100,000 Travel Confessions

It’s time for 100,000 travel confessions! Wait, that’s not quite right. I have a few travel confessions to share but not that many. Oh, I remember what the number 100,000 means. It means that this blog just passed 100,000 hits! Thank you, dear readers, search engines, and cross-posters for visiting World Adventurers. It took two years, from October 2010 to October 2012, for this blog to reach 50,000 hits and then doubled this total in less than five months. That’s incredible. I must be doing something right.

I Must Confess!

So on to the Travel Confessions. A big thanks to Letizia for tagging me to make some Travel Confessions. Letizia was born and raised in the Netherlands but is now living in Borgomanero, Italy. I have to confess that her blog Dutch Goes Italian is excellent. I love her articles about Italy and mouth-watering food and drinks. Thanks for tagging me, Letizia!

About Travel Confessions

As you might know from other awards I’ve received, I enjoy researching the origin of blog series like Travel Confessions. Caroline and Josh from the blog Traveling 9 to 5 started the Travel Confessions chain in August 2012 as a way for travel writers like Letizia and me to confess our deepest, darkest travel secrets. As Traveling 9 to 5 puts it:

Is it a routine that gets you through long trips, a guilty pleasure destination or food, or maybe a pair of white Westin slippers that have seen better days? This is your time to come clean and maybe even feel better about your own confession as we read about everyone else’s!

How To Confess!

Here’s how it works:

1. Post a photo and description of your confession.

2. Tweet your post with hashtag #travelconfession and follow/tweet @traveling9to5

3. Tag 3 – 5 other travelers whom you would like to expose, and mention them on Twitter.

*This has no prize or big cash win at the end, it is for pure enjoyment for all of us travelers who carry our sanity around with us!

Confessions Badge

To my knowledge, no one has created a Travel Confessions badge, so here’s my own version of one. You’re welcome to use it if you wish.


My Travel Confessions

Without further ado, here are some of my deepest, darkest travel secrets:

1. When I stay in hotels with complimentary shampoo and soap, I like to take and use them on different continents. I once took a free bottle of shampoo made in the United States from a hotel in Punta del Este, Uruguay and then used it in Africa and Asia before it ran out.

Free shampoo and soap from around the world

2. My family and I often forget to bring something important when we travel. It got so bad that I had to make a list of things to bring. Then I forgot to look at it before our last trip and left something important behind!


A to-do list only works if you use it!

3. Travel wears me out after being on the road more than three weeks. After three weeks at home, I’m ready to hit the road again.

Wall in my office with arts and crafts from Africa, Asia, and South America

4. I like to keep track of how many American fast food restaurant chains I can find in a given city and pop in to see what local cuisine they’re serving. The McDonald’s here in Bangkok serves a spicy Thai chicken and rice dish that’s cheaper and tastier than a Big Mac. The taro pies aren’t bad but not as delicious as cherry.

A food court in Cape Town, South Africa

5. I enjoy getting lost in a place I’m visiting for the first time and wander around until I find a landmark I recognize. I once drove after nightfall in rural Africa toward Lake Malawi hoping to find the town of Cape Maclear, Malawi. Three hours and a lot of nervous sweat later, I finally found it.


Nightfall at Cape Maclear on the shores of Lake Malawi

6. I have a fetish for photographing the hotel rooms where I stay because I want to remember all those idle moments and funky rooms.

Hotel (2)


A boutique hotel in Cape Town, South Africa

Love Motel

A love motel in Wolchulsan, South Korea (with my family!)

Lucky Travel Writers

Here are three outstanding travel writers. Are they up to writing some of their own Travel Confessions? We’ll see!

1. BlueBalu (Living in Hong Kong)

2. Lesley Carter (The Bucket List Publications)

3. Russel Ray Photos (Life from Southern California)

clip_image003M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Harare, Zimbabwe

Click here for an updated version of this article with photos.

I arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe by car on the evening of May 2 after a long day on the road.  That morning I left Malawi and drove about 400 miles (700 kilometers) through Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.  Although it was a fascinating trip with incredible sights, I was exhausted.  I didn’t know what to expect in Harare.  I read so many negative news stories about Zimbabwe that my expectations were tempered by preconceived notions.

Once known as Salisbury, the capital of the former British colony and country known and Rhodesia, Harare was at one time of the most prosperous cities in Africa.  Three decades after Zimbabwe’s founding, however, Harare had fallen on hard times.  I’d read many cautionary tales.  Hyperinflation of the Zimbabwean dollar denominated in the trillions before it went out of circulation.  Outbreaks of cholera and other pandemics.  Unavailability of basic goods, including fuel and food.  If one believed the stories told by the international media about Harare, one would think that it had nothing good to offer.

Hence, I was pleasantly surprised to find Harare a relatively modern and livable city.  Perhaps low expectations tempered my outlook, prompting me to set them lower than necessary.  My brief journey through Zimbabwe depicted a country with many challenges but on the whole in better condition than its reputation belied.

After several days of traveling in the African countryside, I stayed in Harare overnight at a very nice 4-star hotel downtown.  The high-rise hotel overlooked a city park that coincidentally hosted the final concert of the weeklong Harare International Music Festival, Zimbabwe’s premier music event.  While concertgoers paid unknown sums to spend a few hours listening to jazz, fusion, reggae — you name it – at ground level, I sat perched 15 stories above looking down on the festival and taking in the musical finale.  It was a rare treat and a melodious ending to a long, eventful trip through southern Africa.  I rested very well that night

I spent the next morning walking around downtown Harare surveying the terrain.  The architecture was eclectic; it was both modern and dated with subtle strongman embellishments.  The cityscape did not feature any quasi-public monoliths, although I sensed broad brush strokes by the hand of public design.  The locals milling about were relatively well dress and moved with purpose on their way to complete all-important tasks.  While not as cosmopolitan as other mid-sized cities, Harare held its own in the annals of urban metropolises.  Even after years of hardship and neglect, it still remains one of the nicest I’ve seen in southern Africa.  Having lived for the past year up the road in Lusaka, Zambia, my view may be a bit colored by urban life in rural Africa.  Harare struck me as more amenable than its northern twin, despite the economic challenges it has experienced during the past three decades.

After a brief tour of Harare’s city center, I departed for Lusaka.  My stay there was short but sweet.  I was impressed enough that I plan to return to Harare in the near future over a long weekend with my family.  I want to show them a place that far exceeds the low expectations set by years of negative public perceptions.

Journey from Malawi to Zimbabwe via Mozambique

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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Journey from Malawi to Zimbabwe via Mozambique (Part V)

I entered Zimbabwe in early afternoon.  Malawi, where I had been early in the morning, seemed so far away now.  I drove on through unremarkable countryside until Eastern Mashonaland, an area dotted with weathered mountainscapes rising curiously up over the dry flat land.  More people lived here than in Mozambique.  They lived in what appeared to be slightly better conditions than in Mozambique, although many were quite poor.  Unlike Malawi, I saw few bicycles in Zimbabwe, a sign that most locals had little discretionary income to buy such expensive items.  The Zimbabweans, however, had a better transit system than Mozambicans.  Far more trucks operated in this area transporting locals who hailed them using arm flourishes akin to hitchhiking.

I drove on until I reached Mutoko, a large town an hour inside the border.  I stopped at a filling station with my tank nearly empty.  No diesel.  My heart sank.  What would I do if I ran out of fuel?  This was Zimbabwe after all, a place that faced chronic shortages in virtually all commodities, including fuel, until it replaced the hyperinflationary Zimbabwean dollar with the U.S. dollar as is legal currency a few years ago.  I went to another station across the street and fueled up.  Saved, I thought.  God is my buddy.  Although it was a risk driving alone through this part of the world running on faith that I would pass without incident, it isn’t a cliché to say that God was my co-pilot on this trip.  He assured me in so many ways that I had nothing to fear and that He would keep me safe, including the moment when I was driving on the highway and suddenly confronted a semi-truck hurtling headlong towards me in my own lane.  The driver was trying to pass another truck and ran me off the road.  If not for God’s urging me to pull over and my quick response, I might have died, as so many people have on Africa’s highways.  I recalled an incident just a month before in which a missionary serving in Zambia died in Zimbabwe when his bus was hit head on by a truck.  Can I say I’m lucky to be alive?  No, not really.  I know God willed it.  If He had wanted to call me home at that instance, He would have.

I checked my tire pressure in Mutoko.  Very low.  All the tires had lost one quarter pressure, an unsurprising fact given that I had run my tires over 1,500 kilometers of broken, pothole-marked roads and harsh terrain.  While the man at the tyre (tire) shop filled them with air I surveyed the town.  Across the street was a market and bus station filled with loitering people.  On either side of the tyre shop were other auto repair shops with car parts, burned-out chasses, and tires strewn in front.  I saw the remains of an overturned car beside the road.  Mutoko was not a pretty town but definitely a fascinating glimpse into Zimbabwean culture.  I stopped by a small market to buy a cold drink and chose a non-carbonated faux orange drink from the nearly empty refrigerator.  The store owner said it cost 50 cents and asked if I would like to buy some chips to round the purchase up to one dollar.  I agreed even though I was not hungry for a salty snack.  Business was apparently slow, and she needed the money more than I needed food.

I drove on from Mutoko to Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, content that I had enough fuel and tire pressure to return to civilization.  The journey ended quietly, and I pulled into town at dusk.  I was concerned about arriving after dark in Harare, a large city I did not know with its fair share of crime.  I also vaguely knew the general direction to my hotel but not the exact location.  Once again, God delivered me right to my destination, and I pulled in at nightfall.  I am thankful my buddy kept me safe.

Journey from Malawi to Zimbabwe via Mozambique

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Harare, Zimbabwe