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Vagabond Journey Travel Stories and World Culture


Horgos FTZ (2) So This Is the Horgos Free Trade Zone?
Horgos China construction Horgos: The New Silk Road’s First New City
urumqi tank Urumqi Police State


This is an article that I wrote a while back for the South China Morning Post. It's about how many expat business owners in China have adapted to changes in the economic climate by moving away from export based industries and focusing on the budding domestic consumer market.

No-Staff Hostels: the Future of Travel?

staffless hotel_DCE

Hostels without receptionists? Without security? Without anyone but some lady who comes in once in a while to scrub the floors and change the sheets? Tristan Hicks discovers that flashpacking has been taken to an entirely new level.

Why China’s Maker Movement is Booming | SCMP thumbnail

This is an article that I wrote for the SCMP about how the Chinese government is backing the country's vibrant maker movement.

At the Kazakhstan Border

kazakhstan border

A challenging border crossing in what is supposed to be one of Asia's most unrestricted land ports.

Podcast: Uyghur World Congress


Lawrence Hamilton recently sat down with Dolkun Isa of the Uyghur World Congress to discuss the current relationship between the people of Xinjiang and the Chinese Government, whether the New Silk Road will have a positive impact on the Uyghur's lives, and what the future of the region might hold.

Blackberry Passport

A decade long search for the ultimate blogging device may have come to an end.


They call it the New Silk Highway, it's an 8,445 kilometer road that will stretch from the coast of China to St. Petersburg, Russia that will cut the transit time down to just ten days. I was able to catch a glimpse of its final stages of construction.


This is an article that I wrote for the China Daily to complement a cover story on ghost cities that I was included in.

Map of Northeast India

An overview of the under reported menagerie of conflicts in India's restive northeast.

Horgos FTZ (2)

Inefficient border crossings, corrupt immigration officers, racial profiling and harassment, and nothing but cheap Chinese junk — so this is the future of commerce on the New Silk Road?

Ghost Cities of China book

Media coverage of Ghost Cities of China for June. Featuring the Nanjinger, TimeOut Beijing and Shanghai, the Guardian, Channel NewsAsia, and the China Daily.

Horgos China construction

Take a look at the first new city of what could be the greatest development initiative the world has ever known.


This is my latest article in CityMetric, the urbanism blog of the New Statesman. It's about the reasons why many of China's new cities appear so empty for so long.

Changes in Kashgar


Empty malls replacing ancient neighborhoods, the police patrolling the streets, and a place where Uighurs and Chinese come together were all part of what Lawrence Hamilton found when he returned to Kashgar.

horgos border crossing

Crossing borders in and out of Xinjiang proved to be unexpectedly problematic. Is this a sign of challenges to come as I continue research on the New Silk Road?

View From My Window: Horgos, Xinjiang


Looking out at Horgos, a backwater town on the Kazakh border that's being super changed into becoming a big city by all out fiat.

flat bread oven Xinjiang

How Uighur flat bread ovens are made in Urumqi.

Uighur Ice Cream

uighur ice cream

A little about the ice cream that is virtually everywhere in the Uighur parts of Xinjiang.

A Great Life in Kashgar

Uigher Men In Kashgar

The harsh reality and subtle beauty of everyday life in Kashgar.

Urumqi Police State

urumqi tank

Urumqi is a city that appears to be under siege, and in many ways it is.