Escaping Winter’s Shackles

22-10-2014 11-04-33 AM

There is nothing quite like the feeling of anticipation that comes with planning a trip. By our standards, the winter here in the south has felt long this time around. It has been wet, windy and cold. For months, my friends and I have squeezed into our wetsuits and battled the dash across the numbingly cold sand only to quip and reflect on distant memories of surfing in board shorts.

Much of the winter was spent crowding around small tables in pubs watching football and plotting our next escape. Not surprisingly, everyone spat out suggestions involving warm water, cold beers and a tropical climate. With the weather once again warming, the memories of the biting cold are still fresh enough to encourage banter of escaping the grasp of the cold next year. As expected, the likely destination of choice is Indonesia.

If the feeling of anticipation is high when planning a local road trip, it is off the Richter when planning a trip to Indo. The feeling of being surfed out, cheap beers, warm water and friendly locals is the stuff dreams are made of, for surfers anyway. Riding a motorbike around a desolate island in search of uncrowded, perfect waves is an adventure in its own right and one that you want to live for the rest of your days.

The true beauty of the Indonesian archipelago becomes apparent when you drag yourself away from the circus that is Bali and explore beyond the well worn tourist tracks. Once away from the big lights and bustling holiday crowds, the sky opens up to present stars that seem closer than they do at home. The stillness of the evening air fittingly arrives as the soothing sound of the Imam’s call to pray rings out from the land across the water. It is moments like these that the cold of home, the heavy jackets, the closed in shoes and the wintry weather feels like it is a million miles away. Bring on next winter’s escape!

22-10-2014 11-20-06 AMEmpty waves and warm water.

22-10-2014 11-19-51 AMSimplicity at its very best!

22-10-2014 11-12-22 AMEnjoying the easy life and slowing it down.

22-10-2014 11-10-17 AMCheningan cliff jump.

22-10-2014 11-21-31 AMUnknown setting up with it all ahead of him.

22-10-2014 11-20-27 AMPicture perfect.

22-10-2014 11-11-51 AMWinding down after a big day in paradise.

Smile and Take Stock of What You Have

21-10-2014 10-40-24 AM

We all have rough days, some more than others. I have days where it seems the world and all of its forces are working against me. Days where I feel like I simply should have stayed in bed. Luckily, these days don’t roll around too often but when they do, I force myself to reflect on the good things in my life. The people who love me and the good fortune I am blessed with.

Last year I was walking back from the beach on a hot afternoon when I came across a pile of junk that someone had left on the curb for the council cleanup. Usually, the thought of sorting through a pile of trash in search of another man’s treasure does not appeal to me but on this occasion I was stopped in my tracks. Staring back at me was a photograph of a little old Vietnamese lady wearing what is possibly the most genuine smile I had ever seen.

While the pure aesthetics of the photo are what initially grabbed my attention, it is the thought of the things this lady must have seen and experienced over the past 70 years that captured my heart. The atrocities of the Vietnam war and the events that followed are more than likely elements of this woman’s life that I cannot even begin to fathom or have the slightest chance of understanding.

Upon discovering this photo, I felt something akin to embarrassment at the thought that I at times complain about a rough day in the office or allow myself to feel such disappointment because the surf conditions are less than ideal. This photograph captures a moment in time where this lady is expressing true happiness, despite all of the events that she and her country have endured in recent history.

For all I know, this photograph may quite possibly be staged using nothing but an actor and a cleverly designed backdrop but the romantic side of me likes to think that she was sitting on a corner in Saigon talking amongst friends when this photo was captured.

Every morning I wake up, I look at the wall to where this photograph now hangs and remind myself of all the positive things in my life and the fact that I have all of the basic elements required for my survival. I have my family, I have my health, I have food in my belly and a roof over my head. At the end of the day, nothing else in this world matters.

How Technology Has Changed the Face of Travel

15-10-2014 12-33-24 PM

I first went overseas in 1991 on a family holiday to the West coast of the United States. For me, the late 80’s and early 90’s were a golden age. A time before mobile phones, before the internet and a time where the use of social media was non-existent. I was eight years old and life was good! Over the next 10 years, I returned to the U.S on the longest family vacation of all time and also spent some time in Singapore. During these trips, the use of technology was limited to my Nintendo Gameboy and the monthly phone call home to my grandparents.

The year after I finished high school I ventured overseas again, this time for a 10 month jaunt through Asia, eventually ending up broke and desperately seeking a job in Europe. This trip was a first for me in that it was the first time I had traveled with readily available technology. Of course the term “readily available” in 2002 was nothing compared to what the modern-day traveller is faced with. For the purpose of this trip I set up my first email account so I could keep in touch with my parents from internet cafes without the cost of calling home from halfway across the globe. This also meant I would have more money to buy beer.

In 2009, my feet grew once again itchy so I decided to pack a bag and head back to Europe on a one-way ticket. This time around, my smart phone, laptop, digital camera, e-reader and iPad were amongst the first items to be packed. The times and travel had well and truly changed.

The contemporary traveller is faced with unlimited free wi-fi and time to kill. 12 years ago, I remember taking an overnight bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap with nothing to entertain me except for a deck of cards and the latest Harry Potter book (in print format). In between games of Euchre with the person next to me, I gazed intently out the window, contemplating life and watching the Cambodian countryside pass me by. Of course I took the occasional photo but I had to wait until I returned to Sydney 18 months later to have the film developed before seeing the results. There was no thought of posting it on Instagram for my friends and family back home to double-tap for a ‘Like’ (although I wish I had thought of such an idea at the time. I’d be rich!).

On this trip, I remember sitting on the porch of an old beach shack we were staying at on the shores of the Andaman Sea, drinking a beer and watching the wild monkeys move daringly closer to my position, only to flee in haste at my slightest movement. Fast-forward over half a decade and I again found myself sitting on the same beach, this time in a swanky cafe that of course had free wi-fi. This time around, the monkeys were gone and I was madly tapping away on my keyboard uploading photos to Facebook and updating my status. The only common factor between the two was that I was still drinking a beer (it is comforting to know that not everything has changed!).

Don’t get me wrong, I will admit that if there is free wi-fi, I am usually the first to ask for the password so I can read the news or scroll through Instagram to see what my favourite chefs have knocked up for dinner. However, I do consider myself very lucky to have experienced travel before the age of widespread access to the Internet. It felt as if I had unlimited time to sit and contemplate the world and my place in it. It forced me, a moderate introvert, to talk to strangers and get to know other travellers instead of jumping onto Skype every time I felt alone on the road.

I still travel with my reliable notepad and pen in my daypack so it is there in case an idea comes to me or if I find myself in a cafe with a couple of hours to kill. For me, there is something special and therapeutic about writing my thoughts down on paper as opposed to tapping away on a keyboard.

Unfortunately the pre-internet days are well and truly behind us. I will never again be able to travel without the comfort of knowing that my loved ones are contactable from almost anywhere on the globe. The days of news from home taking a week or more to reach me are a thing of the past. When I travel I have to constantly remind myself of the reasons as to why I travel. I travel to switch off from everyday life. I travel so I can disconnect from my life at home and experience what the rest of the world has to offer. I travel so I can have some peace and quiet (that is the introvert in me coming out).

I have always laughed at older people when they deliver the timeless line of “Back in my day…”. I guess it is a sign of the times, and a sign that I am too getting older, but in my day travel was different. It was freer. It was less comfortable. It was unplugged and disconnected from everything familiar. It was how it is meant to be.

15-10-2014 12-24-58 PMWi-fi is everywhere these days!

15-10-2014 12-11-59 PMThe original travel writer.

15-10-2014 12-13-45 PM

 

Short Story #3: A Grumpy Old Man and Giggling Women

Short Story #3 comes to you from Vietnam and involves two of my favourite things in the world: travel and food! While Short Story #1 had somewhat of a comical element to it, and Short Story #2 recounted my adventures as an unwitting 19-year-old, I am writing this story based on my heart warming experience of how food brings people together.

I arrived into Hanoi on a late-afternoon flight. It was the middle of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the cold had its fingernails embedded in the city and its inhabitants. Feeling a little unprepared in my thin sweater, I decided to explore the Old Quarter in search of warmer clothing and a hot meal. After picking up a counterfeit North Face jacket and a pair of gloves (yep, these were counterfeit also), I stumbled upon a busy little hole-in-the-wall that comprised of steaming pots of broth and a lady deep-frying springrolls on the sidewalk. The stars had aligned and the months of anticipating the joy of Vietnamese food had come to a head.

9-10-2014 10-31-09 AMHanoi at its busy best!

As I waited for a table (well, a small plastic stool pulled up to a well used piece of timber), I stood for a while and let my senses run wild. My nostrils were filled with the comforting smell of the broth while at the same time being refreshed with frequent wafts of fresh mint and coriander (cilantro). The hole-in-the-wall opened up into a cavern that was bustling with local families and the odd tourist who was also drawn to the scene. I noticed that the people running the eatery had more in common than their place of employment. The old man with the shoulder bag was obviously the head honcho, as proven by the way he barked orders at each of the women. There were two ladies giggling over the giant pots of broth as they teased the man in between spooning the warming soup into bowls. The squatting lady, who was ferociously turning out springrolls from her makeshift deep-fryer, also laughed and added her comments for good measure.

IMG_20140101_133928The springroll lady working at capacity.

The younger ladies were busy running around to each of the tables either clearing them or delivering Pho to the patrons. They too were not shy to give the old man their feedback on the orders he continued to growl at them. After a few minutes of watching these interactions, it became clear that this group of employees was in fact a family.

I have long-held the belief that food bring families together in that it allows them to congregate around a table and gives them an excuse to chat and share the day’s stories. However, this for me was a new realisation, in that some families base their very existence around food and sharing their culinary skills with others. As I continued my observation, it became clear that each family member had their own role. The mother and an aunt were in charge of the Pho, another aunt was producing the best springrolls I had ever eaten, the daughters were putting in the hard yards to keep the tables clear and the little old grandmother was out the back patting the cat in between pulling sprigs of herbs from larger plants (hygiene aside, this was quite nice to see).

Midway through my bowl of Pho Ga (traditional noodle soup with chicken), one of the girls running food looked up into the loft and yelled at the top of her voice. A minute or two later, another young girl, who I assumed was one of her sisters, climbed down the ladder to start her shift. I sat on my undersized stool for a little over an hour as the tables around me filled and then emptied again, all the while watching this family in action. They operated with precision and were driven through the night on laughter and jokes – everyone except the father that is. His role was simply to open beers for the male customers and collect the cash. I thought back to the family structure in the Western world and wondered if this setup would work in my family. It is hard to say but I am guessing that working and living side by side with my extended family day in, day out may have a different result. Perhaps this is due to the ever increasing reality that families in the Western world live very separate lives in comparison.

I left that little whole-in-the-wall feeling warm from my Pho and springrolls and also from watching this family and how they had been brought closer together by food. The beauty of travel is that you find yourself in new and unfamiliar circumstances. It opens your eyes to not only the world but those within it. Travel allows me to see first hand how others live their lives, and as little bits rub off on me, it in turn transform the way I live my own life and view the world.

9-10-2014 10-24-54 AMPho: Perfection in a bowl.

9-10-2014 10-25-34 AMTypical food scene in Vietnam (photo credit: www.seriouseats.com)

9-10-2014 10-31-26 AMBeer and fresh veg.

9-10-2014 10-26-17 AMOne of my true loves.

 

 

 

One Lovely Blog Award

7-10-2014 9-51-17 AM

I was recently nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award!! I get a kick out of writing and also from having other like-minded people taking the time to read my thoughts on life. I would like to thank Jet Set Brunette for the nomination.

The One Lovely Blog Award nominations are chosen by fellow bloggers for those newer or up-and-coming bloggers. The goal is to help give recognition and to also help the new blogger reach more viewers. It also recognizes blogs that are considered to be “lovely” by the fellow-blogger who chose them. This award acknowledges bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a beautiful manner to connect with their viewers and followers. In order to “accept” the award the nominated blogger must follow several guidelines.

The guidelines for the One Lovely Blog Award are:
•Thank the person who nominated you for the award
•Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog
•Share 7 facts/or things about yourself
•Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog

 

7 Facts About Louie

1. I live to travel: Without the thought of travel and the excitement it brings, my life would be hollow.

2. My ambition is to one day become a travel writer, focusing on how food brings people together around the world.

3. My dream is to free-dive with Tiger Sharks in Hawaii.

4. I am a vocal lover of all things nature. We only have one natural world and we need to protect it for future generations.

5. I would give up wealth and security at the drop of a hat if it meant I could travel the world and write for a living.

6. I am a summer person. I don’t like the cold. The meaning of life is; a beach, the sun and loved ones!

7. My favourite band of all time is Queen. Freddie is/ was the best front man of all time.

 

15 Blogger I’d like to nominate…

1. Thoughts With Carly

2. I Need a Feed

3. Our Journey To The Sea

4. Cooking With a Wallflower

5. f-stopmama

6. Tropical Affair

7. Life’s Loose Threads

8. In Search of Balance

9. Misteeq Minds

10. lanterntravelinc

11. Loving Food, Fashion & Life

12. From the Bartolini Kitchens

13. P.S. Hoffman

14. Love in the Kitchen

15. Sunnyside Tuxedo

 

Wow, that was difficult! I follow a lot of blogs and love reading them all. I hope you click-through to these sites and enjoy them just as much as I do.

:: Louie ::

 

 

Short Story #2: Fight Night on the Chinese Railway

3-10-2014 11-52-03 AM

Short Story #2 comes to you from China. When we hear “China”, most of us think about the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square or the terracotta Warriors. But as I promised, my series of short travel stories won’t be focusing on the more common aspects of visiting a country. Instead, I want to take you onboard an overnight train journey I took from Chongqing to Xian.

First and foremost, let me set the scene… It was late afternoon and we had made our way to the main train station in Chongqing. As usual, the platform was crowded and full of locals who for one reason or another felt it was necessary to transport all of their worldly possessions with them on this relatively short journey. We were tired from days of walking and the crowds and pushy nature of the Chinese were starting to get to us.

Amongst the boxes of oddly smelling food, the screaming platform guards and the throng of people, we found our carriage and boarded. Once onboard, we were confronted with a large Chinese family who seemed to be moving the contents of their entire village to Xian. They had boxes stacked in the aisle, children tearing through plastic bags of clothes and all kinds of exotic vegetables piled on the communal table. It was glaringly obvious that it was going to be a long night.

After politely gesturing to one of the male members of the family to kindly remove his plastics bags from my bed, I realised that my allocated luggage spot was jam-packed with yet more plastic bags of god knows what. I didn’t have the energy, or the language skills, to ask them to move their belongings so I sat my backpack at the end of my small bunk and proceeded to lay there for over two hours in a position that can only be described as “The Human Accordion”. I had about as much chance of getting any sleep as I did the getting rid of the putrid fish smell that had filled our nook of the carriage. As each minute ticked by, my fuse grew shorter and shorter.

With all burning fuses, there comes a point where enough is enough. Without creating a scene, I sat up on my bunk and decided to undertake some rearranging of the luggage rack. As I put my tetris skills to work, I could hear the up until now loud conversation behind me cease. They were on to me.

In order to be able to lift the bags on the rack, I had to stand with one leg on one of the upper rungs of the ladder that lead to the top bunk, with the other leg positioned across the aisle and on the window sill. Just as I realised the conversation was coming to a sudden silent end, the family patriarch took it upon himself to jump from his seat, race across the few metres between us and begin yelling in Mandarin while flailing his arms every which-way. My attempts to explain my motives for touching his belongings were lost on him and everyone else in the carriage now stopped what they were doing to look at the rapidly unfolding spectacle before them. The more I tried to explain, the louder his yelling grew.

After what must have been a minute of back and forth, the man’s patience finally wore out as he jumped in the air and let fly with a punch to my stomach! Not expecting things to turn physical, and being at such a young age (I was 19 at the time), my initial reaction was to let fly with my right foot and proceed to kick the patriarch. Upon reflection, and taking into consideration my precarious positioning on the ladder and straddling of the aisle, this was the wrong thing to do.

In the flurry of fists that followed, one of the younger family members decided to pull down my shorts and underwear from behind just moments before the man pulled me down from the ladder and onto the floor. There I laid, the only foreigner in the carriage, on the floor of the aisle, being kicked and whacked from every angle, wearing nothing but a torn t-shirt.

As the carnage continued, I eventually gave up on fighting back as this only seemed to prolong the attack and give my aggressors renewed energy to continue their beating. My rescue came in the form of a uniformed man blowing a whistle. Just like a football match, the whistle separated the two opposing teams to their respective ends of the carriage. Me up one end, alone and scrambling to dress myself and the family and every other occupant of the carriage at the other.

The Conductor managed to speak some broken sentences of English and promptly informed me that I was to blame for this incident and should I not make a formal apology to the man and his family I was to be kicked off the train at the next stop. My attempts to reason with the Conductor were made in vain and at the risk of being left along oon the platform of some rural station in the Chinese countryside in the middle of the night, I swallowed my pride and apologised to the family. Just for one last dig at my dignity, one of the children pointed at my crotch midway through the apology and said a few words in Mandarin, to which the entire carriage laughed.

3-10-2014 11-50-25 AMWhat I was expecting.

3-10-2014 11-53-08 AMWhat I got!

3-10-2014 11-51-32 AMThe scene of the stoush.

3-10-2014 11-49-37 AMSleeping after the exertion of humiliating the foreigner (not really).

3-10-2014 11-59-29 AMAssault and humiliation aside, train travel in China is quite rewarding.

 

Short Story #1: Pooie-Louie & Comedy on the High Seas

2730_95015008427_7756745_n

Since finishing high school some 13 years ago, I have spent just under half of that time traveling. In the beginning, being somewhat younger and more naive, I did not truly understand how lucky I was to have the opportunity to see different parts of the world, experience new cultures and eat new and delicious food! Now that I am at the ripe old age of 31, I feel that I am somewhat more mature (and a hell of a lot wiser) and now have a clearer understanding of how fortunate I was and still am.

Traveling in my family was never a choice. It runs through our veins and is imprinted into our genes. From as early as I can remember, my parents encouraged my sister and I to travel the world and immerse ourselves in different cultures. We were encouraged to experience how other people lived, how they ate and how they interacted with one another in the hope that we would adopt little bits here and there so that we could become well-rounded human beings. With this point in mind, I think it is safe to say that we both turned out to be people who are not afraid to look at life from a new or different angle.

For years, my wife has been at me to write down all of the funny, bizarre and unbelievable stories I have collected on my travels. My response is usually, “Who wants to hear about my allergic reaction to a $200 glass of vintage red wine in Copenhagen, or about the time an Indonesian Policeman knocked me off my motorbike with a bamboo cane (specifically designed for that purpose)?” I am still not convinced that people want to read my stories, but at the very least I will have them documented for a time in the future when I can not remember them so clearly.

Over the next couple of posts, my aim is to bring you a short travel story that is a bit left of centre. I have to remember that my dear grandmother subscribes to my blog, so I will try to leave out anything too inappropriate (apologies in advance Nan if you read something that shocks you!).

Since the beginning of man-kind, there has been one form of humour that never fails to draw a laugh. My first travel story is focused on toilet humour, literally. At the risk of humiliating the person involved, I will not reveal his name…let’s just call him “Dad”.

The lead up to this story is a story within itself, however I will cut to the chase and focus on the day that this messy incident occurred. Let me paint the scene. “Dad” and I find ourselves in the middle of the Indian Ocean with 10 other men, cruising somewhere between Lombok and the island of Sumbawa. The weather is hot, the humidity is through the roof and the onboard chef had served the population of the boat a dodgy version of Spaghetti Bolognese the night prior. After a morning of surfing and snorkelling off the back of the boat, we find ourselves crowded under the limited shade of a small plastic awning in an attempt to escape the scolding sun.

As I flicked through a magazine, sweat running at a steady pace down my forehead and into my eyes, Dad sat next to me looking oddly concerned. The rumbling noises escaping from his abdominal region had previously given me the indication that he was not feeling great after last night’s meal. After asking how he was feeling, he turned his ever-whitening face towards me and declared that he was “not feeling the best” (he rarely gives away much whenever he is asked how is feeling). Over the next five minutes, the gurgling of his stomach became more pronounced and the groaning grew in both intensity and interval. In one motion, Dad leapt from where he sat and declared that he was not only feeling unwell but also had the sudden inclination to use the sole on-board toilet.

Before I continue, I feel I need to explain the plumbing arrangement on the boat for this story to make sense to you. For those of you who have visited Asia before, you will know that the bathroom facilities are rarely hygienic or in good working order. Being on a simple boat, this toilet consisted of a European style bowl and a narrow pipe that bent at 90 degrees to empty out the side of the boat into the water. As you sat, you would regularly see the water level in the bowl change drastically as the swell hit the side of the boat. With your number twos on full display to the other guests, a week on this boat was not for the shy or feint-hearted.

As we all sat there laughing at Dad’s misfortune, I was relieved that he had made it to the toilet in time and not caused the evacuation of the only shaded area on the boat. After a minute or two, one of the boys on the boat commented on one of the larger lines of swell that was approaching the boat. When it was only a few metres from the side, it registered that it was about to collide with the side of the boat where the toilet was situated. Before I could get my words of warning out of my mouth, the wave hit and the blood-curdling man-scream that erupted from the small bathroom sang out across the Indian Ocean.

The door flew open and there, stood before me, and the other 10 men onboard, was Dad, covered from head to toe in his own filth. The force of the wave had given this simple toilet a pressurised reverse flushing system! As we stared in disbelief, struggling to breathe between the laughing and the stench in the air, Dad took his only option and dived overboard. The state of the bathroom resembled some of the worst I’ve seen, and I was immediately taken back to a horrific day in Jaipur, India (but that is a story for another time).

Later that night, once the bathroom had been cleaned, and Dad had given himself and his hair a thorough scrub, we all sat around on the deck of the boat reflecting on the funnier side of the day’s events. The appropriate nickname of “Pooie Louie” was suggested and met with another round of raucous laughter.

For me, this story comes to mind whenever I go back to Indonesia or when someone else brings it up in conversation. All those years of him beating me at sports and the odd times I was grounded as a youngster were forgotten that day when I saw “Pooie Louie” standing before me, covered in shit.

2817_179155970581_7369514_nLife on the high seas: Little boat, a lot of people (this shot was taken on the same boat, different trip).

2817_179155925581_6467862_nLife’s better on Island Time.

2817_179155975581_3271594_nIt’s close quarters onboard the Desertstorm.

3316_89416421553_5580264_nLife is Good: Open space, no crowds.

 

 

Unplug: It’s Good for You!

30-09-2014 11-01-40 AM

A few months ago I made the conscious decision to unplug my life and focus my attention on the world around me instead of the mobile device in my pocket. This idea seemed nice in principle but, like Communism, the reality was a lot different to the ideal. I found myself missing birthday celebrations, I was not writing as many blog posts (I had written a lot of things down on paper, but nothing made it online) and my mum was complaining that I was not looking at her photo stream of her trip to Italy.

The reality of an unplugged life in this day and age is a difficult one. I am not saying it cannot be done, as my father who still reads his newspaper in the physical form and would not know how to turn on an i-phone if his life depended on it, would attest. However, for someone who has grown up in the age of the internet and is used to having information on hand 24/7, a life of being wholeheartedly unplugged just isn’t a reality.

When I eventually came to this realisation, I decided to admit defeat and came up with some guidelines or rules that would allow me to keep up with social events and post my thoughts for you all to read while also giving me that freedom from social media and the online world that I so very much craved.

After following these few simple rules for a week or so, I found that my quality of life was improved. I was sleeping longer and better, exercising more, interacting with friends and family on a personal level instead of via an online messaging services and most importantly, my mum was happy that I was liking and commenting on her photo stream again!

My guidelines for balancing my online needs and my personal sanity are as follows:

1. Don’t touch technology within 2 hours of going to bed: This seems reasonable to most and insane to others, however studies have shown that using technology, in particular mobile devices before bed time prevents the body and mind from naturally winding down from a busy day. This leads to disturbed sleep as the mind is still racing from the overstimulation that our online addictions create.

2. Don’t sleep with your online device in the same room: Nothing disturbs a deep sleep quite like the sound of a Facebook notification. For many people, online media and social networking is an addiction where hearing that beep in the middle of the night creates too much of a temptation to roll over and check who has tagged you in their photo. By leaving your media devices in another room, you are also creating a zone for uninterrupted communication with your loved one – this can lead to other benefits too ;) and also removing the temptation to check your phone or mobile device first thing in the morning.

3. Resist looking at your online device for 2 hours after you wake up: By allowing your body time to naturally wake up, you are giving yourself a better start to the day. Use this time to do some exercise or prepare a healthy breakfast. Stretching for 15 minutes each morning instead of scrolling through Instagram will work wonders for your body and set you on a positive path for your day ahead.

4. Allocate time in your day to check social media and read online news etc: As I found out, prohibition against social media doesn’t work (for me anyway). Allocate yourself 30 minutes at lunch time or in the afternoon to check your social media accounts or read the news online. These days, many news outlets seem to only report negative and sad news so don’t be in a rush to get up to date on the world’s negativity first thing of a morning. Instead, look out the window of your train or bus or undertake a spot of people watching.

5. Eat all of your meals in a tech-free environment: Is there nothing more rude or annoying than seeing someone sit at the restaurant only to be looking down the whole time scrolling over emails or double-tapping photos in Instagram?! Since the dawn of time, meal time and eating food in general has been a social activity. It is a time when family and/ or friends come together to interact and converse about their day. Meal time should be about reconnecting with your loved ones and discovering and discussing new foods and flavours. Leave your mobile device in your bag or pocket, look your loved one in the eye and tell them about your day! (Caveat… If you have a passion for snapping photos of your favourite food or dishes, then a quick photo is permissible. Take your snap and then put your device away).

30-09-2014 10-36-39 AM

30-09-2014 10-35-24 AMHi, my name is Louie and I enjoy taking photos of food. I have been clean now for 5 hours but I have no doubt I will do it again soon.

30-09-2014 10-35-35 AMPappa Louie and Nan stopping to smell the roses: At 84, my Nan owns an i-pad, so what hope do I have of ever truely unplugging?!

30-09-2014 10-35-12 AMAnother food photo for good measure!

My Week in Colour

I’ll keep this post short and sweet. The sun is shining and life is good in Sydney town. I think these photos speak for themselves and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is my 6,000 word post in pictures. Enjoy!

:: Louie ::

24-09-2014 10-44-40 AMCoogee Beach, Sydney: 7km from the CBD and a million miles from the hustle and bustle.

24-09-2014 10-43-50 AMSydney: Our fine harbour in all its glory!

24-09-2014 10-44-02 AMMaroubra: Rock hopping and aquatic colours.

24-09-2014 10-43-30 AMMaroubra – Coogee: Sea cave.

24-09-2014 10-44-28 AMCoogee: Mornings like this make going to work pretty tough.

24-09-2014 10-44-14 AMSydney: For a marine environment to be so close to a major city and this clean is unique.