On the way to Nepal I have a stop over in Bangkok.
I have been traveling here since 1994 and over that time Thailand and Thais have morphed remarkably. Fortunately they have still kept their beautiful soft demeanors.
I have always loved Thais. Gentle, soft and smiling. Still in this crazy demanding world Thais will greet you with a smile, give a soft chuckle when stuck in traffic and always, always say thank-you when you leave. So beautiful.
I seem to be coming here every two years. The last in 2014.
Last night I was here for less than 12 hours in the city and this is my snap shot of a funky, fun but progressive city.
The hotels are insanely grand – staying at the Shangra-La on the river I am blown away about the attention to details, the wonderful choice on offer and the over supply of staff (but it keeps so many employed to makes sense).
A cocktail in the lobby bar (for the record in Asia cocktails are often cheaper than wine) and I have two of my favs: Long Island Iced Tea and a Caprioska. Health drinks of course!
On to a ferry to Asiatique. A tourist precinct with a few bars, many “up market” markets and some activities for kids/grown up kids like the moonwalker, the ferris wheel and go cart cars.
Into a Tuk Tuk which are like a limosine compared to a tuk tuks of yesterday past Pat Pong Road. While I am tempted to head into a club and boogey the night away bed is calling me LOUD!
Sleep is magic and in the morning there is time for a short meditation pool side as the day breaks through the night sky.
Today off to Kathmandu. The new track playing in my head is Bob Segers Kathmandu. Cheesy yes! Hard to believe? YES! By Bangkok until next visit, Sawatdee kha.
Timidly I set off on my first P & O Cruise with my two youngest kids.
I had been on a cruise in the Mediterranean years ago but that was different. That was just me, heaps of new exciting places and no kids.
P & O had not only my kids on board, but hundreds of other children (and their parents). I was worried.
The lining up like sardines and processing on mass wasn’t too bad. I am not good with being herded as my natural instinct is to do the opposite but I found things moved reasonably well and before I knew it we were being ushered past the first of our many “photo opportunities”.
The weather forecast was disgusting and when on board the captain very quickly brought everyone up to speed. “It was some of the roughest seas he had ever seen…” ” get sea sick tablets, go to bed early” and “hang on to the walls when you walk“. Fabulous. Nothing like a BIG fat storm to get everyone sea worthy.
I ushered the lambs to bed very early but stayed up myself to watch Steddy Eddy – a long standing comedian, who I had wanted to see for years. He was hysterical and helped sleep come so much easier.
But I did wake multiple times thinking the massive ocean liner was going to capsize. Whoosh this way, whoosh, creak that way. I have no idea how it didn’t roll over. Anyway it didn’t , the lambs slept, and fortunately day light came soon enough.
The kids were stocked. I was letting them eat all sorts of things we don’t eat on shore. Things like bread (we have a mostly gluten free house hold), cereal, ice cream, deserts, and on it went for the kids like some fantasy camp.
I tried to enforce the 3 vegetable thing with every meal but decided as long as they ate with me at the a la carte restaurant once a day and not buffet central, they wouldn’t become too nutrient deprived over the week.
I had mixed feelings about the cruise.
I was disappointed to see the way people panic around food. Panic and pant… that was the general line up at the buffet. The foodie in me cringed at the human behaviour. BUT the food was actually a really high standard and really varied. It was good.
The A La Carte restaurant was excellent. I ate there every breakfast and had my all time favourite, black pudding. I ate most of my dinners in a La Carte, chilled in the adult-only zone and saw shows, comedians and even art auctions!
It’s hard to believe in hind sight that the cruise was only 7 nights. Really great holiday as far as low-maintenance parenting goes. High value for the kids, and heap of fun and relaxing activities for the grown-ups. We will be doing another cruise soon. Maybe another liner – like carnival?
What a great question my friend and client asked me three days ago.
What’s your passion?
With out pausing, I recited my dream as a ten year old to give every orphan in the world a hug and someone to love them. To offer them hope and opportunity and to make sure they have somewhere to sleep at night. How I would split my time?
It would be split between charity work, raising my children and traveling doing art, writing blogs, making documentaries and doing interviews. To educate, empower and inspire women. That is my passion.
Next thing I know he has arranged for us both to go to Nepal. It feels like a miracle!
The not-for-profit organisation that I am involved with, Journey Nepal, is doing some work there at the moment and I had wanted to be there with them.
Unfortunately with my toes broken in Bali, parting with a significant amount of money to fix them (as my insurance didn’t cover hospital costs), I had doubted my ability to get to Nepal. I was there in 2013 and have been wanting to go back to help more.
And now we are off.
We will be arranging supplies to a school village via a helicopter where we will stay for a few days and help build the school and village. Then back into town to check out the women’s refuge centre that Anne has set up. I am taking a suitcase full of children’s clothes to the kids in the orphanages, some beanies for village children and health bars and more!
Why I like charity and volunteering.
I really love the energy positive charity creates. I can’t exactly put it into words but if you have ever given someone something spontaneously, just because you had something they didn’t… you will know what I mean. It is an energy like no other.
So for me, this is something I have recognised from a young age… or maybe it’s a calling. I don’t exactly know but if it’s been a while since you have done something for some one WITHOUT expecting any return give it a go. See if you experience what I experience … a flood of love and gratitude.
In my rapid preparation for Nepal, people are happily helping out, donating money, goods and good will. I even have friends looking after my daughter for few nights while I am away.
I feel extremely fortunate to have this opportunity and know that so many will benefit once I am in Nepal.
Have you thought about what you would do if you had $75,000,000 sitting in the bank and never needed to work again?
Honestly what would you do with your time and energy?
It’s worth pondering this and knowing what you would do.
Discover your passion, follow your dreams, live your truth.
It’s amazing how easily things come together when you know what you want and what your life would look like.
My life might sound far fetched unless you are nearly doing this… and fortunately for me I nearly am. Life is amazing.
Last week I was camping at Byron with my children, surrounded by amazing people, then Friday I was talking at a fund and awareness raiser for domestic violence in women. Then this Saturday I am off to Nepal doing a few weeks volunteering. I feel truly blessed and fortunate to do what I do.
This is a big part of what makes me tick. I discovered early in my life that this is my calling/my passion.
I will be posting my travels and adventures on this blog and I welcome you to be a part of this adventure. Feel free to add comment and marvel at the beautiful people I am about to meet and introduce you to.
On the first day Woodford Festival I was dazed: bands, bars, brazilian meat and bush pantomimes. It’s only on my second day that I start to pause longer in tents and absorb what is happening.
Zenning out at the start to the Labyrinth at Woodford
The Festival is a place for all people, including myself. It’s like a adult version of Willy Womka’s Chocolate Factory – a total sensory smorgasbord. It’s delicious, daring and fun!
Pretty much everything you would like to try in the arts is here and more.
You would need a full day just to take in the art works. I even recognise a few pieces from the popular Swell Sculpture Festival on the Gold Coast.
The impromptu sculptures scattered throughout were breath-taking and fun.
This face mask lit up at night and was really cool.
As side from the physical arts, there were performing arts.
Pop-up tents teaching people how to chant, and sing, jewelry making, how to dance, all sorts of yoga, lantern making, workshops on making didgeridoos and more.
The full arts and craft programme is impressive and most people book one or two of their arts/craft sessions when buying their tickets.
From the outside it is a grown up creche but for the academics in social behaviour it is a perfect way to foster connection, teach new skills and let people connect left and right hemispheres of their brains. I have written a separate blog on the positive hormone changes it creates on my naturopath page.
The cross breeding and propagation of free thinking is beautiful to experience.
Over the days, I am privy to hear Prof Ian Lowe on environmental issues, talk to people about coal seam gas and be inspired by one of the land’s best orators, Noel Pearson.
On New Year’s Day people make the morning pilgrimage to watch the sun rise. Thousands of bodies lie together watching the new year unfold. This photo was the second after a massive bubble had popped.
Each morning kicks off early – around 8am. On New Year’s Day I find myself singing with The Voice sensation Darren Percival . His voice is incredible and his sessions so much fun. His presence is very angelic and worth seeing if you find him on the “menu” in 2016.
Many people go for the music and it is second to none. I felt a little like being back in New Orleans where there is music on every corner. Woodfordia is a little like that.
Music is played into the early hours of the morning. No curfews and lock out and no rowdy crowds, just folks having a fantastic time.
There are so many funky bands that it’s hard to remember them all.
My favs are Tijuna Cartel (photo above), CC The Cat, Benny Walker, Andrea Kirwan, Lauren Kate, The Hot Potato Band, Briggs and more!
Comedy shows are hysterical and leaving me howling in laughter and smiling from ear to ear. I love this place!
Interestingly my body is craving yin foods and detoxing.
It is easy here. Detoxing, nurturing your body and eating vegetarian and vegan is easy. The food stalls are awesome and most of the food is reasonable and it is certainly plentiful, even at midnight!
Juicing is easy !
This van was my favourite, and the green smoothie (made on Almond milk is the best).
I am not surprised when I hear a few people saying this is their annual detox.
It would be a perfect way to detox and cleanse… camp and simplify life, have massages and cold showers, sleep whenever you feel the urge, see bands, do art, listen to inspiring speakers and do yoga. Juice, eat vego and cleanse your mind… voila there you have a very cheap health retreat for 5 days!
A big part of Woodfordia is respecting and protecting nature. You can buy trees to plant which is done in June each year at the Planting Festival.
After a few days at Woodfordia I am feeling incredible love. Like many, I will be waiting eagerly for the next one in 360 days .
Sensory immersion, ecclectic diversity and beautiful people being not doing. If you are into music, arts so or simply expanding your being, put Woodford Folk Festival on your bucket list.
A place where your taste buds are tingled, your eyes teased and your body is tickled!
It’s the most ecclectic fun I have had in a while.
I am not even sure where to start.
Execpt I know that upon reflection day one is the most extraordinary mind blowing experience and then day 2 you get the jist of it all and by day 3 you are really finding your groove.
I think and in no particular order that the first day ran a little something like this…
Arrive at Woodfordia camping grounds and find myself pulling into the Priaries in a lush paddock full of newly woken Woodfordians rubbing sleep out of their eyes. I pitch my tent (all by myself) and find my way along Lois Lane to the festival. My tent is pitched in “Goneamy Way” street, which is beside “ Bombsaway” and “ Let’s go this Way”
Up dales, down dales, past fairies and unicorns, the whole place is incredible.
After a chilled wine, which we are trusted to sip while walking around various venues (so mature), I find myself listening to a talk with Noel Pearson (what an incredible soul and orator) on environmentalism and helping minority groups such as indigenous, become self reliant through eco systems, permaculture etc.
Woodfordia self regulates. There is a definite non-code of consensus in some areas – dress, beliefs, singing, being etc but a definite code of “we don’t tolerate closed minds, non tolerant, critical people. Leave your rules, and laws at the front gate. Or don’t bring them up at all. Namaste, thank-you, bless”.
The art is stimulating and is a like a living art gallery.. stills, scultpure and acting arts (singing, pantamine and more).
The music is awesome. Blues, Jazz, funk, hip hop, folk, regae rock. It is endless.
We are all talking a similar language and defintely similar vibration. No angst, no stress and the only time commitment is working out how quickly you can walk the distance between two tents to see the next gig, comedy or talk.
People are muttering the same things too…
” How long have you been coming? Isn’t it wonderful!”
” I wish this was how we lived all the time”
The community is strong and self regulated. No BS, no over the top rules and great freedom.
People are gathered up in a wave of love and collective conscience of beauty and gratitude. This is a festival worthy of an annual visit!
This visit I am priveledged to catch up and see my friend’s band, CC The Cat playing. A funky five piece that play mellow, groovy reggae tunes perfect for an open air gig or a jammed hyped crowd. I dig their tunes and love the band.
I will write more about the labyrinth, the fire festival on subsequent blogs….
For now it is 330am, and I realise that it’s time to let my body drift to another Woodforia… cloud land. A glorious walk over the hills into Woodfordia and I am here in my beautiful nest to sleep with all the other “ villagers” in a very happy prairie vale.
It’s exactly what I expected without having any expectations and I love it.
Byron Bay twice in the same week seems a pure indulgence.
My favorite beach in Australia, Wategos.
Pig belly, views, Byron’s blue water and space.
Loads of space… air… you know the stuff that seems limited in cities and in massive abundance in the country. I even breathe deeper here.
I’ve slipped away for another interlude with Byron, a love affair that started many moons ago when I first used to drive here from Melbourne and Sydney. It was the Mecca of the Northern NSW coast back then and still is.
I will write many blogs on Byron no doubt. Like Bali, each time is a different journey, visit and lesson.
It is a cross roads for all walks of life, all cultures, all travelers, all religions, all ideas. It is essentially Byron.
It’s pure colour alone is incredible.
This time around I am staying in a TENT on my own. It’s a first.
No boyfriend, no one else, just me, my rusty hammer and my new tent.
My new tent that blew over defiantly after I erected it last time. Fortunately we seem to have a better understanding this time around and it could be a lot to do with the hammer.
I recall why I am here. I have unfinished business this week!
Unfinished business with myself actually. I have had a big week in business. Not so much trade but behind the scenes, making some big decisions, business planning for the new year and the like. It’s not stressful but very masculine in energy.
While I don’t mind being a “business man” from time to time, I have found I need to mix it up with green light activities (surfing, walking, swimming, art, journally etc) as these are the things that actually keep happy, relaxed and fulfilled long term.
I need time away to refeminize, regroup and generally digest it all. And Byron is the best wet nurse for me.
I booked the other day because the only way to go is to sit over looking the bay. I have been coming to this cafe for years…. 1994!… when it used to be a burger bar. I used to come her with my boyfriend after a surf and grab a burger and a smoothie. FUN days. Still are.
Now days, the Byron Cafe is more up-market with its food; Pork Belly, crab meat spaghetti, snapper etc… ALL delicious selections. I really like the food. It’s the second time this week I am eating here and no surprises, I go for the pork belly again. Maybe not the healthiest on the menu but the naughtiest and yummiest.
I order the pork belly. I can’t help it. The concept of eating another animals belly fat is abhorant but I LOVE IT.
The apple sauce, the gravy, the potato remind me of Prague and pig knuckles which are some of my fondest eating moments. MMMMM
I am looking forward to venture back again real soon and until then Byron, Mi Amor.
My favourite sort of day.. blue skies, Hot House Flowers, adventures, kids and The Farm.
Having heard so much about The Farm at Byron Bay I was feeling remiss that I hadn’t been there. Today was the day.
It’s a Saturday, and most people are getting wrapped up in Christmas shopping and the like but I grab the kids and decide to head off to explore The Farm.
There is something very therapeutic about the drive to Byron, or even Brunswick Heads… I’m not sure exactly what it is or why it happens but the transformation takes place roughly on the bridge over the Tweed River
I am in a haze of calm.
As always Mr Warning gives me a wink.
I love the vibe immediately at the Farm. It reminds me of Daylesford in the Cottswalds and that’s a great thing!
The kids take off to the swings and I start to scuffle my shoes along the white dusted drive way lost in day dreams… I’m digging The Farm!
I feel like its a wanderlust trip back in time. Back to my childhood growing up in Tasmania where there were endless fences to follow, paddocks to play in and dodge bulls in and creeks to sit by.
The space at The Farm is relaxing and I am so happy they are sharing it with all.
There is total calm at the farm (except maybe my city slicker kids who can’t get enough). A guy playing guitar, the beautiful back drop prattle of laughs and chit chat. Vineyard ambience, hipster dress code and I am really digging The Farm.
After a thirty minute wait, which should be mandatory, so you can check out the property and meander around, we are seated.
Yummy food, gluten free, dairy free, the menu is ticking a few of my boxes!
Organic, preservative free wines an even bigger tick!
I order fish of the day: Wahoo, with zucchini, almonds, quinoa, wild rice and macademia cream. Oh yes, quite delicious. Definitely worthy 9/10. Something different, healthy and stimulating! Well done guys.
The kids have a BBQ steak with roast veggies and a BBQ sausage on Sour Dough. YUM! Ticking more boxes.
Suck up the air, let go of the city bustle CHILL out.
The Farm has met my expectations and more. It is the space, the food, the friendliness of the staff and of course the swings.
Worth a day trip from any where just to find calm at the Farm. I love it.
There’s a special clarity in the air at Coolangatta that sends me into holiday mode every time I hang out down there. And it is a hang-out. Coolangatta (Coolie) lines side by side by some of Australia’s most gorgeous beaches; Snapper, Greenmount, Kirra Beach.
The water is always blue-green and pristine.
Clear waters, safe beaches and golden sunsets.
My friend is staying in an apartment on the beach and I am pretending I am in the south of France – why not?
Today was typical Coolie stylin’.
Small little waves rocking into the beach.
The long beach had just the right mix of children playing, random people sun baking and people lapping up the water. NOT Bondi-stylin’ nor Surfers styling”…. just Coolie-Style. Even a man with a metal detector wanders around!
Did I mention the azure blue waters.. Hypnotic, delicious just like a blue parfait.
This is a picture of the water… Yes I ramble but the bubbles in the water jingles down here, like fine crystal.
Off to George’s Paragon for lunch. Long standing restaurants generally get things ok. This time started off rusty but came good. Not great but good.
Seafood restaurant and I order steak?! Hey I was craving meat. It was good. The garlic prawns on top just enough. 5/10..
The raw caramel slice on the way home was perfect and the Geisens topped off a perfect afternoon.
When ever I am here I feel away.
Long walks, dopey walks, golden sunsets.
Coolangatta is GOLD. Cheesey but I think it puts the ” Gold” in Gold Coast.
Until last year I had no interest in Bali what-so-ever.
My mates had told me stories of great surf, cheap clothes and Bali Belly but aside from the surfing I really had no urge to go and always felt it would be sweaty, smelly and noisy.
I used to think ” Bali is for Bogans with tank tops and tattoos”.
I am so glad my good friends talked me into going for a 4 day filming adventure last June.
WE were there to make a pilot for television station SBS with the goal of getting a thumbs up for a new travel/eating show.
We didn’t get the go-ahead by SBS for the show but it was great fun making it anyway.
Since then I have been to Bali an additional 5 times. And planning my next trip for a few weeks time.
In this crazy fun 4 day trip I stay in a beautiful resort in the Ubudian Hills along side a river in a puri called Puri Wulandar. The views and serenity from the villa are breath-taking.
There is a stillness in the air.
A gentle cool breeze over a warm crisp day.
I adore this resort. Private, integrated into nature, indulgent and green, I rate this resort highly. Stay if you want to reward yourself DO IT!
I have had some of the best food experiences world wide in Bali.
It is definitely a hub of organic and intricate foods. The island’s volcanic soil grow some of the best fruits, nutrition packed veggies and devine seafood. And the farming scene is still very close to organic and traditional although that is changing.
While I was there filming I was priveldged to meet many funky, visionaries and foodies. Real world class foodies.
Johhny Freesh is one such funky, rawatarians. He has a quirky nature and a great little rap song about Dorian Fruit. I enjoy our interview, I enjoy seeing his Dorian Rap. I’m not a hard core rawatarian but if you were, I am sure it would be like meeting one of the industry greats.
Rawatarians only eat raw and dehydrated foods only. Fruit and coconut oil are blended to make a mousse like mix that can be used for tarts and cakes, or ice cream and puddings. There are also rainbow coloured salads, vegetables, sauces, beans and nuts. There are loads of recipes and this new popular movement is suiting many.
Another Foodie God is Ben Richards who has his own cooking and yoga school on the other side of town. Ben has a really nice energy and has people coming all around not just for cooking classes, but also healing. There is a great vibe in his school and I learn a lot about a soulful person in our interview. From Byron Bay, always around food and using it for healing, Ben had moved to Bali 7 years before hand and was in no hurry to leave Bali. Definitely worth looking into if you are after a retreat.
Some of the favourite eat places I sampled this visit round are to become favorites for all future trips.
Alchemy is well known wide and far for it’s organic, raw foods, amazing salads and huge juices. It is well priced and your tastes buds zing. The philosophies of Alchemy are all principles of raw and organic and supporting the local farmer. BIG ticks. It’s become a favorite spot and now whenever I am in town, I will head there to get a raw chocolate dessert, massive bowl of salad or kambucha drink.
The Bridges Restaurant has some of the best views in town, nestled beside the main bridge in to town. If you get a table close to the edge you can hear the running river below and get covered in a light mist. It’s really beautiful and uplifting. And the food is pretty special too.
The main thumbs down for Bali applies for all warmer countries… gastro. Or in this case, Bali-Belly.
I get it most visits to Bali, but usually only an inconvenient bout. I was given a cure-all-gastro recipe once. IT WORKS a treat so if you ever get it , see if you can have this broth made up for you..
Fish HEAD soup
One fish head, one onion chopped, 3 cloves of garlic, a knob of chopped ginger, a handful of coriander and a smidge of parsley. Cover all of it with water and boil until it tastes great – about an hour. Strain and add sea salt and pepper to taste.
Wash your hands well and make sure you pay Ubud a 3-4 day visit.
A day trip to Brunswick Heads is always light relief, reconnection and inspiration!
I have been traveling to, staying and pausing in Brunswick Heads for years. It seems to have been gracefully, healthily stuck in the 80s with its town feel and community.
It’s here that I love going to the local primary school marveling at their awesome garden. To me, it is the best way to infuse health and nature into children’s lives. They seem to have an inherent love for nature and exploring and well, mud and dirt really makes their funky clothes look even cuttier!
These pics are from this school garden
Grass Roots UP!
Why am I such a huge foodie and garden lover for children?
Edible gardens that involves little fingers, small shoes and open minds – make sense! Sense in every single way.
Sense in that we can teach children the value of our solar system and weather patterns. Why the moon, rain and sun are critical elements for life and why we need to understand and protect nature bio and science- rhythms.
Food can teach children its beauty and power – how do you feel when you eat corn from your own garden? Can you taste its sweetness, does it pop in your mouth, does it make you feel good?! YES they will all say, and then you don’t have to explain why mass produced, genetically modified food tastes radically different. It’s because it isn’t food.
And running around in a garden, pulling weeds, digging holes, chasing worms, surely has to be the best way to exercise.
I have some great pictures of my kids from a few years back when I took them on a day trip to Summit Organics at the back of Tyalgum. It was the best day and my favorite memories was the “soil tour.” I remember Rod saying the soil usually sits around 37 degrees. And is a living organism and you can cook eggs in it on a hot day! My little brain exploded with ideas that day!
Whether it’s in schools or homes, I love seeing children playing in gardens!