Month: March 2009

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?

web-namibia-elephants-copy

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 http://twitter.com/kiwitravwriter)

 

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)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 2007

 

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.

READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE

radio new zealand, mediawatch and kakapo feathers

Mediawatch is one of my favourite radio progammes. Each week the Mediawatch team weighs up the media coverage of the stories and the issues rasied.

What’s even better is that its available on podcasts if I’m away … check it out on http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday

A couple of weeks ago it looked at the mixed messages from the media about the current economic crisis – and why some journalists believe the media are only making things worse, and just how silly was the ‘silly season’?   

Also heard and of interest to me, on my favourite station, Radio NZ National www.radionz.co.nz/national was a Swiss-born scientist Anna Gsell, and who is a biology researcher at Massey University’s Institute for Natural Sciences in Albany. Her work involves investigating the area of the brain related to smell. Continuing her work on kakapo feather scent and how it affects mating and breeding, she is lead researcher on the team who will be the first in the world to dissect the brain of the endangered native parrot (a 100-year-old kakapo which died of natural causes at Auckland Zoo late last year). www.massey.ac.nz/

new zealand history – the musket wars

THE MUSKET WARS

Tens of thousands of Maori died in the intertribal Musket Wars of the 1810s, 1820s and 1830s. Muskets changed the face of intertribal warfare, decimating the population of some tribes and drastically shifting the boundaries of areas that others controlled. Read more here:

http://bit.ly/bZPNP 

This is the first of what will be a series of topics to be added in the coming months to expand our New Zealand’s 19th Century Wars category.

international womens day – New Zealand first in world

Suffrage and beyond

On 19 September 1893 the governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law. As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

In most other democracies – notably Britain and the United States – women did not win the right to the vote until after the First World War. New Zealand’s world leadership in women’s suffrage became a central part of our image as a trail-blazing ‘social laboratory’.  READ MORE

Christchurch – my city – played a crucial part in this event: and one of my woman ancestors signed the pettion.

Each year, in this city, we gather at this fabulous monument ( read and see more here) to pay tribute to those wonderful women who ensured all women (Maori and settlers) were able to vote.

is thailand safe?

Although I have been blogging about my trip to Thailand last week – I suspect some of you may still be wondering: “is Thailand safe?

Now I have to admit when the political protesters blocked the airport I found it hard to be sympathetic for travelers who were bleating about being ‘stuck’ in Thailand.  That may have been unfair of me, as, as a passionate nomad, as a  traveller who makes her own arrangements as to how, where and when I’ll travel, and where I’ll stay, my thoughts were ‘Thailand is the easiest of countries to leave’.

peaceful lives along the klongs in this old 'Venice of the east'
peaceful lives along the klongs in this old 'Venice of the east'

In my mind I was saying to those nameless people on TV, just get a train south, fly from Phuket,  Malaysia or even fly out from Singapore’. I also knew they could go north to Changmai or west to Cambodia. But I also know, many of those people, even those on the so-called various ‘intrepid-type-travel’ programmes that screen around the the world, that even those  intrepid travellers would not know what to do either. ( After all they have an entourage of minders looking after them, just out of camera range – it’s hardly intrepid.  So to the tv I said, ‘just hole up in your hotel, lay by the pool and wait’.  Guess I was jealous – as I wouldn’t have minded an enforced stay (paid for by the airlines or insurance) in Thailand.

So, back to the question, is Thailand safe?

OF COURSE IT IS! 

Buddha images for sale
Buddha images for sale

 

 

 

When I was there –only a week ago– there was a demonstration outside Parliament when the ASEAN conference was on, but just as when Oxford St, London,  is blocked due to road works  or demonstration (or any road in LA, New York, Miami, Sydney, or even when the so-called ‘boy-racers’ disrupt part of my city  on a Friday or Saturday night … the rest of us are not even aware of it happening .. all we see is the same as other TV viewers see and it doesn’t affect our life.

So too with any political unrest in Thailand ( insert any other countries name here too) YES it is safe …  in fact I have often heard that straight after any major event is when it’s safest to go anywhere – after all the security is on high alert.  and the demonstration had nothing to do with travellers:

It was political, not a secuity risk to any traveller. Go there NOW – I’m sure it will be cheaper.

asian drivers: changmai, thailand

Intimidated by the fast one-way traffic in Chang Mai, (Northern Thailand) I ask a Canadian “How on earth do you cross the road? These drivers are crazy.”

No they’re not. You live here a year like I have” he tells me “and by then you’ll learn to just step out into the traffic. They’ll move around you. Just don’t run and don’t stop or they don’t know what you are going to do. There is nothing worse than a farang (foreigner) on the road; they don’t know the rules. Locals hate seeing you front of them, they know you are unpredictable” . . .

What happens when the kiwi travel writer tests this theory read more here

tuk tuks and motor bikes in thailand
tuk tuks and motor bikes in Thailand