THIS jaunty journey begins at Fiji’s major airport of Nadi, aboard a stiflingly hot, crowded, 16-seater plane. Regular followers of The Global Goddess know that she finds small planes about as appealing as Brisbane blokes. Some days they turn up, others they don’t. They’re often late, are prone to leaving you stranded in a remote locale, and when things get bumpy, it’s unpleasant. On this occasion, just as we’re about to take off, the avionics screen goes blank (a little like a Brisbane bloke) and we taxi back to the hangar. I should point out I’d rather this scenario occurs on the ground, than when we’re in the air, and an hour later we’re back on board enroute to the remote northern island of Savusavu, via the capital of Suva.
On my Suva stopover I meet two colour characters: a bubbly blonde from Hobart who is off to a health retreat at which, she has been told, she will be handed a snorkel and a horse for the week. The Hobartarian confesses the retreat follows a heavenly hedonistic week in Las Vegas which ensued after she and her brother won a significant sum of cash at Hobart’s casino, departed the gambling den at 2am, and boarded a flight to Vegas with their winnings, four hours later. It was only halfway across the Pacific Ocean, when they started to sober up, did they realise what they were actually doing. Suffice to say, she needs that horse and snorkel real bad.
The other character is a young man from Utah who proudly informs me he hails from a Trump voting state. “Gawd,” I sputter, “but you didn’t vote for him, did you?” The coy look on this young man’s face teaches me a very valuable lesson: That I should never again ask an American that question (I mean, clearly, yet inexplicably, someone voted for him) and I board my next small plane flight convinced I could die next to a Trump supporter. Or worse, be stuck on a life raft out in the middle of the South Pacific, with one. I think I need a horse and snorkel.
I arrive safely in Savusavu for the wedding of my lovely friend Saskia. We met three years ago, in Fiji, just as we she was about to head to a remote island for some voluntourism work. Over breakfast, we were bemoaning the lack of decent dates back in Australia when a mutual friend walked past, heard Saskia was off to this particular island, and mentioned a dive instructor called Pauliasi who worked on that island. One day Saskia wandered down to the dive centre, met Paul, and they fell in love. You can date every bloke in Australia and your soul mate might just be sitting out there in the South Pacific somewhere. And so, on the finest Fijian Friday, they wed. The bride, channeling all of the elegance of Grace Kelly and the groom, mustering that handsome strength of a Fijian warrior. I stand under the stars and thank the full moon for this amazing opportunity. I get to do a lot of cool things in my job, but you can’t buy entry into a traditional Fijian wedding of two people you love.
We all wept. We all danced in the sand to a live band. On the dance floor I was accosted by a Fijian man who introduced himself as Solomon and who offered to show me around the island. He kissed me on the cheek and then he disappeared into the night, never to be spotted again. Minutes later I was introduced to Sonny, one of the Fijian relatives to whom I suspect I had been promised in marriage. We shook hands and then Sonny declared he was off to “get drunk.” I have that effect on men. It was only two days later, over breakfast, that Pauliasi told me that there were scores of Fijian men at the wedding approaching him to ask about the blonde woman on the dance floor (me) and trying to muster the courage to approach her. Opportunity lost, fellas.
Later that night I arrived back by boat from the wedding venue with three other Aussies, all of us in search of a cab on this remote Fijian island. A clean-cut bloke pulled up in his ute, admitted he wasn’t a cabbie, but offered to drive us to our resort. At the other end, we offered him money, be he politely declined.
“No thanks,” he said “I have to park my car for the night, I’ve just been at the wedding and I’m so drunk.”
I really need to find me that horse and a snorkel.
The Global Goddess funded her own trip to Fiji. Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog on Fiji’s luxurious Namale Resort, which was one of the most romantic experiences of my life. And in the meantime, check out some more of my Fiji photos on Instagram @aglobalgoddess
THE seductive scent of clove cigarettes hangs in the air like an unfinished sentence on this heady evening, which is already punctuated with sweat and music. It’s all Japanese and jazz at Bali’s Ryoshi bar on this mellifluous Monday and Rio Sidik is one cool cat with his trumpet and a voice which is part Dean Martin, part Louis Armstrong. Randomly, Rio’s sister Marina joins The Rio Sidik Quartet up on stage and unleashes Indonesia’s own Tina Turner with a pinch of Pink tossed in for good measure. I’m in Bali on an Eat Pray Live tour and this part is definitely what I’d call living.
Sydney’s Nicole Long, who runs Eat Pray Live, advises her guests to “be careful what you wish for” because in Bali, it might just come true. That is certainly the case for this 41-year-old former Brit who moved to Australia after a neglectful upbringing and has had quite the ride since. In the past six years she divorced her husband, started her Bali business, and in an incredible twist, celebrated the resurrection of her marriage with which she credits Eat Pray Live.
As part of this bespoke Balinese experience, Eat Pray Live guests partake in a cleansing ceremony and visit with a respected healer, which proved to be the pivotal moment for Nicole, who escaped to Bali for a holiday in 2011 when she thought she had run out of options back in Australia.
“I had this moment in the water and I thought ‘I can do this business’. If only I had somewhere to go after I got divorced. Where do you go when you just want to be blah?” she says.
“I went for a session with a reputed medicine man and at the end of my session he took my hand and said ‘you are going to use your experience to help many women.’
“There is no way he could have known what I was planning to do with Eat Pray Live. I went back to Australia and said to myself ‘Ok, it’s now or never’. I didn’t have any money to do this but I just had this fire.”
While it would be tempting to describe Eat Pray Live as a Balinese retreat and focus on the spirituality the Indonesian Island of the Gods exudes, this experience is so much more than that. Nicole has designed a bespoke holiday which focuses on all aspects of eating, praying and living in her villa she describes as a “home away from home” for guests. The concept eschews the typical tourist traps and takes guests to local and new restaurants such as Warung Talun for a delicious Indonesian feast overlooking the rice paddies, or to the hip and happening Potato Head to lounge and drink cocktails at this cool beach club. There’s plenty of pampering and even in-villa spa treatments, shopping in local markets and high-end stores and lots of secrets and surprises all designed to connected like-minded women who are drawn to this escape.
Despite numerous obstacles since her day of revelation, Nicole persevered and welcomed her first client in October 2012, initially operating Eat Pray Live from a hotel in Seminyak. Mid last year she stumbled across Villa Griya Asih in charming Canggu while taking her first horse ride since her Australian horse and soul mate Surge died. Eat Pray Live now operates from this beautiful Balinese villa which comes complete with six bedrooms and copious living spaces around which to lounge including a gorgeous day bed around the private pool. There’s a lovely third floor meditation deck overlooking typical Balinese fields and even a resident dog Blackie – a stray who wandered into Nicole’s life not long after Surge died. Curiously, Blackie even has a print of a white horse on his coat, which might seem pure coincidence in Australia, but in Bali, Nicole believes anything can happen.
Incredibly, Nicole reunited with her husband David after they reconnected for the first time in six years, following the suicide of his best friend.
“He came over for dinner and as I opened the door I thought ‘this is my man’ and everything, all the past evaporated and he was standing in front of me and I didn’t know what to think or feel,” Nicole says.
“He said, ‘I love you Nic’ and I realised I was home.
“Throughout this whole journey I’ve found my truth and Eat Pray Live has led me back to my love.”
For more information on Eat Pray Live or to book an escape, go to http://www.eatpraylive.com.au
LOVE IS IN THE AIR
If The Global Goddess was getting married, she’d be more than a little excited about this package being offered by The Rees Hotel Queenstown in New Zealand. This luxury hotel is now offering exclusive Heli-Wedding packages in conjunction with Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters to remote mountain-top wedding ceremonies for those who want to tie the knot against one of the world’s most dramatic backdrops. The package, valued at NZ$2998 per couple, includes a raft of things including two nights’ accommodation in a Lake View one-bedroom apartment at The Rees Hotel Queenstown. There’s also breakfasts, wine, chocolate, champagne, celebrant and a wedding photographer, but the highlight is a return helicopter flight for the bride, groom, celebrant, photographer and two guests up to the Remarkables or Cecil Peak for their alpine wedding ceremony. Not for the first time this year, I find myself thinking that I need to just find a fella. http://www.therees.co.nz
SEX ON THE BEACH
While Christmas is almost upon us, it’s never too early to be thinking about Valentine’s Day (if you know what’s good for you). This week, The Global Goddess enjoyed the sultry sensation of an aphrodisiac cooking class at the Sofitel Broadbeach’s Room 81 restaurant. We’re talking dishes such as freshly-shucked cupid oyster in a veuve clicquot champagne granite; seared nova scotian scallops with cauliflower silks with asparagus, morel mushrooms and a truffle vinaigrette; and a cherry soufflé, chocolate sauce and coconut sorbet. This class was to preview this luxury Gold Coast’s hotel’s raunchy and romantic Valentine’s Day/night package. To book this six-course feast, which includes a wine package of Australian, New Zealand and French varietals, priced at $225 per person; or the Deluxe Valentine’s Room package for $795 per couple, which includes an overnight stay and breakfast as well as the six-course dinner, go to http://www.sofitelgoldcoast.com.au
CARING ABOUT CAMBODIA CALENDAR
In May this year I penned a blog about Australian photographer Danielle Lancaster, who owns Blue Dog Photography. Danielle has been travelling to Cambodia for years and can’t shake her bewilderment at how the Pol Pot regime had ravaged its own people, the effects of which are still being experienced decades later. In 2011, she gained sponsorship to produce a calendar, the proceeds of which meant they could build two new classrooms and desks with a white board for local school children. In 2012, Blue Dog Communities was formed with the sales of last year’s calendar going towards replacing the school’s palm frond floors with cement for the children. This year’s calendar is ready to go to print, and in exciting news at Global Goddess headquarters, a photo take by me (pictured below) when I was in Phnom Penh last year, will also be featured. To order a copy of this calendar, which will go towards more valuable community work, please go to https://www.facebook.com/bluedogcommunities and to find out more about Lancaster’s annual photographic tour to Cambodia, go to http://www.blue-dog.com.au
IT’S A KIND OF MAGIC
The Global Goddess is pretty good at pulling a rabbit out of the hat, particularly when it comes to tight deadlines, but this bloke takes the cake. Acclaimed Australian illusionist Michael Boyd will open the famed live magic extravaganza Mystique at Sea World Resorts Ocean Theatre on the Gold Coast from January 1 to 31. Taught by his magician grandfather all the tricks of the trade by the age of 13, Boyd’s show will feature some of the world’s most impressive illusions as well as jaw-dropping escapes, levitations, transformations, special effects and mind-blowing disappearances. Since it premiered in Melbourne in 2009, more than 100,000 people each year have seen this show packed with new acts and extravagance. Shows will run from Tuesday to Sunday at 7.30pm plus special matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. http://www.SeaWorldResort.com.au
A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE FOR GLOBAL GODDESS READERS
Speaking of magic (or what I’d like to call a Christmas miracle), The Global Goddess has a surprise in store for her followers. Details to be announced early next week! http://www.theglobalgoddess.com
FIRST come the books. I can’t help myself, I’ve packed two juicy travel bios into my bulging suitcase. I draw the line at actual guidebooks, but only just. You see, last week I went where few travel writers dare to go. I took a holiday. A plain, old-fashioned, crunchy-sand-between-the-white-cotton-sheets beach holiday. The type of thing that we lonely travel writers dream about all year, often discuss late at night in empty airports when we’re away from family and friends, but rarely have the time, the will, or the money, when we’re at home. Which is what makes the concept all the more appealing. One whole week of doing nothing but getting up, having a cuppa while staring at the ocean, lazing around in my pj’s, and planning a day which consists of nothing more than alternating between the beach and the pool.
In old-fashioned beach holiday style I am away with one of my three older sisters – an early partner in crime when it came to this kind of thing. After 40 odd years, my sister and I know each other’s rhythms. It’s as predictable as the low and high tides at our Sunshine Coast destination. And predictable is what we want this week. It’s her turn for the room with the double bed, and so I cram myself into the room with two singles, one for my books and baggage, the other for my adult self, who lays awake each night wondering how on earth I did this as a kid. The bed springs creak and ping, and I hit my knees on the wall well into the dawn. I wake messy haired and bleary eyed. Yep, a typical beach holiday.
The hours are long and languid. These are fresh prawn sandwiches on wicked white bread type days. We drink crisp white wine with lunch. Chat about our childhood. People we’ve forgotten, forgiven and forbidden from our lives. Snatch lazy afternoon naps to the sound of the ocean curling outside. Take the odd walk but we don’t venture far. That’s not the point of this week. Late afternoon it’s olives, cheese, smoky sausage and sparkly Pimms on the deck. In between I dive into my books and delve into other people’s lives. For one whole week I put my life on hold. Try not to answer emails. Stay off Facebook as much as is humanly possible. Take late night dips in the heated spa under a Turkish moon which creeps behind the building. One night I look up and wave at my sister dimly lit and standing on the balcony looking down on me in the spa. Too late I realise it’s not her but the 20 year old male occupant of the unit below. Soon not one, but two of his mates also wave at me. Exposed, I have no where to hide in the spa, and just pray to the spa Gods it keeps bubbling away as I slink as low as possible. Upstairs, my sister laughs outrageously when I recount this tale.
When we do venture outside we attract unusual attention. “Are you two sisters?” complete strangers stop us all week in our tracks. We laugh to ourselves and think, if only our other two sisters were here. Worse, our Doppelgangers are somewhere on our beach holiday but we remain frustratingly one pace behind them. The night we get takeaway Thai, the operator welcomes us with open arms: “you’re back again!” he exclaims to our surprised bemusement. “Oh, two sisters who look just like you were in here last night,” he says as we clutch our curry, chuckle and shuffle into the night. The next evening, at the surf club, we are welcomed again: “Oh, you were here last night!” the waitress explains. No, but our Doppelgangers were. We never meet our Doppelgangers but by the end of the week every pair of women look like sisters to us. “Do you think it’s them?” we whisper in conspiratorial tones to each other over dinner. We wonder whether they are better versions of us than we are. We decide that’s impossible. It becomes our holiday joke. Every holiday needs a joke, that’s what makes families tick.
And our family has had its moments. Nine years ago, When my sister’s marriage collapsed suddenly, I was among the first people she called. “You need to sit down,” she said down the phone line. Little did I realise that a few years later I’d be having that very same conversation with her. Years later, she confessed to me that my weekly phone calls were all that got her through each miserable week. I think back to the season of my discontent, that winter that seemed so bitterly cold where I sat in her old country Queenslander and cried and shook while she just sat patiently with me. Not so long ago her two daughters – my feisty, fabulous nieces – were having a rip-roaring fight, the type that only adolescent siblings can. My sister turned to them and in the quiet way she has said to them: “You’re going to need her one day”. How right she was.
WIN A LIFE OF SUNDAYS!
In conjunction with one of my Lifestyle and Travel Partners, The Global Goddess is offering one lucky follower the chance to win a life of Sundays! Kayleen Allen, Director of Life of Sundays, uses the teachings of self-development guru Louise Hay, to offer a range of programs and retreats where you will learn to feel valued and appreciated for you are, loved, nurtured and safe to explore your story, past beliefs and to unlock your true potential. Her next “Heal Your Life, Achieve Your Dreams” workshop will be held in Brisbane on December 7 and 8.
To win a spot at this two-day workshop, valued at $850, simply go to http://www.theglobalgoddess.com and, make sure you’re a follower by clicking on the FOLLOW button in the bottom right hand corner. Go to this post, and in the comments section, simply tell us what your Life of Sundays would look like. The competition closes at 5pm on Wednesday, November 13. The winner will be announced in The Goddess’ Briefs on Friday, November 15. For more information or to book the workshop, contact email@example.com
THIS journey begins like so many others. With me, frantically scouring Brisbane Airport for the man of my dreams who will not only be smart, funny and sexy, but will be on my flight, happen to be seated next to me, and will fall instantly in love with my jaunty wit and irrepressible beauty. Yes, because I am deluded.
Instead, I am stuck on a five hour flight across the Nullarbor from Brisbane to Perth with the Redlands Rhapsody Choir – who are testing their vocal chords and my patience. But not as much as grandma and grandpa in 66J and 66K right behind me, who use the back of my chair to lift themselves from their seats, thus ripping out tufts of my hair each time they go to use the toilet. Which appears to be urgent and often. I comfort myself with an eye mask and The Village People on my iPod. Boys, you were so right. You can’t stop the music. Nobody can stop the music.
And so I arrive in Perth where I meet my travelling companions, two of them recent brides who are still blushing profusely from their nuptial naughtiness. And so they should be. What’s not to adore about being in love? But I can’t help but wonder if this is some kind of joke the universe is playing on me. Why, God, why? Why me? Why here? Why now? And where are the horny miners for which this region is renowned?
We are bound for Margaret River and a journey which consists of boobs, brides and Bunker Bay. I console myself with the thought of the wine I’ll be drinking over the coming days in this remote region which has etched itself into the Australian psyche. Mention to any Aussie that you’re coming to Margaret River and they act like you’ve just won lotto. And really, you have. Boasting 150 wineries, 7 breweries, salt-kissed surfers and a stray miner or two, and what’s not to love? It’s a cussing booze hag’s paradise.
At the Pullman Resort Bunker Bay, delectably perched on the edge of the Indian Ocean, I indulge in a native Indigenous mud massage where my therapist Sarah applies a ring of mud to my lower back, and then gently massages warm oil into my muscles. It’s about as sensual an experience you can have without being arrested. If the horrible homophobes are right and “turning gay” is a “lifestyle choice”, it’s one I make many times during the next 80 minutes.
We visit Vasse Virgin, a haven of soap and other super smelling stuff, plus olives and olive oil products. There’s even a tasting room and, rumour has it, in the near future a
“sealed section” where they will be launching a raunchy range of soaps. Look out for the “V” and “P”. Dustin Fisher, whose title I miss while talking about vagina and penis shaped soap to the managers, tells me the secret to snaring a man is by wearing a lovely scent.
“I love aniseed. Or you could try spearmint green tea or lime and cassia which is nice and refreshing,” he says, before returning to his lip gloss-making. A glorious sticky pot made from Perth bees wax, olive and essential oils.
At Leeuwin Estate, Hospitality Manager Stepan Libricky talks about wine and food like the art of love making.
“Our award-winning chardonnay is aged in French oak. I find it a very sexy wine. I really find it very attractive. It is about letting the fruit speak for itself,” he says.
“There is nothing wrong with having a few glasses of wine with good friends and good food.
“Wine and food is very sensual today.”
And so, too, is the Margaret River. Someone hands me the Margaret River Wedding Guide which includes 330 pages of happy couples. But defeated, I am not. I’ve discovered nearby Yallingup means “the place of love”. As I leave this lovely region, I make a mental note to return. I arrive at the airport. The Redlands Rhapsody Choir is on the same flight back to Brisbane. And they are singing a love song.
Virgin Australia flies to Perth three flights per day from Brisbane and four flights per day from Sydney. Fares start from $199 one way from Sydney and $219 one way from Brisbane – http://www.virginaustralia.com.
Rates in a Studio Villa at the Pullman Resort Bunker Bay start from $239 per night – http://www.pullmanhotels.com or 08 9756 9100.
If, like me, you’ve ever wondered what to do with your ex, one enterprising Brisbane business sells the perfect solution. At Olive Home, in Ashgrove, you can now buy and bake voodoo doll cookies with this lovely little cookie cutter set upon which my friend and fabulous food blogger Kerry Heaney (www.eatdrinkandbekerry.blogspot.com.au) stumbled today. And you wouldn’t even care if the cookies burned. Burn, baby, burn. (Sorry, I got carried away for a second).
Of course, there’s loads of other solutions as well. Just speak to my mother. You see, mum and dad sired four daughters, of which I am one (the nutty youngest if you really must know). And from those four daughters, there’s been five marriages. The interesting bit is, depending on your point of view, there’s also been four divorces. Now, if you’re a pessimist, you might say that’s a bad thing, but I like to think we’re a bunch of overachievers. I mean, the average divorce rate is at about 50%. Not in my family. No, we sit at 80%. Now, that’s what I call gifted. Although some days I can’t help but feel a little like a Kennedy. But I digress. After each divorce mum, who naturally blames every bloke for the failure of the marriages (she’s not far wrong), writes their name on a piece of paper, and puts it in the freezer. Yes, you heard right. She freezes them. Apparently, some old witch (could have been my grandmother), told her about this little tradition which is meant to somehow curse the blokes in question for all eternity. So mum’s freezer looks a little like this (but with far more food in it).
Mum, being married to a butcher and a grazier, has also threatened to chop off certain parts of their anatomy and put them on display like the one below. But we’ve all assured her there wasn’t enough worth chopping.
However, if you were insane enough to marry into our family, I’d say be afraid. Be very afraid. Mum scares the hell of out me most days, I can’t imagine what it would be like not being of her loins. So, what of that last 20% still married? My oldest sister has somehow managed to hang on to her husband, to the man affectionately known in our family as Last Man Standing. I sometimes see droplets of sweat appear on his brow when we refer to him like this.
Yes, should Last Man Standing ever do anything to warrant the final divorce – unless the sister who has married twice has a third crack at it – I can already imagine mum’s reaction.
I spent years recovering from my divorce and there were times when I agreed with mum, but I figured she’s got all the black magic covered. These days, I try to focus on what lays ahead. Yes, The Global Goddess is a lover, not a fighter. On that note, I leave you with this thought…
If you really do want to know all about food, rather than revenge, check out Eat Drink + Be Kerry, http://www.eatdrinkandbekerry.blogspot.com.au. This famous foodie is currently running a fantastic comp where you can win a year’s supply of hot chocolate. And for those who want a tour of my mother’s freezer, leave a comment below. I’m sure it can be arranged.