Golden Gai (ゴールデン街, Golden Street) is a series of narrow, ramshackle alleyways tucked away in East Shinjuku, a tiny little pocket of Tokyo full of tiny little bars, untouched by the development of the postwar economic miracle that saw most …

Golden Gai: a treasure trove of old-school Tokyo alleys and funky little bars hidden away in Shinjuku Read More »

If you’re a fan of sci-fi noir such as Blade Runner or Ghost In The Shell, you’re in Tokyo, and you’re looking to scratch your cyberpunk itch in the neon-lit alleyways with their pokey little bars filling in the cracks between the …

Omoide Yokocho (Memory Alley) aka Shomben Yokocho (Piss Alley!): Shinjuku dining and drinking Read More »

This week saw the release of Ghost In The Shell, a live action Hollywood remake of the classic (1995) Japanese anime movie (itself based on the original manga by Masamune Shirow). The casting of Scarlet Johansson in the lead role caused some …

Ghost In The Shell: chasing ghosts in Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan Read More »

So I was just answering a question by another user over on the Japan Guide forum (which btw is a great place to ask if you’re planning a trip to Japan and have some questions), and decided I’d make a …

Higashiyama and Gion Walking Tour Read More »

I flopped into a chair and ordered a plate of nasi goreng and a bottle of Bintang, now running on empty and entirely on autopilot. The nasi goreng was to satiate my hunger, the beer to celebrate my having survived …

Robert Plant’s Lemon Juice: surviving the Trans-Sumatra Highway (Sumatra to Java overland) Read More »

Orangutan means ‘man of the forest’ in the Malay and Indonesian languages. But where does the man of the forest go when the forest is gone? There are a number of places in Southeast Asia where you can see both the …

Palm Oil and the Plight of the Orangutan: visiting the orangutan sanctuaries of Sumatra and Borneo Read More »

We got off the ferry from Malaysia, cleared immigration, and made a mad dash across Medan (North Sumatra, Indonesia), just catching the last minivan to Bukit Lawang by the skin of our teeth. This was one of those minivans where …

A Crazy Journey to Bukit Lawang Read More »

When I first visited Southeast Asia in 2004 en route to Australia with my mate Danny, we’d had no real plan to visit Sumatra (or anywhere else in Indonesia). We flew in from India to Singapore, and were flying out …

Sumatra Overland Route Read More »

Should you be fortunate enough to be in Japan in early April, here are my top 6 places to see the sakura (cherry blossoms) in Kyoto. This was supposed to be a top-5 list (in this age of top-5 clickbait), …

The Best Places to See the Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto Read More »

There really is no better time to visit Japan‘s capital than the first week of April; the days are warm, the evenings cool, and the sakura (cherry blossoms) bring the city to life in a 3-day burst of colour, booze, …

The Best Places to See the Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Read More »

One winter’s day I emerged from the office building I was working in to the puzzling sight of a ‘genuine’ New York hot dog stand before me, a puzzle further compounded by the NYPD police car that came cruising past. All …

Being a Movie Extra in Vancouver (aka Hollywood North) Read More »

I was in Sapporo for the ski season, filling my boots with Hokkaido’s legendary powder snow. The snow was so good I rather fancied another season, and was looking for a job as an English teacher to stay for the …

My 0.5 Seconds of Fame: The Time I Appeared in a Japanese TV Commercial! Read More »

“No, you can’t go there, army fighting with Cambodia now.” What? I’d just checked two hours earlier with the policeman on duty back at Surin bus station, and he’d told me the situation was calm, so I’d continued on towards …

Preah Vihear: failing to visit the disputed temple from the Thai side Read More »

The Vancouver Seawall is a lovely little walk you can do around the circumference of Stanley Park, starting and finishing in the downtown West End of western Canada‘s largest city. You’re treated to views of the city, the mountains, and the …

Hiking the Vancouver Seawall Read More »

It finally hit me in Maruyama Park, when I saw once again the great weeping cherry tree. The last time I’d seen it, it had been in glorious full bloom, the petals cascading down in an explosion of life greeting …

Mono-no-aware: the transience of things Read More »

Development is a double-edged sword, as we all know – naturally the local people of any developing place wish to (and surely deserve to) benefit from the same modcons as all of us, yet the very lack of them can …

Musings on Development in Northern Laos Read More »

Vang Vieng is small town in an achingly beautiful part of Laos, situated on the Nam Song river and facing some of the most stunning karst scenery to be found anywhere. The incredible natural setting makes it a tourist draw, and …

Two Very Different Visits to Vang Vieng (pre- and post- tubing crackdown) Read More »

Taiwan‘s night markets (夜市, yeshi, pronounced “yeah she”) are popular with locals and tourists alike, and you should definitely try to visit at least one while you’re there. Every night market is a good place to sample lots of different Taiwanese …

Taipei Night Market Guide Read More »

Snake Alley is an infamous covered shopping arcade attached to Taipei’s Huaxi Street Night Market (華西街夜市, Huaxijie Yeshi) which was notorious for prostitution (before it was outlawed in the 90s) and is known for being the place to go if …

Snake Alley, Taipei: Then and Now Read More »

Spend any significant length of time backpacking, and you’ll hear plenty of hostel horror stories. Eventually, you’ll directly experience or witness your very own! I’ve had a few, but one of my hostel horror stories stands out head and shoulders …

Hostel Horror Stories: the Melbourne Bag Pisser Read More »