The town of Pushkar sits in a lush oasis on the edge of the Negrev desert in Northern India. Regal white palaces and temples encircle a small holy lake, and bougainvillea, rose bushes, palms and cacti fill the town with colour. In vivid contrast the desert surrounding Pushkar lies vast, inhospitable and empty, except for a few weeks every November when thousands of nomads, camel and cattle breeders congregate to await the full moon and the commencement of the Pushkar camel fair.
We found shelter for the night inside the crumbling walls of a crusader castle. As dawn approached we made our descent, clamoring over rocks and sliding down cliffs of sandstone, there, hidden amidst towering hills we found the city of Petra. Continue reading →
Singapore, a gleaming metropolis of soaring skyscrapers, manicured gardens, and people in suits; where shopping malls are supersize, electronics are truly king, and chewing gum is illegal. I have passed through the city many times, but never considered it as more than a brief stop on my way somewhere else. Now I have a three-day visa run and am determined to get a glimpse into life beyond the shiny facade. I catch a bumboat to Pulau Ubin, a small island that is home to one of the last remaining kampoengs (traditional villages in Singapore).
Seventy four thousand years ago Sumatra was rocked by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions of all time. Anthropologists believe that the resulting dust cloud that covered the earth killed most of the planet’s population. From the mouths of hell sprang the tropical island paradise of Samosir, perched in the middle of Donau Toba the world’s largest crater lake. Continue reading →
There are few places in the world that evoke a sense of wonder like Greece. From ancient monuments to the mighty Gods, to the deep blue sparkle of the Aegean Sea. To windswept islands where white washed houses hug the cliffs, to the cosy tavernas that serve up homemade Ouzo and crusty white bread with Kalamata olives and pungent feta cheese. While the lure of basking in the sun on a rugged island has always been irresistible, I finally managed to drag myself away from the beach and head to the mountains. A picture spotted on a postcard had drawn me to the fabled monolithic rocks of Meteora, where monks have long sought solace in the monasteries that perch like birds nests on top of them.Continue reading →
Today I went back to Turtle Island….. its been five years since I left this island paradise, but as I walked down the dock it was like I never left at all. Just like the old days Richard was waiting for me in a cart to take me on a tour of his gardens – his pride and joy.
Richard Evanson is the most amazing and inspiring man I have ever met, and it was thanks to him and his vision of creating a community owned resort in the remote islands that I first came to Fiji. Continue reading →
Life is funny, one minute you are striding down a certain path, and the next, tragedy strikes like a metaphorical avalanche and the path is swept away from under you. But all the cliches are true…. out of the darkness comes the light…..as one door closes another opens…… And so it was that a disaster on the harsh rocky island of Gran Canaria in Spain seven years ago would change my life in ways I never could have imagined.
Fate, and the trade winds blew me to Fiji where I landed a job on a remote island in the Yasawas. Here I worked with a local, tradition-bound community domineered by a powerful autocratic chief, and answered to a wealthy and eccentric American billionaire (owner of the island where Blue Lagoon was filmed). It was a crazy time typified by cyclones, a coup, and suffocating heat, of sabotage and skullduggery….where cheeky spirits roamed by land and sea, and tales of cannibalistic forebears were shared over many a bowl of kava. But what i remember most is the laughter, the singing, the awe inspiring beauty and the big beautiful smiles of the Fijians who welcomed me to their island home.
Two years passed and my life became totally entwined with the community….All my friends told me how lucky I was to live on a coral fringed island, but paradise is a lonely place and slowly island fever took a grip – it was time to go. Leaving was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but knew I would come back, Fiji was a part of me and I had come to love these islands fiercely and unconditionally . And now, five years later here I am. Oddly enough, it is like nothing has changed, and memories, like the incoming tide, roll in relentlessly. My time here is brief – just one month – as I ‘resort sit’ Navutu Stars, a boutique resort owned by my amazing Italian friends Maddalena and Freddy. Actually, the timing has been extraordinary, as I am writing a book about my time in Fiji but had lost the freshness of the experience and had been thinking of ways I could return – when out of the blue Madda called and asked me to come.
I am remembering so well the isolation, and the peacefulness, it seems so incredibly still after the chaos of Bali and it has taken me a while to adjust to the pace of Fiji time. The rhythm of life is so slow here, but this is the magic.