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677: The Little Island
Escape the late-winter blues with a tropical blast from the past
675: Scenic Spirituality
Commune with religion and nature in an ancient land
673: Aoni Onsen
Return to a forgotten time at one of Honshu’s most remote getaways
671: The Golden Rock
One of Burma’s many splendid attractions hangs by a hair
669: Hida Takayama
For personal trips gentle to the soul, seek out the old-time charm of Hida Takayama
665: Okayama
A serene stroll through history awaits at this seaside retreat
663: Cruising the Bay
Ha Long Bay offers a breath of calm away from Vietnam’s urban rush
661: Agamachi
Fox fires and bar codes help a rural Niigata town reinvent itself
535: Hotel California
Mark Parren Taylor kicks up the desert dust in Palm Springs, the perennial Hollywood star retreat.
531: Race through time
The Xterra Saipan triathlon journeys through tropical jungle, up steep mountain paths and across the sands of history. Tama M. Lung joins the chase.
527: Bohemian rhapsody
No visit to Paris would be complete without taking in the Montmartre district. Bon vivant Simon Rowe dusts off his French to go exploring.
523: Slow Motion
Mark Parren Taylor touches down in the timeless former seaport of Lukang, Taiwan.
519: Rock of ages
From ancient times to the present, Gibraltar has always been an island of legends. Stephen Mansfield sifts through its history.
515: Go west, young man
Simon Rowe takes in the big skies and dust trails of Western Australia's East Kimberley region.
511: All mixed up
Mark Parren Taylor makes land on Macau and finds an enigmatic blend of cultures, cuisine and heated competition.
505: Earth, wind and fire
A historically imperiled town in Papua New Guinea holds the keys to a magical getaway. Carlo Niederberger splashes ashore.
501: Off the rails
Braving the 2,010 kilometers of Vietnam's Reunification Express from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi is quite the adventure. Simon Rowe goes along for the ride.
493: Rites of passage
From firecrackers and cheek piercing to divinations and buffalo races, Thailand's most colorful customs come alive at two annual festivals. Mark Parren Taylor joins the crowds.
489: Paradise found
Beaches, battlefields and a colossal casino provide tropical pleasures on the Pacific isle of Tinian. Carlo Niederberger touches down.
485: Through the grapevine
Stephen Mansfield drinks up the delights of the Château Monbazillac in southwest France.
481: Pleasure island
Saipan awaits the young and young at heart with its pristine beaches, pointy peaks, and perfect amount of entertainment. Carlo Niederberger checks in.
477: Reservoir of dogs
Simon Rowe visits the Kingdom of Tonga, where storms burst without warning and wild canines rule the night.
473: Into the bat cave
Sarawak’s Niah Caves are home to hairless bats, birds on the brink of extinction, and lots of bugs, according to Simon Rowe.
469: A fork in the river
Laos’ ethnic minorities battle the forces of time. Stephen Mansfield goes upriver in search of them.
465: Action scene
Sick of the short, humid Japanese summer? Tired of the winter? In NZ it’s summertime and the living is easy, the food and drink inexpensive, and the evenings long and lazy. Mark Devlin heads south to explore and party.
457/458: In living color
Simon Rowe soaks in the glow of Samoa's kaleidoscopic streets.
454: From Jamaica with love
Michael McDonagh soaks up the atmosphere in James Bond's balmy birthplace
449: See worthy
Dan Grunebaum drops oar in the stunning caves of Thailand's Phang Nga Bay
445: Great heights
Simon Rowe packs his hiking boots and sets out for Malaysia's Mount Kinabalu
441: Split personality
There are few cities with such an exacting dividing line between past and present as Lijiang in China's southwestern province of Yunnan
438: Fierce creatures
Simon Rowe introduces us to the untamed charms of Australia's Kangaroo Island
434: Leap of Faith
Simon Rowe dives into a tropical island paradise of waterfalls, reefs and bush rugby on the Fijian archipelago
430: A week in Provence
Stephen Mansfield explores the historic festival city of Avignon, a medieval diamond in the south of France
426: Outer space
Surreal sites, lunar landscapes and UFO sightings go with the territory in Chile
422: The Big Easy
The Moorish streets of Granada, Spain are alive with a new Bohemian rhapsody
418: Small awakening
Japan's microbrewers
414: Fowl play
The animal kingdom comes alive in the Galapagos
410: The river of spirits
Wading through soulful waters in Varanasi, India
406: Heading north
Marching to the beat of a modern drum in North Korea
403: Santa's lap
Santa's lap - enjoy saunas, Santa and sightseeing in Finland’s Lapland
399: Shanghaied
Seeking the past in China's megacity
395: Rising from the ashes
Mary King explores the rich history, culture and art of Croatia’s phoenix city, Dubrovnik.
391: The betels and the stones
Simon Rowe rolls with the tropical exotica on the obscure island of Yap
387: Prague
World heritage site
383: South Africa
Land of hope
381: Hawaii
Pearl Harbor
377: Salt of the earth
Tour the Uyuni Salt Pan
374: China
Suzhou and Hangzhou
370: The Nile
The river mild
367: Tibet
Top of the world
363: Laos
Memo from the Lower Mekong
360: Cuzco, Peru
Lost cities
357: Namibia
Call of the wild
354: Southern India
Mad about Madurai

ISSUES 349-   

From Jamaica with love

Michael McDonagh soaks up the atmosphere in James Bond's balmy birthplace.

There's more to Jamaica than sun, sand and sea—but for most visitors, not much more. The island nation has long been renowned for its picturesque coastline and attendant joys, from lazy sunbathing to high-energy water sports. Most tourists spend their whole stay in all-inclusive resorts that are the height of holiday indulgence but preclude catching any of the local culture and atmosphere.

To get a whiff of the real Jamaica, you only need venture off the hotel grounds and drop into one of the nightly beach parties to mix and mingle with the locals, indulge in clouds of aromatic smoke, dance in the surf, and knock back some Red Stripe. Venture a little farther and you may even find yourself communing with the spirit of the newest Bond flick, Die Another Day.


Seek and ye shall find
If, unlike the “all-ins,” you tire of being a beach bum and want to escape, getting around the island isn't too difficult. A rented car is the best way to tour at your own pace but the buses provide a reasonably priced alternative with daredevil driving stunts, bumps and potholes thrown in free. As for the trains, well, they haven't run since 1992.

Jamaica's blue seas and picturesque coastline continue to inspire visitors.

To clear your head and cure a hangover, head inland, east of Kingston, to the Blue Mountain coffee growing area—a mist-shrouded mountainscape of lush vegetation stretching upwards from 2,000-5,000 feet above sea level. Bob Marley enthusiasts should swing by the museum in Kingston dedicated to his life and work. 56 Hope Road was Marley's home until his untimely death in 1981 from cancer. For a multimillionaire rock star it's remarkably spartan with the reggae legend's fruit juicer, wooden bowl and cutlery still sitting in the kitchen.

Reggae, ska, dancehall, toasting and rap fans can also spend hours and hundreds of dollars scooping up local sounds in Kingston's innumerable record stores and nightclubs. Early risers and hardcore fans on the Marley pilgrimage will want to head north to visit Marley's birthplace at Nine Mile.


But the most star-studded area in all of Jamaica is the Northeastern coast, where Errol Flynn and Ian Fleming hosted the Hollywood set in their Port Antonio and Oracabessa homes. Goldeneye, as Fleming's estate is known, provided the London Times correspondent and former Royal Navy Intelligence officer an annual escape from the English winter. Built at the end of World War II, it's set in tropical forests and lush gardens overlooking a stretch of the Caribbean Sea.

Goldeneye's bedrooms are decked out in Indonesian batiks and bamboo furniture

It was here that Fleming, in an effort to take his mind off his impending wedding, began typing “a spy story to end all spy stories.” The finished book, “Casino Royale,” combined his experience in the secret service and a run of bad luck gambling in Portugal. It was also the first of 12 action-packed novels and two short-story collections featuring a hero with, as Fleming later recalled, “the dullest name I could find”—James Bond.

Although Fleming died in 1964, Goldeneye lives on as a thriving holiday complex owned by Chris Blackwell, the international music mogul of Island Records fame and a native of Jamaica.

The idyllic residence has three bedrooms featuring Indonesian-style bamboo couches, batik fabrics, four-poster beds, and large windows that encourage the flow of the cooling sea breeze. The master bedroom retains Fleming's original desk and a portrait of the author keeps a watchful eye on his beloved home.

Fleming lavishly entertained many famous guests here, such as Errol Flynn and Noel Coward, both of whom had houses in Jamaica. He wined and dined Elizabeth Taylor, chewed the fat with actor Donald Sutherland, and the then British Prime Minister Anthony Eden, whose visit is recalled by a faded carving on a tree that reads “God Save The Prime Minister.” Since its conversion into a hotel, Goldeneye's guest book has included Gwyneth Paltrow, Jim Carrey, Christy Turlington, Quincy Jones and Naomi Campbell.


View to a kill
Fleming's Jamaican experience also figures in many of the Bond stories. The nearby village of Oracabessa is the “beautiful little banana port” that James Bond drives through in Live and Let Die. On the Goldeneye beach, Fleming dreamed up the climax of the thriller “Dr. No” in which the villain plots to peg the Bond girl on the sand to be eaten by giant crabs.

Sun, sea and sand: the country's top draws

The name Goldeneye comes from Fleming's favorite, albeit, canceled espionage action and also lends its name to one of the many Bond books written after Fleming's death—in this case the book of the movie starring Pierce Brosnan in his first Bond role. The real Goldeneye operation was devised in late 1941 to destroy German infrared and thermal imaging equipment used to observe British movements in the Gibraltar Straits. Fleming, then in Naval Intelligence, planned a series of sabotage operations against the German observation posts and several key targets inside Spain. It's all gripping stuff and just the kind of paperback thrills one might like to read lying back on a beach relaxing somewhere in the Caribbean.


Getting there

There are no direct flights to Jamaica from Tokyo. The best bets are Air Canada via Toronto or American Airlines via New York. Goldeneye is located in Oracabessa, a small port on Jamaica's northern coast, approximately 15 minutes due east of Ocho Rios. The nearest hub airport is Montego Bay.

Where to stay

Act like a secret agent at Goldeneye. Individual villas and the property as a whole are available from $1,000 a night and up. Tel: +876-974-3354, fax: +876-975-3679. Other options are holiday rentals at Rock Edge, Golden Cloud and Golden Acre Villas. See for further information.

More information

Local excursions can be arranged to Noel Coward's former villa Firefly, exotic Dunn's River Falls, nearby Harmony Hall Art Gallery, or for rafting on the Rio Grande. The Jamaican Tourist Board in Tokyo can be reached at 03-3486-8857 or online at Learn more about Fleming at

Photo credit: Michael McDonagh