it was good: mid to high 20s … Continue reading

The Motorbike and Social Change

My Phnom Penh house is close to Diamond Island, the modern name now given to an area formally known as Koh Pich, an island at the confluence of the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Tonle Bassac rivers which leads the city’s development drive with a convention centre, food and entertainment outlets, housing, and a golf driving … Continue reading

Cambodian Reflections

One night early last week, I joined thousands of Cambodians outside the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh as mourning continued for the late King Father, Norodom Sihanouk, who had died in Beijing a few days earlier. The rain was sloshing down in the late wet season throes, authorities had cordoned off the Palace area so that … Continue reading

Reading, Watching

Once again there has been a blog hiatus, brought on by the combination of preparing a new book for e-distribution (there will be more reported on this soon), project workshops, and a quick family trip to the UK. The latter began with an extraordinary 18 hour flight delay in Kuala Lumpur courtesy of Malaysia Airlines … Continue reading

Sport Special, or Sport Overload?

This is one of those periods when it seems that the world exists only for sport, so that even an inveterate enthusiast like me can feel overwhelmed, almost. At every turn, though, the inevitable questions arise about why this mania exists, and why people behave the way they do. First, the Olympics. At this stage … Continue reading