Exploring Singapore’s Chinatown

The busy and colourful streets of Chinatown

I’ve been to good museums and bad, but among the best have been the ones that reveal what life was like for the poorest of the poor back when the Georgian and Victorian rich were living the high life. There’s the excellent Tenement Museum in New York, for example, which offers a compelling account of how poor […]

Exploring Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in Singapore   

One of the smaller butterflies on Bukit Timah

There’s something ridiculous about going for a walk in a hilly Singapore nature reserve when the weather is so hot and humid. But we were never going to find out much about the country jumping from one air-conditioned building to another. So visiting the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve stayed on our list of things to do. However, our planned trip to […]

First class to Singapore and Little India   

The view to Marina Bay from our hotel

As upgrades go, it couldn’t be better. Arriving at Heathrow for our business class flights to Singapore, we were told by the check-in assistant that we were going to be enjoying the 13-hour flight in First instead. I could hardly believe our luck! With better food, better champagne and a better bed, it was going to […]

Japan: From Kyoto to London

The gates of Nijo Castle

The long journey home. My least favourite part of any holiday. And this particular one had always promised to be more arduous than most. With a morning departure from Narita Airport – situated well to the east of Tokyo – there was no way we’d ever get there from Kyoto without breaking the journey overnight. […]

Japan: A day of temples in Kyoto   

The gardens at Sanjusangen-do

Our last full day in Kyoto. And that meant we had to visit all those temples we’d promised ourselves when we were planning our holiday but had never got around to. And that would be despite my bad back. A bad back that had given me another restless night. But at least it wasn’t quite […]

Japan: Kyoto with a bad back

Another view of Shimbashi

What a way to spend a birthday.  I woke in our Kyoto hotel with dreadful back pain, aching legs and dodgy guts. Poor Graham – his big day and I was going to be no fun at all. However, I somehow managed to get to breakfast, ate lightly and swallowed ibuprofen. Outside it looked gloomy and […]

Japan: The train to Kyoto   

A pagoda amid the woods

Our stay in Takayama was over and it was time to head to Kyoto, the historic heart of Japan and the climax of our trip. Takayama had been an interesting diversion, a taste of a smaller Japanese city, but three days was quite enough. Indeed, many people we met there were surprised we’d visited for that long. So we […]

Japan: A tour of historic Takayama

The historic district of Takayama

At first sight Takayama looks much like any other Japanese town or city, with lots of post-war development that lacks charm. Perhaps understandably, the priority after the devastation of the Second World War was putting roofs over heads rather than architectural quality. Perhaps too, the Japanese prefer practicality rather than prettiness in a land devastated so […]