A Song Dedicated to the Cockroach Hiding in My Bedroom

At first I was afraid, I was petrified

I hit you with my shoe- how are you still alive?

But now it’s so much worse

You could be lurking in my purse

You little creep – now I can’t sleep!

Under the bed?

Inside the drawer?

Or have you gone back through that gap under the bathroom door?

No, I heard your nasty tick

The noise that really makes me sick

If I turn the light back on will you be scuttling on the floor?

Go on now go! Back down the drain!

Or – I don’t know – wherever that it was from whence you came

Weren’t you the one that I sprayed with all that DEET?

Why aren’t you dead? And will I ever get to sleep?

Oh no not I!

Where did you hide?

As long as I’m left wondering, I cannot close my eyes

There’s a lot of night ahead

Please don’t get into my bed…

Where did you hide?


Hey, hey!



… Ah, the joys of life in Cambodia

Man has his face pierced in the temple - Vegetarian Festival Phuket

The Craziest Festival I’ve Ever Been To

The air is heavy with smoke. All I can see is a carpet of red shells, strewn across the ground like rose petals, and the sparks of fire that rip through the endless cloud.

The angry splutter of explosions intensifies – the procession must be approaching. I see the Gods first, carried high on a litter, impervious to the firecrackers launched into their thrones. Before them emerge devotees, both men and women, in vivid silk robes and huge blades or metal poles pierced through their faces They shout and quivering in religous ecstasy, some whipping themselves as they walk. Here and there, a trickle of blood runs down the steel, but mostly – and miraculously – the knives seem to pierce their skin without serious damage.

Carrying the God statues at the Vegetarian Festival Phuket

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6 Travel Hacks You’ll Wonder How You Lived Without

Whether you define yourself as digital nomad, a long-term backpacker or simply a very frequent flier, there are some hassles that come up again and again… and are guaranteed to drive you nuts. If you’re as scatty as I am, they might well have cost you a ton of time and money, too.

But life is all about learning, eh? And to help you learn from my mistakes, here are six genius travel hacks I wish I’d known about years ago.

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I Was Followed By Secret Police In China and Here’s Why

Part 1: In Which We Lose All Our Money and Survive Entirely on Mama Noodles


Just over a year ago, the bear and I embarked on a long, perilous, chaotic journey across Thailand, China, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Turkey.

I wasn’t able to blog about it at the time, partly because I was busy posing as a hapless tourist rather than an equally hapless journalist in front of the authorities, and partly because we spent a fair bit of time either in remote gers (yurts) or trapped on endless bus journeys across the desert, stopping only so the driver could proudly take a dump next to the window in the snow.

But now that the story we went out there to write is published – and more importantly, I’m now at a comfortable distance from the Chinese secret police –  It’s probably safe to divulge the sheer absurdity that shaped much of this trip.

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I Very Nearly Missed My Flight to New Zealand Because I’m an Idiot

Who wants to hear about my latest international-travel-related drama? OH YOU DO? Well you’re in luck. Because I’m stuck at Melbourne Airport and I’ve run out of book. Here is a timeline of today’s ineptitude, for your very own amusement.

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Going the “Last Mile” in Indonesia: Reporting Off the Beaten Track

On the crumbling road to the village our pickup truck is pulled over by the police. “What’s happening?” I ask. “They want to see if he has licence, they just look for money,” she tuts. “Always like this.”

Our young driver flicks down the sunshade with a long, green-painted fingernail and nervously retrieves his papers. All in order. They keep fishing.

25 minutes later, Irma is still calling around for someone to use as leverage. “We also have someone with power,” she says. But a cousin in the police force is too busy to help and eventually the truck’s owner arrives on his motorbike. We leave him negotiating and the driver makes a dash for it, relieved. We’re running an hour late, but we’re on Indonesian time. “It’s normal,” she sighs.

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A very clean start

“This way looks pretty safe,” I say, marching ahead around the corner and straight into the trap: six, maybe seven Thai teenagers, eyes full of malice, fingers already on the triggers of their pistols.

I freeze. Behind me, my companions are backing away, about to take their chances ducking through heavy Bangkok traffic, but there’s no way I can outrun our assailants. There’s too many of them, they’ve got me cornered, and I’m wearing badly thought-out footwear. Few farang* are out in this part of the city tonight, and a pale-skinned blonde that’s fresh off the plane is a prime target.

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