Tag Archives : Time Out


Time Out Magazine: East Timor – East of Eden, 10.10.12

Travel piece for Time Out Magazine.

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Click to enlarge

Isolated and near inaccessible, Asia’s newest nation is home to the largest UN peacekeeping mission on Earth, located in the poorest and most overlooked corner of the region. Emerging from decades of bloodshed and occupation with scarcely any infrastructure intact, war-ravaged Timor-Leste attracts just a few thousand tourists per year. Roads are amongst the world’s worst (where they exist), the airmail service is rumoured to take one-and-a-half years, the humidity is oppressive, healthcare minimal, poverty rampant and the dinky shot-up capital, Dili, makes Beirut look refined. So why would anyone care to visit?

Because travellers will discover in Timor-Leste what everyone else in Southeast Asia is hopelessly searching for. All your dreamy paradise island clichés can be found within – pristine white beaches, crystal clear azure seas, some of the richest and most diverse sea life on the planet and a queue of welcoming, unjaded locals to show you the way. Adventurous tourists will come across incredible hiking routes, thick rainforest, untouched lagoons and delicious seafood – and more often than not, you’ll be the only traveller in town.


Time Out Magazine: Iran – Glorious Esfahan, 26.10.11

Travel piece for Time Out Magazine.

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Click to enlarge

As your flight descends into the dark heart of the Evil Axis, rumours of 50c heat, a presumed threat of kidnap and the danger of a terrorist free-for-all weigh heavily upon the mind. However, Iran’s terrifying reputation and wildly inaccurate stereotypes mask what must be one of the friendliest and safest hidden gems in all of Asia. From magnificent mosques to bustling bazaars, the Islamic Republic is home to a sophisticated culture and rich history, all showcased with a famously heartfelt level of hospitality. And as for the intense desert heat – long-suffering Hong Kongers may actually find the lack of humidity strangely tolerable.

The lightly beaten tourist trail begins in the ‘City of Love’, Shiraz. No longer a wine producer, this small city is centred around the elaborate Vakil Bazaar. The colourful marketplace comes to life at night and shoppers exploring the endless maze will find locals offering to pay for things (or even dinner!) as shopkeepers chase them down dark alleys merely to return their change.


HK Time Out Magazine: Capping Greed, Column #32

Between 2009 and 2013, I contributed a short, light-hearted fortnightly political column to Time Out Hong Kong.

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Capping Greed

Japan is one of the world’s most equal societies partly because large salaries are seen to be somewhat uncouth. The average Japanese CEO earns just over HK$3million – which is relatively low compared to their US counterparts who often earn between HK$8-30million annually. Toyota’s board members received a comparatively modest HK$3.4million last year whilst, say, HSBC’s chief enjoys a rather gratuitous basic wage of HK$13.5million.


HK Time Out Magazine: Sharpened Elbows, Column #31

Between 2009 and 2013, I contributed a short, light-hearted fortnightly political column to Time Out Hong Kong.

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Sharpened Elbows

When ‘scuffles’ break out on protest frontlines, it’s often difficult to tell whether it is provoked by frustrated activists or the police themselves. If it’s a high profile demonstration, protesters will sometimes find themselves outnumbered by police, undercover goons and a gaggle of photojournalists with sharp elbows. The latter are already somewhat notorious in the territory for snapping away at bloody accident scenes and, with many prepared to literally fight for the most sensational protest shots, their integrity remains in question.


HK Time Out Magazine: Pedal Power, Column #30

Between 2009 and 2013, I contributed a short, light-hearted fortnightly political column to Time Out Hong Kong.

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Pedal Power

In my wide-eyed naivety, I thought it’d be a splendid idea to cycle to work when I first moved to Kowloon and so set about buying a second hand fold-up bike. I immediately regretted venturing out onto Waterloo Road. The comical spectacle of a lanky Westerner astride a tiny contraption with wheels the size of dinner plates provoked so much staring, I might as well have been straddling a hippo. But aside from the instant face loss and unbearable pollution, it soon became clear why the only folks who risk cycling are those with a death wish and elderly gas canister delivery blokes. So hazardous were the roads that after 3 close shaves in as many minutes, my poor bike found itself straight back on AsiaExpat.


HK Time Out Magazine: Republic of Hong Kong, Column #29

Between 2009 and 2013, I contributed a short, light-hearted fortnightly political column to Time Out Hong Kong.

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Republic of HK?

Last week was the 13th July 1st democracy rally and it tends to attract all kinds of causes – from domestic maid unions and a group demanding full British nationality for Hong Kongers, to individuals with personal gripes against the health system. But one eccentric faction unlikely to be showing themselves in public is the HK independence movement. They exist solely in cyberspace, mostly because some legislators have suggested their campaigns are in defiance of archaic treason laws.


HK Time Out Magazine: Monkey Business Column #28

Between 2009 and 2013, I contributed a short, light-hearted fortnightly political column to Time Out Hong Kong.

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Monkey Business

Since 2000, increasing numbers of fraudulent monks have been giving hit-and-run blessings to passers-by before bowing, presenting small plastic Buddha statues and demanding cash. Sure, being on the receiving end of an unwelcome sanctification is a refreshing change to risking an unsolicited stabbing (which would probably be the more likely incidence were I back in London). However, with these fraudulent holy men refocusing their attention on uninformed tourists and Westerners, they’re surely making a mint from people’s mystified preconceptions of Buddhism, and their outright kindness.


HK Time Out Magazine: Hong Kong Textbooks Column #27

Between 2009 and 2013, I contributed a short, light-hearted fortnightly political column to Time Out Hong Kong.

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A Textbook Case

Tonight, tens of thousands of patriotic Hong Kongers will gather in quiet, dignified recognition of the hundreds killed 21 years ago by their own government. We have already seen the traditional, sparsely attended debate on the Tiananmen massacre in LEGCO. And tomorrow, as per tradition, the right-wing press will pretend tonight’s Victoria Park vigil never happened.


HK Time Out Magazine: Certified Fair Trade, Column #26

Between 2009 and 2013, I contributed a short, light-hearted fortnightly political column to Time Out Hong Kong.

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Certified Fair

Many Hong Kongers, particularly jet-setting expats, bear rather hefty carbon-footprints, so it’s naive to be too self-congratulatory when wielding reusable bags, recycling and buying organic. However, sometimes a worthwhile idea nurtured by a few can become mainstream in just a few years. This can be said for the Fair Trade movement in the UK, where recent visitors will notice that the accreditation symbol can be seen around every high street. Some entire towns, supermarkets and manufacturers are going 100% fair trade, and the founders want HK to develop a similar, meaningful culture of ethical buying.


HK Time Out Magazine: Dirty Double-deckers, Column #25

Between 2009 and 2013, I contributed a short, light-hearted fortnightly political column to Time Out Hong Kong.

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Dirty Double-deckers

The chocking pollution in the city over the last few weeks has left all HongKongers wanting to reach for the gas masks. Much of the smog drifts in from HK-owned Guangdong factories, but the biggest contributor is roadside emissions. Vehicles belch out 90% of RSPs (harmful particles that penetrate deep into the lungs) and 40% of roadside fumes come from buses.