Budget travel

Walking in Portugal: Day 4 – Milfontes to Almograve

Walking in Portugal: Day 4 – Milfontes to Almograve

Yesterday, I neglected to note the sad passing of a pair of reliable friends.  One of Kieran’s sturdy walking boots gave up the ghost about 5km out of Milfontes, its flapping sole sucking up sand like a dredger with every step.  Held together with elastic bands until we got back to base, into the bin it […]

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Walking in Portugal: Day 3 – Porto Covo to Milfontes

Walking in Portugal: Day 3 – Porto Covo to Milfontes

  Before I get back into this, a word of explanation and caution.  There’s a special kind of ego and insanity that inspires you to announce you will be writing a daily travel blog. “Oh, will you really?” the Gods of travel smirk as they line up cancelled flights, blistered feet, catatonic exhaustion and a bug in your […]

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Walking in Portugal: Day 2 – London, Lisbon and beyond

Walking in Portugal: Day 2 – London, Lisbon and beyond

90 minutes till we land at Heathrow and the logjam at the bathrooms is already forming as 300 passengers try to perform a full travel wash, shave and do their hair before landing. I’ll sit this one out. Phone pings to life as I’m getting off the plane – our 8.10 flight to Lisbon has […]

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Walking in Portugal – a daily diary

Walking in Portugal – a daily diary

This is an experiment.  Can I keep a daily diary of my trip to Portugal to walk a 120 stretch of the Rota Vicentina? Can I do the bloody walk, let alone write about it. I set off from Sydney this week to meet my writer friend Kieran and tackle the longest walk I have […]

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Magical Myst Dong Khoi puts a sigh in Saigon

Magical Myst Dong Khoi puts a sigh in Saigon

THE LOCATION If you’re in the mood for a little mystery the next time you visit Vietnam, the Myst Dong Khoi hotel will pique your curiosity. Just off the end of Ho Chi Minh City’s Dong Khoi St, The Myst not only fills a gap between small tourist-friendly hotels and international corporate brands, but adds […]

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Favourite places

Vietnam… with a side order of Romance and Intrigue

Vietnam… with a side order of Romance and Intrigue

Vietnam has plenty of attractions, writes Jimmy Thomson, but when you travel with The Quiet American by Graham Greene in your pocket, and Indochine on your laptop, a whole new world opens up to you. There’s something magical about travelling to the locations of your favorite works of fiction. It’s not as if Vietnam doesn’t […]

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Tour of duty

Tour of duty

With Vietnam increasing in popularity for all sorts of tours, including the recent, chaotic 50th anniversary of the battle of Long Tan, Tunnel Rats author Jimmy Thomson recalls how his first tour as a guide began with less than military precision. I was standing in the courtyard of a small temple in Long Phuoc, south-east of […]

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Cuba keeps the wheels turning

Cuba keeps the wheels turning

Cuba is on the move. Its government Cuba and the USA are talking about allowing direct flights from American soil, although, while the USA is gung-ho, the Cubans are more reticent. And the first US-based cruise ships in more than 50 years have already docked, while swish air-conditioned buses whisk droves of mostly European visitors around […]

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Travel Notes from Laos

Travel Notes from Laos

  Visiting Laos is a bit like going to Vietnam 20 years ago before that country’s “Open Door” policy showed that Communist countries can extract Capitalist dollars just by offering a few decadent luxuries to overseas travellers. Laos still relatively less developed, in terms of tourism. But the scenery between Vientiane and Luang Prabang is […]

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Vietnam caves get under your skin

Vietnam caves get under your skin

I seem to have a thing about going underground in Vietnam.  If it’s not the Vietcong tunnels at Cu Chi it’s the escape tunnel from the Reunification (formerly Presidential) Palace in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I even get a thrill going through the new road tunnel under the Saigon River, wondering if there was […]

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Stop the bus:  Confessions of a tour guide

Stop the bus: Confessions of a tour guide

“Stop the bus!” The only time you usually get to say that on an organised tour is at a time of disaster: Someone’s been left behind, last night’s dinner turns out to have been as suspicious as it was delicious, or you’re on the wrong bus completely. Unless, of course, you are running the tour. […]

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Advice & Info

Tips for wannabe travel guides

Tips for wannabe travel guides

If you are ever in a position to be a tour guide – official or otherwise – there are a few golden rules you show try to follow … beyond getting your fellow travellers to follow you. 1. Listen to the local guides These are local people who have first of all gone to the […]

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The hidden secrets of smart packing

The hidden secrets of smart packing

Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, you’ll always need to deal with the sometimes-daunting task of packing your suitcase. Travel writer Elizabeth Pratt provides these essential tips for Skyscanner Australia on how to avoid common packing mistakes. Know your limits There is nothing more annoying than finishing packing your suitcase, only to get to the airport […]

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Ten hot (and cold) destinations in Asia

Ten hot (and cold) destinations in Asia

From a ski resort in Japan to and underwater paradise in the Philippines, world travellers are always looking for those perfect destinations that have not yet been over-run by tourists but has all the facilities you want already in place. Accommodation booking webssite agoda has announced the results of its latest Travel Smart study, revealing the top 10 […]

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50 essential tips for happy travel

50 essential tips for happy travel

Do you address someone by their first name in a foreign country? Should you take an antibiotic with you when you travel in case you get ill? Is it ever advisable to eat on the street alongside the locals in a capital city? What’s the best way to wash your knickers on the move? Sue Williams […]

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Published pieces

Pedals test the mettle in a Vietnam adventure

Pedals test the mettle in a Vietnam adventure

  I don’t know what it was that inspired me to embark on a four-day cycling adventure in Vietnam with my (grown-up) son. We were meeting there to spend a week together anyway but four days of cycling from the coast at Hoi An to the mountain town of Da Lat – albeit with lots […]

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Military History: Our Secular Religion

Military History: Our Secular Religion

“Our military history is so ingrained in the Australian psyche,” says Mat McLachlan, “You can understand why people have called it our secular religion.” McLachlan, 42, who 17 years ago wrote Walking With The Anzacs, a guide to the battlefields of Europe,  now runs one of Australia’s largest and most successful battlefield tourism companies and […]

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War in times of peace

War in times of peace

War is Hell but battlefield tours have never been more popular, with more commemorations than ever battling for the tourist dollar writes JIMMY THOMSON.   What’s the big attraction with battlefield tours? If you’re fascinated by the tactics, heroism and even horrors of ancient conflicts, it’s a thrill to just leave a footprint in a […]

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CARGO CULT: Cruising Pacific islands by working freighter

CARGO CULT: Cruising Pacific islands by working freighter

Nothing adds to the pleasure of a holiday quite like watching other people working, discovers  Jimmy Thomson, especially when it’s in the most remote islands in the Pacific There’s a first time for everything, especially on the maiden voyage of a new ship.  For me, it was the first time I had been on a cargo […]

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Venice Virgin: A film festival first-timer

Venice Virgin: A film festival first-timer

Back in September 1999 (was it really that long ago?) My partner Sue and I covered the Venice Film Festival. It was her second time there, and my first. As a Venice Virgin I found it exhausting and exhilarating in equal parts, as I hope this piece I wrote for the brilliant Urban Cinefile website conveys. […]

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Cuba gets ready to rock as Obama and the Stones roll in

Cuba gets ready to rock as Obama and the Stones roll in

“Compromiso,” says Johan Machin Morales, owner of one of Cuba’s most popular casa particulares, “that is all we really need.” Johan is referring to Cubans’ hopes for the outcomes from the visit of American President Barack Obama this weekend. As the operator of a casa in the tourist mecca of Trinidad, Johan knows better than […]

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My tours

Luxury Tour: Romance and Intrigue of Vietnam

Luxury Tour: Romance and Intrigue of Vietnam

  If you are drawn to the romance and intrigue of books and movies set there, you will love this very special small-group luxury tour of Vietnam. Not only will you be seeing these countries in ways that tourists rarely do, you will be accompanied all the way by a knowledgeable and entertaining host who […]

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Other Recent Posts

Walking in Portugal: Day 8 – Aljezur to Arrifana (or not)

Walking in Portugal: Day 8 – Aljezur to Arrifana (or not)

| June 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

  The day started with an interesting breakfast during which Kieran almost projectile vomited on to an American girl who took off her shoes and socks at the table and starting picking bits of dead skin from between her toes. Her friends vacated abruptly, leaving us alone with her feet. Kieran went off to do […]

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Walking in Portugal: Day 7 – Odeceixe to Aljezur

Walking in Portugal: Day 7 – Odeceixe to Aljezur

| June 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

“I am not walking down that f#$%^&g hill just to f#$%^&g walk back up again.”  I can’t recall if those were the precise words I used but the general gist is spot on. Kieran and I had emerged from an excellent breakfast in the Windmill Cottages HQ and had set off full of confidence along […]

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Walking in Portugal:  Day 6 – Zambujeira to Odeceixe

Walking in Portugal: Day 6 – Zambujeira to Odeceixe

| June 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

First, a word about feet. Before I set off for Portugal, my wonderful wife who tries to look after me, insisted I get a haircut.  She might have done better to suggest a pedicure.  It all began with the second toe on my right foot, the nail of which was too long. So the first […]

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Walking in Portugal: Day 5 – Longueira to Zambujeira Do Mar

Walking in Portugal: Day 5 – Longueira to Zambujeira Do Mar

| June 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

A word about breakfasts: there’s a lot of bread.  In most of the B&Bs and small hotels where we stayed along the route, breakfast was simple but sufficient.  Fresh orange juice and drinkable coffee were a given.  Fresh fruit – either peeled and chopped or available intact in a large bowl was often on offer. […]

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Perfumed path from movie madness

Perfumed path from movie madness

| January 9, 2015 | 0 Comments

Between the Cannes film festival, the motor racing Grand Prix in Monaco and billionaire weddings in Antibes you can sample more glamour along France’s Cote D’Azure than you can shake a champagne flute at.  It’s not just the famous film festival – there are half a dozen major festivals in Cannes every year, including two […]

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Work for free to free the bears

Work for free to free the bears

| March 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

The old moon bear is not for sharing. A cracked open coconut has been tossed into his enclosure and he is alternating chews with muffled growls as the younger bears sidle up .   If they get too close, the cute bundle of fur turns into a snarling flurry of fangs and claws.  This is no […]

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