New posts coming soon
Dunedin, New Zealand: Still more photos & blogs to come from there. (from January 2014)
MALAYSIAN BORNEO lots more blogs to come incl. Borneo Jazz Festival: Miri, Sarawak and Rainforest World Music Festival Kuching Sarawak (Both these festivals are annual)
Volunteering with turtles and or orangutans
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The Dunedin Chinese Gardens were high on my ‘to-do’ list and I suggest you put them on yours too. Along with the Scottish settlers, the Chinese have been in the Otago region since 1863 (incidentally, the same year my mother’s family arrived on Banks Peninsula, from Cornwall.)
This Chinese Scholar-garden, Lan Yuan, is tucked in beside railway tracks and the Toitu OtagoEarly Settlers Museum in the city centre – on the corner of Rattray & Cumberland Streets. It’s the only authentic Chinese garden in New Zealand and in fact is the first in the Southern Hemisphere and one of less than half a dozen outside China which surprised me.
Despite being in the city, it is an amazingly peaceful and quiet place and I know when I’m back in Otago I will revisit this wonderful garden.
Look at the photos and I know you too will love them.
(Extract from Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad. Available from Amazon and all other e-book sites, for Kobo, Nook, Kindle and others – if you have read it, I would really value a small review (on Amazon, Goodreads etc) so others know whether to buy a copy – seems many only buy on reviews)
. . . The sixties were an important time for me too, flower power or blooming idiots we were called. Idealistic, the first of the baby-boomers, we wanted to change the world – the American civil rights movement and television was the catalyst for many. For me they started in 1960 when South Africa demanded that no Māori could be in the All Blacks rugby tour to South Africa. ‘No Maori. No tour’ was the call from many New Zealanders and it became my first political stance. I was at high school; Vietnam and women’s issues followed and this museum brings it flooding back. Feeling drained, I eventually leave and return to the hostel and go to bed early. Tomorrow will be la crème de la crème – I’m off to Graceland.
Local buses take me the 16 kilometres (10 miles) to my goal. I’m wondering if I’ve missed the stop when I see ‘his’ aeroplanes and ring the bell; it’s time to get off. Heart pounding, I walk to the ornate wrought-iron gates – I’m going to Elvis’s home: it’s right in front of me, perched on the top of a little rise and smaller than I’d visualised. A guard stands at the gate.
‘Sorry Ma’am, you can’t come in this way. You need to get a ticket over the road’ and points at what looks like an Elvis Disneyland. Although frustrated in my plans I ask him to photograph me at the gates, then cross the road.
Despite my initial distaste, I’m swept up into the atmosphere as I wander through a few shops then buy the expensive ticket that will allow me back over the road – a short wait then I’m invited into a mini bus.
‘Welcome to Graceland. This is a great time to come to Graceland. The house has just been decorated for Christmas just as Elvis did. He loved Christmas and we try to keep things just as he would,’ our guide tells us. We drive to the road, wait for the lights to change, cross the busy road then through the gates I’d been turned way from. Within two minutes we pull up in front of the doors my hero went in and out: I’m here, I’m breathless and it’s not the mansion I’d expected. I’m welcomed again and given a hand-held audio cassette player to guide me around the house.
The dining room first: I’m surprised the small room as it’s so formal and made even smaller with people milling around the table, set for a traditional Christmas dinner.
‘What a ghastly colour scheme.’ A woman says as she looks around the living room frozen in time – the 1970s colours of orange and black. I want to explain that HE would have changed it had he been alive, that this was the fashionable decor of the time but I bite my tongue. I want to sit and absorb the atmosphere; rest on HIS couch; soak in HIS presence, imagine HIM jamming with friends. It’s not possible so continue slowly through the house.
Gazing up the stairs that lead to the out-of-bounds bedroom: I imagine how I’d have slept there if he had married me – like my youthful dreams visualised.
A thick peanut butter sandwich awaits the King and I’m pinching myself. Am I really here? Right where HE ate? Exactly where HE sat? I push the rewind button and listen to his voice repeatedly.
Continuing on to the stables, through the collection of records and clothes in the trophy room, I spend ages reading the plaques and gazing at the small paddock where he rode his horse, trying to visualise him there and eventually I’m at his grave in the Meditation Garden.
I was driving to work in the early morning light when I heard he’d died and was appalled most of the staff didn’t see his death as a moment of import. In the following days I played and replayed his records: crying. No more new music, no films – he’ll never marry me now I sobbed; my kids thought I was mad – perhaps they were right.
I’m horrified I didn’t think to bring flowers for his grave. I take photos around the Elvis-pilgrims who are spoiling the moment for me and soon I’m back in the mini-bus to return over the road – wishing the others would shut up, stop contaminating my mood with their noise.
Walking slowly around the museum I sit and watch film excerpts, climb into the planes, gaze at the powder pink Cadillac, the Harley Davidson golf-cart and then ring New Zealand – my daughter’s out of her office.
I leave a message on the answer-phone. ‘Guess where I am! I’m at Gracelands! I’m at Gracelands!’ I gloat. I buy tapes, a book then reluctantly leave. If only he waited for me – such are the dreams of a 50-year-old-woman-going-on-16.
I leave a message on the answer-phone. ‘Guess where I am! I’m at Gracelands! I’m at Graceland!’ I gloat. I buy tapes, a book then reluctantly leave. If only he waited for me – such are the dreams of a 50-year-old-woman-going-on-16.
Just a few of the native birds I saw at Zealandia this morning. Free bus from downtown for visitors
I didn’t expect to find butterflies galore in Dunedin New Zealand. However the Otago Museum has them in abundance in their Discovery World Tropical Forest, and delight all who see them – including me.
As well as the albatross nesting on Taiaroa Head ( Royal Albatross Centre) the area is also home to the world’s only working Armstrong Disappearing Gun.
I had no idea what a ‘disappearing gun’ was, but it seems it got its name by recoiling back into the pit by the force of the firing of it.
As well as seeing the gun in its underground circular pit I was also a good place to see other albatross nests that are unseen from the observation room I’d been in earlier. ( see more on my blog)
Facts for you gun enthusiasts:
- 1886 manufactured in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
- 1889 installed in Otago
- 6-inch breechloading gun on a hydro-pneumatic carriage
- weight 18.6 ton
- range *km ( 8,800 yards)
So, if you are a gun or history buff make sure you add the Fort Tour to your bird watching!
This is a chain of posts and comments from my Facebook page and thought it was worth sharing with a wider audience. Thanks to all the writers / journalists/ bloggers who commented … I have removed names and links to their FB page to stop spam etc
Here also is a rant from Harlan Ellison (I love ranters who I agree with :):) )
From Heather Hapeta‘s Facebook page earlier this year.
“Recently I was asked to write a monthly travel column for a NZ online fashion mag. For no reward – they seem to think it’s worth $1500 a month in promotion for me!
As I tell my travel-writing students ‘you will find it hard if not impossible to get published’ … and, ‘don’t give your work away’! I’m wondering what others think of this “it’s worth blah blah blah
LW Promotion? So another mag can see that you write well and offer you are job for no money? I never work for free; that is called a hobby. Just my thoughts.
SET Agree – what is it that you would be promoting via the column?
Heather Hapeta yes that’s my gut feeling LW .. would be writing on travel topics .. so only promoting wherever I write about I guess .. plus the links to my pages. Its not like I’m a tourism company and promoting that.
NA Knowing how many visitors the site receives and from where would be interesting. How are they calculating that magical $1500?
HB Once you do stuff for free, you establish your market value. You’ll always be doing stuff for free after that.
DM I was once offered cash to write about a company’s new car but knew it would kybosh any future career. ‘What if it’s no good?’ I asked. ‘Oh you can’t criticise it and we’d have to have editorial sign-off.’ they said. I said they must be joking and never heard from that particular PR bloke again, though I’ve driven and written about several good, bad and indifferent cars from the company since. A hundred quid was a lot money in those days, too.
MH Myllylahti There is not such a thing as free labour. That is just pure exploitation.
DH Good decision
DM Tell them you’ll accept that $1500 each month on a cheque?
LH Heey Hugh….YOU’RE SO RIGHT! Embarrassingly….I’ve only just come to work that out now?? Classy! HA HA HA HA! Working for Pro bono is definitely a habit I have to break!
Heather Hapeta LH why do you do pro bono work?
LH Hmmm…Hi Heather…I have a neurological condition….and therefore a patchy work record ie Employers were anxious about employing me because they were worried that they would have to deal with my bad memory and organisational skills ( hmm they are…BAD…) so I did pro bono work to try and say to the journalism, communications, PR and Marketing industries that I am capable of writing articles….BUT Capital Community Newspapers have stopped taking work from me now anyway ( there new editor says they wont take freelance work now!) so doing pro bono work might be over anyway!
Heather Hapeta LH do articles etc on your own blog for them to see your skills :):)
LH Hi Heather! Yes….Thank you…..I wasn’t whinging about life as a journalist ( though reading my last post may give this impression!) I will do something like this….I’ve just been made redundant from NZUSA as their communications person ( they ran out of money for the role) so I will have to do something like this, I think to get into another comms role! This is the first week of unemployment after 7 months….and its all a bit….Daunting ( is that the word??)
Heather Hapeta very daunting!
PHW Cash is king. Tell them to read Adam Smith. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Smith)
BK I did pro bono work in radio copywriting as a sort of foot in the door training thing. I got paid work out of it, from the radio station – they’d get me in when people were sick. So it can work. But that was quite a lot of years ago now.
AG It’s awful, isn’t it. I was recently asked by a website to write one 300 word lifestyle article per week. The writer of the ‘most shared’ article on the site per month would receive $25 while the writer who had the most shared articles overall per month got $50. Depressing.
BK And that model of course encourages people to write lowest common denominator, clickbait, trollbaiting stuff.
Heather Hapeta You have all convinced me to go with what I knew was right. Will write a blog re the issue and send it to the company
JB Tell them if it’s only worth $1,500 promotion then it’s not really worth your time?
DBK I wouldn’t do it for nothing just like they wouldn’t sell advertising for nothing. Tell them to get stuffed – you can SELL your work; how can they qualify their statement regarding value? Is the by-line likely to attract more work? I doubt it. But keep trying elsewhere and if you need advice email me off this page….I’ve had a lot published over the years and been paid well for it. Incidentally do you belong to Travcom?
BK And if Vinny Eastwood can self-promote his “journalism” and get such high numbers, so can you. You don’t need them to raise your profile.
Heather Hapeta David Burke-Kennedy yes I’m with Travcom … also sell my work in many international places …airline mags newspapers etc but it’s getting harder and harder!
DBK y yes it is…but don’t devalue your work by giving it away unless there’s a really good reason. Hope that’s not like telling an experienced writer how to suck eggs…
Heather Hapeta I was querying it as Travcom now allows articles that have not been paid for to enter the comps .. in trade for free trips. So think giving work away is more common than we think. Was testing the waters really … glad lots of staunch people out there!
JT NEVER give your work away…unless it is for charity. My brother, photographer Rob Tucker, used to charge peanuts for his work, until his wife took over the books and quadrupled his charges. He never looked back.
AC Go with your gut, Heather. It’s not worth anything at all to you if no one pays.
AL Absolutely, Heather – they’re trying to make it seem like they’re doing you a favour by publishing your work. Of course, the truth is the other way round – where would their magazine be without content?
JB Going back to what Brigid said about a foot in the door … what say ye KJAs to a request from a place you’d really like to work for? Still yeah but nah?
BK I think the circumstances of the job market have changed quite a lot and you would need very clear boundaries about how little free stuff they would get for their non-buck. Because more and more outlets are looking for content they don’t have to pay for, in order to cut costs.
JB Sorry my own experience: was unemployed, started doing a column for free for the editor of a paper that I admired, just to keep my profile up, the publisher then read the columns, remembered me from years of conferences, had an empty slot, said thanks and hired me. So, fa’afetai Samoa Observer! It’s not the NYTimes but I never wanted that anyway, small island papers is where I started and what I still love to bits – plus SaOb is feisty-as for a *small* paper (huge by island standards) ….. point being, if it’s for an outlet you love, take a punt, they may just have an empty slot. Or one may come up? 2 senes worth from Samoa.
AL I think the situation for Heather is a bit different (feel free to correct me, Heather!) in that she is an already established writer and the magazine wants to publish work in an area in which she is already known. If they were saying ‘let’s give it a whirl for a couple of months and then we’ll pay you’ that would be a bit different I suppose, but this looks more like ‘let’s give it a whirl and you can keep working for us for nothing’. Having said that, Jason, I started a 30-year-plus career in radio by working for nothing every weekend… and like you, when a paid position came up, I got it!
JB Ah, sorry Heather, was talking in general terms, rather than being Hapeta-specific, but should have said so .. thanks Allen, exactly what you said.
JW I don’t think you should do it for free. Unfortunately it lowers the bar for everyone trying to make a living. I have a parallel experience as a musician. I got asked to play for free twice in the last fortnight with the benefit to me of ‘getting my name out there’. I explained politely that I have been performing professionally for 20 years now. If people want something for free then they could at least acknowledge that you would be doing them a service and not pretend they’re doing you a favor.
KM Sounds like bollocks. Ask for $500 a month or get stuffed.
FL I left a job recently and a former journalism student of mine was interviewed for the position. She was asked to write an article for the paper – I wonder if she was paid for it? She’ll find out this week if she’s got the job. I was asked to write an a…See More
PHW If you want exposure, file for Salient. And do it well. There. I said it.
MS I am finding more and more that the less you get paid for your skills, the more people seem to want from you and often the more troublesome the client. As hard as it is, I’ve said No to a couple of things lately. Interestingly, jobs paying properly came along to fill that space…
PHB It goes without saying I hope that as professionals we refuse to be commission stories without offering payment.