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When Baboons Attack

...The big alpha male kept coming closer and started circling the car, grumbling threateningly at us all the while, while the smaller ones were all sitting around watching from the side lines. We realised he was figuring out how to get to our food, and as Stuart and I stood guard Merryl packed away everything into the car. Stuart was armed with a burning stick from the fire (very Planet of the Apes) and I first with a towel (for flicking), the first thing to hand, and then, when the baboon tried to grab it off me, a folding chair. It felt like being in a bar brawl, as we were holding off a 5ft, 60kg baboon who kept making threatening feints to get past us, meanwhile showing his massive canines (bigger than a lion's apparently)... Read More

How to... Get Your Car Out Of Customs In Egypt

...The setting: Aswan’s ferry port, witness to weekly passenger ferries and occasional cargo barges from and to Wadi Halfa in Sudan, and a suburban hellhole complete with sewage repairs and begging children, site of the Aswan traffic police department.

The actors: various overlanders, both amateurs like us and professional drivers of overland trucks; M., the fixer extraordinaire; K., his slow-witted taxi driver (employed by M. only because his uncle is the head of the customs department); a near-blind customs official and assorted policemen on the hunt for baksheesh.

The mission: to convince Egyptian customs, traffic police and various other unmentioned government agents to release nine cars and trucks from the customs zone of the ferry port so that we can bloody well finish our journey.... Read More

The Dreaded Marsabit Road

...A road can get a reputation, and it's not always warranted, and now, after having completed the Marsabit Road and having arrived without incident in Ethiopia, I think that this is one of those traveller stories, a myth of a road that represents the adventure of traveling through Africa by car, that makes even those of us who take the 'easy' route up the East coast (rather than the uncharted and seldom used West coast route with all its unstable countries and even worse infrastructure, where everyone only speaks French) feel as if we are still trail blazers.... Read More

Cityscape Dubai 2005

...When we first arrived and heard about the current building projects, we thought they were impossible to achieve, just lofty dreams: the Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residences, featuring 40 high-rises along the beach, are nearing completion; theBurj Dubai, with the Dubai Mall and Downtown, has already risen above ground level and is planning to complete a level a week of its undisclosed number of floors (it is planning to be the highest building in the World, at least until it is overtaken by Al Burj, part of the crazy Waterfront project); The Mall of the Emirates is about to open its long-anticipated ski slope with real snow (the advert claims that "this year Dubai will experience its first winter"); and the World islands development is already old news, having risen from the waters for the last year and sold to the likes of Rod Stewart and Elton John.

Now that these unfeasible ideas are under development, and some are already inhabited (although famously thePalm Jumeirah has deferred occupation from this September), a whole new crop is introduced, these ones really impossible...

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Looking For Africa

The book: Out now!                                                  

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