The eerie past at Bokor Hill

By Alison Bate I went up a mountain today, and came down much the wiser. It was a glorious sunny day in Kampot, too hot as usual, and I hoped it would be cooler at the top of the mountain. As we started up the winding road to Bokor Hill station, our Cambodian driver/guide said… Continue reading The eerie past at Bokor Hill

Travel, Vietnam, Writing

Coffee in Hanoi

I'm returning to Vietnam on vacation next month, and that got me thinking about the many hours I've spent in coffee shops in Hanoi, especially one on Ngu Xa in Truc Bach... By Alison Bate  The cafe owner smiles the smile of many mornings as she brings over my iced coffee and green tea chaser.… Continue reading Coffee in Hanoi

Sudan, Writing

Speaking about Sudan novel at Vancouver Public Library

By Alison Bate Hi! I'll be joining four other authors at the Vancouver Public Library this Sunday to talk about my upcoming debut novel. The novel's set in Sudan, where I taught English for a while, and tells the story of three very different women confronting their individual fears. Fatima, the second of three wives,… Continue reading Speaking about Sudan novel at Vancouver Public Library

Section of Muoi Trong Nguyen's "War" painting (2015)
Vietnam, Writing

War, peace and the artist: Muoi Trong Nguyen

By Alison Bate The corpses filled the river valley, their hands stretched toward the sky. It was 1979 and Hanoi artist Muoi Trong Nguyen had been sent north to the border with China to record the war scenes for historical purposes. The fighting between China and Vietnam lasted less than a month, but in that… Continue reading War, peace and the artist: Muoi Trong Nguyen


In praise of roommates and random conversations

By Alison Bate My French roommate Julien is practising his Occitan, a language I'd never heard of until he moved in four months ago. Julien is from Toulouse and he showed me a beautiful YouTube video called Mon Pais, accompanied by a rousing patriotic song. The language of Occitan sounds like a cross between French… Continue reading In praise of roommates and random conversations


Morning in Kalaw, Myanmar

By 6 a.m, I'm on the third floor patio of my hotel, listening to loudspeaker chants wafting over still-dark streets. I wrap my jacket around me and descend to the empty streets and head for the market. Outside the golden stupa, barefoot monks sing for their supper as they line up and move slowly past… Continue reading Morning in Kalaw, Myanmar

Pix of Bint el Sudan and workers at W. J. Bush & Co. (Nig) Ltd. factory in Kano, Nigeria

My Bint el Sudan story in Brownbook

My story about Bint el Sudan's factory in Kano, Nigeria, with great pix by photographer Khalil Halilu, is in the January-February issue of Brownbook magazine. Brownbook is an urban guide to the Middle East, based in Dubai, U.A.E. For more information about Bint el Sudan, see the following: * Surprise in the Souk * Memories… Continue reading My Bint el Sudan story in Brownbook

Sudan, Travel

From Darfur to Salt Lake City

I had just boarded the ferry at Horseshoe Bay in Canada when my cellphone rang. The line crackled and it took a while to realize who it was. "Is that you, Mohammed*? "Yes! I am here! I am so happy – everyone is so kind." "Where are you?" I learned he was finally in Salt… Continue reading From Darfur to Salt Lake City

Pix Alison Bate
Travel, Vietnam, Writing

Writing in Hanoi

Author and writing instructor Julie Ferguson has just posted my guest blog about the Hanoi Writers Collective: Following the muse abroad. It starts out this way: Hanoi is a surprisingly good place to write a book. The capital of Vietnam boasts good coffee shops with Wifi, teaching jobs where you don't have to work too… Continue reading Writing in Hanoi