Kashgar. The last stop on the Karakoram Highway

The Stone Fort at Tashgurkan
I felt like I was in Tajikistan not China. The clothes, the food, the way people dressed, all were just so Tajik. Yet I was in Tashgurkan, the first Chinese town on the Karakoram Highway which I had been travelling on since Islamabad.

Borders and Bandits. Into China on the Karakoram Highway

US Dollars. The greenback is useful in so many places in the world, not just of course the USA, and proved to be the means for my escape from Sost at the Pakistan end of the Karokaram Highway. I had been stuck at this frontier town due to a tit-for-tat dispute between the countries which had led to the international border being closed for nine days.

Heading North on the Karakoram Highway. Pakistan

The Karakoram Highway, connecting Pakistan to China, regularly makes it into the top 10 most dangerous roads in the world, alongside the Kolyma Highway, or ‘Road of Bones’, in Russia and the Yungas track, the ‘Death Road’ in Bolivia. 

Climbing the Walls. Rohtas Fort in Pakistan.

When you think of Pakistan, many images come to mind. Cricket, curries, crowded streets, maybe the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Castles tend not to not figure that prominently.

The Far Flung Places Guide to Vanuatu is out now!

A mammoth project, and a result of spending two years living and travelling around the islands, and involving help from the Vanuatu Tourist Office, many locals living on the main and more remote islands, and Air Vanuatu (working there gave us access to cheap airfares which were a huge help in getting to the more remote islands!). 

324 pages with maps, photos and detailed listings on accommodation, food and drink, and things to see, not just for the main islands of Efate, Santo and Tanna, but also for the more remote islands including Ambrym, Malekula, Pentecost, Epi, the Banks and Torres, and much more.

Me wantem gud kaikai. Food and Drink In Vanuatu

From the moment you set foot on the Air Vanuatu plane to Port Vila you start to taste the great kaikai (Bislama for food) that Vanuatu offers. Unless you are in Business Class that is (the upmarket menu is full of expensive Scallops, Barramundi and other delights, usually sourced from New Zealand).

Baalbek. The best 'Do Not Travel To' Roman ruins in the world.

I had seen the ancient Roman temples of Baalbek in an old BBC documentary and have had it on my travel list for many years. Now seemed a good time to visit, I was in the region and the recent fighting close by in Syria, which had sent rockets crashing into the town, and incursions over the border, had quietened down considerably. 

Anjar. A city of Beauty and Violence

The distant crackling woke me up. I was having a nap in the car to overcome the effects of the lack of sleep on the overnight flight on Middle Eastern Airlines to Beirut from Heathrow.

I got out to stretch my legs, and then I heard it again, but this time it was louder and more concentrated. Distant, but unmistakable, there was a fairly major gun battle raging beyond the Syrian hills behind me.