A Quick Pick Me Up

THOSE crazy funsters at STA Travel have released a new survey, which reveals some of the most popular pick-up lines among holidaymakers. A survey of more than 600 Aussies reveals we are not only well travelled, but we know a thing or two about romance while on the road. God, it’s the entire modus operandi of The Global Goddess, so you can imagine my delight when this literary gold landed in my inbox late last week. In no particular order, here’s the Top 10 travel pick-up lines (and my take on them).
1. Dubai
Dubai
The only part of Dubai I’ve ever seen was the airport, and to be more precise, the hole-in-the-ground airport toilet where I dashed from the plane nearly 30 years ago, on not only my first international fight, but my first flight ever. Suffering from motion sickness and culture shock, I dashed past the men with machine guns at the airport in my mission to be violently ill. Thus guaranteeing no one would use this pick-up line on me.
2. Jamaica
Jamaica
While I’ve never been to Jamaica, I certainly feel like I have, as does any Australian traveller who has spent more than their fair share of time in Bali. The Indonesians love Bob Marley as much as they love their Bintang brew, and it’s a dreadlock holiday every time you enter the country. No Woman, No Cry? Not an issue in Bali.
3. Vietnam
Vietnam
I have been fortunate to travel to Vietnam on a number of occasions. On my most recent trip, in which I found myself in Saigon, not only did a little girl become enamoured with me during my visit to the confronting War Remnants Museum, so did her aunty. Just my luck to have a middle-aged Vietnamese woman fall in love with me.
4. Paris
Paris
It pains me to say this, but I have been to Paris three times, and each time I have stood in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower just willing the love Gods to strike me down with that fabulous French magic by which other travellers swear. Has. Not. Happened. All I can see is a nation of chain smokers and some pretty nasty dog poo on the streets. I know, I know. Sacre bleu!
5. Phuket
Phuket
While I have been known to frequent the sunny shores of Thailand’s famed beach destination on numerous locations, I have yet to find love among the long tail boats. This could have more to do with the fact that for years I have been mixing up the Thai terminology for “the weather is hot” (because I’m such a witty conversationalist), and instead telling every poor Thai man and woman upon whom I stumble that “I am hot” (as in sexy) right down to fanning my body. In retrospect, this does explain all the strange looks.
6. Rome
Rome
Ah, Rome, sweet Rome. Home of all those gladiator types, you’d think I’d be able to pick up. Hell, I couldn’t even find the Spanish Steps. The fact I was sitting ON them, while looking for them, is somewhat concerning for a professional travel writer. I did, however, catch the eye of a young Roman girl on a public bus, who pointed at my then boyfriend at the time (yes, I ONCE had a boyfriend, miracles can happen), and asked in perfect English so that everyone could hear. “Is he your lover?” Had I known then that boyfriends would become such a rare commodity, I would have shouted “yes” from the rooftop, rather than pretending I was a German tourist who couldn’t understand this crass child.
7. Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Well, you’ve opened the floodgates with all this boyfriend talk and it was this very same European trip, with this very same boyfriend (did I mention I ONCE had a boyfriend?) that we travelled to Amsterdam. And being broke backpackers we decided to stay in some stranger’s home for a very reasonable fee, long before not only was Airbnb not invented, but the entire bloody internet. We wondered for years how we managed to get this room so cheaply until it dawned on us that some nefarious Netherlanders who knew the Internet was just a decade or so away from becoming a reality probably captured our nether regions on some hidden camera.
8. Seoul
Seoul
Despite being a massive, and rather tragic, child fan of the TV series MASH, Seoul has never been top of my travel list. But based on this pick-up line, perhaps it should? Move over Hotlips Hoolihan, The Global Goddess is in town. I wonder if Klinger would lend me a frock?
9. Tennessee
Tennessee
I’m flat out spelling this destination, let alone knowing where it sits on the US map. A quick check of Dr Google reveals it’s in Nashville where I believe Australia’s very own country singer Keith Urban lives. If things don’t work out with Nicole…
10. Customs and Immigration
Customs
It would be fair to say if I added up all of my travelling, I have spent several years simply standing in customs and immigration queues around the world. So it stands to reason that I should have found love somewhere along the line. Given Australia is so far from anywhere else, the chances of me looking even half decent by the time I arrive in a foreign land, and have to clear customs, is reasonably remote. The hilarious line I like to use on immigration officers “I look much better in real life than my passport photo” hasn’t jagged me a boyfriend yet either. But I had a boyfriend ONCE…did I mention that?
The Global Goddess is off to Fiji this week on assignment and is searching for some witty pick-up lines fearing “I’m feeling a bit Nadi, do you want to Fiji me?” may be lost in translation. All suggestions welcome…

The Many Faces of Sri Lanka

Tea picker, Haputale

Tea picker, Haputale

SRI means splendour or splendid and Lanka means Island. I returned home from Sri Lanka a few days ago but the places and people I encountered remain etched in my memory. Please enjoy this photo blog which explores the many faces I met on my journey.

I worshipped with the monks in Kandy…

TheMonksThree

TheMonksTwo

I played with the children…

TheKidsThree

TheKids

TheKidsTwo

Met the market women…

MarketWomen

MarketWomenTwo

Admired the beautiful girls…

PrettyWoman

PrettyWomanTwo

And met some cool dudes…

CoolDudes

CoolDudesTwo

CoolDudesThree

The Global Goddess travelled in Sri Lanka as a guest of Intrepid Travel – http://www.intrepidtravel.com

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Single in Sri Lanka

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LYNDAL is devastatingly thin like Audrey Hepburn…and sports the mouth of a sailor. Only half of this sentence is true. Lyndal may have urged me to describe her as the screen siren while peppering our conversation with profanities but Hepburn, eat your heart out, for Lyndal is rolled gold. I’m on a 12-day Real Food Adventure with Intrepid Travel through Sri Lanka and Lyndal is one of the 10 colourful companions with whom I am travelling.

The lovely Lyndal

The lovely Lyndal

My adventures in this mystical land in the middle of the Indian Ocean start well before I meet my travelling party. Mozart is inexplicably being piped through the arrival’s hall of Colombo’s Bandaranayike International when I disembark at 1am, and among the usual swag of Duty Free cosmetics, cigarettes and alcohol, there’s a store selling washing machines. Just what I always imagined I needed after a 16-hour trek from Australia, a Simpson 5kg front loader.

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A tropical downpour greets me on the street unlike the driver who has been arranged to meet me. Just as I’m about to chalk up yet another bloke who has refused to keep a date, someone kindly points to an obscure man sitting in a dark corner who it turns out is my “fixer”. He leads me to a car and the driver takes off into the inky night. We weave in and out of empty back alleys and the exotic blend of heaving humidity, travel exhaustion, and mild anxiety prompts me to break into a cold sweat. Half way to my hotel, when I am almost convinced this is how I will finally meet my maker, he pauses to point to a name of his manifest which is meant to be mine. I’m sorry Linda Treware, but I hope you enjoyed your evening being me and eventually arrived safely at your destination.

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As fate would have it, several hours later at breakfast I meet Linda, or Laura as it turns out. A lovely American Jewish girl, Laura says “I’m basically Beyonce. My alter ego is a black girl with a big arse who says ‘fuck you bitch’.” At this moment I know Laura and I will be life-long friends.

The lovely Laura

The lovely Laura

For a food tour, we seem to be doing a lot of temples including the towering Sigiriya Rock Fortess with its 1000-odd steps and a height of 1120 metres which I miraculously climb. Regular readers will remember that among my long list of neuroses The Global Goddess is petrified of heights and some may even recall the trip in which my sister and me climbed the Remarkables in New Zealand…only to have me abandon my sister in a white-out while I begged two sherpas to carry me down that slippery little slope, sobbing hysterically. On this journey down I vow not to cry and instead channel my inner Peter Allen and chant I Still Call Australia Home as I leave what I can only describe as the “death zone”. I later learn from one of my travelling companions that someone passing them on the way to the summit asked whether they knew the strange English woman who was singing. On the plus side (and there is always an opposite reaction according to the Buddhist teachings in Sri Lanka) I haven’t had to wear my “temple dress” – lest my sexy knees and shoulders provoke unwanted attention – in days.

The

The “summit” or “death zone” as I like to call it

It would be fair to say I knew nothing about Sri Lanka before I arrived here 9 days ago and due to a hectic travel schedule this year have had even less time to do any research. So appalling was my knowledge of this country that I am half convinced a Tamil Tiger is an exotic Asian cat. I do glance at my trip notes before I depart which suggest I have access to $USD500 “in case of civil unrest”. I wonder whether this means I will be allowed to trot down to the ATM if a war erupts or whether I should bury some greenbacks on my person. A girlfriend suggests I should stash cash in my underwear as “no one will ever look there”. What I do find is a country filled with heart and soul and the most peaceful of people.

Single

The weekend just gone found me in Kandy where I held a vague hope that I may meet the elusive man of my dreams, or in this instance, a Kandy Man. We attend the Kandy Cultural Show where one of the acts is described as “10 male damsel drummers in harmony”. There is even one fine fella in the show who smiles at me and drops his tambourine, such is my sex appeal, but our interaction ends there. I half hope that the yoga teacher we visit that afternoon will yield more luck in the romance stakes, but my fantasy is dashed when he hands out what he calls a “special herbal cream” and instructs us to rub it on our boobs and face. I look at the container, and it’s a jar of Vicks Vapor Rub. But as Buddha would say, every action has an opposition reaction and on the plus side my boobs have never felt hotter.

Chillis

The Global Goddess is in Sri Lanka as a guest of Intrepid Travel – www.intrepidtravel.com

Monk

Postcard: The Characters of Canada

Captain Seymour Fog

Captain Seymour Fogg


I’m home from Canada and before I head off on my next trip, I thought I’d sign off with some of the characters I met on this incredible journey. Canadians, it must be said, are the most perky people you’ll ever meet. Fresh, friendly, fun…see below why I adored them so much.
The place is littered with fine fishermen...

The place is littered with fine fishermen…


AnotherFisherFellow
And then there’s the real deal…
Aw, shucks...Colton is an oyster fisherman

Aw, shucks…Colton is an oyster fisherman


Brad is not only extremely good looking, but he also catches scallops. (Did I mention that Brad is good looking?)

Brad is not only extremely good looking, but he also catches scallops. (Did I mention that Brad is good looking?)


It's scarecrow season in Nova Scotia

It’s scarecrow season in Nova Scotia


This shady dude didn't say much...

This shady dude didn’t say much…


Lowell taught me all about lobster sex...

Lowell taught me all about lobster sex…


While Jonathon cooked me a lobster

While Jonathon cooked me a lobster


And Pete, the butcher, made me a sausage

While Peter, the butcher, made me a sausage


The Global Goddess travelled to Canada as a guest of Destination Canada http://www.keepexploring.ca
StatueFirstNations

Postcard: The Colours of Canada

AllColoursFour
I’m currently up in Canada on assignment but thought I’d share the captivating colours of this country which made my world so bright last week while exploring Nova Scotia on the Atlantic Coast. If I were a house painter, I’d love to live here. Heck, I’d love to live here anyway. And here are some of the reasons, in pictures below, why.

Even the fishing equipment in these quaint villages is full of harmonious hues

Even the fishing equipment in these quaint villages is full of harmonious hues


Dessert is so pretty, you'd die for it...

Dessert is so pretty, you’d die for it…


It's early autumn, and the leaves are starting to turn...

It’s early autumn, and the leaves are starting to turn…


There's red everywhere...

There’s red everywhere…


Even on fishermen's shacks

Even on fishermen’s shacks


Pull up a perch and watch the colours around you

Pull up a perch and watch the colours around you


This shop in Halifax was as golden as the sun

This shop in Halifax was as golden as the sun


Yellow was the choice of colour for this happy home owner

Yellow was the choice of colour for this happy home owner


This business owner would never be blue

This business owner would never be blue


While this house was as blue as the waters on which it was perched

While this house was as blue as the waters on which it was perched


This home is enough to make you green with envy

This home is enough to make you green with envy


Or perhaps purple is more your thing

Or perhaps purple is more your thing


I'm pretty sure the abundant lobsters in the region lend some inspiration

I’m pretty sure the abundant lobsters in the region lend some inspiration


And it's Halloween soon, so let's not forget the pumpkin stands, scattered everywhere

And it’s Halloween soon, so let’s not forget the pumpkin stands, scattered everywhere


The Global Goddess is on assignment in Canada as a guest of Destination Canada http://www.keepexploring.ca

It’s a Sausage Fest in Canada

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PROVING there’s never a dull moment for me when flying long-haul routes – in this case a 30-hour journey from Sydney to Halifax in Canada – I am joined in the seat next to me by a 20-something, heavily tattooed Australian bloke. According to his immigration card his name is Mel, and judging by his actions, Mel likes a drink or 30. Mel assures me on takeoff he’s taken 3 Xanax and needs a drink or two to wash them down so he can enjoy 10 hours sleep. I know I should be shocked that Mel has taken 3 Xanax, my limit is one of those glorious little pink pills, but I’m more amazed that Mel can still obtained Xanax which is now a Class 2 drug and incredibly difficult to get, and I resist the urge to do a drug deal from the comfort of my seat. Unfortunately for Mel, the Xanax aren’t working and he spends the next 14 hours having one Canadian Club Whisky for every hour of our flight – at one stage he downed 4 in 45 minutes before he was cut off for a few hours – and he stays awake the entire night. Just before we land in Vancouver, Mel confides in me that he needs to “get his shit together” as he’s carrying a firearm. Good times.
Flight
I farewell Mel safe in the knowledge he’s probably sleeping the night/rest of his life in a Vancouver prison, and I continue my epic journey across to the east of Canada, a trip which takes considerably longer than it should thanks to storms across the country. We’re stranded on the Toronto runway for five hours during which we are offered a handful of pretzels and a glass of water. I haven’t eaten for 12 hours, having sprinted through various airports to make tight connections, and I could eat a small child. I look hungrily at the big bloke squashed in the seat next to me and start entertaining similar fantasies to those enjoyed by the soccer team that crashed in the Andes and ate each other. When I return from the bathroom, my seat mate has moved, obviously perturbed by my hunger games. I ask the stewardess whether a beer would be out of the question, thus proving once you take an Australian out of the country and add jetlag and hunger, their inner bogan is activated. When we finally take off around 1am, the stewardess arrives at my seat with a pizza and beer and refuses to charge me, demonstrating that Canadians are possibly the nicest people on the planet.
Hipster
Yes, my journey to the Land of Milk and Honey may have begun without much food, but that situation is rapidly rectified when I attend my first assignment of the day – covering a “sausage fest”. I should point out that Canadians have no idea that a sausage fest back in cosmopolitan Brisbane is when you walk into a social or business setting and there’s loads of good looking blokes with, well, their proverbial sausages. And as I’m still jetlagged and ravenous, my inner bogan has not yet gone to bed, so I spit out “a sausage fest!” to my hosts, who take in remarkably good grace the Australian definition of the term. I spend a salacious Sunday wandering the streets of Halifax eating incredible sausage, washed down with sensational beer, and all served by good-looking men. Yes, it was quite the sausage fest.
CornDog
My first day ends at the Five Fishermen Restaurant which not only serves delicious seafood, but has the most incredible story. Back in the early 1900s, it was actually a funeral home and when the Titanic sank off the Atlantic Coast in 1912, it was here in Halifax that 250 bodies were brought to shore. And the story doesn’t end there. Just 5 years later, two ships collided just off of Halifax in what is known as the Halifax Explosion and curious onlookers rushed to the windows of their homes to view the initial fire taking place offshore. But the ships then exploded, causing an atomic bomb effect back on land, and 2000 people were killed and taken to the same building as the Titanic victims. To this day, the pulley used to bring coffins upstairs from the morgue still exist in the restaurant’s wine cellar. But even more interesting are the incredible ghost stories in this place. Now, The Global Goddess adores a good ghost story and the women in my family are particular adept at attracting the paranormal and by that I am not referring to all of my disastrous dates back in Brisbane, but dead people. Yes, we see dead people. Not all the time, that would be just weird, but over the years my three sisters and me have all reported similar spooky tales and now, some of my nieces are showing signs that they possess “the gift”.
FiveFisherMen
So, imagine my delight when I’m told there’s a couple of dead guests of the Titanic still hanging around the restaurant. My imagination goes into over drive and a fellow journalist and I wander around the restaurant and into dark spooky corners where we’re told certain “activity” has occurred. We enter a private dining room called The Captain’s Quarters and I am covered in goose bumps. Over the years female waitresses have confessed to being accosted by a young boy who invites them to play. My imagination runs wild and we take as many snaps as we can, hoping to capture a ghost on camera. We cautiously creep up a narrow staircase to the women’s bathroom in which the ghost of a young girl is said to inhabit. I almost pee my pants and feel a strange presence in the end cubicle. When we go back downstairs I ask our restaurant host where the young girl resides. “In the far corner of the bathroom where the end cubicle is,” he says. Shivers run up and down my spine.
StainedGlassWindows
Guests have reported taking photos of the restaurant over the year, only to have unusual images appear or their cameras stop working all together. As I publish this blog, I’ve just uploaded all of my Canada photos to date and every photo, save the two I took of The Captain’s Quarters, have uploaded to my computer. Coincidence? I think not. Storms, sausages, spooks and somewhere back in Vancouver, an Australian bloke with a hangover and a fire arm talking his way out of prison. Oh Canada, you had me at hello.
PianoOnWharf
The Global Goddess is travelling in Canada as a guest of Destination Canada http://www.keepexploring.ca
Dessert

Leave it to Beaver

BeaverPoster
THERE are rumoured to be seven men to every woman in Mount Isa, but on this particular Saturday night I’m interested in one woman and one woman only. I’m in the Queensland Outback on a mission to meet a sheila called Beaver. I’d first heard about Beaver only weeks ago, in fact, I was invited to fight her. And this wasn’t any old catfight, meet-you-after-school scenario. You see, Beaver is a boxer and a good one at that. Unfortunately, for the crowds at the Mount Isa Rodeo where Beaver is to box, I’m more of a lover, than a fighter, and I decline the invitation graciously. Hell, I’m someone who weeps when they get a paper cut, such are the perils of my profession.

Beaver at her camp

Beaver at her camp


It’s day one of the rodeo when I first meet Beaver, boiling a kettle at her camp behind the Fred Brophy boxing tent. Beaver is the only woman in Brophy’s troupe, Australia’s only surviving travelling boxing show. I expect Beaver to be like Queen Bee from the 1970s Australian television drama Prisoner and when I see her with that steaming kettle my imagination goes into overdrive, half expecting her to throw hot water over me while giving me a Chinese burn. Turns out Beaver is simply making her lunch and she politely gestures for me to sit in the shade while she does so. While Beaver may be bigger than the average woman, she’s also huge of heart.
Fred Brophy

Fred Brophy


When we met last weekend Beaver, or Brettyln Neal as she is sometimes known, was about to notch up her 150th fight. She first met Brophy about five years ago when she was doing security work out at the Birdsville Races.
“I played Rugby League for Australia and Rugby Union for England and I wanted to test myself as an individual and decided to do boxing,” Beaver says.
“Out in Birdsville we were sitting around and someone said something about Justin Bieber and I misheard and I thought they said Beaver. They said ‘you need to get this Beaver as famous as you can’. So when I got up to fight I said Beaver instead of my real name and it’s stuck ever since.
“I’ve got a little furry Beaver mascot and sometimes Fred will get up and say ‘show us your Beaver’ and I’ll have it in my pants.”
Brophy drums up interest in his show

Brophy drums up interest in his show


But there’s more to Beaver, and boxing, than meets the eye. The 30-year-old owns gyms in Townsville where she runs youth boxing programs.
“Boxing is a big part of my job. I’ve been given an opportunity through my life and through Fred and I feel giving other people the same opportunity is the right thing to do,” she says.
“I grew up in a broken family but I’ve had quite a good upbringing. I don’t really have a sob story. My contribution is more the fact I am willing to give back to those who haven’t got everything.
“I love life and I get joy of out putting a smile on people’s faces. I strongly believe in doing one good deed a day.”
Beaver has a lovely smile

Beaver has a lovely smile


We spend the afternoon sparring, and by sparring I mean I watch Beaver cook lunch while I stand back as far as is safely possible and ask her questions about her chosen sport, of which I understand little.

“To be a good boxer you need to be very disciplined and fit and mentally tough. I’ve got the mentally tough down, fitness not so much,” she says.
“Here there is no weight class. I think the people who say that women shouldn’t box are normally scared we’ll be better than them. The more negative people are the more I succeed. My drive comes a lot from that.
“The most powerful weapon anyone has is the power of speech. I don’t think you should inflict harm on anyone. Boxing is a sport and it has to be one of the most friendly things.
“I never intend to hurt people. At the end of the day we want to put on a good show and hopefully both of us will have a drink together and no one is hurt.
“Boxing is addictive, once you start, you can’t stop.”

Beaver and me sparring

Beaver and me sparring


Participants who take on Brophy’s boxers earn $30 for each minute they are in the ring. Beaver is coy about how much she earns but admits what she does make, she donates to not-for-profit youth boxing programs. Convinced she is my new best friend I ask Beaver what her secret manouevre is. At this stage she pauses the interview, takes two gloved hands, and pretends to simultaneously smack me around the head. “That’s the buffalo,” she grins. I think I’m going to faint from fear. I decide Beaver and I will be mates for life. I will never, ever upset Beaver.
Beaver has a good right hook

Beaver has a good right hook


I ask Beaver to dress in the outfit she’ll be wearing for her fight. Beaver puts on a skirt over her boxing shorts, which is part gladiator, and part like she’s shredded a local miner to pieces.
“You’ve got to bring a bit of fashion into the sport. Fred likes to say I’ve got hairs on my legs that would spear a rat,” she says.
“Lots of men love me. Everyone loves a Beaver.”
Beaver believes it is important to be fashionable in the ring

Beaver believes it is important to be fashionable in the ring


The next night Beaver steps into the boxing ring, but there’s no woman courageous enough, even in the Queensland Outback, to take her on. My friends tug at my sleeve, urging me to take one for the team. “Are you insane,” I hiss with venom dripping from my voice. I’ve seen the buffalo. I know what the buffalo can do. Fred calls a man, who is either extremely brave or very stupid, into the ring to fight Beaver. I’m filled with an equal blend of repulsion and fascination as I watch the bloke box Beaver. In the first round the poor fellow is full of hope. But that doesn’t last long and Beaver easily wins the match before she storms off into the dark night, with a rumoured three broken ribs. Beaver looks as mad as hell. “I love you Beaver”, I shout, my words trailing her like a cloud of dust. Just to be sure.
Beaver and me are besties. Go Team Beaver!

Beaver and me are besties. Go Team Beaver!


The Global Goddess travelled to the Mount Isa Rodeo as a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland – http://www.queensland.com. To book a ticket to next year’s rodeo go to http://www.isarodeo.com.au
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The Art of Travel

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“The sole cause of a man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room, Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel
IT’S almost mid-June and my itchy traveller’s feet are already becoming tetchy, niggling to get back on that road, so soon after I’ve just stepped off the beaten track. After a big six months of travel, I’m taking a brief pause to recalibrate, but it’s not a simple task for me. My body says stop, but my mind roars like those four Rolls Royce engines upon take-off, constantly conjuring up all the possibilities out there in the big, wide world awaiting me. But it’s important to stop, however briefly, if nothing else but to breathe. To indulge in that most sinful of sins, sleeping in one’s own bed.
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I started the year with a few domestic trips, out west to Ipswich where I rode in a helicopter to a winery and took my first hot air balloon flight – both of which were pretty big deals for this travel writer who hates to fly. I explored Brisbane’s southside and discovered a Buddhist temple and a whole new side of my pretty city I never knew existed. As Alain de Botton argues in his book The Art of Travel you don’t even need to leave your own home to travel. Much of it is a state of mind.
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Things became a little crazy in March with a big trip up to Papua New Guinea but what a delightful visit to this South Pacific frontier it was. I came home with armloads of stories and some beautiful new friends. I was home for three days, enough time to wash, dry and repack my clothes, before I headed off to Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, all in the space of a week. I was sick as a dog on that trip, but sometimes you don’t get a choice to slow down, and it’s amazing what you can do when you really need to.
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A long weekend in Noosa, part work, part pleasure followed and I started to dream of the following weekend when I’d be back on the Sunshine Coast for Easter with my sister. But fate had other plans and torrential rain forced the cancellation of our Easter holiday on the Sunshine Coast, but determined to get away, we fled to Fiji instead, where one of our best Easters unfurled among coconut cocktails and South Pacific church services.
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Shortly after that, I was in Cairns and Port Douglas, exploring the beautiful tropical north of my state. I hired a car for this trip, switched the radio to some superb 80s tunes, and sang my way along the Captain Cook Highway north. There was a moment of truth when, all alone on a remote beach eating my lunch I though “I’m all alone” with a tinge of fear and sadness. But that was rapidly replaced by jubilation: “I’m ALL alone,” and I skipped back to my rainforest cottage with pure glee.
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As fate would have it, I returned to Port Douglas a week or so later for another story. Funny how you don’t go somewhere for 15 years, and then you return to that very destination within a short time frame. I wonder what Alain de Botton would make of that? It was a completely different trip which evoked vastly different feelings, proving it’s the journey, not the destination, which makes the place. As de Botton would say: “Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than moving planes, ships or trains.”
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I was on the Sunshine Coast a week later, at Rainbow Beach, a place I’d never been, scratching my head as to how I’d missed such a Queensland gem. I spent the night camping at Inskip Point right on the beach while the wind howled outside, and trying to imagine that a week later I’d be in Austria, covering Eurovision. I arrived in Vienna, a city I last visited 20 years before as a backpacker, and hardly recognised the place. It made me realise that while I was fitter two decades ago, I was also very young and, according to de Botton: “A danger of travel is that we see things at the wrong time, before we have had a chance to build up the necessary receptivity and when new information is therefore as useless and fugitive as necklace beads without a connecting chain.” And so it was on my previous trip to the Austrian capital, but not so on this journey. I returned to Salzburg where seven years previously I had gone in search of the Sound of Music magic. I found it again on this trip, and more.
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On the long journey home from Europe to Australia, I paused for 10 hours in Bangkok, one of my all-time favourite destinations. Due to the length of my layover I had just enough time to leave the airport, find a hotel, have a Thai massage and sit by the pool in the early evening humidity to eat a Thai curry washed down with a cold Singha. And even then, I found it alluring, tempting myself to stay on, trying to find a loophole to avoid getting on that midnight flight to Brisbane.
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I’ve been home two weeks tomorrow and if I’m really honest, it took me about four days till I was climbing the walls. But it’s a necessary climbing journey. I need to write, reset, catch up with friends, go to yoga, attend meditation and, if I’m lucky, go on a date or two. It’s winter Down Under and it’s time to pause and reflect, if just for a little bit. Oh, the trips are already mounting in the coming months, there’s Noosa, the Whitsundays and Mount Isa, followed by Uluru and Canada. I hope to get to Sri Lanka. And that’s just what I know now. And so I sit, write and regroup, but it’s not without its challenges. As de Botton wrote: “And I wondered, with mounting anxiety, What am I supposed to do here? What am I supposed to think?”
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TOP 10 INSTAGRAM PHOTOS THAT SIMPLY WORK

SINCE starting to seriously dabble in Instagram during the past year, I’ve noticed a trend emerging about what catches the eye of followers and potentially attracts a new audience.

Here’s my top 10, in no particular order.
1.Interesting shapes
Whether it’s this mound of spices I stumbled across at a breakfast buffet in a Bangkok hotel or this bike rack at my local university swimming pool, interesting shapes are always eye-catching.
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2. People with a sense of place
Photos of people in general, and selfies particularly, have little traction on Instagram, but where people present a sense of place, it’s a whole different story. This surfer on the beach in Hawaii and this woman in Vietnam, both instantly tell a story.
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3. The colour red
A photographer’s dream colour, you can hardly go wrong red. It’s bright, it’s catchy and it doesn’t really matter what it is you are photographing, as long as it’s red, it’s a winner.
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4. Sunsets
Everyone loves a sunset. Surprisingly, fewer people love a sunrise. Post a photo of a sunset, like this one I captured recently in Fiji (no filter required) and watch your numbers soar.
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5. Flowers and trees
There’s more nature lovers out there than you realise. People loved this kangaroo paw I published around Australia Day, and they went wild when I discovered the bark of this melaleuca tree in Tropical North Queensland recently.
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6. Fun phrases
Every now and then, if you stumble across a quirky sign of a funny phrase, give it a go. This particularly works if it’s got something to do with coffee.
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7. Food
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not a huge fan of food shots, but if you do happen across something interesting, then sure, post it. Just not the sandwich you had for lunch. Unless you invented the sandwich. Then go for your life.
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8. Street Art
This has been my biggest revelation in the past year, both about myself and my audience. Turns out I am quite the street art aficionado and I have found myself on the lookout on every street corner for something new to shoot. My followers adore art.
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9. Abstract
Similar to street art, if you can present something in an abstract way, people tend to love it. I took this photo of a Buddhist tea ceremony in Brisbane a few months ago. It’s essentially a metonym – where you don’t need to shoot the entire frame to tell a story.
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10. Water
Whatever the weather, people love water. Whether it’s the ocean or a pool, there’s something alluring and aspirational about a body of water.
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What are your Instagram tips? Follow me on Instragram @aglobalgoddess

Sex under the Banyan Tree

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IN my four-poster bed, replete with white chiffon curtains, I imagine I am an Indonesian High Priestess. Even my private spa, in which I will later take a skinny dip under the night sky, seems to gurgle its approval of the latest predicament in which I find myself. I have arrived at the Banyan Tree Bintan Island in my usual disheveled state, the effects of some aeroplane turbulence as we crossed the Equator, a reasonable swell on the ferry as we sailed across the South China Sea, several prescription drugs and red wine to fuel my travels, all beginning to wear off. But I remain chipper, for tonight I will sleep under this thatched Indonesian roof, or “alang alang”, in my seaside villa.
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Yes, I can be quite the wanker, and never more so than when someone has handed me chunky keys to thick, timber doors of my very own villa, and informs me this is my home for the next few nights. Bintan Island is only a 45-minute ferry ride from Singapore where regular readers know I lived, rather unhappily, some three years ago. If only I’d known of this destination’s fabulous existence, I would have jumped on that boat and never returned to Singaling. Yes, I would have been last spotted swanning around this Indonesian island, potentially joining the local fishermen in their bright blue boats below, in a bid to carve out an existence. The fact I am staying in the luxury Banyan Tree only serves to make this story all the more exotic. Even the traditional monsoon seems to be behaving, blowing cooling south-easterly kisses in my direction.
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I’m on a one-week expedition discovering both the Banyan Tree Bintan Island, and Banyan Tree Lang Co in Vietnam. Christopher Columbus I am not. By “expedition” and “discovering” I actually mean partaking in several long, lusty feasts on both properties, punctuated by the odd cooking class and spa treatment. It’s in the Banyan Tree spa on Bintan Island that I meet my therapist, Oza (pronounced Oh-Zah) who instructs me to get buck naked (“not even my undies?”, I mime, rather inelegantly to my Indonesian hostess) before we undertake the “Serenity” massage. Oza smothers me in peppermint oil and for the next hour I feel like I am Charlie Brown’s Peppermint Patty. My friend Amanda is in the next spa villa, and I wonder what treatment, and more important what Charlie Brown character, she smells like. So enthusiastic is Oza about her job, she crams the modesty sheet between my bare butt cheeks, before massaging them with gusto. It’s only after the massage that Amanda informs me she was instructed to keep her underwear on, and there were no sheet wedgies in her villa.
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Later that night I return to my villa and discover my towels have been fashioned into two swans in the shape of a love heart and flower petals have been scattered on my sheets. For a brief moment I think Oza may have mis-read the intent of my lack of underpants during the massage, until Amanda posts a photo of her neighbouring villa, with identical set up. We both lament the fact we will be staring at those swans, alone, while conceding the Indonesians must be among the most optimistic on the planet to leave such a letter of love for the two of us, who are not, exactly, what you’d call lucky in love.
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Onwards and upwards we travel to Vietnam, where we have a date with the Banyan Tree in Lang Co, a beachside destination some two hours from Danang. Those sexy swans seem to follow me wherever I go in Asia, and I arrive back to my latest villa one night to find not only those birds have been folded and tucked into a corner of my bathroom, but someone has drawn me a bath, complete with rose petals. Could it be Windy, my Vietnamese masseur, who earlier that day allowed me to wear some XL disposal underpants which I may or may not have torn trying to get over my thighs? Windy insisted on massaging my breasts despite the fact that Amanda was in the next room, having the very same massage, yet no one touched hers. I am beginning to think my sex appeal among Asian women knows no bounds, when I discover the bath is actually part of the hotel’s turndown service known as “Intimate Moments”.
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It’s only when I’m partaking in a cooking class in the Banyan Tree Lang Co’s Organic Garden that I’m reminded of home. For here are a bunch of herbs, whose descriptions run along the lines of: “Piper Sarmentosum is an erect herb with long, creeping stems” and “Chillies are usually skinny and wrinkled. These chillies usually measure 6 inches long and 1 inch wide.” If ever there was something designed to make me think fondly of the boys of Brisbane, it has to be this herb garden.
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But I have no time for such folly, as we are spending the afternoon shopping in the World Heritage city of Hoi An. Amid the chaos of cycles, coconuts, tinkers and tailors, I tend to fall apart. While the girls shop in a feverish manner, I take reprieve under a fan in a corner café and sip a cold bottle of the local Biere Larue. It’s the kind of place I figure the man of my dreams may frequent. He’ll be a fellow traveller, perhaps even a literary type, and I like to think I look exotic and mysterious sitting alone in this Vietnamese café. He’ll glance at me and forget my hair is fuzzing from the humidity or that I wear a moustache of sweat, and think I’m simply lovely, I imagine.
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Incredibly, this doesn’t happen, and instead I wander further down the street where I stumble upon our Vietnamese friend Kiet, who has accompanied us on our shopping trip. Kiet is sitting on the sidewalk of his favourite café, Cargo, partaking in one of life’s great pleasures, drinking beer and people watching, and as I join him we linger for a long while, discussing life and love and ponder world issues. Eventually, the tourists disappear, the lights fade and the air starts to cool. And I realise there is absolutely nowhere I’d rather be on the entire planet than at this destination, at this exact moment in time.
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The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Banyan Tree – http://www.banyantree.com and Scoot Airlines – http://www.flyscoot.com
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