Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Real Travel Magazine - February 2009: book review of Miriam Toews' "The Flying Troutmans"

A book review for UK-based Real Travel magazine:

Returning home to Canada following the break-up of her relationship, Hattie takes it upon herself to care for her niece and nephew, after her sister Min is admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Within no time at all, acting on her instincts, Hattie decides to set off on a road trip to find the childrens’ estranged father, who they are lead to believe lives in California.

It soon becomes apparent that the traveling itself is far more important than the actual destination that represents an escape from the family lives they knew. With flashbacks to the past, the reader learns more about the family’s history and the reasons behind the childrens’ sometimes erratic behaviour.

The author mixes humor with bursts of raw emotion in a direct discourse style, and The Flying Troutmans is a captivating and engaging read from the outset, depicting a journey of self-discovery for all involved.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

It's not such a Lonely Planet after all - Tales of an Indian Dream

An article I wrote towards the end of 2008, detailing my ideal trip travelling across the southern region of India, beat over 300 entries to be one of the five winning articles to be published as part of Lonely Planet’s Big Trip book promotion, a one-stop guide to planning your first big trip overseas, which is on sale at the moment.

The Big Trip guide will be full of information and tips to help plan fellow travellers’ trips and is available in all STA Travel shops in Australia and New Zealand.

This is what my local newspaper, the
Nottingham Evening Post, had to say about my travel writing win.

And here is my winning entry:

As I arrive in Kerala, known by many as God’s Own Country, there will be no doubt in my mind that I am finally here in the land that I have always dreamt of visiting.

From Fort Cochin, I travel to the “Venice of the East” where I board my houseboat. As I cruise along the canals, flanked by village houses, everywhere I look there is a microcosm of daily life: colourful women washing their hair or the family’s clothes; laughing children swinging out into the canal on palm fronds; wizened old men fishing off the banks; cows being milked and goats on ropes being led back home. Gliding along, I enjoy the unique aquatic life that the backwaters have to offer, along with the otters and turtles that live in and around the water. The palm trees and leafy plants that grow alongside the backwaters provide a green hue to the surrounding landscape.Come dusk, the boat moors up by a canal bank where I watch the sun go down. I am lulled to sleep by the gentle flapping of the monsoon covers and the steady drumming of the rain on the reed roof.

From Kerala I take a boat to the Lakshadweep islands, a set of 36 coral islands that dazzle in their own vibrant colours. Renowned as India’s turquoise jewel and oblivious to the rest of the world, Kadamat Island is my haven for the weeks to come. I indulge my passion for diving among the unspoiled coral reefs. Exploring the underworld, I come face to face with resting turtles, lionfish, shoaling fish, groupers and tuna. Whilst nosing around a cleaning station, I discover a group of guitar sharks whizzing around on the top of a reef, showing off to each other. I stop and observe from a distance – they certainly will not notice me in my bright red wetsuit!

By night I laze around chatting to the local fishermen about coconuts and fish, discovering more about the daily life of an Indian sea nomad. The mysterious and white sandy beaches envelop me more than I could ever have imagined, despite there being a distinct lack of Facebook access.

Soon it is time for me to leave. As my boat departs the island, a man waves at me from the shore telling me I have forgotten one of my bags. Guess I’ll have to go back…