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Backpacking Articles from Around the World

From 1996-1999 - as you'll know if you've read my About Me: Backpacker page - I traveled across four continents with my laptop on my back, writing for a living as I went along.

These were the first laptop days, when pulling that jazzy little keyboard out was guaranteed to draw crowds.

I wrote hundreds of articles in those three years. They were written for The Earth Times, the Christian Science Monitor, many magazines and even websites - although that kind of electronic journalism was just beginning. Even if they describe conditions that are no more, they still reflect many problems and issues that haven't disappeared and so I've decided to share some of them with you here.

There are many stories of hope, and many stories of sorrow. Especially dear to my heart are stories of resilience and survival, of victory stolen from the jaws of defeat and of individuals who beat the odds, no matter how disadvantaged.

  • Ten years ago, Asmara, Eritrea's capital, was a beacon of hope after years of war. The future was bright and the country strong.
  • The capital of Mozambique, Maputo, was also thrilling to the sound of peace after years of civil war.
  • In Ethiopia, microfinance was being discovered, helping poor women get back on their feet. This country, too, was emerging from its war with Eritrea.
  • Havana, on the other hand, braced for uncertainty as it coped with the isolation that came from the combination of an American boycott and abandonment by the Soviet Union.
  • Traditions in Africa are strong and in Kenya, the destruction of sacred forests, or kayas, was being fought in unusual ways.
  • In Thailand, organized crime managed the begging trade and child beggars were often trafficked by gangs who used them to earn money.
  • Despite years in Asia it took my friend Soh Koon to introduce me to Chinese New Year in Singapore - it's really all about the food.

If you're interested in the types of development issues covered by these articles, you may be interested in reading about volunteer work overseas and ethical travel.

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