Amritsar 3: The Kulchas

Amritsar 3: The Kulchas In Britain’s strange medley of militarism and well-wishing and racism and white-man’s-burdening that it called its Empire, the story of Jallianwalla Bagh has to be one of the most head-shaking and tear-budding and somber.   It’s the story of a subcontinent asking for freedom, and its wealthy Punjab province spearheading the… Continue reading Amritsar 3: The Kulchas

Amritsar I: The Cold

Don’t. Trust. Anyone.  That was the motto of the ten-hour overnight train from Delhi to Amritsar.  Well, at least it would have been if we had been awake enough to heed it.  We were already exhausted from overnight travel to Delhi, from the fleecing at the hands of Lucifer’s travel agency, and from the whirlwind… Continue reading Amritsar I: The Cold

Delhi: Lucifer’s Lair

Our first taste of India, real India, came with the pre-paid taxi.  “Do you know where this address is?” I asked as the young man in blue sweats chucked our backpacks into the rickety old minivan. “This van is black,” Andy muttered.  “They told us the official taxis were black and yellow.” Good observation—my wife… Continue reading Delhi: Lucifer’s Lair

India: Operation Pav Baji

  We felt its pull an ocean away.  Several oceans, actually.  India’s guttural tugs started way back—back in the days of our stint working with the international students at our hometown university.   Those were the days of barbecues smoldering late into the nights, of the jangling languages clanging room to room, of the music… Continue reading India: Operation Pav Baji

York: Tradition Running Amuck

  “So this is where that miserable old hunchback seduced the widow over her murdered husband’s coffin?” I mused into the rainy morning.   “Huh?”  Andy muttered between her clattering teeth.   “I said, ‘So this is where—‘”   “I heard what you said,” she snapped, “but tell me said you said.”   Don’t judge… Continue reading York: Tradition Running Amuck

Interview with Langkawi

Shortly after my trip through colonial stardom with Penang, I took a speedboat ride north and sat down for a little chat with Langkawi.  This fan favorite of Malaysia resides a languid skip away from the mainland, and just another hop from the Thai border.  Everyone knows her, but she can be a bit hard… Continue reading Interview with Langkawi

Penang: Billy’s Ghosts

Midnight seeped down from sweating stars, and the streetlights twinkled dirty halos on the streets.  Billy scowled his wrinkled eyes and flicked across his iPhone with battered fingers. “Look at it!  Right ‘ere!  Ya see he’s wearing a crown fulla skulls, and that part up over there, it’s just like a scythe!  And if I… Continue reading Penang: Billy’s Ghosts

Pulau Hoga: Alone?

  It didn’t take Andy long to decide.  A boatload of Indomie and smoking Bapaks in Batiks, an unshakeable stench of diesel, and a ceiling so low that only passengers aged to single-digits could walk upright—it convinced her in an instant.  “I’m riding on top.”   We expected the public boat from Wangi-wangi to the… Continue reading Pulau Hoga: Alone?

Belitung: Put This on Your Map

  A blip on the radar, another island lost in the Java Sea, a speck of Sumatra skipped over by guidebooks and travel agents, and the weekend haunt for a thousand tight-lipped Indonesians in on the secret—welcome to Belitung.   There are only two chances you’ve heard of this place: if you watched a 2008… Continue reading Belitung: Put This on Your Map

Phnom Penh: Capital Punishment

All I wanted from the city was a chicken sandwich.   I had spotted them before, our first time through here—a juicy bit of bird, well-marinated and sizzling off the grill, stuffed into a fresh baguette (thank you French colonists of bygone years), and topped with exotic salsas and herbs. It’s Cambodia’s answer to Vietnam’s… Continue reading Phnom Penh: Capital Punishment

Phnom Penh: S-21 and Killing Fields

  They come in the muggy night and disappear before dawn. Muffled voices down the hall, a brief scuffle, boots on the stained stairs and a swaying electric light—and that is all. That is the last you will see of him.   Your neighbor.   The skinny guy with glasses and yellow teeth, the one… Continue reading Phnom Penh: S-21 and Killing Fields

Angkor Wat: The Big One(s)

They come from all continents, cameras dangling from their sun-screened necks, sunglasses flashing, and hat perched atop their sweated mop heads. Yes, we are hopeless victims of the Angkor maelstrom, a couple more tallies to the thousands for the day, two more pair of flip-flops on the trail, another couple bikes in the parking stall.

Most come here, though, just to see where Angelina Jolie’s breakout hit Tomb Raider was filmed.