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
Cooking at Xmas can be an issue – especially if you are cooking for friends and family who don’t use alcohol.
Alcohol Burn-off Chart: The following chart data comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with information on how much alcohol remains in your food with specific cooking methods. Keep in mind that this is the percentage of alcohol remaining of the original addition.
For more detailed information and explanation, consult the full article on Cooking With Alcohol and Alcohol Substitutions, which includes important information about how much alcohol remains in cooked foods and caution when using alcohol in frozen foods, plus tips and hints to help you make the right substitution choice. For alcohol substitutions, consult the Alcohol Substitution Chart.
Alcohol Burn-off Chart
alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat
no heat, stored overnight
baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture
Baked/simmered dishes with alcohol stirred into mixture:
how to make your travel blog sing? Here are a few tips to help.
It often helps to make a basic outline before you start writing.
Talk to locals. How else will you learn about the place?
Find a fresh angle to the story. Most places have been written about before so find something original that will grab a reader’s attention.
Take notes, ask questions, get quotes and jot down the little details of your trip. How much did it cost? What’s the name of the district it’s in? Always be specific.
Avoid clichés! Lose the “best-kept secrets”, “city of contrasts” and “unspoilt gems”. Why do lodges always “nestle” at the foothills or “perch” vulture-like atop a mountain with “breathtaking views” over a “rustic” village?
Lose the unremitting good cheer. Among all the stories I had read about Egypt before I went, nobody had prepared me for the filth, the cruelty to horses, the stray dogs and starving camels eating cardboard from rubbish dumps. Be more realistic. Tell the truth!
Read, read, read: Rinse and repeat. Only good reading can make you a better writer. Dip regularly into your list of 25 favourite travel writers. You will never develop a voice and style without reading in the style you want to write – travel.
Add historical or political context to assist the point you’re making in your piece.
Good travel writers understand that times have changed, and in an age when everybody has been everywhere (and when there is a Travel Channel for those who haven’t), it is not enough simply to describe a landscape, you must now interpret it.”
Seek to entertain, and educate, your reader in a light, breezy way.
Write, write, write: You have to write even when – especially when – you don’t feel like it.
Paint with words: Take the reader on an armchair journey. Include sensory details. What did the place look like? Feel like? Smell like? Taste like? Remind you of?
Develop a speciality: If you want to stand out, it pays to be an expert on something that you’re passionate about.
If you can’t afford to travel abroad: write about new activities in your local area. Become a travel expert on your own city. Does it have any unusual landmarks, remarkable museums or attractions? How about festivals?
Show. Don’t tell: Loose the adverbs and flowery descriptions. Choose the perfect verb instead.
End with a punch or at least ensure the ending captures the point of the story. Don’t dare to say you can’t wait to return to wherever you went – that’s been done to death.
When your piece is finished, read it out loud to find that parts that don’t work.
So you want to be a travel writer, you want some tips?
Okay, first of all, after teaching travel writing over many years I can tell you most people never get published – sad but true. In fact, that’s why I stopped teaching – it didn’t feel right to be encouraging an almost impossible dream. Unfortunately, as a freelancer, you will find there are and fewer places for you to send your work to, and the competition is high.
You will also find that you will not be swanning around the world with free airline tickets accommodation in five-star hotels and meals at fancy restaurants – again, sad but true.
I’m sure your friends and family tell you that you write really well, that you should be a travel writer, that in fact, you should write a book. That may well be true, but and this is a big but, editors do not want articles sent to them that is really like a letter you sent your grandmother about your time in Rome; or the one to your girlfriend about the romantic date you had with a dishy Italian.
Something else that stops people fulfilling the dream to become a travel writer is a discipline and hard work it takes! It’s not just the writing, you will also need to be your own travel consultant, tax advisor, receipt keeper, bookkeeper, bookings maker, PR person, media and it is a chaser, and of course photographer. Oh, one more thing, you also don’t get paid until the editor actually prints your work – so make sure you have some cash hidden away.
However, if you love to travel, if you love to write, if you love to take photos, this is a great job: in fact, I think I have the best job in the world. I’m on the bottom of the food chain, but I have a great lifestyle. Sometimes I do get airline tickets and five-star accommodation too but that’s because people know my work and believe they get value for money from me. What’s even more confirming is that I have been invited more than once to the same place by the same tourism agencies.
I started travel writing after a year-long trip around the world, from Alaska to Zimbabwe. On my return to New Zealand, I took a small writing class where I was encouraged to send some of my travel stories to local newspapers and magazines. To my amazement, they were all accepted and cheques were sent to me – I immediately decided I would be a travel writer. It seemed it was that easy, but no over the following years, I received many ‘no thank you’ letters, or, as you will find out, silence from editors. Yes, that’s right, most don’t even answer.
at work in Malaysian Borneo
RWMF Kuching, Sarawak
Pelican in Florida
Hippos kill manypeople
Canterbury, New Zealand
Nevertheless, if you decide to become a travel writer here are just a few tips – I don’t do these all the time, but mix-and-match to suit the occasion, and more importantly, the style of the magazine or newspaper I’m pitching to. As I am not a journalist, I very rarely approach editors before my travels – this is because mostly I’m a traveller who writes, not a writer who travels. Sometimes I have an idea of stories before I go, but usually, I just go exploring and stories find me. Back to that list of tips.
And, there are more in my travel memoir “Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad
The basics: Learn about the place by talking to locals. Don’t interview the computer or guidebook your readers can do that for themselves
Don’t write about places you haven’t been to -unless of course, you are doing a story about your bucket list
Get lost – the best stories are not always in the main tourist destinations but in the back roads and streets of places
Take notes, ask questions, get quotes, and note colours smells and tastes
Avoid clichés like the plague – although I’ve just used one because occasionally they’re useful
Lose the ‘best-kept secrets’, ‘city of contrasts’ and ‘unspoilt gems’. Why do lodges always ‘nestle’ at the foothills or ‘perch’ vulture-like atop a mountain with ‘breath-taking views’ over a ‘rustic’ village?
Find a fresh angle to the story. Rarely will you find a place that has not been written about so find something original to grab a reader’s attention?
Be realistic and tell the truth – in other words, talk about the filth, the cruelty to horses, the stray dogs or what seems to be, starving camels eating cardboard from rubbish dumps.
This should have been my first tip: Read, read, read: Rinse and repeat, frequently. Good reading will make you a better writer. You will never develop your own voice and style without reading.
Along with reading you need to write, write, write, even when you don’t want to. Paint a picture with words for your reader
Add some historical or political context to add to the point. As Thomas Swick wrote in Roads Not Taken ‘It is the job of travel writers to have experiences that are beyond the realm of the average tourist, to go beneath the surface, and then to write interestingly of what they find … Good travel writers understand that times have changed, and in an age when everybody has been everywhere (and when there is a Travel Channel for those who haven’t), it is not enough simply to describe a landscape, you must now interpret it.’
Write about your local area, become a travel expert on your own city. [When my city, Christchurch, New Zealand had the quakes in 2010/11 I was inundated with requests for up-to-date information and I ended up writing travel webpages for prestigious travel companies and airlines
Don’t forget the old adage ‘Show, don’t tell’ and as Stephen King would tell you – lose the lazy ‘ly’ words, ditch the adverbs and flowery descriptions and find the perfect verb instead.
Sometimes, others would say always, end with a punch or at least captures the point of the story. Don’t dare say you ‘can’t wait to return’ – it’s been done to death.
When your piece is finished, read it out loud. Edit. Read again. Run the spellcheck- put your work aside for some hours or days, or even weeks, then read it out loud again then, and only then send it to an editor. But, make sure you have read their publication again and again so you know their style, and if they ask for 800 words that means 800 words. Not 802 not 850 but 800.
where to next?
Hone at Waitangi
NZ traffic jam
Mumbai train station
If they require photos send your best half a dozen and caption them.
And some final points, don’t tell people what you going to write as you can lose the essence of the story. Be like the Nike advert and just do it
Don’t write for free. Let me repeat that don’t write for free. If it’s worth publishing, it’s worth paying for. You don’t need a portfolio to start, the editor is only interested in the piece in front of them.
Start a blog, practice writing there, give it away free there: I have had many invitations to events and countries (and that’s not easy when you live at the bottom of the world) by people who have found me through my blog. And of course,
you need to be on all social media to encourage all those eyeballs over to your blog.
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.
While searching for a document I found this email summary of 1999 which I’d sent as a Christmas letter. What a privileged life I’ve led, one I value and treasure it’s a sort of GRATITUDE LIST from just one year!
“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 snorkelled 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 year’s: on the calendars for Christian, Islam, Buddhism religions and the Chinese one.
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.
Travelled 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 everywhere including on the streets of Cairo and am still waiting for tummy problems! Had my hair cut in men’s and women’s hairdressing 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 been called mum, sister and auntie, renamed Hedda, Hezza, Fox, H, as well as Pouhi (which I think is chubby in Thai!)
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: on a boat -watched by kids on the riverbank; 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 used 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 an Athens hotel cafe.
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 behaviour. Joined the inverted élite snobbery of being a traveller, not a tourist.
Given blood in Malaysia, broken a toe, had an allergic reaction [written in 1999 and I now can’t recall what it was!] and apart from insect bites have been disgustingly healthy.
And have kept developing my courage and resilience despite fears!
Things have changed while you have been away, so thought I could help you get up to speed in our post-Covid lives. (Post-COVID as in ‘since it entered our lives’ as opposed to before we knew about COVID.)
I don’t know what team you used to be in, or which team you supported (I’m a one-eyed Cantabrian actually) but since you’ve been away we’ve actually formed a huge team – most of us joined it and we call it the Team of 5 million. Our aim – to stomp out Covid-19 in New Zealand
We’d love you to join our team even though you haven’t been through our initiation into the team – but more of that later.
Your experience while overseas will have been totally different from ours, and possibly even scary. Your shutdowns or lockdowns, will have been different too, or perhaps even non-existent. I understand you wanting to come home to be with friends, family and a supportive social welfare system. If I’d been overseas, I’d want to get home to this safe bubble too.
Sadly, there will be no jobs awaiting you, you will be safe from Covid-19, but you may find you will have to stay in friends living rooms or their back shed, as housing is in short supply too. I also suspect, if you don’t have a job you will be at the bottom of the waiting list to rent a flat, house, or apartment. So welcome home, but remember New Zealand still has a low-wage economy and this will continue for quite some time.
We at-home Kiwis have been, and still are, using all our excess dollars to support wages and businesses in the hope that we can get our economy going as quickly as possible. We are also having to use many millions to track and trace those with Covid-19, as well as helping support you too, our returning Kiwi. Sadly, some reporters are searching out the discontented returnees and getting their stories on the front pages. Of course, people are upset they can’t get to see loved ones who are dying, or to funerals. What we are doing is keeping you, and all New Zealanders, safe from coronavirus.
Our team has collectively accepted that ‘we’ are more important than any ‘me’. We understand your hurt and possible anger but that can’t, and doesn’t change our determination and plans.
Luckily, we have a Labour coalition that had put many cents back into our community moneybox, and because of this prudence, we are in a good position to borrow at low rates: because of their excellent fiscal management, our credit ratings are high.
I’m not holding my breath about the fast returning economy though – although it is already improving at a faster rate than expected. As a travel writer, no one needs my skills right now, we’re travelling nowhere – except within our own beautiful backyard, Aotearoa New Zealand – which of course I will be writing about and some off-shore stories for armchair travellers.
So, as I said welcome home, please join our team, a team that was formed with love for our country, a team that daily turned on TV to get 1pm updates from Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Prime Minister Jacinda Arden.
We all knew the daily infection numbers; if another cluster had formed, or increased; and we all were sad when one of ours died. This may seem strange to you, especially if you have come from regions with thousands or millions of infections, and hundreds or thousands of deaths. Perhaps because our numbers were so low, we took pride in those low numbers and how we were all adhering to our lockdown restrictions – we were being ‘kind’ and concerned about ‘us’ not ‘me’. We put teddy bears in our windows for children to hunt for them while on their daily walks.
Of course, a few did not ‘obey the rules’ and were promptly outed on Facebook!
Come on … please join the team
So, you may think our restrictions are over the top, or unneeded, but our team wants them to continue – we want to keep our island bubble safe. Of course, we miss travelling, but we don’t want to join any other bubble unless that bubble is safe too.
Hop into our bubble, join our team, watch our regular updates and be grateful that we appear to have dodged a bullet by having a great team leading us, and one we trust. It seems most countries do not trust their leader’s actions about this coronavirus – and I can see why – no doubt you can too.
Are we perfect? Hell no, we’re human and every mistake is being used to improve our system. Systems that appear to be sadly lacking in many other countries going by the numbers. As I said: welcome home.
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