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I was recently interviewed by Rizado for Neil Kramer’s Great Interview Experiment 2009.

Rizado posed this question to me,

“Name your top five foreign locales that everyone should visit?”

Whittling down the list of amazing places that I have visited – to just five… became a battle of the senses…

Travelling to satisfy your five senses
Beijing, China
Beijing is for me the ultimate in contradictions, it’s all high-tech lightning speed, nestled beside ancient hutongs and revolutionary scars.
It’s all about the sights.
The bustle of humanity, the snaking Great Wall, the immensity of the soul-breaking Tiananmen Square and the most delicious of them all, The Forbidden City- home to the Dynastic Emperors and their hundreds of Empresses and Consorts and Concubines and a mind boggling array of offspring. The grounds of which are now visited by Chinese tourist families, who sightsee the magnificent ancient ways of privilege and excess, holding the hands of their single children tightly.
Pentecoste Island, Vanuatu
Every year the local men of this island village perform an amazingly-scary ritual called N’gol or Land Diving,  jumping head first from hand built scaffolds miles in the sky. And between them and death is their Gods and a single ropy green vine.
But this is not what will touch you in Pentecoste.
As we snorkeled the azure waters pointing in delight at extraordinarily coloured corals and fish, my daughter met a smiling and happy island girl on the soft sands of the beach.  And by the very nature of little girls there was no shyness or awkwardness over language barriers, there was just an immediate friendship.
They showed each other their bags.
My daughter had her DS and ipod and lollies and toys and other girly treasures.
The smiling and happy island girl had a shell and the stub of an old grey-lead pencil.
It was a lesson in the material nature of happiness given to my daughter, like a gift wrapped in banana leaves, that touched all of our hearts.
Rome, Italy
In Rome I was taken to a restaurant that screamed so badly of cliché it almost made my eyeballs bleed red, white and green.
From the expected check of the table cloths right through to the stubs of melted candles stuffed into old bottles of chianti, still in their little straw bikinis.
The waiter seeing that we were foreigners took it upon himself to organize the menu. He said it would be traditional. I wasn’t holding out for too much.
But what followed was a meal that was operatic to the palate.
Simple pane, bread slices drizzled with olive oil, melanzane- vinegared slices of purple skinned eggplant, forkfuls of mushrooms clinging to tomato drenched tagiatelle, tender osso buco scattered with shavings of aged romano cheese and flat leaf parsley, and limone gelato so glacial and lemony-brutal that our lips remained puckered in ecstasy till the following morning.
New York City, U.S.A
Good Lawd, the cacophony of New York is the sweetest clang of music to my ears. It’s a heady brilliant scream of conceit, from a goddamn sexy bitch who has every effen right to be conceited.
Traffic and music and words and food and art that’s the hiphop-techno-crunch-folky-rock-ballad of your soul.
And the taxi driver who drives with one hand on his horn and the other waving the bird as he screams out the window at the arsehole who just cut us off.
Don’t worry, no probs, we’re in no hurry! we say wide-eyed-petrified from the back seat.
S’okaaaay the taxi driver sings bringing his head back into the cab,
Relaaaax man!
This is how we do things in New York.
Melbourne, Australia
On any given summer evening there is a smell that wafts, tantalizingly over the suburban fences of my home town, Melbourne.
Can you smell it? Come stand at the front of my house, yes, right here on the footpath. Lift your nose to the air, breath it in deeply. That’s the inhalation of Australia.
It’s blended gum leaves, fresh cut lawn, and steaks grilling on the bbq. You can almost taste the potato salad and smell the coconuty sunscreen on the children who are running around in their bathers eating sausages in square bread squirted with tomato sauce.
The salty air of the ocean is twenty minutes to one side and dark mossy smells from the foresty mountain ranges are twenty minutes the other way.
And in between, is the brackish upside down river that courses through a city so multicultural that it simply smells of the foods from all nations.


You can read the full interview here.

Thank you Rizado… it was fun talking to you about one of my great loves… travel!

7 Responses to “the five senses of travel”

  1. Quadelle says:

    Ah, you’re making me want to travel to far more exotic places than I’m going next year. I do plan, however, to not just laze around in my parents house (easy enough to do with a gorgeous view), but to be taking the kids to the beaches – both rocky and sandy – as well as into the forest as often as possible.

  2. IZONU says:

    We have travelled all over Australia, America, Asia, Europe… next stop Africa and Egypt.
    But the best travel has been my journey with you.
    Experiencing the world with the one you love, being able to share and recall the fun times, is what makes it live on for ever.
    Great writing and expression. I actually got hungry reading the Italian piece.


  3. Vicki says:

    What a great interview and response. You’re so lucky to have travelled to all of those places and you’re making me want to go as well.

  4. Jack says:

    Ah, now I have got to go make some flight reservations.

  5. Tatiana says:

    Thank you! It was a lot of fun to interview you and I’m glad that one of my questions led to such a great piece.

  6. slouchy says:

    love the nyc bit. you got it just right.

  7. Impressive post! THANK YOU!

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