Heather Hapeta AKA the KiwiTravelWriter, got her first passport and ran away from home on her 50th birthday.
With a backpack, an around the world air ticket, and no other bookings she travelled the world: this book tells of her year of adventures from Alaska to Zimbabwe. It was so good she’s done it twice more and now lives as a travel writer, photographer, and blogger.
Hard copies are available directly from the author (NZ addresses only), and e-versions from Amazon and other e-book retailers.
Despite travelling with a fractured arm I loved Oman and would certainly return. Because of that broken arm I haven’t written the blogs I intended to, however, they will happen and while you’re waiting here are a few photos of some of my meals.
The food of Oman is a mixture of several staples of Asian foods and are often based on chicken, fish, and lamb, as well as the staple of rice and a mixture of spices. Smoked eggplant (aubergine) is popular as are curries and soups. The main meal is usually eaten in the middle of the day with a lighter meal in the evening.
While searching for a document I found this summary of 1999 I’d sent to friends. What a privileged life I lead – be assured I value and treasure it.
“I have swum in the Nile and Mekong rivers, in the South China and Aegean seas; and in swimming pools in Egypt and Thailand; Scuba dived and snorkeled off the Perhentian islands in Malaysia;
I’ve studied Islam, Buddhism, Hindu and Chinese religions; was silent for ten days in a Buddhist temple and did a cooking course in Thailand.
Learnt to say ‘no problem’ in four languages, read junk novels, inspiring stories and travel tales as well as keeping copious notes for my own writing.
Been offered jobs in Thailand, Malaysia and Laos, and worked for 5 weeks in Athens, Greece. Had a proposal of marriage, a few propositions and some foxy flirtations.
Celebrated four new years…. The calendars for Christian, Islam, Buddhism religions and the Chinese one. Currently the year of the rabbit
Stayed in little villages, large cities and islands.
Climbed . . up into Buddhist temples and down into tombs, up to sacred caves and over narrow planks to boats.
Traveled on planes, camel, horse, bus, songthaew, cars, trishaw, bicycle, dingy, fishing boat, felucca, truck, river taxi, train, and cargo boat.
Slept in beds, bunks, hammocks, fleapits and 4 star hotels, on a concrete slab; on a mattress on the felucca, and on the roof of a hostel in the old city of Jerusalem with 29 others!
I’ve danced. . . on beaches in Malaysia and Israel, in a Cairo hotel, on the banks of the Nile, as well as in Hindu and Buddhist parades.
Experienced monsoon rain and dessert dry; from 48 degrees centigrade in the Valley of the Kings, down to 12 degrees in the hills of Malaysia and needed a blanket for the first time for ages
Been blessed by monks and had water thrown over me by school children, ladyboys and farangs. I’ve played volleyball, frisbee, backgammon, scrabble, cards and petanque.
Eaten pigeon, fresh fish, fruit shakes on the beach, coconut straight from the tree, and copious amounts of rice and noodles. Drank water from the tap every where including the streets of Cairo and am still waiting for tummy problems! Had my hair cut in men’s and women’s shops, by people who spoke no English, as well as under a palm tree in Malaysia and in a garden bar in Athens by an Aussie
Made music with bongo drums, spoons sang Pali chants and both Thai and Egyptian love songs as well as playing drums in a traditional Malay cultural band.
Taught English and swimming; became a grandmother in Malaysia and a mother-in – law in Thailand. And I’ve een called mum, sister and auntie, renamed Hedda, Hezza, fox and H as well as Pouhi.
Ate in night markets, street stalls and fancy restaurants, in people’s homes. . .including the Minister of Health’s’ home in Malaysia!
Prayed in mosques, temples and churches of many religions. Chatted with monks, children, tourist police, street people and shopkeepers.
Witnessed funerals in Malaysia, Thailand and Egypt.
Swam with turtles and tropical fish and the most poison-ness snake in the world! In clean water, clear water, and polluted water; warm and cold water, calm and rough, blue and green; fresh, salty and chlorinated water.
Been to the toilet watched by kids, on swaying trains, in smelly dirty rooms, off the back of boats and developed good thigh muscles on the Asian squat toilets (which I missed when I arrived in Egypt.) Learnt to forgo toilet paper for months and use my right hand for eating and greeting!
Sold beer and bananas on the beach in Malaysia served pancakes, nasi goring and BBQ on the same island and cooked countless meals in Athens.
Been offered hash, opium, and marijuana and changed money and brought cigarettes on the black market.
Met people from all over the world was proud to be a Kiwi, ashamed of many westerners attitudes and behavior. Joined the inverted élite snobbery of being a traveller not a tourist.
Gave blood in Malaysia, broke a toe, and had an allergic reaction and apart from bites have been disgustingly healthy.
And have kept developing my courage and resilience despite fears!
My family emigrated to Christchurch between 1853 and 1872: thats all my family – both my maternal and paternal sides. That’s some pretty deep roots in the land, undiluted by any later migrants.
That being so; you could think I would be upset at the changes caused by the 2010/11 quakes and of course I was and am. But I’m more upset at the articles and blogs written by people who insist on writing about what the quakes destroyed and not about what the city has gained or what is still there.
So, tomorrow I’m off down to Christchurch to write about the city and have ten days exploring – blogs will follow but in the meantime follow me on Instagram and Facebook and see what I’m doing!
Here’s one of the great Christchurch sculptures – Kate Sheppard one of our local hero’s who helped all New Zealand women gain the vote in 1893.
Within an hour of landing at the Nadi Airport I’m in my room at the four star Sofitel Resort on Denarau Island – a small private island in Fiji. It’s attached to the mainland by a short causeway and is 5 km north-west of Nadi and just 10 km west of Nadi International Airport – about 5 resorts are on the island.
We were staying at the Sofitel as its only moments from Denarau Marina from where will leave to join the Fiji Princess then onto the Yasawa Islands (We stayed on the first and last night of my trip to Fiji, and I was a guest of Sofitel.)
Resorts, such as this, are ideal for families as they cater perfectly to their needs. Here, family rooms come complete with child-friendly design Sony PlayStation’s and are close to the children’s pool, a water slide and the kids club.
As a solo traveler, resorts are not my prefered accommodation for more than a night or two, but couples would find romance and intimacy in the luxurious rooms or Sofitel’s intimate beachfront suites ideal.
Unfortunately, because of my schedule, I was not able to use the Mandara Spa which I would have willingly used however I did water-test the lovely pool but eschewed the adrenalin watersports off the beach.
The restaurants and food were good: Lagoon for my breakfasts, Salt for dinners (Think that is a childfree area) and the Parisienne for iced coffees!
A bus takes guests to other destinations and two Australian women said they went into Nadi for lunches and shopping every day – others never leave the resort as what they wanted was a relaxing time in the sun. Fiji enjoys a mild tropical climate with averages of 31c in summer and 29c for the winter months so, if you are looking for a winter escape, I’m sure this Sofitel Resort and Spa will fulfil all your needs.
Well actually, there have been no big ocean waves – just blue skies, good company, great Fijian staff, and fun activities. I even managed to get myself upright on a paddle board. So, lots of tales to tell about this Blue Lagoon Cruise on the Fiji Princess over the next couple of weeks – so come back soon and read all about it. In the meantime here are some pics to whet your appetite. #fijiprincess #cruising #travel Well
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.
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)
Many thanks to Grayline for hosting me on this fun day.