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Medium 9781743603604

Lights Out in Hanoi

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

For almost a lifetime, I have been fascinated by the work of the French writer Marguerite Duras, born in Saigon in 1914. Duras has taken me to strange places. I have followed in her footsteps around Southeast Asia, and in France, as if nearness to where she lived would somehow infuse my own writing with the strangeness and difference, the passion, that characterize her work. In the early 1990s, along with my husband Ian, I braved South Vietnam when there was still a wild untamed atmosphere following the war, journeying along the Mekong in an open flat-bottomed boat in search of her family plantation. The better part of twenty years had passed when we set out for Hanoi, the last destination in my Duras quest.

Ian and I met up in Bangkok Airport. He had flown in from Cambodia, where he did aid work, and I from New Zealand. Ian is normally a cheerful traveler, but that day he looked tired and was unusually irritable. By the time we had checked through for our flight to Hanoi, I had begun to worry that dashing from one place to another was an ill-conceived plan. But we seemed past the point of no return and so we boarded.

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Medium 9781742204246

Lake Gardens, Brickfields & Bangsar

Planet, Lonely Lonely Planet Publications ePub

Lake Gardens, Brickfields & Bangsar

For more detail of this area see Neigbourhood Map »

Admiring the beautiful objects and art works gathered from around the world in the Islamic Arts Museum, which occupies an impressive building embellished with decorative domes and mosaic tiles.

Enveloping yourself in greenery at the Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park, home to KL Bird Park.

Exploring multicultural Brickfields, home to temples, churches and Kuala Lumpur’s official Little India.

Marvelling at the architectural detail of the Thean Hou Temple and the views from its elevated terraces.

Sampling some of KL’s top food and fashion picks in Bangsar Baru Click here and Click here.

The Lake Gardens were created in the late 19th century as an urban retreat for the colonial Brits to escape the hurly burly of downtown. Recently renamed the Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park after Malaysia’s second prime minister, this lush, landscaped area continues to act as KL’s green relaxation zone and includes three museums, six themed parks and other monuments and sights.

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Medium 9781742208008

Iraq

Planet, Lonely Lonely Planet Publications ePub

Torn between its glorious past and its recent bloody history, Iraq is a country in turmoil. Following the 2003 US-led invasion and the problems that ensued, the country had little time to recover before a wave of violence swept through in June 2014, when jihadist group Isis took control of large swaths of north Iraq.

While the majority of the country is extremely dangerous, some parts of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region are still relatively stable. The security situation here can change rapidly too of course, but much of the enclave has so far remained insulated from violence.

Surrounded by imposing mountains, dotted with lakes and home to numerous archaeological sites, the Kurdish region is largely untouched by tourism. Its future may be far from certain, but the warm and hospitable people here are inspiring nonetheless.

Iraq, including the Kurdish region, remains volatile, so be sure to keep up to date with the news and check with your foreign office for current advice before travelling.

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Medium 9781742207803

Norte Grande

Planet, Lonely Lonely Planet Publications ePub

Devil dusters zoom wantonly through sun-scorched Norte Grande with its undulating curves of rock and stone, Andean lagoons, snow-capped volcanoes, salt flats and sensuously perforated coastline. Famous as much for its hilltop observatories as its massive copper mines, those vast, uninhabited spaces touch the soul and the imagination. Norte Grande's star attraction is the tiny adobe village of San Pedro de Atacama, just a day trip away from the world's highest geyser field and some astounding desert formations.

But there's more to Norte Grande than San Pedro. Go for lung-bursting, jaw-dropping adventure near the mountain village of Putre in the high-altitude reserve of Parque Nacional Lauca or further afield to Salar de Surire. Spend a week perfecting your tan on the beaches outlying Iquique and Arica, or make your own adventure in the lost ghost towns and hard-sprung mining centers that make this region unique.

AJan–Feb Vacationers hit the coast and some highland spots become impossible to reach.

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Medium 9781742207582

Nagorno-Karabakh

Planet, Lonely Lonely Planet Publications ePub

%374 / Pop 146,500

Nagorno-Karabakh is the fourth piece of the South Caucasus jigsaw, a geopolitical product of the Soviet Union and a self-declared republic recognised by no one. The subject of a brutal war between 1990 and 1994, this small region is Armenian culture on land claimed by Azerbaijan. Its name sums up its myriad cultural influences: nagorno means mountainous in Russian, kara means black in Turkish and bakh means garden in Persian. To further confuse matters, Karabakhtis call their land Artsakh.

While there exist many questions about Nagorno-Karabakh and its political status, the beauty and cultural richness of its remote mountain landscape are undeniable. The Karabakh War left deep psychological scars on the people but the Karabakhtis are moving on, rebuilding their land stone by stone. Travel here is still an adventure, but rapidly improving infrastructure means better hotels, restaurants and hiking trails, while Karabakhti hospitality makes the challenges a joy, even in difficult times.

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