girl and going solo

“You’re so brave.” That’s a comment I got a lot from people whenever they found out I was travelling alone. It’s not true though – I’m not braver than most, and sometimes I’m downright chicken – for example, I still don’t like trekking alone because I’m convinced I’ll get lost and I’m not sure I’m…

la guajira steals your heart

The story I wrote on visiting Colombia’s La Guajira region ran on Thursday, two days after I landed back home. Reading it and looking through my photos afresh brought about the predictable twinges of longing. Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas are full-on experiences, where the environment – hot, harshly dazzling – makes itself…

salento: do something that scares you a little 

But try not to hurt yourself. I got to try out this maxim in Salento when I decided for some reason that downhill mountain biking was the best way to see giant wax palms, which are only found in a few places in Colombia and Peru (it’s Colombia’s national tree and can be found on…

running away to mompós

Topknots on boys and girls. Talk of cocaine tours. Electronic music pulsing by the pool. I sat in my hostel in Santa Marta and thought, fuck it, let’s go somewhere else. I had come to Santa Marta after spending a few glorious days in Riohacha, Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas. Sure, there were…

high on peru

My stories on Peru ran in TODAY earlier this week, and I guess you could call it a farewell note of sorts. Mountains and snow feel very far away as I explore Colombia’s Caribbean north, and I expect I’ll be missing them before long… Read the story here, or appended below. And read about my…

how to never leave cusco

I’m not much of a planner. I also tend to dawdle. The combination of these factors meant that I stayed in Cusco for nearly 2 weeks – which is the total length of the vacations of some people I met here. I didn’t think I would spend much time in Cusco. I had booked a…

where has the time gone? 

Days turn into weeks. On this trip, I constantly astonish myself when I see the calendar – how is it the start of a new month already? When I was a child every hour of the day passed with absolute clarity and I felt every hour – afternoons were long and lazy; a month felt…

uyuni: salt rocks 

“The Laguna Colorada was a vivid clay red, thanks to the algae in the water reacting to the sun, clashing prettily with the bright pink of the flamingos that live there — three species of flamingo reside in the altiplano; they are obviously much tougher birds than I gave them credit for. In the background,…

hostels: a wishlist

Full-length mirrors in the rooms Free filtered water if tap water isn’t drinkable, or perhaps an electric kettle to boil water (bottled water is so wasteful bad for the environment!) Showers in which the water drains quickly Consistent hot water that doesn’t go Sockets by the bunks Hooks for towels at the bunks Wifi that…

samaipata: a refuge

I knew I was in a different kind of place when I had that burger. It was a top-notch cheeseburger, with a juicy-sweet patty, the right amount of cheese and veggies, and spectacularly perfect bun. Even in Singapore I might be hard pressed to find a burger this good at a moment’s notice. And yet…

#vanlife 

I read this article in the New Yorker a few days ago – I suppose to anyone who has ever thought critically about social media, none of it was a surprise. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying #vanlife of a different order in La Paz – the vans, referred to as minibuses, that form an essential part…

the spaces between

Bus rides. They can be long. They can be cold. They can be bumpy. They can be winding. The smell of feet mingled with air freshener. Your legs become stiff. Your neck aches from nodding off. And there’s the small problem of straining your bladder as you decide whether to hold your pee or brave…