BOOK TITLE: The Australia Times - Travel magazine. Volume 2, issue 1

T R Av E L
vol. 2 No. 1
May 2014
EDITOR’S NOTE .................................................................................. 3
WELCOME NOTE .............................................................................. 5
IN SEARCH OF THE REAL VIETNAM ............................................ 6
PACK YOUR WAY TO THE TOP ....................................................... 8
DEATH VALLEY MAGAZINE ....................................................... 12
India: To Tour Or Not To Tour? .................................................. 20
THE NEW EAT, PRAY, LOVE .......................................................... 24
We aim to inform, entertain, teach, encourage, educate and support the community
at large by facilitating communication between all Australians. By providing the
opportunity for all opinions to be shared on a single website.
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We aim to inform, entertain, teach, encourage, educate and support the community
at large by facilitating communication between all Australians. By providing the
opportunity for all opinions to be shared on a single website.
Katie benson
Cover Image:
Katie benson
This issue we focus on the amazing
continent of Asia. Much more than
just a week in Bali, Australians are
seeking out every corner of Asia in
bigger numbers each year. From the
crisp clean streets of Singapore to the
bustling chaos of India, Asia wears
many faces. Between the pages of this
issue of TAT Travel, we venture into
the wilds of Cambodia, find our zen
in Japan and go off in search of the
authentic Vietnam. We even have a
quick quiz to help you figure out your
way around India and how to save the
age old travelling dilemma – how to
squash everything you need into your
We’re also looking forward to hearing
your tales from across the globe, so
please get in touch!
Daniel Borghouts | Jessica Crisp | Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito
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What is it about Australians that pushes us to seek
out other corners of the globe? To go beyond the red
dirt, white sands and oceans blue of our home. Is it
our innate sense of adventure? Or a curious wonder
that brews in the minds of a nation of people so far
away from the places we come from?
If youre travelling for excitement, adventure, escape
or to even to reconnect with family and friends, The
Australia Times Travel magazine aims to bring you
insight into the pieces of the world you’ve always
dreamed of and the places you’ve never heard of.
Each issue we will give you glimpses of foreign and
domestic destinations and paint portraits of what
its like to be a traveller out in our modern world.
Through feature stories, photographic essays, recipes
and postcards, your holiday dreaming starts right
Of course, the best part of travel is sharing experiences
with others, so if you have stumbled upon a part of
the world you would like to talk about, please get in
Linked In:
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As I picked my way through the leaves which had
started to reclaim the path before me, my sense of
excitement grew. Through the foliage of the Mekong
Delta I could hear the faint, metallic sound of
traditional Vietnamese music growing louder as we
reached the clearing. I followed the person in front of
me to a seat under a small bamboo veranda waiting
eagerly until it was our turn to be entertained. When
the music stopped, the singer visited each table -
maybe we would get the chance to pluck at the two-
stringed lute or hear more about the history of the
music they were playing?
An elderly gentleman began tapping his bamboo
xylophone while the vertical violin struck the rst
tinny chord. A whiney voice joined the mix and I
closed my eyes to take in the new sounds. As soon as
the music stopped the singer approached our table,
but excitement quickly turned to suspicion when a
handful of CDs landed on the table. I looked up to the
elderly musicians and back at the CDs and felt a pang
of guilt laced with disappointment as our guide tried
to persuade us this would be the best 100,000 Dong
we would spend.
Dejected at having not made a sale, the singer
stalked to the next veranda where another coach
load of potential customers were waiting patiently.
Our group trudged in silence on to the next stop
on our tour, contemplating what other products
were going to be conspicuously placed in front of
our noses. Dejected myself, I thought back to the
tour I had envisaged; a peaceful boat ride along
the Mekong Delta where I would see authentic,
traditional Vietnam.
That heart-sinking feeling which results from realising
these authentic experiences are not there to show
you another side to Vietnam but to make a few extra
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Dong became all too familiar. I was rushed through
the Cu Chi Tunnels to make room for a constant inux
of crowds being herded to the shooting range to try
out an AK47 for a few thousand Dong. On a quiet
street in Ho Chi Minh, I was invited by a friendly street
vendor to take a picture of his wares only to nd a
fresh coconut swiftly thrust into my hand followed by
a demand for 150,000 Dong (about $7.50).
So it was with trepidation that I climbed on the back
of a Vespa for an after dark food tour of Ho Chi Minh
City. Clinging on for dear life as the Vespa sped down
wide boulevards and swerved through knee-grazing
alleys, I got the feeling this experience was going to
be dierent.
“Eat and drink as much as you want – thats the only
rule on this tour, said our guide before our group of
just four took o into the night-time chaos. Winding
down narrow lanes to the rst street food stop, we
nd ourselves in a part of the city few tourists dare
to venture. Once the most dangerous part of the
city, VinhKhanh, locals crowd onto the pavement to
dine here well into the early hours. Plates of chilli
mussel soup, fried frog legs and caramelised snails
are brought to the table fresh from the display tanks
while our guide lls us in on the local cuisine and top
cooking tips.
Several beers and full stomachs later, we venture
down an unassuming alley and climb a dark, creaking
staircase. In the room above a carpenter’s workshop
the sweet smell of Vietnamese coee hangs delicately
in the air and fairy lights oer only a dim glow. As
we sip the coee ooded with condensed milk, the
piano in the corner of the room plays a few moody
notes until a young girl softly sings the opening
lines to What a Wonderful World before several other
singers and a double bass take their turn.
by Jessica Crisp
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Just across the road down yet another alley, we stop
under a VW Beetle bolted vertically to the wall next
to the entrance of the nal bar, Acoustic. Two stocky
security guards pushed the door open to a live band
springing across a stage. The attempts of the bands
at recreating rock hits was enough to make us smile
and join in with a cursory boogie. All too soon we
were back on the Vespas and being whisked through
the night back to our hotels, the cool breeze and
kamikaze trac constantly jolting us awake.
When seeking out authentic Vietnam I never
envisaged stumbling upon a jazz bar and live rock
music. However, I got to hang out with residents of Ho
Chi Minh City in their favourite places and eat street
food where only the locals choose to go. In Vietnam,
you may get fed up with the frequent attempts to
persuade you to part with your money, but you just
have to take it with a pinch of salt. Authentic Vietnam
is still there and ready to be explored. Just smile at
their ingenuity, as that is as much a part of Vietnam as
the friendliness, craziness and delicious food.
Stubborn packers, rejoice. A sneaky way to maximise those unlled spaces is to enter the world of
lightweight suitcases.
Rolling in between 1.9kg to 2.9, the Firelite range from Samsonite is a guaranteed way to easily store all
your discount shopping and cheesy souvenirs. The range includes three dierent luggage sizes, but each
suitcase shares eye-catching good looks and durable shock absorbent features.
The G Trolley Case from Sub Zero and Antler’s New Size Zero range also make great lightweight alternatives.
Don’t plan an outt for each day of the week. Instead, pack a few pieces and rotate.
Handwashing in hotel bathrooms can work as a cheap wardrobe refresher. It saves room for new clothes,
which you can wear straight after hitting the local shops.
Its the cliché scene of every vacation movie – sitting on a suitcase and wrapping as many bodies
around the great big bag as if it were a rectangular shaped bomb.
We here at TAT Travel understand, so heres our top ve tips on how to avoid breaking the bag
(and the bank) when travelling.
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By Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito
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Forget about deciding whether to fold or roll, one
of the best things you can do to improve your
packing is to use compartments. Packing bags can
keep everything organised, theyre aordable and
surprisingly spacious. Put jeans and jackets in the
larger bags, and socks and undergarments in the
smaller bags.
Try the UPPTÄCKA packing bag set from Ikea.
For those bordering on the point of complete
desperation (or possibly already past it), wear
as many of your heavier items on the ight as
practically possible. Winter coats and boots are the
biggest enemy of space-saving. But on long ights,
coats can make a fantastic alternative to airline
blankets, which are barely snuggle-worthy in the
chilly hours of air travel.
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Thanks to constant developments in technology, you
can save cash and kilos by replacing some seriously
weighty heavy-duty gear like travel guides and
cameras with a smart phone, tablet device and a few
Here are a few apps to help:
• TripIt: This app will help you plan your whole travel
itinerary, so you never miss a ight or get lost again.
TripIt has real-time ight alerts, forward conrmation
emails, directions and weather forecasts. You can
even keep your travel buddies in the loop by sharing
travel plans via email or social media.
XE Currency: Calculate your travel cash on the go
and make sure youre up to date with the exchange
rate wherever you are. Easy.
Viator: Explore the city like a local and get the VIP
treatment with Viator. Once you register, you can skip
long lines, make the most of exclusive oers and low
price guarantees, and lter only the top-rated tours
and attractions because, you deserve it.
Camera+: Feel lighter and avoid looking like a tourist with the popular award winning photography app,
Camera+. This app provides your mobile phone with a range of features that helps you get quality travel
While travel packing can help build the anticipation of going on holiday, it can also be one of the most
frustrating parts of travel.
But there you have it - the top ve tips to packing. Do you swear by any strategies youd like to share?
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After seven months of waiting, I jumped on a plane
in early March for the trip of a lifetime. Bored with life
in Australia, hearing about Death Valley Magazine’s
(a magazine aimed at adventurers, soldiers, security
contractors and interesting people”) new subsidary,
Death Valley Expeditions, maiden trip to Cambodia
was the sort of thing that would probably keep
my mind o rst-world-problems. The trip was
advertised on their website and two other people
(two Americans named Mike and Maurice) paid to
Landing in Phnom Penh, I was immediately held
up and vigorously questioned about my passport
and visa. I anticipated an even more vigorous chat
in a closed-door room when a second immigration
ocer came over. I was later told that Australians
(particularly men) are targeted by Immigration and
Customs in Cambodia because Australia doesn’t have
extradition with the country and some Aussies tend
to go over there to escape charges back home.
After my passport and plane ticket stub were
returned, I beat feet to baggage claim, past the
howling tuk-tuk drivers, to one of our tour guides
Thomas D Moore, survivalist, ex- military contractor,
U.S Army Pathnder and star of the hit survival reality
show “Dude, You’re Screwed!” waiting for me.
We travelled by tuk-tuk to where James Price, editor
in-chief of Death Valley Magazine, was holed up
with our translator, Vanessa. On the short drive, I was
struck by how well the trac owed despite a lack of
obvious road rules. The busy streets seemed to work
ne with people cutting each other o and pushing
through intersections. Tuk-tuks competed with
overloaded vans that managed to squeeze through
busy streets and blind alleys in a way that would
cause a complete trac meltdown in any western
by Daniel Borghouts
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After unloading our gear and checking in to our
rooms at The Grand Mekong Hotel, we regrouped
and went by another tuk-tuk to get Mexican food, in
order to try and help acclimatise Maurice, Mike and
my stomachs to the food, and then on to the Army
The Army Markets can sell you any uniform you want;
ACUs, vintage desert uniforms from the Gulf War and
full police uniforms and badges. Maurice and Mike
bought police uniform pathes and we stopped to
consider whether we should have bought the police
issue body armour for $100.We wandered around the
market, being mindful that our cameras and wallets
couldn’t be easily pickpocketed, which we were
constantly reminded of by James and Vanessa.
The next day, I was woken up around 4am by the
open-air Jazzercise session that was taking place
across the street from my hotel. A few hours later,
we met at the hotel bar and then caught a tuk-tuk
driven by our regular driver, Ali, out to the Cheong Ek
Genocide Centre.
The Cheong Ek Genocide Centre sits on a former
orchard and mass-grave known as The Killing Fields.
Left over from the Khmer Rouge’s reign, this is the
place where political prisoners were brutally killed.
Some graves are yet to be excavated yet and remains,
including bones and rags of clothing, can still be
found at the grounds to this day.
A museum near the entrance showed the history of
torture form this time and proles on some of the KR
leaders. In the middle of the Genocide Centre sits a
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massive Buddhist monument housing thousands of
The already imposing and horrifying memorial
was given a more tangible link when, talking to Ali
outside, he told us about how he escaped the Khmer
We ate lunch at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club by
the river in Phnom Penh, this was a popular hang-out
for journalists who were allowed to stay in the city
when it was held by the KR.
The next day we travelled to Rabbit Island by boat,
which was beautiful beyond words. The beach was
closed in with thick jungle and white sand and the
clear warm water. After a couple of relaxing days on
the beach, we travelled back to the mainland and
back to the hotel.
Needing a break from drinking and visiting genocide
memorials, we decided to see a famous knife shop,
get a massage, hit up a cigar shop and see the only
Jewish Synagogue in Cambodia, which Maurice had
said was something he wanted to do for his Jewish
The highlight of the day had to be the “Seeing Hand”
massage, which was administered by members of
Cambodias blind population. Social services are
lacklustre in Cambodia, a Seeing Hands Massage
oers blind masseurs an good income that helps
them to lead a relatively normal life.
We were unable to nd the notorious North Korean
restaurant, Pyong Yang to eat dinner, so turning
around the tuk-tuks in a dark alley, we went to
Sharkys bar in the heart of Phnom Penh.
Pictures of ex-pats from years gone by
adorned the walls and Sharkys bar shirts were
available for a whopping $30, except for a very
special one: The shirt you get after nishing
three Mortar Rounds, literally three hollowed
out mortar rounds lled with eight shots of
Our group started earlier the next day when
we went to a military base to get the prices of
the weapons we wanted to re at a gun range.
One B-40 rocket $350 each, 30 rounds each on
a Soviet machine gun and one magazine with
an AK-47 both for $50 each.
The soldiers hand loaded the rockets, more
often than not with cigarettes hanging out of
their mouths.
The B-40s were a real rush and the highlight
of the trip, but they had mixed results. When
the rockets did re, the waiting area was close
enough that we all chewed gun powder, dirt
and whatever was on the ground when it was
kicked up by the back blast of the B-40.
For dinner we had a real treat in store for us:
dinner at Vanessas home in a residential
area in Phnom Penh with her very hospitable
family. I was impressed with the idea of a series
of stoves set up on tables in tiled courtyard,
greased with pork fat. We ate barbecued squid,
beef, cabbage, pork and marinated chicken
that was to die for with tofu, chilli and lemon
and pepper sauces.
Now that I’m home in the empty, uncluttered
and altogether grey streets of Melbourne, I
must say that I miss Cambodia a lot; a place
that’s intensity, vibrancy and character was
only revealed because I was there with people
who truly loved South East Asia.
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To Tour Or Not To Tour?
By Katie Benson
India is a country unlike any other. Its vibrant culture, amazing scenery and rich history make it a
destination on many peoples bucket list, but travelling India is no picnic. It is crowded, has several
dierent languages from one end to the other, and the modes of transport (and etiquette surrounding
travel) can be very dierent to what were used to in Australia.
So below is a quick travel quiz for you to gure out just what kind of traveller you are and which way is
the best way for you to tackle India:
1. I love spending hours researching a destination and planning your trip
a) OMG. Yes. I have read my Lonely Planet cover to cover and am taking Hindi classes.
b) I have Googled the places I want to visit and read a little about them.
c) meh. Research. I work too hard to also work on my holiday.
2. Transport in India is a big challenge, I want to
a) tackle it head on, book my own tickets, ride in all the dierent classes on the trains, and guide my
rickshaw driver on where to go
b) ride on all the local transport, but I’m a little wary of knowing where to go and communicating what
I want.
c) see everything I’m interested in in comfort and relative safety. I don’t want to worry about transport.
3. Food is an amazing highlight in India, I’m happy to
a) eat anything and everything. Street food and Delhi belly is part of the experience!
b) try everything, but I want to go to the best places in each destination.
c) go to places where I know the food is of the best quality and I am likely not to get sick.
4. Accomodation in India goes from one end of the spectrum to the other, I want to
a) gure out the best places for myself
b) stay in dierent styles of accommodation, but reputable ones.
c) stay in places that have a certain level of comfort.
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If you answered mostly As:
You’re an avid traveller who likes to make the travelling experience something that is uniquely your own.
Facing the challenges of travelling is important to you, but being prepared is key. To be a smart solo
traveller in India, do your research rst by hitting the Australian Governments Smart Traveller page and
getting your head around an extensive guide like Lonely Planet’s India.
If you answered mostly Bs:
You want an authentic Indian experience, but you want to hand over a lot of the travel details to someone
else. Your best bet for travelling India is to look into grass-route tours like those provided by Intrepid Travel
or On The Go Tours.
If you answered mostly Cs:
You want to see India, but lets face it, you also want this holiday to be as relaxing as possible. And theres
nothing wrong with that – you work hard and holidays are there to be enjoyed. There are plenty of tours
that operate through India, from comfort to absolute luxury.
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By Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito
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In a world where we are bombarded with so much negativity and cruelty, there is something magical about
visiting a place where people of dierent backgrounds from around the world pray, make oerings, and the
same appreciation for Japanese culture and tradition in a mutually spiritually inspiring experience.
Japan is home to some of the most beautiful temples in the world, providing peace among the hustle and
bustle of the metropolitan life. But beyond the soul, Japanese temples can also provide a feast for the eyes
and the stomach!
Hōzōmon, the inner entrance to Sensō-ji temple
Image: Luis Villa del campo © ickr
Sensō-ji – Asakusa, Tokyo
Where: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo Prefecture 111-
0032, Japan
When: Year-round
Despite the abundance of peace sign poses, clumsy
cameras and oversized backpacks, the route to
Sensō-ji temple is the very image of every traditional
Japanese painting and Disney lm ever made. But
while food may be the way to a mans heart, Asakusa’s
sweet buns light a path to something bigger and
Towards the Sensō-ji temple is Nakamise-dōri, one
of the oldest shopping streets in Japan. The path
extends from Kaminarimon Gate to Hōzōmon Gate,
with stores lined side by side to include a range of
incredible Japanese snacks, accessories, fashion and
unique souvenirs.
A few footsteps away from the temple is
AsakusaKagetsudo, a restaurant famous for serving
the countrys favourite sweet bun, melon pan, for
over a decade. AsakusaKagetsudos melon buns are
made with milk, sugar and butter, and baked perfectly
crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside. With its
signature melon-like cut, the Japanese sweet bread
epitomises Japans culture, upholding and sharing
centuries of tradition to locals and tourists from
around the world.
Where: 2-2-10 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo Prefecture 111-
0032, Japan
Visit the Sensoji to see the ve-storied pagoda light
up the night sky
Image: Erik Wilde © ickr
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Image: EckhardPecher © ickr
Kotokuin (Great Buddha of Kamakura) – Kamakura
Where: 4-2-28, Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0016, Japan
April – September 8am – 5.30pm
October – March 8am – 5pm
It might sound cliché, but Japan really does make it easy to forget about overwhelming crowds and
holiday stress when something so spiritually gratifying about the beauty and authentic designs of the
Kamakura period (1192-1333) in the Great Buddha of Kamakura overtakes you.
Recognised as the second tallest bronze Buddha in Japan, the 13.35-meter statute of Amida Buddha sits
atop the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. After typhoons destroyed the surrounding buildings in the 14th
century, the statue now rests outdoors.
Although the temple is open most months, the temple shop is open year-round.
For more information visit: http://www.kotoku-in.jp/en/visit/visit.html
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A spectacular view for one of the most famous temples in Japan
Image: Wikimedia © ickr
Kiyomizu-dera Temple – Kyoto
Kiyomizudera (translation: Pure Water Temple) is a temple built without a single nail and stands on the
grounds of the Otowa Waterfall in Kyoto. Cherry and maple trees surround the temple, with stunning
views radiating from the well-known wooden stage which projects out from the main hall.
The Jishu shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking can also be accessed behind
the main hall. It is believed nding your way from one end to the other with your eyes closed can bring
good luck when it comes to nding love.
The Otowa Waterfall at the base of the main hall has three streams. Each stream is said to have a dierent
benet, including longevity, success in school and a fortunate love life. Visitors can use a cup provided to
drink the water. But taking a sip from all three streams is regarded greedy.
Where: 294 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0862, Japan
When: See the calendar for dates and opening hours
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Periods of special night opening varies year to year
Image: Alistair McFarlane ©
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