Travelfish #418: Erwin from Germany + our latest long read

Where am I again?

Hi all,

Sorry, missed last week’s newsletter—have added a few extra stories to read to make up for it!

This week, I’ve a short ditty on a guy who got of the plane at the wrong stop and didn’t realise he was in the wrong place for three days. There’s a dearth of feel–good travel pieces at the moment, but this one put on a smile on my face.

A good trip with kids. Landing on Thailand’s Ko Kradan. Photo: Stuart McDonald.

Our latest longread is out. By Saqib Rahim, it profiles the Anan Bouapha, the public face and an advocate for LGBTIQ in Laos. You can read it for free with this link.

On pay to read Couchfish, I’m finally back in Thailand! I started off in Nakhon Phanom to check in on Father Chin. Then to That Phanom where I thought a bit about some of the vanished guesthouses from back in the day. Then to Mukdahan and a little visited national park. Last but not least, Yasothon for the Rocket Festival.

On free to read Couchfish, I’ve been continuing the series of travelling Thailand’s southwest islands with kids. You can read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. I also reviewed the Meaning of Travel, which I really loved. Less upbeat, I wrote about the final stages of decay, and asked why do destinations keep making the same mistakes.

A great book worth reading. Photo: Stuart McDonald.

Over on Thai Island Times, David’s wrap on beach and island news as always is worth a read. Do sign up to get his wrap on Ko Jum—coming soon!

Looking for a new newsletter? If you have an interest in travel writing, you should sign up for Lottie and Steph’s Talking Travel Writing. Comes in free and paid flavours.

All the photos in this week’s newsletter are from Couchfish.

Good travels!


Erwin from Germany

In 1977, Germany brewery worker Erwin Kreuz took his first ever trip out of Germany. His planned destination was San Francisco, but thanks to a miss–communication, he got off the flight at Bangor in Maine.

This is not San Francisco. Photo: David Luekens.

Erwin didn’t speak a lick of English, but he liked beer—a lot—and once out of the airport he god a cab into town. Once he’d sorted out a hotel, he spent the next three days exploring Bangor—thinking it was San Francisco.

You can read the whole story of Bangor’s favourite German here. It is great.

I remember a similar story from a few years ago. A UK couple planned to fly to Melbourne Australia, but ended up in Melbourne Florida. So Erwin wasn’t the last to have this befall him—and by the sound of the story, he had a great time anyway.

It got me thinking though, just how hard it would be to manage this today. I’ve written before about the joys of getting off the train at an unknown station, but I was talking about doing it intentionally! Erwin took it to a whole new level.

Have you ever ended up at the wrong destination—and not even realised it? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Good travels


Fifteen things worth reading

Cambodia is turning the tide on looted statues

This was not a gift.

Myanmar’s youth hold the country’s future in their hands $

Hundreds of thousands of people have now taken to the streets, calling for an end of army rule. Thousands of civil servants and public sector workers have also left their jobs, paralysing government. Leading the resistance is a new generation of activists.”

Watching the Sunset From Fansipan, the Roof of Vietnam

Terrific pics!

A brief history of Hotel Le Royal

“If Le Royal had already become a byword for luxury and prestige in pre-war days – despite being temporarily turned into a barracks by occupying Japanese forces in the early 1940s – it was merely a prelude for the halcyon days of the 1950s.”

After the pandemic, how can we decolonize our travels?

“Not all travel is all good. We need to be measured in how we travel, how often we travel, what we leave behind, of traveling closer to home. The places we visit are not just ‘holiday destinations’—they’re home for other people; living, breathing communities.”

Exploring Thailand’s old abandoned cinemas

“Movie theatres may have begun to slip into a slow death across the 1990s in Thailand, but the New Wave directors emerging within the past decade are now beginning to achieve commercial and artistic success and breath new life into the art form.”

Indonesian Paper and Palm Oil Tycoon Secretly Bought Historic Munich Building for 350 Million Euros

“It’s unclear where exactly the 348 million euros used to buy the Ludwig complex came from, or how much due diligence the lawyers, bankers, and other professionals involved in the deal carried out to establish the source of the funds.”

Mission Impossible: The Thai Cave Rescue

At look at the work behind the amazing cave rescue through a team–working lens.

In Cambodia, this village shows even the wealthy are vulnerable to land grabbing

“But, buyer beware, their once-quiet homes have now become a case study on the nature of land ownership and development in Cambodia, where it’s not uncommon for landowners, sometimes with limited legal claims to their property, to face off against large developers and well-connected tycoons. ”

Winners of the 2021 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest

Beautiful photographs.

Mekong turns blue, again

Worse was the river section further downstream from Chiang Khan to Nong Khai province and Lao ’s Paksane as they saw the decrease of water levels even below the minimum levels. At Paksane, the situation was considered as “very critical” for its 5-weeks long low flows.”

Thailand's tuk tuks, tour buses and boats marooned at Lunar New Year

Everyone is hurting.

The guardians of Siamese rosewood

“Thailand had found little use for Siamese rosewood prior to the boom, but it is extremely sought after in China, where it is known as hongmu (red wood).”

In northeast Thailand, dams continue to cast a shadow over riverside villages

“This lifeline crossing six Southeast Asian countries, on which 60 million people depend for their daily survival, increasingly looks like a series of lifeless ponds.”

What We Risk When We Rush Back To Travel

“If the tourism industry is serious about putting people first, then now is not the time to get on an airplane and take a trip. Nor is it the time to suggest travelers do so.”

Something to read

The meaning of Travel

Emily Thomas’ The Meaning Of Travel explores the Western philosophy of travel (other takes are reserved for future titles). I finished the book a week or so ago and since then have kept going back to it. I loved it.

Thank you

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Good travels