A Sexy Haircut in Seoul and Illegal Alcohol on the North Korean Border

A visit to Korea when working in Japan, with two missions - a haircut and entry into North Korea. Both spectacularly unsuccessful. 

As those of you who followed the Ginger Tour may recall, getting one's hair cut in foreign climes is not always easy: there was the trainee monk (aged fourteen) who left me with not a single blade of hair in a desert monastery in Syria; the reluctant barber in Harare who confessed half-way through that this was his first experience with non-Afro-Caribbean hair; and let's not forget Eka's sister-in-law in Tbilisi who macheted me after one glass of grappa too many. I was therefore resolved to take advantage of my twenty-four hours in London in between Gaza and Tokyo, and have a jolly good British short, back and sides.

Plans came unstuck as soon as I knocked on a door in Shepherds Bush, behind which I had been hoping to find an Italian friend, only to find her shape replaced by that of an old school friend I had not seen in a while. My surprise was exceeded only by his relief at my arrival, as he explained that he had been pressed into emergency baby-sitting duties and he was late for a meeting.

"I've changed his nappy and fed him. He needs feeding about twelve and putting down about 12.30. She should be back well before then, though. Cheers, Brads, you are a mate." And with that he was gone, leaving me with sixteen-month old Niccolo, a lively and inquisitive child. We had fun, running in and out of the garden, up and down the stairs, in and out of the garden, up and down the stairs. I was knackered after ten minutes. How do you parents manage? Two and a half hours later, we boys had bonded and I was sorry to have to return him to a relieved mother, but I was late for lunch and had shirts and blazers to buy, leaving no time for a haircut. No problem, I thought, a quick trim in Japan couldn't be that expensive, could it? Yes. With prices starting at twenty quid, I thought I would hang in there until I went to Korea in a couple of weeks.

Bids and I met at Incheon International Airport in Seoul – he had flown from Tokyo and I from Hiroshima. Over the mandatory first night beers, we discussed plans for our five days together. A Korean haircut would be an interesting challenge, a challenge that we felt we could rise to, especially as there was a section on hairdressing in the Korean phrase book he had thoughtfully brought with him. Barbers were even easy to spot, the ubiquitous diagonal red, white and blue colours rotating in their upright poles littering the streets of Seoul.

"This one's got two poles together, so we can't fail." Down the stairs and into the basement. There were two doors, one a toilet and the other, well the other must be the barber's, surely? I opened the door and shut it again within two seconds as Bids and I collapsed in laughter. We had been expecting to find a couple of chairs, a willing scalper, some mirrors and the pleasant odour of a perfumed hairdressing salon. Instead, we found ourselves looking into a room that was totally bare, save for a cubicle in the far left-hand corner. And out of the cubicle she crawled seductively in her dark negligee. Now I understand the words 'vixen', 'writhe' and 'lithe' when applied to the female body. As we returned to street level, we were perplexed, for the directions for the two-pole barber's shop pointed to that room. It was only later that evening that we discovered that it had indeed been a hairdressing salon.

There was a single pole advertising haircuts on the third floor, and we climbed the stairs with suspicion. This looked more like the genuine article as a fat, sweaty, middle-aged man greeted us. Bids plucked out the appropriate phrase from the book and I was sat in the familiar chair looking at myself in the mirror. Proceedings couldn't yet begin, for I was asked to exchange my shoes for slippers, which I did, whereupon I was requested to remove my slippers. Cushions were then placed in front of me and my legs raised to a horizontal position, so that I had a good view of my toes as my hair was being cut. Asia teaches you very quickly not to wear socks with holes. Bids, meanwhile, was suffering from backache and took the opportunity to avail himself of the establishment's massaging services. I heard various crunching noises behind me as an elderly woman walked all over his back and he pronounced himself to be in more pain at the end of his seventy-minute session.

Some Koreans explained to us later that evening that one pole means 'clean haircut' and two poles means 'dirty haircut.' Or, as George Orwell might have said on his farm, One Pole Good, Two Poles Bad. There were more two-polers in our neighbourhood – don't tell me I was in the rough end of the trench again?

Bids was a joy and the perfect partner for the Ginger Korean incursion. We have a fair bit in common – same school, same university, same love of beer, similar world view, bad dress sense, lack of shame, similar humour, an insatiable curiosity about new places. He had done some research into Korea and pre-booked the hotel and the tour to the DMZ (demilitarised zone between the two Koreas and home to between four and six million land-mines). His conversational Japanese and willingness to dive into the phrase book helped to keep things moving apace, and I admired him for his desire to have a go, even when he didn't always get it right.

We had parted on the first night at about three in the morning, I to bed, and he in search of a bath-house. In the morning, he told about the refreshing experience, mixing Jacuzzi, sauna and pools of varying temperatures – a perfect way to end the night. We determined to try one a few days later at about midnight and after a cheeky one too many. All the characters, Japanese and Korean, appeared as one to me, so I followed Bids blindly. He declared that this was the place and so in we traipsed. Attempts to enquire about the price of a bath caused confusion with the owner, who offered us a bed for the night. When we insisted we just wanted a wash, he looked at us as though we had come from Mars and halved the price, leading us down a dingy corridor, into a dingier room. This wasn't a bath-house at all, it was a hotel! I have no idea what the owner must have thought of us, two pissed gaijin bursting into his hotel and insisting on a wash. We found the baths eventually and I luxuriated in a good soak, moving from pool to pool, interspersed by a red-hot sauna. A few pints on the way home and we were in bed by four – now I understand why people find returning to the UK so hard, with its limiting late-night social options.

I liked Seoul more than I thought I would. People back in Toyland (Japan, for those of you who missed the last report) told me it was like Tokyo in the Seventies. It was certainly more human – beggars, the homeless, more street food as people massed in the evening to drink the local firewater and eat the local dog (tasted okay, actually) in makeshift tents on the pavements (sidewalks). Taxi doors don't open automatically, there are less pedestrian lights and there is rubbish on the streets. It was refreshing after the ultra-clean, if somewhat sterile streets of Toyland. The traffic was worse, though, and everyone seemed to be on the road at the same time. People were friendly as well, from the taxi driver who refused to charge us when he got lost, to the barmaids who laughed as they encouraged us to pick up a few words of Korean (Bids did much better than me). In fact, the only negative thing I can say about Korea is that the coffee was uniformly awful, bad enough to almost send us to Starbucks. Other oddities were that the staple snack food with beer was popcorn and our twin hotel-room came with a free breakfast, but only for one guest… In the bars, the waitress always brought over a bottle-opener, so that we could open our own beer. The Korean approach to the gym was interesting – five-storey, glass-fronted buildings in shopping districts, so that the keep-fit fanatics could watch the street below as they pounded the treadmill and Bids and I could look up and telepathically communicate: time for a beer.

The advance foot-soldiers of globalisation are out in force, of course – Starbucks, McDonalds, BK, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins, Citibank – and I could not help but admire the progress that South Korea has made since the end of the Korean War. Then, according to the outstanding War Museum, the South had 5% of Korea's electricity, now it was bathed in neon, skyscrapers dominating the horizon. Bids had a contact through work and we met for a beer. It was an interesting introduction to the young, dynamic and successful Korea, as well as a reminder why I never want to be a successful international businessman.

Cory was a genuinely nice guy, who took us out for an excellent barbecued beef dinner in a typical Korean restaurant (get those shoes off again and sit on the floor while picking up food with chopsticks), and he chauffered us around afterwards to a couple of trendy bars, leaving the car for the valet to park. We were joined by his friend Mike, immaculately dressed in designer suit. Business cards were exchanged and I was asked to choose a bottle of wine. I nearly died at the prices – beers started at $9 and a bottle of Dom Perignan was a veritable snip at $800. While I was looking at the wine list, Mike started talking about Johnny Walker Blue (I thought there was only a Red, a Black and a Gold), which was available in his favourite bars at $1000 a bottle, and it was only sold by the bottle. My God, which wine would I order? There were some bottles that cost more than my monthly salary, and I started singing the prices of a Chilean merlot, a little cheap for these flash geezers perhaps, but just about affordable at $70.

In this world to which I and Bids did not belong (although he has more experience of it through his job as a lawyer), Cory flew home every weekend from Tokyo to Seoul to play baseball; trans-Asian business trips were dismissed as though the meeting were next door; other countries were described not according to their cultural heritage, but the levels of comfort of the local Hyatt Hotel; we were advised to travel in black taxis only, as they were much more comfortable, even though they cost 25% more. The price of everything was named – the price of a night's entertainment in the hostess bars, where you could get washed by girls who soaped themselves naked and then rubbed against you. I was beginning to think that Asia was one big sex theme park, where people outdid themselves in how much they could blow on an evening's entertainment. Bids brought me back to our world as we sought out the dingiest and cheapest bar we could find as a reality antidote.

One of the most interesting parts of the conversation was their view on North Korea and the nuclear threat it posed. Where they scared? One thing I had never realised is that Seoul is only forty kilometres from the North Korean border, a sitting duck, one that could be destroyed in a short time from artillery bombardment, never mind the six to eight atom bombs the North is rumoured to possess. Mike took a five-dollar sip and said that, although they were obviously aware of the threat, there was nothing much they could do about it and so they tended to ignore it. That was a weird impression I had about Seoul, so close to perhaps the most dangerous and unpredictable regime in the world, its number one target, and yet life seems to go on as though there was no threat.

North Korea. The last enigma, last bastion of Stalinism. I almost went in 1995 on a famine assessment with an NGO, but the trip was cancelled at the last moment. Pyongyang is perhaps the one place left on Earth that I really want to visit (apart from Merthyr Tydfil of course). I looked into trips from Japan, but it was impractical, involving a double-entry visa to China, one to North Korea and more than a thousand bucks for the flight – a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue to some, but a not inconsiderable sum for a new teacher, whose first pay packet was all the lighter for two months' rent deduction. With a little planning, it should be possible to arrange a visit in August, but for now I would have to content myself with a trip into the DMZ.

The DMZ is the weirdest place on Earth. Was it because it houses what Sports Illustrated dubbed 'the most dangerous golf course in the world', surrounded on three sides by land-mines (with a sign advising players not attempt to retrieve their balls should they land in the rough)? Was it because, at this last flash-point of the Cold War, there is a restaurant chain that you will not find in all Japan – BurgerKing? Was it because, in the US mess where we had lunch, I turned round and saw a portrait of Prince Philip in full military regalia, signed simply 'Philip, 1999'? Was it because this was the place where the Great Leader of the Free World took his binoculars and peered into the Evil Empire to the north and, in a splendid modern-day take of Blackadder goes Forth (General Melchet looks at the map and declares: "God, it's a barren wasteland out there", upon which his aide points out that the map is on the other side of the page), George W.'s aide helpfully pointed out that he might be able to see a little more clearly if he took the black caps off the lenses? Was it because this was the first time I had been on an official tour in a military-controlled zone, where tourists and guides had to play by military rules, where soldiers saluted the tour bus as it passed, where the bus stopped at the entrance to the zone so that our accompanying soldier could unload and reload his weapon, where our guide told us we could take umbrellas off the bus to ward off the rain, but was then overruled by the military, so that we all got wet? Was it because of the strict dress code, where shirts were mandatory, jeans forbidden and any sort of logo was taboo (apparently so that the North Koreans could not use our presence as propaganda, portraying the South Koreans as stooges of American capitalism – this in a country that still houses 37,000 US troops)? Perhaps, but it was also so much more than all this.

Bids had pre-booked the tour from Tokyo and sent off our passport details for security clearance. There were about thirty of us, mostly Japanese, all dressed as the tour required, all with passports. There was a vague notion in the back of my head that alcohol was not permitted on the tour. South Koreans can also go on the tour, but they need to apply two or three months in advance, and no South Korean family can do the tour together, in case they try and defect to the North. This has happened, so I was told. First stop was the observation tower, constructed in 1992, from where on a clear day, one can see far into North Korea. It was peeing down with rain and the view was as clear as through George W.'s binoculars with the caps on. The video was revealing, though, pointing out the 'propaganda villages' that sprouted out in retaliation to the tower, the aim being to show that life was rosy in the north. If that was the aim, it has failed, since these villages look like derelict ghost towns that have not been maintained since their inception. Indeed, many believe that the buildings consist of just the façade, with nothing behind - a modern-day Potemkin village.

The accompanying museum housed some interesting artefacts. Bids and I walked around bemused as we looked at an assortment of some of the oddest things ever to appear as museum exhibits. He liked the blank cassettes, presented under glass casing. It soon became clear that these were examples of things produced in the north. It took me back to the Soviet Union, where functionality took precedence over glitz. We liked the mannequins with no faces, which modelled the drab workers' clothes; we loved the children's books, especially the one in English on nature, entitled 'Tell the story, Forest!' and we stared at objects that passed as children's toys.

Next stop was the American base for lunch, once our passports had been inspected and bus searched, but not before we swapped onto a US bus. It felt like Israel all over again. Photography was rigorously controlled. Lunch was in a very pleasant mess. There was a bar. I bought a couple of drinks and we settled down to discuss the morning's events. The guide hurried over.

"Are you drinking alcohol?" It would have been hard to issue a convincing denial, since the evidence stood in front of us. "This is very serious. We may have to cancel the tour. Alcohol is not permitted on the tour. I thought I told you that." One day I will learn to listen to instructions, but for now I tried a mixture of apology, ignorance and the not unreasonable defence that, if alcohol was illegal, why did they serve it to us? "I will have to report this to the military." Our mood was sombre as we entered the briefing room and, having signed away our lives in a disclaimer (UN could not be responsible for our safety in case of an outbreak of hostilities), a US soldier approached us and asked sternly:

"Have you two gentlemen been drinking alcohol?" I felt like I was back at prep school and about to be given a detention for farting out of turn.

"Yes, we had one beer. I am very sorry, we didn't realise."

"This is very serious, we may have to cancel the tour."

"I am very sorry. It was just the one. We are not drunk or anything. It was an honest mistake." After a moment's thought, he decided to be magnanimous, but warned that we would be watched and "one wrong word or show of hysteria and the tour would be cancelled." We thanked him for his leniency and bowed our heads in shame, just like we used to do twenty years ago at school. Being a tourist in a military zone is no time for humour.

It was back on the bus and on to another observation tower, this time twenty metres from the front line. We were assembled in two columns and told to follow the leader. No cameras, no silly gestures. As we gazed into the north - which looked just like the south, lots of trees – I caught sight of my first North Korean soldier, looking idly across at us from his control post. The biggest flagpole in the world was pointed out to us – 160m high, with a flag that weighs 250kg – and then we were escorted to the highlight of the tour, for me at least.

It was a simple sky-blue hut, made of wood, and the official border between North and South Korea was in the middle of a table in the middle of the room. South Korean soldiers were standing guard outside, facing the enemy at the side of the building, so that one eye was focused on the hut and the other on the north. They were curious, not only in their dress, but also in their stance: black uniforms and igloo helmets, complete with shades, they stood motionless. While they reminded me of the traffic police from the US serial, Chips, Bids could not get over the smoothness of their skin. It was South Korea's answer to the Changing of the Guard in London. As they stood, we noticed their clenched fists. It was explained to us that they were in taekwondo position, and spent forty minutes, motionless, in that position, before being relieved.

We entered the room and found two more taekwondo waxworks – one at the side of the table, on the official door, the other at the far end, in North Korea, guarding a small door. I was reminded of my childhood favourite programme, Mr. Ben, where a cartoon character goes through a door and enters a new world every episode. Through that door and you are in the care of the North Koreans. The table had microphones, so that the North Koreans could monitor everything that was said. The table hosted whatever official talks took place between the two countries.

"And if you go round the table, you are officially in North Korea," announced the guide. Ah, this was a bonus – country number ninety-one and I didn't need a visa. I have always thought tourists who are photographed with those guards in London look slightly ridiculous, but I was first up for a photo with Taekwondo Waxwork. His skin WAS smooth, smoother that Lenin's, when I had popped into his mausoleum in Moscow. Was he really alive? My question was answered by the tall Dutch tourist who was next up for the photo op. He tried to walk behind the soldier and, quick as a flash, an outstretched arm hindered his passage. I have never seen trousers turn brown so quickly.

We heard stories of the skirmishes at the border, our favourite of which was called both the Tree-Trimming Incident and the Axe Murder Incident of 1976. According to legend, there was a poplar tree, whose foliage impeded the view between Checkpoint Three and Checkpoint Four. A working party was dispatched to trim the tree, only for a group of North Koreans to surprise the trimmers. There were photos of the incident in which two Americans were killed, at least one felled by an axe. According to a museum exhibition we saw later, "the Americans responded strongly, upping their war alert to grade 2, then sending in troops to fell the tree." That must have had the North Koreans quaking in their boots.

Some of you tell me that I am a little too harsh on the Yanks at times, so let me pay tribute to them for their contribution in the Korean War. Bids guided me through the excellent Seoul Subway and we stood awed at this engaging museum, where five hours of our lives passed by unnoticed. Koreans know how to do museums. As we entered the grounds, the first thing we saw was the sixteen-metre high statue of the two soldiers – brothers who had met on the battlefield, one fighting for the north, one for the south. Brother against brother, a potent symbol of Korea's pain. Neither of us knew much about the war and the museum was keen to educate us.

America provided the bulk of the troops in the UN-led coalition (those were the days). The war finished fifty years ago this year and it is interesting to see how US attitudes to war have changed. There were 5.2 million Yanks in Korea, fighting in a war that lasted three years and ultimately proved inconclusive. 5.2 million! Of those, 33,600 lost their lives, and a further 468,000 were wounded, casualties of approximately 10%. Would those numbers be acceptable today? The coalition consisted of sixteen countries, including Colombia, Ethiopia and Luxembourg (who provided 89 troops, 87 of whom returned home). Something else that I found interesting was the obsession of the Americans to bring the bodies home. Of the 33,600 dead, only 36 are buried in the coalition cemetery in Pusan, whereas 770 of the 2,300 British dead are there, with even higher percentages for other countries.

The Koreans pay enormous tribute, as well they might, to the efforts of their sixteen Allies. There are detailed exhibitions dedicated to each of their allies, as impressive a display of gratitude as I have come across in a museum. There is a separate section on areas where South Korea has fulfilled its own role as a UN member, by providing troops to other UN missions – Georgia, Somalia and Angola. I was more intrigued by the South Korean mission to Western Sahara, where, according to the museum, the prime focus was to train the Western Saharans in taekwondo – don't tell me they are into tree trimming as well?

There was also plenty of live footage of the war. I have seen such things before, but this was different, perhaps the enhanced sound effects, but how soldiers were actually expected to fight and advance on the enemy, when so many bombs were exploding, tanks approaching them at speed and gunfire in all directions, was beyond me.

But everything comes back to North Korea and the desire for unification. The attitude of the South Koreans is complex and I didn't have time to understand it fully. The older generation are understandably more pro-American, whereas there is a definite anti-American sentiment among the younger generation, a feeling that is not helped by growing tensions as a result of a string of crimes committed by US servicemen on Korean soil. Certain bars are shunned by the locals if US troops patronise them. While most South Koreans despise the Communist leadership, there is an element of national pride that Koreans have been able to develop nuclear status – the paradox is that those nukes are aimed at Seoul…

And this for me was the most interesting facet of my visit to Korea. Weapons of mass destruction. Repression. Enforced starvation of his people. Third largest army in the world. Bearer of a nuclear arsenal. Known supporter of terror networks. Violently anti-American. Stalinist state. Exporter of large quantities of heroin ($48 million seized this week). And yet the US has been negotiating with North Korea for ages. Indeed, one of the biggest food aid programmes in recent times has been going on in North Korea since 1996. What makes Saddam so different from Kim Il Jong, the North Korean leader?

Taking out a popular argument – oil – I believe that the reason Kim Il Jong is still batting is that he IS a genuine threat to world peace and the States has to tread carefully. Israel knocked out Saddam's nuclear plant in 1981 in a surgical strike (I am just getting the hang of this new lingo) and while he probably does have chemical weapons (have they found them, I don't watch the news?) and may have links with Al Qaeda (have they proved these yet?), ultimately he wasn't too much of a threat outside his own country. Yes he repressed, gassed and tortured his people, but where are the tears for the 4.5 million people killed in Congo since 1998, where are the tears for the tens of thousands, held in chains and working as slaves in the mines of Burma, for example (victims of a regime installed by? Yes, you guessed it)?

Kim Il Jong and his old man have probably seen off more people than Saddam. So why not have a surgical strike against his nuclear facility? Because the Yanks are pretty sure he has a second, underground facility, with nukes aimed at South Korea and Japan. North Korea is in a desperate situation and there is no predicting how Kim would react, but the potential annihilation of Seoul and Tokyo gives one pause for thought. North Korea has weapons of mass destruction, it seems possible that they might use them and if it did, it would cause just that – mass destruction of Japan and South Korea. Did Saddam really pose a similar threat? I don't know, but it will be interesting to see how events unfold (and not just because I live in Hiroshima – they wouldn't lob a second bomb at us, would they…?).

The relationship between Japan and North Korea has always been tetchy. The Japanese ruled Korea by terror (sorry, inappropriate use of the word) from 1910 until 1945. North Korea has been doing some odd things ever since, such as kidnapping Japanese citizens from the shores of Japan back in the Seventies, using them to improve the Japanese language of its spies. Bids was telling me of a woman who went to the police with the following story. Well, it was like this, officer, I was on the beach alone with my boyfriend, when a submarine appeared out of the water and four men in wet-suits came and took my boyfriend away and I have not heard from him since. Yes, love, of course they did.

The other tour not to be missed was the Third Infiltration Tunnel Tour. Back in the Seventies, some cracks were noticed in the ground. On closer inspection, a tunnel was discovered, and it appeared that the North Koreans had been dynamiting their way through. A defector pinpointed another tunnel, some seventy metres below ground. In all, four were found. Remember, we are forty kilometres from Seoul – it is estimated that, through one tunnel alone, the North Koreans could have moved 30,000 troops an hour with artillery. The ultimate surprise attack.

"It's amazing what you can get tourists to do, just by giving them instructions," said Bids as he sat on the monorail train, wearing his white hard-hat. We were sat three-deep, slowly descending to the original tunnel, taking care not to catch arms, shoulders and heads on the jagged rock. And there we were, underground, sticks of dynamite still in the holes where the next blasts were due to take place.

"The North Koreans denied that they built the tunnels. They said it was us. But you can clearly see the yellow painted arrows pointing to the south, thus proving that it was they who built the tunnels." The guide seemed pleased with her convincing explanation. I couldn't resist.

"Is it possible that South Korea might have painted the arrows afterwards?" The question threw her. It was totally impossible, although it was clear to me that she had never considered such a notion before. This led to an interesting discussion on propaganda, as she told us about some Japanese tourists who had been on a similar tour in North Korea; there, a convincing case was put forward that the tunnels were the actions of South Korea. After seeing both tours, the Japanese were not sure which side to believe. If you tell people enough things often enough and deprive them of opposite viewpoints, many believe and rally to the cause. It worked in Communist countries, and it is certainly working among ordinary Americans at the moment.

The next stop was even more random. We were taken to South Korea's newest train station, in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing there except the station and the railway sleeper monument (Koreans can make an interesting monument out of absolutely anything). Dorasan Station is a symbol of a future united Korea. As a result of a summit between the two Korean leaders (in which South Korea's leader allegedly paid $800m for improved relations and an agreement to reconnect rail and road links), it was agreed to rebuild the rail line to Pyongyang and beyond. The benefits to South Korea are obvious: rail links to the Trans-Siberian and European markets, cheap Russian fuel flowing in the opposite direction. All this was explained to us at the Railway Slipper Monument (as the guide insisted on calling it), where a piece of track sits quietly, a roll of honour above – the names of Korean citizens who have paid $200 for a 'slipper' to help rebuild the rail line. The station itself displays a sign for the next train to Pyongyang – I wonder when that will depart? There is even a special stamp you can get for your passport. What the hell, the Israeli stamp has already rendered mine useless in some parts of the world. A curious stamp, a couple of doves and some railway slippers.

One often overlooked positive in the DMZ, with its millions of mines, is that this is a part of the world that has been largely untouched by humans in fifty years. If there is a silver lining to the cloud of a divided Korea, it is in the ecology, where an astonishing variety of flora and fauna has blossomed. I did notice that most of the animals seemed too small to set off a mine, though. I wish Korea well – the South is desperate for reunification and peace, and is the second biggest donor to the North (after China) – a mixture of brotherly love for fellow Koreans and a little bit of nuclear fear.

I am back in Toyland now, preparing for another round of teaching in the morning. Korea was a great surprise, a fascinating country for a variety of reasons, not just due to the conflict. I shall return, perhaps on a guided tour to North Korea in August, assuming it is safe, and assuming SARS hasn't killed us all in Asia (Korea had its first recorded case this week). In the meantime, it is back to the classroom and remembering that drinking too much in Japan is an expensive business. I wonder how much a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue costs over here?

Last modified onThursday, 15 August 2013 11:01
Paul Bradbury

About Paul Bradbury

Author of Lebanese Nuns Don't SkiLavender, Dormice and a Donkey Named Mercedes and the Hvar's first comprehensive guidebook, Hvar: An Insider's Guide to Croatia's Premier Island, I have lived in Dalmatia full time since 2003 and run various tourism information websites about Hvar, Split and Zagora, and am co-author of Split: An Insider's Guide with Mila Hvilshoj.

I also have various blogging clients, including the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board, Restaurant Gariful, Hvar Adventure, Villas Hvar and Andro Tomic Wines, and print clients include Qatar Airways inflight magazine, Out! magazine from New York, and Croatian Hotspots. 

I also provide website content services, including Agroturizam Pharos, Toto's Restaurant, European Coastal Airlines, Restaurant Gariful and Divota Aparthotel. Please contact me if you would like help with your website content.

I also write for Google News via Digital Journal - see my range of articles here

Ongoing writing projects:

A History of Hajduk Split, co-author with Frane Grgurevic

Around the World in 80 Disasters

Total Hvar in the Media:

Interview of the Month, Croatian Embassy in Washington (May 2013)

Special Feature in Globus Magazine (May 2013)

Featured on Croatian TV show, More (2012) - watch the report here

4-page special in Nedjelji Jutarnji, Croatia's leading paper (August 2014)

Interviews in Slobodna Dalmacija, Dalmacijanews, Radio Split

I am available for writing services. Please contact me on [email protected] 

Other websites:

Total Hvar - 

Total Split -

Total Inland Dalamtia - 

Login to post comments