David Lyman is a familiar byline for anybody who's read the Cincinnati Post or Cincinnati Enquirer over the years. But the former movie critic and columnist disappeared from sight for the better part of a decade, only to return in recent weeks to the pages of the Enquirer's revamped Sunday "Life" section. What happened in the interlude?

After stints at Seattle and Detroit newspapers, Lyman ended up doing what Jules Verne only imagined: Traveling around the world. And better yet, getting paid for it.

This wandering of the world was all thanks to the Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky company, which paid Lyman some $50,000, plus an additional $50,000 in travel expenses, to explore the world in search of "the Chivas life." Lyman's only responsibility? Make the planes on time, and post short essays to the Chivas corporate Web site.

Lyman, 56, stuffed a computer and digital camera into his rolling duffle bag and left for his world odyssey on New Year's Day 2005. Among the stops he made before it was all said and done: Oslo, Wales, Casablanca, Mali, Sri Lanka, New Delhi, the Himalayas, Kyoto, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Auckland and Buenos Aires.

"In truth, things started off a little rough," observes Lyman. "I had just over a month to put the whole trip together, and I had to leave before I was really ready to. I'd been overwhelmed by computer problems, for instance, and was only marginally familiar with how to post things on the Web site."

Lyman was fresh back from dog-sledding for this interview, in fact. Dog-sledding, no less, in the tiny town of Longyearbyen on an island 600 miles north of Norway, having spent the evening observing the Aurora Borealis. He counts viewing the Northern lights as a top highlight of the journey "¦ not to mention riding a motor scooter across Mali, in search of ancient mud mosques. And hitting the monasteries in Leh, high in the Himalayas, 12,000 feet up.

Now, he's back in town, and Cincinnati readers are getting the benefit of his expertise through his contemporary dance reviews and other commentaries.