1. The Raj’s Calcutta
From Government Place to the tombs of South Park Street Cemetery, this three-hour guided tour by Calcutta Walks takes you through the heart of the colonial city. Particularly noteworthy is St John’s Church, an oasis of peace in a place alive with car horns.
2. Graham Greene’s Saigon
Guided by the British novelist’s 1955 book The Quiet American, you can start your tour at the fabled Hotel Continental Saigon – the book was written in Room 214 – in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. Then walk up Dong Khoi to Notre Dame Cathedral (1 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, Quan 1). The notorious House of 500 Girls is long gone, but the Saigon Central Post Office remains in all its French Gothic splendour.
3. James Joyce’s Trieste
The Irish author moved frequently during his exile in the Italian city as is detailed on a free illustrated map from Trieste Tourist Office. Drink coffee at his old haunt, Caffe Stella Polare, then stand next to Nino Spagnoli’s statue of him on Via Roma.
4. Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles
Esotouric’s guided trail begins at Los Angeles Athletic Club, where the British American crime-fiction author played bridge. Also on the route is Barclay Hotel (103 West 4th St), where a metal cage surrounds its reception, and a notice warns, “No credit. No checks. No loitering.” Now that’s what we call noir.
How to get lost
Rather than following the map, go with your curiosity. When you come to a junction, take the road that looks most interesting. Be unashamedly nosy – stare through open doors, talk to strangers, take your time. Then, instead of saying “I saw everything I wanted to see”, you’ll be able to say “I saw things I never knew existed.”
– TEXT BY STEVE TURNER
PHOTO: ZAPHS Z
ILLUSTRATIONS: LEE KYUNG AH, HUY PHAM, PEH YI WEN, CHAN SHIAO FEN
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.