Books, books and more books

I always loved reading as a child. My dad used to read the Lord of the Rings to me as a bedtime story.

When I started reading myself I loved Enid Blyton and May Gibbs and spent all my pocket money on book club. I think reading was a kind of escape for me and it was definitely a good way to pass a long plane trip.

In my teenage years I loved Dolly fiction and Sweet Valley High. I related most to the straight laced Elizabeth who wanted to be a journalist and always wondered what happened to her. What happens to all these vivid characters that were such a part of my growing up when the novels end? I found out three years ago when the novel Sweet Valley Confidential- ten years later- came out!

I stopped reading for pleasure during university when reading became homework.

Then I picked up an Anne Rice novel in an airport and have had a great love of vampire novels ever since- long before they were cool and the Twilight and Blue Bloods series came out.

I also enjoy a good travel memoir such as “Oh Mexico” by Lucy Neville, particularly if I have been to the place they are writing about.

But I mostly read chick lit set in big cities or with a bit of travel thrown in- stories about women and relationships that I can relate to and enjoy as light entertainment.

My favorite recommended authors are:

  • Candace Bushnell- author of Sex and the City
  • Lauren Weisberger- author of the Devil Wears Prada
  • Sophie Kinsella- author of Confessions of a Shopaholic
  • Lindsey Kelk- love her novels based in different cities from London to Las Vegas and her new series about a woman reinventing herself  is also interesting
  • Melanie La’Brooy– Australian author writing about finding love and babies in Sydney and Melbourne respectively
  • Anita Heiss– Australian author writing about strong female characters living in Sydney and Brisbane

I hope I have inspired you to pick up a new read and enjoy!

Related posts: Travel rememberings, Relationships: My five (per) cents worth

England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988

Flying from Bombay, my parents and I landed in London, England. The main purpose of this part of the trip was to visit English friends and family and Sri Lankan relatives.

In London we went to Highgate cemetery with the impressive grave of Karl Marx; the Natural History Museum with its life-size dinosaurs and colourful butterfly exhibit; Kew Gardens to see the squirrels and make daisy chains and Madame Tussauds wax museum to see Ghandi and the Queen.

We drove three hours south to Weymouth, Dorset to visit my grandparents and my Canadian cousins who were also visiting at the same time. There were road trips to Sherbourne and Godmanstone with its white chalky hills and what was then the smallest pub in England- the Smith’s Arms. We went to Oxford, Bourton-on-the-water and Windsor Castle to see the queen’s dolls collection. We visited Gloucestershire, Swindon and Bibury where a relative had lived on Arlington Row. I remember seeing Stonehenge when you could still walk right up to it and touch the stones.

On the way back to Australia we went to Singapore. We stayed in the train station which was very humid and muggy as they had no air conditioning. I loved the Merlion statues and the variety of food that you could get in Chinatown.

We travelled to Penang in Malaysia which was full of temples and monkeys and went riding in rickshaws in Kota Bahru. We stayed in a hut on the beach in Merang, passed through Kuantanand caught the ferry from Mersing to Tekek village on Tioman island.

Tioman was largely undiscovered at the time. You could only get there by boat and we stayed in a Apex hut. There was a pet monkey tied to two trees outside our hut and I spent many hours playing with him on the hammock hung between the trees. The owner wanted me to take the monkey back with me to Australia, so we had to explain about our strict quarantine laws.

I went snorkelling and got spiked in the foot by a giant sea urchin. We walked to a waterfall in the middle of the island and over to Juaru on the other side where there was a long wharf. Dad and I jumped off the end and swam all the way back. I took a picture of the first beautiful sunset I remember with a sailing boat in the foreground.

A few years after we visited Tioman they built a huge resort in the middle of the island and an airport.

Related posts: I first started travelling, Home is where you make it, Travel rememberings, Friendship: Great Expectations?

All Creatures Great and Small

I have always been a great lover of animals. From an early age I remember watching nature shows with my dad and can still tell the difference between an albatross and a seagull thanks to David Attenborough.

In primary school I completed elaborate and illustrated projects on animals that were four times as long as they needed to be just because I was so interested in the topic.

I begged for a dog as a child, but my parents liked a nice garden with birds so all I could have was a guinea pig, a budgerigar or a pet rock.

I choose to have a budgie called Kiki who flew away soon after when my mother made me clean the cage outside.

Then there was Skye who was my favourite and actually lasted a long time until we left him when we went to Sydney one weekend and he was found dead upon our return.

Next there was Benji who actually turned out to be a girl and was very cuddly as a consequence. She looked hot one day so we watered her down using the sprinkler but accidentally left it on her all day and she caught a cold and died.

The last one, Kokopetal, almost lost his head during an argument with my dad. When I ran into my room my dad said not to slam my door so of course I did and my budgie was on top of the door and the door caught his neck. He survived for a week longer but his neck was so damaged that he could not eat. So that was the end of my pet ownership.

I have always loved dolphins and have seen pods of them many times from boats. I also had a Sea World experience on the Gold Coast where I got to swim, touch and play with a dolphin and it was great. This year I finally got to swim with wild dolphins in Hawaii which was fantastic.

Having a love of dogs, I have always loved wolves and huskies. A few years ago I had the opportunity to play and run with the Malusky husky dog sled team in the Hunter Valley. They are beautiful hard working dogs and I would really love to see them in the snow on the Iditarod trail in the USA.

Working with Labradors and retrievers at Guide Dogs has cured me a little of my rose coloured glasses around dog ownership. Don’t get me wrong, I still think they are cute, loyal and the most lovely bundles of unconditional love. But they can also be stubborn, demanding, constantly test your boundaries and limit travel possibilities.

Related posts: I first started writing, Travel rememberings

India, 1987-1988, Part 2: The Journey North

In Trivandrum, Kerala, we went to a circus which had many live animals. At the entry to the circus was a medical fair that had jars with pickled foetuses from start to finish and cardboard cut-out enactments of rape scenes. There was an adult corpse next to a helpful doctor who was lifting the rib cage with a ruler to show us where the organs went.

In Kovalum, multi coloured Kathakali dancers put on a cultural show. They had large red skirts and green and blue faces.

We took a boat tour of the backwaters of Ernakulum, Cochin filled with Chinese fishing nets. There was an island where they turned coconut husks into straw to be used to make bright green and red mats.

On the train north people were hanging off the sides of trains because there was no room inside.

Goa was all about beaches and fish. There was Anjuna, Calangute, Vagator, Colva and Benalum beaches- long curved beaches with coconut palms bending toward the sea. I wore a wide brimmed hat that could be conveniently folded into a small circle. A man pulled wax and rocks out of Dad’s ears for a fee.

Having spent the most part of the holiday taking malaria tablets with chlorine tablet laced water and being vegetarians as cows are sacred and can’t be killed; it was great to have salty air and fresh tasty seafood.  There was also an ice cream van that used filtered water – we went every day.

The guesthouse we stayed in at Benalum village was owned by a lovely couple who spoke good English and treated us like family. My parents were still in touch with them for years after the trip.  We visited Bom Jesus Basilica in Old Goa and Santha Durga Temple. We shopped at Margoa market and saw a bear dancing- a sun bear that the owner has tethered to a stick with string through his nose.

We met a Mormon family from America which consisted of 10 children from the ages of 17 down to baby. The 16 year old twin boys were my favourite and a girl that was closest to me age. We rode hired bicycles and played lots of cards- I learnt how to shuffle cards cleverly.

There was a field trip to Cape Rama Fort that we explored thoroughly and to Anjuna market to buy cheap jewellery and handicrafts. Beggars were the most prolific here and dad told me not to give them money because we didn’t have enough for everyone.

Finally we visited the gateway to India in Bombay. We stayed in a hotel where the beds had no mattresses and there were cockroaches and people everywhere.

When we arrived home, my dad discovered that he had put the same film back in the camera twice thinking it was blank. We ended up with double exposed photos of elephants juxtaposed on top of temples; and us with the Mormon family at Anjuna market seemingly walking into a crocodile farm. Though a mistake, these photos were some of our favourites and illustrated India perfectly.

Published as part of A Memorable Journey on Story2Share.

Related posts: India, 1987-1988, Part 1: The Road South