Kai Chronicles

Eating, exploring and enjoying life


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What’s Working for me Wednesday

WWWYesterday, I received the latest edition of Get Lost! , an Australian travel magazine in the post. I have a subscription, you see. I also have a major crush on this magazine and it’s at the top of my publication wish list. In October, I got a very positive reply about a pitch I submitted. I danced around my office. I laughed. I cried. I posted the good news on Facebook (without disclosing the magazine name). I was hopeful. Then, I never heard back from the editor, even after several attempts to contact him. I was crushed. But, I’ve moved on and my love affair with the magazine resumes. As does my love for travel…..and more specifically, planning for travel..dreaming about it even.

So today, on this windy Wednesday, I will start my official top 100 travel wishes. I have many travel article ideas and must write some today but I feel the need to jot down my dreams and desires to see other grounds, meet new faces, eat foreign foods and experience life outside of my norm. I’ve been luckily enough to see much of the world (you can read about the reasons in the summer edition of BIDE digital magazine) but I cannot stop there. I have a compulsion to explore the possibilities of another life if only for a week or 2 at a time.

100 travel wishes seem like a lot and it may take me awhile to finish the list but here are a few that will make it on there (in no particular order):

  1. Walk the Great Wall of China
  2. Buy a pair of Manola Blahniks in New York City (oh so Carrie Bradshaw)
  3. See a Broadway play in NYC
  4. Spend a weekend in a log cabin in the wilds of Canada
  5. Have a snowy winter wonderland Christmas
  6. Learn to cook a Vietnamese meal in Hanoi
  7. Work on my tan in the Cook Islands
  8. Do the hula in Hawaii
  9. Scream on a rollercoaster at an American amusement park with my boys
  10. Attend a writing course at Australian Writers’ Centre in Sydney
  11. Take Jo Tracey out for dinner in Sydney
  12. Meet my friend Gillian in Bali for a girls week away
  13. Spend a snowboarding holiday in Banff, Canada with my boys
  14. Cruise to Alaska from Vancouver
  15. Drink apple tea in Turkey
  16. Have a smoke and a pancake in Amsterdam
  17. Visit the Angkor temples
  18. Shop at the Angkor night market in Siem Reap
  19. Meet Leigh Redhead in Hanoi
  20. Dine on street food in Hanoi
  21. Drink a Guinness beer in Ireland
  22. Tour a winery in Margaret River
  23. Stay at an ashram in India
  24. Float on a junk in Hong Kong
  25. Practise yoga at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, India

It’s Wednesday. I’m dreaming of traipsing around the world and it’s what is working for me on this day.

What’s working for you today?

 

 


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Aspirations, intentions, wishes, dreams, goals for 2013

So, here it is, my last post for 2012. And based on today alone, I cannot wait for this year to end. And so I look forward to 2013 but not too much as I want to focus on the NOW. But there is always a time and place for planning and that time is NOW.

My goals are not outlandish, far-fetching, crazy, unachievable day dreams; they are within my reach.

Career

 book and pen

  • Sell at least one article to Good Health magazine in JANUARY
  • Go to Sydney for ‘How to write a chick-lit novel’ 2-day course – Feb 2nd
  • Sell one piece per month to a glossy magazine (health, wellbeing, travel, parenting)
  • Sell one piece per month to an online magazine/website
  • Continue to freelance for West Australian Newspapers (regional) with an average monthly income of $700
  • Boost yearly income to 5 digits
  • Finish novel – 1997
  • Have novel edited by a professional editor
  • Submit novel to publisher
  • Sharpen photography skills
  • Start candid photography biz
  • Afford new camera equipment

Health

 IMG_3962

  • Eat a low carb diet
  • Find a balance between “good” and “bad” foods
  • Limit alcohol
  • Limit sugar
  • Retain sense of smell and taste

Wellbeing

Ommmmm

Ommmmm

  • Meditate daily
  • Complete Tracy Anderson’s 30-day method challenge (Jan 3- Feb 1 inclusive)
  • Yoga weekly
  • Fitness class twice weekly
  • Focus on the NOW
  • Stay positive
  • Do not speak if I do not have anything good to say (sacred silence rights the Universe~Marianne Williamson)

Travel

 airplane

  • Sydney
  • Malaysia
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Bali
  • Winter Christmas (Japan?)

Now, it’s time to bring this year to a close with a refreshing pina colada because I’m absolutely melting here (it’s 40 degrees Celsius and for all of you in the cold, THIS IS NOT FUN. And yes, I am a bit lot irritable!!!).

But please have a Happy New Year and come back here in 2013!!


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A tropical holiday remembered

Image

Mission Beach

Sand. Palm trees. Humidity. Sun. Salt air. Sail. Beer. Yoga. Coffee. Friends. Family. Massage. Pedicure. Manicure. Sun tan. Good food. Coconut rum. A barefoot wedding. Hope.

These words sum up my recent holiday to Mission Beach, Far North Queensland. I’m a sucker for a tropical vacation, so any place where there is sun, sand, hot weather, sea and cocktails are my idea of a good time.

Even though I lived in Mission Beach for over 4 years, I still consider this to be a prime beach holiday spot. It’s the perfect place to kick back, relax and do nothing. Although my holiday wasn’t exactly to do nothing, it was great to be back in the tropics. I miss the palm trees. Nothing says tropical holidays more than coconut palms.

Image

North Mission

That’s what I love about Mission Beach. I love palms and they are everywhere, even in the middle of town. Palms and humidity…..that’s tropical Queensland!

Far north Queensland is humid and hot all summer long. It’s that stickiness that you never quite get used to….always feeling like you need a shower. Thank goodness most people have a swimming pool. The sea is off limits in the summer because of box jellyfish and irukandji. They are deadly and although there are stinger nets at North & South Mission, most locals do not enter the shallow waters between October and May.

dunk from boat lo

Dunk Island from BIG MAMA during a sunset cruise

There were many highlights during this trip but one I really want to mention here is the sunset cruise I took with a group of girls! We boarded Big Mama, an 18 metre yacht and sailed the length of Mission Beach and back. It was a chartered trip and acted like my new sister-in-law’s hen night…without the drunken crazy antics. There were no highs to the evening but that feeling of being on a boat with no agenda but to have a few drinks and some nibbles really projected me into holiday mode. The sun was setting as we glided across the calm waters near South Mission and on the way back to North Mission, we saw the full moon. Damn, it’s hard to get decent photos of the full moon from a boat!!! Don’t expect to see any here. I applaud Lisa, Stu and 8-year-old Fletcher for opening their home to locals and visitors to explore the beauty by sea. Well done!

Mission Beach is slowly recovering from Yasi, the category 5 cyclone that devastated the area in February 2011. Things are not the same as before and it may be a long time before the place flourishes again but there is still hope. The residents of Mission Beach are strong, self-reliant people who love their town. Even though I do not live there anymore, I still love it.  Mr M and I took our townhouse off the market while we were there. We also have hope.

hope

 

 


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High and Low in Toronto

The only reason I am in Toronto is to visit my nephew and his family. Beyond that, I have very little use for the city.

The only thing on my to do list, besides the family visit, was to go up the CN Tower.

Did you know that the tower was opened to the public on June 26, 1976 and the glass floor was opened on June 26th, 1994. And when I did visit: June 27th…..not a historical day…or was it? Keep reading to find out.

The 553.33m (1815 ft) tall tower acts as a Canadian national icon and for 32 years it held the title as the World’s Tallest Tower.

Toronto’s CN Tower and Roy Thompson Hall

It certainly is a tourist attraction; it’s like a sky-high thriller up there. Besides the nerve-wracking glass panelled door and floor elevator that speeds you to the observation level (342m) in 58 seconds, the tower boosts the Skypod (the smaller lookout at 447m), the Edgewalk (where you are harnessed and get to lean backwards off the outside while keeping your feet on the tower….no thanks), 2 restaurants, 3D theatre, motion theatre ride and a coffee stand. Of course, all of the components cost.

I chose the lookout only and paid $27.11. Not a bad price for a low-level adrenalin rush.

Walking on glass

It’s been 25 years since I’ve been in Toronto and although my last stay was not pleasant, it was colorful.

I was newly 16 and had run away from my hometown with my ” boyfriend”. The word will be used loosely as he was not a friend nor was he a boy. He was a grown man taking advantage of a young, meek child.

My main memories of the city is of having no food and nowhere to sleep for the first few nights. At the time, I was a vegetarian but was forced to eat 99 cent hamburgers or only 49 cent french fries; those were my choices. After he sold my belongings, I was pushed into panhandling. I was so shy back then and remember being embarrassed to ask strangers for money.

When he got in touch with an old friend, we arrived to his 1 bedroom apartment and offered a place to “crash”. The kitchen floor was our sleeping space as the couch and living area floor was already taken by other homeless wanderers and prostitutes.

The next 3 weeks were  scary times and I had to grow up fast. I was a child living amongst drug-addicted adults and I was  being groomed to become like them. I was eager to be grown-up and I wanted to experiment with drugs, which were readily available. The 2 prostitutes would go out for a few hours in the late evening and come back ready to party. And, NO, I never got forced into the sex industry. To the credit of the “boyfriend”, he moved us to Montreal not long after nearly overdosing in front of me. It was a wise move but life did not get easier, just more challenging, but that’s another story.

High and Happy

Now, my memories of Toronto will be happy and joyful. They will be of reconnecting with a nephew and meeting his lovely girls, of getting high but in a safe and legal (and profitable way to the CN Tower) way, being treated to a delicious dinner at Canteen and of frozen yogurt.

Yes, it seems that Menchie’s frozen yogurt is all the craze here in North America! It is pretty tasty stuff and I do like how you can have a wee bit of every flavour and load it up with as many topping as you like….it’s basically a frozen yogurt buffet! Did I mention the free sampling?? Oh yes, it is true folks. After my fourth sample I really didn’t need anymore but it’s not my style to sample and run so I purchased $3.97 worth of the seemingly healthy but not really cold dessert.

Sweet options

I only needed half a cup after the many free samples I enjoyed!!

Until next time Toronto……..


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Notes About Imperfection And Other Fun Stuff

Finally, another post!!!

I can hear the sigh from you all. After a few comments and questions about what happened to Kai Chronicles, the pressure to wow, or even produce,  is enormous.  I am not only sighing (a sign of STRESS) but also rubbing my head and hiding behind my hands. I’m typing with my elbows.

This 2-month long trip was meant to seal my fate as a writer; so far it has not. I have pitched 1 personal story to an Australian magazine and have not heard back yet. I have pitched ZERO to any Canadian publication or ANY other publication. But I refuse to surrender.

Sure, I’ve thought about packing it in. I’ve had (and have) thoughts like, ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not motivated enough’  and ‘I’m too lazy’, but those thoughts can be overridden. Right?

Some successful writers will say (and have said to me personally) that if you do not write everyday, then you are NOT a writer. Can this be true? Is that a fair statement to make to a budding and hopeful writer? I may not be a perfect writer and I certainly have not found my daily groove but I’m still here. I AM a writer, damn it!

Yes, it’s been an epic hiatus (over 2 weeks), I know. And really I have no excuse but I do have a list of things that I have been up to. Here they are:

  • I travelled from Saint John to Bouctouche, New Brunswick, the home of my brother-in-law’s family. I ate a lobster roll.

Lobster roll…Yummo

  • I travelled from Bouctouche to my birthplace of Nova Scotia.

Arriving in Nova Scotia

  • I had a family (reunion) dinner in Halifax, was snubbed by a sibling and visited the gravesite of my sister, Virginia.
  • I attended a memorial for Virginia on what would have been her 54th birthday. It was a happy event and I got to spend time with long-lost relatives. Virginia was there in spirit.

Happy Times

  • I went to my mother’s house and spent 5 nights there. No internet access. I ate far too much pie. I started drinking daily.

Lemon Meringue Pie

  • I went to my friend Gillian McKenzie’s house in Chester, Nova Scotia. The drinking continued.
  • I ate 3 meals at Gillian’s  Seaside Shanty restaurant. Every meal was fantastic. Thank you so much. Another thing crossed off my bucket list!!

The best seafood chowder from the Seaside Shanty in Chester, Nova Scotia.

Maple walnut mixed greens with scallops and shrimp….OMG, the best salad ever.

Enjoying wine and the seaside view at the Shanty.

  • I helped a friend with some house cleaning (no pictures attached).
  • I had 2 fun and fabulous evenings at Chez McKenzie in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia. This family never disappoints; always good for great food, lots of booze and plenty of laughs. Thank you for always welcoming me…even for lobster dinner!! Yes, this family knows how to entertain.
  • Gillian and I went to Halifax for lunch and errands. A day I certainly could have spent writing but spending it with a friend was nicer.
  • I attended A Champagne Ball Aboard The Titanic (not the real Titanic!!) with Gillian in Chester. We were representing the Shanty with smoked salmon and solomon gundy appetizers. It was a fun event.

Winning at the roulette table

Gillian & I looking fabulous!

  • I resumed my affair with Christian Grey by starting Fifty Shades of Grey Darker.
  • I lamented about not writing more…and will continue to do so.

 

 

 

 

 


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Bliss in Banff

Returning to Banff after an 11 year absence was not a mistake. Banff holds many beautiful memories for me and I was fortunate to call it home from April 1993 to January 1997. Returning was like a home coming.

The tourist town in Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park, has certainly developed over the years but the essence is still the same. Sure, it’s full of damn tourists but its beauty must be shared with the masses. I am happy to be in the presence of others while I enjoy its mountainous embrace.

DAY ONE

I was not in a rush to get going on my first day. I had a nice sleep in and casual breakfast in the hostel kitchen. By the time I got off the bus on Banff Avenue, it was nearly 11:30am.

I meandered up the main shopping street, peeking in  windows and smiling at the towering mountains that surrounded me. My main mission was to find a coffee.

It didn’t take me long to stumble in to Evelyn’s – Banff’s main local cafe. It’s so popular, the town hosts 3 different Evelyn branches. I must say though, my decaf Americano was not the greatest. There are plenty of other cafes to experience.

From there, the shopping began. Yes, Banff is full of the tacky souvenir shops but some of them have really cool stuff. Like the onesie pjamas I got for Master T, my 6-year-old son.

At $30 plus tax, they were pricey for sleep wear but I couldn’t resist the one piece, bright red suit with the trap door!!! He’ll love the BEAR BUM print on the back.

Canadian Jammies

From there, I wondered up and down Banff Avenue stopping in shops, browsing and sometimes trying on clothing! I really had no intention of shopping but the shops and products are so enticing that I couldn’t help myself.

A typical shop on Banff Avenue

Besides some souvenirs, I bought myself a pair of Jessica Simpson red jeans. They were 40% off and they fit me nicely. When I did a couple of rounds in Cascade Plaza, I passed a bookstore that had a display of the popular book, Fifty Shades of Grey. I had heard about this book at the I CAN DO IT conference, of all places, and I was intrigued by the comments about it. I had never heard of it before. I stopped to have a read of the back and instantly took it to the counter and asked the staff if they had read it. Both had. The Aussie girl gave her no holds barred opinion saying it wasn’t great literature but it was a page turner and quite sexually charged and racy. SOLD. I love a good smutty book.

Back on Banff Avenue I found a shop I had actually planned to shop at, Rocky Mountain Soap Company. What can I say, it’s the usual handmade soaps, bath salts, body butters, moisturizers etc. It was lovely and the “product adviser” was excellent. I even got a free mini pumpkin soap. I also spent $45. oops.

Rocky Mountain Soap Co.

All that pacing and deciding made me hungry. My friend, Yui recommended I have a souvlaki wrap from Barpa Bill’s on Bear Street. When I arrived there at 1:30pm, it was not busy so I decided to eat in. I ordered the chicken and perused my new book as I waited. Ordering a wheat-based wrap that contains a dairy-based sauce would normally not be my first choice but I adore Greek food and since it came highly recommended, I had to have it. SO glad I did. Although I have no sense of taste or smell, the strong flavours of lemony marinated meat and the raw onions grooved all over my dulled taste buds like there was a dance contest in my mouth.

The humble kitchen of Barpa Bill’s

The delicious souvlaki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Satisfied and thoroughly spent (haha, pun intended!!!), I made my way to the Upper Hot Pools. I was stunned at the measly fee that was charged, only $6.20 with my HI/YHA membership. This is super cheap compared to the $23.50 NZD in Franz Josef, New Zealand where I just spent 7 months. The pool was a heavenly 39 degrees celsius. It was moderately busy with other tourists from around the globe. I spent a good hour or so soaking in the calm waters while the sun played peek-a-boo with clouds and at one point, it even hailed! Oh yes, it was apparent that I was in Canada.

Photo by a stranger…..thank you!

Next, I walked for 5 minutes to the gondola station. I had every intention of walking up Sulphur Mountain and saving myself $17 (it’s only $15 if you buy a one-way ticket) but it was already going on 5pm and frankly, I couldn’t be assed. I was far too relaxed after my hour-long hot tub session too. I grabbed a decaf coffee from Starbucks (yes, they are bloody everywhere) and had the entire car to myself. Of course, the camera came out and I took photos of the ride up, even though I knew once at the top the views would be spectacular!!

And they were. I nabbed the first available person to do a photographer swap. He took 3 of me and I took 3 of him, with his own camera, of course. It was cold and windy so I did the run around the circumference of the building, stood in the blowing snow for a few minutes (yes, it’s MAY and it snowed) then went to the cafe for a beer. For the $32 (after 4pm) fare, it was worth every penny. You just will not get the same visual effect from ground level.

The best view of Banff.

A self-portrait in the gondola

On my way back through town, I considered going back to Barpa Bill’s for dinner and that’s actually where I was headed when I strolled by the Magpie and Stump. This Mexican/Southwest pub and restaurant has been around for yonks and I’d certainly eaten here when Banff was my stomping ground. I glanced at the menu posted outside the entrance and made my decision: Mexican it would be – cheese, sour cream and all!!

I was promptly seated and ordered a traditional margarita. Why not, I thought? It came to me in a mason jar with a salted rim,,,yummy. I chose the bean and vegetable quesadilla to eat. I pulled out the BOOK and by the time my meal came, I was hooked. I read in between bites and sips of drink and with the John Butler Trio playing in the background, felt as though I could have stayed there forever. My waitress, Vanessa was friendly and attentive, so she got a nice tip…something that now erks me about North America. In the South Pacific, tipping is optional.

It may have been this sign that sealed my stomach’s fate!!! Too funny.

A classic Margarita

I did so much on my first day back in Banff. There is  still more to do in this town, like a visit to the Banff Springs Hotel…another day. If I can pull myself away from Fifty Shades of Grey that is……LOL!!


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Slow Food On The Move At The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival

Remember the American game show that Joe Rogan hosted called Fear Factor? Remember how the contestants had to eat testicles, brains, cockroaches, worms or other creepy stuff?

Well, there is an entire food festival based around this very notion, except the participants are more than willing to pay for the fearful grub. It’s the annual Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika. Every March people travel from all over New Zealand to enjoy a day of eating ‘wild’ food and drinking lots of piss (the fermented, alcoholic kind..lol).

The event is sponsored by Greymouth brewery, Monteiths, but if beer is not your thing, there  is also cider, wine, flower power bubbles, honey mead, kava, moonshine, kowlua and milk shots scattered around the 74 stall event. Still thirsty?

Another satisfied customer!!

How about a strawberry flavoured shot of horse semen? They are sure to get a rise out of you!! Pure protein and testosterone. I considered trying one but my stomach said no. The stall was certainly active with keen participants and curious onlookers.

I’m sure that has your mouth watering for some other tasty west coast delicacies. Being that it is a food festival, there are plenty of yummy and crazy morsels to fill you up. And it’s not all what you may be thinking! There are sweets to be had.

Waffles with fresh blackberries, strawberries and ice cream; fudge, crepes, pancakes, churros, donuts, honey and licorice are just some of the sweet treats to drool over.

But if you’re more of a carnivore or a wannabe Coaster (person living on the West Coast) you may want some real protein. How does sheep’s brains, eyeball eggnog or mountain oysters fancy you? In case you’re wondering, mountain oysters are lambs balls! They’re quite chewy!!

If you’re not that adventurous, there are plenty of other dead animal parts to tempt. Venison, pukeko, rabbit, paradise duck, ostrich, wild pork, BBQ beef, sausages and chicken were all served up in different ways.

I was all set to try the pukeko but they had run out of samples by the time I got there. The paradise duck was yummy and not at all what I expected wild duck to taste like.It was more like a red meat.

Fish and seafood are big favourites of the west coast and there was an abundance of it at the festival.

Me with my gluten-free whitebait pattie

Whitebait is a local delicacy and there were five different stalls selling the fish patties. I was delighted to see the Curly Tree Whitebait Company offering gluten-free patties!! With a bit of fresh lemon, they were delicious.

Other sea and river dwelling snacks included: trout, salmon, scallops, tuna, paua,kina (sea urchin), mussels, smelt, shark, prawns, octopus and snails.

I’ve had escargot before (even in Paris!) but the snail I enjoyed from the Westcargo stall was very plain. It was fine, but I do prefer my snails to be drowning in melted butter and garlic.

And save room for the crunchy selections……

There were lots of huhu grubs, grasshoppers, crickets and chocolate covered beetles. I did try a BBQ huhu grub. It is not something I would order again but I am proud that I gave it a go. They certainly were a popular item with a hand-full of stalls offering the crawly goo-filled creature. Some say they taste like peanut butter. I love the stuff but did not relate the two at all. My favorite exhibit was the Hoki Hocki Huhu Grubs where they had strong blokes chopping the huhus out of the wood pile. Can’t get any fresher than that!!

One big huhu grub!!

If you plan to be in New Zealand in March 2013, be sure to include Hokitika and the Wildfoods Festival on your list of TO DO. But book your accommodation well in advance!! The small town of under 3500 residents jumps to over 15,000 on the festival day!

EAT, DRINK & BE SCARY!!!