Monday, September 3, 2012

Links and connections: not the same thing

In a waiting room today, I picked up a dog-eared copy of Mindfood magazine to read an article about Kiva, the micro-loan scheme I'd heard about when I was down in Queenstown doing the Ziptrek off Bob's Peak. It's a great idea: think about it. Anyway, then I looked for the travel section and saw a story titled 'Great Northern Land', referencing the song and unofficial Oz anthem 'Great Southern Land', just re-released by Tourism Australia accompanying a video of scenery with assorted Aussies singing along, and which I watched only this morning.

I recognised the images in the magazine instantly, having used several of the same ones myself for a story about a campervan trip through the Northern Territory a couple of years ago - and, in fact, I recognised myself in one of them, at our elegantly-set table beside the Katherine River, halfway through a kayak trip along that croc-infested river. Over the back of my chair is my faithful red jacket, which I happened to be wearing as I read Lorna's story (which mentioned how she went down most of the rapids backwards - she was a great sport about our heartless laughter). It was a good trip, lots of fun and with plenty of different experiences, and the company was very congenial too. We even had a photographer along, Peter Eve, who took this one, which took the pressure off us writers to produce our own worthy images.

The editor of Mindfood is Michael McHugh, who was also on the trip to Macau last year, a destination I perhaps unkindly slated yesterday. It's not that the place has nothing to offer - on the contrary, it's  an interesting mix of Chinese and Portuguese, it's pretty, the food is excellent, there are plenty of sights and activities to occupy a visitor popping across during a Hong Kong stopover, and some of the hotels are amazing. That was the problem, though: we saw far, far too many of them, the organiser of the famil treating us more like travel agents than travel writers. We spent so much time surrounded by marble and chandeliers and huge floral arrangements that we only had about 20 minutes with the pandas. And that's just tragic.

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