Destination: Australia & Pacific

Shooting Kakadu

Shooting Kakadu Andrea Johnson

Andrea Johnson explores Australia's Northern Territory and the challenge of capturing meaningful travel photographs

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Seeing Australia Through Australian Crime Novels

B. R. Myers looks Down Under through the eyes of an American reading Aussie crime fiction. From the Atlantic

It is a rare crime novel that doesn’t seem better in the first part, when we are still trying to find our bearings. Perhaps we want to feel the way we did as children, when the genre was so much more thrilling for being slightly over our heads. This is the good thing about Australian crime fiction: as an American, you are never completely at home in it. True, the suburban backdrops appear very familiar, and on the printed page the Australian variant of English is almost identical to our own. But the characters in these novels behave much more differently from Americans than do the Swedes in those Stieg Larsson books, and this never stops feeling odd. Among male friends an intensity of joshing camaraderie is in evidence that even our frat boys would find stifling.

Previously, we noted Reggie Nadelson’s essay on the importance of place in crime novels, and Sarah Weinman’s piece on “international crime novels based in places as unlikely as Laos, Gaza and North Korea.”


From Mandalay to Timbuktu: Great Names, Lousy Places

Mandalay. Photo by Stefan Munder via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

In an excerpt from his new book, “The Tao of Travel,” Paul Theroux recalls a number of places that just didn’t live up to the romance evoked by their names:

Mandalay: an enormous grid of dusty streets occupied by dispirited and oppressed Burmese, and policed by a military tyranny.

Tahiti: a mildewed island of surly colonials, exasperated French soldiers and indignant natives, with overpriced hotels, one of the world’s worst traffic problems and undrinkable water.

Timbuktu: dust, hideous hotels, unreliable transport, freeloaders, pestering people, garbage heaps everywhere, poisonous food.

I was always drawn to Kuala Lumpur because of its name. I loved just saying the words, and I loved the way they sounded. I loved the way they evoked lumpy koala bears, or something even more exotic that I couldn’t even begin to imagine.

When I finally went there, I was initially underwhelmed. The Petronas Towers are impressive, but they’re not lumpy koala bears. After exploring the city for a couple of days, however, getting lost in Indian neighborhoods with sari shops and aromatic cafes, and even spending a couple of hours in an elegant old theater watching a Bollywood movie I couldn’t understand, I decided Kuala Lumpur had its lumpy charms.

Ever gone to a place that didn’t live up to its great name? Or that did?


World Travel Watch: G20 Alert in Seoul, Volcano in Indonesia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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A Pilgrimage to Vailima

villa vailima samoa By Catherine Watson

An hour into her quest to visit Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa, Catherine Watson ran out of water and lost the trail. What would persistence bring?

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World Travel Watch: Turmoil in Kashmir, Criminal Gangs in El Salvador and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Mudslides in Guatemala, Bombing in Cancun and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Striptease at Uluru, Ongoing Strikes in Greece and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Volcanoes in Ecuador and Guatemala, Violence in Rome and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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The Titanic Awards: 10 Worst National Cuisines

The Titanic Awards: 10 Worst National Cuisines Photo by onlinehero via Flickr (Creative Commons)

More than 2,000 travelers from 80 countries voted in the Titanic Awards survey. Here are the unlucky winners.

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World Travel Watch: Airplane Safety in Peru, Metro Bombings in Moscow and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Surfing the ‘Ultimate Wave Tahiti’: IMAX 3D

I love the occasional IMAX film for vicarious big-screen travel thrills, and I can’t wait to see this new one about surfing Tahiti’s famed Teahupoo. Here’s a taste:


Let’s See What’s Down There

Let’s See What’s Down There iStockPhoto

In an excerpt from his new book, David Grann takes to New Zealand's high seas on a quest for elusive giant squid

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High-Speed Rail in Australia?

Only if the country gives up its “national can’t-do mentality,” says Clive Dorman.


World Travel Watch: Protests in Thailand, Dingo Trouble in Australia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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