Author Archives: Kieran Meeke

About Kieran Meeke

Based in London for the past 12 years, I have visited nearly 100 countries and lived in Africa, Asia and Arabia.

Belfast: Relaunched

“BUILT in Belfast. Sunk by an Englishman. She was all right when she left here…’

Northern Ireland’s dry wit gets full play for the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Titanic  (on 31 May 1911), underlaid by a real sense of pride in the magnificent ship.

Titanic Belfast towers over Harland & Wolff's cranes

Titanic Belfast towers over Harland & Wolff's cranes

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Uzbekistan: A Rich History

AFTER breakfast, I count my money and find I am down to my last quarter-million. But, with only one day left in Uzbekistan, I may have enough.

When the smallest practical note is 1,000sum (and it’s also the largest in normal circulation), and functional ATMs are unknown, managing your money is a major issue here. Pockets bulge with the thick wads of cash needed for each day.

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Macau: Appetite for life

JUDGING by Macau – the tiny city state that, like Hong Kong, is a part of but separate from China – the Chinese have at least two passions.

Gambling is certainly one of them: Macau took in a record US$23.5 billion in gambling revenue during 2010, more than double all of Nevada’s casinos combined, including Las Vegas (which took in less than $6bn).

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USA: A Nation Divided

IT IS a fast 60-mile drive from Washington Dulles airport to the Gettysburg battlefield, a sobering reminder of how close the Confederate army of General Lee came to the Northern capital. ‘What if’ scenarios haunt any major battle and none more so that Gettysburg, where the fighting swung back and forth for three days.

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Zambia: Smoke that Thunders

“THE first time you see Africa, it breaks your heart,” says Klaus. “Then you spend the rest of your life picking up the pieces.” The poetic German pilot can be forgiven his flight of fancy, partly because I believe it’s true, partly because of the view.

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Switzerland: The Magic Mountains

Schatzalp terrace in winter (www.schatzalp.ch)

Schatzalp terrace in winter (www.schatzalp.ch)

HAVE you ever wondered what it might feel like to live year-round in a hotel room? It’s a tempting thought – no more worrying about cooking meals, cleaning or the dull routine of keeping up with the utility bills.

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Switzerland: The Rail World

The Rhaetian Railway, Graubunden

BEING so used to travel by plane, the quiet life of a Swiss train comes as a pleasant shock. From Zurich airport, then to Zurich itself and a quick connection for Chur. I am plunged straight into a Switzerland of commuters, families and old folk.

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Dominican Republic: Dance of Life

Dominican Republic Carnival

Dominican Republic Carnival

HOW can you spend a week in the Caribbean and not lie on a beach? Well, I seem to have managed it in the Dominican Republic if only because it rained the one afternoon I was free to sun myself.

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Sierra Leone: Light in the Darkness

Bo, Sierra Leone

Bo, Sierra Leone

YOU can tell a lot about a country from its airport.  Lungi International, stranded a wide river mouth away from Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown, is at first sight a steamy, chaotic mess. The crowded baggage area – much smaller than it seems to need to be – blazes with the colours of bright fabrics and brighter chatter.

Time passes in fits and starts as odd bags arrive erratically from the aircraft sitting a short distance away on the tarmac. In the meantime I am entertained by women hawking sim cards, men selling water taxi rides to Freetown and by my fellow passengers.

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