Tag Archives: seychelles

The 10 Places I loved visiting (and would love to go back to!)

Carrying on from Sunday’s blog post, here are ten places in the world that I truly loved visiting and, in a heartbeat, would run back to if money, time and common sense were chucked out of the window. I have only been to 35 countries but I have seen a fair few sights which really should be shared with the rest of you. So without a do, here are my top ten places that I have visited and would definitely visit again in a heartbeat:

10) Seychelles.

I know I have a bias towards the Seychelles as it is my mother’s country, but I have to be blunt. I really do love this country. I also love Sri Lanka, my father’s country, but due to its security situation, I really do not want to go back there for pleasure. You see, Seychelles attracts me, not just for family, but for the islands themselves. There are over 100 islands in the archipelago, and I have only seen four of them. And it is not just beaches. Great wildlife, a steamy hot and mountainous interior and wonderful old colonial architecture give the islands one hell of a lot of variety for such a small place. Plus, the culture, a polyglot of the islanders’ ancestery means that this is a fascinating place to see and meet people. Yes, the Seychelles are expensive, they are a pain to get to but it truly is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

(Last visited 2008)

9) San Francisco.

I love America, and I jump at the opportunity to travel there. The country is so vast, and is naturally blessed with some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. America’s cities are also some of the best that humanity has ever built. New York, Philadelphia and Boston are wonderful places that were launched on the backs of their old colonial past. But for me, San Francisco is the place to get to. A wonderful city in probably one of the most naturally beautiful places on Earth. And it is not too big or small, San Francisco is just that right size where you can explore and relax in equal amounts. A city steeped in history but also at the forefront of modern technology, this really is one of the happiest places on Earth.

(Last visited 1994)

8) Mexico.

All right, I know this is a big one, but Mexico is one hell of a country, and I have to return here one day. From the magnificent ruins of Chichen Itza, to the wonderful beauty is Chiapas and the frenetic capital of Mexico City itself – which I have to point out as one of the best cities I have ever visited!

I saw a hell of a lot of this country, but a visit back is a must for me. I loved my time here, and would happily go back and this time see the north of Mexico as well has head to the coasts for a bit of R&R.

(Last visited 2002)

7) Budapest.

One of three European cities on my list – and surprising, as I have only really begun to explore Europe in the past two years. But Budapest is truly beautiful. Split by the Danube you have the flat and fun Pest on one side of the river and the hilly, snooty but really beautiful Buda on the other bank. One thing, the Danube really shapes this city and its history. I am probably biased to this city, and I have a lot of fond memories of the place, which is also why I do want to hedd back here. But genuinely, memories are not the only thing. Budapest has tons of stuff to see, and has awoken from its communist stupor with vigour. Check it out when you have the chance, you will not regret it! I will certainly be heading back there.

(Last visited 2011)

6) Meghalaya.

The wettest place on Earth may seem like a strange place to recommend, but Meghalaya is truly a cultural gem of this world. Its unique hilltop location on a ridge overlooking the Gangetic plain both isolates and links it to the surrounding country in one fell swoop. Three unique cultures dot the state, and its pristine environment truly makes this one of India’s great surprises. I have never felt do relaxed and refreshed in my life as I have in Meghalaya. Whether it is the excess amounts of water, the wholesome food or the really cool locals, Meghalaya is a place I could visit time and time again.

(Last visited 2009)

5) Yunnan.

One of China’s true gems, Yunnan has it all. Great food, spectacular countryside and a culture that intertwines South East Asia, Mainland China and Tibet all rolled into one easily accessible destination – no small feat for a country as difficult as China. From the border with Burma to the fringes of the Tibetan Plateau there is something for everyone. Dotted with the famed backpacker hangouts of Dali and Lijiang, it is easy to be an independent traveler or to mosey in and relax with the crowd. It is definitely a part of China that I would not hesitate to visit again!

(Last visited 2001)

4) Krakow.

Wow, wow, and wow would be the best three adjectives to describe Krakow.

I know, it is surprising to include this city here, but really, my Poland bias aside, I really have to recommend Krakow and it is a city I would run back to in a heartbeat. To simply put it, there is A LOT to do in Krakow, and Poland’s piss-poor marketing skills means that it is a destination that flies far beneath the radar. Without the crowds you get in other European hotspots (unless it is a stag-do summer), you can feel a little like a pioneer coming here with all the ease of mainstream European travel. There is so much to recommend about Krakow, go on, treat yourself, and take some time out over here.

(Last visited 2011)

3) Xinjiang.

China’s biggest province is arguably it emptiest as well. Yes, there are a hell of a lot of tensions over here, with a separatist movement that is far more bloody than Tibet’s. And it is hard work to travel across here. But it is a culturally fascinating area. Plus it is a desert, now that counts as a huge amount of kudos for me. I have spent an inordinate amount of time here. It really was the first place that I experienced ‘independent’ travel, far cut-off from family, friends and anyone else, having to survive on my own with my interactions meaning the difference between food or nothing. I also crossed this vast area by foot (took me two months and lost a third of my body weight) which drove me slightly nutty.

Xinjiang is definitely a place with strong emotional ties, but I can also safely say that this is a part of the world that has a hell of a lot to give to the outside visitor. And despite beinfg in China, it is ironically the easiest part of Central Asia to visit, and that is a spectacular region of the world to taste…

(Last visited 2003)

2) Berlin.

Surprised? Well, you really shouldn’t be. Berlin has it all. An all encompassing history, easily accessible tourist spots, all at a reasonable price. Whether you are looking for cool bars, great food or simple fun, Berlin has something for everyone. London and Paris may get all the glitz and glamour. Barcelona and Milan get all the cool kids. But Berlin itself is simply magnificent. There is far too much to see and do that can be simply described in a short paragraph. There is so much I have left to see. I will be back here, and probably sooner rather than later.

(Last visited 2012)

1) Assam.

There really is not an order to this list, and while Assam currently takes the number 1 spot, I would go back to any of these destinations if I had instant access to cash. But the reason I value Assam so highly is multiple. Firstly, it was my first destination in India, and so I will always have an emotional attachment here. Secondly, it is so big, and so the variety is there. Thirdly, it is undiscovered; despite its huge size and obvious attractions, foreign tourists are few and far between, partly as it is so cut off.

But Assam is truly a stellar destination. It is easy to get round, once you get there! It is also really friendly, with a shockingly competent Tourist Office that will go out of its way to give you information. With a wide variation in Geography from lowland plains to mountainous, I just did not have the time to see all there was. There is a magnificent history, one of Asia’s great civilisations nestled here in the fields. Lush forests and wildlife that will make your jaw drop (I saw my first Rhino here!)

I will go back to India again, and while there is so much of the country I have not seen, I will have to make a beeline for Assam.

(Last visited 2009)

So that is my top ten of places I have seen, and ideally, would love to go to again. Any comments, drop them in the box below. And have you been to any of these places? Agree with me and what would be your top ten?

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Amigos Amigos – Finished!

I have waited years to say this, but I have finally completed the editing for’Amigos Amigos’, my documentary about Country Music in Seychelles. The best part of four years and nine hours of footage condensed into 48 minutes of music snippets and interview.

I am shattered from it. Really, I cannot believe it is done, but now cmes al the clean up work. And so here is what is left to do:

1) Get permission to use the music.

For the first time I am using other people’s music, and so need clearance rights from the record companies. This will prove to be…interesting, but as it is just for ‘film festivals’, then I hope for it to be relatively simple…(famous last words?)

2) Clean up the sound and footage.

The film was recorded on my SD camera, which means the sound is all over the place! Plus, at 48 minutes, it is just too long. So the clean-up will require me to also cut some of the interviews down. Ideally, I would want the film to be around the 40 minute mark.

3) Translation.

Some of the interviews are in Kreol – the language of the Seychelles, a French patois. I will need to get my subtitle hand ready to put those interviews into English.

So, I still have my work cut out. But it does feel good to finally hve this film under the belt and on the way to distribution!

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Amigos Amigos – Teaser 2

I am happily editing away at this project, and so I have released this teaser from Amigos Amigos. Just two more people to slot into the documentary then I can begin cleaning up the sound and picture. Oh, finally, there is light at the end of this tunnel. Never again will I do a documentary, but for now, enjoy this little snippet, and see how Johnny Dingle got his stage name…

And here is the link!

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Editing Update on ‘Amigos Amigos’

Not a long post, but just to add to the teaser I released earlier this week. There will be a few updates like this over the next few weeks as I finish off this documentary based on Country Music in the Seychelles.

First of all, apologies to the bulk of the people reading this blog. I know that half of that teaser was spoken in Creole, the language of Seychelles, but it was mainly targeted for the Seychellois community. The next teaser will have subtitles, I promise, so everyone (well, a lot more) will be able to understand.

So I have got half an hour of footage under my belt and I am on target to getting between 45 mins to an hour of documentary edited. Then I will trim down the documentary to something more like 35-45mins, subtitle it and clean up the soundtrack. As it was shot on an old VX-2000E, it is in lousy SD, but as it is a documentary I think (or hope) I will be forgiven for the poor picture quality.

I am aiming to get the bulk of work done by the end of January, which will leave me with the remainder of 2012 just spent cleaning it up, trying to clear music copyright before sending it to festivals. Now, it has taken me a while to get into the documentary, but so far it feels all right. I am getting back into the groove of editing, and it really is the last thing I have on my plate with regards to old stuff needing to get done. Throughout Autumn, I have been beavering away, clearing my slate for next year. Tying up loose ends, making sure that Irfan, for better or for worse, gets distributed to its festivals and making sure that I enter 2012 with the clearest of hard drives and minds to concentrate on the next project.

And yes, more will be revealed as I am already planning and writing the script for that baby. And it could be interesting. Which is why I want to make sure I have a clean slate. Onward I go…

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Filed under africa, film, music

‘Amigos Amigos’ – Teaser

Over the past few weeks, I have finally got back to editing Amigos Amigos, a documentary that I shot in 2008, but have only recently had the time to actually really get editing. Don’t blame me! Okay, maybe I have just not looked forwar dto completing this mountain (which in reality is a molehill) but I will complete this by the end of Jan ’12, so sit back and take a look at this two minute clip from the film.

Click to watch.

I will add subtitles at a later date 🙂

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Last of the Politics this week – Seychelles

For those in the know, I love Seychelles partly, as that is where the other half of my existence originated. Unlike Sri Lanka, it is a peaceful place, with only one coup d’etat since independence – not bad for an African state.

But anyway, it is still very ‘mickey mouse’ in many senses of the phrase. The Seychelles has the dubious distinction of being the most highly indebted country in the world. Yep, forget about the UK’s debt level or even Iceland, if you want to see debt, then head to Seychelles.

Now, as long as the debts can be repaid back, it is not a problem. However, there has to be something that the island can produce in order to repay the debts. However, us Kreols do not really have much to give to the world, except a lot of Sun, Sand and Sea. Great when there is money floating about, but now there is a recession…

This picture is not so much postcard but a nightmare. The Seychelles by land size is absolutely tiny, the biggest is only 13×8 miles. That is it. There are over a hundred islands, but spread over a vast distance, it is impossible to utilise except for pirates. In other words, the sea is our desert, it is both alluring but at the same time isolating. No problems if we were part of a larger entity, but our small sizemakes it difficult as an independent nation.

Right now, the government’s biggest problem is food. As we have not paid our loans back, it makes it difficult for the country’s suppliers to buy food, as our local currency is worthless. Prices for importing are high, plus the added fact that Zimbabwe has effectively stopped producing food has meant that food prices in and around East Africa have shot up.

What is happening in Seychelles right now is also in a microcosm what could happen to the UK in a year or so if we do not pay back our debts. While the Seychelles currently has no starvation, life is difficult and somehow, someday, it has to pay back the debts that it owes. In 2007, the Seychelles had over a billion dollars in debt. Not much by western standards, but for an African nation with only 85,000 people, that is a hell of a lot of cash, or roughly, every man, woman and child on the Seychelles owes US$12,000.

It has been a political week on this blog. I promise something more lightweight next week.

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