mothers day gift: ‘naked in budapest: travels with a passionate nomad

Has your mother ever run away from home?  Perhaps she’d like to, perhaps she wants to know how to do so. Read how this fifty-year did it.  Your mother, sister, auntie, or YOU will love this how-to-guide,

Read this excerpt from the chapter “Mabel and I run away”  Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad. ISBN 978-0-473-11675-0  

Get your copy from  or Buy  a copy here from the passionate nomad herself

EXCERPT copyright protected. The author – Heather Hapeta – is the owner of all her work

‘If the exploring of foreign lands is not the highest end or the most useful occupation of feminine existence it is at least more improving, as well as more amusing than crochet work’ Mabel Sharman Crawford said in 1863. This feisty woman became my mentor as soon as we met.

We met; well I met her, in a book called Maiden Voyages I bought in Portland, Oregon. By then, I had already run away.

In my late forties, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just knew I wanted more. Widowed – youngest child dead, two adult children away from home – and a secret desire to ‘do something.’

Friends hitting the brick wall called ‘50’ were not happy about the event. It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming, drummed in my head: on its way ready or not. I needed to change the perception of that fast-approaching milestone that those friends were giving me – that it was the beginning of a downward slide. How could I look forward to this half-century event?

The germ of an idea was conceived. A late developer in some areas, perhaps I could play catch-up with the traditional Kiwi penchant for travel. Apart from six weeks in the USA and four in Australia, my travels had been confined to the length and breadth of New Zealand.web-naked-front-cover

Thwarted at 17 by parents who would not sign the consent form for my passport, I angrily cancelled a booking to sail to Australia. Three years later, married and pregnant, all thoughts of travel flew to the graveyard for stymied dreams. But maybe now, now that my body and the calendar are screaming that time is galloping on, it’s time to travel. That germ of an idea, like all living things, divides and multiplies.

Serious goal setting starts. I confide in friends who support my dreams and ignore the rest who say I am crazy. ‘What about your retirement? What will you live on?’ they ask. ‘Who cares’ I think. I intend to live until I die: I know life is short, the too-early deaths of my younger son Greg and husband Danny have shown me the tenuous hold we have on life.

Defiantly I put a sign on my notice board, AGING DISGRACEFULLY it says. Alongside it a list forms, Italy; Scotland; Ireland; Alaska; Zimbabwe, Turkey. As my bank balance grows, I measure it in chunks: enough for the plane ticket and then in multiples of 50 dollars – each chunk equal to a day’s expense as a frugal backpacker.

read the next 300 pages in the book

dangers of travel, border crossings, and fruit juice

Although travel talk is often about the dangers of air travel, terrorism and using plastic knives, there are other problems associated with travel.

While security has been stepped up and a few desperate friends are hoping to be frisked by a young man in uniform, the biggest danger to air travel is getting to the airport and your excess baggage that’s squeezed into overhead lockers ready to fall on my head.

Despite the warnings, most of us have continued to travel, tolerating the security procedures over which we have no control and putting our Swiss-army knives, sewing kits or knitting needles into our checked luggage. But what other dangers and problems do we face in the sky?


Flying to Wellington recently, squeezing my voluptuous body between two men, was an interesting exercise. They too were of generous proportions and I had sat on the neatly crossed seat-belt buckles. Not dangerous, how does a gal retrieve them- and maintain some dignity?

Then there are the foil-covered fruit juices. I’m always thirsty, and heedful of the advice to remain hydrated want to drink them. But the memory of arriving in a new country with orange stains down my white shirt makes me cautious of those tin-foiled-terrors. You also have to watch the person beside you as they tug-tug-tug at the top only to have it give way suddenly. Their arm and the juice fly skywards, and as the truism explains, what goes up . . .

Other dangers from fellow fliers include the up and downer. Up to the toilet down into the seat, up to the locker, down to the seat again only to remember a moment later they also wanted something else from their carry on luggage bag and back up they go. Not so much a danger to me, but to them: verbal or physical reprisals from an irate fellow traveller. Now I haven’t been accused of air-rage yet, but worldwide it is becoming more common and I have felt the occasional urge to join the aggressive community of ragers. Window seats help me remain calm.

Other dangers, well perhaps not a danger but an unpleasant event, is the drinker, who, replete, falls asleep on my shoulder, alcohol fumes and dribble threatening my peace of mind and comfort. He, and the occasional she, are always given a quick flick off my body. I’ll bet they wonder where that bruise came from.

Although not usually dangerous, planes toilets always sound dangerous. Laugh if you like, they sound treacherous to me. That huge suction and final thuk-thunk have me in fear of being sucked around the S-bend and into the holding tanks. Putting the lid down before flushing helps me feel in control.

Other fear-inducing events include feeling guilty at borders. I have never taken a piece of fruit, drug, or elephant tusk into another country but still feel guilty. Should I be friendly or aloof? Which will ensure a quick and pain-free journey through customs?

However, guilt free or not, border crossings can still be fraught with problems.

I once spent the night in no-mans-land between Botswana and Namibia because of a passport problem for an Israeli woman. We had left Botswana, had our passports stamped but were not allowed into Namibia because of her lack of visa. Despite tears, anger, and pleading, the drunken guard was adamant that we could not proceed and, with the border behind us closed, we prepared to sleep in our tent – not realising this narrow strip of land was an elephant corridor.

sailing down the Nile
sailing down the Nile

A two-metre fence and gate ensured we went in neither direction. Around midnight, the guard’s colleague woke us. “This is much dangerous” he said “My boss he sleep now, you come” And come we did, finally sleeping fitfully to the sound of foraging elephants and something being eaten for supper on the other side of the fence.

And then there was the big-haired woman customs officer in Los Angeles; and the . . .; and then of course . . .

Buy and read my book

Naked in Budapest:travels with a passionate nomad

by Heather Campbell Hapeta

all blacks captain, a fan, and a chinese rugby team

Flying to Wellington I was not surprised to find the captain of New Zealand’s rugby team the All Blacks waiting to get on the same plane: in the queue just like the rest of us – it reminded me how egalitarian we kiwi are.

I knew Richie Mc Caw would sit beside me, after all I’m in row one, surely Air New Zealand – as a sponsor of the All Blacks – would put him in the front row. But no, he sat in row 3 and I’m sad.

However, I have my camera in my hand luggage – I will try to get a  photo of him, hopefully WITH me,  when we get off,  after all,  I will be  off first so will able to catch him then.(lie in wait may be more truthful)

The first part goes well, I’m off first, and soon accost him. “can I take a photo please?” I ask, fumbling in my handbag.

He politely concedes to my request (&  how they must hate this!) and despite 3 attempts my damn camera will not work – how can I be a travel photographer and have this happen!

‘Do you have luggage?” I ask, no he doesn’t, so knowing I can’t delay him any longer, I thank him, telling him I’m writing a blog about the Rugby World Cup.

I get down to the luggage belt where my daughter is waiting for me …  after my text she was hoping to offer him a lift into the city with her and her mother, but no, of course he has a cab booked and walks straight past:  my daughter doesnt take a photo as she knows her mother will have!

Oh well next time!

Auckland’s first all Chinese club rugby team ran out onto the field last weekend for their very first game:  read more here  GOOD LUCK GUYS and ENJOY this new game in your new country.

guesthouses in thailand


reclining buddha - Wat Po Bangkok
reclining buddha - Wat Po Bangkok

Found this on twitter  from travellingman (follow me on twitter


I am a frequent traveler to THAILAND. When traveling outside of Bangkok, I often stay at a local guesthouse rather than a conventional hotel. Besides saving some monies, staying in a guesthouse allows me to sample the local flavor and it is a more conducive environment for meeting fellow travelers. In addition, the informal, carefree ambiance of most guesthouses suits my personality better than the somewhat stiff and fabricated environment of many traditional hotels. Guesthouses are usually small family run affairs – ranging from no frills hostels with simple dormitory like accommodations and shared bathroom facilities (popular with the young backpacker crowd) to the luxury “boutiquish” affair with amenities comparable to a small hotel (popular with the older crowd and families). As they say different strokes for different folks!

check out more recommendations from him here  

Does alcohol boil away during cooking or is it a myth?

food at wharepuke

  • Is it safe for people for people with alcoholism to eat food cooked in alcohol?
  • What about those wanting to limit their intake because of loosing weight, or driving?
  • What about those with religious prohibitions?

Is there any alcohol left in food cooked with alcohol?

Despite the old wives tales – and old chefs too, many who are top chefs – it’s repeatedly said ‘burn the alcohol off’ on TV cooking shows or in recipe books) in fact alcohol is NOT removed in ANY cooking process!

If this a surprise to you – it was to me too – and to the USA team studying it.

As someone with an allergy to alcohol this concerns me. Often, at top restaurants I have found that although there is  alcohol in a recipe, they often or usually, don’t put it on the menu! Desserts are the worst, but even soup or jus (gravy/sauce) is not safe from the addition of a slurp, slosh or little tipple of alcohol.

This is a real concern for those with religious, moral, health, or any other reasons for wanting, or needing, no alcohol residue in their food.

So, check this out . . . it is a study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory which calculated the percentage of alcohol remaining in a dish – based on various cooking methods

Does Alcohol Really Boil Away or Burn Off in Cooking?

Q How long does it take for alcohol to burn off during cooking? Is this time the same for all forms of alcohol? Boil? Simmer? How about in baking?

A Yours may be the question of the year. We thought it was pretty cut and dried. We were wrong. And it has taken a while for us to accept what we’ve found out.

See here for the chart about the results of the study.


interviews with writers: its all about me! ha ha (two years ago)



Interview with a Travel Writer…Heather Hapeta

Today’s interviewee is New Zealand travel writerHeather Hapata. Heather’s articles have been published in the Sydney Morning Herald, NZ Listener, and Morning Calm (Korean Air’s in-flight magazine), she writes a monthly travel column for Homestyle magazine, and has her first book, Naked in Budapest, due for release in June. 

Hi Heather and thanks for stopping by My Year of Getting Published.

1. Did you always want to be a writer ? How did you get started writing?

I was an avid reader as a child and always dreamt of being a writer – I thought how fabulous it would be to give such joy as I had from book. However it wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I had the time and confidence to give  a try – after all when you are fifty-plus surely it’s time to do what you really want to do.