“No person, place or thing can give you happiness. They may give you cause for happiness and a feeling of contentment, but the joy of Living comes from within.” – Genevieve Behrend
Traveling by local transport has quickly become one of our loves, it’s cheap and entertaining and of course a great way to interact with the locals. It is also a great source of knowledge for finding the best local eateries and cheapest drinks in town.
Not sure we will ever get use to the hoiking buckets on the local Chinese buses.
The Mevlevi Sema or Whirling Dervishes as we know them, is a fascinating ritual to watch. It descends from Rumi & represents the spiritual ascension of man through love & devotion to discover his truth. The hypnotic revolving allows him to let go of his ego & find his own personal perfection, where he can live in harmony with all creation free of judgement. What a wonderful practice for us all.
Interestingly, a law was passed in the 1920s to prohibit the practice of Sema. Some say the government were concerned with its popularity & following. The only place you can see the ceremony is at the Mevlevi Lodge (Galata Istanbul) every Sunday at 5pm. Its best if you buy your ticket in person Sunday morning from 10am as they only have room for 100 people. Then get there 4.30pm to get a good seat.
Driving around the vineyards of Douro Valley in Portugal, the country side was filled with tremendous looking orange trees that were laden with fruit. Whenever we saw a branch over hanging the road, Gaye would jump out of the car & snaffle a couple. They were warm, juicy & soooo tasty … YUM!
Going out for breakfast is one of our loves. We’ve had some fabulous brekkies along the way. All time favourites would be:
• Breakfast platters in Turkey – olives, cheeses, relish, cold meats, Nutella, jams, simets (cross between a bagel & a pretzel) all washed down with a piping hot expresso
• Pho in Vietnam – fresh & flavoursome. The best phos are made with beef brisket & served with lots of fresh greens including mint & Vietnamese basil. Don’t forget to add chilli & lots of juicy limes squeezed right before you slurp it down
• Birthday Breakfast @ Le Meridian Seychelles – Having such a vast array of fresh quality foods & watching the delight on Gaye’s face when she discovered she could have chicken parma for brekkie … priceless!
• Mohinga in Myanmar – Considered a national dish, Mohinga is a soup snack that you see eaten everywhere. It’s a fish based soup with a secret ingredient … banana skin. It adds an incredible flavour which I’ve not tasted anywhere else. Some of the best Mohinga we had was for breakfast when we were staying at the Eastern Hotel down town Yangon. Check out how Luke Nguyen & the Burmese locals make Mohinga.
Impromptu music festivals in tiny towns (audio). During our visit to the Douro Valley (Portugal) we arrived in the middle of a 3 day festival. The leading act was a Cuban band (in Portugal?) so we had a fun time groovin with the locals. Gaye as usual, had a number of suiters, who brought us gifts of wine, cherries, snails & sangria. Needless to say we drank a little too much. Note to Self: Beware of the 30 cent glasses of red!
Portuguese tarts & expressos became a daily affair … not good for the waistline though!
Waking up to the sounds of buffalos chomping, chickens boking, boots squelching in the muddy rice terraces all around our homestay. Tavan (Sapa Vietnam) was a lovely peaceful rural village. It was fast becoming a more popular spot for tourists to venture into however the serenity, space & startling beauty of the lush green rice terraces was food for the soul. The icing on the cake was sitting around the family table sharing an evening meal of chicken, fish, homemade spring rolls, rice & lots of lovely fresh vegetables … very special!
We loved Hong Kong for the time spent with friends, eating tasty food & exploring so many markets. It’s hard to choose what we loved most, besides the company of dearest friends. Food wise it’s a toss up between sumptuous Peking duck, tasty chilli mud crab, succulent pigeon with its delicate flavour & yum cha with the locals. The winner is … a whole Peking Duck for breakfast, lunch & dinner … YUM!
Mornings on the lake at Inle were glorious, especially before the hordes of tourist buses arrived. You virtually have the lake to yourself. Perfect still waters mirror the golden light from sunrise. One legged rowers fished or dug for water weed. The floating villages, markets & gardens sprung to life in a calm peaceful & purposeful way.
My heart & spirit soar thinking about those magical mornings in Bagan. 5am everyday we’d be perched on a pagoda enjoying the freshness of dawn while we waited for the sun to show us her first magical rays. Every morning was a different gift … silver, gold, orange & purple hues all laced with wispy white fog fingers. It’s like being part of a living tapestry that transports you to a mystical place within your soul. And then you see the balloons … they look like love hearts lazily floating across the horizon … pure BLISS. These mornings are deeply etched into my being & become my ‘happy place’ … an inner retreat when needed.
Early morning walks & mingling with the locals is a favourite for us. We like to spend 4-5 days in a particular town or village so we can immerse ourselves into their day to day. It’s fun to recognise familiar faces & stop for a chat (more gestures than words!)
Downtown Yangon is an uncut diamond that sparkles in every way. With pop up road side stalls, soup stops, tea houses & curb side cafes in the evenings. Everyone greets you with a smile & offers you free samples, making you feel like part of local life.
Fire holds a fascination for many of us. How many times have you sat around an open fire … mesmerised by the flames? It’s so easy to lose yourself in the dancing light. So when a fire twirler wanders up the beach after sunset you feel the excitement arise in everyone. As he starts twirling away a series of ooohs & ahhhs float from the open mouths of those watching. A sense of wonderment creeps onto all our faces. Hypnotised by the spinning fiery orbs 30 people become glued together in total amazement. The spell is only broken when he drops one of his blazing batons. Then before we know it … he’s moved onto his next audience & we become re-cocooned by the dusky darkness.
There is something very special about dining on the beach. It’s like eating with your fingers (after using anti bacteria wash) … the food tastes better! Being able to wander down the beach in your cozi & sarong or something super casual is just the ultimate in relaxation. To then have the choice of a wonderful range of fresh seafood grilled on order … life’s pretty good!