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» a photo essay by Erin Ramsay
Tannery in Fes—very toursity. You enter from the street into a leather shop which overlooks the baths, and everyone who takes photos is obviously expected to buy their leather goods. Leather tanning takes about a month; the white baths are lime, which removes the hair and other imperfections from the skins, and softens them. The man at this tannery said each worker follows a skin through the entire process, from start to finish.
Random Information: Cultural Faux-pas & Scary Clowns
» page 06
Why Haven’t I Heard of... Huacachina, Peru
» page 46
Starting the Year with a Bang: Beijing’s zombie apocalypse
» page 10
Local Knowledge...Melbourne, Australia
» page 52
Morocco: A Photo Essay by Erin Ramsay
» page 22
Reviews: lost In Translation
» page 62
Doha, Qatar: Home Sweet Home
» page 36
The Schedule: February 2011
» page 66
Tidbits for the traveler
Words by Kevin Landry
What do you mean? Did you know that in Vietnam, Japan, China, and Korea you should always pass gifts with two hands? If not it looks as though you are not giving full attention to the transaction at hand which is considered rude. Cultural quirks are confusing. Luckily the folks at fastenseatbelts have created a database of animated videos to walk you through many of the world’s cultural dos and don’ts in the style of ipod commercials. Have a look and see what tapping three fingers on the table means when you visit China.
Start stashing valuables in your undergarments. If ever put in a situation where you were being robbed it would be nice to have a secret pocket that criminals wouldn’t think to check. Wallets are easily spotted and stolen, neck safes make you a clear target as well, but now you can store your goods safely under your belt in your underwear. Multiple companies are offering underwear with stash pockets in multiple styles from Stashitwears full boxer brief with a 17 inch storage pocket to Smugglingduds.com women’s stash thong. Next time don’t get robbed, store your passport and your money safely in your skivvies.
Clown Attack For a week a scary clown stalks your friend, sends them texts, leaves scary notes in their mailbox, what do you do? If you are in Switzerland you pay the clown 400 euro for his service.
Blue Monday Feeling blue last month? The travel Industry thought you might be so they supported scientific research that came up with Blue Monday: January 17th, the saddest day of the year. They did it because they thought it would make a great argument to convince people to book a week of fun in the sun. The date was calculated using many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action although it is disputed whether the calculation even make sense. See for yourself, according to a press release the formula is:
Homo Spaciens Step aside Monaco, orbital resorts might soon be the destination of the ultra rich. Galactic Suites has been working since 2007 to create an orbiting space hotel. Visitors could expect fifteen orbits per day at an average speed around 30,000km/hr. In the wake of Virgin Galactics announcement that they will be launching space tourists in 2011, this idea doesn’t seem so farfetched. Galactic suites is currently accepting reservations but doesn’t mention when they are expected to be operational. I would be cautious before handing money over for a deposit on this one.
Budgeting finally done well The hardest things to learn about destinations are the particulars: things like the cost of an average day’s transport in Nairobi. It’s nearly impossible to get accurate information about daily costs- but budgetyourtrip is working hard to change that. Daily expenses by country and by city are broken down into accommodation, transportation, food and twelve other convenient categories to make your budgeting easier. The best part is that the costs are averages so you no longer need to guess whether the obscure message board you are reading mentions prices for a bootstrapped backpacker or a five star flyer. Although fledgling, the site promises to be a resource worth exploiting for trip planners in all countries.
Dominic Deville is a Swiss entrepreneur who hires out scary clowns as a birthday present. The clown will play tricks on the victim all week, finally hitting them in the face with a cake to mark their anniversary. Deville insists that it is all in fun and promises his clowns “will never break into a residence or find you at work.” He was inspired by his favourite horror movie and thought that it would be an exciting was to spend the week leading up to your birthday. Clearly our ideas of great birthday gifts differ.
http://newslite.tv//2010/04/14/evil-clown-service-toscare-at.html photo: flickr.com/photos/stevon/3498244489/
where weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na. ‘D’ is not defined in the release, so we assume it’s what were solving for, the day.
STARTING THE YEAR WITH A BANG: Beijing’s zombie apocalypse
by ashley lockyer
The artistry in the forbidden city doesn’t leave a single hinge undecorated
With incredibly inaccurate expectations, we made the trip to China’s capital
Expectations - they always seem to play games with me. One of the perks of living in Asia is the spontaneity it affords you, going to China for the weekend. With lunar new year’s coming up, we had the ultimate plan: spend ‘Chinese’ new years in China! With incredibly inaccurate expectations, we made the trip to China’s capital. Beijing’s airport, shimmering with former Olympic glory is airy, artistic, rounded in shape and makes you feel really small. It made the perfect analogy for western tourists entering China: instilling a sense of insignificance in the face of a vast and awesome China. My mind has a habit of always finding its way into a zombie apocalypse, and this trip was no different. The desolate airport was followed with empty streets,
low traffic, and scary silence in a nation known for its massive population. In a city of millions in a country with billions I expected to be fighting for room to breathe, but everything was seemingly deserted. As dusk drew near I was so convinced the city had been abandoned that I armed myself with pamphlets and fireworks and waited for the end. My expectation: Chinese New Year’s is all about big vibrant
dragon dances, massive organized fireworks, parades, and a complete showboat of culture. The Reality: In China, New Year’s is about family and bringing good fortune for the coming year. Beijing was completely empty because everyone had travelled home to smaller cities and the surrounding countryside to spend time with their families. The few remaining
Street fireworks, defensive driving has new meaning
families, who were from Beijing, were busy preparing their houses, sweeping their steps to ensure good luck, preparing special dishes, and remembering their ancestors. Walking the ancient streets we encountered scattered sets of grandparents and grandchildren lighting sparklers and dancing in the streets. Several invited us over and we spent time twirling sparklers: lighting up the backstreets of Beijing. It seemed as if I had been the victim of false expectations yet again, but I didn’t seem to mind. An overwhelming calm surrounded the city; many windows hung symbols to invite good luck in. However, this calm was soon to be obliterated, for 15 days and nights straight. Our first sign should have been the sheer number of fireworks vendors. The carts and stalls were full of roman candles, sprinklers, firecrackers, and what appeared to be small bombs. Continuous with the end of worlds aura, we heard little on our walk home, save for a couple premature firecrackers set off on our way back, but we, aided by our purchases, were ready to take down the capital with colour. There was no need for a countdown, the first second of the year of the rabbit was deafening. Explosions shook the cobblestones on every street. Far from having organized city fireworks, Beijing residents each horde their
Not only is the wall unscalable, the mountains are too
stock and personally replace the peace with shockwaves. Lunar New Year’s is a 15 day celebration in Asia, and thus a 15 day war-zone in Beijing. Dull thuds sounded in the distance, while firecrackers leapt off of the trees all around me. Much more like I had expected we were immersed in a war of celebration that shelled the streets 24 hours a day. At night, many families set up elaborate displays; many more simply bought a box of fireworks, set it in the middle of the road, lit the box on fire, and then ran. Driving was exhilarating through streets covered in colourful explosives. Fireworks are actually illegal in Beijing, they were banned when stray
fireworks set a billion dollar hotel project on fire. It was shocking that more buildings didn’t catch fire, since people everywhere were winding long strings of firecrackers around trees and then lighting them and one man who grabbed a string, lit one end, and spun in circles in the street: his feet prancing around the blasts. One building? They were lucky. Once we made it to the end of the wall, we were met with something peculiar, even for China: a tiny abandoned theme park full of the creepiest cupcake rides imaginable. To add to the strangeness, you could buy fried duck head or, my favorite, fetal chicks on a stick. The guys had the ‘chicks on a stick’ and actually said they were good, not sharp, mostly chewy, and would go well with a pinot noir.
Each horde their stock and personally replace the peace with shockwaves
Lanterns lighten up the bartering in the market district
Back in town our first destination was to see the forbidden city... but, we weren’t allowed in. Since the city was closed, we stepped out into a desolate Tiananmen Square. Mao’s face welcomed us to China at one end, and the sheer size of the square made it hard to get our bearings. The fact that it was empty made its intended feeling of insignificance even more compelling. Across the square and through an ancient gate we found China! In all our days of street roaming we saw food stalls, government offices, bookstores, restaurants, but none of the red and gold power of the western idea of China. Well, here it all was, condensed into a maze of streets and stalls, blanketed by lanterns and inflatable tigers. Last year was the year of the tiger, which was mine and two of my friends year of birth, so we quickly got to celebrating amidst the tigerthemed shops. Bartering was challenging here, with seasoned clerks who had seemingly centuries of experience. One friend talked a memory card down to 10% of the asking price. Instead of the seller being bitter, he was applauded by the staff on our walk back by the store.
Finally, after a night filled with fish head soup and a molten hotpot, the Forbidden City was finally allowed. After traveling to so many temples, palaces, and imposing structures elsewhere in Asia, this palace and township is only outdone by Angkor Wat. The detail and finely painted animals, the scope and size, the dwarfing courtyards to the striking gates, make this place a haven for photos. Even the size of the mutant cats that roam the gardens is impressive. The life of an emperor in China held unimaginable wealth and here’s where they flaunted it most. The Forbidden City is certainly the bling of China. The electricity in the air of celebration, topped with the edge of a war-zone, is how I’d describe lunar new years in Beijing. The cultural experiences we had were more memorable than anything we expected. The sounds, the sites, the adorable children whose smiling faces were lit by the explosives they had aimed at me, definitely fit my criteria for starting the new year with a bang.
...a photo essay by Erin Ramsay
The guide only spoke Arabic, so no one knew where we were going...we just paid cash for a 3 day adventure.
Fishing nets in Tangiers. Walking around near where the ferry leaves to various cities in Spain sit a large fish market populated with an enormous number of boats, creating an industrial-type landscape.
Ceiling detail on the inside of Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca—everything is incredibly detailed and intricate. Everywhere in Morocco they use cedar wood for carved details; sometimes painted, sometimes not.
I can only guess what this man’s job entailed - he appeared to me to be cleaning the fuzz off the leather.
Part of the trip included a night in the desert, about 15 km from the Algerian border. Hot, dry, and windy...sand everywhere. They dropped us off and let us climb a massive dune to see the sunset, while they went back with the camels. From the dune we walked to the camp, then taking a 2 hour ride into the desert to a Berber camp where we had tea and a group meal. Afterwards the Berber men played music and we slept in a tent made of rugs and bamboo, while enormous desert bugs came out for the night. We got up early the next morning in the dark and they had brought the camels back, we rode in the moonlight back to where we started just as the sun was rising.
The Jemaa el Fna square in Marrakesh is one of the biggest markets in Africa. It’s a large open square with vendors selling fresh squeezed orange juice (cheap and delicious), and others that sell dried fruit and nuts. In the left corner, the tents being set up only appear around 5pm and are for the night market. A host of food vendors with outdoor BBQ’s sell the same food and will compete for your business. The vendors are really fun people, and we met a lot of great people working there. They all wear white coats, and you eat at long narrow tables with other customers. They serve bread, olives, salads, kebabs and seafood, and pastillas, which are kind of savory dessert pastries with almonds, raisins, and pigeon...eggs? I’m not sure of the ingredientes, but they were tasty.
Moroccan civilization dots the country’s vast desert, offering a tiny oasis of green in an otherwise imposingly brown landscape.
Home Sweet Home.
There’s a dispute taking place in the aisle as I board my plane in Paris. It makes me anxious when people get angry on planes - more so when I don’t understand the language they’re screaming in. The growing discomfort among the passengers was obvious, and so the stewardess politely said “if you come with me sir, we can help you at the gate.” The man was quickly escorted off the plane and everything was back to normal, if you can call anything in my life normal. Stopping over in Bahrain I was welcome by a sea of white thobes. Qatari Men wear thobes and women wear black Abayas. Thankfully I was mostly covered up as they expect the female expats to dress appropriately - arms and knees covered. Something I wish my parents had told me before I came to visit them in Doha. Feeling self conscious due to the conservative dress, I walk out and greet my parents; Mom and Dad are at arrivals to greet me. I barely recognize them through the deep tans
they now sport. Qatar is mostly desert so temperatures in the summer months will often reach 50 degrees Celsius. Mindful of the heat, we hug and head for the door behind twenty sets of men holding hands. Seeing my confusion my father leans close and whispers “it’s not what you think, Qatari people have different greeting rituals than
western culture.” Men kiss men either on both cheeks or they rub noses. Many Qatari men hold hands as well. The men are very openly affectionate with each other. Glad for the clarification we take off on a very important errand: the beer run. Muslims don’t drink alcohol but because of the large expat
community, liquor is tolerated in Qatar if consumed discreetly. There is only one liquor store in the whole country though, so a monthly road trip to stock up is usually needed.
As we cruise through the desert they tell me about the country, and the ruling Al Thani family. But I am distracted; I see a circle of forty couches set up on the side of the road. “Did you see that?” I say, “Why are there couches there?” craning my neck to gawk a little longer. “Wedding,” my dad says, explaining that in Qatar men can have up to four wives if they have the money to support them all. When men and women get married they have Separate Weddings. Male weddings are usually setup along the side of the road. Males are only allowed to attend the groom’s ceremony. Women usually host their ceremony in hotel ballrooms and only invite females to witness the event. I keep looking until the party shrinks into a dot on the horizon. I wondered where all the couches came from since there didn’t seem to be any trucks nearby. But whizzing by at highway speed I didn’t have much time to have a good look.
Home Sweet Home.
dice and others with zigzagged structure. Buildings themselves seem to be status symbols to the wealthy land owners; each one tries to outdo the last in flamboyance and grandiosity. We have gone from a desolate desert into a thriving future metropolis. I expect to see flying skateboards like in Back to the Future, because the landscape seems so advanced. But then we turn a corner and are in a traditional market area where we pull over for a visit. The Souq Waqif is an authentic part of Doha. It’s the old market area where you can buy a range of coffee, spices, perfumes, crafts, fabrics and enjoy a local temptation – sheesha. We peruse the stands and smell the delicious figs and spices en route to my parents’ favorite stop, a small sheesha bar down a back alley. We sit and soon an ornate hookah is placed on the table, shortly after a man brings us a small coal with some tongs to start the tobacco burning. My mother tells me of the pearls she has recently bought, before the discovery of oil and gas the main industries were pearl diving and fishing. Then due to the oil boom, foreign investment came and started developing the country. She tells me of their new group of friends, from all corners of the globe - there is a very large expatriate community, mostly because of the oil and gas industry. The hot car is relaxing and I am jetlagged, so somewhere along the way I doze off to sleep, only to wake up as we drive into the city of Doha. Doha is impressive and is best described as old world meets new world. The modern architecture is unbelievable with buildings shaped as I let the silky flavored smoke enter my lungs and try to blow a ring with the smoke when I exhale. I watch the local Qataris socialize but then I am startled by the sounds of wailing Arabic prayer on loudspeakers; it’s call to prayer. Call to prayer happens five times a day. You can hear it all over the city and the first session is around 4:00am. My parents laugh as they inform me that they have no need for an alarm clock since they live next door to a mosque.
It’s Friday, which is a holy day and family day in Qatar. Many of the locals spend the day with their families at the Corniche (waterfront) having picnics. They are extremely family oriented people and they love, respect, and honor their families. Qataris often go camping in the desert on the weekends as a family activity while the expats sneakily party on their rooftops.
I think of camping during my childhood, the trees, rivers, and lakes were what made it fun for me. Parts of the equation aren’t adding up for me, like what they would burn for firewood. I blame it on the jetlag and take another pull of the hookah. As night comes we leave for home. Tonight we are going to have dinner with some family
friends. I unpack my things and get excited to meet some of the characters in my parents’ new life. I look out the window and see the mosque which will wake me at 4:00am and wonder why although everything is so foreign it already feels like home.
Words by Kevin Landry, Photos by Billy Curran
“Just go like this,” says our driver, weaving his hands in a zig-zag motion. “Don’t go straight or...boom” he adds giving up on finding the word, opting instead to demonstrate by mashing a closed fist to his open palm. We’re on top of 200m high sand dunes, strapped onto homemade sand boards which are hanging half over a sandy precipice. It’s too hot to be hung-over, but we are. I blame the Pisco sours I drank last night, a potent grape alcohol mixed with lime and egg white; it’s delicious, but you pay for it the next morning. The dune is almost vertical, and we are supposed to ride down it, ideally without killing ourselves. The drop doesn’t
seem appealing given the flip flops my stomach is doing. Finally Billy breaks the ice, leans forward, and bombs the hill in one smooth ride, making it look deceptively easy. I follow behind but catch an edge halfway down - I face plant, skid, and sand fills my shirt, pants, and mouth. I clear the grit from my eyes just in time to see Coops start his descent. His yellow shirt and orange pants twirl in a circle as he too loses control and is thrown violently from his board, rag dolling into the ground. He doesn’t move for a long time. We are in Huacachina, the desert playground of Peru and a stop along the gringo trail. Proudly featured on the 50
A view of the Oasis, where a mermaid is rumored to live
“You okay?” I ask, blocking the sun from his eyes. “I think I’m concussed.” he says...
Nuevo Soles banknote it’s an oasis in the desert near the city of Ica. It means ‘the crying woman’ in the Quechua language - the story goes that a local hunter saw an Incan maiden bathing and when she fled she left the
water she was bathing in as the lagoon. She’s still rumoured to live there as a mermaid. With a population of only 115, some say that golden age of Huacachina was already seen in the period from 1920
to 1950 when wealthy Peruvians soaked in the waters of the oasis because of its rumoured medicinal properties (likely something to do with its resident mermaid). Now, far from its roots, it is an extreme sport lighthouse, beckoning those near and far to visit. We would have fit into the ‘near’ category. From Lima we headed towards Arequipa and decided to spend a few days in the Oasis on the way. Now I was regretting that decision as Coops lay lifeless on the dune. “You okay?” I ask, blocking the sun from his eyes. “I think I’m concussed.” he says, oblivious to the concerned shouts from Billy and the others. “I guess we’ll need help getting you back into the dune buggy then, huh?” We were partaking in the newest attraction in the area: sand boarding. The dune buggy which was first our shuttle to the hill was now to be our ambulance; it was the only way back to town through the field of sand. It held nine people, a dune van really. Coops, although not feeling well, was in for an adrenaline filled ride back to town. We launched up dunes until the motor could no longer propel us up the near vertical slopes, and then dropped mercilessly down into the valleys of sand. We spun round and round, whipping our heads side to side and in a resounding crescendo of awesomeness we went fully airborne off a dune ramp long enough for this brief conversation to take place. Me: “Oh my god, are we airborne!?” Billy: “Definitely!” Then ‘whomp’ we hit earth again, continuing our ride back to town. I have never seen airtime in any automobile, let alone one that seats a baseball team’s starting line-up. I look over at coops, feeling sorry for our drivers lack of compassion to his head
Holding our home made sandboards, they are made of plywood with Velcro straps for your feet.
Dune buggies are the preferred form of transportation.
trauma, but he is nothing but smiles. Finally arriving back at the hostel I decide to scramble up the huge dunes in time for sunset. The hike is exhausting, for every two steps up you slide back one. My calves feel like they are about to burst. I survey the town from atop the mammoth dunes, as expected I see no source to the miraculous lake in the valley below
me. The water and its resident mermaid appear to be born out of nothing - a fitting metaphor for a town whose tourist draw is born literally out of the sandy nothingness that surrounds it. Huacachina is embracing the changing times and its natural geography. What was a harsh and challenging climate in the past is the source of the next generation’s wealth. Hotels and hostels catering to the adventurous crowd of visitors offer daily trips dune buggying
and sand boarding; they even offer special sunset trips to capitalize on the amber beauty of the day’s end. Go for an exciting weekend and peruse the street (that’s right there is only one) soaking in the Arabian feel of the town. Go sand boarding, but be careful, it is easy to get hurt. Most importantly, don’t miss out on the dune buggys. Although travel insurance often doesn’t cover it, this is one of those cases where you need to take a walk on the wild side -
just be prepared to find sand in every corner of your suitcase for the rest of your trip.
A Melbourne skyline
Words & Photos by Megan McCorquodale
This month Rove Editor Kevin Landry is continuing his quest to bring respectful journalism back to the travel field as he catches coffee with a real, live Australian. Megan McCorquodale, a person who was born in Australia but for some reason isn’t really Australian. Kevin: Long time no see Meg! It’s been a while. Megan: I saw you two days ago, I was at your party, you were streaking, don’t you remember? You were there for that? Let me put it this way, it’s been a while since I
REMEMBER seeing you. So let me get this straight, you are Australian right? No, I was born there but I’m not really, my parents were Canadian, so I guess I am technically Canadian too. Well I just wrote the title and it says I am talking to a real, live Australian. You just made me a liar. I am going to have to change that now (adjusts title for journalistic accuracy). (reading) A real, live person who was born in Australia but for some reason isn’t really Australian? Great title. It’s funny you mention me
being a liar, it’s a joke in Australia to fool tourists about ‘drop bears’, [which are] koalas who fall out of the tree and attack people. This is perfect, my super tall, soy, chai, green tea latte is here. You’re talking about rabid koalas, we are on track for a good interview. Let’s get started; what makes them rabid? They’re not actually rabid, I just told you it’s a joke. Another promising scoop cut short, I guess I’ll fall back on my pre-prepared backup questions. Who is more
Australian, Steve Irwin or crocodile Dundee? More Australian? I don’t see how someone can be more Australian than someone else. But I guess I would say Steve Irwin since he isn’t a fictional character. Wrong! The answer was both of them are more Australian…than you (I laugh at my own joke). Any real questions? That was an icebreaker, a warm up joke...Lots of journalists use them to
break the tension. Tension? What? I’ve known you for years. It’s a journalist thing, I wouldn’t expect you to understand… here’s the heavy stuff, while in Melbourne, did you hear about a little something called the AFL? Yes I did, Aussie Rules [football] is an insane game, its super violent and something like half of the whole league is in Melbourne. My favourite team was the demons. (looking disgusted) Demons….you would. I’m a Freemantle supporter myself, I traded my AFL allegiance to an Australian in exchange for his support for my hockey team. I don’t know if you can do tha… Too late, I did. Next question: My ‘sources’, that’s another journalist term, tell me they call Melbourne the city of sport. What other sports do they play there? (laughs) This is not journalism and they play everything! I saw Venus and Serena at the Australian Open. They have huge screens set up on Flinder St.
Australia’s sport city, Melbourne plays host to Essendon Australian Rules Football club.
so you can watch for free. There’s also the MCG [Melbourne Cricket Grounds] where the top teams in Australia come play there. Cricket matches are whole days long sometimes and you basically show up and spend the whole day in the stands. Day long sports games, they certainly got that one right, but do they get rowdy while watching games, sorry, cricket matches? They sell beer all day, but it’s really expensive. Since they allow you to bring in an Eski [cooler] with food crafty people do manage to sneak in some booze. I’m liking Australia more and more, go on. (Laughing) you bring in two coolers right? (taking notes) Right...then what? In one you put all your Ice and your bottled drinks; we call this one ‘the decoy’. They always check your drinks to see if the seals are broken in case you tried to be sneaky and mix some booze in there. The trick to getting it in is to hide it in plain sight in the other cooler.
I am actually on the edge of my seat here; how? The second cooler is filled with ice, but then you pour vodka over the ice so it looks like melted water, and then just put all your sandwiches and snacks in there so that even if they smell the booze they can’t tell where it’s coming from. Once you get in you take your sandwiches out, pour the drinks from the decoy cooler into the icy vodka and have a huge cooler full of punch for the whole day. Genius. Sheer and utter genius. Me and my brother used to puncture holes in the bottom of water bottles and then fill them with white rum and then gluegun the hole shut to take to concerts,
but I think the chemicals in the glue were toxic or something. I like your way better. Since we are talking cricket, how does that work? I am not really an expert on the subject. There’s one bowling, one batting, if the batter hits it and launches it , uhhhh six overs in a game…it’s confusing . So even you guys don’t know how to play, I always thought that but could never confirm it until now. Tell me though, what does one do in Melbourne for fun? The best things to do are day trips out of Melbourne, but there are lots of cafes, theatres, and night life. The botanical gardens and the Zoo are awesome too. The City website always has free stuff on it; I learned the dances
Hundred thousand dollar shacks dot the coast.
from thriller and other movies in a local park one night. If you are childish you can go see Santa scuba diving at the aquarium. They have moonlight cinema where you can watch movies at night in local parks. You need to see the Queen Victoria Market too; there is really cheap food and great souvenirs. Plus if you buy a two hour ticket for the metro you can go anywhere in the city; public transport there is the best I have ever seen. Outside of Melbourne there are penguins. Phillip Island is the place. You go sit on the beach and at night thousands come up from the ocean and
walk right past you as you sit amongst them. You can’t take pictures because it disorients the penguins. Too bad, they were really cute. Breighton beach is also just outside the city. There are bungalows that cost something like one hundred grand for a single room hut on the beach. Can you believe that? No, but if I google it and it turns out to be true I may be starting a real estate firm in Australia. I did have a question for you though, is there a bit of a rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne? In everything. Rugby, AFL, anything
there is to be competitive about. I like Melbourne better because I went to Sydney to see the fireworks on New Years Eve and tried to get a seat at one in the afternoon and it was already full. Plus it was more of a stopover for me whereas Melbourne is a better place to live. Everyone thinks Sydney is the capital too, and it’s not. Yeah…a journalist wouldn’t make that mistake (quickly boots up Wikipedia). You do know the capital is Canberra right? Well I knew it wasn’t Sydney if that counts. Sigh. Canberra is kind of overlooked; it’s a planned city that was only built to be the capital, so it is really nicely set up with boulevards and parks. Canberra, yes - Sydney, no. What else is worthwhile in Australia? I loved great ocean road, I bought a car in Perth and drove back to the east coast. There were some stretches where it was a ten hour drive with nothing but a single gas station to break it up but once you reached the ocean road it turned into a twisting, beautiful road that hugged the coast. There’s this rock formation called the Twelve Apostles, here have a look. (looks at photos) Why twelve, there aren’t twelve there? Where did the others go? Erosion? I dunno, I figured most journalists knew about Google, huh Kev? *googled it later there were only ever nine* Let’s see, Tasmania was really good too. They all call
Australia’s Twelve Apostles
it New Zealand Junior and make fun of it a bunch, so we hopped a flight for something like $100AUS and stayed a week camping there. It was really natural there, tons of forests, lots of kangaroos too. Camped there huh? Were you scared of *shudders* spiders? Are you scared of spiders kev? You’re a sissy. They’re icky, and I hear they’re poisonous too, ok? Now let’s finish strong here, I know there are a few questions on everyone’s mind, and as a journalist I would be letting down my trade if I didn’t ask them. First, did you ever toss another shrimp on the Barbie? Sigh. I thought you were actually going to be serious there for a minute. No! No Australian would ever say that, and besides, we call them prawns. Is Fosters really Australian for beer? (Laughs) No! Australians wouldn’t be caught dead drinking Fosters; I don’t think they even sell it in Australia. Everyone drinks VB [Victoria Bitter] in the south; Tui’s is popular as well. (taking notes) I see, ok then, did a dingo eat your baby? Are you drunk right now? I’ve gotta go, unlike you, some of us can’t take a long lunch because we have work to do (Megan leaves). Shame, I didn’t even get to ask her about vegemite. Anyway, that concludes another segment of local knowledge. Keep traveling Rove readers, and I will keep telling you how to do it like a local.
Get togethers in the heart of the city
Film / Lost In Translation
Words by Kevin Landry
As soon as he walks into the Park Hyatt hotel in Tokyo, Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is in over his head. While visiting Japan on business to promote Suntory Whiskey, American actor Harris is thrown into the hilarious and uncomfortable world of culture shock. Far from the biographical works that have graced these pages to date, Lost In Translation is a cheeky fictional story of romance, travel, and bizarre Japanese customs, as well as the loneliness that can occur when abroad by yourself. Spending much of the opening act in his hotel room (wearing a green robe that is quite becoming of him), Harris starts to see just how different a world he is in. Battling jetlag induced
insomnia and shower heads that only reach chest level, the kooky metropolis of modern day Tokyo appears as foreign as a moonscape through the lens of Harris’ unimpressed eyes. Enter: the starlet, Lydia, a socially awkward (noticing a trend here?) woman about half Harris’ age who coincidentally is also an insomniac, uninspired by her marriage, and staying in the same hotel (this always happens to me when I travel). Conveniently her husband is pulled away on a photography assignment, leaving her to entertain herself. The two predictably meet, awkward sexual tensions ensues, and adds to the already awkward culture shock; and surprise surprise we have the
world’s least passionate trailer love story. That is all I http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYAS92XPvIM will say about that - the thought of Bill Murray making roleplaying retro Ghostbusters love to a noo mister Bob Harris” elevated handsome ginger is much more than I the movie up more than a few want to think about. notches for me. The selection of eccentric clubs and bars also The dialogue is not what did it in this provided a glimpse into the real film, it was the lack thereof. Not that nightlife of the city. the characters didn’t have anything interesting to say, but the inaccuracy The only other part that stood and awkwardness of trying to out was the washed out imaged communicate with people who barely of Japan. I don’t think the film speak your language was captured showed the sun even once, but exactly. despite the overcast and brooding atmosphere, which I imagine was Also done beautifully was the ever designed to give it the sense of a nagging home connections and dream rather than reality, Japan responsibilities. Murray drunk dials his looked fantastic. A brief foray into wife at four in the morning, and due Kyoto provided amazing visuals to the time change reaches her in the of the countryside and the various height of her morning. He receives restaurants showed all manner of faxes, letters, phone calls, and Fedex Japanese food. shipments from his wife reminding him about everything from forgetting I did notice one thing that was his child’s birthday to picking a carpet either extremely good research shade from the 17 or so samples she on the actor’s part, or a large faux has sent to him in Tokyo. Murray pas. While eating in a sushi bar, he personifies business life on the road. breaks apart wooden chopsticks and rubs them together (to remove On that subject, they do say that what any splinters). The act of doing happens on the road, stays on the so is considered extremely rude road. Harris’ trip is no exception to the in Japan because it implies the rule, for it involves more than a few owner has poor quality chopsticks. regrettable romps, one with a high end I cannot decide if it was good prostitute whose cries of “pleaaaaase acting, as in Murray trying to look more like a tourist, or him trying to look Japanese but doing a poor job.
Lost in Translation showcases quirky culture and the uncomfortable side of travel, it left me wanting to see what wonders Japan had to offer and actually left me desiring to use my inadequate language skills, for part of the fun of travel is the challenge. My only other piece of advice: don’t watch it if you can read Japanese - I just don’t think it would have the same effect on you if you can read all the billboards and understand what everyone is saying. The beauty of the movie is being as confused as Murray is. For once, cultural ignorance is better.
Fire and ice, your options for February fun are extremely weather dependant. In the Northern Hemisphere winter’s chill has taken grip; conditions are ripe for skiing and other cold weather sports while in the Southern Hemisphere it’s the height of summer and time to head to the beach. February is also traditionally a month related to festivals, most of which are related to the start of the Christian season of Lent. Pack your bags and make your reservations, we have quite an itinerary for you this month.
Skiing in the Rockies the snowpack is metres thick by now and oodles of fresh powder are cushioning the back country. Ski resorts across North America are busy during February and for good reason - the mountains are top tier. Catch the northern lights in the Baltic area Long cold winters don’t have to be the source of seasonal depression, take a visit to the Baltic area of Europe and capitalize on the long winter nights by seeing the Aurora Borealis, maybe directly from your bed in the Lapland Igloo Village hotel in Finland.
The northern lights as seen from the Greenlandic coast Photo: flickr.com/photos/nickrussill/150410705/ 66
A whale shark in the philippines Photo: flickr.com/photos/bigberto/794278440/
Carnaval in Rio February 13th is the start of the legendary festival that rocks Rio all the way from the beaches of Ipa Nima, to the buffeting noise of the Sambadrome. The week long affair is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations so be prepared for crowds. Whale sharks in the Phillipines Visit Donsol on the Luzon peninsula and swim with the biggest fish in the sea. From February to May the gentle giants crowd the area, now a must-dive location for fans of the sport. Surf in Hawaii February cyclones stir up perfect conditions for Hawaii’s surfers. The great swell does bring some problems with it - throngs of people crowd the waves during this time of year. In the search for the elusive perfect wave you may need to wait your turn. The best cities to visit in February | Lima, Peru: Lima on average has one rainy day in February. Glorious weather, close proximity to beaches, and a myriad of activities make it our official recommendation for places to visit this month.
68 Getting ready for Carnaval Photo: flickr.com/photos/uranomar/3309558087/
Notable events |
Carnaval: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: February 13th: As previously mentioned the greatest party on earth. Quebec Winter Carnival: Quebec City, Canada: February 13th: Dogsleds, ice sculptures, and maple syrup make this winter festival one of the most unique and enjoyable events in Canada. Academy Award in Los Angeles: USA- February 27th: rub shoulders with celebrities as they walk the red carpet into silver screen immortality. There aren’t huge festivities unless you are an honouree, but it is the best chance for you to see your favourite stars.
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