curiosity about the ways of the world

Category: Global Gossip (Page 3 of 4)

Indonesia: waiting for tourists to come

Welcome to the first Global Gossip of 2008. I’ve been pestering Dougal for this for ages but he had work to do in Brazil. And Glasgow. As if that was any excuse. Anyway well worth the wait to see why Dougal Perman thinks we should choose Indonesia for a holiday (and remember, for some it’s destination of choice for weddings too). Photographs by Andrea McCarthy of My Talking Dog (see more on Flickr)



“Taxi? For tomorrow?”
A line of men sitting on the pavement try to entice us to rent their cab. There are many taxi drivers here in Ubud, a beautiful world heritage village in the centre of Bali, Indonesia. But not many tourists.

Indonesia is one of the most beautiful, interesting and exciting places on earth yet people don’t visit in the same numbers as they do in Thailand, Malaysia, or Vietnam. In two weeks travelling around Bali, Java and Sumatra, I saw incredible places and met wonderful people. I just wish, for the country’s sake, more tourists would come. Continue reading

Writing on the wall


Before 2008 arrives I want to post this picture of Berlin because it shows one of the best moments of 2007 for me: saving the planet on a family weekend to celebrate my birthday with the boys in the most exciting city I have been to, what on earth could be better. Continue reading

Shopping in Sao Paolo with Gilles Peterson

“It’s just a really special experience…I would say to any musician of any rank, to apply for it because it really teaches you a lot about other people and their cultures and music.” Ben Westbeech (definitely not Westwood!) on Trocabrahma Podcast Episode 2.


This is interesting stuff, so far the Trocabrahma series is the only download I have managed from the online Channel 4 Radio (though I intend to try their Unreported World series too). I like being a fly on the wall as Ben Westbeech sorts through his discoveries in a record store, “like a kid in a sweet shop” with sound so clear you can hear him unzipping his record bag (well, I think that’s what he was doing). Continue reading

Streetwise Perth

Let’s go to Perth to see how a town centre can thrive without traffic. It’s Saturday, the sun is shining, the pan pipes are playing and on the seafood stall huge crabs seem to send a cheery V sign to shoppers passing by. Perth Farmer’s Market is going like a fair bang smack in the middle of a pedestrian precinct. Continue reading

Flying down to Barra

This is the way to do it. Our luggage is pulled to the plane by a small tractor. Security guards make friendly small talk while they sift through our bags. In the air the pilot calls out landmarks as we race seagulls and clouds over the Sound of Barra. When we land at Glasgow a woman comes out to sweep sand off the cabin floor. If you have to fly at all this is how it should be done. Continue reading

Hot and cool Berlin

How on earth did they get up there? On our last night in Berlin, as it happens the hottest May night on record, we take a boat up the river Spree to see just how much the city has changed since the wall came down. Perched on the ruin of one of the many bridges destroyed by Hitler – his parting gift to the city – we see an extraordinary sight which seems to sum up the spirit of the new Berlin: a sofa sits high up on top of a crumbling concrete column several metres from the bank and on it three young people wave, lifting their glasses as we glide by. We wave and lift our glasses in return and spend the next few minutes wondering how the hell they got themselves and the sofa up there.


I didn’t manage to get a picture of the young people on the sofa but M.Kuhn’s photograph of Molecule Man on the River Spree has a similar spirit (downloaded from Flickr) and we saw that on our boat trip too. Continue reading

Bilbao – icon for Dynamism?

How do cities meet the demands of the present without losing the value of their past? John Herring joins Global Gossip with some bold answers in his ‘postcard’ from Bilbao.

In the 1980’s Bilbao was presented with an opportunity when the industry and shipping facilities blocking up the city centre moved out to the river mouth on the coast. Not many cities get the chance of a huge brownfield site bang in the centre. Continue reading

Belfast’s undercover success

We went looking for the covered market in Belfast ready to be impressed. Friends told us it was good, the landlady in the B&B agreed, and besides, as journalists do, I had already written a little bit about it before I had even left Edinburgh.


St George’s Market is in East Bridge Street near the Waterfront

Seeing the real thing was much better. Belfast is reinventing itself at an astonishing rate. It doesn’t seem so long since, on the way to visit my aunts, we shot off the ferry on the quickest route out of a troubled city. Continue reading

Czech mate: travelling with Tesco

I turned on the radio this morning to catch the tail end of a story about Tesco’s triumphant entry into Beijing, hot on the trail of Walmart and Carrefour. No surprise there. The interesting thing is that the Beijing store is so, well, Chinese. But that is not a surprise either. Tesco is a very wily beast, and as we have discovered on our travels across Eastern Europe, it becomes a kind of retailing chameleon when it moves out of the UK.


Definitely not Tesco, but the wily chameleon knows how to sell this stuff indoors.

Continue reading

Global gossip heats up

Flying has become about as much fun as queuing at a supermarket checkout. Less: you don’t have to take off your shoes in Tesco.

Should I be doing this? I am delighted to get so many offers of posts about city life from my travelling family and friends. Some of them started to arrive in December so thanks to Kate for the topical post on Lisbon trams (I hope there will be lots more about public transport as Edinburgh city council has at last accepted the business case for a first tram line in the capital); thanks to Ray for a piece on a thriving Dundee skate park that should put Edinburgh to shame; and thanks to Kit, our man down under, for adding his comment on Melbourne’s skaters. Don’t miss it! (I also heard from Peter that he had sent a post on cities which has unfortunately gone missing in cyberspace but with luck that will make its way here soon.)

All the same, should I be encouraging a communal blog about places we are likely to reach by plane?

Continue reading

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