Heather Hapeta lives in Aotearoa-New Zealand: real travel, real adventures, real stories, real photos. Recent destinations Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and Hong Kong – now NZ destinations due to COVID travel restrictions
The time has come for me to hang up my blogging pen and camera.
With Covid-19 ruling the roost and very little or no international travel on the horizion, I’ve decided to stop blogging – soon.
I have an IT professional collating my 1200 plus blogs into one file so I can keep them for future family fun. (and proof of my copywrite should any plagerisim happen and I want to persue the culprets) I suspect I’ll stop at the end of this year … but I will continue writing in some other way.
My next blog will be about my travel writing career which started in 1998 with a magazine story about canoeing down the Zambezi river.
Hopefully you will enjoy my last blog posts about travel – for now anyway. 😀 let me now if you have questions or requests re topics you would like me to write about.
Its caused a roadblock in my international travel writing days. Luckily New Zealand is relatively free of the virus ( except for kiwis returning home and who are put into quarantine for 2 weeks) so I can travel freely in a country known as a fantastic travel destination – save your pennies and one day you too will be able to visit us 🙂
A three week holiday (vacation) in Samoa, Tonga, and Hawaii saw me instantly have to stop at this roadblock. We had had other warnings too.
Kīlauea is an active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands that last erupted between 1983 and 2018. (I was there in ’94) It is the most active of the five volcanoes that form the island of Hawaiʻi. Located along the southeastern shore of the island, the volcano is between 210,000 and 280,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago.
It was amazing to see, in the dark, a river of red lava pouring down the side of the volcano.
In this time of Covid-19 (coronavirus) and racism and riots in the United States, it sometimes feels the world is going mad and we’re powerless to stop it. Only one thing is certain, I am powerless to do anything to stop it.
The sadness this has caused me is because I’m a traveller. I’ve been to so many of those places, perhaps have even talked to people who are now dead or dying from the virus, or are in jail from protesting, and it reminded me of a column I had written when I was the travel editor of a newspaper in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Christchurch Citizen)
These weekly columns, which I’d planned to be monthly, gave me space to write anything I wanted about travel – stream of consciousness travel writing was easy for someone who loves to travel – albeit someone who was a late starter to travel.
However, with wall-to-wall coverage about this latest new virus, and the ongoing racism that resulted in yet another death in ‘the states’ I remembered a column I had written some 18 years ago. I believe it still has currency now.
I’m feeling sad. Once again I see the dangers of travel. Not the rare physical danger of airline or vehicle crashes; not the occasional danger of being robbed or becoming sick, but the every-day common danger of your heart getting to know people and places. People we would not usually meet. This week, hearing of train accidents and even more deaths in the Middle East, I am very conscious of that emotional danger.
Geography was always of more interest than history at school. One could have a stab at answering questions if I knew a couple of other facts. Distance from the equator would give clues as to temperatures and climate. Mountains, plains, rivers all added up to some understanding of a place that dates and historical facts didn’t – well for me anyway.
Now travel has given me a different perspective on places. Geography remains important, history helps with understanding people and the two, combined with travel experience, gives me a sense of, not exactly ownership or belonging, but something rather like kinship, I’m attached. I leave a bit of me in every place, and take some of the places away with me
To me this feeling of human-oneness is particularly acute at times of high emotions; small countries achieve a goal; overcome an obstacle; a national team wins; and in particular, really acute in times of national pain.
My first real experience of this came after I’d been to Ireland and then shortly afterwards ‘the troubles’ began again. I was devastated that the wonderful little city of Londonderry (or Derry, depending on the map consulted) was yet again the centre of violence. Streets I’d walked down were now dangerous. Those people I had maybe spoken to or walked past were now dead or injured had me crying in front of the TV or newspaper.
Turkey and Greece had earthquakes, people in Israel and Palestine killing each other, London had rubbish bins removed from the street for fear of terrorism, New York and the New Yorkers I love have been devastated and traumatised, monsoon floods happen in Asia, and now Egypt, fabulous country and generous people, is grief-stricken with a train tragedy.
With all these, I think of the diverse people whom I have come to know, love, judge and compare and empathise with their pain. Yet what can we do to ease that pain? Nothing. The one thing that would help – having loved ones alive again – is way beyond anything we can do.
However, maybe travel-writing that gives the texture, flavour and smells of a place helps bridge that gap between us and them. After all the scenery and monuments are the same in everyone’s photos. It’s our experiences that provide the difference.
Travelling, or reading about travelling, help us realise people are not like those presented in the headlines of our papers or in the sound-bites of radio or television. Young or old, male, female, Christian, Pagan, Muslin, or freethinker as a Japanese friend describes herself, we’re all part of the human family and when a family member is in pain we feel it.” Travel editor” First published – Christchurch Citizen Feb 25th 2002
Do you travel with others or alone? What are the pros and cons? And once this virus is under ‘control’ how will you travel? Alone or with others?
Which do you prefer – on a bus with strangers; with a friend; with your partner, or independently?
Whichever you choose, your travel journey becomes different because of that choice! I mostly prefer solo, independent travel – however, I have friends who think there could be nothing worse! I once travelled in parts of Europe on a bus with strangers – at every stop, we were always waiting for someone and that drove me nuts.
When travelling with a friend, we have to be very specific about what is, and isn’t, acceptable -especially if you’re sharing a room. Of course, it’s very easy to say, but sometimes it’s hard to do -leaving one of you, sometimes constantly, inwardly fuming. It’s very easy for one of you to minimise your requests, wants, or needs.
Over the years, during times of travelling with another person, these have been the issues of being confronted with. Not always easy to solve – although if you both can compromise 50% of the time things work out.
Someone with a well-developed fear of germs and food that’s ‘different’
Night owls who want to talk – I’m an early bird
Coughing, but not taking, or refusing to buy, medication
Proposing things to do, we agree, then changing their mind – resulting in more convoluted conversations about option A B or C
Struggling while carrying many bags instead of one or 2
Train travel only because ‘a friend said the buses were dangerous’
What has been your experiences of travelling alone, or with others? What problems have you encountered, and what advice would you give to someone who was planning travel?
Despite coronavirus in cities and countries being locked down, I refuse to be locked in – just as all my ancestors did in the mid-1800s – fleeing Scottish clearances, Cornish tin mine closures and the Irish potato famine.
And despite my trip to China – a river cruise on the Yangtze River -being cancelled, and the fabulous Rainforest World Music Festival -in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, being postponed until further notice, I refuse to be locked in despite the virus and, despite being compromised by age, nothing will stop me, travelling. I remember a song from my parent’s era “don’t fence me in.”
Travel writers have an affliction which, means they, I, we, are doomed to travel and as I said despite COVID-19 and the lockdowns all around the world I am going to keep on travelling.
Yesterday I was in Oman, today I’m in Dubai with my parasol and a few days ago I was back in my home city Christchurch,
I’ve also been down on the Wellington waterfront I’ve seen some birds that I saw in India yet again and I’ve even been upright on a paddleboard in Fiji.
Navratri festival .. longest dance festival in the world
Ernakulm, Kerala, India
Drummer boy, Ernakulam, Kerala
Florida well caught
So, take that coronavirus you’re not going to stop me – my memories are too well embedded for me to be isolated in my lockdown bubble, I can, and will travel the world with my wonderful memories.
What a privilege, it’s been to have travelled so extensively and I’m grateful for the example my parents set of not wasting money, saving, and living frugally as required. they also left me a small inheritance which, after a lot of earlier travel, enabled me to do even more.
I recall being on a plane -in 1995 – petrified that at age 50 I still wasn’t old enough to travel the world by myself (with no bookings).
If I run out of memories, I could be jogged by just some of my clippings or books.
a few of my clippings
and just a few more!
So where are you travelling to while in lockdown? I’ve been to Alaska in bwZimbabwe I’ve been to London, Wales, and Borneo. I’ve been to the USA, Mongolia, Zimbabwe and had a river cruise in Europe – to name but a few.
Even I thought it seemed a little silly, when I replied ,’Because I like the name.’ Zimbabwe sounded exotic and I just wanted to go.
Now I’ve arrived in Africa and I’m ready for my big adventure: a canoe safari down the Zambesi River.
Standing on the banks of the calm looking river, I am beginning to get scared. Watching us is the biggest, meanest looking crocodile I have ever seen. Lying in the sun, he seems to be inspecting us. I watch him and he watches me as I listen to our guide’s safety instructions.
“Keep looking for hippos, usually you will just see their little ears sticking out of the water, and every few minutes I want to you give a little knock on the canoe so they can hear us coming. If…
I’m passing thru Whanganui in a couple of days – heading further north – and we will stop to stretch our legs and have lunch. Here are some notes about the lovely little city.
When planning a road trip to Whanganui www.wanganui.com you soon realise the Bridge to Nowhere seems to have no road either. To see it requires a long hike or a jet boat trip up the Whanganui River.
However, there are many ways to drive to this river city. So, if you’ve been skiing or hiking near Ohakune, I recommend you use the historic and popular, ‘Rural Mail Coach’ route. This scenic route, narrow, windy and beautiful, takes longer than the 106-kilometres suggests. Allow 4 hours or longer if you plan to hike or take photographs on your journey.
Leave State Highway 4 at Raetahi, heading for Pipiriki (27ks) where you will join the 1935-built Whanganui River Road. Pipiriki is the first of many historically significant settlements along the way, each o which have good reasons for you to stop. A little further on is the Omorehu waterfall lookout and the picturesque Hiruharama (Jerusalem). This was home to both James K Baxter and Sister Mary Aubert whose catholic mission and the church is still there.
A few more kilometres on is the restored, two-storied, 1854, Kawana Flour Mill, only a 100-metre walk off the road. Back on the road, just before Koriniti, is the Otukopiri Marae and in 1840, site of the region first Anglican Church.
If you want to stretch your legs, the Atene Skyline Track has a 1½ hour track that takes you across farmland and up to fabulous views of the region. Returning to your car, you will soon be driving through an old seabed, the Oyster Shell Bluffs, before moving onto Parakino and your destination, Whanganui city.
The architecture here is varied. Some of the oldest buildings are the 1853 Tylee Cottage (Cnr Bell and Cameron St), the old St Johns post office (Upper Victoria Ave) and the 3-storied Tudor style Braeburn Flat. It’s also worth visiting St Peters Church (Koromiko Rd), the 100-year old opera house and the award-winning Sarjeant Art Gallery (Institute of Architects Gold medal 1961). This magnificently proportioned building has naturally lit galleries and the steps leading to it are the resting place and memorial to 17 soldiers who were killed in 1865. The buildings in the Queens Park area around the Sarjeant are considered one of the best formal townscapes in New Zealand.
Alongside the river, as well as cafes and the River Boat Centre, is the must-visit Moutoa Gardens, site of an old fishing village and where an 83-day occupation occurred in 1993.
Wanganui is compact and all attractions are within walking distance. The revitalised Victoria Avenue has gaslights, wrought iron garden seats, plane trees and wide paved footpaths. The Thai Villa (http://www.thaivilla.co.nz/ ) is in Victoria Avenue, river end, and this fully licenced and BYO restaurant comes thoroughly recommended. Then, while you are near the river, take a cruise on the restored paddle steamer, Waimarie.
Whanganui has many festivals including a book one early in the year. Another is the Real Whanganui Festival http://www.realwhanganui.co.nz/ that includes the Wanganui Glass Festival which showcases the talent of local artists www.wanganuiglass.com in September 2011