LATEST ARTICLES

Bad Air Days

Bad Air Days

Massive LED screens in Beijing’s famous Tiananmen Square glow red through the haze. Pedestrians, many wearing space-age face masks to filter the toxic air, rarely even glance at the screens’ bold instructions: “Implement the Clean Air Action Plan”, “Improve air quality, start from myself, start with the small things, start now” and “It is everyone’s …read more

Out of the Middle East

Out of the Middle East

An often fatal respiratory virus has made the leap from the Middle East to south-east Asia, spurring governments across the region to swing into action to contain the disease. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, has similar characteristics to the SARS virus that emerged in China a decade ago, killing 750 people and bringing …read more

Closing the net

Closing the net

The deadliest creature in the world can be squashed with a casual slap. Yet the tiny mosquito still manages to kill hundreds of thousands of people a year with the diseases it carries: malaria, dengue, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever. Now it seems science is getting closer to controlling some of the mosquito’s cargo of …read more

An Australian-Balinese princess

An Australian-Balinese princess

A princess clad in bright silks and an elaborate gold headdress or a young Sydney professional, poised and tailored, sipping a cocktail in an up-market city bar? Maya Kerthyasa is both Balinese princess and Australian professional. Now 22 years old and a staff writer employed by the glossy Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine, she skims from …read more

Battle for Yangon

Battle for Yangon

Squint just a little and they’re almost visible: the choleric soldiers in the uniform of Empire, shining boots and brass buttons; the twirling women in diaphanous flounces and frills; the Indian servants, and the sweating band in the corner, pumping out a waltz for the ruling expatriates in this tropical corner of the colonies, the …read more

In the footsteps of a hero

In the footsteps of a hero

Duncan Menzies died a brutal and bizarre death in a remote jungle village in northern Burma. The 24-year-old lieutenant from Adelaide had been trying to find some food for his desperate comrades when Japanese soldiers caught him, shaved off his beard, dressed him in a Japanese uniform and shot him. More than 70 years later, …read more

Grade expectations

Grade expectations

Sheer hard work, dedication, and a refusal to be distracted: Asian-Australian teenagers have their eyes on the glittering prizes – scholarships, top exam marks, sought-after university places.  Jackson Huang, for one, insists he doesn’t mind a 90-minute commute to school every day. The long trip, he says, gives him time to “relax”. Otherwise, he’s in …read more

Best by boat

Best by boat

Connoisseurs of Bangkok often say the city is best seen from the water. Lying back in a long-tailed boat, speeding along the mighty Chao Phraya river or drifting through the scenic canals; standing squeezed in a commuter ferry, or sitting comfortably in a tourist boat: the scene from sea level is simply different; quieter, gentler. …read more

Dirty work of empire

Dirty work of empire

Now sadly shabby, the two-storey red house in the remote northern Myanmar town of Katha was once an imposing edifice, a wood and brick statement of colonial power. Ghosts of former grandeur can be seen in the building’s substantial teak staircase, lofty ceilings and brick fireplace. Deserted, with a rusting tin roof and stained walls, …read more

Match points

Match points

A long queue of fidgeting kids stretches back from the school’s door; kids whispering and giggling, intoxicated by the presence of fame. Tennis champion Li Na patiently autographs their tightly-clutched tennis balls, poses for photos and scrawls her name in book after book. Launching the English language version of her ghost-written autobiography ‘My Life’ in …read more