Category: 2020

“Welcome Home” is written in massive letters on a hangar at Nadi International Airport. And to me, it felt like coming home. From previous visits, I knew the airport well as Fiji is the largest of the islands in the Western Pacific and Fiji Airways connects most of the smaller islands to each other. I never spend much time in Fiji but had several stop-overs of up to 36 hours. […]

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The Philippines are a country that I honestly do not understand. Meeting Filipinos around the world they are usually well educated, often working jobs that the locals do not know how to perform. They speak good to very good English and when I look at the country, I mostly see potential. But still, the country is poor, the infrastructure is inadequate and Filipinos are leaving in droves. […]

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I have exactly the same feeling as last time. Again, I am coming to Taiwan from a poorer country and again I am in awe. Getting a SIM card takes 45 seconds from giving them my passport to getting my phone back with the card in it and the whole thing fully working. Shortly later, I browse through a convenience store looking for nice delicacies to try out, one of those lovely onigiris, something else? Hmm, maybe a box of sushi. I buy a digital payment card (no registration, no nothing) to conveniently pay for transport and anything else, I take the metro and soon thereafter I am sitting in the high-speed train heading south. […]

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Writing about the Maldives is writing a tale of two countries. One is the Maldives of the tourists, where people lounge on the beach in revealing (western) swimwear, drink alcohol and eat pork. The other is the Maldives of the Maldivians, where people go to the beach and into the sea fully dressed, where alcohol and pork are forbidden and frowned upon. For decades, these two countries coexisted with only limited contact and only a few employees of the tourist resort would straddle the line. Since 2009, the two worlds have started to mix. […]

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It is my fourth visit to India and I have got a fairly good grasp of this complicated country. There are aspects I love and aspects I greatly dislike. I have never been that far south. The state of Kerala is well-known for two reasons, first its natural beauty, especially the backwaters, a series of canals and lakes where tourists visit on houseboats, enjoying and (most of them unfortunately) destroying the environment. Kerala’s other claim to fame is a long history of communist governments. […]

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From Jeddah to Medina I hop on the high-speed train. The Haramain HSR links Mecca and Medina and started to operate in October 2018. A perfect way to quickly transport the millions of pilgrims between their two main destinations. Jeddah airport has a complete second terminal to handle the pious masses for the Hajj. Modernizing a country is often not hassle-free. The Spanish-built Talgo is so far only running at 200 km/h and not at the promised 320 km/h and in September 2019 Jeddah City station was destroyed by a fire, […]

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Passing through the metal detector, I enter the old village of Al Ula. There is not much old about this part of the village, the mosque is, but it has been carefully renovated. The other buildings along the newly-tarmacked street, are only styled as being old. Resembling a market, they contain small shops with clothes, souvenirs, snacks. A man demonstrates the old technique of stamping mud with his feet to produce the raw material to make and repair houses. I approach the small stage, a man in a black thobe, his head covered with a red and white keffiyeh […]

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