Hello there, I’m Chris Allbritton, a former conflict reporter, having covered wars in Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan over the last decade for a variety of publications, including Time Magazine, Reuters and the San Francisco Chronicle. in 2002, I started back-to-iraq.com, which gained some fame/notoriety back in the early days of the Iraq war. But after too many stories about the worst in humanity, I decided to chuck it and start traveling and writing for myself, trying to find some of what is best in the world.
SINGAPORE—I used to like Singapore. I really did. It was a soothing, calming, well-mannered tonic to the chaos that was Pakistan. Whenever I visited, Singapore was like a gleaming, neon beacon in the wilderness, promising good bars, great food and a chance to let worries about security slip for a bit. Here, that’s the government’s job, after all.
And boy do they take it seriously. After a few days in the Lion City, Singapore’s cloying nanny state has gotten under my skin, like bedbugs. Walking the streets now, with the innumerable construction detours, droning warning signs and pedestrian barriers that herd us like cattle where the city deems we should walk, I find it all tedious and tiresome. Too often these last few days, I’ve had to walk a circuitous kilometer, almost, just to get to a taxi stand that I can see across the street with my own two very eyeballs. Eyeballs, by the way, that—thanks to their frontal positioning—provide binocular vision and allow me to estimate the speed and distance of oncoming objects like, say, a car. Yes, Singapore: I can cross the street on my own because of thousands of years of evolution that allows me to judge oncoming traffic. Read More
And so, after almost four months in Bangkok and Thailand, it is time for me to move on. I do so with a great sadness mixed with my usual restlessness. For Thailand is a wonderful, interesting and, yes, often infuriating and confounding place. But as most people say, there’s no place on earth like it.
I’m writing this from a train en route to Butterworth in Malaysia, the little town that seems mainly to exist as a train terminus and a port for the ferry to Penang. From Butterworth, I’ll head down to Kuala Lumpur, and thence on to Singapore. On Dec 10 or 11, I’ll board the White Star freighter ship and start the 10-day journey to Perth. In all likelihood, I will miss the Dec 21 end of the world as predicted by the Mayans and I will definitely miss the premier of “The Hobbit.” Which is worse will be left for historians and film critics. Read More
HANOI—Hanoi! The very word sounds exotic, doesn’t it? I arrived Oct 15 after a—I kid you not—26-hour bus ride from Vientiane to Hanoi. And just as all happy families are alike, all awful bus rides in Southeast Asia share miseries. In this case, the points of common awfulness include: