Archive | June, 2014

Flagging a ride On Out of Here

30 Jun

A few months ago I was asked if I wanted to write an article for wheroines.com (Where are my Heroines?). “Sure”, I said, I’ll generally agree to most things that are that far away.

“A few months” snuck up on me and now my article is struggling to put on her pants, while rushing out the door. This is a compilation blog post — not a where-is-she-now expose — on This Chick who Hitchhikes.

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July 1st, 2014

Look, I’m not going to pretend that being a woman is hard. It’s not, not when it comes to traveling solo across the world. I’d call myself a a neo-feminist, if I knew what that meant. I’ll argue that if the goal is to get around by means of Thumbs then you can possesses no greater asset than the blessings of womanhood. Lest anyone call me reckless here are infallibles:

1. Do not drink.
2. Do not do drugs.
3. Do not travel at night.
('Night' is used loosly here and starts as soon as the sun is so low it starts to look up your pants.)
4. No exceptions.

I might hope that the above information will bore you but you'll stick to it. Think flossing.

"You never forget your first time…your hands suffer through so many false starts before actually taking the plunge." -- Even Cowgirls get the Blues, Tom Robbins

"You never forget your first time…your hands suffer through so many false starts before actually taking the plunge."
-- Even Cowgirls get the Blues, Tom Robbins

Rejection is as sad as an onion who cuts herself and I (try to) minimize exposure to it when I'm in transit by making an effort before I raise my phalanges into the wind. I like to look like a girl(ish). I brush my hair and keep it down. I put on deodorant and rub sweet smelling coco-butter into my skin. I dress a certain way: Yoga pants, no camel toe. Skirts or dresses are asking for mischief. I don't wear jewellery, have copies of my passport, and divide up valuables throughout my pack. Equally as important are the absence of certain accessories -- sunglasses and headphones -- which can act as barriers between drivers and 'hikers. The goal is to stay safe and score a ride.

"Heaven and hell exist and they are right here on earth. Heaven is living in your hopes and hell is living in your fears." -Jelly Bean

Take precautions: Accidents and lunatics span the globe. Get a good nights rest, familiarize yourself with the map, and pay close attention to road signs. I use a compass attached to my watch. Don't get into a vehicle without having a thoughtful look around. And speak to the driver! Stop the car if they aren't doing what you'd agreed upon. Listen to your gut, follow my advice, and heed serious warnings. That being said I firmly believe that There Are Great People In This World. Those who stop will absolutely be concerned for your safety. Thank them for that. "I pulled-over because I'm worried about you, a girl traveling alone! If I didn't stop, the next person might have been a crazy! You have to be careful."

hhaha

On the road by 10AM.

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Where to begin?
I'd recommend starting in Scandinavia -- for me it was Iceland -- where the people have a reputation for being progressive and open-minded. You didn't see me catching rides (much) in Nepal and I won't when I head to Cambodia, any place where locomotion is so cheap, packed, and (relatively) convenient that it'd be disrespectful not to take the bus.

Know where you are going and how to spell it.
One of my strategies is to smile excessively, although I haven't (yet) been to Japan. I focus on learning a word a day in every country I visit. Typically the first seven that I acquire are these: "Hi." "No." "Thank you." "Yes." "happy." "I am happy." "Very (veryveryveryveryvery) much." Depending on the country I'm in I might switch it up to complete sentences during Week Two: "Where do you live?" "Who is your mother?" [That last phrase is particularly effective amongst Jamaican men who will do absolutely anything to avoid getting into trouble with their mommas.]

This might be a bad example.

My idea of playing a practical joke on a yak.

It's important to stand where drivers can see you with enough room for them to pull-over safely #commonsense. My backpack is light; 11 kilos and full of low-maintenance. Sometimes I have an edible gift --like locally made banana-bread from the banana-bread truck who'd just given me a ride-- that I'm willing to share. It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway): The fun in life (and in hitchhiking) hides inside subtle moments we create along the way.

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I decided to post this because I'm leaving Sydney. After 15 weeks, and some french that I wish had been crazy, it's time for me to move into a rental car. I'm heading for the hills - snow - and while I wont be getting around by means of a one-digit extension this month there's a good chance I'll slow down if I see you on the side of the road, ladies.

Here's to hoping that everyone you meet is overly kind and has plenty of room.
With two enthusiastic thumbs up,
'mi

A food lover’s guide to Sydney

3 Jun

The block I live on in downtown Sydney, Australia is close to a grocery store; Woolloomooloo Woolworth’s — it’s oooooooo so good — and even closer to a slice of Sydney’s infamous Restaurant scene. This [combined with my stove-less, cutting-board-less, view-less (but cheap-and-in-a-great-location) dorm room] gives me every reason to put down the can-opener and head out my front door.

They call food Tucker in Australian.

They call food “tucker” in Australian.

NEWTOWN
Hartsyard — Tucker so good it wants to eat itself. Smoked lambs ribs or whipped cheese with stuffed peppers. I saw a dish with popcorn involved; definitely going back.
Korean BBQ — Plate full of raw meat. I loved it.
Cheeky Czech — Aren’t they hungry for vegetables in that country? I was lacking nutrients and on a sodium overload.

THAI
A list of puns:
SauteThai Restaurant, ChatThai, ThaiRiffic, Thainatown, ThaiOne, Thaitanium.

Garfish or, The Manly Tumble
Good view. Average menu but a bruise on my ego forces me to remember that there’s a slippery floor.

CBD
Sushi is Sydney’s fast food; good, cheap, healthy, and located on every corner.
Sushi Train– Sushi, but slightly more expensive. It rotates. On a conveyor belt. Mechanical delivery comes at a cost.
Gelatissimo — Ice Cream Store and dinner for grown ups.
Meat & Wine Co. — This is the only country that I know of where you can (legally) eat their national emblem. ‘roo is delicious when it’s sizzling, ta.
Bodhi — Vegan yum cha, fake meat still doesn’t taste like real meat but their dumplings have brought me back.

*******A nod of deep respect to The Irish in my life*******
Curry cheese chips.

CRONULLA/MIRANDA/SOUTH SUBURBS
42 — Homemade lamb roast, bag lunch the next day; hospitality at its finest.

STANLEY STREET
Bippi’s

The dust is clearly marked, vintage 2005.

The dust is clearly marked, vintage 2005.


That’s Bippi in the background. And that’s my best Australian mate, Rusty, in the foreground. He says a clichéd “G’day”. You can also see Franco the “Koala Bear” who is attached to my keys; we go everywhere together except that Franco doesn’t know that I ate his girlfriend’s rump during a dining experience mentioned earlier in this post.
Stanley Street Merchants
When ordering scallops seared is an operative word; raw scallops are less good than raw oysters. (The first time I’ve seen finger limes, Nancy!)
British Indian Tapas
Continentally confused. Where is this restaurant from? Where is this waitress from? Do the Vietnamese eat chickpeas? And, sorry, can we have a doggy bag??
The Twin Italians Two completely unrelated restaurants from the same motherland. The best bit? The awkwardness as you sit on the veranda discussing which one is better.

The Twin Italians
Two completely unrelated restaurants from the same motherland. The best bit? The awkwardness as you sit on the veranda discussing which one is better.

An interesting sidebar: Australian customer service is generally poor because the country (mostly) doesn’t tip (due high wages). And so, for those of you who’ve eaten with me in this country, I sincerely thank you for your water glass.

You can all see where this post has taken me, predictably… towards dinner time. And yes, to answer your no doubt lingering question, I’m off to read something intellectually demanding like a menu.
Bon Appetit,
‘mi