The Many Faces of Indonesia

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FACES and places. As I reluctantly relinquish those long, languid days of cool sarongs, cold beers, ocean swims and sunsets, and sit down at my desk to plan 2016, the thing that most excites me is those faces I haven’t yet met. For me, travel is all about the characters, the people whose personalities sing the true story of a destination. Sitting here in Brisbane, I can’t begin to imagine upon whom I’ll stumble this year, and that thought alone is incredibly exciting. Today I’m launching a three-part photo series of my Indonesian adventures over Christmas. And I thought it would be apt to start with the faces that made me smile. Happy New Year! Please enjoy.
There were the cool dudes…
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The happy kids…
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The beautiful Muslim women…
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The elegant older men…
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And even the statues seemed to have something to say…
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The Global Goddess funded her own travels to Indonesia
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Snapshot of the Solomons

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WHEREVER we travel in the world, I believe a little piece of that place remains with you when you return home. Somehow, it becomes entrenched in our hearts and souls and we can’t help but shift. Sometimes these shift are huge, forcing us to reassess how we live our lives, but often they are subtle. Simple reminders of the many things for which we have to be grateful. I’ve been home from the Solomon Islands for a week now, and it’s now become part of my DNA. Please enjoy this snapshot of the Solomons where the colours are vibrant…
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The carvings, intricate and impressive…
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The children, delightful…
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And the food, delicious…
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The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau – http://www.visitsolomons.com.sb and Solomon Airlines – http://www.flysolomons.com
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Journey To Japan

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IT’S a tasty Tuesday of Gorgeous Geisha’s and Konichiwa Kimonos and while I have never seen Mount Fuji, or Japan itself, nor marveled at the famed Rising Sun, there’s plenty of reason to smile. Back in Brisbane briefly between travel assignments, I’ve taken a delicious detour to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) to preview the menu for The Coffee Club Telethon Ball 2015. It’s a Journey to Japan I’m taking this delightful day, all plated up and easy to digest for this hungry traveller. And the cause is equally as evocative. Staged to raise money to fund vital research into the most devastating childhood cancers, The Coffee Club Telethon Ball is considered to be one of the most vibrant charity balls in Queensland.
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More than 1200 guests are expected to attend this year’s ball on October 17 at BCEC with this year’s theme inspired by the story of the ancient Japanese Peace Crane. A stunning 17,000 suspended and folded paper cranes will decorate the venue in a bid to bring luck, good fortune and health. And these kids need it. Kids such as a little boy called Connor who at the age of three developed a temperature and started having difficulty walking. Three days later Connor’s parents were told that he had numerous tumours in his abdominal area, pelvis, spine and right knee and he was officially diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma. The next day Connor began treatment and has since endured six months of intensive chemotherapy, major surgery, a bone marrow transplant, radiotherapy and six months of immunotherapy. On May 18 this year, after more than a year of treatment, Connor “rang the bell” to signify his last chemotherapy treatment at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
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Money raised from the 2014 ball enabled the Children’s Hospital Foundation to continue to fund research to achieve faster diagnoses, better treatments and ultimately cures for the most devastating childhood illnesses.
“Thanks to research, kids are now surviving cancer more than ever before, however, little boys and girls still lose their fight and this event makes sure less lose the fight,” The Coffee Club’s John Lazarou says.
“There’s always more we can do for our sick kids and that’s why we need your help. Kids like Connor and so many more need us, and we need to step up and say to them ‘we are here’. Is there any better call to answer?”
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BCEC Executive Chef Martin Latter pays homage to Japan in this innovative menu, while giving his trademark nod to local produce such as fresh Queensland crab and prawns. The result: delectable dishes dressed up in creative course names such as The Rising Sun Starter in which guests will be treated to the likes of Tuna Tataki Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing; Octopus Carpaccio with Pickled Daikon; Green Wakame; Fried Eggplant with Miso Sauce; and Vegetable Tempura.
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The Konichiwa Kimono Entrée consists of Hoisin Glazed Chicken, Water Chestnuts, Bamboo Shoots, Toasted Sesame Caramel Dressing; and Marinated Salmon, King Prawn, Spanner Crab, Avocado Shiso Leaves, Daikon, and Miso Mayonnaise.
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The Mount Fuji Main promises to be as grand as the famed landmark boasting Grilled Wagyu Beef Fillet, Enoki & Shitake Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Teriyaki Glaze; and Breast of Corn Fed Chicken, Sushi Rice, Fava Beans, Fried Leeks, Fragrant Chicken, Ginger, and Spring Onion Glaze.
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Possibly my favourite course of all, not only because it’s sweet but also due to its description, is the Gorgeous Geisha Dessert of Fruit Sushi: Crepes, Rice Pudding, Mango, Coconut and Strawberries; and Lychee & Honey Mousse, Vanilla Bean Coral Sponge, White Chocolate & Green Tea Crumble, and Almond Milk Jelly.
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Hosted by Channel 9’s Catriona Rowntree and The Today Show’s Karl Stefanovic, Lisa Wilkinson and Richard Wilkins, the Who’s Who of sport, television and music will grace this event. Consider taking your taste buds on a journey to Japan to help those less fortunate closer to home. To find out more, go to http://www.tcctelethonball.com.au/

BCEC Executive Chef Martin Latter

BCEC Executive Chef Martin Latter

Snapshots of Sunshine

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IT’S bang on mid-winter Down Under, so I thought I’d bring you a few snapshots of sunshine from my recent trip to Thailand. As travellers, we find sunshine not only in the sky, but in the colours, characters and culture of a destination. Please join me as I explore Phuket. I hope you can feel the warmth of this beautiful place, inhabited by sunny people.
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I was walking through the floating Muslim island of Koh Panyee when I turned around and noticed this little girl simply sitting against the wall, chatting with her friends. I snapped a series of shots, some of her looking bored, some of her laughing, some of her looking pensive. This is my favourite.
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This kids on the floating Muslim island off Phuket were more aware of the camera. Happy kids, normal kids, just going about their business, is always a great delight when you’re travelling. Somehow it centres you, reminds you we are all the same.
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Sometimes you stumble across some cool dudes, as this Phuket Life Saver proved late on a sunny afternoon as I was walking along the beach.
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And this cool dude, I met at the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort pool.
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Sometimes you just get a glimpse, a tiny snippet, into someone’s life…
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Sometimes life is there on a platter, in all its splendidly, colourful glory…
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And then there are those days, sitting on your own private Phuket island you’ve borrowed for a few hours with some new friends, when your heart really sings.

The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Laguna Phuket. For more information on how you can experience some of this sunshine, please go to http://www.lagunaphuket.com

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Snapshots of Samoa

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My Samoa glow-a has all but faded, but my happy memories of my recent trip, and the amazing people I met, remain. Some places leave an indelible inprint on you. This South Pacific paradise was one of them. Please enjoy my Snapshots of Samoa. Talofa!
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Apia, the Samoan capital, is a city with a sense of humour as these colourful buses, demonstrate. Yep, the big, burly locals ride these, all around the island.
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The fish is so fresh here, it jumps straight out of the ocean, and on to your dinner plate.
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Next time I return to Coconuts Resort, I want to spend a night in one of these overwater bungalows.
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And several nights in one of those Fales at Lalomanu Beach.
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And meet more of the country’s beautiful children.
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The Global Goddess travelled to Samoa as a guest of the Samoan Tourism Authority. For more information on a Samoan holiday go to http://www.samoa.travel. Virgin Australia flys direct to Samoa from Brisbane once a week and several times from Sydney.
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In search of a world vision

I’VE always suspected I’d make a pretty ordinary mother, as while I am huge on passion, I possess very little patience. I can be loads of fun, but also fiery, not, I imagine, mother-of-the-year qualities. But even I was surprised when I discovered recently that I’d been dumped…by my World Vision child.

Yes, the child to whom I’ve been paying a paltry $43 a month to assist in survival has somehow found wealth, health and happiness, according to World Vision, and no longer needs me. To say I’m a little devastated is a bit of an understatement.

Let me take you back to the beginning. I’d first elected to support a World Vision child around five years ago, after a niggling feeling for many years that I needed to do something to give back to the planet that had been so generous to me, particular as a travel writer.

I decided I would choose to support a young girl, as, despite so many boys also being disadvantaged in this world, I hold, maybe mistakenly, a belief that females have an even harder time, particularly in developing nations. Certainly, there’s plenty of research to support this.

And so I chose to support Mely, who was three years old at the time. It was an uncomfortable process, effectively “shopping” for a child online which raised all sorts of moral issues. Was I choosing this child because she was cuter, younger, prettier than other children? Why this child? How could I only choose one child when so many were needing assistance? Should I support an Australian child? Why support one from the other side of the world? The list of quandries was endless.

Eventually, I set all those issues aside and simply chose to support Mely, from Peru, because I felt she needed my help. She wore a flopping pink beanie and liked playing with dolls. That’s pretty much all I knew. And there was something in her eyes. That’s it. Flimsy rationale, at best, I know, but why do we do anything important? Gut feeling or something more rational?

Over the next three years I wrote letters to her, sending her simple gifts suggested by World Vision such as stickers and postcards. Receiving updates on her progress and that of her village. Photos which I proudly displayed on my fridge and when anyone came to my house asking about the girl in the photos, I’d puff out my chest and say “that’s my daughter”..

And so my delusions of grandeur grew. Not only was I going to commit to supporting this child until she was 18, but I was going to trek up the mountains of Peru in the not-too-distant future to meet her and her village. Who, in my truly crazy moments, I had single-handedly saved with my $43 a month. My delusion of grandeur also involved visions of me on the back of a Yak, dressed in a crisp, white linen blouse and some beige jodhpurs carrying aid parcels.

And that’s where it becomes interesting. Not for the poor people on the planet – of which they are many – but for the fortunate, such as myself. Much has been written about the concept of altruism and whether it actually exists. Do we assist people because it is a good thing to do, or because it makes us feel good? Or both? I’d like to think it’s a bit of both.

When Misery Guts and I divorced, I was the one who kept Mely. He took a bottle of four-year-old Bacardi Rum which he claimed he “loved”, but never mentioned the three-year-old World Vision Child. Which was fine by me. I’d seen plenty of “single mothers” do a fine job of raising children, and I was happy to do this on my own.

Until she dumped me. It was a simple letter from World Vision which advised me Mely had moved on and in her place, they’d selected another child, a boy, from a country whose name I still don’t know.

 Now, this raised a whole heap of other questions within me, some of which I didn’t like about myself. Such as “but I wanted a girl!” and “I wanted to trek up some mountain in  Peru and be worshipped for being such a great ‘mother.”

And with that, I had my answer. I still don’t know my new World Vision child’s name or where he is from. But I know he needs my help. There will be no white, linen blouses, Yaks or trekking and no extreme acts of valour on my behalf. Just a simple $43 a month which, hopefully, makes a difference to someone’s life. Someone I’ve never met.

So, if you can, give. Live. Love. Learn. And expect nothing in return. I wish Mely all the best for a bright future. When you think of it, isn’t that the aim, after all?

To donate to World Vision or investigate sponsoring a child in need, simply go to www.worldvision.com.au