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
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!
Do other travellers amuse you or drive you crazy? Are you able to ignore them or is the person allocated the seat next to you always a talker of nonsense and wants to use your ear to pour all their rubbish into. Are you are able to stop them?
Travelling a few days ago I must have been in an intolerant mood. As soon as I arrived in the departure lounge a couple immediately, albeit unintentionally no doubt, tried my patience. Or rather, at 6 am, my lack of patience.
Loud voiced – like everyone wants to hear their scintillating conversation right – they waffled on about the various planes they have flown in. Dash eights were mentioned frequently as well as the amateurs version of the pros and cons of the propeller versus the jet engine, the umbrellas either available or unavailable at the various stops on their journey and finally the distance to walk to what they assumed was to be their aircraft. Metres away from them, the conversation was as clear as if I was sitting with them.
It was a small plane and the conversation continued for them, and their fellow passengers, until they settled down to read the newspaper after first complaining that they had been asked to put a parcel that was ‘as light as a feather’ under the seat.
The day improved as soon as we arrived in Wellington. It put on a perfect day- as it frequently does- my meeting was fruitful and at days end I board for my return flight. I think I have been travelling too much, or the day was too long, I was just grouchy, as on this journey it was the crew that I was inwardly complaining about.
For some reason the woman making all the announcements was saying ‘excuse me’ at the beginning of each announcement and although the signs clearly indicated toilet / lavatory in her words they had become the American ‘bathroom’.
I berate myself for such pettiness then am absolutely amazed at the young male flight attendant telling the men behind me that ‘the girls’ would be along with the drinks in a moment. The girls in question were both older than him but I’m sure they do not refer to him as the ‘boy’.
I went to bed early – I obviously needed it. These overheard conversations are usually ignored by me, but not on that day.
Recently a friend was complaining about passengers moaning about the meals -plastic, overcooked, and boring.
‘That’s not my experience’ he told me, “I’m travelling often but have never really had a meal to complain about. I think it is just a habit, an affectation, the cool thing to do, complain about the meals. By the looks of many of them it’s more than likely the best they have eaten for ages.”
I asked some other frequent flyers about the meals and they too unanimously endorsed the meals. None expected the variety or quality they received in their favourite restaurants, but all said airlines did a good job under difficult circumstances.
One person said. “I love them, they’re light, perfect size, just right for travelling . . . and I don’t have to cook or clean up. Excellent.”
I too am mostly happy with the meals, and on international flights, I order the vegetarian option. This has three advantages, the special meals are served first, consequently the toilets queues are non existent, and I get to get to sleep while others are still lining up to use the lavatory.
So from many seasoned travellers – a well deserved thumbs up to the food section of the airline industry.
The worst day on the road is better than any day in the office I hear tell.
I run this by my memory – what have been my worst days ‘on the road?’ Are they worse than a good day in the office? What are bad days? Are your bad days different to my bad days?
The bad days I look over include one in Thailand – arriving in a city after a month on an island. It was dirty, noisy, and it seemed that most of the male tourists where there to indulge in the sex trade. However I wasn’t abusing the locals and although I didn’t like the noise, dust and heat after days on white sands – was it a bad day on the road?
A bus trip in Laos could have been a bad day. Descending rapidly from a mountain-high plain I was scared of the ancient bus that needed bricks at the wheels to help the brakes when we stopped to load more chickens, vegetables and people. But as I stopped looking out the front window and started to talk to my fellow passengers the scary trip became enjoyable. If I was about to die I was determined to live right to the last moment. Worrying about the means or the time of what appeared inevitable, my death on a mountain road, was not going to change it.
Funny but the next ‘bad day on the road’ that rises to the surface as I muse also involves transport. It was on a plane hired by Dodgy and Dodgy Airlines from Don’t Care Incorporated. Perhaps that’s an unfair description as I am sure the plane was air-worthy but the elements it was flying through made the little steel capsule feel very insignificant and even more insecure. Sheet lightning and fork lightening combined to buffet the plane and its cargo- me- in a most alarming way. The forces of nature threw us from side to side then dropped us dramatically… too quickly for my stomach to remain attached to my body. By the time it caught up with me we were off on another death-defying plunge to the background of bright lights and thunder. My seat companion says he still has finger-nail impressions in his palm – a souvenir from me to remind him of my fear.
Trust me . . . don’t fly into the Grand Canyon during the afternoons of the hot summer months. . . arrive and leave in the morning when the air is cool and calm.
Another flight, in Namibia and I’m off to see the Skeleton Coast. We take off in a slight sea mist and in minutes are engulfed in a thick white soup just as the plane has to climb over cliffs and sand dunes. I breathe deeply and pray- desperately trying to remember what the witch-doctor in Zimbabwe had told me about flying. Please, please, let the radar be working in this tiny plane I beg to whoever looks after fearful passengers. Five minutes I relax and gaze in wonder at clear skies and pink flamingos flying below us.
So are they a few worst days on the road or are they just worst moments, or in reality are they even worse? Worse than what?
To me they are just different colours on the tapestry that travel is weaving for me- a kaleidoscope of experiences that I can review when I choose.
Can’t sleep? I pull out the travel map in my mind then re-experience great moments. Lie on a warm white sand beach and listen to the sea; snorkel among the fish and see the colourful coral again in my mind’s eye.
Bored with TV? Walk through a rainforest, re-sail the Great Barrier Reef, remember the beggar who challenged me in the Rome railway station.
So the worst day travelling ?- I can’t recall one. Times of fear, moments of unease, evenings of loneliness, but not bad days.
However all those times are needed just as the days in the office are needed…to give us travellers the chance to compare and contrast our experiences, to weave some black into life to make the yellow brighter, other colours stronger. And days in the office are what give us the dollars to enjoy the days out of the office.
Here are just some of the great travel myths (READ MORE by PURE TRAVEL) that we have come across and please do let us know your own personal travel myths.
1. Book Early and Save Money – It’s a popular myth that the earlier you book the more money you can save. Sure there are always early booking discounts offered but if you’re not too picky about where you want to go/stay then there are some great last minute bargains to be had.
2. All Airlines Are Created Equally – When booking a flight do weigh up all the options, especially for extra charges for meals and baggage etc. Check what the airlines policy is and what’s included and compare airline facilities that may concern you, ie seat pitch, entertainment etc .
3. Weekday Flights Are Cheaper – Flying midweek at a ridiculous time is not necessarily the cheapest option. Do shop around as very often the more convenient weekend flights are available and often for either the same price or slightly more.
4. Hotel Ratings Are A Good Guide – Hotel ratings and comments can be hit and miss, so make sure you do some other research; ask friends and colleagues and ask your local tour operator who should be impartial.
5. Honeymooning Upgrades – Many hotels and travel agents sell ‘special’ packages if you’re booking a special holiday, ie a honeymoon, birthday, wedding etc. Check what you will actually get for your money as the special package may amount to nothing more than a bottle of sparkling wine and some dried-up sponge cake! You could always tell your airline and hotel after you have booked and try for some complimentary upgrades.
Fear raises its ugly head and sits beside me. I’ve been fed, watered, had a nap, and now fear demands I re-worry about how to get from Los Angeles international airport to its domestic terminal. Once again I doubt my ability to complete this journey. Am I capable of travelling alone, for a year? Will I find a bed each night? With my lack of other languages, how far will miming get me? My mind has a long conversation with itself until I finally push these concerns away, practice living in the now, staying in the moment and leaving the future to arrive, and be worried about, when it is due.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to land in Los Angeles. Please fasten your seat belt and ensure your tray table is upright and your hand luggage is stowed under the seat in front of you.”
My heart beats faster, I’m here. My big adventure is really starting. Deep breathing, I brace my back squarely against the seat while the pilot completes the most dangerous procedure of any flight, and within moments we land smoothly, as smooth as I hope my travels will be.
Customs. Despite having nothing to declare I would love to declare the world is wonderful place or some other such facetious remark. Luckily I don’t as I meet the customs woman from hell. She is a well manicured, big haired, beautifully made-up Mexican woman.