Destination: Some Place Else

…to get away for if only a moment


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10. A bathtub as a holiday

So many moments in films,
Where a bare breasted woman
Sits in bathtub having an epiphany
Moment. This is it for her,
Right now. Not epiphany,
But realisation that there
Needs to be more
Bare breasted time in bathtubs-
To have time to have any
Realisation or epiphanies at all.
It could also be in the park on
A walk. Sitting on a tram listening
To music instead of driving to
Work. Running, dancing, being
Still. Just give yourself time
To be my friend.

8.45pm 22/1/14

Ok right now, I am in Lima, Peru- a great holiday destination. But for 30 minutes I could have been in Switzerland, the Maldives, or my own backyard because I just had a bath. Have I gone loco? Had too many pisco sours that made me confuse the awesomeness of a real holiday with a hot, bubbly sensation? Or am I just talking about something we know feels good, but just don’t do enough of.

Maybe this will be a boring blog, but I felt compelled to write. Since not having a bath in my own home, I haven’t had one in over a year and just forgot how damn good they make you feel. I mean there is just someone about stepping into hot water and letting the day slide away. Any tension, any stress seems to slide off you, down the drain and into abyss. Yes I did set the scene as if romancing myself. Bon Iver check, mojito check, dim lighting check, close eyes, lay back, unwind……and ok a fancy hotel bathroom did help, but your regular, homely one works just fine too.

There is a good reason why the act of bathing has been such an important part of many cultures. Yes to cleanse the body, but also for religious and therapeutic purposes. I am no stranger to some of these practices though it has been with slight embarrassment on occasion. My first experience with overseas cultural bathing, was awkward to say the least but on reflection I did see the beauty in it.

So a friend went to Turkey and told me about these awesome bathing houses that I just had to go to- ‘yes you go in naked but so is everyone’. Ok I can do that, sure. So as I travelled onto Turkey later that year on my own, I thought why not give it a go. I hesitantly stepped out of my clothes, wrapped myself up in a towel and got ready. The first bit was strange to say the least. As a young boy watched me have a shower- I decided I didn’t want to take my towel off (obviously as I was nude) so he must’ve thought I was mental. Then I was taken to a sauna where I thought I was going to die of dehydration as no one came to get me. So all alone, I got out after 45 mins all wrinkly like your favourite nanna and discovered to my horror, that all the other women were laying about with their bathers on. Crap…… Ok the towel on is still seeming pretty awesome right now, maybe I’ll just move to the next room. But now the tricky bit was the body wash/scrub and massage. All I say is a) I did some pretty awesome towel manoeuvres to cover my lady part b) that day I had two men helping c) it was possibly a longer than usual massage d) I was very clean after.

So that was maybe not the best example of beautiful bathing, but hey you have to share your funny stories right? The nicer experience was in Japan. Those dudes have it all worked out. Hard day at work, why not strip down, lather your body up and wash it all away in a beautiful hot spring or onsen. Yes, it can be a little overwhelming at first to get nude with either a room full of strangers or your good mates, but after a while it is actually more liberating than embarrassing. Any tension quite literally slids down the mountain and before you know it you forget that you’re starkers.

I remember a good friend of mine bought me a present to the Melbourne baths a few years back. It was like stepping back into time. Edith Piaf was playing, rosemary sprigs floated in the water and as I undressed and sat in the tub, I was transported to another place. The scent of the water conjured up memories, then the heat would clear my mind. Now you might not have a ticket to Turkey or Japan or even a tub in Lima ready, but a bath can be just as good as a quick holiday. So either check out any of the local bath houses in your area or use your own or a mates, fill up, step in and float away.

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9. Respect your pachamama

Green endless Andes,
Bright blue sky.
Sitting on pachamama-
This could be just for me.
No one here,
Except the three of us.
So on ledge we watch, be still,
Be silent, be free.
Take in this moment,
Like it could be our forever.
No city pace, stress is a foreign thing.
Only nature’s sounds,
Waterfalls running,
Birds soaring above.
The trees dance with the wind.
We could be part animal, part
landscape, part of history.
This will be the place
I go when I can’t find
The stillness I should have in the daily grind.
12/1/14. 9.26pm

I truly believe that throughout your life you can be touched by such beauty that it can forever change you. Certain experiences make you grow, make you learn and make you want to inspire. Upon returning from a 4 night, 5 day hike to the Inca trail and Machu Picchu, and also visiting the Sacred Valley-this is my state of mind, body & soul and god it feels really good.

I have never in my life been so challenged by what lay before me. Everyday, our amazing guide Reynaldo, would point out where we would have to walk to for either our lunch spot or camp site and it just looked so incredibly far away and impossible to reach. In theory, it didn’t seem like a lot of Km’s to get through, but you don’t take into account the hills, the steps and the altitude. But as we climbed and climbed those thousands of steps, the will in me grew stronger and before I knew it we were there, looking back at the spot we had come from. The sense of achievement is overwhelming when it coincides with the absolute sheer beauty that surrounded us. Knowing that we went from 3,000 ft to 4,200 ft in a matter of days, is unbelievable. Sure, there were times when I was panting with lack of oxygen, when my legs were burning so badly from pulling myself up and down the largest of rocks, but that is why it was that more rewarding when we got to the top of the mountain. I can imagine the high five was invented in a moment like that.

Every day pachamama (what the Andean people call Mother Earth) would provide us with something new. She gave us rain- we did come in the rainy season, so not surprising. There was the light rainfall where at times I just had to stop and let it fall down on my face. I realised I hadn’t stopped and stood in the rain properly for years, I recommend it. Or she poured down so hard while we slept heavily in our tents from the long day. There was the most beautiful rainbows, waterfalls, sunshine beaming down on us and lighting the way for the day ahead. Snow capped mountains, endless green mountains covered with flora, hundreds of types of birds. I even allowed myself to be at peace with the insects- though my legs have a few mosquito bites to heal. Aside from this, seeing the many Inca sites was a privilege. You truly feel like you’re watching your very own live history channel.

It made me gain the hugest of respect for nature and it gave me the real realisation that we need to look after our Mother Earth- because without her we are nothing. Being outside, you see those four elements at play. Without water, there is no life. We need the earth to provide the soil that grows vegetation so we can breathe in the oxygen, our air. The fire can be from the sun’s energy. Without it, not only would we freeze, but we wouldn’t be able to breathe (you know the old process of photosynthesis, which allows plants to recycle carbon dioxide- see this is where science class did come in handy). All at play, if you really watch, it is magical.

I guess I sort of neglect taking the time to watch nature when living in the city. Of course if the sun comes out, I want to sit outside. But to really stop and watch and be at one with it, is a whole other thing. On a personal level, we can all do our part to try and slow down global warming – I know certain ‘experts’ assure us it does not exist, but you just need to see ice caps melting, glaciers receding and landscapes changing to believe it does. If only more bigger organisations would do their part……..ok I digress.

Being in Peru for what will be just over 3 weeks and spending time with the Andean people, has been a beautiful experience. Largely, because for most, this is a way of life; working with the environment or at least having a total respect for it. Whether it’s through offerings or farming, they love their pachamama and I think us other folk, can take a leaf from their book. So take a break from the tellie, Twitter and being connected and go outside, take your shoes off and just feel the earth between your toes- I promise you it can be much more rewarding than the latest Facebook news feed.


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8. Eat, drink & and be merry- NOLA style

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IMG_0473So if you like to think of yourself as a bit of a party animal, food connoisseur, cocktail buff, architecture expert, jazz lover, swamp advocate- then New Orleans is the place for you.

No matter how hard one might try, it is virtually impossible to have a bad time there, because either everyone is either drunk or is in the process of getting there. Now I love to eat, and I think there have been times when some of my friends have been astounded by just how much I can shovel down – but in this city- it’s what you just gotta do. There are so many local delish dishes that still makes my mouth water and pants expand just remembering them. Lewy and I even went as far as to do a cooking class so maybe I’ll attempt some of the dishes when we return…..but here’s a run down of delicacies you just have to try if ever you venture to the city of great tunes, booze and yummy food:

Oyster Rockefeller, gumbo, BBQ shrimp, pecan pie, fried anything (even alligator), poboy ( oh yummmm as many diff kinds), blackened fish, bread pudding, lobster bisque, jambalaya, étouffée…… Ok we did do other things than eat, I promise – but my lord did we eat good. But we also walked a lot too as we stayed in Treme- so thankfully my waist line has only moved a little.

So next : the cocktails! I have always been a fairly good drinker, probably a little too good at times. But wow, those bar tenders just don’t care about shot glass limits- they are all about the free pour and free pour they do. There would be maybe a Bloody Mary, a bayou bash ( kinda like a sangria but with southern comfort), pimms cup, grasshopper, Moscow mule, Sazerac….the list could just go on, you are not spoiled for choice. But then I was wondering why oh why was I getting very merry very quickly…..that old drinking rule of don’t mix your drinks is there for a reason. Needless to say, it was certainly a way to enhance checking out the next awesome and my favourite bit about New Orleans – the music…..

There are some amazing musicians out there and a lot of them are on the Main Street corners and sidewalks. Our preference was to stay mostly clear of Bourbon street ( I’ve done my really trashy days, it was a bit like Surfers paradise if it was spring break.). Don’t get me wrong it is lots of fun in that section, but we were there for New Years, the playoffs for the Super Bowl ( and woo hoo the saints won- now that was a very fun night partying with the locals) and sugar bowl ( the college playoffs) so it was filled with many, many booze hounds who started to get a little gross by the end of the night (I mean I am a picture of beauty at the end of my big nights out). We did do a few local bars there and loved the Bombay club.

But by far Frenchmen st is the best for good quality jazz and alike. The spotted cat, Blue Nile and d.b.a were awesome…saw a washboard trio, harmonica/ electric guitar soloist, big brass band, a lady who could have been Billie Holiday reincarnated and more.

Now I want to point out there are so many things to do because this place is full to the brim with history- there are cemetery walks, ghost and voodoo tours, steamboat rides, swamp visits ( that was fun), cocktail tours ( again fun), architecture talks (amazing buildings wow)…….and lots more.

Part of the charm of New Orleans is the people too, they love their city and are very proud of it too! They also know how to make fun of the fact that a lot of the locals love their drinks too. So can you tell I loved it there ?

But another thing it did was made me realise that Melbourne can be a like a lil NOLA too. It has so many little bars and clubs and restaurants to offer and us locals often only touch the surface of places to go. So in this new year, appreciate the fact that most of us are lucky enough to eat, drink and be merry some of the time. But to do it with recognition that there are many who can’t and to maybe stop and help them out. In 2014, appreciate your friends and family and even that drunk dude on the street cause he probably has a pretty great story.