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Montgolfiere Weekly

An exploration of culture in its many forms

Observing chimp behaviour in Gombe

By Michelle Munro

What to do with a weekend between Kigoma and Dar es Salaam?  I could join the other “week in the field” development hacks, take the Friday flight to Dar and enjoy vibrant markets, the Indian Ocean, a pedicure, and a hotel with a pool, gym, decent internet, consistent showers and exotic breakfast choices like real coffee, whole-wheat bread and yogurt. Or I could stay in Kigoma, capital of the region with the same name in western Tanzania, almost as far as you can get from Dar but only 2 hours from Gombe National Park, which, like Kigoma town, borders Lake Tanganyika. Continue reading “Observing chimp behaviour in Gombe”

Michelle Munro

World explorer for fun and for work, reader, cyclist, writer, but most often of reports and evaluations, still nursing when I can for the love of it.

The accidental development tourist

By Mark Fryars

OK, so you know what and where SNNPR is, right? No? Oh! Well, in short, it is a region in Ethiopia, a few hours’ drive south of the capital, Addis Ababa. It’s home to some 45 ethnic groups, and its 15 million people speak 12 different languages. Half the population are Protestants, one in five are Orthodox Christian and the remainder are Muslim, Catholic or other religions. So, pretty diverse.  Continue reading “The accidental development tourist”

Mark Fryars

Amateur photographer, birdwatcher, musician, culture vulture and geek with an irrepressible itch to see new places and faces; semi-retired from full-time international work but still travelling!

Welcome to Montgolfiere Weekly!

This blog exists because I wanted to do a different kind of writing from the writing I do in my day job, and I even managed to persuade some of my friends to contribute their thoughts on culture in its many forms, from the visual arts, letters and music to human health, habits and customs, with occasional references to hot air ballooning. There is a whole world out there, and this is a small way of exploring it. Continue reading “Welcome”

Travelling in Japan: Koyasan

By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the final instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day. After Kyoto, we went to Mount Koya or Koyasan, which is an area of religious significance, being the centre of Shingon Buddhism.  One attraction for visitors, apart from the town’s natural setting in the mountains, its history, its many temples and other religious buildings, is the opportunity to stay in a temple lodging, Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Koyasan”

Travelling in Japan: Kyoto

By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the third instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day.
In Kyoto, we stayed in a two-hundred-year-old wooden building that had been operated as an inn by the current owner’s family for over a century. The ground floor is now a whisky bar with Belle Époque–style stained glass. The upper floor has traditional Japanese rooms with rice-paper screens, tatami mats and cushions to sit on, but there is also an Edwardian sitting room with a wooden floor and armchairs. Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Kyoto”

Travelling in Japan: Nikko

By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the second instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day.
The train from Tokyo took some time to leave the greater metropolitan area, which was not surprising as some 38 million people live there, and move into a landscape of villages, small holdings, rice fields, trees with no leaves but bearing orange fruit, a few large houses with gardens of manicured trees, and distant mountains. Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Nikko”

Travelling in Japan: Tokyo

By Patricia Lightfoot

Based on a recent visit, these are my impressions of Japan. It’s a Western country, so a lot is familiar, but there are many fascinating differences. I was struck by the great contrast between the skyscrapers and neon signs of downtown districts and the older neighbourhoods. Walking into our neighbourhood in Asakusa in Tokyo was like entering a film set: narrow streets were lined with wooden houses that are hundreds of years old, often where the same family has lived or run a business for many generations. In these areas, businesses can be hard to find, because they can be very discreet. Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Tokyo”

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