The danger of travel – dangerous in ways many don’t or won’t understand

The Southern Alps. New Zealand

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.

sailing down the Nile

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

 

Rutherfords Den, Christchurch New Zealand

entrance beside the clock tower

Scientific discovery and hands-on experimentation take centre stage at the state-of-the-art Rutherford’s Den in the Arts Centre, Christchurch, where New Zealand scientist Ernest, Lord Rutherford started his scientific career in these very rooms.

Rutherford, the moustached man on the $NZ100 note, discovered what the inside of an atom looks like, found out about radioactivity, discovered and named alpha and beta particles, and was the first scientist to change one element into another.

As a pioneer of his time, it’s only fitting that cutting-edge technology is being used to tell his story, says Arts Centre CEO André Lovatt.

“We’ve carefully kept the beautiful heritage features but have injected the space with new energy by using state-of-the-art storytelling techniques that will appeal to people of all ages.

“You can literally step inside an exhibition that illustrates what atoms are or use your own movements to learn about renewable energy sources. In the actual space where Rutherford conducted his research on radio waves, there’s a projection of him that includes original voice recordings – making you feel as though you’re in the same room as him.”

The original Lecture Theatre is exactly as it was – graffiti and all – until the digital screen at the front starts playing a movie that was commissioned by the Arts Centre.

“So much of what Rutherford discovered led to the technology we enjoy today and we want visitors to learn about this in fun and exciting ways. We want it to be a place where people of all backgrounds are inspired to believe that everyone has the potential to achieve greatness.”

Before the 2010/11 earthquakes, Rutherford’s Den was popular with locals, tourists and the schools that participated in its curriculum-linked education programme and te popular education sessions are now once again being offered on-site at the Arts Centre. Bookings and further information can be found on www.rutherfordsden.org.nz

Rutherford’s Den is located in the Arts Centre’s historic Clock Tower building at 2 Worcester Boulevard, adjacent to the Great Hall.

For more than a century, the Arts Centre site was home to Canterbury College and from 1890 one of its students was Rutherford. He was a regular Kiwi who became known as the father of nuclear physics and in 1908 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 

 

 

Gratitude for all my travel

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

I feel the same way about my photographs.  I’m never bored as going through them  I get to travel the world yet again and for that, I’m really grateful.

I feel sorry for those, in these times of the Covid -19 pandemic, who have saved and planned for years and who have had their one big dream travel trip cancelled – mostly with their money down the drain.  I too have had trips cancelled, but at least I’ve had years of travelling the world, mostly solo, and have accumulated numerous memories.  My photos are merely prompts – I even have a box of photos for friends and family, or dementia ward staff, to use to prompt me.  Just a little forward planning for something I don’t think will happen is luckily for me, there has been little cognitive degeneration and my family.  Here’s hoping that continues.

I look at my walls and my living area and see photos of, the salt plains of India, a Buddha in a tree trunk rubbish bin, sunrise over a river in central India, a promiscuous monkey at a national park in Malaysian Borneo, and finally, post 2010/11 quakes in Christchurch, a huge bronze bull on top of a bronze grand piano.  The stories behind each of these photos, like Oscar’s diary, give me sensational memories.

Here are some more photos, each which have a story behind them, and right now, in fact, especially now – in lockdown, I can write a story in my mind as I wandered down my memory lane of travels.  I’m grateful for the life I’ve had, the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, the things I’ve seen, and all my memories.

Canterbury Plains New Zealand
one of my favourite animals
fun in the media’s mosh-pit #rwmf #Kutching
Taj Mahal – misty morning view from the river
Ahmedabad, Gujarat
a musician plays while we plant mangroves. Sarawak, ‘greening the festival’
main mosque, Oman

 

 

at one of Mumbai’s railway stations
it’s satisfying to plant mangroves
musician, annual Rainforest World Music Festival, Malaysian Borneo
I’m riding the rapids
young shags at Zealandia, Wellington New Zealand

the Taj and the buffalo
I’m part of the ceremony to turn men into monks on the day of the King of Thailand’s 70th birthday
minor traffic jam New Zealand
China

Canterbury, New Zealand

Post Covid-19 travel: when and where will you travel – or not!

When will you start travelling once we have COVID-19 under control or at least contained?  Check out the map below-the world is a huge place.

my office map 🙂

If you’re a kiwi you’ll soon be able to travel all over New Zealander again. What will be your destination, and will it be to visit friends and family or as a tourist or traveller?  What about a trans-Tasman bubble?  Will you go to Australia? (or NZ) 

Peacock Fountain, Christchurch Botanic Gardens
quintessential Australia – a sleepy koala

If you’re not resident in New Zealand, when and where, will you start travelling to?

birding in Florida perhaps?
Cycle trip in Thailand?
Off to the Moulin Rouge in Paris perchance?

My belief is that tourists will stay home for quite some time however, as always, solo travellers, nomads, and backpackers, in general, will be the first onboard planes heading to exotic destinations. Backpackers, of course, are a state of mind – it’s nothing to do with their luggage or the amount of money in their bank account. They are the explorers who want to learn new things, to meet new people, see new things and of course, taste new food!

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So what places are on your travel list my bucket list is so long that at my age I know I will not be able to tick many off

Unless of course, I meet a tall dark handsome stranger who is happy to fund my travels – I’m open to that!

Fancy a cruise on the Yantzee river – I did. Maybe post-covid-19?

The Yangtze is the lifeblood of China; a vital artery from the glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau to the spectacular East China Sea.  It weaves among fertile agricultural lands, through towering limestone gorges, past hidden villages and into the heart of great cities.

Today, 5th May 2020, I’d booked to fly out of Auckland, New Zealand, to cruise the Yangtze on this riverboat. I was going to ’. . . . step back in time in the historic Kuanzhai Alley of Chengdu, known for its traditional teahouses and vibrant outdoor dining scene; witness the landscape fly by on a high-speed rail experience, and then embark on a four-night cruise aboard the Century Sky or Century Glory river ship. Cruise along the Yangtze in comfort, admiring the ever-changing scenery from bustling cities to remote villages and hilltop pagodas. Visit Yichang, gateway to the Three Gorges; and stop in colourful Chongqing, known as the ‘Mountain City’. Relax on board, or take advantage of optional tours such as the Three Gorges Dam, Shibaozhai Pagoda, and an in-depth tour of Chongqing.

I do have a replacement voucher to do this trip in 2021 — I wonder if it will happen post-Covid-19?

I wonder if I will get to weave some Yangtze River notes I made– from China’s Water Crisis by Ma Jun 2004 pub: EastBridge.  [Originally published 1999 by China Environmental Sciences Publishing House] for an article or two. here are  a few

  • quote: it was alongside a river where Confucius said: thus do things flow away, never ceasing day and night
  • China’s landmass is drained by the river, 6300 km long, more than 700 tributaries
  • ‘one does not have to be a hydrologist or an environmentalist to see in an instant that the Yangtze these waters are just about as muddy and turgid as the yellow River is and there is garbage and other waste everywhere. P.45/46
  • 1949 after it took over, the Chinese Communist Party right away started pumping money into taming the Yangtze p. 46
  • the expression ‘great river flowing eastward’ represents the role the Yangtze has played in Chinese geography, certainly for centuries if not millennia p.47
  • numerous rhinoceros, deer, fish, turtles, and alligators thrive in cloud Lake and dreamlike to huge wetlands between the Yangtze and it’s tributary the Hun. P.48

Oh well, it was fun planning and researching  – hopefully, this time next year I will be on this boat enjoying my cruise!

Covid 19 lockdown failure

What can I say, there is no doubt I am a lockdown failure.  I’d originally planned to do heaps of things during this time of being alone in my apartment.  Here are just a few:

  • improve my level of te Reo Maori (the Maori language)
  • visit art galleries and museums around the world
  • write numerous blogs
  • complete a bio of my life – only halfway through it
  • eat well – succeeded but just ate too much
  • catch up on my reading pile – sort of completed (but bought more for my e-reader)

However, what I did do was travel.  Armchair travel via a few of my thousands and thousands of photos and I’ve set aside a few to show you.

So this is the first of my gratitude blogs.  I still cannot believe that someone who had only left New Zealand a couple of times before I was 50 years old (a couple of weeks in Australia, and a month in the USA -mostly the Pacific Northwest.

Looking at my photos I’m amazed at the amazing life I’ve led.  So in no particular order, and chosen for no particular reason, here are a few of my memories – memory lanes I’ve slipped down while I should have been exploring or studying all sorts of things.

 

 

 

Grief is affecting us all right now

Are people who do it ‘control freaks’ or are they just susceptible to the marketing practices of funeral directors or insurance companies?

Do what? Arrange their own funeral, that’s what.

A few generations ago grandma lay in the front room, someone washed the body, friends and neighbours paid their respects, bought meals, cakes, and supported the grieving. There was little planning as funerals were similar, the minister knew the deceased and cemeteries were often beside the church.

Funeral directors, as with all commercial enterprises, are always looking for new ways to increase their profit and many years ago, they convinced us, for ease and hygiene, to take grandma out of the family parlour. Be modern they told us, bring her to our parlour, save all the worry and show your friends and neighbours how sophisticated you are.

Well, maybe not those exact words, but the result was the same and grandma was taken off our hands and another layer separated us from death: they are doing it again.

As a result of suggestions, adverts, and free books for funeral planning, it seems already 5% of Kiwis are arranging their own funerals. Adverts tell us how helpful it will be for our grieving and stressed family. Nonsense. Funeral rituals are for the living, a vital part of our grieving process.

Planning the funeral helps us move through the beginnings of grieving healthily. Getting in touch with all the feelings that such planning exposes is painful but helpful – it also gives us another chance to express love. Conversely, it allows us to work through feelings that are not so love-based. After all, not all funerals we are involved with will be for people we love absolutely. Working through those so-called negative feelings is important too: relief, guilt and anger are just a few we may have.

Children also benefit by being involved.  As a bereavement counsellor, I was often told how younger members of a family came up with a suggestion that really struck a chord and the adults grasped it with appreciation. As with the adult’s grief, children too are helped by being involved, so don’t remove them from the rituals. Reading a poem about grandma at her service not only involves the child but also allows the expression of their grief.

Sitting beside my husband’s coffin I was horrified at the sight of my daughter walking back into Rehua Marae with her beautiful long, blonde hair gone. Her gift to her stepfather was to place her hair in his coffin. Where, at twelve, she found that idea I have no idea but she’s still happy with her gesture of love.

‘They’ say time heals. Not true: it’s what we do with the time that does the healing, and working through the funeral planning is just part of the doing.

Remember, the amount of money spent on a funeral does not equate with love, however, the appropriateness of the funeral rites, showing we have really thought about the person does equate with love.  It’s also possible to have an economical funeral that is sensitive to our needs so get quotes for all or parts of the funeral: in fact, the funeral process and service or ceremony can be undertaken by anybody. A funeral director, undertaker, or minister of religion is not required by law at any stage: nor is embalming.

Despite simple (New Zealand legal requirements, they can appear overwhelming, especially when we add our perceptions about what’s required.  We must have: a death certificate, issued by a Doctor, showing the cause of death or, a coroner’s burial certificate the body must be contained in a coffin or other suitable container – solid enough to be handled by the pallbearers, and burial must be in an area permitted by law or cremated in an approved crematorium

Then, within three days of the burial or cremation, the following forms must be lodged with the Register of Births and Deaths.

death registration form

medical certificate as to cause of death, or the coroner’s burial order

And that’s all. A helpful friend can be delegated or may offer, to get these certificates and take them to the Register of Births Deaths and Marriages.

So, if you think you will help your family by planning your funeral, think again – you may be delaying their grief process just as pills, or alcohol, do.

To help, leave money to pay for the rituals if you can, and make sure you have talked about death, and organ donation, with your family, then leave it up to them. After all, our bodies belong to our next of kin when we’re dead: don’t try to control them – they don’t have to do what you planned! END

©Heather Hapeta 2008 (first published in the Press, Christchurch, NZ)

Heather Hapeta, previously an alcohol and drug therapist, studied bereavement counselling under Mel McKissock at the Bereavement CARE Centre in Sydney Australia. She then worked for the Canterbury Bereaved by Suicide Society for four years, had a private practice in Napier, and was a founder member of NALAG NZ (National Association of Loss and Grief).

 

Post COVID-19 we will travel again – so solo, or with others?

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?

Britomart

Despite the Covid-19 lockdown, I refuse to stop travelling!

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.”

Coffee in XIam, China

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,

Solitude, Wellington, NZ
Peacock Fountain, Christchurch Botanic Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

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Warning: reading this may make you want to travel

Stuck inside under Covid-19 isolation I’m just remembering this wonderful trip’

Kiwi Travel Writer talks food, travel, and tips

read this and start packing

” ‘Why do you want to go to Zimbabwe?’

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…

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