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Stories by Ken Jackson

Pago Pago, American Samoa

On the soggy trail of Somerset Maugham.

A thick drizzle soaked me one Saturday afternoon in Pago Pago, American Samoa. (Pronounced something like “Pango Pango.) But the drizzle was a welcome relief from the Deluge of Heaven that had just raced across ...

Bombay beach party

India's Ganesh Chaturthi festival: a travel experience.

In India’s Vedic prehistory, the son of Shiva and Parvati began his journey toward immortality when his father mistakenly lopped off his head with a sword, and upon realizing his mistake, replaced his son’s head ...

The first English expats: Banten, Indonesia

"An arrack to them."

In 1603, at a place Europeans then called Bantam, an English fleet trading for spices left behind a few merchants to organize the pepper trade for the arrival of the next voyage – two years ...

Other people's luggage

A thought-provoking visit to the Unclaimed Baggage Center.

Imagine any Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their six-year-old daughter Suzie from Cairo, Illinois. They have just finished touring England on a bus. At Heathrow, they check in for their flight home. They give their ...

Up a Mangrove Channel in Micronesia

A "Heart of Darkness"–like kayaking experience.

“Whenever you come to a fork in the channel, go left,” the owner of my hotel said as he prepared a kayak for me to paddle into the Mutunnenea Channel in northeastern Kosrae, Micronesia. “Eventually ...

An American in Dalat

(Before Americans were allowed in Dalat.)

“Welcome to Dalat. Please give me your passports. You are American? How do you come here?” Not an unusual greeting from the young female receptionist in a white ao dai local dress at the Dalat ...

One Night in the French Quarter

Before Katrina devastated New Orleans, the State of Alabama sent me and two other newly appointed law clerks to attend a conference there. We were given a pre-paid twin room at the Hotel Monteleone (for ...

Thirsting for Knowledge in Macau

A visit to the city's Wine Museum.

In the former Portuguese colony of Macau, the tourist office pamphlet promoting the wine museum offered an incredible enticement. Admission with wine tasting costs 15 Macau patacas (U.S. $2), and “of the new wines, about ...

Hong Kong: The Number One Wanchai Rule

A cautionary tale about red light district etiquette.

A female undercover cop in Neptune, the notorious subterranean disco in Wanchai’s red light district, pulled out her badge and shouted over the band at my well-served friend. “Excuse me, sir. Did you just say, ...

Saigon: Be Careful What You Shop For

“So, you’re going to Vietnam? Can you pick up an ‘ao dai’ for me while you’re there?” If a casual female friend ever says this to you, politely decline. Say you’re sorry; you’ll be too ...

England's Eclipse, 1999

“That’s eet, then?” With that summation, the last total eclipse of the millennium ended after 40 seconds under an overcast sky on Dartmoor for a young Manchester woman with two cranky kids. “I kood ‘ave ...

Speedboat to Battambang

Last rainy season, after a few days touring the temples of Ankgor, I decided to visit the former French capital of northwestern Cambodia – Battambang. My guidebook explained that traveling to Battambang by speedboat was ...

Looking Back: Day Trip up the Khyber Pass, 1998

There is a 19th-century Protestant church at the south end of Bombay’s Colaba Causeway. It has a disproportionately tall steeple, and before the skyline of Nariman Point was developed, it was the most prominent landmark ...

Captivating Cape Verde: Locked in an African Wine Bar

I’m sitting in an African bar scratching a description of Praia, Cape Verde, into a notebook, sipping my third cup of passable Portuguese plonk. I don't know if it was my intense concentration on the ...

Traveling in Style: A Personal Train through Transylvania

“The painfully slow Personal trains should be avoided as a rule, unless you’re heading for some tiny destination.” – The Rough Guide to Romania “These trains are achingly slow.” – Lonely Planet: Eastern Europe I ...

Bordering on Lunacy: A Taxi Tour in the Mexican Borderlands

Ciudad Acuña is a small Mexican border town near Del Rio, Texas. Day-tripping Americans come for shopping, cheap booze and a shot at depravity in the compact tourist zone near the international bridge. Occasionally, a ...

Another Hong Kong Afternoon

A Chinese Gollum squatting on a concrete stool Savors a secondhand cigarette butt And searches the sacred text of his racing form For a path to redemption. In a nearby meat shop, a bloody-shirted man ...

An English D-Day Remnant: Devon, England

An unlikely memorial to the D-Day invasion lies half-hidden in a narrow wind-ravaged valley among the sand dunes of Braunton Burrows on the north coast of Devon, England. While the remembrance sites in France have ...

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