Egyptian City Lights

Do you want to see the real Egypt? he asked. Meet me back here tonight and I will show you…

I’d seen enough movies to know that wasn’t a good idea. I knew we were just two young women in a strange city, in a foreign country. We didn’t know the culture, we didn’t know where was safe or who to trust. Continue reading

No Longer a Place to Call Home

“Sometimes I just don’t tell people what is going on in our country, on the streets we grew up on and to the people we know,” she says, eyes forward with no hint of pain in her voice. “We have already cried so much and experienced such devastation and fear, but as the government controls most of the news, we feel as if most of the world just doesn’t know the full story.” Ok then, let’s hear it. Continue reading

Drive Fast or Loose the Car

We have twelve minutes to get off the road. Twelve minutes to get from the city centre to our home in the north, before the car is seized. …so we had better drive fast.

The traffic in Colombia’s capital thickens to a slow ooze, our ducking and weaving dragging to a mournful halt as we and other drivers attempt to make a dash for parking before our curfew.

“It’s the government’s way of regulating traffic,” my friend tells me, running panicked fingers through her dark hair as we watch the minutes ticking by a little too fast. Continue reading

Holy men

Nepalese Holy Men abide within the walls of Pashuputinath Temple in Kathmandu. They ask for money for food and tobacco. He has devoted his life to the quest for spiritual enlightenment, forgoing a career, home, education… a ‘normal life’ to seek enlightenment so that we do not have to.

That is what I’m told. Continue reading

The Merchants of Thamel

I’m tripping through the streets of Thamel, doe eyed and foggy, with the sights and sounds of Nepal’s capital closing in. At least we are moving, that’s important right now. We need to keep moving because the ground feels like it’s getting away on us.

I’m surrounded by lights poking holes in the thick dust that chokes the streets. The dust creeps in through your mouth and fills you up, sliding beneath your skin.

Bump. Marijuana?… Continue reading

Kicking Up Dust

After the first performance, we couldn’t get them to stop! If they were moving, they were dancing. The campsites would fill with dust as the children practised their ‘shake a leg’, dodging smacks and yells from the adults who were opposed to having dust in their tents and cooking. At night our tent cities would come alive with campfires, fluro lights and the smell of food cooking.

“This is how we do it,” Aunty Nandy would tell me, teaching me to make island scones or cook enough rice and yam for a horde of hungry dancers. Continue reading

Viva en el Amor: River of Ice in the Land of Fire

Go now, see this natural wonder of the world while it still exists.

We woke early, the sun already carving a passage of light through the white clouds despite only having set late the night before. It was cold, the air fresh, and our skin tingled with the anticipation of what the day held in store.

A river turned to stone. Brilliant blue ravines cutting through peaks of white. A wall of ice moving slowly through through the mountains, crashing, breaking into the lake below.  Continue reading

Quit Your Job and Learn to Surf

Taste the salt on your lips, feel the heat of the sun on your legs and the gentle push of the wave as it takes your board. Paddle, lift up, arch your back, back leg, front leg, crouch…. and stand. You’re literally walking on water, riding the swell of the sea gently into shore, passing the bobbing heads of swimmers as they duck under the incoming wave. The first time you stand up on a surfboard is a pretty incredible experience.

So, he says, you’ve quit your job and now you’re learning to surf. His skin is tanned like leather and his hair bleached from the sun. He’s been surfing everyday for the last twenty-something years. He helps me glide the foam long board through the baby surf. Continue reading

At the Edge of the Earth

We are standing at the edge of the earth… The entire world just seems to drop away in all directions, dissolving into grey as thick clouds engulf the Annapurna range we are standing on.

As we climb higher along the ridge, the clouds close in to kiss our cheeks, leaving our skin slightly damp and cold. We are 3000m above sea level, between Tadipani and Ghorepani, and on a clear day this ridge would award trekkers with 360 degree mountain vistas; but for us, we will have to wait another day. Continue reading

Under the Arora

“Look up,” his voice ringing through the clear night, “she is right above our heads, she is dancing!”

We are perched on the rocks between the powder white snow and the freezing water of a northern fjord a few hours drive from Tromso, Norway.

We crane our necks to stare in awe at the sky, as the green glow stretches from the frozen mountain peaks shining ghostly white under the full moon, and drifts, shivering across the sky.

Constantly shifting, she ebbs and flows like quicksand between the constellations, disappearing only to reappear in a new direction, painting the sky in a fleeting incandescent  ink.

Jessica Rhian photography

We had left the city of Tromso a few hours earlier that night, with hopes of seeing the lights kept low, on a tight leash. It’s jokes that Arora is like any woman, driven by whim and prone to fickle changes in behaviour. She’s difficult to predict, and you need to get lucky.

The lights are the result of a specific cocktail of environmental and meteorological conditions, that when mixed just right- will result in the phenomenon. There are many tales of people setting out to chase the lights, night after night, and not a flicker.

In short, the sight is a result of particles, which are hurled from the sun’s solar storms, and caught in the Earth’s electromagnetic fields. The particles are drawn down to the poles, and here they collide with atoms in our atmosphere- creating energy that is emitted as light. Green for oxygen, red for nitrogen.

From below, when conditions are right, we can see a breathtaking arora. The dancing lights.

And we got lucky. We had a clear night, below freezing temperatures and a sun storm a few days prior.

From the insulation of our snow suits (and about ten other layers under that), we watched as the skies came alive. The lights started softly, a haze similar to a strand of light cloud cover against the starry sky. Even at this tiny flicker, we stood watching with jaws dropped, small puffs of steam obscuring the view with each breath.

For so many of us, this sight has been a far off wonder that we thought we might never see. Yet there, hovering above the mountain fjords of Norway, a green glow – that could be nothing but the collisionos solar wind particles against our planet’s atmosphere- was growing brighter.

And she grew stronger, leaping across the sky, creating a river of twisting green light above our heads.

The best way to see the full spectacle is to lie on the ground, face to face with the heavens. It was somewhere around -20 degrees Celsius by this point and the beach we were on smelled faintly of rotting fish and livestock manure (I like to think this might be from moose or reindeer nearby). Embraced in nature, we lit a small camp fire on the rocks to thaw our fingers and faces and once again turned our attention to the skies.

In the sub-freezing cold, the lights danced from one side of the sky to the other, andfir around 3 hours, we were mesmerised.

We were lucky. We were lucky to have the conditions just right to see the Arora. But even without that, the experience of lying on the beach, ice glistening from the seaweed washed ashore, the campfire crackling and throwing shadows against the snow, the mountains glowing under the full moon- it was incredible. To be surrounded by nature- the stars, the mountains, the fish head and the moose of my imagination, that would have been enough. To see the lights was the magic on top of an incredible night in the Norwegian natural landscape.

Thanks Norway, takk.

Why it’s ok to cry on an aeroplane.

Please stow your tray tables in the upright position and politely look away from the travellers who are having a silent breakdown.

For some reason, I think it’s ok to cry on airplanes. Well, from my experience it seems like something that’s accepted, politely overlooked by other weary travellers by a stiff smile and a diverted glance.

People are generally leaving somewhere loved, someone loved… returning to someone loved… or coming to the realisation that at the end of the baggage claim line, there is no loved one waiting this time.

It’s something that seems to be accepted with a kind look, instantly replaced with casual indifference. You can cry. Silently. It’s understood, it’s ok. For some reason it is and I’m not going to ask you to explain or pull yourself together. Go ahead, but into the window or quietly into the darkness if you don’t mind.

I guess the crying people don’t make a scene and their sadness is something that sometimes just shows the others how lucky they are to have someone waiting when they land or when they return. It’s a kind of unspoken social currency- you can have this moment without judgement, without awareness or restraint and we can be thankful for our own lives.

Anyway, I seem to do this a lot… cry on airplanes that is. I get attached, I love too deeply and I can’t stay still, it’s an interesting mix. Also I’m usually completely exhausted and to be honest,  I’m usually crying beside I’m sad to leave the people and places I love,  and at the same time overwhelmingly happy to be going back to the people and places I love. It’s a lot to deal with, over 1,000 feet up, far away from anyone but disturbingly close to my own thoughts and emotions.

We touch down and I hail a cab. The cabby asks how my day has been… I say ok. He says ok too.

It’s ok to lie about these things too sometimes. Anyway its only a 30min cab ride before I get home and there my enormous dog will be beside himself just to see me. There will be such extreme tail wagging that he throws him off his feet, and there will be face licks and cuddles and that look; never leave again. My housemates will give me a hug and be genuinely excited I’m home, and I know I’ll be grateful that I have such an incredible place to come home to.  That’s it right?  You can find yourself stranded in limbo; as the night sky, the long week and separation mix dangerously with the confines of the cabin and the hostess’ voice grating on about seat-belts at a volume that will split eardrums… and apparently… in that moment, it’s ok to be human.

All the time, and not enough money.

There is an a conflict in the adult world that no one seems to warn you of before you decide to grow up and become one of these contributing members of society. That is; you need a job so you have money to buy food, clothes, travel and other fun things (as well as the not so fun things like bills and rent, but your adult job will sort that right out.)

The problem then is; where do you find the time? Surely I can’t be pouring this much of my golden years into ensuring I have the means to live when I only have the few hours after work or one day a weekend to do it Continue reading

Up close in the Capital city

BOGOTA. 9AM (PEAK HR) Up close. Armpit close. In latin america it’s not uncommon for the men to wear as much, or sometimes more perfume than the women. It’s nice, they smell good and thankfully too, as there are certain times of day you will find yourself pressed firmly against a chest, arm or other body part when trying to get around the capital city of Colombia. Continue reading

Rice Mag Issue 5: Eddie Relax

Rice Mag Issue 5 is exploring Egypt on the back of a motorcycle, finding yourself on the floor of a mosh at a festival and helping a friend through depression…

Issue 5: Eddie Relax

Issue 5: Eddie Relax

Emotions tend to exacerbate themselves, I think to myself, feeling the smile creep across my face, spreading from a hyperactive ball of light settled deep in my stomach. I let the sunlight spread through my veins, coursing and flowing like a river that will inspire everything it touches. …My point?  Continue reading

Off the Wall

Thats the beauty of street art, right? It’s always a collaboration, always dynamic. A constant interaction between the art that was there and the next art that will add or cover yours. You can’t control the weather, the heat, the rain, the wind, the art is shaped by the environment it is created in. It belongs to the streets. Continue reading