Under the Silence of the Jordanian Stars

I HAVE NEVER KNOWN SUCH SILENCE as the Jordanian desert at night. There is literally nothing making those noises we take for granted when we think of quietness; no humming fridge, no faraway birds, no buzzing lights or purring motors. To sleep in the desert is to exist in absolute nothingness, to be absorbed by a black hole and stare in awe at the sudden … Continue reading Under the Silence of the Jordanian Stars

The People Around the Taj Mahal

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THE TAJ MAHAL AND AGRA FORT there is a quiet little town—quiet by Indian standards—and somewhere therein live quiet people, normal people, people not out to get your money or impress you with Mughal legends but rather who are interested in speaking to you. These are friendly people, too polite to be easily found, and to meet them requires you spend time in … Continue reading The People Around the Taj Mahal

How We Spent Ten Dollars On Scarves in Varanasi and Why We’re Okay With It

EVERYONE AND HIS BROTHER owns a silk shop in Varanasi. Walk down the street and you will be personally invited to one every few paces, told “No pressure” and “Just take a look” when you hesitate, persuaded when they explain the secret to proving real silk from polyester knockoffs (the threads burn into ashes) and allowed to see the weaving factory because somewhere down the … Continue reading How We Spent Ten Dollars On Scarves in Varanasi and Why We’re Okay With It

The Two Indias: Of Rules and Chaos

THE THING ABOUT INDIA that travel magazines ignore is its fetishistic addiction to bureaucracy. If something takes place in a large building with air-conditioning, rest assured you will be helplessly drowned in endless spools of red tape—yet the streets outside are inevitably a manic free-for-all. The schism is symbiotic and outlandish, and in either case leaves a Westerner standing aside, shaking his head in bafflement. … Continue reading The Two Indias: Of Rules and Chaos

Stories Left in Southeast Asia

WE DEPARTED THE MAINLAND of Southeast Asia with some regret, having not met as many locals as we’d normally like. I also didn’t get as many good photos of the ones we did talk to, which you might notice below. This is because the conversations happened spontaneously, when I wasnt preared for them, which, in some ways, made each a little more engaging, and I … Continue reading Stories Left in Southeast Asia

The Best Bread in Bangkok, And, Perhaps, The World

THERE ARE TWO REASONS we decided to return to Bangkok. One is that flying out of Siem Reap is unavoidably expensive; the other was bread. But not just “bread” in the generic; rather, a very particular bread, a paragon role model—really, the Platonic form of bread—baked at a mystery bakery just off the Wang Lang Pier, across the main river from the infamously filthy tourist … Continue reading The Best Bread in Bangkok, And, Perhaps, The World

Cambodians Make Travel So Easy it’s Creepy

IF YOU HAVE ANY COMMON SENSE, and any money at all, Cambodia is a remarkably easy country to travel through. This is not because the roads are smooth (they’re not) or the touts polite (they’re obnoxious). It is, as it often is, the people who are making our lives easier, albeit for a price, further albeit for a small one. Horror stories upheld by statistics … Continue reading Cambodians Make Travel So Easy it’s Creepy

Photo Food Essay: Robyn’s George Town

I AM NOT SPECIFICALLY a food blogger, but Robyn Eckhardt is. A friend I trust in all matters of Asian cuisine—we’ll call him Eldma—pointed me in the direction of Ms. Eckhardt’s blog, Eating Asia, which she has been running with her photographer-husband for enough years to make any journo jealous. They’re quite good at what they do, and so when V and I decided to … Continue reading Photo Food Essay: Robyn’s George Town

Stories Left Behind in Borneo

FROM BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN TO KUCHING, crossing all of Sarawak and most of Brunei, was more an experiment in bus patience than intense jungle adventure. V and I are not wild rainforest trekkers (can I use “jungle” and “rainforest” interchangeably like that?), though we did venture out into the bush once in Miri, which was itself an unforgettable story I’m still trying to write in … Continue reading Stories Left Behind in Borneo