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Melbourne (February 2015)
Tasmania (February 2015)
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Another book is due out very soon (topics - Borneo & eco travel) and will be on Amazon with my other two books

I'm being interviewed about some of my travels on NZ Radio (National/Nights) mid/late March

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Thaipusam .. piercing – on Penang Island, Malaysia

March 3, 2015

. . .  “Two weeks later I’m on Penang Island, named after the betel nut so loved by many older men and women: all recognisable by their stained teeth and frequent spitting. It’s early in the morning: very early. Standing in the dawn light, at the colourful temple I’m unsure if I should go in. A few other tourists are also standing around, talking in low whispers, cameras around their necks.

It’s Thaipusam; a day of consecration to the Hindu deity Lord Murugen who is confusingly also called Lord Subramanian. Hindus who have made a vow to him carry frames decorated with coloured paper and flowers, fresh fruit and milk. When these tributes are placed at the feet of the deity, their penance or gratitude is accepted. Some 2000 people will carry the kavadi or silver milk containers, the 12 kilometres to the Natlukotai Temple in Waterfall Road, Penang Island on this annual pilgrimage.

Read more…

Seems everyone loves to ride steam trains

March 3, 2015
I didn't sit like this!

Arriving at the bus departure place, near “Fed Square’,  Melbourne,I was not surprised to find many others had also signed up for a Puffing Billy day trip – it seems everyone loves a ride on a steam train.

My first driver, Ismet – who in the Aussie tradition has had his name babified/shortened to Issie – regaled us with local stories as we drove out of Melbourne and, as this was my first trip to the city, I valued the historical and current background context. He told of car museums, rich suburbs, soccer, wide streets; that the city has 32% of its land in sports fields and gardens, and explained the thirty-six ‘right-hand hooks’ – the unusual but elegant solution to keep the trams moving in the city.

As well as the Puffing Billy trip, other activities on the day included a visit to the Healesville Sanctuary, Billy Tea, riding through forest and little towns and for those who wanted to, feeding colourful Rosellas and King Parrots; chocolate, wine tasting and  a roast dinner – the day covered them all. (But more about those topics in another blog)

We boarded the Puffing Billy at Belgrave for our short trip (about 30 mins I think) in the Dandenong Ranges, but first its seemed all passengers took many, many photos of the fire-fueled steam engines.

Puffing Bull getting up  a head of steam

‘Puffing Billy’ getting up a head of steam for our trip

This line, built in the early 1900s, helped open up the area and carried logs, livestock, and other goods it now carries about a million and a half tourists annually: it is mostly staffed by volunteers.  Running every day except Christmas Day, of course it is also closed on high temperature-high fire risk days for fear of starting a bush fire – a wise precaution.

Our Grayline tour had its own carriage and it seemed all the other carriages were full too – I said, seems all the world loves a steam train!

Here’s a slideshow for you – a few of the many photos I took on this little section of our day tour. (A friend had recommended I rode the Puffing Billy and I’m glad I took the advice)


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on our way

On our way – on a comfortable bus (or coach -depending on where you live and the variety english you speak!)


Many thanks to Grayline for hosting me on this fun day.

A taste of blogs to come (Australia)

February 23, 2015
I didn't sit like this!

Just got home at midnight last night: but here are a few photos from my first day in Melbourne, Australia to give you a taste – these are from a  great day tour which included food, wine, wildlife, and a Puffing Billy!

I did this tour with Grayline and for more about this day tour and my other activities during the past 3 weeks make sure you sign up to get my blogs by email (top right hand corner of this page) and/or follow me on FaceBook, Pinterest, Instagram etc – get the links off my website

Quake slide show from Christchurch, NZ

February 22, 2015

Originally posted on KiwiTravelWriter: food, travel, tips:

Have you seen this on u-tube  by Tony Clark – a Christchurch  quake slide-show .

When I  look at this I can still smell the dust from the September 4th quake … which now seems nothing after the smaller, but shallower and fatal, February 22nd one.

View original

7 years of blogging

February 17, 2015

HH on the beach

This selfie was taken on a Tasmanian beach last week.

Just had a message from WordPress
with congratulations for seven years  blogging right here .. so lots of topics and places for you to search for in my writings.

More blogs on the way after this current trip in Melbourne and Tasmania Australia. Back home in New Zealand next week to start on them … and also convert my new book into e-formats.  (A Love Letter to Malaysian Borneo: Or, Can This Travel Writer Be Green?)

16 tips for great holiday, or vacation, photos

February 3, 2015
Mediatation on the banks of the holy Namada River, Maheshwar.

These 16 photographic tips is one of my earlier blogs  – recycled.

Do you, like me, hate that F word? Photographers use it such a lot! All I ever wanted was to record my trip. All I wanted was to have my memories enhanced by colourful images – a visual diary. But they keep using the ‘f’ word.

Call me an innocent it you like, but I don’t even know what that “f” word means! Books that use that word are too confusing for me. I needed clear, simple instructions – not words like apertures, shutter speeds, filter or f-stops.

All I want is to produce snapshots that produce envious sounds from friends and family: this happens as long as I obey the lessons I’ve learnt during my travels: usually discovered by wasting money developing photos of headless friends, my fingers, and distant, anonymous scenery … and a digital camera is great to get rid of the F-word and those boo-boos with the little press of the delete key.

So, how can you create those green-with-envy “wish I was there” comments from friends and family; how can you bring great photos home from your holiday.

First the basics: keep your fingers off the lens AND take the lens cover off – then:

  1. Keep your camera handy is vital as some of my very best shots I missed!
  2. Filling the frame with the subject adds impact and close-ups are great.
  3. Eliminate the unessential, cut out the clutter, and don’t try to grab it all. Concentrate on one small area and not the scene.
  4. Balance the camera on a fence, table, or other solid object if you are unsteady. Leaning against a post helps reduce camera shake.
  5. Early morning and late afternoon has the most favourable light, avoid midday if you can.
  6. Simple blocks of bright colour can make bold, interesting statements.
  7. Contrasting or complementary colours always look great.
  8. Look at other people’s photos, (in magazines, exhibitions, etc) see what works, what catches your eye
  9. Vertical shots are great for height and portraits
  10. Horizontal ones are good for getting some background
  11. Hold camera at an angle for fun shots
  12. Have the subject lean on something, or have their weight on one leg for a natural pose
  13. Use a background that enhances the subject – no branches out of ears or steeples from tops of heads
  14. Balance the picture; rarely have the subject in the centre
  15. Take a series of photos; funny signs, a water theme, doors, faces, women working
  16. Use something to frame the subject, a tree trunk and branch, a door, a window

Finally, travel always sharpens awareness of my surroundings; the different, the unusual and it is these things, the view of a new eye that makes great photos, so take many photos during your first few days in another city, country, or culture. We adapt quickly to differences so then our photos revert to being a mere record of our travels.



























© Your name

Travelling with carry on luggage only (7kg)

January 29, 2015

AirNZ's black plane in Christchurch, NZThere is an art to travelling with only carry-on luggage . . . which for most international airlines means a seven kilogram allowance. (just over 15 pound).

One way is to travel for just a few days, but most of us want to be away longer than that. My next trip, to Australia, will be for three weeks and to get a cheap deal I opted for a seat and carry on luggage only. Then comes the question, what to pack?

Maud Parrish (1878-1976) in her book, Nine Pounds Of Luggage, said she travelled around the world with approx. 4 kilo of luggage and a banjo – quite a feat – I take more than that and, no banjo!

Friends tell me I travel for a year with less baggage than they take for a weekend! I also know if I’m driving from A to B to take more as I have the space for all those ‘just-in-case’ items – that mostly never get used of course. When I unpack from any travel I always note items I didn’t use or wear: a good reminder for the next journey.

IMG_20150125_151732But back to packing – it’s the extras that weigh so much: necessary extras such as toilet-gear, camera gear, Kobo,tablet, chargers, leads, and of course footwear.

I either only take one or two pairs of shoes – in this case, wearing my Teva’s and carrying a light pair of sandals for evenings. I’m also taking a selfie stick for the first time as, also for the first time, I want to create some Vlogs (Video blogs) or at least some snatches of video to include in my blogs.

Seems my bag will be7 kgs exactly

Seems my bag will be 7 kgs exactly – even with a couple of copies of my book for gifts

Luckily our neighboring country (Australia) is in the same southern hemisphere as New Zealand so only need summer clothing this trip. Despite many people thinking these two countries are very close, my flight will actually take four hours – so not close. (Comparison distances – London to Athens is 3 1/2 hrs; Los Angeles to Miami, Florida is about 4 1/2 hrs)

Remember, most of the people you meet will never cross your path again so, there is no need to impress with different clothes daily.

So what can you jettison? Firstly, get rid of everything you take ‘for just in case’.

Think about where you are going when you pack your clothes and be respectful in your clothing. Even if you don’t approve of, or understand the cultural norms that may, implicitly, ask you to cover up, remember you are going because of its difference. If it was the same as home you may as well stay at home, it would be easier and cheaper!

Jewellery, take the absolute minimum (same for makeup) I wear small earrings and a gold chain, and of course, like most travelling Kiwis, my bone carving or greenstone pendant. Sometimes I buy a couple of cheap fun pieces in the county for a change.

So it the odds and ends to sort first, then decide on the easy bit – clothes.

On this trip I have 5 tops and 4 bottoms – mostly all able to be mixed and matched. Plus of course, underwear, a hat, and a light scarf. As I write this I’m wondering about swimming gear – so need to consider that before l leave in a few days.


But, most of all throw out all your worries and problems about yesterday and tomorrow, they weigh far too much to be of any use to you today: totally unwanted, and unnecessary, carry-on luggage.

See another blog about packing here



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