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Virgin White

Virgin White

I first meet Malinga Gunaratne in his capacity as manager of Mirissa Hills, an upmarket hotel on the outskirts of Weligama in the extreme south of Sri Lanka. The place was never meant to be a hotel and Malinga, or Herman as he insists on being called, was never meant..
The Tiger and the Dragons

The Tiger and the Dragons

Once upon a time, there was a dragon with a broken heart and a broken leg. The injuries were related and most people thought the latter was the more severe. The dragon didn’t agree. He’d injured his leg fighting for his true love and every day during that hot July..
Costa Del Kill

Costa Del Kill

It’s 1991 and I am shivering on the deck of a small fishing boat, bobbing around in the Firth of Clyde. I am knee deep in mackerel, fish so stupid that they are hooked by nothing more than fluorescent tape; fish so weak that even I, an eight-year-old, can pull..
Broadly Eking

Broadly Eking

There’s a scene in Austin Powers where the psychedelic spy attempts a quick getaway in a steamroller. “I’m gonna floor it!” He shouts, before setting off at about 5mph, trundling inexorably towards an unfortunate guard trying to block his path. I’m suppressing a smile at the memory of that scene..
A Ryokan On Rails

A Ryokan On Rails

Kuniko is nervous. It’s not her smile that betrays her, nor her steady English, but her hand, which trembles as she pours me a coffee in the newly-constructed Kinsei Lounge at Hakata Station. I don’t think I’m responsible for her nervousness and after a year or so of training, you..
Reel Rivals

Reel Rivals

Si Si is unwell, but I’ve got little sympathy for her. We’re on board the Catch 22, bouncing across an unusually tumultuous Gulf of Mexico, south of the Florida Keys, and somehow she fell asleep. As I watch her head loll around, I know she’s made a amateurish mistake. I..
The Height of Luxury

The Height of Luxury

Purpose-built resort – is there another phrase in travel that so efficiently lowers expectations? Hasty construction, soulless architecture, forgettable food… when I hear “purpose-built resort” I think of the colour beige and down-trodden labourers and a million balconies offering the same views, hanging out the front of the same bland,..
Around The World in 80 Minutes

Around The World in 80 Minutes

An Irishman, a Mexican and a Chinaman get on a train. They’re joined by a bickering French couple; a black man with a shock of snow-white hair; a handful of very Caucasian ravers en route to a daytime party; a woman – I’d guess Somali – in a long, flowing..
Harvesting Perfection

Harvesting Perfection

A few years ago, before its streets were awash with violent anti-government protests and doctors and journalists were being jailed, I went to Bahrain to learn about their pearl trade. For a long time, pearl diving had been the tiny island-nation’s main industry. When the season was in full flow,..