Bex Band on walking in Israel's Negev desert

On both sides of us tall crags towered above, almost vertical, boxing us in. The valley floor was wide and flat. Turning another corner, I spotted something up ahead that initially made me think I must be hallucinating. Nestled in among the dry, rocky terrain was an explosion of greenery and, right in the centre of the oasis, Ein Akev spring. It was a perfect bowl carved out in the smooth rock, the water the same green as the trees that surrounded it. Above the spring on the vertical crag a wall of plants spilled over the top of the mountain like a waterfall. You could be mistaken into thinking there is no life to be found in the barren landscape of the desert, but each day brought something new. Sometimes it might be a creature hidden and camouflaged, easy to miss, like a gecko or a snake, and sometimes something glaringly obvious like this hub of flora and fauna. Nearing the trees, I noticed the temperature drop a few degrees instantly, a cool moisture hanging in the air. Rich palms

Nights in deserted places of the Dodecanese

It is summer on Tilos, and afternoon has turned the abandoned wheat fields golden. There’s the breathy whistle of bee-eaters as I pick my way down the path, Lisa eagerly pulling on the lead. A harmless black whip-snake disappears into the rocks. I let Lisa cool off in the water first, then from the grey pebble beach I swim with a mask, seeing a painted comber – a zebra-striped fish with yellow fan-tail and a blush of blue underneath – and armoured grey parrotfish. If winter is a time for long walks, summer is for long swims. When the sun is baking hot, it’s essential to dive into the sea’s soothing, silky coolness. The summer months warm the water, making it easier to keep going until my muscles ache, explore around the headlands, scare myself looking down to rocks dropping away into the depths. I also love the pure pleasure of lying on an empty beach and listening to the waves, drowsy from swimming, falling asleep. There’s something sensual about lying on warm sand, like b

Ben Thompson Searches for an Unspoiled Dive Location in Mozambique

  We turned south and whizzed along on silky smooth new tarmac for exactly 100 kilometres before being abruptly met by a belt of bitumen that was like Swiss cheese. Our love for tarmac quickly faded. The highway was in such a state that, again, we were down to averages of around 45 kilometres per hour., and the road surface was taking its toll on the car.  Another legacy of the war, a real and dangerous threat, were the landmines. Some clearing had been done outside a few of the major cities, but the rest of the country was still at the mercy of these hidden killers. The danger was compounded by the floods, which had floated and reburied millions of mines across the land. Every so often you would see red rags tied to trees, the occasional fenced off area and then kilometre after kilometre of little red and white signs on stakes, with skull and crossbones, announcing PERIGO MINAS! EMINA! You did not have to read Portuguese to get the gist. We learnt that you should never pull your car o

Me, My Bike and a Street Dog Called Lucy - Ishbel Holmes

  On my very first night cycling the world, with 30 kilos of luggage hanging from my bicycle, I realised I had forgotten to pack a lighter. I sat outside my tent in darkness, striking two pebbles together without success. Crawling into my sleeping bag that night, I was hungry and disappointed, knowing a real adventurer would have found a way to light her stove and cook dinner. Five months later and pedalling across my tenth country, Turkey, I still yearned for the day I’d resemble an adventurer, but to date I’d had too many hysterical moments involving spiders, slugs, and imaginary monsters to count myself as the real deal. Each night I wild camped, and every sunset brought along with it my three biggest fears: one, that human beings would find me and murder me; two, that animals would find me and eat me; and three, that a combine harvester wouldn’t see my tent and I’d be combine-harvested up. I’d wanted to build a campfire many times along the way through Europe, but visions of b

Welcome to our Words on the World

Why did I set up Meanwhile, on Another Part of the Planet? One of the first books I co-edited, published almost twenty years ago, was a literary anthology called  AWOL: Tales for Travel-Inspired Minds .  Since then I've written four travel memoirs, been a commissioning editor of travel books, edited countless travel narratives and helped many find publishers as an agent. Needless to say, I love travel writing and books that inspire my sense of adventure, but not only that. I also love non-fiction and fiction that's very rooted in a particular place. I love books that increase my understanding of the world.  I set up this site in 2020 when many people were unable to travel. Because we can always travel and dream through books. How does it work? The site is a place for finding books and for sharing them, particularly books that are independently published. It's a community site, curated by me, so I keep it as simple as possible.  You can scroll down to read posts, or search t

A Nurse in the Cariboo-Chilcotin - Marion Crook

I stepped down from the Greyhound bus in the late afternoon of a hot August day, relieved at the end of my twelve-hour trip from the city. After four years of university, I was where I wanted to be and who I wanted to be—Marion McKinnon, Cariboo Public Health Nurse. That feeling of satisfaction lasted only a minute. The truth was, I wasn’t sure of anything. I felt like a foreigner in a new country, my suitcases beside me, abandoned by the bus that had delivered me, awkward and alien. From the coast, the bus had wound through the Fraser Canyon, following the river up into the Interior Plateau of British Columbia. Even though the windows had been open, the air had been stifling and I’d sat almost stupefied by the heat. The land was vast and seemed to roll into forever. Get a grip , I told myself. This is going to be an adventure. I took a deep breath and looked around. Dust was everywhere: on the asphalt road, on the parked cars and the windows sills of the motel above the town that

My Korean Summer - Jennifer Barclay

We passed through a gate, and halfway up a forested mountain arrived at the monastery under darkening skies. Imposing buildings in traditional style rose from the hillside at intervals: long, black-tiled roofs, the eaves painted in delicate pinks and greens, decorated with flower and animal carvings; sturdy red wooden pillars, delicate trellised doors with paper windows. We stopped and the monk disappeared into one of the halls, asking me to wait. I watched the mist rise from the trees. I couldn’t help thinking he was going to emerge embarrassed, having discovered I had no invitation, no right to be here. Instead, he invited me in and asked if I wanted to eat. When I said I wasn’t hungry, a boy of about twelve gave me an umbrella and two monks led me across the sandy courtyard, skirting puddles, past a stone pagoda and towards the Hall of the White Lotus. Sliding wooden doors were drawn open on a bright, bare room. I left my shoes outside as was customary and from behind more s

Wadi Hadramawt, Yemen - Mabel Bent

  Friday, 12th January 1894 : “Our journey was seven hours, always along the valley, more like a plain it was so wide. We intended to go on to Al Khatan, where the Sultan of Shibahm lives, but a messenger came saying he expected to see us tomorrow and we were to encamp at Al Furuth. So when we reached that place, where there is a very beautiful well, shaded by palms and with four oxen, two at each side, drawing up water, we set up our five tents in the smoothest part of a ploughed field. Towards evening came two viziers, gaily dressed on fine horses, to welcome us: Salem bin Ali and Salem bin Abdullah, cousins. “[The viziers came to greet us] about 7.30 next morning. We had all stayed in bed till it was quite light and they brought two extra horses… While the camels were loaded a lot of women came to see me and I sat in a chair and took off my gloves at their request and let them hand my hands round. They asked to see my head, so then they got my hair down, dived their fingers down my

On the trail of an Edwardian traveller in Kosovo - Elizabeth Gowing

  Rob received a phone call offering him a new job, back in Prishtina. We were going back to live in Kosovo! To walk a city haunted by stray cats and streets acrid with roasting coffee and brown coal, where people looked each other in the eye as they passed, expecting to see friends they recognised. Where the neighbourhoods throb with the muezzin’s wail every day, and all summer with endless distorted music over wedding loudspeakers, and old men might still sit against a wall at dusk while rooks wheel and shimmer in the sky above them.     Back, to beyond Prishtina’s streets, to landscapes of blond streaked cornfields and egg-shaped haystacks, where hedgerows bloom and plums tinge a tree blue and above them, even into summertime, the cool mountains tower with patches of snow that bathe your eyes just to look at them, and where you know you can forage tiny mountain strawberries. Where markets bulge with tomatoes that still have the spice of the stalk on them, and driving home you see wo

Harley and the Holy Mountain - John Mole

  I have reservations at two ‘monasteries of the rocks’ perch ed like seabird’s eyries on pinnacles jutting out from the cliff. What possessed the founders? To get closer to God? Fear of Pirates? Imitate the hermit’ s vertiginous cave? It is a fasting day so I set out on a sugar high with nutty halva and dark chestnut honey with yesterday’s bread. Simonopetra is a five mile hike from Dafni along the coast road, a dirt track bulldozed out of the ancient footpath. The temperature must be over thirty degrees with no breeze an d a malevolent sun. S oon hat, boots and all my clothes, including those inside my backpack, are sodden with sweat. T he road is covered in thick yellow dust. I hold my breath and put my hand over my eyes and nose as trucks and SUVs barrel past, leaving sandstorms in their wake that stucco my damp clothes and turn me into a terracotta warrior. None of them stop to offer a lift. But the views are lovely. Over the indigo sea is the middle finger of the Halkidiki, S