After the fiddles come the freebies

For every visit by Members of Parliament to Israel or Iraq, there are lots of all-expenses-paid junkets to such exotic locations as the Maldives and the Cayman Islands. Jane Merrick, Nina Lakhani and Emily Dugan report

My Life In Travel: Nina Wadia

'I remember Belgium for the statues of the little boys peeing'

Tired of the same old dive sites? It's time to seek out some more affordable, exotic locations

Scuba diving is an addictive sport, offering the chance to explore a realm that can be tranquil and electrifying in successive moments. Many divers head for popular destinations such as the Red Sea, but after a couple of trips, the popularity of these reefs takes the edge off the experience.

Maldives aims to become first carbon-neutral country

The Maldives – the island nation threatened by rising sea level as a result of global warming – is attempting to become the world's first carbon-neutral country.

Teachers wanted, must like pristine beaches and palm-lined atolls

Maldives government seeks British applicants to spearhead improvement of ex-colony's education system

Family Holidays 2009: How to keep them all happy, big and small

Where are you going for your summer holiday? Katy Holland has a few family-friendly ideas

Dom Joly: It was trolleys at dawn and pterodactyls at dusk

Thank God it's all over for another year. I do enjoy Christmas, it's just that the lead-up to the event is so stressful. We decided on a dawn raid on Waitrose the day before Christmas Eve... unfortunately our plans were discovered and the secret was out. We arrived to find that everyone in Cirencester was trying to do the same – it was a shambles.

Opposition leader educated at Eton is new Thai PM

An Oxford-educated fan of Newcastle United Football Club, who also has a taste for Albert Camus, has been elected Thailand's third prime minister in as many months – a position heavy with challenges and political uncertainty.

Pick of the Picture Books: The Book of Islands, by Philip Dodd and Ben Donald

The celebration of "islomania" behind this book is nothing to do with being a helpful travel guide; nor can its remit be scientifically defined. "We went by instinct in the end," write its authors, as they struggle to define what gives a place its "islandness". And fine instincts they were, too. The Book of Islands, by Philip Dodd and Ben Donald (Palazzo Editions, £30), has winnowed the selection down to 200 of the world's most islandy examples, starting at the International Date Line with Tonga and the Chatham Islands, the first places to greet each new day, and tracking the sun west towards Samoa.

Ibrahim Nasir: First President of the Maldives following independence in the 1960s

In the space of a decade, Ibrahim Nasir went from national hero to national embarrassment, a man who helped secure freedom for the Maldives only to be accused of corruption and effectively forced into exile.

The Good Tourist, By Lucy Popescu

An ethical guide to the practicalities of modern travel is a welcome addition to the crop of eco-lit, and more thought-provoking than some dashed-off books about composting toilets and offsetting like mad.

Asia's longest-serving ruler ousted in Maldives

The man who was the effective dictator of the Maldives for 30 years has been forced to concede defeat to a man he jailed more than half-a-dozen times following the island nation's first presidential election.

<a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent/2008/10/the-ten-best-th.html">Asian (con)Fusion: The Ten best things about India</a>

Last week, while questioning the utility of India's unmanned mission to the moon, I promised to write an unapologetically positive post about the country in which I live. That was not hard; while there are plenty of things about India that leave me despairing, there's lots that is beguiling, captivating and occasionally inspirational.

<a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent/2008/10/india-divided-.html">Asian (con)Fusion: India divided - even at the mall</a>

Famed as I am for my sartorial elegance and grace (insert irony icon here), I've yet to visit the swanky new series of fashion malls in South Delhi that have been built close to where I live

My Life In Travel: Jan Ravens, Actress

'Ideal companion? Someone who looks worse in a swimsuit than me'
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He's behind you, dude!

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Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
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