Author Archives: oliverjohn

Watching football abroad: Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has the highest concentration of football teams of any city in the world, with no fewer than 24 professional sides. The two biggest, however, are Maradona’s former team Boca Juniors and River Plate (currently in the second tier).

If you’re in The Capital of Tango, you’ll probably want to see a match at La Bombonera, Boca Juniors’ stadium. In these working class environs, surrounded by crumbling houses and blocks of flats, football is an all consuming insanity, and the fans are quite frankly mental.

Boca fans during a match against River Plate

Take care though: Boca, and specifically La Bombonera, isn’t the safest place in the world. If you look/sound out of place then you could find yourself in a bit of mither with the locals — definitely avoid wearing any team colours. There’s a great article about the perils of watching football in Argentina here.

Also, if you’re planning to go to a game, bear in mind that things can change at the last minute in Argentina, so pick up the football newspaper Olé and check the venues and dates.


Dodgy travel trends for 2012

Fancy a Stupification in 2012? How about a bit of McTouring, or a Statuscation? Continue reading

11 countries in one minute

Great video:

2012: the year to visit Burma?

The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Burma (photo by bradjward via Flickr)

I first visited Burma in 2007. On arrival in the repressive nation, I had to change 100 dollars into the local currency at the airport; there were no cash machines; there was almost no internet use and what there was, was restricted to a handful of junta-approved sites; people ran away when I mentioned National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Things are a bit different now, following the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and an apparent relaxation of the iron grip of the junta that has ruled the country since 1988.

CNNGo recently listed 5 signs that Burma is getting easier for travellers. Could 2012 be the year that tourism in Burma takes off?

The world’s most dangerous airports

They say that, statistically, the safest way to travel is by air. Not if you’re flying into one of these…

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South Wales Bus Challenge

Is it possible to get from Cardiff to Bethlehem by bus?

Wales’s rural bus services are under threat. Government cuts have already seen the frequency of some services reduced, and other routes have already been scrapped. The Welsh Government has cut the Local Transport Services Grant by 3% — in some rural areas the LTSG funds half of the services. In addition, there are fears that the continuing free bus pass scheme, which allows elderly and disabled people to travel free of charge, could lead to more services having to be scrapped.

How important are local bus services to communities? Are they well used? Are they efficient?

To find out, I’ve decided to make a lengthy journey purely by local bus, starting from outside my flat in Richmond Road, Cardiff. The destination – with Christmas just around the corner – is the tiny village of Bethlehem, Carmarthenshire. Continue reading

Living with Burmese migrant workers

In May 2008 I travelled to the Thai border town of Mae Sot. The town has long been a haven for both political refugees and migrant workers from Burma, just across the Moei River.

I spent several days with a group of illegal workers, who were living in a makeshift settlement at a construction site. Continue reading