The Duga. A Secret Soviet Radar Array in the exclusion zone

On the maps of Ukraine in the 1980's it was marked implausibly as a Young Pioneer camp. In reality the Duga, a mass of interwoven pipes, pylons,and wires, was a top secret experimental Soviet radar installation hidden away in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Top 10 Things to do in Kiev

Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, is a mix of Soviet modernist architecture and beautiful medieval buildings. Throw in a city centre dominated by parks, great museums, the Dneiper river flowing through the middle, affordable hotels and cheap and tasty local beer, it has the makings of a great weekend away.

Guest Blog: 5 must-visit countries for the adventurous traveller

If you’re looking for more from your trip than just a simple spot of sightseeing, there’s (perhaps surprisingly) countless potential destinations to consider. For a spot of adventure, here are the five must-visit countries you simply need to add to your bucket list.


The Propaganda Posters of North Korea

We are just back from a trip to North Korea. What with missile testing on the one hand, and promises of "fire and fury" on the other it was, to put it mildly, an interesting time to visit. More entries on North Korea will be added here over time, although the priority is to write more detailed stories for the next Far Flung Places book coming out late 2017. In the meantime, here are a selection of propaganda posters from the country.

The view from inside a Nuclear Power Station

I used to pass by the cooling towers at Didcot on an almost weekly basis on the main rail line between Bristol and London. They dominated the landscape pouring columns of steam in the sky from the coal powered plant, some saw them as a blight on the green country landscape of Oxfordshire. I just though they looked magnificent, symmetrical and a marvel of modern architecture.

Pushing the button. Inside a Soviet Nuclear Missile Base

The fire button was grey, not red as expected. Applying gentle pressure from my finger on it caused the equipment lights to flash and a deafening bell to ring. I had initiated the unstoppable sequence to launch nuclear missiles, along with decoy rockets, from the silos outside.

More than just kebabs and vodka. A guide to the cuisine of Turkmenistan

Enough for two rugby teams. The Plov man at work
Well, of course, you can survive quite happily on a diet of kebabs (also known as shashlik) and vodka (also known as a spirit that can burn the back of your throat off) while travelling around the country, as these are ubiquitous, and rather tasty, but there is a lot more for the adventurous traveller to eat and taste in this Central Asian country.

A Kamikaze attack on Colombo

The 1970's was a pivitol point for terrorism. The IRA came up with idea of turning a car into a lethal weapon of destruction by loading it with explosives and then detonating it across Northern Ireland and the UK. The car bomb soon became one of the standard tools of terrorist groups. At the same time, half way around the world, in Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers were quietly developing the use of suicide bombings to such an extent that their methods, and successes, were studied and copied by terrorists around the world, particularly in the Middle East, Barely a day goes by now without hearing of a suicide bombing in the news.

Brewing up in Beijing

It had to be a mirage. A large frosted glass full of beer with a frothy head standing ten metres high in the Gobi desert, as the sands beneath were being blown into small drifts by the strong winds.

A ticket on a rocket. Dhaka.

You don't need to wait for Virgin Galactic to get their act together. You can buy tickets for a rocket today, down at the port of Sadarghat in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Of course this will not take you into space but down along the rivers of Bangladesh, and for a bargain price too.

Treks and Drugs and Chapati Rolls. Passu.

This is the Passu Cathedral. The magnificent snow covered mountain spires that reach over 6,100 metres (21,000 feet) surrounding the small Hunza Valley village of Passu in north east Pakistan. My plan was to find a good spot for a photo, probably just off to the side of the Karakorum Highway on which I was travelling, and then head to the border town of Sost for an early bus the next morning into China. Yet, exactly as Rabbie Burns had predicted in his poem about the dangers of making detailed plans over two hundred years previously, things went awry.

How to lose something larger than the Empire State Building. Shipton's Arch

It is easy to lose things. I have lost count of the number of decent pairs of sunglasses I have lost in my travels around the world. Yet to lose an arch, and not just any arch, but the largest arch in the world, which could easily fit the Empire State Building in New York into it with room to spare, well that seems to be a whole new level of carelessness.