Book review: The Army and Democracy, by Aqil Shah

Pakistan is on shaky terms with democracy. Read at the South China Morning Post..

India: Ladakh, Asia’s Slice of the Moon

What images does the word ‘desert’ trigger in your brain? Presumably, you think of burning sand, stinging sun and mirages sparked by unrelenting heat that makes the air quiver.

Contrast that tropical image with India’s Ladakh Desert. Bucking the norm, the Ladakh Desert is distinctly chilly. In fact, the Ladakh Desert is said to be the world’s coldest desert.

Find out the nitty gritty side of this strange stretch and the wider Ladakh area imbued with the dreamy, mystical image that inspires lots of waffle. We give you the truth, which is stranger than fiction. Ladakh’s wildlife line-up includes a blue sheep. Read more at Agoda

Highways to hell

Treacherous roads can often throw doubt on how far man has come since those transport wizards, the Romans, ran the show. Still, if you survive the surprises it has in store, a rocky road can be exhilarating. So, for an armchair adrenalin jolt, why not join David Wilson on a ride along the world’s worst.

Prepare for extreme terrain: hairpin bends, ravines and distracting scenery, among other hazards liable to trigger a tailspin. Many brake-or-bust nightmare stretches belong to the high-development, low-taxation United States. Honourable mentions go to the gut-twisting road to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and the Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, knife-edge pass hardly able to hold two cars — far less the buses that ply it. Read more at NineMSN…

All bound for lah lah land

David Wilson picks five prize destinations that are virtually tourist-free — for now.

So you want to go somewhere fresh, somewhere with fizz, and buck convention. Asia hosts scores of attractive and easily overlooked destinations that offer value for money and off-the-beaten-track magic lost to favourites such as Phuket and Bali. The following places to watch are yet to be besieged by backpackers, flashpackers, families and convention-bound executives.

Just remember: wherever you go in the region, watch for the traffic. Across much of Asia, which is sorely short of footpaths, traffic runs amok – to use a word that comes from the Malay for “mad with rage”. Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald…


December 30, 2009

Asia’s wildest festivals: a feast of the East

Nowhere celebrates like Asia. From the Philippines to Japan, David Wilson finds a festival for everyone.

Asia knows how to throw a party. Despite the moderating influence of credos such as Confucianism, the region hosts an array of ceremonial events staged with gusto every year.

We do not mean Chinese New Year and the regulation backpacker-oriented full-moon raves scattered around the calendar. They are just the smoking tip of the joss stick. Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald…


September 8, 2009

Seven sites for sore eyes

These Asian marvels might not be the best known but the ‘wow’ factor is huge, writes David Wilson.

Forget the Taj Mahal and all the other established, over-run Asian wonders. The East boasts a swathe of heavyweight attractions that possess equal charm but have yet to catch up on the glamour and recognition front. Read more at The Brisbane Times…

July 23, 2009