AN OLD JOKE in linguistics runs: What is the difference between a language and a dialect? (pause for dramatic effect) A language is a dialect with its own army. David Moser, author of A Billion Voices: China’s Search for a Common Language, has heard the joke; he even addresses…
Almost 30 years ago Japanese silk-weaver Kikuo Morimoto dreamt of reviving Cambodia’s ancient silk-making culture. Today, the Rolex Laureate has succeeded in building an environmentally sustainable cottage industry dedicated to the ancient art.
The author of Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens, László Krasznahorkai, Hungarian writer and poet, Booker Prize winner, condemns his quest to find any remaining evidence of Chinese civilization to failure from Page 1—as if the book’s title had not alerted the reader to what lay ahead.
When Somerset Maugham passed through Burma, Siam and Indochina in 1923 — a journey documented in The Gentleman in the Parlour — he described Phnom Penh’s riverside Grand Hotel as “large, dirty and pretentious”.
Steven Boswell’s recently published Kind Norodom’s Head is a tapestry of anecdotal colonial-era gems woven together with temple-spotter minutiae.
For most travelers, Khao San comes at the end of one journey—the red-eye via Kuwait or Karachi, the shoulder-to-shoulder overnight bus from the north or the south of Thailand—and the beginning of another.
Chinese, like Japanese, are all for tours. Every self-respecting tourist attraction has its hierarchy of sights, its hoary accretion of wide-eyed lore and its filing-cabinet litany of statistics.
1,700km west of Lhasa, Tibet’s holiest mountain is the approximate source of Asia’s four greatest rivers: the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Indus and the Sutlej. It is also the Mount Meru of Hindu legend. Nobody was telling me I couldn’t go.
We tend to be too earnest about China—the opacity of its politics, the sufferings foisted upon its people by a capricious government bent on maintaining one-party rule at all costs, the hagiographies of the system’s entrepreneurial winners.
A rare venture back into the world of travel writing – it’s been some 15 years – on Kep, Southeast Asia’s next beachside big thing (maybe), as featured in Virgin Australia’s Voyeur magazine.