TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

HOKKAIDO BIRDWATCHING: SMH TRAVELLER

HOKKAIDO BIRDWATCHING: SMH TRAVELLER

I am not a bird-watcher. No judgment, but I’ve always just thought it seems like a bit of an odd way to pass your time. Waiting for hours on end in the wilderness to catch glimpses of avian life? Flying across the world to see a rare bird, which may have flitted off by the […]

HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM: SMH TRAVELLER

HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM: SMH TRAVELLER

Crossing the road in Saigon, on any normal day, is an utterly terrifying act. But with a hangover? It’s like playing Russian roulette. After some liberal vodka pouring on the last night of our Pandaw cruise along the Mekong river from Cambodia to Vietnam, I find myself at the infamous roundabout outside Saigon’s Ben Thanh […]

CHHLONG VILLAGE, CAMBODIA: SMH TRAVELLER

CHHLONG VILLAGE, CAMBODIA: SMH TRAVELLER

In a country of beautiful smiles, where the ability to keep smiling has been tested more brutally than almost anywhere on earth, this Cambodian woman has a spectacular smile. With her light brown skin, dark bobbed hair and faded floral T-shirt, her gold-capped grin widens across her face, in defiance of the shocking realities of […]

Jaipur Religious Walk, India: SMH Traveller

Jaipur Religious Walk, India: SMH Traveller

Two dozen women wrapped in neon pink, orange and yellow bejeweled saris dance and prostrate before the elaborate shrine. Their bare feet slap against the marble floor, silver anklets tinkling in time with the copper gongs they beat over and over, as a tangerine-robed guru passes a flaming oil lamp over a statue of the […]

Fes medina, Morocco: SMH TRAVELLER

Fes medina, Morocco: SMH TRAVELLER

A crooked old man in a pyjama suit and kufi knitted hat wanders slowly down the eerily quiet laneway, scuffing his pointed babouche slippers on cobblestones that have become glossy with age as he passes a row of shuttered shopfronts. This man is the only other person in this laneway; the only other person, in […]

HONG KONG: SMH TRAVELLER

HONG KONG: SMH TRAVELLER

It was silk pyjamas Iwas after, not a glimpse intomy future. And yet here I am on Hong Kong’s infamous Mystic Mile, a street lined with fortune-tellers of all kinds. I had been dashing through Kowloon’s Temple Street Night Market, scanning the neon-lit rows of Chinese fans, fake designer watches and teapots for the aforementioned PJs. My fruitless search led me to the end of the market […]

TRAVEL FOMO: SMH TRAVELLER

TRAVEL FOMO: SMH TRAVELLER

It’s not until I’m sitting here, suspended 100 metres above Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe in a six-seater chopper, that I realise just how much I don’t want to be doing this. Don’t get me wrong, the “flight of the angels” undoubtedly offers the most stunning views I’ve seen in my life. Rainbows criss-crossing the world’s […]

MUMBAI BAZAAR, INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

MUMBAI BAZAAR, INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

There’s a goat eating my necklace. Well, not my necklace exactly, but a fabulous antique necklace I was just about to buy. My hand is still outstretched, poised to pluck the glittering prize off the rusty nail it’s hanging from, as the hungry critter chomps right through it. Ah well. If one is to survive […]

GOLDIE HAWN IN INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

GOLDIE HAWN IN INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

I thought it was just another of the Varanasi tout’s sales pitches. “Come come, madam, you see my shawls. Goldie Hawn buy my shawls!” I looked at the rotund little Indian man, almost as wide as he was high and with three horizontal orange lines swiped across his forehead (a sign that he worshipped Shiva, […]

TRAVEL GREED: SMH TRAVELLER

TRAVEL GREED: SMH TRAVELLER

“I want the world. I want the whole world. I want to lock it all up in my pocket,” warbled Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. A horrid little so-and-so she was, and yet she spoke my language. The language, that is, of one who knows it is simply not enough to have journeyed […]

LADAKH, INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

LADAKH, INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

PANGONG TSO, INDIA During a seven-month sabbatical in India this year I ventured to Ladakh, the “land of high passes”, tucked away in the far north of the country between Kashmir and the Chinese border. It was a snap decision to go, but even years of planning and research couldn’t have prepared us for the […]

SLUM CLASSROOMS OF MUMBAI, INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

SLUM CLASSROOMS OF MUMBAI, INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

I step up onto the big yellow school bus in Mumbai, India, and am greeted by a sea of smiling young faces. Nothing I haven’t encountered in this city before. Only this particular bus isn’t heading to a school – it is school for these kids, all of whom have been raised in the slums […]

BEATLES ASHRAM RISHIKESH, INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

BEATLES ASHRAM RISHIKESH, INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

“No entry. Banned!” the policeman barks as he thwack-thwacks a club into his hands. “But why?” I ask. I’m not playing coy; I’m genuinely confused as to why the derelict ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India – the place where the Beatles famously learnt transcendental meditation in the 1960s – would be […]

MUMBAI SHADOW READING, INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

MUMBAI SHADOW READING, INDIA: SMH TRAVELLER

I should really have given the eunuch some money, I think as I stand on the burning-hot Mumbai rooftop, arms outstretched and face tilted towards the sun while the young man measures my shadow. Shortly, he and I will head downstairs so his father can “read” my shadow and tell my fortune. I’m intrigued, but […]