'We wandered all over Tokyo looking for a love hotel'

PASSPORTS
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The Independent Travel
Alexander Stuart's British passport is dominated by US stamps, virtually all for Miami. He first visited in 1990 to interview Nigel Benn, who was training there, for GQ Magazine. Stuart says: "The weather was beautiful, I swam in the sea. I thought it would be nice to spend the winter here and never really left."

Stuart admits that the death of his five-year-old son from cancer and the subsequent break-up of his marriage, also had a lot to do with his leaving England. He says: "When Joe died, everything went up in the air and I wanted to rethink my life. One friend was trying to persuade me to live in the Seychelles for a while and that seemed like a pretty good option. I love England, but I used to get depressed when I came back. When I get on a plane and leave England it feels like I'm leaving a lot of sadness behind."

Since he has been in Miami, life has been more settled. He has a girlfriend of four years, and has been teaching scriptwriting at the University of Miami. Stuart and Charong have done a fair bit of travelling together as his passport shows.

In 1994 the couple visited Australia. "I'd wanted to go since I did a project on it when I was seven," says Stuart. "And it kind of lived up to my expectations and didn't. If I'd gone there before going to Miami it would have seemed more exotic." The couple rented a camper van. "Our attempt to rough it didn't work. We spent one night in this thing and and wound up trying to find hotels with jacuzzis."

On the way back from Australia, they stopped off in Tokyo. "We wandered around trying to find a love hotel. Accommodation is expensive in Tokyo and a lot of couples live with their parents, so they go to love hotels for a couple of hours. It was a Saturday and the hotels were all booked, and we kept running into the same couples who were also looking."

Films are Stuart's first love. He was a film journalist before he wrote his first novel The War Zone. which is about to be filmed. "I've spent a lot of time going to California and England to see the producers. In fact, the producers of The War Zone have paid for a lot of my travel over the last few years!"

Alexander Stuart's book about Florida, 'Life on Mars' is published by Black Swan. He is currently working on a new novel, 'Chinatown Nights'

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