The promise of great hot dogs in Iceland: An interview with Kari Gislason

In (further!) preparation for my trip to Iceland next year, I've been reading all kinds of Iceland-related stuff, and most recently it was The Promise of Iceland, by Icelandic-Australian Kári Gíslason. It's a gorgeous memoir about Kári's lifetime relationship with Iceland: without giving too much … [Read more...]

Do you really like green tea? Lessons from Japan and meeting the locals

Everyone who knows me well in person knows that I like green tea. Some of my best friends (and yes, this is probably a criteria you need to satisfy to become one of my best friends) buy green tea especially so that they can offer it to me when I visit them. (Love you guys.) But the other day someone … [Read more...]

Unexpected cultural differences: How do you wash your dishes in your country?

I love that chatting with people from other countries can lead to bizarre revelations about cultural differences that you never realised could be an issue at all. And I have to tell you, of the many such conversations I've had over the years, nothing has struck quite so many chords as the whole " … [Read more...]

8 things I learnt from staying in a Penang resort hotel for two weeks

I am not known as the kind of traveller who stays in a resort hotel. In fact, I've only ever bought a "resort package" style holiday once, on a last-minute trip to Egypt just after I'd arrived in Germany to work, but was promptly given two weeks off as all the students were going on holiday … [Read more...]

Don’t listen to tour guides: Enjoying Yekaterinburg, Russia

When I was on my Trans-Siberian trip across Russia (if you're contemplating it - DO IT!), I stopped off at half a dozen spots along the route, turning the week-long train journey into a three week exploration. Half way through, I remember so vividly standing at the Irkutsk train station, chatting … [Read more...]

Animal travels: It’s funny what you see walking down the road …

My endless folders of photos from my trips show up a common theme: I love meeting animals on my travels! Perhaps it's a variation on meeting the locals. After my recent heavy post on the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, I felt the need to get a bit more light-hearted and remember some of … [Read more...]

How to get brave enough to speak to a local in a foreign language

Some people grow up knowing two or even more languages and thinking nothing of it. In fact, lots and lots of people in the world grow up this way. But in English-speaking countries, we tend to be a bit limited in our language thinking. After all, the "world language" is English (or so we think - and … [Read more...]

Life lessons from living abroad – what I learnt from Japan

Now and again, I hear from one of my foreign students about how their experiences living in Australia have completely changed their life. I always nod in agreement, because I remember how I felt after my first year in Japan - the world was such a different place. That feeling was only reinforced by … [Read more...]