Face Time with Cathys Eels

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Face Time with Cathy’s Eels

By Don Silcock

PNG_12_Feb_NI_D16_Land_110-1024x681Possibly not everybody’s idea of fun, but for me it was a most unusual and entertaining way to spend an afternoon – upfront and personal with a significant number of large and hungry fresh water eels.

“Cathy” is Cathy Hiob, a former Air Nuigini air hostess who has retired back to her village of Laraibina, some 90 km from Kavieng, down the east coast of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea.

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22 years of flying with the national airline has provide Cathy with a seemingly endless string of one-liners, which she really seems to relish using with the many visitors who come to see her flock of fresh-water eels.

In fact, you get the distinct feeling that you are part of a very well-rehearsed routine, as you sit chatting with her in the shade of one of the many trees in the village. But, as amusing as the banter is with this feisty lady with the shock of white hair, the one-liners are just the warm-up act for the star attraction.

For in the village stream are some 10-12 large fresh-water eels and Cathy, together with her trusty assistant, has trained them on a diet of Besta tinned mackerel to appear on demand when they hear the feeding pot being rattled.

 

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The training has worked extremely well – too well in fact, as I subsequently learned when the last tin of Besta had gone and the eels disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.

Unfortunately this occurred just as I was getting the hang of being surrounded by large slivering eels, each equipped with an impressive set of teeth.

The usual routine is to stand in the stream and let the eels swim around your feet as Cathy’s assistant doles out the Besta, but I really wanted to get a close-up underwater shot of the eels feeding, so total immersion therapy seemed to be the be the way to go.

I carefully positioned myself at the feet of Cathy’s assistant, shivering slightly in the cold fresh water and feeling strangely vulnerable…

The first tin of Besta was opened and the feeding pot suitably rattled and within seconds I was surrounded by what appeared to be a seething mass of eel flesh!

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Clearly caught up in the overall excitement of the moment, Cathy’s assistant opened tin after tin in rapid succession, as the eels gorged on the mackerel. Then, just as I felt I was getting the hang of this veritable feeding frenzy the last tin was gone and the eels disappeared as quickly as they had appeared!

We tried all sorts to bring them back, even offering our lunch of fresh tuna to tempt them to the camera dome, but all to no avail as the Besta appears to be the only thing that will do it for them!

So… on my next trip to New Ireland and thanks to the usual superb support of Dietmar and Angie Amon of Lissenung Island Resort, we embarked from Kavieng with a case and a half of Besta’s very best – enough for at least two eel banquets!

Cathy was at the exuberant best when we arrived and we sat with her under the tree for the obligatory chat and one-liners – no repeats I noticed…

Then after detailed instructions regarding the timing and rate of dispersal of the Besta were carefully explained to Cathy’s assistant, I positioned myself amongst the eager eels and the feeding began.

The phrase “herding cats” came to mind as I tried very hard to get a good image as the eels slithered in and out of the viewfinder and lumps of mackerel were dispersed and consumed at an alarming rate!

All in all, quite an usual and very interesting way to spend the last day of your trip to Kavieng and let that nitrogen return to where it came from.

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About Don

Don is a Bali based photojournalist and underwater photographer who travels extensively in South-East Asia and China.

You can read more about Papua New Guinea, and many other places, on his website http://www.indopacificimages.com

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Seven Lessons Learned As A Female Traveler

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Seven Lessons Learned as A Solo Female Traveler

By Leslie Patrick

Images by Steven Moore

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I love traveling, and I’m game for an adventure any time. Trouble is, most of my friends and family are holding down full-time jobs, stuck in that dismal two-weeks-of-holiday-per-year rut. So what’s a girl to do when the hankering to hit the road arises, but no one is free to accompany? Travel solo. We’ve all heard the horror stories of female travelers getting into less than pleasant situations, but what we don’t hear are the millions of stories of women traveling in perfect safety every day–not sensational enough for the newspapers of course. All it takes to successfully travel solo is common sense and a spirit of adventure. I’ve done it many times–in North America, South America and Asia–I’ve lived to tell the tale and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way.

1. Trust People

As a woman, when you tell people you’ll be traveling solo, you hear exclamations like, “Is that safe?” and “Be careful!” Rarely is a “Good for you!” or “How exciting!” uttered, even among the most well-meaning of friends. Of course it’s true that a woman alone in the world must be vigilant and aware of her surroundings, but that is the case whether you’re walking down the block in your own city or on a crowded street in Bangkok. Trouble is, that with all the vigilance going on sometimes we forget that most people are not of the out-to-get-you variety, instead they offer a friendly smile, give you directions, take your photo and don’t steal your bag as you leave your seat to use the restroom on an overnight bus. Definitely be aware, but give people a chance, too.

2. Trust Yourself

Yes, trust others, but first trust yourself. Your instincts are there for a reason and if they say something is sketchy, listen. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself if you think you’re being cheated or taken advantage of. Many women don’t say anything because they don’t want to offend people–myself included–but I am beginning to learn that when alone on the road, you must put yourself first because no one else will.

3. Be Prepared

As a long time Girl Scout, I learned this motto well, and it’s served me into my adult life as a traveler. When you’re on the road alone, you’re it. There’s no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to help you read that unintelligible map and no one to borrow toothpaste or sunscreen from when you’ve forgotten your own. Though it’s nearly impossible to be prepared for ANY situation (after all, you wouldn’t want to carry the kitchen sink around in your backpack for weeks) it’s smart to try. Make lists of must-have items, always have a contingency plan should a hostel be fully booked or you miss your train, and always carry a snack should you find yourself in the middle of nowhere on a broken down bus for five hours.

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4. Get Involved

You consider yourself a brave adventurer; after all you did set out on a solo trip, right? No matter what your personality type, when you’re traveling alone for an extended length of time, there are going to be those moments of loneliness where you’d give anything to be transported home for just one night. Don’t let these moments get you down, they will pass. They may not even weasel their way into your consciousness if you are proactive in the first place, by taking that Spanish class, signing up for excursions or hanging out in the common room of your hostel to meet fellow solo vagabonds.

5. Prepare to Splurge

For most of us, budget travel is our MO. And it’s an amazing feeling to see a chunk of the world on a small wad of cash. But when you are traveling solo, even the best budget intentions can evaporate when it’s midnight, the bunks are booked and all that’s left is a private room, or you miss the airport shuttle and have to splurge on a private taxi to make your flight on time. There’s no one to split the bill for these unforeseen expenses when you’re single, so stash a little extra money to shell out should an unexpected yet unavoidable budget buster arise.

6. Smile

It amazes me when I travel to see so many of my fellow travelers walk around with a miserable grimace on their face. You’re on a trip! Exploring the world! Be happy for crying out loud! Not only does smiling possibly make all those less-than-pleasant ticket vendors, immigration officers, waiters and bus drivers slightly more endeared to you, but it may be just the thing that your fellow traveler needs to make their day a little brighter.

7. Get out of your Comfort Zone

I’ve never ridden a horse before in my life, so on a recent solo trip to Argentina, I surprised myself by signing up to go horseback riding in the Andes. Scared was an understatement as I put my foot in the stirrups of what seemed to me a giant beast. But once I made it to the saddle, and began to amble along the trail, my heart rate receded and I was able to look around and enjoy the splendor of the mountains. By opening up and doing something you wouldn’t normally consider, you’ll have surprising new experiences, meet different kinds of people and have that awesome “I did it” rush.

Chic Les

About Leslie
Leslie Patrick is an international freelance journalist focusing on travel, culture and lifestyle. Her work has appeared in Salon, AFAR, Marie Claire, Travel + Leisure, Islands, United Airlines’ Hemispheres Magazine and Monocle among other publications. Visit her website at lesliepatrick.com, or her travel blog, The Chic Adventurer.

 

2014 Bucket List

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2014 Bucket List

By Rowena Mynott

 

I go through this every year. I sit down, I make a list of resolutions but when end of the year rolls around and it’s time to sit down to write the next years list, inevitably I find that I haven’t fulfilled many of the resolutions on the previous list. Although it is an ancient tradition, it seems I am not alone in my failure to adhere to ‘the list’. That’s probably not a bad thing. We punish ourselves enough for putting on weight over christmas, for not being good enough at our jobs, for not having the big house or earning enough money. So how about this. How about we set positive goals for the next year? There are plenty of people online that I come across who are doing just that. Similarly to a resolution list they write a list of things that they want to achieve that year, the difference being that they are bucket list items. Items that the author is excited about achieving be it taking a skydive or tasting 6 different types of chocolate. And if you don’t manage to tick every item off? It really doesn’t matter! So here we go. Here is my list for 2014:

1 – Kayak with orcas

2 – See grizzly bears in the wild

3 – Train through the Rockies

4 – Pay off a strangers lay-away Christmas gift for their children

5 – 52 Project

6 – Cage dive with crocodiles in Darwin

7 – Read the top 10 novels of all time

8 – Write an e-book

9 – Learn to play the guitar

10 – Visit a new country

11 – Take a new class

12 – Exercise regularly

13 – Sail around Haida Gwaii

14 – Visit Jasper NP

15 – Visit Banff

16 – Dive Fiji

17 – Visit Tintagel Castle in Cornwall

18 – Take part in an archaeological dig

19 – Eat baguettes, cheese and drink wine in France

20 – Take a helicopter flight

21 – Visit Halden Forest Park with Ethan

22 – Celebrate the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival

23 – Take a narrow boat trip around the English canals

24 – Explore Lundy Island

25 – See how many whales we can spot in the Bay of Fundy

26 – Taste chocolate in Belgium

27 – See otters in the wild

28 – Tobermory, Isle of Mull

29 – Edinburgh Castle

30 – Ride on a steam train

31 – Shoot a quiver of arrows

32 – Introduce my son to a monkey

33 – Hold a bird of prey

I am super excited about this list and can’t wait to start achieving it and sharing with you.  What is on your list this year? I’d love to hear – perhaps pick up some inspiration.

 

 

 

 

Taking Stock 002

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Taking Stock 002

By Rowena Mynott

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Life is so busy these days, especially at this time of the year with Christmas just past and a new year ahead. It is easy and forget to sit down, take a breath and appreciate what’s good in your life right now at this very moment.

I have been reading these on a few blogs lately – I think the original came from Pip at Meet Me At Mikes. Great idea Pip. :-) It’s something that I plan to complete each month.

Making: Plans for 2014
Cooking: Will be more adventurous this year!
Drinking: Good English tea
Reading: About Bletchley Park (The code breaking team that cracked the Enigma code back in World War Two)
Wanting: For nothing
Looking: Forward to Melbourne in March
Playing: With my new toy – a kayak that I got for Christmas. Loving it!
Wasting: Nothing
Sewing: Birthday presents for three year old birthday parties
Wishing: I had my camera when I found a baby turtle whilst out kayaking
Enjoying: Watching 80’s movies over the holiday period.
Waiting: For my Go Pro to arrive!
Liking: This cooler weather
Wondering: If the cooler weather will last …
Loving: Giving the house a good spring clean (Am I the only one that feels compelled to start the new year with a clean and organised house?)
Hoping: To get back out in the kayak soon
Marvelling: At how many people are getting behind 72andrising.org – thank you all for your support
Needing: Nothing
Smelling: Lillies
Wearing: Clothes! (A novelty after the past week of hot weather!)
Following: My soul
Noticing: Each and every sunset of late
Knowing: That everything is where it should be right now
Thinking: That after reading about the bush fires recently that were not too far away, we really should have an emergency plan in action.
Feeling: Calm
Bookmarking: Amazing things to see in Canada
Opening: My emails
Giggling: At Michael McIntyre – he is one funny man.
Feeling: Hopefully about 2014

Fancy giving it a go? Here we are. Be sure to share with me too – I’d love to read a moment of you captured.

Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Wasting:
Sewing:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving: 
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Needing:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Feeling:
Bookmarking:
Opening:
Giggling:
Feeling:

Happy pondering …

- Rowena x
 

Weekly Photo Challenge: One

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Weekly Photo Challenge: One

By Rowena Mynott

Photography is always something that I have been passionate about. I was seven when my Great Auntie first introduced me to it using a Box Brownie camera (which I still have). Since then I have amassed quite a collection of both cameras and images, but I have never dedicated as much time to it as I would like. When I came across the weekly photo challenges I decided to sign up and give it a go. I have tried daily photo challenges in the past – they started out great for a while but life got in the way as it inevitably does. I’m hoping a weekly challenge might be more achievable … lets see shall we?

The Challenge

Each week we are given a different theme and need to post an image that fits that theme. This week the image needs to depict ‘One’:

“This week, we want to see photos that focus on one thing. Maybe you’ve got a stark photo of a single tree silhouetted against the setting sun, or a lone sandpiper wandering the beach as waves crash. Perhaps you’ve caught your mother sitting by herself in a moment of quiet contemplation. Maybe you saw a basket of wriggling puppies, and got a photo with a single fuzzy face in focus.”

One

I have always had a fascination with the ocean and old structures. This jetty in Western Australia was particularly striking set against a setting sun and such a calm ocean.

There is just one life for each of us: Our own!

- Euripides

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The lonesome jetty in Western Australia

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

By Rowena Mynott

 

Photography is always something that I have been passionate about. I was seven when my Great Auntie first introduced me to it using a Box Brownie camera (which I still have). Since then I have amassed quite a collection of both cameras and images, but I have never dedicated as much time to it as I would like. When I came across the weekly photo challenges I decided to sign up and give it a go. I have tried daily photo challenges in the past – they started out great for a while but life got in the way as it inevitably does. I’m hoping a weekly challenge might be more achievable … lets see shall we?

 

The Challenge

Each week we are given a different theme and need to post an image that fits that theme. This week the image needs to depict ‘Community’:

 

“Community. When I think of this word, I imagine all sorts of scenes: A family sitting and chatting in a living room. Crowds gathering in squares to watch a holiday tree lighting. Or even some of the spaces on the web that I frequently visit, like The Daily Post.”

 

 

Community

As the brief mentions, the term community conjures images of many different things. For me it’s a warm word full of memories of laughter, togetherness and support.

The word itself derives from the latin word of communitas: com meaning together and munus meaning gift. The image I have selected to share today encapsulates the original meaning of this word. It shows two children on the shores of a beach on Espiritu Santo  in Vanuatu. At a very young age they had been out to sea together on their handmade outrigger canoe held together with various colours and thicknesses of string, to gather fish for their family and friends. Together they were bringing gifts for their community.

 

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Children in Vanuatu haul in their boat after a successful fishing trip

 

A Sustainable Gift From Me To You …

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A Sustainable Gift From Me To You …

By Rowena Mynott

 

If you are anything like me at the end of the year you are feeling a little drained and exhausted. On top of that you have to contend with doing battle in the shops and if you are in any way, shape or form looking for an environmentally friendly product, rummaging through piles of plastic or plastic wrapped gifts can be disheartening. So, I am going to try and make it easier for ONE person (I’d love to treat you all but it’s just not possibly I’m afraid!) and give away a fantastic sustainable gift pack. It includes:

  • Glass Dharma straw
  • A hemp carrying pouch for the straw (so you can throw it in your bag and not worry about breakages)
  • A bamboo toothbrush
  • A copy of Bag It the movie
  • A lovely pewter dolphin keyring crafted by Roland St John (to remind you of why you are living sustainably)

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These glass straws are fantastic products, I use mine for both hot and cold drinks, they are easy to clean and easy to carry around in the little pouch. The bamboo toothbrush is made entirely from sustainable and biodegradable bamboo (it’s even panda friendly!) If you haven’t seen the movie Bag It you really need to. If you are hoping to give this as a gift to encourage someone to live more sustainably then this movie might be the eye opener they really need. It’s a stunning example of why we need to reduce the amount of plastics we use. Finally, the beautiful little dolphin can be attached to keys or a bag for a daily reminder of the ocean.

 

 

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So, how do you win? Simple. Follow these simple steps and in a weeks time I will announce the winner.

1) Sign up to the 72&Rising Newsletter

2) Like 72&Rising on Facebook

3) Optional extra for bonus points – tell me in the comments below who you are wanting the gift for and why

4) Optional extra for bonus points – share this post with your friends

 

Good luck – feel free to share this far and wide. Plastic pollution is an issue that effects us all. Lets see if we can do our bit to reduce it

The fine print …

  1. Unfortunately I can’t guarantee delivery for Christmas 
  2. This offer is open for Australian residents only
  3. You must complete the required steps to be in the running
  4. Winner will be picked at random on December 22nd