Oil, oil, oil, death and courage

Oil, oil, oil, death and courage.

Freedom of speech and Courage Day – read the above article – published in The Press, Christchurch New Zealand .. the link is to my blog!

Religion, atheists, books and travel

On my recent trip I spent the 14-hours in the air from Wellington, New Zealand to Kuching, Sarawak (East Malaysia, Borneo) reading Alain de Botton’s book HEATHROW DIARY and despite spending many times in airports, it made me aware of nuances I had not perhaps been so conscious of.IMG_3278758846670

Then, instead reading one of the many books on old Malaysia and Borneo on my Kobo, I returned to one already started on my e-reader, RELIGION FOR ATHEISTS. a non believers guide to the uses of religion, also by de Botton.

Interestingly this has also tied in with my travels here, and resonates with past travels.

A kiwi for many generations, both maternal and paternal lines escaping the Irish famines, the Scottish clearances, and the Cornish tin mine closings of the 1800s (in today’s terms both economic migrants and refugees) the kiwi way of life absolutely seems the norm. That is, I live in a secular country where in the recent census nearly 50% of us declared” No religion” on the form: a number that would be much higher if not for our migrants who of course bring their religions with them.

During these travels, like many other – such as in Europe, Israel, Southern USA and many other places – I am aware if how religion plays such a huge part in people’s lives outside New Zealand, an awareness made more acute by the many Chinese temples here in Sarawak and the fact that Ramadan has just started.

Have you read either books?

Have they, or any other books on the topics, influenced you with your travel observations?

For me they have both just made me more conscious of both travel and religion and like local food, remember what an integral part it is with travel – no wonder I’m a passionate nomad, aging disgracefully as I move around the world.

Off to Malaysia Lah.

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Hibiscus. National flower, Malaysia

Yes, today I’m off to Malaysia Lah – and, as I said in my book – Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad,– it’s my favourite Asian country!

So why “lah” and why “favourite”?

To lah or not to lah that is the question. Many Malaysians add this ‘non-word’ to sentences, peppering it around , flavouring their words just as you do with the spice.

For explanations of all the meanings attributed to the word see here.

Some include these

Coaxing: Come on, lah; don’t be like that-lah; please-lah
Forceful: Shut up-lah! Get out-lah!
Apologetic: Sorry-lah
Fed up: Enough-lah!
Definite: Of course-lah; sure-lah
Agreeable: Okay-lah

We Kiwi also add a sort of non-word to many sentences – ours is ‘eh’ pronounced ‘ay’, like the letter ‘a’ and it’s used to tag question or emphasise a statement – not nearly as versatile as the Malaysian Lah!

However, my parents, clear-speaking Christchurch folk, were horrified when their North Island born grandchildren moved south with the casual ‘eh’ added to their comments and queries alike – they considered it very ‘lower-class’. It was ‘regional’ but it has slowly moved to the South Island but it’s still not so common there – and many people throughout NZ still consider it a sign of a lack of education and or money.

And, now, why ‘favourite country’? Well, my first visit to Asia, and Malaysia was in the late-90s, landing in Singapore, on my way to Thailand where I was keen to see the gold temples and Buddha’s. Malaysia was really just a two-week route north. I thought it would be ‘just another colonised country’ and gosh was I wrong!

As a Kiwi (New Zealander)I got a 3-month visa as I crossed the border, bused to Malacca and promptly fell in love with the country, the food and the people: Think Assam Pedas a spicy-sour fish for breakfast, sweet-corn ice-cream, great sights, history,  friendly people of different ethnicities and religions, and of course  their “Open Homes”.

These open homes are a truly Malaysian way of celebrating all festivals or celebrations including religious and ancient events, when everyone is invited to someone’s home for a great meal.  Staying in Malacca for ten days meant I was there for the Hari Raya celebrations (end of Ramadan) and much to my surprise was welcomed into the home of the Deputy Health Minister.

I tell much more about my time in Malaysia in my book, but to finish this blog, I can tell you I finally had to make a rush to the Malay-Thai border on the last day of that 3-month visa, hating leaving, and knowing I would return.

I’ve been back a couple of times but this is my first visit to East Malaysia (Sarawak & Sabah on Borneo) and for the next 2 months I’m looking forward to seeing both the differences and what’s similar – follow my adventures here and on social media.

Heather Hapeta: the kiwi travel writer

See here for my social media links – so you can choose how to follow my travels, the food, the creatures, and the nature of this tropical island 🙂

Congratulations to all travel writer winners … sadly my name is not on this 2012 list

Wellington Writer and Auckland Photographer Scoop the Top Prizes at the Cathay Pacific Travel Media Awards
13 May 13

Wellington’s Sharon Stephenson won the Cathay Pacific Travel Writer of the Year Award and Auckland’s Babiche Martens took the Cathay Pacific Travel Photographer of the Year Award, presented Tuesday 7th May at the Travel Media Awards Gala Dinner at the Heritage Auckland’s Grand Tearoom.

The Cathay Pacific Travel Media awards are organised by Travcom (New Zealand Travel Communicators) to celebrate excellence in travel writing and photography.

Stephenson took top spot with her story "Roman Holiday – Food and Flirting" published in the Dominion Post.  Stephenson is a Wellington-based freelance writer, editor, copywriter and PR consultant.

The writing judge was William Fraser, based in Hong Kong, editor-in-chief of the six Cathay Pacific and Dragonair magazines and digital products, former editor of Qantas magazine, founder of Australian Financial Review magazine and Boss magazine.  He is a former literary and food editor who has worked in magazines, newspapers, book publishing, radio and television.  Fraser said “The winner of the Cathay Pacific Travel Writer of the Year award is someone I would relish setting out with. This is a writer who has clearly already done the necessary research to be knowledgeable about the destination. But is also prepared to go with the flow when necessary and surrender to the spontaneous opportunities that travel throws up. The writer also has the necessary joie de vivre so essential in a travelling companion. But more than anything else, this was a writer with a sense of humour.

“Roman Holiday is a con brio piece of writing that from the outset made me smile and then laugh out loud. While relatively concise, it is entertaining and amusing, and the exuberant verve of the writing and enthusiasm for the subject – her unabashed enjoyment of Italian food and waiters – propels the reader through the piece. It has enough information to allow readers to follow in her footsteps and is a welcome reminder that travel can, and probably should, be fun. She enjoyed her holiday and so did I.”

William Fraser judged all travel writing categories excluding the New Travel Writer of the Year award, which was judged by Metro staff writer Steve Braunias. Steve has won the Cathay Pacific Travel Writer of the Year Award three times, and he describes his latest book, Civilisation: 20 Places at the Edge of the World, as “a kind of gothic travel book, set in Mosgiel, Tangimoana and other destinations which are at once bland and amazing”.  The winner of the AA Directions New Travel Writer of the Year Award is Brian Luby of Dunedin, for "Tunnel, Laughter and Giants".  Braunias said “Brian’s story was about a hole in the ground. Writing about a tunnel was an ambitious task – it could so easily have been a small bore. But Brian’s genuine sense of wonder is infectious. He takes the reader with him, back to the 1870s when the 72 steps of tunnel were first dug, then to the present day, when he dares to compare it to the Grand Canyon. Who dares, wins. I loved every syllable of this witty and thoroughly engaging piece of writing.”

The winner of Cathay Pacific Travel Photographer of the Year Award is Babiche Martens, a photographer for the NZ Herald.

The photography awards were judged by: Bela Trussell-Cullen, a veteran magazine designer and art director, who has worked for many years on Metro and North & South and who is currently art director of New Idea magazine; Aaron K, an Auckland-based commercial photographer with over 13 years of industry experience. He’s also a past president and the current executive director of the Advertising and Illustrative Photographers’ Association; and Tony Bridge, a professional photographer, artist and photography educator based in Hanmer Springs.  The Cathay Pacific Travel Photographer of the Year Award was judged on the entire portfolio of images entered in every award category.

Aaron K said “We chose Babiche Martens as the winner because we found her portfolio very contemporary and original. In a medium that can attract cliche’s Babiche’s unique vision was refreshing. She has been innovative with her choice of subject matter and composition, while also demonstrating excellent technical control and consistency. All of her images were perfectly exposed, resulting in strong saturated colours. We feel she has an educated eye that pushes the boundaries of the travel photography genre."

Stephenson and Martens each win a return economy class ticket, upgradeable on a space available basis, to Hong Kong travelling with Cathay Pacific plus three nights at the renowned Peninsula Hong Kong which is celebrating 85 years of Peninsula hospitality in 2013.  The winners will also be hosted by the Hong Kong Tourism Board to experience the marvels of Hong Kong.



Cathay Pacific Travel Writer of the Year:

Winner:   Sharon Stephenson

Auckland Airport Award for the Best Magazine Travel Story

Winner:    Venetia Sherson, for "Autumn in Tuscany", published in NZ Life & Leisure magazine, Jan/Feb 2012

Runner up:     Miranda Spary, for "Turkish Delight", published in NZ Life & Leisure magazine, March/April 2012

Runner up:   Steve Braunias, for "With the Springboks", published in Metro Magazine, January 2012

Westpac Award for the Best Newspaper Travel Story

Winner:    Sharon Stephenson, for "Roman Holiday – Food and Flirting", published in the Dominion Post, August 2012

Runner up:   Michele Hewitson, for "Gone to the Chiens in the City of Light", published in the NZ Herald, November 2012

Runner up:   Venetia Sherson, for "High Rise Journey to the Dark Side", published in the NZ Herald, November 2012

Heritage Hotels Award for the Best Travel Story about New Zealand

Winner:  Mike White, for "Old Gold", published in North & South magazine, November 2012

Runner up:  Joanna Wane, for "When Wally met Sally", published in North & South magazine, May  2012

Runner up:   Sarah Lang, for "A River Runs Through It", published in North & South magazine, April  2012

Interislander Award for the Best Story about a Journey

Winner: Steve Braunias, for "Great South Road Trip", published in Metro magazine, April 2012

Runner up: Robin Charteris, for "Travels with the Beast", published in the Otago Daily Times, March   2012

Runner up:   Steve Braunias, for "The Train", published in Metro Magazine, June 2012

British High Commission and Tourism Ireland Award for the Best Travel Story about Britain and/or Ireland

Winner: Colin Hogg, for "A Writer’s Trail", published in the NZ Herald, June 2012

Runner up: Sharon Stephenson, for "Knocking on Heaven’s Door", published in the Dominion Post, March 2012

Runner up:    Jill Worrall, for "Where Monks’ Memories Linger", published in the Timaru Herald, August 2012

NZ Maori Tourism Award for the Best Travel Story about a Maori Tourism Experience

Winner: Mike White, for "Once Upon an Island", published in North & South magazine, June 2012

Runner up: Pamela Wade, for "Parihaka: Keeping the Peace", published in the NZ Herald, January 2012A

Runner up:  Liz Light, for "A Weekend in the Hokianga", published in North & South magazine, October 2012

Rhys Brookbanks Memorial Award for the Best Travel story published about Canterbury or highlighting Christchurch

Winner: Jane Warwick, for "Phoenixes and All That", published in NZ Life & Leisure magazine,November 2012

Runner up: Mike White, for "A Weekend in Little River", published in North & South magazine, March  2012A

Runner up:  Paul Rush, for "Bridged Waters Troubles Over", published in the Dominion Post, November 2012

AA Directions Magazine Award for the Best New Travel Writer

Winner:    Brian Luby, for "Tunnel, Laughter and Giants"

Runner Up:    Linda Maser, "for A Bangkok Adventure"

Highly Commended:    Hugh Blomfield, for "Sabah’s Turtle Island"

Highly Commended:    David Patterson, for "The Brussels Experience"

Highly Commended:    Karen Prebensen, for "Salt of the Earth"

Cathay Pacific Travel Photographer of the Year

Winner:    Babiche Martens

Runner Up:    Tessa Chrisp

Auckland Airport Award for the Best Travel Image taken in New Zealand

Winner:    Joshua Windsor, for his image published in NZ Geographic magazine in November 2012 of a rock climber  scaling the challenging Babylon Crag while on holiday in Fiordland.

Runner Up:    Fay Looney, for her image published in Taranaki, Be Here,  Be Surprised, September 2012 For her image of Opunake Beach, travellers  mid-winter photo shoot

Runner Up:    James Heremaia, for his image published in Our New Zealand,  summer 2012 The Northern Explorer passenger train crosses  the Waiteti viaduct south of Te Kuiti

FUJIFILM X Award for the Best Travel Image taken Outside New Zealand

Winner: Tessa Chrisp, for her image published in NZ Life & Leisure magazine, Jan/Feb 2012 Vanuatu’s low lying Maskelyn islands, dug out canoe

Runner Up: Peter Graney, for his image published in the Rotorua Review  in October 2012 Chickens arrive for slaughter by Moto at the Orasay markets, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Runner Up:    Amos Chapple, for his image published in the Guardian, Tourists at Danyia Landform, Zhangyzi, China

AA Directions Magazine Award for the Best Travel Image with People

Winner:    Tessa Chrisp for her image published in NZ Life & Leisure magazine, Jan/Feb 2012 Malekula Island Vanuatu, locals in a ute

Runner Up:    Babiche Martens, for her image published in the NZ Herald in May 2012 A driver focusses intently on the rear vision mirror

Runner Up:    Amos Chapple, for his image published in the Guardian, A Kurdish man guards road working machinery.

NZ Maori Tourism Award for the Best Travel Image Capturing the Essence of Maori

Winner: Peter Drury, for his image published in the Waikato Times in March 2012 Waka and crews salute international dignitaries at the 116th Ngaruawahia regatta held at the Turangawaewae marae

Runner Up:    James Heremaia, for his image published in the Taranaki Daily Mail in May 2012 The tangi of the iconic soloist Hui Kahu

Runner Up:   Liz Light, for her image published in North & South magazine in October 2012 Rod Penney and his horses on Mitimiti beach, Northland.

Heritage Boutique Collection Award for the Best Unpublished Travel Image

Winner:    Lindsay Keats, for his image of boys playing soccer in Quarzazate, Morocco

Runner up:    Liz Light, for her image of dawn beauty, Chilka Lake, Orissa, India

Runner up:     Karin Charteris, for her image of a family group travelling to market in Udaipur, India.

For further information or to source winning photographic images contact Travcom administrator Helen DaviesPh: (09) 624 5707 or email helen.davies@clear.net.nzTo see the winners’ photographs and stories click on www.travelcommunicators.co.nz

Writers Walkway: Wellington Waterfront

Last week I attended the launch and unveiling of four new quotes on the Wellington Writers Walkway – and the honouring of  the writers and their city, or the city their quotes mention.

These tributes to the city by the sea are dotted  around the  Wellington waterfront as typographical sculptures in wood and concrete.  Use your smartphone to guide you around the sites and learn more about the writers behind them. See it here. ( or download the brochure or pick it up at the Wellington i-site centre.)

It was also wonderful  to meet 3 young woman travellers, from Malaysia, who said “it’s great that you  honour your writers this way”. Funnily, one of the woman lives in the city I land at in my Borneo trip (Kuching, June – August 2013) and who I now will meet for a coffee after I’ve been the Rainforest World Music Festival. As the CEO of the Sarawak  State Library, it’s no wonder she noticed the group of us wandering the waterfront and we were glad they joined us.


The writers honoured at this launch were: Joy Cowley, Elizabeth Knox, James McNeish and Jack Lazenby who’s pole and quote  is behind the visitor-students to Wellington. Read more about them on the Writers Walkway website or on the New Zealand Society of Authors one.

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Gifts for travellers – whether armchair or on the road often

Gifts for travellers, whether they are armchair travellers or on the road often, can be problematic. Let me solve the problem for you with these ideas. Food, travel and tales … these books have it all.
I have all these books and know fellow travellers … or food lovers … will love them. Of course I know they would also love my travel memoir too Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad. I always get great feedback from readers about it. Available for all e-readers from Amazon and Smashwords (etc) and as a hard copy directly from me.

Global food and travel issues (and recipes) are in Lonely Planet’s new book Food Lover’s Guide to the World (published October 2012.

Even if you can’t travel, you can take your taste buds around the world in this book. With more than fifty authentic recipes, it also has contributions from celebrity food-lovers, such as chef Fergus Henderson (co-founder of St John restaurant, London), chef, restaurateur and food writer Mark Hix, Dan Hunter (chef at the Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, Victoria), Tessa Kiros (author of Limoncello and Linen Water), chef Atul Kochhar (Benares restaurant, London), Eric Ripert (head chef at Le Bernardin, New York) and Ruth Rogers (River Café, London).

It has introductions by Mark Bittman, lead food writer for The New York Times Magazine; and James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief of Saveur magazine.

For travellers you can also find the best places to find local dishes in cities great & small and most importantly, many cultural tips and how-to-eat etiquette.

I have already blogged about Lonely Planet’s latest guide to New Zealand (published Sept. 2012) but it’s worth giving you another heads up about it. While many people travel with tablets and smart phones, a huge percentage still love the paper copy in their bag. See my blog about it here.

And finally, Better than Fiction (November 2012) is their fifth literary anthology edited by Don George. It has 32 international fiction authors telling their real travel stories from across the world: this will fit perfectly in anyone’s Christmas stocking (or birthday gift). For beside the bed, or in the backpack or suitcase, mine is beside my bed for dipping into. Wonderful writing!