Travel Report from Peta:
Hi, my name is Peta. I’ve just returned from an amazing trip to Iran. My highlight was walking around a town called Yazd. This gorgeous town is in the south and has beautiful cobble stone roads in the old part of the city. It’s known for its baklava. Iranian people are lovely but as a single woman traveller I found it important to pay keen attention to the local rules: no singing (including humming!), no dancing and definitely no skin or hair showing.
I have travelled a lot as a single woman (India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Cambodia, Indonesia) and I usually just pack as much cash as I am happy to have stolen. However, this is impossible when you are travelling in a country with trade sanctions and no ATMs that function for tourists e.g. Burma, Iran, Syria and Russia to a certain extent.
So on my trip to Iran I had to carry thousands of dollars on me because I was frequently separated from my bags and concerned about other tourists or locals picking up my bag.
My Travel Bra was useful not only because it could carry the cash but also because it seemed to be resilient enough to stop the cash (US paper notes) getting soaked in my sweat. This is quite an achievement when you are wearing a Travel Bra under two layers of conservative clothing in the desert during an Iranian summer!
This photo of me where I have my orange scarf on is the day I went into the desert east of Kerman - it was 42 degrees but my cash stayed safe and dry in my Travel Bra :)
I didn't get a photo of me just in my Travel Bra because local people often went looking through my phone on the bus and I was a bit paranoid about images that I was carrying as well as not wanting to have a semi-naked photo on Instagram while I was in-country in Iran! I got followed in Esfahan bizarre - that was definitely a low light. The would-be thieves were so persistent that I ended up getting a taxi to get away from them.
I loved my Travel Bra so much that I have just bought two new Travel Bras to take with me to Java at Christmas time - always good to have emergency cash when you are bussing it through rural Indonesia ;)
Creating a new business like The Travel Bra Company, lucky for me, involves lots of travel. On my way to the USA recently, I made a stopover at Hawaii. Hawaii is totally do-able on under $1000 a week. I spent a week on the remote volcanic island of Kaua’i. If you haven’t been before – put it on your list – way up high. My travelling companion on this trip was a feisty 73 year old, Kathleen, with whom I flatted when I lived in Washington DC some years back. While Kathleen and I stayed in Kaua’i in a great little country bunk house we found on Airbnb, our first stop was the Seaview Terrace café at The Kaua’i Hyatt. We ordered coffees and set ourselves up on the sumptuous chairs, spreading out our maps, notes and guidebooks on the huge coffee table with a magnificent outlook over the blue ocean bay. Here we plotted our week together and regrouped daily to plan more excursions.
Kathleen managed blues bands for a living before she retired so, of course, we had to check out the music scene of Kaua’i. We met a wonderful woman, Haunini Kaui, a very gifted singer and musician, and we became her groupies. Haunini studied for four years at Berkley on a music scholarship www.hauninikaui.com. Every night we followed Haunini to each of her different gigs around the island where she played with different local musicians.
It wasn’t the reason I went to Kaua’i, but it turned out that the island is a foodies' paradise. At the historic Koloa Fish Market there were lots of great fish poke (raw fish in marinades). The Kalua slow-cooked pork melted in my mouth. The laulau beef was wrapped in taro and tiki leaves and steamed. OMG. The coconut and sweet potato pie was delicious. Each morning we ate the sweetest grapefruit and oranges I have ever tasted, picked straight off the trees at our bunk house. And the local Anahola granola with fresh local raspberries and blackberries on top was just too good.
I wanted to hike down the Alaki Swamp trail to the wettest place in the world – 468 inches a year. What can I say? It was wet! Sadly, too wet to walk all the way that day without my big boots. We consoled ourselves with yummy Bean and Portugese sausage soup at the nearby Lodge. Next time I come back to Kaua’i I will be sure to pack heavy hiking boots and wet weather gear. Yes, to Hawaii.
There are lots of great hikes in Kaua’i – day hikes and overnight hikes. And for such a small island there was so much diversity, from the rain forest to savannah, to its famous beaches to rivers and mountains – all largely unpopulated and unspoilt. I know food always tastes amazing after a big hike, but the Hawaii Puki Dogs at Hanalai were gourmet – and clearly made with love. We washed them down with home-made lemonade before heading across the road to the Community Hall to listen to Grammy winners Doug and Sandy McMasters play the most remarkable slack string guitar.
There’s something about Kaua’i’s town of Kapaa that takes me back to my Byron Bay surfie chic days. Funky health food handouts, timber buildings painted blue and green, crystal shops and, of course, surfboard shops. Café Coco served us pumpkin coconut soup with crunchy pumpkin seeds and an edible flower swimming on top. And then there was the banana bread… And don’t get me started on the shaved ice. And all over Kaua’i there was so much shrimp and fresh seafood, poi and rice, endless different local Hawaiian fusion flavors and tastes and all at street food prices.
And always we ended up back at the Seaview Terrace at The Hyatt for coffee. I don’t usually rave about hotels, but this place was opulent, not in a tasteless way but in a way that turned the occupant towards the ocean and made the water seem even more magnificent than it already was. I promised Kathleen that when The Travel Bra Company becomes really successful we will one day come back to Kaua’i and stay not at the bunk-house but at The Hyatt, my shout.
You really don’t need to wear a Travel Bra on Kaua’i as it’s not very crowded and there is not a lot of pickpocketing, but on my morning runs I wore my Runners Travel Bra with spare cash in my dropdown pocket just in case I sighted something good to buy. Kaua’i is great for running – for some reason people don’t tend to keep dogs, so you can run on country roads and not get barked at. We were there in April, too cold for these Australian bones to go swimming or snorkeling.
By the end of the week, Kathleen and I were doing so well on our budget that we could shout ourselves a boat trip along the Napoli Coast. Absolutely fantastic. Lava caves and 4000 meters (yes meters not feet, this is not a typo) cliffs. We saw whales, dolphins, turtles, and fish and danced to the Rolling Stones in the back of the boat all the way home.
Kaua’i is easily do-able for under $1000 per week, plus change. Don’t forget to pack hiking boots and do pack your organic cotton and bamboo Travel Bra – it is still the most comfortable bra you’ll find, so it’s good to wear on the plane.:)
Creating a Start Up like The Travel Bra™ Company is exhilarating but exhausting. Any day now I am taking off to my current favourite rest and replenish health resort for under $1000 a week, the Ubud Sari in Bali. I will be kicking back with organic fruit mocktails and soothing foot massages with eyes closed and all worries gone.
This place has everything an Australian health retreat has, but for only a fifth of the cost. The detox programs are designed by a medical doctor and really work. I felt great – amazingly great – after I did the Body, Mind and Spirit Rejuvenation. It cost me less than $US1,000 for seven days and six nights and that included absolutely everything.
When you arrive at Ubud Sari (they pick you up at the airport), you have you own personal attendant throughout the week who oversees your detox and schedules all your activities. But don’t think it’s all just lying around detoxing. Man, it’s busy! – rice paddy walk in the morning, followed by yoga and meditation, followed by organic detox juices with special herbs. Then you have to fit in massages, facials, body scrubs, steams, deep tissue body work, shiatsu, candlenut scrubs, reflexology, more juices, more massages, saunas, swims and facials, as well as a cranio-sacral therapy treatment. My one piece of advice? Unless you are seriously ‘clogged’, skip the daily colonic hydrotherapy. Ubud Sari will tailor a program just for you and substitute these with extra massages or facials.
What I loved about Ubud Sari was also just hanging out in the open air organic vegan café where it was easy to meet other women and chat – main topic of conversation being of course how our lives were going to change when we got back home and how we really should do this detox thing more often.
My one vice was to sneak out every morning between treatments and down a delicious short black coffee that an enterprising young man sold me – here was a man who really understands what a woman wants!
I love Ubud – being up high it’s cool even in summer and there is lots of yoga places. My favourite? The Yoga Barn. And there are lots of organic vegan restaurants and
wonderful shops and galleries to explore. Every afternoon I spent an hour or so just walking the streets and rice paddies.
Oh, and Ubud Sari has wifi in the café, so you can still stay and work if you really have to.
Research by New York Police in the 1990s revealed that not only is it possible to profile a criminal but it is also possible to profile a victim. Some people just scream ‘rob me’. You can reduce your risk of being a victim on a holiday with a few simple precautions:
Listen to your instincts and just don’t go somewhere or with someone if there is any doubt that you are 100% safe - whether it is down a street, into a bar, or with a group of people. Take a taxi rather than risk walking back to the hotel in the dark if you don’t know the area. Stay with crowds.
Don’t advertise your wealth. If you are walking through a poor area, don’t wear expensive jewellery or carry an expensive handbag, try to fit in. Leave glamour for a time and place where you are with others in the glamour set.
Keep your spare cash in your Travel Bra™ or in a hidden compartment in a safe bag. Only keep enough cash in the wallet you use to meet that day or evening’s needs. Keep two wallets.
Walk confidently. A fearful tourist is more likely to attract a thief than a confident tourist. If you find yourself in a dodgy situation, just keep saying to yourself ‘don’t even try it buddy’ and somehow that is the message that will be heard.
If the worst happens, just give them whatever they want. A lot of experienced travellers keep an 'I surrender' wallet with some money in it (not too much but not too little either), just in case. Hand it over and run.
Do your parents a favour and register at DFAT before you go overseas. It’s a good idea to also check DFAT’s travel advice for the destination you are heading to, and you can subscribe to their travel alerts. Remember the Australian Government is always there for you when you are overseas, but NOT if you break the law in that country. And don’t forget to wear your Travel Bra™ – our Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop’s got one!