I’m an Airbnb host and I’m falling out of love with Airbnb

Airbnb

COMMENT

I’ve started to wonder whether Airbnb has become, well, too “mainstream”. Do people no longer respect the trust that underpins the whole deal?

Is it OK to smoke in a no-smoking apartment, to leave rubbish all over the place?

Domain, Fairfax Media, June 2017. Read the full story here

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On board Australia’s newest cruise ship

Without getting too salty, losing your ‘virginity’ (cruise virginity that is) is apparently quite the big deal.

Indeed, it’s clear there are two types of people on any cruise. Those who have, and those who have not sailed the high seas.

Those who know the difference between a boat and a ship, for example. Or those who can stroll from starboard to port without a second thought.

Published in Traveller, Fairfax on January 12, 2016. Read the full story here.

Meet the world’s cutest animals

Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica, Facebook.

Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica, Facebook.

By Larissa Ham

Can you fall head over heels at first sight if the object of your affections is considered lazy, dirty and only goes to the toilet once a week?

The answer – clearly written across the charmed faces of our group at the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica – is a most definite YES.

“It’s very easy to fall in love with a sloth,” confirms guide Jeff Rochte, clearly himself smitten with the slow-moving, ever-smiling animals.

Rochte, an American who has lived in Costa Rica for the past nine years, is here to help carry on the legacy started by his grandparents – Alaskan Judy Avey-Arroyo and her late husband, Costa Rican Luis Arroyo.

* Published in Traveller, Fairfax Media. To read the full story, click here.

Meet the Costa Rican miracle couple

SarahScottiSurf

By Larissa Ham

It’s a wild old day when I meet Australian Sarah Trinler and her Swiss-American husband Scotti in a small surfing town on the south Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

The tropical rain is thundering down, and we’re trading shouts to make ourselves heard. The town’s main, dirt road is turning into a sloshy mud bath.

Powerful things seem to happen in this part of the world – surfboards are snapped in two by unforgiving waves, rivers flood, kaleidoscope-coloured sunsets put on a nightly show and crocodiles swim among stand-up paddle boarders.

But last year something completely unexpected struck at the heart of everything the Trinlers – a world-travelling, thrill-seeking couple – loved.

* First published in Fairfax Media on October 13, 2014. Click here to read the full story.

Crank up the salsa

Cuba

By Larissa Ham

Our Cuban salsa instructor demands, ”Look at me like you love me!”, his face just centimetres away on a sweat-soaked Havana morning.

He sashays effortlessly across the tiled floor, an open window providing minimal relief from the heat as salsa beats pour out of an old CD player. ”Moooove your body. One, two, three!”

Leonardo, a former doctor, has swapped his stethoscope for salsa shoes and has landed my amiga and me on day two of our Cuban adventure. Having caught the salsa bug in Melbourne, we’re here to learn from the best but we’re off to a nervy start. ”Move your shoulders!” he says, as we double over with laughter.

In Cuba, the Castro-loving Caribbean island still largely cut off from the world, one thing hasn’t changed – music’s in the blood, and salsa dancing is as natural as walking.

Click here to read the full story.

Down the tube

What started out as a way to relax after a hard day’s work has turned into a tourist trap in Laos, writes Larissa Ham.

The man who claims he accidentally started the tourist craze of tubing in the Laos riverside town of Vang Vieng says its popularity is now hurting the town and its culture. 

Party's over ... Thanongsi Sorangkoun is dismayed by tourist behaviour in Vang Vieng.

Thousands of tourists visit Vang Vieng each year – about four hours’ bus ride north of the capital city, Vientiane – to float on a rubber tube down the Nam Song River and to party at rickety riverside bars. 

* Published in Traveller, Fairfax Media (click here to read the full story)