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MY NEW EBOOK:
A Love Letter to Malaysian Borneo. Or, can this travel writer be green? ($us4.99 from all ebook sellers.)
NOTE: this booklet is an entrant in the 2015 Malaysian tourism Awards.

FUTURE TRAVELS and blogs
Dubai (October 2015)
Oman (October 2015)
Northland, New Zealand (Jan 2016)

RECENT TRAVELS so upcoming blogs:
Sarawak, Malaysia (August 2015) Rainforest World Music Festival
Fiji - boutique cruise (May 2015)
Melbourne (February 2015)
Tasmania (February 2015)
Florida (June/ July 2015
Georgia (July 2015)
California (July 2015)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5819842.Heather_Hapeta

Kuching Wetlands National Park

September 1, 2015

Only 15 km from Kuching (and 5 km from the Damai Beach Resort (where I have stayed three times while at the magical, annual Rainforest World Music Festival) is the Kuching Wetlands National Park (2002) in the estuarine reaches of two rivers.

It’s also where I have twice planted mangrove trees as part of the “Greening of the Festival” which Sarawak Tourism does with all the festivals it hosts, helping  offset the carbon I’ve spent getting to Malaysian Borneo.

getting down and dirty while planting young mangrove

getting down and dirty while planting young mangrove

The park is a mostly saline mangrove system of many waterways and tidal creeks connecting the two major rivers that form the boundaries of the park.

An important spawning and nursery ground for fish and prawn species and it also has a wide diversity of wildlife, including proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaque monkeys, silver-leaf monkeys, monitor lizards, estuarine crocodiles and a range of bird life, including kingfishers, white-bellied sea eagles and shore birds, including the rare lesser adjutant stork. In 2005 Malaysia designated the park as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance.

Lessor Adjutant Stork (Parit Jawa)

Lessor Adjutant Stork (Parit Jawa)

To explore this park you need to travel on the river and a number of tour operators offer coastal and river cruises in and around the park.

To read more about eco-tourism in Malaysian Borneo see my small book (A love letter to Malaysian Borneo or, can this travel writer be green) which has been entered in the Malaysian Tourism 2015 Awards.

 

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Proboscis monkey: more endangered than orangutans!  I hope one day people will see  one in the trees I've planted

Proboscis monkey: more endangered than orangutans! I hope one day people will see one in the trees I’ve planted

Kiwi travel writer proves she is ‘not a sucker’

August 25, 2015
The Kiwitravelwriter fails at sucking even when given a lesson in eating these snails!

The Kiwitravelwriter fails at sucking – even when given a lesson in eating these snails!

Many thanks to Rash (Jo’s Bamboo Cuisine) who really tried hard to teach me to get the insides out of these native snail while at the Sarawak Cultural Village and the Rainforest World Music Festival (#RWMF) earlier this month.

While she and other locals made it seem so easy, it became very obvious I need to practise sucking more, or, carry a pin to winkle them out next time!

 

“It’s easy, just suck, then eat.” As she also told me … they’re like rubbery chewing gum!

 

KiwiTravelWriter plants more mangrove trees in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

August 7, 2015
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Arriving at the Sarawak Wetlands National Park

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Heather shelters from the sun and heat --- with Swiss Christophe Erade who is accompanying the Congo group Ndima

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Tree number 8 being planted

These three photos are copyright to the Sarawak Tourism Board and were taken by the official Rainforest World Music Fesival photographers

A travel writer confesses to breaking her own rules and tips

August 3, 2015
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Confessions from a travel writer: I’m not as perfect as my blogs may imply!

No doubt with a book called Naked in Budapest you could assume my confessions will be racy – sorry to disappoint you but these confessions are about packing and any ‘racy confessions’ will stay in my travel memoir – not this blog.

So, confession #1

Despite having written a few really popular and helpful blogs about packing for travel and another about carry-on luggage, or for cruising,  I occasionally fail by not reading my own words of wisdom, and if i do, not heeding that voice in my head that says “Heather, I hope you are listening (in this case via reading’) to yourself”.

My recent trip to the USA saw me break my cardinal rule of don’t take anything for ‘just in case.’ and although I think I wore everything once, there was too much in my bag.

I guess swimming gear doesn’t really count – its hard to use  what we Kiwi call ‘togs’ for anything else but in the water or poolside. (mine were only worn twice, once swimming with the Florida manatee and a very quick dip in the Pacific, despite the heat)

A soiree in Atlanta

A soiree in Atlanta – at the Coca Cola site

Confession #2

I’m now gathering things together for my trip to the Rainforest World Music Festival (#RWMF) and already I know I have way too much to even choose from.  So I’m taking myself in hand by writing this confession and hopefully shaming myself into taking what I need – not what I want, or think I want. I will also, this time, reread my helpful packing tips!

One of the issues around packing decisions is the variety of activities we often have to do in one trip.

The USA trip saw me attending a convention, a couple of parties, shopping, hiking, exploring tourist places and checking out restaurants.

My August trip to the music festival, in Malaysian Borneo, also has its challenges: a fancy dinner reception, surviving the photographers mosh-pit, planting a tree as part of ‘greening the festival’ – possibly in a mangrove area, attending performers’ interviews, meetings with tourism officials, exploring Kuching, AND spending part of my significant birthday in a drumming circle.

So, once again, many occasions, and very hot weather, meaning I need to think layers and interchangeable tops and bottoms and colours that mix and match.

Now to choose what makes the last cut! ( and my next blog will be from the annual Rainforest World Music Festival)

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Now to choose from too many items!

 

Photo of the end result for boarding tomorrow … red bag for checked luggage, plus my carry-on and personal handbag (combined they weigh just under the 7kg rules – and the ‘handbag’ could be put into the grey carry-on which is mostly my electronic gear: of course NONE of which I needed when I first started travelling :):)

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Planting mangroves in Malaysian Borneo

August 1, 2015
we arrive at the park

we arrive at the park

Only 15 km from Kuching (and 5 km from the Damai Beach Resort where I’m staying under the shadow of Mt.Santubong and beside the Sarawak Cultural Village ), is the Kuching Wetlands National Park (2002) – the estuarine reaches of the two rivers.

It’s also where I will be planting mangrove trees next week as part of the “Greening of the Festival” which Sarawak Tourism does with all the festivals it hosts – this time with wonderful Rainforest World Music Festival. I did the same a year ago, helping to offset the carbon I’ve spent getting to Malaysian Borneo.

hh sarawak IMG_2148

I plant mangroves in the Kuching Wetlands National Park in 2014

The park is a mostly saline mangrove system of many waterways and tidal creeks connecting the two major rivers that form the boundaries of the park.

An important spawning and nursery ground for fish and prawn species and it also has a wide diversity of wildlife, including proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaque monkeys, silver-leaf monkeys, monitor lizards, estuarine crocodiles and a range of bird life, including kingfishers, white-bellied sea eagles and shorebirds, including the rare lesser adjutant stork.

In 2005 Malaysia designated the park as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance. To explore this park you need to travel on the river and a number of tour operators offer coastal and river cruises in and around the park.

We walk the plank from boat to the site we will work at

We walk the plank from boat to the site we will work. Note: Mount Santubong is just visible behind the tents

 

Columbia Restaurant: a tradition since 1905 (& nesting birds!)

July 27, 2015

web IMG_0651IMG_0651The Columbia Restaurant has been a Sarasota, Florida tradition since 1905 with Columbia Restaurant – Ybor City leading the way as the oldest restaurant in Sarasota and it serves fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, using some century-old family recipes.

Their St. Armand’s Circle site, in Lido Key opened in 1959 and after a short wait; we choose an outdoor, footpath table.

Its menu features Spanish fare: paella packed with fresh clams, shrimp, and mussels caught my eye, but the web IMG_0667IMG_0667Spanish Bean Soup with chorizo became my starter while their signature, and award-winning 1905 Salad became my main.

The warm, crusty, homemade, Cuban bread served with the soup was excellent and the soup was well-flavoured with a tasty chorizo – seems this soup is Columbia’s signature lunch and they’ve served dished it up since the restaurant started.

Columbia’s legendary “1905” Salad is tossed tableside. Crisp iceberg lettuce with baked ham, natural Swiss cheese, tomato, olives, grated Romano cheese and the famous garlic dressing – most tasty.

Sarasota has stunning beaches, acres of recreation, superb shops and galleries and St. Armands Circle is websized IMG_0744conveniently located near the beaches of Lido and Longboat Key: after our delicious meal, we strolled around the circle – which is home to more than 130 shops – and down to Lido Key to watch the sunset.

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However, what really interested us on the beach were the birds nesting there and we spent time watching the parents delivering food for their young. They flew very low to the sand as they came back with food, and we also watched others skimming the sea – maybe drinking as swallows do!?

Like our New Zealand birds that nest on the ground, these birds too are at risk and sadly their numbers are plummeting.

 

Alligators galore in Florida – birds too

July 24, 2015
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With alligators galore, and many fabulous birds, for me this park is a must-visit on your Florida travels. I’m told, ‘where there is a lake or pond in Florida, assume a ‘gator lives there‘. Seems they can, and do, travel big distances overnight too!

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One of Florida’s natural attractions is the Myakka River State Park and recently I enjoyed a day there with Sarasota friends: it’s one of Florida’s largest and, evidently, most diverse parks. Developed in 1934 it has a scenic drive, many hiking trails, a board walk, horse and bike trails, plus the first USA canopy walk (2000).  Please add your favourite canopy walks to the comments.

It also claims to have two of the world’s largest airboats.

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While cruising on board the Myakka Maiden I was surprised to hear alligators making a sound – for some bizarre reason that was something I’d not expected.  It was an aspirated hissing noise and, according to the captain of the air-powered boat, is used as a warning to other ‘gators to ‘get out of my space.’

The hour-long boat tour was accompanied by interesting facts, figures and fun by the driver-captain as we gently explored the shallow grassy areas of the Upper Myakka Lake. The flowers bloom according to the clock – well the sun really – and we are told “at 2pm the lake will covered with yellow blooms’.  And bloom at two they did!

I’m well-recommending this boat tour!

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Heather by Mallory

Heather by Mallory

 

 

Nature being watched, and photographed, by the Kiwitravelwriter

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first bite

first bite: For the first time I alligator at the cafe:

 

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