Sep 1994

Lugging my pack, I waded, pushed, shoved and cajoled my way through the maze of humanity that was the living stuffing of Moscow’s Kazan station. Finding a small vacant spot to unload my pack in the grim surroundings did not prove easy; the rain outside made finding a clean, dry place impossible. In desperation I finally resorted to buying some relatively expensive American fast food, which allowed me to sit in the isolated emptiness of the station’s restaurant.


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Oct 1995

The Baron Hotel in Aleppo had an air of faded glory. Gone were the days of English predominance in Syria; gone was the gentility and the security that Old Money brings; and gone was the original owner Mr Mazloumian.

I asked at reception if I could see the famous visitors book and was told ‘the lady’ would come to see me at seven o’clock.

The lady in question was Mrs Sally Mazloumian, her husband having died the year before. I met her in the office behind...

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Nov 1995

White clouds were piping over a sky of the deepest purple when we were clumping around in the moist red clay of Anjar. Soon we all had platform shoes and were being spat upon by the heavens.

As we drove up the Bekaa Valley towards Baalbeck, the rain began to sweep over the Lebanon range in thick white curtains while the Anti Lebanon range was picked out with sunshine.

All the while, the lushness of the surrounding land continued to surprise us: the dark green of the...

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May 1996

Here I am in Victoria Falls. I can hardly believe it. After all my African reading and careful planning I’m actually here. Moreover, I’ve just had a very scrummy donut and am still enjoying a surprisingly good cup of coffee (percolated no less). I say surprisingly, as I had been warned about the poor quality of coffee here and that they use a lot of chicory. Not in this case. And all for the bargain price of $ZIM10 (70p)!

It’s a nice little bar too – ‘McDonuts Coffee...

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May 1996

It was a chilly start to the day, zooming along dead-straight tar roads to Botswana in an open jeep. Tamsin, who we picked up from The Sprayview Hotel, was my travelling companion for the day and we spent the entire trip there shrouded in blankets with our hair going haywire.

The border checkpoints were a non-event compared to the Middle Eastern experience I was used to, and we drove straight into the park on arrival.

Before long we were oohing and ahhing over some...

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Jun 1996

The streets are so wide in Bulawayo, crossing them seems to take place in slow motion. Such a broad flat sprawling place, profuse with bakeries and hardware stores, reminiscent of any number of Australian country towns.

The startling thing, though, is the ease of getting around. No one hassles you. You are allowed to get on with your own personal business in your own personal space.

Even at 7.30am this morning people are already busy, even though it's Saturday. After...

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Aug 1996

Running along the northern edge of Longtan Park, very close to the Temple of Heaven, is a backstreet market.

I discovered this place in the cool of a summer evening looking for a non-tourist-infested place for some exercise. The heat of the day had gone and business was winding down to a far more sedate pace. Still, there was a lot of bicycle traffic and one had to keep on the alert.

Wandering in at the eastern end of the street I found myself in an area specialising...

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© 2012 Alicia Thompson
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