Born in 1964, Sebastian Hope learned to travel at an early age, living in five different places by the age of seven. He caught his first fish, a trout, in Canada before his third birthday.
After reading English Literature at Bristol University, Hope set off on a journey around the world that was to last almost two years, working at the Sydney Morning Herald along the way. It was at the end of this trip, on an island off the coast of the Yucatan, that he decided, on the toss of a coin, to pursue a career in travel writing and photography. The other side was International Law.
His first trip as a freelancer took him back to Indonesia and the island of Siberut, where he trekked into the jungle to meet the Mentawai people, a tribe of animist hunter-gatherers. He travelled with a trader in scented wood who also provided a crash-course in Malay. His writings and photographs from this trip appeared in many British publications and he was shortlisted for the Spectatorâ€™s Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize. He has since returned to Indonesia several times to research and meet the Sea Gypsies.
Informative and moving Hotel Tiberias is a journey of many layers and resonances, as the author follows the tumultuous story of his family and the family’s hotel (the building of it was financed by the Thomas Cook) in the town of Tiberias on the edge of the Sea of Galilee during the first half of the 20th century. The hotel’s beginnings at the time of the Ottoman Empire are intertwined with that of the author’s family, through the first world war and the creation of the territory of Palestine; its prosperity under British rule until after the second world war when the hotel was confiscated by the state of Israel is gripping stuff and thoroughly absorbing.
An enchanting tale of travels among South East Asia's Sea Gypsies, scattered groups of semi-nomadic fisher people who occupy the spaces between the islands. A glance at the map of South East Asia reveals more blue than green, more sea than land. By separating the islands of the Malay Archipelago the sea has created diversity; by joining them together it has enabled trade and laid them open to influences from China, India and the Middle East. All Malays were sailors once - their ancestors reached the islands by boat - and the sea holds a central place in the Malay experience and imagination. The Sea Gypsies who still occupy this realm seem to live still in the hidden world of Conrad's tales. They form social co-operative groups, each with its own territory, and move between established anchorages within that range, following the changing currents, seasons and fishing opportunities, and are specialists at exploiting the coral reefs. They have an oral tradition which accounts for their origins with myths of floods and tidal waves. Their hunter-gatherer lifestyle and a belief system that is at root a blend of animism, ancestor worship and sympathetic magic are characteristics they share with the early Malay cultures. Sebastian Hope travels and lives with groups of Sea Gypsies in both the east and the west of South East Asia, experiencing their subsistence lifestyle, unchanged for centuries. Travelling to fish and fishing to live, like the Sea Gypsies themselves he relies solely on his skills as a sailor and fisherman to survive.