Wednesday, December 3, 2014


People often talk about 'island time'. Usually as a way of excusing slow service or a late departure or even the complete non-delivery of an expected holiday amenity. Typically imparted with a hearty laugh and a beaming smile, island time is either utterly charming or infuriating depending on the type of person you are. If you're a stickler for detail and precision, and expect slick, deferential interactions from robotic staff, then maybe the Pacific isn't for you.

Of course many tourism operations in the Pacific now deliver precision in spades but fortunately (for mine) island time still sets the tone and pace of life in many corners of this delicious part of the world. 

Time in the Pacific is a bit of a rubbery thing. It seems to sloooow down, and there's the international dateline to deal with (lose a day here, gain one there, arrive before you depart), it's madness. 

Kia Orana - Welcome to the Cook Islands.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


There are apps for everything, it seems, and they have revolutionised the traveller's experience of navigating new places. A hat-tip to Google Maps for basic navigation. You are here. Whilst, platforms like Foursquare have added social functionality so we can all now see where you are, what you did and what you thought of it. And with food playing such a big role now in our travel experiences, the fear of missing out (FOMO) sees us reaching for our devices, looking for the answer to just about the most important question of all: What's good to eat nearby?

Travel and food. Food and travel. pretty inseparable, aren't they? Gastro-Tourism. Paris, Florence, New York, Melbourne, The Barossa, Bangalow (indulge me) all places with supreme culinary credentials. But once you're there, how do you know what's around you, and what's worth sampling? You can follow your nose (my favourite), do it old-school with a printed guide book (with luck the highly-rated dumpling place might still be operating), put a call-out to your social networks, or make the most of your phone's geolocation by tapping into an app.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

BLIZZARD OF OZ: New York City in Winter

I was totally unprepared for New York City in winter.

The moment I stepped onto the icy-slick pavement just beyond the warm lobby of the Hotel Beacon on Broadway at 75th Street, a deep chill worked its way through the soles of my completely inappropriate shoes.

There wasn’t much I could do about it. I was wearing the warmest things in my suitcase. But the prospect of zig-zagging stroll through sparkling New York streets to Times Square was irresistible. So, dismissing the cold, I set off like the Cowardly Lion across Oz's snow-dusted poppy fields...‘Unusual weather we’re having, ain’t it?’

It was relentless, the cold. And even before I’d passed Gray’s Papaya I could feel it crawling through the neck of my meagre sweater. My chin was cramping, my socks were soon wet and my ears would have shattered had you given them a flick.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Toberua Island Resort, Fiji - 1984 & 2014
Travel memories are funny. They're a mix of so many things. Emotions. Smells. Sounds. The people you encountered and connected with. They can be rich and visceral. But also feel so totally fragile.

There are a couple of places I've visited that I feel drawn back to. They're places that were the source of treasured experiences and memories. A particular mix of people, happenings and timing. Such a random and fleeting coming together of elements that only ever existed at that moment in time. Never before and never again will things align precisely like that. And yet, like chasing a high you know you'll never find, you feel compelled to go back.

But what then of those precious, original memories? Where do they end up?


It's not like this anymore...
International flights, particularly short-haul ones, have really changed, haven't they?

Maybe I'm being sentimental but I miss the huge, four-engined, twin aisle aircraft that operated routes from Australia, the hot meals, the giant video screens and projectors, the sense of excitement. Maybe it's all tangled up in the memories of a long-ago childhood but, sitting here in a wee 737 roaring across the Pacific, it all seems so bland now.

Normal now seems to be a quick meal service. Lights out. And please don't ask for anything else.

Monday, April 28, 2014


It's been a while since I've been somewhere new. For the first time, I mean. You know the feeling. Excitement swirling around some preconceptions of the place. You've flipped through the brochure, thought the stock shots looked nice, but you've been let down by them before, right?

Samoa is definitely not a let-down. But half way between New Zealand and Hawaii, it is still something of an unknown to most travellers even those with a bit of the South Pacific under their belts.

It's absolutely the quintessential South Pacific paradise, I honestly don't think I've been anywhere prettier. But, even better, it's also a place with a bunch of fascinating, historical quirks.

Pick up the Samoan phone directory and you'll see names like Schuster, Schwenker and Wendt - a legacy of colonisation by Germany in the early 20th century. If you're a literary buff you might know about Robert Louis Stevenson passing the final years of his life here. In 2009, Samoa announced that its cars would no longer drive on the right hand side of the road (another legacy of the Germans), switching instead to the left - a move that was met by protests from bus drivers furious that their doors would now open on the wrong side, a Red Cross blood donation campaign for the inevitable surge in accidents, and a three-day ban on alcohol sales, just in case.