fridays with hubby: an osaka wrestling match

Sometimes I struggle to find inspiration, particularly after a long day. Sometimes I think, “what is it that makes my life so interesting? Why bother writing?” then I realised… I live with one of the most interesting and inspirational people I know – my husband! He’s not much of a writer so I thought, in between coats of paint on the house, shed-building, landscaping and the million hours of work he does per week I would hassle him for some of his stories (over a beer) and attempt to dedicate a few posts to him. Here goes!

This adventure starts on the way to find “some local market or something”. Fly-man and his intrepid traveller friends wander past a brightly coloured building aptly titled “Osaka Pro Wrestling” with two clowns painted on the front. The wrestling wasn’t on at that point but somehow they managed to find their way back later in the evening to take in the show.

 

Osaka Pro Wrestling, Logan Winter

Osaka Pro Wrestling, Logan Winter

 

When seated (in the front row!) it becomes apparent they’re the only Westerners there. As a result, hubby says they were treated like (sort of) celebrities/a bit of a novelty. At this point, hubby says he really doesn’t know what he should tell me, so I try to ask more questions.

“Was the wrestling good?” I prompt.

“Nah, it was shit-house” is the reply I get. Then he adds that it was a super-fun experience but that I shouldn’t expect WWE-style wrestling. Okay then. (Trying to talk to me about wrestling is like trying to talk to him about nail polish).

“Was there music?” I try again (because clearly I know nothing about wrestling).

“No of course not.”

“Was there yelling?”

“Yeah but it was all in Japanese so I have no idea what they said, but I can only assume there was some form of banter.”

He does go on to say that after the show, the organisers made them try some local lemonade and the wrestlers wanted to have their photo taken with these curious Australians and ask them about various Australian wrestlers. (At this point I ask hubby: “are there any Australian wrestlers?” to which I get a slightly annoyed “YES! Duh.” Ummm… Okay.)

So there you have it. My first attempt at trying to dictate some of my darling hubby’s travel stories. Probably shouldn’t expect that Walkley anytime soon…

Aussie tourists and Japanese Wrestlers, Logan Winter

Aussie tourists and Japanese Wrestlers, Logan Winter

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Tana, you’re under our skin

Finally, we’ve found a place that suits us.

Antananarivo is busy, loud and gritty and it both challenges and invites us to learn more. It’s beautiful yet run-down, regal yet dilapidated and it throws a million different thoughts in our faces as we travel through it.

Crazy traffic. ‘Markets’ lining the roadside for miles selling nothing but big, fat sausages or even bigger, fatter ducks. Two guys wheeling a cart full of church pews through the crowd. Minivans with 25+ people in them, some hanging out the back door.

Our hotel is a beautiful converted mansion on top of a hill, right next to the old Queen’s castle and overlooking the whole city. We watched the sunset from our balcony and finally felt the romance that’s been missing from our honeymoon – Tana is definitely not where we expected to find it and yet, here it is.

We’re buzzing. We’ve literally been here for four hours and we are absolutely bursting with ideas and questions – but these are taking a backseat as we’re so over-excited to tell everyone else about it!

As usual, “a picture tells a thousand words” so have a look for yourself…

Mauritius: Southbound

Today we headed to the South of the island to explore. It was a hot, sticky day and even though we started fairy early we were hot and bothered by the first stop. As Aussies we should be used to the heat but as South Aussies, it’s the humidity that really gets us.
A few nights ago we took a taxi to the shops to pick up some supplies and our driver, Vijay, was lovely. Even though he was only taking us on a short drive he was so friendly and a wealth of information, so we decided to book him for a tour of the south (it’s quite hard to find a really friendly driver here so we snapped Vijay up as quick as we could).
First stop was Troux aux Cerfs, a volcano crater located near Curepipe, Mauritius’ biggest city. We walked around the rim which gave us fantastic views o not only the inside of the crater, which is now covered in lush vegetation, but also over the whole city of Curepipe and out to the ocean.
Next we went quad biking around La Valée des Couleurs, a site where you can see 23 different colours within the earth. This actually wasn’t that mind-blowing but it was the first time I had ever been quad biking and with my handsome driver husband doing a great job it was pretty fun.
Ganga Talao was our third stop. This crater lake, also called Grand Bassin, is a sacred lake to the Hindu people of Mauritius and is dedicated to the god Shiva. There is a temple and shrine around the lake and nearby is a massive statue of Shiva.



Lunch isn’t really worth mentioning but after a bite to eat, we made our way to our last stop – La Vanille park, which is a crocodile farm that also has an incredible Insectarium, and my favourite – Giant Tortoises! I have a lot of respect for old species (evolutionarily speaking) and always think it’s a massive privilege to be ‘up-close-and-personal’ with them.

Well that’s all from me today, we’ve checked into a new hotel on the other side of the island… more adventures await!

madagascar in 3…2…1…

Well it’s getting closer and closer… in two and a half months we’ll be heading off on our honeymoon. We’re heading to Mauritius and Madagascar; rather than raving on about things I thought I’d just post the itinerary here (excuse the bad grammar, I didn’t write it) with some pretty pictures. Enjoy!
Fly from Australia to Mauritius (Air Mauritius Business Class)
image courtesy of La Palmeraie
Fly from Mauritius to Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Day1 : Dec 24: ANTANANARIVO
Arrival at the international  airport of Antananarivo , Madagascar’s capital . Meet by our representative and transfer to hotel. Overnight at Tana plaza hotel
Day2 : Dec 25: ANTANANARIVO-ANDASIBE
En route to the East of  Madagascar to  Périnet or Andasibe . Stop at Marozevo to visit the  Madagascar exotic reptile farm. Afternoon visit of  Vakona private reserve and its lemurs island, where one can have a closer encounter too with  crocodile and the predator “fosa”.Overnight at Vakona lodge
Day3 : Dec 26: ANDASIBE Analamazaotra reserve
Early start to visit Analamazaotra National park , a part of Andasibe national park . 2-4 hours walk in the forest and  meet the famous Indri lemur , the largest lemurs and hearing their territorial calls  and explore the rainforest with its endemic fauna and flora, various birds, colourful chameleons and plants. Afternoon relax . Overnight at Vakona lodge
Day 4 : Dec 27: ANDASIBE Mantadia reserve
Early start to visit Mantadia reserve, another part of andasibe National park ,  2-4 hours walk in the primary rainforest . Afternoon free. Overnight at Vakona lodge
Day 5 : Dec 28: ANDASIBE-ANTANANARIVO
Drive back to Antananarivo. Overnight at Tana Plaza hotel
Day 6 : Dec 29: ANTANANARIVO-NOSY BE
Transfer to the airport and board the flight to Nosy be. Dinner and overnight at Nosy be hotel in VIP bungalow
Day 7 : Dec 30: NOSY BE
Excursion to Lokobe reserve by local pirogue with picnic lunch .Dinner and overnight at Nosy be hotel.
Day 8 : Dec 31: NOSY BE
Excursion by speed boat to the amazing island of Nosy Iranja with seafood picnic lunch. New years eve dinner and overnight at Nosy be hotel
Day 9 : Jan 01: NOSY BE -ANTANANARIVO
Flight back to Antananarivo. Overnight at Tana plaza hotel
Day 10 : Jan 02: ANTANANARIVO-
Flight back home

how I nearly got banned from the river

Murray River in flood, Teal Flat, South Australia

My partner’s family have a property at Teal Flat, which is right on the Murray about an hour and a half from Adelaide. We head up there quite a lot because it’s nice after a busy week to feel we “got out of the city”, especially because we’re saving up for the wedding and honeymoon so we haven’t been on a proper holiday for a while.

Teal Flat is a private gated community type of set up; it has an Association which set the rules you need to follow if you build a house and spend time there. It keeps things nice and orderly so everyone can have a good time. Most people who have places here come up on the weekends but there are a few (like my future in laws) who live here permanently.

Last weekend, Logan decided it would be a great idea if I hopped on the ride on lawnmower and took it for a spin. I said no, of course, because bad things tend to happen when I get involved with heavy machinery. “Don’t worry, it’ll be fun!” he says (famous last words). It was decided that I would sit on the seat and my foot would control the throttle, while he stood on one side and did all the steering… seems logical.

So off we went to mow the lawn. Once we had done our own lawn, we went across the road to mow the common land because we’re such great citizens and we were having way too much fun. We were having a great laugh, making jokes about how “the couple who mows together stays together” until mister steered too close to a small tree. “Stop!!!” he yelled, but of course by this stage I had completely forgotten I actually had my foot on the throttle and he had stopped steering because he thought I would stop the mower. We literally went straight over the top of this poor tree.

Quick! we thought. We can put this tree back together before anyone sees (?!) but then we heard someone yell “now you’re in trouble!”… It was Logan’s mum, standing with the head of the Association (who happens to be very fond of those trees) and his wife. We found half the stake to tie the tree to (the other half went through the mover, and thank God the mower was okay) and destroyed the rest of the evidence. Still… I suddenly feel much less welcome.

quarter life crisis

After doing the shark cage dive in May, a certain mister hasn’t given up hope that I might some day become a big thrill-seeker like he is. It won’t happen. However, I’m at a point where I’ve started to realise I need to push myself a bit further out of my comfort zone. All of a sudden the idea of “growing up” has started to scare me – it’s happening so fast! Is this a quarter life crisis???

Anyway, here’s a list of things I’ve always wanted to try, plus a couple I have only just heard of but am really excited by.

1. Shotover jet, New Zealand (would we call this a soft launch?)

2. Hot air balloon over the “fairy chimneys” of Cappadocia, Turkey

3. Playing Bossaball on a tropical beach somewhere… Has it hit Rio yet? I’m thinking it could work.

4. Take part in the cheese rolling festival in Gloucester, England. I love cheese!

5. Swim in the Dead Sea

6. Take part in the Rickshaw Run, India (see here, and if you’re keen to join me, let me know)

7. Hike Torres Del Paine, Chile

Torres del Paine, Chile
Image courtesy of letsgochile.com

it’s our nature

As a massive nature lover, I gravitate towards travel experiences that allow me to explore parts of the world where humans are the minority. I’ve been lucky enough to swim in some at some of the world’s best reefs, dive with the great white sharks and view the big five up close, but here’s my list of the top nature travel experiences I’m dying to have. Note: I haven’t included Madagascar in this list because I will be there in four months’ time!

The Fish of Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi is home to over 1000 species of cichlid… a few of which I happen to have in my fish tank at home. To see them in their natural habitat, and to witness the incredible diversity of the lake’s ecosystem, is a major goal of mine. Here’s a bit of information about just how imporant this lake is, especially from an evolutionary standpoint.

Orcas in Alaska or New Zealand
I have a confession to make… since I was a kid, I’ve always been a bit scared of “killer whales. I have no idea where it comes from bt from time to time I’ve even had nightmares about them. That said, they are absolutely beautiful creatures and I would just love to see them in the wild. Where, I don’t know. There are populations of Orcas all over the world. However, I’m thinking either Alaska or southern New Zealand somehwere like Milford Sound – incredible!). It looks like a great spot to see them is in Kaikoura – find out more here.

Northern Lights – Scandinavia
Forgetting the incredible science behind this spectacle, I can’t think of anything more romantic than sitting and watching the Northern Lights. Forget stargazing, I’ll take aurora borealis any day! Visit Norway has some great information about the lights here.

Galapagos Islands
This has always been my number one dream. Charles Darwin is a hero of mine and many hours during my uni days were spent reading his work and I would love to be able to retrace his footsteps. Unfortunately Lonesome George is no longer around but his cousins are there to visit!

Sand Dunes of Sossuvlei, Namibia
Here you will find some of the highest sand dunes in the world, as well as petrified dunes and forests. I love the idea of how remote and inhospitable this place is; where the life cycle of a beautiful sand dune can be seen uninterrupted. There is also a surprising abundance of fauna here which highlights the fascinating survival instincts of many animals.

The Amazon Basin
The Victoria Water Lily. Yep, a water lily. Big deal you might say… but this water lily is massive and one of its leaves can support the weight of a child. Because I live in Adelaide, I’m lucky enough to live close to the beautiful Adelaide Botanic Gardens which has the Victoria Water Lily on display, and I’ve spent lots of time marvelling at them. But to travel through the backwaters of the Amazon in a little boat surrounded by the Victoria Lily… wow!

Pandas in China
China’s endangered Giant Panda population, mainly found in Sichuan Province, are becoming a big drawcard. Unfortunately, the tourism the pandas are bringing in doesn’t seem to be enough to stop things like this happening… so I’d like to head over to see them sooner rather than later.

Dunes of Sossuvlei, Namibia
(photo courtesy of amazingplacesonearth.com)

life in twenties

I saw this BuzzFeed video today; it’s a list of “10 Trips You NEED To Take In Your Twenties”. Some of the moments on the list I have been lucky enough to experience, but some I haven’t.

The video, though, is clearly American and I think that affects some of the points on the list. For example, here in Australia we don’t have Spring Break, but we do have Schoolies. It’s a different premise but something most teenagers are dying to experience.

On the flip side, the video includes “go camping in the middle of nowhere”. In Australia, this is a given and probably not something the average Aussie twenty-something would put on their list.

What would you put on your list? What are the 10 things you think you need to do before you turn 30? And for everyone all over the world, what part does your culture have to play in the different elements of your list?

Our taste of “camping in the middle of nowhere”
 Coffin Bay National Park, South Australia, April 2011

a blast from the past: Edinburgh

In 2008 (when I was 19) I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh. I had been staying in Paris and travelling around Europe but I was feeling really restless and sick of everything I was doing. In a split-second decision, I booked a train to Edinburgh and checked into a hostel on my own. I’d never done anything like that on my own before, so it was a massive move.

Anyway, for some reason I was trawling through my old myspace the other day (remember those?) and I found a post I’d written while I was there. When reading this, please bear in mind a few things: a) I was 19 and on a bigger adventure than I’d ever had before; b) I had been drinking quite a lot because I’d never had ths kind of freedom before and I probably didn’t quite know how to handle it; and c) I was running very low on internet credit and couldn’t justify another pound to take the time to edit properly, hence the spelling errors.

A quick bit of personal reflection: I look back on this time of my life with nostalgia and a few regrets. I kind of wish I embraced it a bit more and spent more time behaving like this. It was probably the most free and happy I have ever been. I hope one day Fiance and I can do something similar – just drop everything and get on a plane somewhere and figure everything out on the way.

Enjoy!

Current mood: rebellious

have finally found that independent spirit…
a few ups and (break)downs on this trip but finally I’ve found a place where everything just seems right.

Mum, I’m not coming home. and I’m drinking lots of beer and smoking and probably getting a tattoo; it’s all good, classy fun.

No in all seriousness, the feeling of making all my own decisions (however stupid and not-very-well-thought-through they are) is bloody amazing and the idea of going home and back to work and paying bills (that aren’t rediculous hostel nights) is… well I don’t really know the words but I don’t like it. I miss home but this place is just incredible and I’ve barely seen any of it yet. I have absolutely no idea why I like it yet but I just feel so relaxed and at HOME here.

I have no idea where I’m going to sleep tomorrow night!!! Usually that would be the worst thing in the world but right now I just don’t care. I don’t even know if I have the money to PAY for any accomodation tomorrow night but…meh. I’ll get by! Someone here was busking today, I need to discover a hidden talent and exploit it at the train station, perhaps.

Oh, and I love it here so much I’m even in love with the train station and the currency exchange office. Yup, it’s true.

Love to all!

Enjoying a Guinness in the Dunblane pub (we got lost on the way to Stirling)

SHARK!

I was, to be perfectly honest, completely freaking out. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it really and as much as I made jokes about being gobbled up limb by limb I wasn’t really finding it all that funny. The two and a half-hour boat trip out to the Neptune Islands gave my brain plenty of time to do some thought backflips and I jumped from being thrilled to scared to happy to anxious to wanting to vomit.I managed to keep my breakfast down though, unlike most people on the boat. The long ride from Port Lincoln, on the Eyre Peninsula, to the islands is really choppy and when you’re that nervous it’s worse. Once the cage goes in and you’re given the safety brief, that’s when the gravity of what you’re about to do really sinks in.

As I slowly climbed down into the cage, I realised my fear actually had nothing to do with the feared Great White Shark, rather it was the ocean itself I was afraid of. I never used to be scared, and when I was a teenager I would have been the first to get in that cage, but lately a switch has gone off in my head and I’ve been finding myself feeling frightened of things I never used to be afraid of, like heights and open water. Maybe it’s just part of being a responsible adult, maybe it happens when you stop pushing yourself, I don’t know. Yet hopping into that water brought me face to face with that fear.

The first dive I just had to focus on being in the water, using my regulator properly, and calmly breathing in and out. Eventually it got easier. However, after a while I had had enough and had to get out. We hadn’t seen a shark yet. After a hot coffee and a breather I psyched myself up to get back in, but I told myself it would be the last time, and if I didn’t see the shark, so be it. I stayed under for a good 45 minutes, until my face went blue, my ears hurt from the pressure and I had a heache. I was so determined to see that bloody shark! Eventually though, I had to get out. I was freezing!

Of course, as soon as the next group of divers got in the cage, the shark came, Stuff it, I thought, I’m getting back in! And it was so, so worth it.

These amazing creatures really command our respect. They are so calm and graceful; even though I was struggling with the dive they made me feel peaceful. They have such a gruesome reputation but to see them up close was just the most awe-inspiring experience. We saw two sharks a male and a female from what I could see, both about 4-5 metres long. The male even had a bunch of fish swimming along with him! He also had a few scars.

We were so grateful to be able to see the sharks in their natural surroundings, doing what they would normally do without us there. It was really important for us to be able to see them in the wild without upsetting them, as they deserve our respect. Adventure Bay Charters in Port Lincoln really looked after us and the sharks, and we couldn’t have had a better day.