The backwaters of Kerala maintain their lurid greenness despite the overhanging grey, Soviet sky of monsoon season. They are deathly still, like a bath that has been run and then forgotten. Our boat - a sort of floating Family Robinson tree house - leaves little trace behind it as it ambles down river.
One of the immutable laws of travel is that once removed from their country of origin almost all souvenirs become ugly and pointless. Paella dishes look authentic in Spanish kitchens. Get it home to wherever home is, give it five days and it's living in the attic or on its way to the next car boot sale.
Socotra. The name conjures images of the exotic and unknown, an island paradise, with breathtaking beaches and a truly alien landscape. Where is this place, you might ask. The answer is Yemen.