Skip to main content
Read page text


PureTravel writing competition 2010


The response to this year’s Pure Travel writing competition was overwhelming to say the least. We asked you to submit your most memorable travel moment, and were inundated with tales of adventure that spanned the globe.

From the overall entry pool of almost 250 short stories, we undertook the difficult task of selecting the top ten. The standard was exceptionally high, with no shortage of tales both eye-opening and awe-inspiring.

This shortlist was placed on the Pure Travel website, where voting was thrown open to the public, and the list was whittled down to three. Professional travel writer Jeremy Lazell then stepped in to do the final round of judging, identifying what he described as a ‘clear-cut winner’ in Rachel Bass’s story, The Pelicans.

RUNNERS UP Philip Williams, Underwater flight Tim Maw, A travel moment in Koh Lanta, Thailand

HIGHLY COMMENDED Amira Beadsmoore, One Okavango night Donald Gerson, A surprise encounter Sophia Gill, Finding everything in Egypt Eric Baldauf, A travel moment in Ciudad Cuauhtemoc Lorraine Evans, Orca twilight Grace Davies, How to sell mangoes Brittany Lee Waller, Finding a ride in Bali

Finding a ride in Bali

The Pelicans by Rachel Bass The slightest tic-tic-ticking of the motor harmonised perfectly with the steady rise and fall and rise on the waves of the Senegal River. I rocked slowly through the Djoudj National Bird Park, absorbing the crisp salt air, the whisper of the tall marsh grasses, and the gentle hello of the deep-violet morning glory flowers. I basked in the pure light of the clear African sky, and the reeds sang a soulful jazz tune to me as I tried not to disturb the peace. There was silence, save for the rippling water and dancing grass, and one lonesome, low-flying pelican.

Then, I rounded a bend, and a flock of pale-pink pelicans sporting bright-yellow-and-blue bills and intent black eyes flew beside me, gliding barely above the water in perfect, effortless formation. They glanced into the boat as if to nod a polite ‘Good morning’, like any other pleasant passerby on a busy highway. We rode in tandem, and I lost all sense of self in the boat as dozens more ethereal pelicans joined on either side of me. I was swimming and flying all at once, both here and there, feeling a sense of freedom rarely experienced with the loss of all inhibition and awareness.

A heron watched me from the riverbank with a knowing smile, sagely affirming my state of awe. The wind and the river combined with the sudden surge of Thulian feathers to create a magical moment, for how often does one fly?



ventured farther along the river and away

With every passing minute as we ventured farther along the river and away from the coast, the smell of raw, rotting fish and bird droppings intensified until we turned another corner. Hit full-on by a putrid odour, I saw a riverbank filled with thousands of squawking birds, each clamouring to be heard above his neighbour. They jostled and tripped and laughed and argued in what seemed to be a dizzying town meeting, surely to decide the fate of Senegal itself. I sat, privy to their most intimate conversations and loudest insults.

Slowly, mindfully and unnoticed, I backed away from this chaotic assembly and returned to dry land.

My Bookmarks

    Skip to main content