Paul will never travel without a shortwave radio again

This South African traveler, Paul Ash, will never travel without his shortwave radio again. It has taken him around the world and he has taken it around the world:

(Source: The Times Live)

[…]Some time in the 1980s, my ma gave me a Sony shortwave radio, nine shortwave bands in a box the size of a deck of cards. It was the equivalent of a permanent round-the-world air ticket. Night after night, I hopped frequencies, roaming with the Voice of America, the BBC’s World Service – the mother lode – sometimes the Dutch (when I could find them), and, occasionally, Radio Moscow. So, the Russians were real!

There were no radio plays here, to be sure, but drama – and propaganda – on a grand scale. One night, instead of swotting for the next day’s exam, I listened to the Berlin Wall come down, utterly transported from a summer night in Jo’burg to cheering with Berliners as they helped topple the concrete barrier in an orgy of tearful happiness.

When I started travelling, the radio came with me for entertainment and as an alarm – I figured if there was trouble brewing in whichever dodgy part of the world I was in, it would be the BBC who got wind of it first.

The little radio has been to Vietnam and Kenya, France and Senegal. It filled lonely nights while I roamed America like a freight-hopping bum. It survived a long kayak expedition up Lake Malawi and gave me and my cameraman a passable diversion during an ill-advised summer fortnight in the rotten Hotel Zambeze in Tete, the worst city in Mozambique, if not the world.

Last year, I ditched the radio in favour of a smartphone for a short trip to Poland. The bill for five days of roaming was R2500 without a single moment of entertainment. Never again.

Now the little Sony has fresh batteries and the shortwave frequencies are copied on the back of a business card. No charger, no roaming hassles and free to air. E-mail can wait. I’ll send a couple of postcards instead.[…]

Read the full article at The Times Live.

If you’re thinking about buying a shortwave radio for travel, check out our recommendations for the best travel radios.

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