the razzle and the dazzle

I used to watch this man construct a handmade parasol in Myanmar.  He was on a long drive from the airport in Heho to Inle Lake in the hill country of the Shan state. He would make the most intricate workings, all out of bamboo and a home smelted blade and lathe, he would perform […]

The Good Abbot Wang

The Post Office Essays There is a particular magic we humans get to do. We can have an idea then translate it into a series of symbols which others, years later, can read, so that the idea enters into their mind. We can write and create books and essays and letters, and mark down our […]

Arabic Calligraphy – A Tangible Culture

Arabic is spoken by about half a billion people around the world and is the language of the Islamic religion – from Jakharta to Casablanca, the reading of the Qu’ran and prayers are in Arabic. Muslims revere the Qu’ran as the literal word of God as recited to the Prophet Muhammad, so the written book […]

Peach Blossom Spring

  I like to dig, search, and poke around, and to stir up different ways to connect with a place. How to look at a city or a region with a different set of eyes, or better yet, with a different approach, like the way a pilot gauges the wind direction to land correctly on […]

Porcelain for Palaces

When I lived in China there were days where I would become overwhelmed by numbers. Numbers of people around me, numbers of buildings in cities, astronomical numbers and metrics of a scale so grand I thought could only be science fiction. I would become overwhelmed with culture shock, a stranger in an unknown land. Not […]

ice readers of Phnom Penh

There are secret languages in the streets of the cities we live in.  Signs and notes meant to be read by folks who know the neighbourhood, ways of doing things, a whole subtext of unwritten laws to live by and understand. When the trash is taken out, whom to avoid, which shops sell quality and […]

WPIG: Thai Funk-a-Go-Go Edition

Here for your travel listening pleasure, in the latest edition of WPIG the Pig is Thai Funk – a radio hour of dive-bar bands in Thailand playing rock, funk, and soul. Tyler Dillon and Anthony Weersing join forces in this episode to drop the nasty. Pour yourself a tropical cocktail and soak up the tunes. […]

Light Fuse Get Away

August 24th 2008, the day after my 29th birthday, my mind was tattooed with an image. It was the closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing and I had spent the past 30 days guiding a family all over China, intermixed with gold medal event tickets for the two weeks of the games. It […]

The New Colossus

I spent a lot of time in China in the early 2000’s, trying to make up for an overly euro-centric upbringing. I knew there was a world I’d overlooked, and hadn’t been taught about in school, a missing hemisphere. I’d read books like Ernst Gombrich’s History of Art which ignored the “East” side of the […]

Conde Nast Travel Specialists: Trufflepig’s Magnificent 7

Last week Conde Nast Traveler released its annual Travel Specialists list, kind of like the Oscars of the travel world. And with another record-breaking 7 Trufflepig planners with their names in lights (again), we feel more than usually justified in describing ourselves as the Tiny Company with the Great Big Nose. We are of course […]

Pointer-Middle-Ring

Over the past few years a symbol has made the leap from movie into life. It is a salute with three fingers held high: pointer-middle-ring.  It came from The Hunger Games, the series written by Suzanne Collins.  Both a book and movie franchise, it is a tale following the life of Katniss Everdeen. Her name […]

The Man with the Donkey

Last November between lockdowns, I made it down to Turkey for a glorious trip accentuated by a moment of pure serendipity. Making my way down the Aegean coast, I was in touch with a friend back home, and let him know I was headed to the Troy/Gallipoli area, known as Çanakkale – a place I’d […]

Spend it all

There is a noise I associate with heat and fever, and I am not sure if it’s real or from distortions of memory.  It could be from something as simple as the cicada, that strange beast that emerges from the ground, periodically, in the hot humid months, and rages against the known world with its […]

How to paint in watercolor

Sidewalks and the paved parts of the urban landscape have a funny definition in some Asian cities.  On the Silk Road after midnight, the roads and sidewalks become the communal domicile, as beds are dragged out into the streets to enjoy the cool breeze of the desert nights. Hanoi and Bangkok are two cities so […]

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels

George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. grew up in Illinois, obsessed with the moon, its shape, its craters and scarred face.  He drew pictures of the moon in grade school and studied it in high school, and when he graduated at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a civil engineer, the lunar mark stuck and came back to […]

All Hail the Himalayas

There is much discussion in the shell-shocked world of the travel ‘industry’. What’s lost, what’s coming back, what’s never to return. Goodbye to the city break? Good riddance mass tourism! Farewell fly-and-flop. Well, I don’t know the answer to all that, but I do know that there is one journey I currently cannot get out […]