Children’s Book Zoe the Zebra Now in Print!


My children’s picture book Zoe the Zebra is now available to purchase in print for just $6.99!

Book three of the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Zoe the Zebra is an illustrated picture book that teaches children about bullying. A young zebra named Zoe who lives in the African bush joins forces with her friends Emma the Impala, Barry the Baboon, and other animals to protect their friend Wally the Warthog from a pack of bullying hyenas. Can they help him and stop the bullying?

Inspired by my safari adventures in Africa, the story features Zoe, Emma the Impala, Barry the Baboon and a host of animals, including giraffes, hippos, and lions. Fun for kids and adults alike, the story will take children to the African savanna and teach them how to handle school bullies. Zoe the Zebra features 22 full-color illustrations.

Zoe Cover (small)

Print Booksellers

The print edition is now available to purchase for only $6.99 (or equivalent in other currencies) from these booksellers:

Amazon.com ($6.99)

Amazon UK (£4.63)

Amazon Germany (€5,79)

Amazon France (€5,51)

Amazon Italy (€5,79)

Amazon Spain (€5,35)

Createspace ($6.99)

E-booksellers

The e-book edition is available for only $0.99 (or equivalent in other currencies) from the following booksellers:

Amazon.com for Kindle ($0.99)

Amazon UK for Kindle (£0,77)

Amazon Canada for Kindle ($1.02)

Amazon Germany for Kindle (€0,89)

Amazon France for Kindle (€0,89)

Amazon Italy for Kindle (€0,89)

Amazon Spain for Kindle (€0,89)

Amazon Brazil for Kindle (R$2.09)

Amazon Japan for Kindle (¥100)

Apple iTunes for iPad ($0.99) (available in Australia and other countries)

Barnes & Noble for Nook ($0.99)

Barnes & Noble UK for Nook (£0,66)

Google Play for Android ($0.99)

Kobo Books for Kobo Reader ($0.99) (available in Australia and other countries)

Smashwords for multiple e-readers ($0.99)

Visit Zoe the Zebra’s web page for a full list of booksellers. Coming soon to Google Play, Sony ReaderStore and other booksellers.

You may also want to buy the first two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant.

Alexander the Salamander

Alexander Cover (small)The first book in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Alexander the Salamander is about a salamander named Alexander living in the Amazon who joins his friends Airey the Butterfly and Terry the Tarantula on an unforgettable jungle adventure.

Set in the Amazon region of Brazil, the story teaches children the importance of listening to teachers and other authority figures. Co-authored by M.G. Edwards and his son Alex, the story was inspired by their 2008 visit to the Amazon.

Ellie the Elephant

Ellie the Elephant Cover (small)The second book in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Ellie the Elephant is an illustrated picture book that encourages children to follow their dreams. A young elephant named Ellie living in Thailand dreams of joining the elephant polo team and playing in the Elephant Cup polo tournament, but her parents want her to work in the rice fields. Will she realize her dream of playing polo?

Inspired by the author’s adventures in Thailand and real elephant polo matches, the story features Ellie the Elephant and her family, Monk the Monkey, and human boys Wasan and Wattana. Fun for kids and adults alike, the story will introduce them to the amazing game of elephant polo and inspire children to dream big.

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Pick up your copy of Zoe the Zebra or any of the World Adventurers for Kids books today!

Zoe Cover (small)M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures.

He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series: Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant and Zoe the Zebra.

Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. A former U.S. diplomat, he served in South Korea, Paraguay, and Zambia before leaving the Foreign Service in 2011 to write full time. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Children’s Book Zoe the Zebra Now on Sale!


I’m proud to announce that my children’s picture book, Zoe the Zebra, is now available to purchase as an e-book for just $0.99!

Book three of the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Zoe the Zebra is an illustrated picture book that teaches children about bullying. A young zebra named Zoe who lives in the African bush joins forces with her friends Emma the Impala, Barry the Baboon, and other animals to protect their friend Wally the Warthog from a pack of bullying hyenas. Can they help him and stop the bullying?

Inspired by my safari adventures in Africa, the story features Zoe, Emma the Impala, Barry the Baboon and a host of animals, including giraffes, hippos, and lions. Fun for kids and adults alike, the story will take children to the African savanna and teach them how to handle school bullies.

Zoe Cover (small)Zoe the Zebra features 22 full-color illustrations. It is now available to purchase as an e-book for only $0.99 (99 cents or equivalent in other currencies) from these booksellers:

Amazon.com for Kindle ($0.99)

Amazon UK for Kindle (£0,77)

Amazon Canada for Kindle ($1.02)

Amazon Germany for Kindle (€0,89)

Amazon France for Kindle (€0,89)

Amazon Italy for Kindle (€0,89)

Amazon Spain for Kindle (€0,89)

Amazon Brazil for Kindle (R$2.09)

Amazon Japan for Kindle (¥100)

Apple iTunes for iPad ($0.99) (available in Australia and other countries)

Barnes & Noble for Nook ($0.99)

Barnes & Noble UK for Nook (£0,66)

Kobo Books for Kobo Reader ($0.99) (available in Australia and other countries)

Smashwords for multiple e-readers ($0.99)

Visit Zoe the Zebra’s web page for a full list of booksellers. Coming soon to Google Play, Sony ReaderStore and other booksellers.

You may also want to buy the first two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant.

Alexander the Salamander

Alexander Cover (small)The first book in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Alexander the Salamander is about a salamander named Alexander living in the Amazon who joins his friends Airey the Butterfly and Terry the Tarantula on an unforgettable jungle adventure.

Set in the Amazon region of Brazil, the story teaches children the importance of listening to teachers and other authority figures. Co-authored by M.G. Edwards and his son Alex, the story was inspired by their 2008 visit to the Amazon.

Ellie the Elephant

Ellie the Elephant Cover (small)The second book in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Ellie the Elephant is an illustrated picture book that encourages children to follow their dreams. A young elephant named Ellie living in Thailand dreams of joining the elephant polo team and playing in the Elephant Cup polo tournament, but her parents want her to work in the rice fields. Will she realize her dream of playing polo?

Inspired by the author’s adventures in Thailand and real elephant polo matches, the story features Ellie the Elephant and her family, Monk the Monkey, and human boys Wasan and Wattana. Fun for kids and adults alike, the story will introduce them to the amazing game of elephant polo and inspire children to dream big.

Pick up your copy of Zoe the Zebra or any of the World Adventurers for Kids books today!

Zoe (eyes cartoon small 2)

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant, two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Top Ten Things to See in Zambia (with Photos)


Update 4/3/12:  Many thanks to WordPress for promoting this post to Freshly Pressed! And thanks to everyone stopping by to visit World Adventurers and say hello. You’re most welcome. There are more than 825 posts on travel and other topics for your reading enjoyment listed in the Category Cloud below. Enjoy!

Here’s a list of the top ten things you should do if you visit Zambia, a country in Southern Africa. Zambia lies southwest of Tanzania, which is featured in my book Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill. The two countries are similar in many ways, with plenty of opportunities to see amazing natural beauty, go on thrilling wildlife safaris, and experience Africa’s unique culture.

This list is based on my own experiences when I lived in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital and largest city. These activities and destinations will give you a taste of what this interesting country has to offer.

1. Victoria Falls/Mosi-oa-Tunya (Zambia/Zimbabwe): Arguably the world’s largest waterfall, Victoria Falls in Southern Province never ceases to amaze visitors. This is Zambia’s — and Zimbabwe’s — biggest tourist attraction. It lives up to its local (Tongan) name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning “The Smoke that Thunders.” Most visitors stay in the nearby towns of Livingstone, Zambia or Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The upper falls is in Zambia, while the lower portion is on the Zimbabwe side. Both offer different and spectacular views of this natural wonder. Of special note are the two statues of the explorer and missionary David Livingstone (1813-73) locate on each side of the falls. Livingstone is still revered by many Zambians, and the City of Livingstone is named after him.

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The best time of the year to visit the falls is between July and September, when the Zambezi River is aplomb with water. In November and December, the falls are almost dry and look like a canyon. Heavy rainfall fills the Zambezi between January and May, and it’s difficult to see the falls through a wall of mist created by falling water.

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For a few weeks in November, the water level is so low that visitors can swim in the “Devil’s Pool.” It’s an experience of a lifetime and highly recommended if you visit at that time. The pool lies at the edge of the falls with a 105-meter (350 foot) drop on the other side. Although it looks terrifying, the Devil’s Pool offers brave souls the sensation of swimming in a whirlpool bathtub. If you’re an adventurous sort, there’s also bungee jumping or zip lining from the Victoria Falls Bridge and whitewater rafting in some unruly rapids below the falls. Keep in mind that these activities can be dangerous. In January 2012, an Australian woman nearly died when she bungee jumped off the bridge and the cord snapped, sending her plummeting more than 110 meters (360 feet). Thankfully, she survived both the plunge and the crocodiles below.

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2. South Luangwa National Park: South Luangwa National Park is one of many national parks in Zambia, and the most popular, because it’s filled with abundant wildlife. It’s a short flight or a ten-hour drive from Lusaka via Eastern Province. Flying is more convenient but can be expensive. The daytime and nighttime game drives in South Luangwa are fabulous.

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For high-end lodging, stay at the Chichele Lodge, the presidential retreat of former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda (1964-91), or at Mfuwe Lodge. There are numerous less expensive lodges and bush camps in and around the park.

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3. Lower Zambezi River: The Lower Zambezi River basin in Southern Province is a short drive south from Lusaka and a great place for a long weekend getaway. There are several lodges near the towns of Chirindu and Chiawa not far from the confluence of the Zambezi and Kafue rivers. It’s great for bush camp excursions, hunting, fishing, and boat cruises, and popular with tourists who want to fish for tigerfish or camp “in the bush.”

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4. Northern Circuit: Zambia is keen to promote tourism in Northern Province on the Tanzanian border. Kasaba Bay on Lake Tanganika, one of Africa’s Great Lakes, is currently under development as a major tourist destination. Once it’s completed sometime in the next decade, the area will boast several high-end resorts. Fly to the Mbala airport near Kasaba Bay, or into the regional capital, Kasama. Hire a car and travel the back roads through beautiful country with subtropical forests, colorful villages, and spectacular waterfalls overshadowed by Victoria Falls such as Chishimba Falls.

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5. Saturday Dutch Market: Every last Saturday of the month, Zambia’s largest open-air market sets up shop at the Dutch Reformed Church in the Kabulonga area of Lusaka. Artisans from Zambia and neighboring countries bring their arts and crafts to you. It’s one of the few places where you can find Zimbabwean soap stone sold next to Zambian copper plates. You can also taste a variety of ethnic dishes and buy produce. If you miss this market, try the smaller Sunday Market at the Arcades Shopping Centre in Lusaka that happens every week. Be sure to bargain – the vendors will reduce prices below their original quotes and expect you to barter.

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6. Lake Kariba: Spend a weekend on the world’s largest artificial lake, Lake Kariba, located in Southern Province on the Zimbabwean border. Stay in the town of Siavonga for a relaxing getaway. Take a boat cruise and visit Lake Kariba Dam. Dine on local crayfish. Click here for a detailed account of our trip to Lake Kariba in 2010.

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7. Western Province/Barotseland: Western Province, also called Barotseland, is a large and relatively remote province on the Angolan border. To get there, fly to the capital, Mongu, and hire a car, or self-drive. The province is home to Liuwa Plains National Park, the most isolated and least visited of all national parks in Zambia.

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It’s worth a trip in November at the end of the dry season to see the world’s second largest wildebeest migration, when the herds turn south and head to Namibia. A word of caution — the park is very remote and impassible by land during the rainy season. Even with a 4′x4′ vehicle, the roads are very sandy and difficult to navigate any time of the year. It’s better to visit with an experienced guide.

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Western Province is also worth a visit in April to watch the Kuomboka Traditional Ceremony held each year by the Lozi tribe commemorating the end of the rainy season. The date varies with the end of the season. Held at the Barotse king’s palace in Limilunga, it is arguably the country’s most famous traditional ceremony and a great example of Zambian culture. The gift shop at the Barotse Royal Museum sells local arts and crafts. With recent political unrest in Western Province, ask ahead if you’re thinking about attending a ceremony, and avoid discussing Barotseland with locals.

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8. Kafue National Park: Although not as famous as South Luangwa National Park, Kafue National Park in Central Province is a good weekend getaway from Lusaka. It’s Zambia’s oldest and largest national park. Although it suffered for years from game poaching, the animal population has recently rebounded. It’s an easy three-hour drive west of Lusaka, and after a paved road is built, north from Livingstone. Stay at Mukambi Lodge, which is easily accessible from the highway, or at one of several lodges that follow the Kafue River south to the Itezhi-Tezhi Dam. Go with an experienced guide if you plan to venture off the beaten path.

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9. Visit a compound: Most urban Zambians live in neighborhoods known as “compounds.” Ask a local whom you trust to take you in the daytime to one of the safer compounds. Try drinking Shake-Shake chibuku (fermented corn meal) at a local pub. Two of the largest and safer compounds in Lusaka are the Bauleni and Kalingalinga compounds. Walk around the compound and savor the unique flavor of everyday Zambian life. Meet new friends who will be curious why you’re visiting. Leave your valuables at home to avoid petty theft. Below:  Kipushi, a town on the Zambian-DR Congo border.

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The following photos were taken in compounds around Lusaka and Solwezi, the capital of North-Western Province.

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10. Kasanka Bat Migration: Each October, the world’s largest migration of giant fruit bats happens at Kasanka National Park in Northern Province. You’ll go batty with excitement or fear from the approximately eight million fruit bats that swarm harmlessly above you in a beautifully orchestrated dance.

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I couldn’t list everything you can do when you visit Zambia. Some honorable mentions include the Source of the Zambezi River, a place of special significance to the Zambian people, in the remote Mwinilunga district of North-Western Province; Shiwa N’gandu in Northern Province; the mines of Copperbelt Province; Lake Bangweulu in Luapula Province; and the Livingstone Memorial in Itala where David Livingstone’s heart (yes, his heart) was buried under an Mvula tree.

The Zambian climate fluctuates between the dry season (July-November) and the rainy season (December-May). Although the best times to visit are in May and November, Zambia is always beautiful and welcomes you with open arms.

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Map picture

Note: This is an updated version of a blog entry originally posted in April 2011.

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. His next book, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be released on March 31, 2012. He lived in Lusaka, Zambia during 2009-11 and now lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Lake Kariba, Zambia with Photos


My wife and I went on a short weekend getaway to Lake Kariba in February 2011. What an amazing not-so-hidden gem. Few people have heard of this body of water that happens to be the world’s largest artificial lake and reservoir. Straddling the Zambian-Zimbabwean border, it was created in 1958 during the construction of the Kariba Dam when it was near completion, and engineers sealed the dam and flooded what had once been a large valley in the Zambezi River Basin.

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Lake Kariba is overshadowed in Zambia and Zimbabwe by nearby Victoria Falls, arguably the world’s largest waterfalls, as well as by game parks and private reserves scattered throughout the region. I think that Lake Kariba holds its own as a tourist destination, and I recommend a visit to anyone planning a trip to see the falls.

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Hippopotamuses, crocodiles, baboons, freshwater fish, and several bird species call the lake home, although they make fewer appearances than one would expect for such a large body of water. The wildlife that attracts gawking tourists is concentrated further east in the game parks of the lower Zambezi River Basin. Nevertheless, the lake does not lack for vegetation and scenic beauty.

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Whenever the lake comes up as a potential travel destination, locals tend to respond “don’t swim in the water!” because it is a breeding ground for bilharzia, or schistosomiasis, a snail-borne parasitic disease, and crocodiles. Avoiding the water notwithstanding, Lake Kariba is well worth a visit, especially if you want to enjoy a quick getaway to a place with scenic views and a relatively safe natural environment. While the area offers few children’s activities, families can still enjoy what it has to offer. Don’t forget to pack some books or games for the kids to alleviate boredom. The weather varies during the rainy season, so it’s important to check the weather conditions before visiting the lake.

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We stayed at the aging Lake Kariba Inns, one of the nicer resorts in the town of Siavonga, Zambia that passed as a three-star hotel. At just over US$100 per night during the off-season in 2011, the price was reasonable compared to some overpriced Zambian safari lodges that charged upwards of $400 per night. The room was clean and comfortable, although like many rural lodges, it was still infested with its fair share of unwanted critters. The ants carried off any food in sight, so we had to keep it sealed. The villas with lakefront verandas had gorgeous views of the lake. I deluded myself into thinking that I was on the Mediterranean when I lounged on the veranda, an illusion that lasted as long as it took for the fishermen plying on crayfish and fish to pass by in their large trawlers.

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The resort’s amenities included a large gym and a poolside bar with a pool table and Ping-Pong table. The waterfront restaurant served decent food with a decidedly Indian flavor; the curry and yogurt dishes were tasty. We were disappointed that the inn had run out of crayfish, a local specialty. Lake Kariba Inns’ Achilles’ heel was its average customer service. Some staff members were helpful; some were not. Whenever the buffet was served in the restaurant, it was virtually impossible to order room service.

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Lake Kariba Inns sits atop one of the promontories overlooking Siavonga with its own harbor with boats ready to take guests on an affordable, two-hour lake cruise to the top of the Kariba Dam and lake islands. The lake cruise was well worth the money. It left in the late afternoon not long before sundown. My wife and I basked in the glow of an African sunset from Sampa Karuma Island, a deserted island on the Zimbabwean side of the lake (no visa needed). Although the weather was calm for most of the cruise, the waves kicked up after sunset, and we held on as the boat rocked its way back to shore.

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Many lodges are located in and around Siavonga. Lake Safari Lodge, Eagle’s Rest, and Sandy Beach are other popular lodging options. Although we did not visit any of them, we were under impression that they were comparable to Lake Kariba Inns. For those who want to experience the lake up close and personal, Protea Hotels launched in 2011 the Southern Belle Hotel, a former steamboat converted into a floating resort. The Southern Belle operated in Lake Kariba for years before Protea refurbished it.

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To view or tour Kariba Dam from Siavonga, drive to the Zambia-Zimbabwe border about eight kilometers (five miles) from town, park at the border post, and ask Zambian Immigration for a gate pass. You can walk from there down to the Zambezi River for good views below the dam; the gate pass will permit you to reenter Zambia. You can also see it from the Zimbabwean side. The dam’s spillway opens fully in early February, allowing water that built up from the rainy season to pass down the Zambezi River. While not as spectacular as Victoria Falls, the dam is still worth a look-see. Constructed between 1955 and 1959 by the Italians, it was being expanded by the Chinese when we visited.

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The town of Siavonga on the shores of Lake Kariba is a mixture of homes, hotels and resorts, and a central district with local businesses. Some wealthier Zambians own second (or third) homes on the lake. The hilly terrain around the town is ideal for walks and hikes. Lake Kariba Inns has a beach walkway that follows the lake and a game walk with great views of the lake. The streets of Siavonga are fun to explore on foot. We were told that the area is relatively safe for tourists; however, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings if you choose to tour the town. Leave valuables at the hotel.

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If you want to enjoy the outdoors in Southern Africa but are not in the mood to go on safari, or you are looking for an extra stop on your visit to Zambia or Zimbabwe, see what Lake Kariba has to offer.

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Map picture

This is an updated version of a blog entry originally posted in February 2011.

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thrill and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He recently published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. His upcoming travel novel, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be available in March 2012. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex. For books and stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com.

Zebras in Thailand


After I moved to Thailand from Africa, I noticed that Thais seemed to be infatuated with zebras. Zebra figurines are very popular in Thailand.

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I’ve seen them at Buddhist temples, along roadsides, and in markets.

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Zebras are not native to Thailand. They’re originally from Africa and live in the wild in countries like Zambia, my previous home. The only places in Thailand where you can find live zebras are in zoos and at Safari World in Bangkok. (Note:  I haven’t been to Safari World, but after going on safari in Africa, I’m not sure that I want to see it!)

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I wondered about this interesting phenomenon and searched the Internet looking for information about Thais’ preoccupation with zebras.

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I didn’t find much. According to blogging site Women Learning Thai, the Bangkok Post had an insert that explained (vaguely) the symbolism behind the zebra:

“Animals are an important icon in Buddhism to remind people about their relation to the natural world. There is an interesting theory about why the zebra is the chosen statue around some Thai spirit houses. It’s believed that because a pedestrian zebra crossing is technically a ‘safe zone’ on the road, placing the statue at shrines can bring the same sort of protection to an individual. It is alleged that a monk told one truck driver to deploy zebra statues to ensure a safe path to success, and over time other Thais began placing similar statues.”

I have another theory. Zebras are black and white, which also happen to be the colors of yin and yang. If the story of the monk suggesting the zebra as a symbol of a safe path is true, it’s possible that he may have been influenced by Taoist thought.

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Personally though, I prefer real zebras in the wild. There’s nothing like coming across a herd of zebras and knowing that your path is safe. If it weren’t safe, there wouldn’t be a zebra in sight!

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James Bond In Zambia


Someone told me today that living in Zambia is a Bond…James Bond kind of lifestyle.  Hmm.  I’d never thought of it that way before.  Whether it’s driving your household help back to their compound at night or avoiding sinkholes that suddenly appear across a major road in town at the end of the rainy season, I have to conclude that living in southern Africa does have its share of excitement.  There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure.  Unless of course you miss watching the symphony or a baseball game, eating pizza and playing video games at Chucky E. Cheese, or making a pilgrimage to Disneyland or Sea World.  No, there’s no excitement of that kind here.  The action and adventure here is more akin to what you might find on “The Gods Must Be Crazy” (vice “Goldfinger”).

What if Ian Fleming’s James Bond actually came to Zambia?  Let’s say he was on a mission to catch some networked bad guys in his 38th film and comes to Zambia for a couple of scenes, like he did when he went to Bolivia and busted a conspiracy to drain the country – that aquatic paradise – of its water resources.  What heroics would he do here in Zambia?  Well, he might face being accused of meddling in local affairs and have to fight his way out of the country.  Or maybe he would uncover and thwart a nefarious plot by some wealthy businessman to corner the maize market and jack up the price of mealie meal, thereby causing the country to panic because of diminishing quantities of increasingly expensive nshima.  Maybe he would try sneak up on the bad guy’s lodge on the Zambezi River and find himself in a life and death struggle with a hungry crocodile or a grumpy pod of hippos.  Perhaps Bond would try to cross into Zimbabwe through the bush and find himself face to face with a rampaging elephant that’s mad because he’s cutting through its territory.

I can certainly see 007 passing through Zambia on his way to cinematic greatness.  Either that, or he’d never come here, which would make this a most excellent place for a villain to hide.

Baptism on a Perfect Day


IMG_0440I baptized our son yesterday.  We could not have chosen a better day for this momentous occasion, for 10/10/10 (October 10, 2010) will never happen again this millennium.  Surely this was the event of a lifetime, especially for my son, for our family, and for God.  Baptizing my son by water was one of the biggest thrills of my life.  A missionary friend blessed and ordained him; I asked my son to give his testimony and helped affirmed that he was ready to take this important spiritual step.  He did splendidly.

It reminds me of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist almost 2,000 years ago in the Jordan River.  Matthew 3:13-17 says:  “13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

I’m proud of my own son for taking this important step in his walk with God.  He is a young soul, but his heart is true, and he knows the truth.  A couple of years ago he asked to be baptized, but we asked him to wait until he truly knew what it meant to be baptized.  I did not get baptized until much later in life; I am very happy he’s taken this big step while he’s young.  I looking forward to helping him grow in his faith as he develops into a man of faith.

In this day and age where relativism reigns and diversity is sacrosanct, it should be understood that baptism is not something that needs to be hidden away from view or done discreetly because someone might happen to offend someone. It’s a story begging to be told.  Much as all sorts of religions are tolerated for their own outward expressions of belief, so also should this type of visual proclamation of faith be respected.  It’s not something that needs to be hidden under a bush or salted away.

African Critters


Africa has more than its fair share of wildlife.  Not many large animals — the kind you would typically think of in Africa like lions, elephants and giraffes — range in urban areas except on private game reserves.  The critters that hang out near our house are of a smaller variety.  An occasional oversized snake (poisonous or non) slithers its way on to our property until it’s dispatched by someone, but for the most part the critters who hang around the neighborhood are small reptiles, amphibians, insects, and arachnids. IMG_1290

We have small lizards and geckos.  They’re cute, multicolored, and absolutely harmless.  Mosquitoes, spiders, ants, termites and other pests are omnipresent.  They usually multiply at the end of the dry season and beginning of the rainy season (right now, September – January).  First the “flatties” – harmless spiders that can grow as large as three inches wide with a very flat profile.  Their abdomens can grow so plump that they almost look like small crabs.  Flatties look menacing but are more lazy than threatening.  I have yet to see one catch an insect — night or day.  Like a lazy tomcat, they usually lounge on the walls as if waiting casually for something to stray their way.  I was startled this morning by a flattie squatting on the side of our computer desk.  It must have been 2.5 inches wide with a 3/4 inch abdomen.  She blended in well with the wIMG_0984ood work.

Other insects are more of a nuisance and even threatening.  The ants in this part of the world are diverse and imposing, from tiny yellow or brown sugar ants attracted to unstored food to large half-inch army ants.  One night I saw a stream of army ants marching (quite literally) away from our house down the driveway like a living stream.  We fumigated the foundation soon thereafter – army ants are not to be trifled with.  Unattended beverages with sugar or sweet crumbs are major attractions for the smaller ants.  They build large nests around the house foundation and find entry points into the house through the tiniest of openings.  It’s quite a sight seeing a mass of ants attacking a snack you’ve left somewhere you thought would have been off limits – like around your den.

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Of course, there’s the mosquitoes.  In this part of the world, mosquitoes can be deadly.  Many carry malaria and can leave one very ill or dead if bitten.  Where I live in Lusaka it’s generally malaria-free because of the high altitude (over 4,000 feet), but leaving Lusaka is a different story.  There are four strains of malaria to contend with — if you get malaria once, you’re not immune to getting it again.  Anti-malaria pills are recommended if you visit Zambia, but they don’t prevent malaria and only help you stay alive if you fall ill.  I’ve been told that malaria-carrying mosquitoes are of a particular variety.  Zambia’s mosquitoes are diverse.  Some are small and silent and others are slow and noisy, and I have yet to figure out which ones carry malaria.  Better to wear mosquito repellent and sleep under mosquito nets treated with repellent.  We’ve been thankful the past few months to live relatively mosquito-free, but the little critters have started coming out again.

After the first rain of the season, all the creepy crawlies that lay dormant during the dry season come to life.  The winged termites are the first to emerge; they breed in such large quantities that it is a bit like a sooty blizzard when they come out.  As they shed their wings and head into the ground, they leave behind piles of wings akin to small snow drifts.  Out come the brooms to sweep them up.  The termites build mounds that can grow incredibly large.  I once saw abandoned termite mounds in northwestern Zambia as tall as a two-story house – with trees growing on top of them!  I’ve been told that termite keep building their mounds until they can no longer sustain the brood, and then they disperse in search of new homes.  There are few large termite mounds in Lusaka because urbanization has limited the amount of foliage termites consume.

Finally, once a year the caterpillars emerge.  Before they become butterflies, many Zambians will collect and use them in a local dish called ifishimu.  Ifishimu, or cooked caterpillar and onion salad, is an acquired taste.  I tried some and did not like it.  I will not try the termite, another common Zambian dish.  I’d much rather eat crocodile or snack, two animals most Zambians will not eat.

Victoria Falls and Iguaçu Falls


Click here to read a follow-on article about Victoria Falls and Iguaçu Falls with photos.

I’ve had the rare opportunity over the past year to visit two of the world’s largest waterfalls.  I visited Iguaçu Falls on the Argentine-Brazilian border in February 2009 prior to leaving South America, where I had lived for two years.  I just returned from a short weekend trip to Victoria Falls on the Zambian-Zimbabwean border, which is a six-hour trip from Lusaka, Zambia by car.  As measured by water volume, these two waterfalls are two of the largest and arguably most spectacular waterfalls in the world.

It’s easy to make comparisons between the two.  In truth, both waterfalls are equally impressive.  They’re different, so it’s difficult to say whether one is “better” than the other.  Iguaçu Falls is larger by volume and longer.  It comprises numerous waterfalls that give it a layered effect, and it stretches over a longer distance than Victoria Falls.  The Parana River above Iguaçu Falls collects at the top of the falls and cascades down over what must be a stretch of five miles or longer.  At the same time, Iguaçu features a boardwalk on the Brazil side that puts you near the heart of the waterfall, the “Devil’s Throat” (La Garganta del Diablo).

Victoria Falls appears visually larger than its Latino counterpart.  The sheer “in your face” effect it offers you while the Zambezi River spills over is incredible.  The pathway on the Zambian side puts you very close to a massive wall of water that drops at least a couple hundred feet in front of you.  Although I wore rain gear, I was soaking wet when I passed close to the falls – wetter than I was at Iguaçu.

Although I left Iguaçu Falls convinced that it is unsurpassed in its grandeur, Victoria Falls rivals it in intensely.  Of course, visitors to either locale would undoubtedly insist that each waterfall is more impressive than the other.  As an objective outsider, I believe that these two falls collectively rank as two of the more beautiful and awe inspiring natural wonders of the world.  If you ever have a chance to visit either one, don’t miss out.  You won’t be sorry spending the money and time to behold two of God’s greatest creations.  In this respect, I feel blessed to have experienced both.

Flat Stanley’s Adventure on the Zambezi River


Flat Stanley traveled half way around the world from his home in North Idaho to Zambia, a country in southern Africa.  He joined us on an adventure this weekend on the lower Zambezi River, an area north of Victoria Falls.  We had a memorable time staying at Zambezi Breezers, a camp located near Chirindu on the Zambian-Zimbabwean border. 

Flat Stanley enjoyed his very first safari river boat cruise down the Zambezi River.  Flanked on one side of the river by Zambia and the other by Zimbabwe, he cruised down river and encountered beautiful terrain and exotic wildlife.  He passed several islands as we navigated the river.  Mountains rose in the distance on each side of the river valley.  Subtropical plants and trees dotted the landscape, and long wild grasses covered the land except where the earth crumbled along the river bank, exposing the rich red soil. 

During the river cruise Flat Stanley saw all sorts of wild animals, from elephants that grazed along the river and crocodiles lounging on the river banks to hippos soaking themselves in the water like a chain of floating islands.  Flat Stanley observed many types of birds, including eagles and cranes, and he even saw an impala in a distant meadow.  His favorite moment was taking a photo with a young elephant watching our boat curiously from the river bank.

Flat Stanley saw storm clouds brewing in all directions, a common occurrence during the rainy season.  He saw brilliant lightning flash, heard bellowing thunder roar and surveyed the beautiful and volatile cloud formations painting the sky.  He saw a couple of particularly dark storm clouds brewing not far from us.  One of the storms barreled toward us quickly from the south.  Although we had turned around and were heading back to our camp, we met the storm with our boat in the middle of the river.  We battled fierce winds, hail, and lightning.  We were absolutely soaking wet, but we made it back to the camp safely. 

Flat Stanley survived but was discolored from our memorable experience.  He enjoyed his adventure on the Zambezi River and will never forget it.  It changed his life forever.