Tom Griffith

Ouaga

Tom Griffith

Travel happens when I can fit it in, nowadays, but it will always be my favourite hobby. Here's my list of the best bits so far, in thirteen years of hopping around the world:

Asia Angkor Wat (Cambodia) Taj Mahal and Varanasi (India) Annapurna Range and Kathmandu (Nepal) Bagan (Burma) Koh Phiphi (Thailand) Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors and the Forbidden City (China) Peshawar and the Chitral-Gilgit road (Pakistan) Istanbul and Butterfly Valley (Turkey) Luang Prabang (Laos)
Americas Teotihuacan and Mexico City (Mexico) Lake Atitlan and Tikal (Guatemala) Roatan (Honduras) Cartegena and Tayrona (Colombia) Macchu Picchu, Nazca and Cusco (Peru) Los Angeles (USA) Salar de Uyuni, Rurrenabaque and La Paz (Bolivia) Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Africa Pyramids of Giza, Luxor and Cairo (Egypt) Chefchaouen, Essaouira and Fes (Morocco) Iron ore train and Chinguetti (Mauritania) Saint Louis (Senegal) Dogon Country and Djenne mosque (Mali) Masai Mara (Kenya) Butre Beach (Ghana) Zanzibar, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti (Tanzania) Lake Malawi (Malawi) Cape Town and the Wild Coast (South Africa)
Europe Paris (France) Prague (Czech Republic) Berlin (Germany) Pompeii (Italy) Liverpool (UK)





Asia » India » Kerala January 21st 2010

Alright, I suppose I will start with the big news first - me and my girlfriend, Susan, got engaged in Kerala a few days ago. Yep, after ten years of dilly-dallying, I finally popped the question. I won't go into the intricacies, but it happened at sunset on one of the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets on the harbour at Fort Cochin. The celebrations began with chai, and ended with some surprisingly drinkable Indian wine, grown in Karanataka and called Grover. And yes, we're both incredibly happy... Anyway, this is a travel blog, so I will return to matters travel-related. Two weeks ago, we left the temple city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, and climbed the winding highway up the Western Ghats, the mountain range running through the centre of India, to the hill town of Kumilly ... read more
Nilgiri Tahr
Tea Fields
Carom and Kingfisher

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu January 8th 2010

Before I arrived back in India for the first time in eight years, I was a little apprehensive about just how much this supposedly timeless country might have changed. I mean, the place has been charging into the modern age like a sacred bull in a tiffin shop for a decade or two now, and I wasn't entirely sure if I would find India to be a transformed nation, one of glittering shopping malls, orderly traffic, efficient service, and well-to-do locals. I needn't have fretted - India is, indeed, timeless, and though the modern world has made a smallish dent in the country's character, it certainly hasn't altered its heart. Yes, every one bar the beggars and poor farmers now has a mobile phone, but they seem to be more for show, than for talking into. ... read more
Happy New Year
Pondicherry Sadhu
Rock Fort Temple Pilgrimage

Asia » Burma » Yangon Region » Yangon January 25th 2009

Myanmar is not, as Cosmo Kramer mistakenly asserts, an American discount pharmacy. It is, of course, the country which is always referred to (parenthetically) as (Burma). It's coming on twenty years now since the military junta changed the name, so why does the world persist in sticking to the old label? This 'Myanmar or Burma' question continued to tax me throughout my fifteen days in the country. Because even the Lonely Planet refers to it as Myanmar (Burma), I resorted to the internet to track down the correct usage. It seems the Burmese generals changed the name for two main reasons: a) to disassociate the nation from its British colonial past, and b) to provide a more inclusive name for the country, 'Burma' being closely linked to the dominant ethnic group, the Bamar. The controversy over ... read more
Thanaka
Padaung Woman
Standing Buddha

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok January 6th 2009

Despite four years of startlingly bad luck - tsunamis, earthquakes, military coups, government corruption, nightclub fires, and the recent shutdown of the brand-spanking new airport by pro-democracy protestors - Thailand's tourist industry seems to be able to bounce right back. When we arrived in Bangkok just a couple of weeks after the latest setback - the closure of the main international hub into the country - you wouldn't have guessed that anything untoward had occurred. The main tourist drag, Khao San Road, was as happening and pumping as ever, even at midnight - in fact, that is when it is probably most happening. Restaurants churning out Bob Marley songs, streetside cocktail bars serving any combo of spirits you wish for 80 baht, stalls selling everything you ever wanted, plus a million things you also wanted, but ... read more
Tom's Feet
Jungle
Singha Loo

Africa » South Africa » Gauteng » Johannesburg January 3rd 2008

Those who have been reading my blog are probably aware of my love of meaningless lists, and my trip wouldn't be complete without just a few more. So, here, in no particular order, are all of my Top Fives (and some Bottom Fives), to give you an idea of what I loved - and hated - about Africa. First, I'll do a ranking of the 18 countries I visited (I did pop into Lesotho as well, but didn't see enough to pass judgment on the place). Trust me, I did a lot of thinking about this, and took into account such factors as cuisine, cost, security, friendliness, travel, accommodation, and even the beer on offer. So here it is - the Big List: Tom's African Country Ranking - Best to Worst 1. Egypt 2. Tanzania 3. ... read more
Fishing boats
Beach soccer and slave forts
Fetishes

Africa » South Africa » Gauteng » Johannesburg January 2nd 2008

Africa has obsessed me since I was a kid. My dream as an 8-year old was to come to Africa, and kiss a wild hippo. Yes, weird, I know. Perhaps I shouldn't have revealed that little nugget of information. Nevertheless, the history, the mystery, and the tragedy of this immense land has attracted me for years. Finally, around ten months ago, I had the funds, the air ticket, and the time to launch my own exploration of at least part of this gigantic enigma. My aim was to challenge my own prejudices, and discover whether the stereotypes presented to us in the West were true. Who knows, maybe I would actually uncover some signs of hope and promise in these scarred lands. And so, here I am, 34,280 overland kilometres and 19 African countries later. Or, ... read more
Saharan house
Helwan
Pure Luxor-y

Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Cape Town December 31st 2007

What better place could there be for ending an African trip than the Mother City itself, Cape Town? This city has it all - a spectacular location, cool bars, fine dining, great shopping, (relatively sharkless) beaches, mountains, wilderness, a developed infrastructure, a (mostly) friendly vibe, and plenty to keep you occupied. It has to be the most beautiful city I've seen anywhere on the continent, and it has certainly been the most westernised, the most developed, and the most wealthy. You could be forgiven for forgetting that Cape Town is actually part of Africa at all, as the city has gone to great lengths to disguise the sad fact that there is actually an incredible degree of poverty and misery on the Cape peninsula. As a tourist, I have been confined mainly to the city centre ... read more
Cute guys
Mother City
Cape Point

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Jeffreys Bay December 3rd 2007

I just cannot get my head around this Rainbow Nation they call South Africa. It is perhaps the strangest country I have ever visited. In fact, it is more like many countries, all overlapping and sharing the same geographical space, yet interacting very little. Sometimes it feels like Australia, sometimes it feels like the US, sometimes it feels like Britain, and sometimes it feels like, well, an African country. There are plush shopping malls full of affluent white shoppers, and barred-up corner stores selling mealie maize to queues of poor Africans. There are super-smooth highways carrying along the wealthy locals in their BMWs and Mercs, and potholed country roads, where car-less locals have to trudge from home to work, and back again. There are beachside suburbs loaded up with razor-wire-surrounded McMansions, and raggedy villages of mud ... read more
Washing line
Wartie and daughter
Sotho boys

Africa » Swaziland » Mbabane November 30th 2007

The average life expectancy for a Swazi is now 32 years old. Swaziland is a stable, affluent, and peaceful nation. So why are people dying at my age? Because of AIDS. Swaziland now has the highest infection rate in the world - a shocking 40+ percent. Why that is, I'm not quite sure, but it probably has something to do with the size and location of this tiny country. Sandwiched between Mozambique and South Africa, Swazi is about a quarter the size of Tasmania, and is home to a million people. Travellers and truck drivers pass through on their way to the large cities of Maputo, Johannesburg, and Durban, and polygamy is legal. The King himself has a number of wives, and over 200 siblings. In a small population, that means that everyone is having sex ... read more
On yer bike
Poaching victim
Nyala

Africa » Mozambique » Southern » Maputo November 26th 2007

Let me begin with a word of warning - never, ever, have anything to do with the Mozambican police if at all possible. They are bent, corrupt, rude, xenophobic, and vindictive - and that's just the nice ones. They are, without a doubt, the worst officials I have had anything to do with in the whole of Africa: most of the continent's border guards and cops have been surprisingly friendly and not bribe-hungry in the least. Then we got to Chimoio, in central Mozambique. Avoid this city like the plague. It sucks arse. It is a shitty place. It has no redeeming features whatsoever. It gets my vote as the arsehole of Africa. And, with some of the contenders it is up against, that is certainly something. We crossed into Mozambique after a couple of days ... read more
Frelimo sign
The hat guy
Catedral do Inhambane




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