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Mike Arkus
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An inveterate traveler, Mike Arkus worked for more than four decades as a Reuters journalist, much of it as foreign correspondent, being based in posts as disparate as France and Cuba, Israel and Brazil for over three years at a time.

He has so far visited 273 of the 321 countries and territories listed worldwide by the Travelers' Century Club - from Greenland and Iceland to Antarctica, Patagonia and the Falklands, and from Papua-New Guinea and Borneo to Sao Tome and Principe and Gabon. In a typical year he spent a week in the Virgin Islands; another week in Saba, Statia, St. Barths and Anguilla; a month in the Galapagos and Ecuador's Andean and Amazon regions; and seven weeks in Angola, both Congos, Djibouti, Somalia (Somaliland) and Ethiopia.

Entries by Mike Arkus

5 Flights of Fancy I'd Rather Not: On a Wing and a Prayer On the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 4:48 PM

There are flights, many hours long, that pass in a daze as you slip into and out of somnolence, or get engrossed in a film or book. Then there are those, sometimes short, even an hour or less, when you really wonder what the hell you're doing suspended in mid-air...

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Mute Witnesses to Horror in Rwanda and Cambodia: The Stations of the Skulls on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted April 6, 2014 | 11:42 PM

As the world marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide on April 6, the macabre human remains of that terrible massacre have become grim stations of the cross on the tourist circuit in the otherwise magnificently beautiful country -- just as they did years earlier in...

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There Are Guides, Then There's the Galápagos: Going Rogue on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2014 | 5:44 PM

Dante had the Roman poet Virgil to guide him through the nine circles of Hell in the Inferno part of his Divine Comedy, and the Florentine beauty Beatrice to take him through Purgatory - and onward and upward to Paradise. Yours Truly has Class A war criminal Tojo to guide...

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Clams -- Velvety Jewels of the Sea: Aladdin's Cave on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 9:53 PM

Clam chowder. Clam bake. Clam up. Tight as a clam. As happy as a clam. OK, but you don't normally associate the filter-feeding, plankton-feasting bivalve mollusc -- you probably won't use that term either -- with gems. Oysters, yes, but clams?

Yet the clam's mantle, the fleshy outer layer...

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Crimea, Now Scene of a Russian Invasion, Is a Tourist Gem: A Photo Essay

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 12:22 PM

From soaring mountains to craggy shores, from Tsarist palaces to rock-clinging monasteries, from the palace of the Crimean Tatar Khans to the site of the one of the most famous and futile battles in history, Crimea has much to offer the traveller, whatever his/her predilection -- once Russian President Putin...

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Diary of a None Too Happy Camper: Camping Down Under on The Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 3:05 PM

I'm not a fan of organized tours or camping. But when you're in hyper-expensive Australia, unwilling to waste zillions on a 4X4, a camping tour of The Kimberley, one of Western Australia's premier sights, may be your best bet. That's how I find myself on a nine-day, eight- camper for...

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Deserts on Three Continents, Part 3: The Sahara: Into the Sandbox on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted February 25, 2014 | 12:27 PM

At over 3.6 million square miles, the Sahara is the world's largest desert if you exclude the icy wastes of the Arctic and Antarctica. Unfortunately Islamic militant groups have recently turned huge swathes of it into no-go zones for those travellers who don't wish to be killed, kidnapped or otherwise...

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Deserts on 3 Continents, Part 2 -- the Atacama: Into the Sandbox on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted February 20, 2014 | 1:59 PM

With about 0.59 inches of rain a year the Atacama, high in the Andes Mountains of northern Chile, is the driest place on Earth, and very likely its oldest desert, going back 3 million years.

It is much more accessible than the Gobi or the Sahara. Roads and...

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Deserts on Three Continents, Part 1 -- The Gobi: Into the Sandbox on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted February 17, 2014 | 7:28 PM

Deserts are never as barren as the image the word initially conjures up before your eyes.

The Sahara has its magnificent emerald oases across a vast swathe of northern and western Africa. The Atacama in northern Chile has its snow-capped volcanoes, steaming geysers and age-old villages. And the...

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From 'Pass the Bacon' to 'Airport Mary': Wackos on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted February 10, 2014 | 2:30 PM

Many decades ago, in the former Yugoslavia, I came across a young British tour guide who was beside herself, almost literally tearing her hair out. One of her middle-aged wards was refusing to get out of bed in the very basic monastery inn unless bacon was on the table for...

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Not All Penguins Wear the Same Tuxedos: 8 Penguin Fashion Trends on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 11:56 AM

'Officer,' the drunken motorist asks the policeman in the hoary old joke, 'are there penguins as tall as humans?'

'No,' the officer replies.

'Oh dear,' the driver hiccups, 'then I must have run over a nun.'

Penguins, though, are much more liable to be likened to...

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From Tasmanian Devils to Komodo Dragons: 6 Toothy Customers -- Beware of Jaws on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 8:06 PM

OK, this is not the great white shark of movie fame, just a random, by no means exhaustive, look at some of the many other toothy customers out there with whom you don't want to go mano a mano -- or rather, mano a dientes (unless of course you're a...

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5 Storied Isles of the South Pacific: Going Literary on the Looney Front

(2) Comments | Posted January 19, 2014 | 4:39 PM

Not for nothing have some of the world's most famous authors dwelt literarily on and physically in the islands of the South Seas, the mystic beauty of their soaring jungle-clad precipices and palm-girt atolls and the outsized personalities of their outsized denizens serving as muse and inspiration. Here are some...

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7 Top 'Art Wanks' at Tasmania's Newest Museum: 'Monanism' on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted January 15, 2014 | 4:19 PM

Three corsets greet you with glaring colors as you enter, and 3,000-year-old Egyptian sarcophagi flank an exhibit entitled Fat Car, a red polystyrene and fibre-glass full-size model of a Porsche Carrera Convertible bulging with rotund cartoonish bumps and lumps, perpetrated by Austrian Erwin Wurm.

Welcome to Hobart's Museum of...

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Fire Guts Ancient Tibetan Town in South-West China: A Photo Essay

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2014 | 10:10 AM

It was sad to read that a 10-hour blaze razed the mainly wooden 1,000-year-old Tibetan town of Dukezong in South-West China over the weekend. The lanes were so narrow that the fire trucks could not get through.

With its soaring mystical mountains, emerald meadows and golden spired monasteries, it...

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5 African 'Bus' Rides: Rough Riders on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2014 | 5:04 PM

Not all African buses break down, arrive days late, overwhelm you with dust and heat, or underwhelm you with esoteric notions of comfort and service. Far from it. But then, if you get one of those, you'll miss out on some of those more treasured moments that, depending on your...

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When Your Flight Gets Delayed or Cancelled in the Cocos Islands: Marooned on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2014 | 9:26 PM

Sometimes when your flight to 'there' is delayed or cancelled, you still get 'there,' albeit a few hours, even a day or so, later because the airline whose friendly skies you've chosen to fly does its best to get you up in the air as soon as the problem, be...

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Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out in the Midday Sun: Updating Noel Coward on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted December 30, 2013 | 5:07 PM

Sometimes by design, sometimes through thoughtlessness or plain idiocy, sometimes just because I get antsy if I sit still, I find myself doing my British passport justice, at least by the lights of Noel Coward's iconic song, sweating and puffing about in the broiling noonday sun just like the playwright/composer's...

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Finding a Needle of Primary Jungle in Borneo's Haystack of Deforestation: Going Green on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 2:24 PM

In the mists and mountains of north-eastern Borneo indigenous Dayaks are struggling to save one of the fast dwindling tracts of primordial rain forest still left on the world's third largest island, aided by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and banking on the potential for ecological tourism.

Borneo has become...

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Riding With the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Greece: Going Divine on the Looney Front

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2013 | 11:44 AM

From out at sea, the mystic mountains of Patmos rise on the horizon, seductive yet darkly ominous. For this is where the end of time begins, where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse first rode out of the starting gate, where the Seven Seals were opened and the Seven Angels...

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