Irreverent, informed and downright eclectic crime fiction and reportage from Southeast Asia and beyond
Gandhi stayed here and Paula Yates loved it. A handsome mansion built in the 1930s, run by the eccentric Helga De Silva, the property is now a faded but incredible Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Hammer-Horror bohemian ghost ride experience. If you are looking for conventional accommodation, don’t stay here.
Hotels don’t get any more unique than Helga’s Folly. Every inch of wall, floor and ceiling space is covered in paintings, frescoes, murals, photographs, mirrors, sculptures, giant candles and antiques and resonates with the spent souls of past bohemian visitors. Some guests will find the experience disturbing, others liberating. There’s an evident obsession with both death and whimsy visible in the décor, and the 20th century in all its terrible beauty, as perceived by the old moneyed classes, dominates the off-kilter ambience.
One could literally while away hours soaking up the infinite number of small details and mementos of an artistic life well lived. A definite highlight is an encounter with Helga, who makes an appearance, dressed to the nines like Count Dracula, every now and then.
Read the full review in The Daily Telegraph.
Here’s my new and very slick professional profile at Clippings.me. Thanks for taking a look. Sure beats LinkedIn.
I have been traveling in Sri Lanka recently. it was a blast and my first time on the island. Mellow people, so long as you don’t dig into the war (and I was not there for that), luscious green hills, great food, wonderful festivals and no stress.
I did a bunch of hotel reviews for The Daily Telegraph and did some other great writing. Plenty in fact.
With French journalist Laure Siegel, I investigated the island’s burgeoning tattoo scene and met several great tattoo artists. I even got inked.
The best place I stayed was the former home of the last king of Sri Lanka, now called Kandy House, a wonderful country mansion. It’s right in the jungle above Kandy. I had a close encounter with a king cobra there while visiting a local temple, which to my mind was really a spirit meeting, since I am still here to tell the tale.
Thanks to all the wonderful people who helped along the way, especially Harshi Hewage at Manorhouse Concepts in Colombo, Ravi at Ravi Tattoo in Kandy, Helga DeSilva at Helga’s Folly in Kandy, and Dimmu Fernando in Ja-Ela.
A brand new and very kind review of my first novel, The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu, at The Dorset Book Detective.
Read the full review here.
Gavin Haines at The Daily Telegraph on whether mass tourism on Thailand‘s holiday islands is sustainable as visitor numbers continue to go up. I get to put in my five cents worth.
Read the full story here.