Language Primer: Chichewa

It should be noted that English is widely spoken and understood in Malawi but where’s the fun in that?

Language Primer: Enahara

For those whose tastes extend to the linguistic Mozambique Island delivers its own dialectic morsel: Enahara. This vernacular – derived from Mahkuwa, the most widely spoken indigenous language in the country – is prevalent in Nampula province and centres on the nation’s former capital. Enahara is a coastal dialect which is spoken by some 460,000…

Language Primer: Xangana/Shangana/Changana

As visitors to Maputo will attest, it’s useful to know some Xangana/Shangana/Changana. A colourful language and one of Mozambique’s indigenous Bantu tongues, it seems to encapsulate its mother city. The beat is rhythmic and the pulse smooth, held together by a thin veneer of chaos. Unlike Portuguese – the country’s accepted lingua franca – which writhes…

Off The Tourist Trail In Indonesia: 5 Underrated Destinations

Brooding Mt Bromo, blissful Bunaken, the Orangutans of Sumatra and Flores’ Komodo Dragons: it’s no wonder Indonesia entices thousands of visitors each year. Happily, it’s still very easy to slip off the tourist trail. Here are five such examples of less-heralded places worthy of anybody’s time. Sumenep, Madura As an island, jagged Madura feels slightly…

Bahasa Indonesian Primer: Numbers and Basic Transactions

Bahasa Indonesian is a deceptively simple language. With a nice, friendly bounce, it is easy to learn the basics. Certainly, within a few days, most visitors will feel confident enough to let loose a few words here and there. Such is the friendly atmosphere of the country, even non-polyglots can delve into its linguistic waters….

Live Review: Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O in Brighton

Brighton’s cosmonauts enjoyed a cosmic bounce as Acid Mothers Temple materialised at Patterns. The Japanese collective, tweaking synapses for over 20 years now, showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, this was clearly a reborn AMT, as evidenced by openers Blue Velvet Blues and Dark Star Blues. Re-recordings of old standards, they pulsed with…

Si Phan Don: Where The World Chooses to Stand Still

Eleven or 12 years ago, on a date in mid-April, a boat landed at Si Phan Don in southern Laos. Travelling folk can easily picture the scene: the setting sun, the gurgling river, boats put-putting in the distance and so on. A minor hubbub as goods and passengers alighted from the craft. The usual mix…

Language Primer: Madurese

A Madurese trait, it would seem, is to stay hidden in plain sight. For an island in such a central location – a couple of hours to Surabaya’s north and within striking distance of Bali – it remains an enigmatic locale. The tourism trade is mostly non-existent and the few who do manage to make…

Welcome to Erfoud, Last Stop Before the Sahara

While Erfoud is a striking enough destination in itself, its sobriquet gives it a whole new dimension. This is the so-called ‘Gateway to the Sahara’ and for many the last stop before a desert adventure begins. The understated surroundings never fail to stir visitors. Sand-coloured buildings, squat and cube-like, punctuate the souks and hustle of…

Christmas Tidings: Festive Spirit in Bangkok

With Christmas steadily approaching, the chanting began. It started as a whisper, far-off and barely audible. “You better watch out, you better not cry,” angelic voices decreed from afar. Sitting poolside we strained our ears to hear the divine message as it floated, dreamlike, along Soi Wat Phasi and vanished somewhere over Thonglor pier. But…

Life Lesson: Recollections of a Bangkok Ajarn

“Right, let’s kick off.” So began my final lesson as an English teacher, or ajarn, in Bangkok. My students from the city’s Ramathibodi Hospital respectfully turned their heads towards me as I embarked on the day’s topic. It was, coincidentally enough, a lesson about farewells. I had moved to Thailand 15 months earlier with a…

Live Review: The Orb, Bridport Electric Palace

Ravers young and old had much to celebrate this evening as The Orb brought their 25th Anniversary tour to Bridport. The ambient house pioneers have been exploring the stratosphere since 1988. Tonight they again hit the heights with a joyous blend of timeless tunes, irreverent samples and surreal visuals. From the off they’re in complete…