Archive for the 'Travels – Other' Category

No, Thank You.

October 11, 2011

No, thank you, I won’t answer the million dollar question; I’ll take the money and leave.

Sometimes it’s not about the money, for me this is the first time it’s ever been about the money and unless the money is good, and I mean really good, then not interested.

Santorini - Greece

I said no to a shitty offer because I am worth more, and I don’t really want to be here – in a town which Lonely Planet describes as ‘the dullest place on Earth’.  Because I am not boring and I do not deserve a boring life – nine months of observation and alienation are enough – halas!

Downtown Doha

In saying that I will leave behind some amazing people – friendships formed in haste but solid and beautiful nonetheless.   As I said to my knitting group, if only these Monday nights and your friendship was enough, but as much as I love you guys it’s not.  Those of you who have touched me know who you are and I send genuine love and gratitude and the offer of place to stay in the Byron hinterland once I finally stop.

Byron Bay - 30 mins from where I hope to settle.

Many years ago – when I first started this adventure I was given the advice – jump from the bridge – what’s the worst that can happen – advice about giving up security and trusting that the universe will provide.

In many ways she has.

Pantheon - Rome

Today I made another jump – a decision made about self worth and what kind of future I want and what I am prepared to sacrifice to get there.

It has never been about cash for me and I am currently displaced.

Perth Coast

So back to my family in Perth for a couple of months, hopefully some temp work whilst my registration to teach in NSW is processed and then rural NSW for start of academic year unless I can find something beforehand.

Ephesus - Turkey

I set off from Bellingen broken hearted seven years ago and have seen so many amazing places and met many many wonderful people.

Beauville - France

I will miss being able to ‘pop to France for summer’ and proms at The Royal Albert Hall but will relish the family, friends, churning wild ocean, the sound of kookaburras and the blue/green contrast that only the Australian bush and sky can provide.

Royal Albert Hall

It’s time to come home.

Australia

I Love Dubai

July 31, 2011

I love Dubai.

Dubai Skyline

I was incredibly fortunate this weekend in that in order to renew my business visa I had to undertake a ‘visa run’.  This involved leaving Qatar for three business days whilst they processed the visa – twice before this has fallen through and to be honest it is a much needed break – that I would love it so completely has suprised me – I am very very taken with its’ charms.

Dubai Creek

There is a real sense of urbanity, people on the street, a melting pot of cultures – it doesn’t feel so dominated by religion here – it is present but not the be all and end all, I’ve barely noticed the call to prayer.  There are footpaths and street life and no restrictions on what you can wear on the street or on the beach.  It’s a grown up functioning city with a really nice pulse.  It simply seems more civilised here.

Jumeira Beach

The traffic is not so chaotic either.  There is not the urgency to keep moving at any cost, to be the first one there (wherever ‘there’ may be – often a red light or another car). In Dubai it’s the normal ebb and flow of city traffic, congested yes, but orderly and patient.

Interestingly I always ask the taxi drivers where they are from and if they like it here (in Doha or Dubai).  Every taxi driver in Dubai said yes they like it here, when asking the same question in Doha I have yet to hear a positive response.

Abra's on Dubai Creek

Admittedly I largely stayed away from the glitz – I’ve never been a five star girl – but catching abras across the creek and wandering through the souks, bartering with merchants is so my cup of tea.  At the spice souk I found indigo – the joy this gave me beats manolo blahnik shoes any day.

Indigo, Alum and other Delights

I was limited in what I could do by the heat.  It really was very very hot – I braved the metro and saw what was feasible, but ventures like wandering along the coast, exploring the CBD and back streets were not for this trip.

I’m not much of a mall girl either, much preferring markets and second hand rummages,  but Dubai Mall was impressive.  Aquariums in the atrium, Bloomingdales, Galleries LaFayette, 50 foot waterfalls.  Me, being me, was satiated by a Neal’s Yard for shampoo, a health food shop for flax and polenta and Waitrose for a salad.

Dubai Mall

Outside of the Mall was the dancing fountain – seriously one of the campest things I’ve ever seen (and we know I’ve seen a lot of camp!).  This was in the shadow of the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa – why was is necessary to build something that tall? Well there are the phallic theories – I had no desire to enter.  It was seriously tall – I wasn’t about to test my vertigo!

Burj Khalifa and Fountain

On day two I took advantage of the free beach shuttle that was run by the hotel.  The driver dropped me at a lovely park, Al Mamzar, in the north. Five dirum to enter (a pound) and the same for a brolly.  The park reminded me of Nielsen Park in Sydney – lovely shady trees giving way to two pristine beaches, people in ‘normal’ bathing attire.  I had sunscreen on, which I re applied, and I kept under the brolly when not in the water – the water was not exactly cold but not quite a bath – still refreshing as the temp was in the mid forties.  The bus dropped me at 10 and picked me up at three.

Al Mamzar Beach

It has been years since I’ve spent a day at the beach – and those who know me well know what a beach baby I am – I was pig in shit!   However the colour of me as soon as I had showered was frightening – the fact that it has given way to a tan is sheer good luck.   I thought I had given myself first degree burn – a lesson learnt!  The sun must have got through the umbrella, I even had panda eyes!

Souk Madinet

Spent my last night having a bit of a bender with my old mate from tele in Sydney, Rose.  It was great to hang out with an Aussie chick and reminisce about Sydney and mutual friends and cathartic to vent honestly and safely about how we find life in the Middle East.

Burj Al Arab from Souk Madinat

We started sipping Sauvignon Blanc at Souk Mandinat, then onto rose on a roof top bar 24-floors up at The Jumiera Beach Resort before one too many caipirinhas at the Buddha Bar – being evicted when the house lights came on at 2 am – I haven’t had a bender in a very very long time – it was fun; I say as I sit typing in the airport terminal nursing my hangover.

24th Floor View

Tomorrow is Ramadan – drinking water in public is forbidden, the work hours shorter and I need to cover even more of my sassy flesh, all restaurants are shut during the day and you can not buy alcohol anywhere until after Eid.  Night time will be fireworks and feasting.

Lest We Forget

April 25, 2010

ANZAC Cove

I have grown up with the legend of my Grandfather and his involvement in the First World War – a loving hero, my hero.

I was the apple of his eye and he was my Grandad, my mate (and my only living Grandparent), I’d roller skate to his place past the playing fields and Inglewood Pool to visit him at the RSL homes – I remember hedges of rosemary. He’d sing ‘I like bananas because they have no bones’ and we’d just hang out. I grew up thinking that all old men bandages their legs – to realise later that these were the results of a war some 60 years past where standing in trenches in both Gallipoli and the Western Front caused ulcers on his legs that never healed. I don’t recall him ever speaking to me about the war – but I was young – he became increasingly senile and died when I was 16 and he was 91.

I had heard the stories from Mum many times, that he was in the second wave at Gallipoli and had been one the last boats to leave setting booby traps on the beach. He talked about swapping cigarettes and mementos with the Turks during cease fires (aka – removing dead bodies from the front lines).

I am a history teacher – I have taught Gallipoli in schools to teenagers – how we went to the wrong beach – how it unified us as a nation – the myths of mate-ship and the diggers and the ANZAC spirit.

All this is with me as I leave Istanbul – reading the last chapters of Gallipoli by Alan Moorehead. It has only been since reading this account that I fully understood why we were there – a small peninsula in a foreign land – far away from the main fighting in France – finally understanding the geography and logistics – if you can force the Dardanelles at the Narrows – get to the Sea of Marmara, capture Constantinople – take the Bosphorous and allow the Russian allies to utilise their ports in the Black Sea (Battleship Potekim makes sense too – the Odessa steps sequence sparks in my mind).

The Dardanelles from Chunuk Bair

As I drive towards ANZAC Cove we come to the Dardanelles and I am moved by this stretch of water and it’s significance on my own history and sense of self – armed with a sense of history and a set of photos I come as a pilgrim.

From Stanley, Tasmania, to this – I ponder the futility of it all. Birth of a nation stuff and half a million men dead; all for this narrow stretch of water – azure blue and calm. I am also moved by how much like home it looks (especially after four years of living in London), blue skies, sparkling sea, arid landscape – I could be in Northern NSW – I want to swim and be outside – it feels very native to me here.

So here are my pictures inter cut with some that Grandad took in 1915 on his small box camera.

View from Gaba Tepe, Sulva Bay in the Distance.

View across the battlefields - you can make out the memorials on Lone Pine & Chunuk Bair

The memorial at Gaba Tepe

ANZAC Cove - my first view

The other way

The Sparkling Agean with Imbros and Samonthrace in the distance (This is where the Generals were)

Swapping ships off the coast of Gallipoli Sept 1915

Ataturk’s fine words

View from the beach at ANZAC Cove

North Beach

Offshore Gallipoli 1915

Walkers Ridge and ‘The Sphinx’. Grandad was based on Walker’s Ridge from Nov 20th - Dec 9th 1915

The April 25th landing place from the shore

Me on the same beach 94 years later.

Me on the same beach 94 years later.

This was what they faced.

‘The Sphinx’ from North Beach

North Beach

Sharaphel Gully 2009

Sharaphel Gully 1915

Roadside Memorial

Lone Pine

View down the Peninsula from Lone Pine

Grandad's Battalion

Sulva Bay and the Salt Lake (site of the September British landings) from Chunuk Bair

Walkers Ridge from Chunuk Bair

Trenches (Gallipoli) 1915

Trenches - Chunuk Bair

Grandad's Brother - Uncle Bob (Gallipoli) 1915

The Narrows, The Dardanelles - The 'Prize'

A.S.H. Emmett, my Grandad.