Dambulla: an Illustrated Guide to Sri Lanka’s Cave Temples

Dambulla temple is Sri Lanka’s best preserved cave temple complex, one of the country’s fantastic UNESCO world heritage sights. At the top of a tall hill, the caves are filled with incredible wall fresco paintings, images of past kings and queens, and many golden statues of the Buddha.

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Road tripping in South Africa

Our final African border crossing was the Lebombo/Komatiepoort border from southern Mozambique into the northeast corner of South Africa. Wessel was excited to put his feet on home soil. We all were; the trip so far had been weeks of relentless driving, from dawn to dusk some days. We wanted to put our feet up with a cold drink, do our washing, have a long shower, a shave, compile our photos, sleep in, and watch movies.

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Nusa Penida – what to do on Bali’s untouched island gem

The road was getting worse. I sat in the middle of the backseat, holding on to the headrests in front of me, trying not to wipe greasy smears of sweat on the arms of those next to me. Cindy sat to my right, holding on to the roof handle to stop herself from being launched up into the ceiling.

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Encountering big fat greedy monkeys in Uluwatu

The beach was at the bottom of the cliff, and inside a cave. At low tide, Suluban Beach at Blue Point in south Bali can be an amazing place to see some coral reefs. We came at high tide, however, and only those with surfboards braved the strong currents. Up high, a string of bars clung to the cliff top viewpoints like Bintang-serving barnacles. German and Scandinavian youths ate burgers, smoked, and drank in the sunshine whilst they leaned on long wooden bar counters. Ahead of them lay nothing but sparkling blue ocean, and the umbrellas and rocks far below. A network of crude M.C. Escher staircases slithered past the bars at the top of the cliff, winding downwards past a faux favela of gift shops (and more bars).

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Sea stack rock forms at Blue Point

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Visiting Myanmar in 2012, newly opened to the world

It’s not very often you feel like you’ve stepped into a new world.  Myanmar is the official name for the country most people know as Burma. This isolated place secretly hugs the shoulder of Thailand, touches under the wing of India, usually overlooked and almost forgotten. A land where cities and farms alike are dotted generously with pagodas of dazzling pure gold, where a greedy, backwards government enforces martial law through violence, taxation and censorship, and where people’s smiles and welcoming attitude instil a glimmer of hope where the UN thinks there is none.

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Market, Inle Lake

How can this be true? Why does this unassuming, corrupt country deserve a mystique such as this? As Thailand’s neighbour, surely it must be quite similar, except for a few cultural differences? Not quite. Let me tell you why a journey through this country, recently coming out of isolation, is a strange and fantastic thing.

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