2012- A Nomadic Year in Pictures

It’s hard to believe that 2012 is drawing to a close, especially after it being so eventful for myself, as well as most of the world.

Hilary in Banshee Canyon Continue reading

Advertisements

The Time I Flashed Fijian Chiefs

“If you need to get up and pass by the tanoa, you must pass on the left side. Make sure you crawl, kneel, or bow down as you pass the bowl. It’s a sign of respect to the service going on around you. Also, make sure you touch the bowl and say, Tulo, Tulo (pronounced chi-loh), as you go by. That means excuse me in Fijian. And it’s very important you respect the tanoa and its contents. They are thought to be mystical and powerful. You don’t want to abuse it.” Caroline smiled at me with her eyes and then tapped my notebook with her finger. “Write that down.”

I scribbled away in my tiny spiral notebook and gave a nod of thanks to the relative of Ro Mereani. She and the other women surrounding me laughed as I did this. This had become our bit. We’d sit at the back of the kava party (the customary place for women) and I’d ask elementary questions about the traditions I was witnessing and they would happily indulge me. They found my naiveté amusing and I guess I couldn’t blame them. My presence was very unusual for such a deeply ingrained tradition. Continue reading

A Koala Kind of Day

“We’re going to hug koalas. We’re going to hug koalas. We’re going to hug koalas!” My third grade schoolyard chant wasn’t amusing anyone on the bus. I didn’t care. I bounced up and down in my seat.

I was on my way to the Lone Pines Koala Sanctuary located outside of Brisbane to have an intimate moment with one of the world’s most beloved creatures (or should be, according to my book). I was convinced it was going to be the most warm-and-fuzzy-make-your-heart-melt kind of moments I’d ever have.

Continue reading

The Las Vegas Lowdown: The Female Tourist Misstep

As I’ve navigated my way from Australia to Fiji, I can’t seem to stop uttering mental thank-you’s to all of my fellow travelers and readers out there. Reading your blogs and messages with tips and suggestions about where to go and what to do has significantly eased the stress of this adventure. I am so grateful to have such a gracious following and have been touched by the offers I’ve received for guides in each city.

As a solo female traveler, I often have to rely on the kindness of others for directions or advice, but the generosity I have received has been paramount in making this journey a memorable one!

I can’t wait to share with you all that has gone on, but while I wait for more consistent internet access, I’ve decided to give back to you the only way that I know how: by sharing my knowledge base. You’ve been so kind as to share with me your advice on your home cities, now it’s my turn to do the same. Continue reading

How to Get Everything You’ve Always Wanted: A Guide to Jealous-Free Living

Since taking to documenting my travels and fortunate mishaps, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve received from readers like you. When I started this blog, I thought I would just record my insane adventures to laugh at down the road. But I’ve been touched to find that there are so many others out in the world who identify with my experiences and want to laugh with me. Everyday I receive an e-mail, a comment or nod from a kind and encouraging soul. It’s support from inspiring and creative people that keeps pushing me through untrodden territory, and for that I thank you.

But what I’ve been more surprised to see are the number of e-mails, Facebook messages, or comments from people expressing jealousy and envy of my situation. I can’t understand why anyone would want to be in my shoes when they could be experiencing their own unique adventures.

Over the past year I’ve learned that jealousy is a mark of discontentment and resentfulness with one’s own situation. It’s a draining feeling that wastes valuable energy on unattainable ideals (I mean, I can never be you, so being jealous over your situation is pointless). I think people turn to jealousy not because they want to, but because society accepts this emotion over challenging the status quo.

And since you have all been so supportive of me, I now want to help you. You too can live the life you’ve always wanted. Continue reading

Want me to jump out of a plane and blog about it? Read on…

Okay, I am the first to admit that I hate asking for help. I would rather walk down the Las Vegas Strip barefoot in the deadly summer heat than ask my friends or family to spot me a twenty. But unfortunately for my pride, this time around I need you to help me achieve one of my long fantasized and romanticized adventures: skydiving somewhere beautiful.

Photo courtesy of Bucket List Publications

When I was seventeen I wrote out my first bucket list (naturally, in sparkly pink gel pen). Skydiving was one of the first things I scribbled down in my cramped unabomber handwriting. I remember confidently deciding this was the perfect experience for me because it combined by biggest fear (falling to my death) with my most coveted super-hero power (flying). Continue reading

Hilary Goes Hiking Part II: Adulation for Banshee Canyon

I am nothing if not a fan of losing my way with words. But the more I explore the more I struggle to elucidate the memories. It’s almost as if every word in the English language is too restrictive or cliché to do the scenario justice. Sometimes all I can think is, “Wow, what a wonderful world we live in.” Other days, if you’re lucky, I’m a little more articulate than a drooling baby.

Hiking through Banshee Canyon was a spiritual experience, seemingly observed and emboldened by the faces in the gorge. I could feel the wisdom of the earth seeping through my skin, brought in on the twisting winds and carved out in the petroglyphs.

I believe every person given the opportunity to take a climb up the rings and into the canyon will take away a piece of the peace and love that lives there. I’d like to think that’s why the canyon is filled with divots and holes; the magic and history that fills the soil is literally given to each traveler. Continue reading

The Golden Rule of Parisian Fashion and How I Broke It

I smiled politely at the waiter who brought me my almond pastry. I had yet again found myself seeking sanctuary in Angelina’s, home of the most delicious hot chocolate in all of France. Given the dreary weather and cold winds, it was not surprising that half of Paris was trying to get a table. Tourists and locals alike clamored into the restaurant, adding their names to the growing wait-list.

I bit into the almond fluff, suddenly very aware that I was alive. I licked my lips with a little too much satisfaction. Paris was going to make me fat and I was totally at peace with this.

My phone vibrated against the spoon on the table, signaling receipt of a text from Clarisse. She was running late so she was sending a good friend to meet me. I didn’t particularly need to be entertained, especially since I had a succulent pastry to keep me company, but I was always up for meeting new friends. Continue reading

When Paris Glitters

It was a windy and wet day in Paris, leaving perambulators soaked and shivering. But even with my soggy jacket and tornado hair-do I was enthralled with the beauty of the city. Snapping photos to stay warm, I strolled through the posh neighborhoods with no set destination.

I watched the clouds roll by as if they were late to an important event. My mind drifted to the Paris Hotel in Vegas. I tried to explain to Clarisse the absurdity of this thought. “The skies look so picture perfect, they almost look as fake as the ones adorning the ceiling of the hotel!” At least now I could give the architects credit for their accuracy. Continue reading

A Day at the Museum: Navigating the Louvre Labyrinth

I could have spent a month in The Louvre. Well, the reality is I could have decided to move in and no-one would be the wiser. Sitting on almost 100 acres, the Louvre was a whopping 650,000 feet and housed three wings worth of paintings, sculptures, and other one-of-a-kind pieces. I’m pretty sure you could play hide and seek in the Sully wing never to be found again.

According to the Louvre’s official website, it was originally built as a fortress in the 12th century, only to later become the home of royalty such as King Louis XIV. For as monumental and breathtaking as the buildings were, what was more mind-boggling was that the museum also housed precious artifacts deep underground.

My Parisian friend and hostess, Clarisse, had brought me to the Louvre on my first day in the city. We were doing the Reader’s Digest tour and according to her, this was the best way for me to determine what I wanted to see. We spent most of the day on the subway racing from one historical landmark to another. I hadn’t decided much after my Paris-in-a-Day experience except that I was dying to go back to the Louvre. Continue reading