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Lost ground

Lost ground

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.” Maugham visited long before the city’s glory days of the 1950s and 1960s, when writers began throwing “Paris of the East” […]

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Phnom Penh between the cracks

Phnom Penh between the cracks

King Norodom’s Head Steven Boswell Nias Press 320 pages   THE RESULT OF EXHAUSTIVE legwork and years of poring through French- and English-language archives, Steven Boswell’s recently published Kind Norodom’s Head is a tapestry of anecdotal colonial-era gems woven together with temple-spotter minutiae. Featuring copious black-and-white and colour […]

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The mirage that is Cambodia

The mirage that is Cambodia

My review of Sebastian Strangio’s Hun Sen’s Cambodia in today’s Bangkok Post Sunday edition.

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The road

The road

  Author’s note: The story below describes Bangkok’s Khao San Road as it was ten years ago, with some editorial updates, and was originally a chapter of a book commissioned by Lonely Planet that never saw the light of day. The book was called A Groove in […]

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The Chinese friend

The Chinese friend

    IF NOT, in a moment of weakness, exhausted by the fury of China’s bus station queues, I would never have decided to join a tour to the historic hill resort of Lushan, I’d never also have met Wang. We picked him up next to the train […]

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Lost (in) Tibet

Lost (in) Tibet

    “DON’T GO,” the Tibet-hands hissed at me in the smoky backroom cafés of Lhasa. The word had got around that I was a Lonely Planet writer and Mount Kailash, they argued, reposed in a dimension that couldn’t be encompassed by any ordinary list of things […]

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The fall guy

The fall guy

 That’s China  Mark Kitto  Forty-six Books   IT NEEDS TO BE SAID: we tend to be too earnest about China—the opacity of its politics, the pseudonymously shielded intimations of sufferings foisted upon its people by a capricious government bent on maintaining one-party rule at all costs, the hagiographies […]

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Best Kep secret

Best Kep secret

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.  

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China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, all or nothing

China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, all or nothing

Guest Post: Wu’er Kaixi Wu’er Kaixi, exiled from China for 26 years for leading a student movement against the Chinese Communist Party in 1989, recently participated in the BBC’s 750th anniversary of “England’s first Parliament,” the Montfort Parliament. He spoke with Stephen Sackur on BBC’s HardTalk as part […]

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No country for asylum seekers

No country for asylum seekers

Hun Sen’s Cambodia Sebastian Strangio Yale University Press 344 pages   AS CAMBODIA mobilizes to track down and deport a dozen or so Christian minorities in hiding from Vietnam in its jungles, questions are again surfacing in Australia about a deal struck with the Cambodian government to take […]

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