India’s temples of sex

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This extremely conservative country was once home to the world’s first sex treatise and the erotic art on display is perhaps more shocking now than when it was created.

In December 2013, India’s LGBT community suffered a severe setback as the country’s Supreme Court ruled homosexuality to be a criminal offence. More recently, in August 2015, the Indian government imposed a ban, lifted conditionally a few days later, on more than 800 websites deemed pornographic, in an ostensible bid to curb child pornography and sexual violence.

But India was not always like this. Sexual norms were far more liberal before the 13th Century.

India has been a particularly conservative country for the last few hundred years, influenced by the puritanism of several groups, including Islamic dynasties, Bri...

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Why ‘squinting’ leads to better sight

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Florence is a boot camp in the power of seeing properly, by narrowing our field of view in order to expand it.

My favourite travel quote comes via the Indian poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Musing about why he travelled so much, Tagore concluded that he did so “in order to see properly”.

The traveller experiences a place with all five senses, but none is more dominant, more all-embracing, than sight. Or, as another observant traveller, American writer Henry Miller, once said: “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

An aerial view of Florence

An aerial view of Florence (Credit: Tetra Images/Alamy)

Tagore and Miller were on my mind during a recent visit to Florence...

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The town that gave The Goonies life

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Thirty years after the cult classic hit theatres, the Oregon coastal town where it was shot still celebrates the local Goonies heritage.

To those who grew up in the 1980s, the phrases “Goonies never say die!”, “Boodie traps!” and “Down here is our time. It’s our time, down here!” are all stirring rallying cries of youthful adventure. And now that the original fans of Richard Donner’s 1985 cult kid classic have their own children approaching Goonie-age, this is your time – your time to relive the journey along the rain-soused Oregon coast where much of the movie took place

Scene from The Goonies at the Goondocks house (Credit: Warner Brothers/Getty)

Scene from The Goonies at the Goondocks house. (Warner Brothers/Getty)

The cast of The Goonies featured a group of misfit, pint-sized Indiana Joneses – played by Josh Brolin, Sean Astin and Corey ...

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Seven places that hardly seem real

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These seven dreamy destinations make you feel like you’ve stepped straight into a magical fairy tale world.

Where to go to escape the stresses of life, the bustle of the workweek and the noise of traffic? To find out, we turned to question-and-answer site Quora, where users have been sharing their opinions on real places that look plucked from a fairy tale.

From an enchanting Alpine palace in Germany that rivals Cinderella’s castle to a postcard-perfect English landscape that inspired Beatrix Potter and JRR Tolkien – these seven dreamy destinations are so magical, it’s hard to believe they’re real.

A giant patchwork quilt of kaleidoscopic colour
Holland’s stunning tulip fields, with their broad stripes of vibrant blues, reds, pinks and yellows, “look like the artwork in a c...

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How to travel when you’re not rich

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“I wanted to prove to others and to myself that our life circumstances should never hinder us from going after our dreams.”

My “how I quit my job to travel” story is different. I’m from a developing country with a “powerless passport” — as a Philippine citizen I can only visit 60 countries visa-free — and I was brought up to believe that world travel is a luxury meant only for the privileged, the rich or the retired. Yet, in my early 20s, I’ve visited more than 15 countries in two years, all while building a profitable and stable online business that funds my lifestyle and enables me to work less than three hours a day.

It all started two years ago in a dingy cafe in Makati, Philippines...

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Where people were sent to disappear

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With venomous snakes and shark-infested waters, this desert island had no hope of escape.

Panama’s Isla Coiba bears all the hallmarks of a perfect desert island: gin-clear water, powdery white sand, a fringe of palm trees against a backdrop of dense, unexplored rainforest. When I arrived on the island, the peaceful beach was scattered with a handful of travellers bobbing in the bath-warm water or taking lazy afternoon naps on the salt-encrusted hammocks.

It was hard to imagine that this island paradise harboured such a dark past – or has such an uncertain future.

A dive boat arrives at the ranger station on Isla de Coiba (Credit: Credit: Sarah Shearman)

A dive boat arrives at the ranger station on Isla de Coiba (Credit: Sarah Shearman)

For almost a century, Isla Coiba – which along with 38 other protected islands forms Coiba National Marine Park – was home to a notorious...

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A one-way trip lasted seven years

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As many of her friends settled down, Sabrina Iovino opted out of the rat race and began a life of full-time travel.

Surrounded by young, good-looking backpackers in Bangkok, Thailand, I made up my mind: once I got back home to Germany, I was going to quit my job and travel the world.

It was 2007, and I had taken a short trip to the humid nation to take a break from the rat race in Berlin. Almost everyone I met told me the same story: “I’m travelling around the world for a year, and you?” I was embarrassed to say I would go back home in a couple of weeks to my boring nine-to-five life as a graphic designer for a start-up company. My friends were getting married, buying cars and houses and looking down at me, wondering why I didn’t want to pursue the same goals...

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Business trip: New York City

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A view of Manhattan from the Top of the Rock observation deck (Credit: John Moore/Getty)

The city that never sleeps is on a roll, with a record 52 million visitors in 2012 and a total of 100,000 hotel rooms expected by 2014.

When it comes to business travel, New York City is on a roll. In 2012, the city hosted a record 52 million visitors, whose spending produced a whopping $55.3 billion in economic impact.

While most business travellers have likely bedded down at hotels in the popular, central Midtown area, demand has prompted a hotel building boom across all five boroughs, providing a slew of new, upscale options in areas like the Upper West Side (NYLO hotel), Greenwich Village (The Jade Hotel), Brooklyn (Wythe Hotel) and Queens (Z Hotel)...

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Five days in Russia’s Ring of Fire

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After being all but off limits, Russia’s strictly protected Kronotsky Zapovednik opens to travellers, revealing 650kg bears and the world’s second-largest gathering of geysers.

We had left the brown bears below us in the Valley of the Geysers, where they ambled among purple orchids, emerald grasses and the second-largest gathering of geysers on Earth.

Now, our small group of trekkers ascended through meadows gilded with golden rhododendron. We drank from snowfield streams. Spectacular volcanoes loomed ahead, part of the great arc of volcanic and seismic activity known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. We were trekking the highlands of Russia’sKronotsky Zapovednik, diadem of the world’s largest system of strictly protected nature reserves.

And I was one of the first foreigners permitte...

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Peru’s other lost city

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Larger than Machu Picchu and far less known, Choquequirao still makes you feel as though you’re practically the first to arrive.

The trek to the lost Incan city of Choquequirao is one of the most difficult in Peru. From the town of Cachora, located 161km west of Cusco, it’s an 18km walk to Capuliyoc Mountain, then down to Playa Rosalinas, where travellers camp for the night. Waking early, trekkers then have to cross the Apurímac River and traverse 8km of gruelling uphill switchbacks to reach the campsite close to the ruins. Then, the next morning, it’s another 2km hike up to the ruins themselves, 3,100m above sea level. To get back? Well, it’s the same way you came.

“I’ve had people in their 60s and 70s do it,” said Juan Barrios, a guide from the Adventure Life trekking company...

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