Didgeri-Doo-Dah, Digeri-A

I have been coughing a lot lately, and feeling a lot of phlegm coming from my lungs. This has been going on for several weeks now, and it is getting quite frustrating. I don’t feel sick, so I think it is a seasonal allergy thing, or perhaps my lungs are trying to heal themselves in some way (I have been doing a bit of semi-cardio lately).

I own a didgeridoo, so I have decided to make it a habit to play it every day. Playing the didge is quite meditative and is conducive to deepening and steadying the breath. I am hoping this will open my airways and help my lungs heal from whatever is ailing them.

So I am going to shoot for 5 minutes of playing every day. I already put in 14 minutes every day for exercise. 19 total minutes a day is not a lot, considering the short and long term benefits of exercise, mediation and deep breathing.

This little ailment of mine has given me a reason to take up a new restorative practice. I am looking forward to the ongoing benefits. Hopefully it will help the cough go away as well.

The tricky thing will be to find a regular time to play. I have a flatmate, so I may not be able to keep to a regular schedule. Because consistency of practice is important to creating a habit, I may need to be a little creative in this endeavour.

I will talk to my flatmate tonight, and ask him when the best time of day would be for me to play the didge.

Whatever the case, playing the didge for 5 minutes a day will be my newest challenge. I will begin tomorrow! Stay tuned…

Unfortunate New Zealand Connection

I submitted my last post – describing how much I enjoyed my New Year in New Zealand – the night before New Zealand experienced its “darkest day.” On Tuesday Feb 22 at around lunchtime, a 6.3 magnatude earthquake hit the Christchurch city center during one of its busiest times, killing hundreds of people and nearly destroying the city.

My heart goes out to New Zeland and the people of Christchurch. I’ve been to New Zealand three times now, and it is one of my favorite places in the world. I plan on going back to visit many times in the future. Hopefully I can soon make my first trip to Christchurch to volunteer in some capacity.

I realize Australia relatively recently has had several natural disasters that have claimed many lives and destroyed homes and land (such as the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria and the recent Queensland floods). My heart goes out to the people of my nearly-adopted land as well.

But New Zealand somehow reminds me of home far away (in West Virginia). It has something to do with the mountains, the air, the wildlife and the simplicity of living in New Zealand that makes it really special to me.

One only has to look at two recent mining disasters that may signify a special cosmic relationship between New Zealand and West Virginia.

On April 5, 2010 an explosion rocked the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia. It was such a monumental disaster that President Barack Obama gave the eulogy for the 29 miners killed.

Just more than seven months later, on November 19, 2010, an eerily similar explosion tore through the Pike River Mine on the South Island of New Zealand. The number of casualties in this accident?

Also 29.

Now I’m no numerologist, but could this be more than a coincidence? Who knows.

All I know is that these disasters will always be a part of life. Hell, developing and third world countries experience disasters many times the size of the ones described above.

I’m not happy about having to write about such incidents, but I think they can somehow help us recognize the fleeting nature of life and the importance of fervently embracing the people and places we love every day.

Who knows when we might no longer have the chance.

Third Trip to NZ and the First New Year (Maybe)

I spent New Year 2011 in Auckland New Zealand, marking my third trip to the country. This time I thought I would get to experience the first new year for any nation in the world, but no one could tell me for sure if New Zeland was truly the first country to welcome the new year. I also heard that the honor instead went to one of the Samoa Island nations. I did not, until recently (and months after this trip), find out the answer. But back to that in a bit…

As always, I was amazed by the tranquil nature of the New Zeland; I was so tranquil by it all (and completely spent from weeks of work), that I spent some days sleeping in my completely dark(good) and equally sweltering(bad) small hostel room.

Wasting a lot of my time snoozing and rambling around the hostel turned out to be a good idea because I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with an exciting mix of people.

One of the most memorable trips for me was a jaunt by ferry to Waiheke Island with a couple of Canadian friends. Together we enjoyed a breezy sunny day on a small still beach against the backdrop of a colorful Pacific Island-like community. My two Canadian travel partners from Calgary had just met each other that day. I had met one of them the day before.

Another cool group of people were the Japanese who really had a good sized contingent at the hostel.  They were all young, friendly and outgoing types who indeed helped me learn a little bit of Japanese. If you are reading my blog for the first time, then I say Hajimemashite readers

I spent the rest of my time reading, learning new recipes, and having a drink or two.

Now, two months after the trip, I am finally getting around to posting some of my pictures (thanks to one of the Canadian friends who was pestering me into getting the pics up). This led me to consider a new blog post. In preparation for this post, I decided to learn once and for all if I could finally tell the world that I was one of the first to see New Year 1-1-11. The best source of information I found was an online article from the Samoa Observer. The report admited that its nation was not, in fact, the first to experience New Year.

Neither was New Zealand’s.

You will learn from the article that Kiribati is the “first nation to party”! 

Read the highly informative article here.

Park by the Sea

Last year about this time, I visited one of Sydney’s most accessible National Parks. It is the Royal National Park, which is about a 45 minute drive from the city. Being transportationless, I took the train there – also a 45 minute ride.

I met up with a guide from the Sydney YHA, an outdoors/social organization. No one else showed up but him and me, and he was nice enough to show me one of the more popular walks.

Some highlights of the day included seeing a blue-tongued skink (a large lizard-like creature, the sight of which is apparently not that common); the Australian national flower (also rare); a tall, moderately gushing waterfall; a swimming hole in the creek at the bottom of the trail; and a faint, grey Sydney skyline visibile in the distance beyond the ridges of the park’s hills (it looked like a strange, straight-angled ridge itself).

The 2nd oldest National Park behind Yellowstone, the Royal is south of Sydney and located on the coast. I didn’t see the coast on this first trip, but I have since been back – and let me tell you, it is amazing (I have some photos from my first trip, but unfortunately, I don’t have any costal photos. Don’t fear though, I will be going back).

There are several beaches that line the coast, and the forest provides a serene backdrop against the choppy Australian surf.

The park also offers canoe rentals that you can take down a meandering river that cuts through the park, and the park is the home of one of the few nude beaches in the Sydney area. Don’t expect any photos of that though; I’m keeping those to myself 😉

One thing I want to do before I leave Sydney is to take one of the park’s most famous hikes, adequately called the Costal Walk. It is a 26 kilometer, two day hike that follows the coast down the entire length of the park, passing all of the cool beaches along the way.

I’m very excited to partake in one of my favorite activities, hiking, and also to have the opportunity to take a break and relax on a beach or two (or three, or four).

Australia definitely offers something new to the outdoor enthusiast, and I am certainly going to soak it all up.

You Can Check Out My Photos Now

I’ve just added a link to my blog that will allow you to access my  photostream in Flickr. Just look to your right, and it is the link that says “Brad’s Travel Photos.” If you follow that link, it will take you directly to my Flickr account where you can see my photos organized into different folders. I’ve got seperate folders for the various trips I’ve taken in Australia, New Zealand, and India.

I only have the basic Flickr account, so I am limited to 100 MB of uploads a month. So you won’t see all of my photos, but I’ve uploaded the select few that I think you will enjoy. You probably don’t want to flip through 100’s of photos anyway.

I hope you like looking at the photos. I know I enjoyed taking them!