How are you today, my lovely travel brainsters? I’ve got brand new content from you from all across the world in Indonesia (well, it’s pretty close to where I am). Today Heidi is taking us to awe-inspiring temples and sky-high volcanoes, nasty hostel owners and dreamy beaches. But it’s not all fun and games and crazy stories, there is also some deep thinking going on. Have you ever thought about ecological and ethical travels? Maybe you should. Heidi brings up some pretty good arguments, but I let her speak for herself.
What is your best travel memory?
I was so torn here! My degree is in Religious Studies, so I’ve ogled temples for years and when I stood and looked out over Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, from Swayambhunath at The Monkey Temple. I cried. Properly! I actually couldn’t believe I was there! It made it even more emotional, when I turned to find my, then 11 year old, daughter sobbing too… Not from elation, like me; she had just seen a Buddhist monk beat a street dog with a stick and was distraught! There are always two sides to a coin!
But climbing up Anak Krakatau volcano is equally amazing; it was an incredible feeling to be standing on newly created land. The landscape is stunning and the peace and tranquility is second to none… unless the volcano blows!! My visit to Krakatau made it quite clear and very real to me that the Earth will continue on its journey, with or without us!
What is the strangest incident you have had during your travels?
One of the strangest incidents was being chucked out of a guest house in Cambodia for refusing to go on a trip! The man was very angry when we declined – we just didn’t have time. We were told later he was ex-Khmer Rouge and not a pleasant person. We put it down to language/ cultural misunderstanding, so I won’t name places and we moved quickly before things could escalate! We also learned not to ask about trips in the guest house we are currently staying in!
What’s the number one item on your bucket list?
That’s difficult because my conscience always has trouble here. I really want to go to Tibet and to China … But I read about China’s treatment of the Tibetans, and what is happening in Tibet (I have a very soft spot for the Dalai Lama) and I get in a quandary; and have yet to plan! What do other people think / feel about this? Human Rights and travel – are there places we shouldn’t go? I’ve been to Bali and I disagree with the death penalty. So there’s no moral high ground… but I’m happy to look at both sides of the argument! It’s also quite hard to find somewhere to travel to that doesn’t have human rights issues in reality!
So, I will say, while I continue deliberating, Antarctica – the photos and experiences I’ve seen and read about look amazing, and as a bonus I can pop to South America on the way!
If you were stranded on an island, which one would it be?
Sri Lanka – I really love Sri Lanka, whether lying on the beach, or wandering around. The people are lovely: kind, helpful and welcoming. The atmosphere is calm and relaxed, the food is the best I’ve had anywhere. It’s so fresh! The temples are incredible, the scenery stunning. Next time I go I want to travel North to Jaffna and along the East coast. (Human Right’s issues here too! In fact, I was travelling in central and southern Sri Lanka while the civil war was coming to an end in December 2009, obviously no-one had any idea of what was happening at the time).
What is your secret travel tip…
Avon SSS Dry Oil for repelling mosquitoes… I’ve found, through irritating experience, that if I smother myself in SSS, mossies’ don’t bite me – I’m usually the ‘sweet meat’ the mosquitoes are waiting for at arrival! And also if you have any doubts about the availability of sanitary protection in your intended destinations – take it with you… not all sanitary wear is equal… let’s just leave it at that!