Tag Archives: Asia
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..
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..
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..
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,..
There exists a world where the blind once again see, where the mentally infirm find serenity, and arthritics are liberated from pain. The paralysed can move again, diabetic pancreases are revived. Almost all chains of disease and suffering are broken. It is a good world, one full of hope, and..
Six months ago, my friend, mentor and sometime drinking partner Stephen Phelan stood where I’m standing now. That day in Onagawa, Miyagi prefecture, the view was not pretty. “In the middle of town, near the seafront, a few buildings remained upright, though stripped down to red metal frames and loose..
At the start of the 17th century and the beginning of the Edo Period, Japan decided it didn’t want foreign friends any more. Citing moral decline, the arrival of alien religions and the wicked vices of the wider world, it closed its doors and entered a period of self-isolation known..
They say in the original Gaelic it means “water of life” but in most of my experiences whisky has had the opposite effect. I first tried it at the age of 11 during a family holiday to the Scottish Highlands. We’d visited a distillery and had a tasting at the..
My grandfather was in it from the very start, lying about his age so he could join up early. His first missions in the Second World War came on the notorious Russian Convoys, when British ships would navigate icy North Sea, around the Norwegian coast, sneaking past German forces to..
If I knew him better, perhaps I would interpret the triumphant look on Mr Ku’s face as something other than smugness. The little Laotian has obstinately bested my haggling efforts and I must hand over 600,000 kip (about $35) for three days use of two Honda Wave 100cc motorcycles. His..