Bolivia’s Death Road

Nearly five kilometres above sea level, travelling 60 kmh+ down a highway in the Bolivian Andes, on a mountain bike competing with trucks, buses and cars, a solid rock cliff-face to my left and a 600m drop to certain death on my right, racing around hairpin turns and surrounded by the most beautiful scenery when I take the risk to look… I have never felt more exhilarated or had so much fun in all my life!

This is mind-blowing excitement at its best and I haven’t even hit the really dangerous section yet! Continue reading “Bolivia’s Death Road”

Palace-hopping in St.Petersburg

Russia is dodgy. Stunning architecture, fascinating history, but let’s get it out of the way first, it is dodgy. When a tour company has a budget for bribing officials at the borders, you know something is not quite right. Not even 20 minutes into the country and our Top Deck bus was pulled over by the Police, a pay-off amounting to AU$20 settled any potential prison visits and we were back on our way to St Petersburg.

Welcome to Russia!

That aside, Russia is absolutely beautiful. It is not like any other country in the world (besides the ex-Soviet States that have since claimed independence.) The bright colours of Cathedrals and Palaces provide a stark contrast against the grey concrete of the many communist apartments. When the sun peeks out, the gold highlights on buildings reflect the opulence of the country’s varied past.  Continue reading “Palace-hopping in St.Petersburg”

Video: Tokyo 2009

Video from my trip to Japan back in 2009…starting to see how my video making skills have become better over time haha…you don’t even want to imagine my first ones from 2003…enough to give you an epileptic fit!

Footage from Tokyo including, Asakusa, Ueno Park, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Yoyogi Park during the Children’s Day Festival etc

Continue reading “Video: Tokyo 2009”

How to Reduce your Crime Target Rating

So I had this pre-misconception about South America. Before leaving I told my mother not to worry when she gets the phone call or email saying that I had been mugged… it was inevitable, it would happen, she had to expect it… I was!

Well, it never happened and from my own personal experience after travelling for 2 months through Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Chile I realised it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Of course people are mugged and pickpocketed all the time in South America, tourists are targeted, and there is the odd occasion of taxi drivers colluding with others to kidnap you, take you to an ATM and demand all your money.
Now the fact I had no problem doesn’t mean you won’t, but perhaps the simple precautions I took made a big difference to being targeted by thieves. Most criminals will do a quick risk calculation to see if they’re likely to get away with their crime before committing, so make it hard for them! Continue reading “How to Reduce your Crime Target Rating”

Moscow More Often

I had been in Russia for a few days now on a Top Deck ‘Red Star’ tour and was getting used to the language, over-presence of authority, tasteless hotel breakfasts and the imposing communist statues that dot the cities. I no longer felt intimidated by any dodgy looking local walking in my direction and I had even mastered public transport (which when written only in Cyrillic can be a nightmare!)

Continue reading “Moscow More Often”

Kimonos in Kyoto

A brief glance through the car window, but I saw her, glistening black hair meticulously styled, a pale white oval face of porcelain skin with a hint of pink on the cheeks, eyes lined with black kohl framed by eyebrows shaped into perfect crescent moons and her lips, small, dainty and painted red.
She was sitting in the back of a black taxi cocooned in luxurious and very expensive hand-woven silk. For the briefest moment I saw a creature of fantasy, a woman of the night paid for her company, often the centre of attention in a group of Japan’s most powerful and wealthy business men.
Her night had just begun but she would be profit many times into the early morning for her services, entertaining clients with the skills she has perfected and been trained for. Continue reading “Kimonos in Kyoto”