I hold Fiji very close to my heart. I spent 6 months there studying on exchange, and during this time I made some great friends, had incredible experiences, and saw some amazing sites (both above and below sea level). Here are my top 6 favourite places I went to, but I should note that I didn’t visit the Taveuni Island which is known to have some pretty amazing spots.
Nananu-I-Ra Nananu-I-Ra is a small island off the north cost of Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. The island offers clear water for amazing snorkeling and diving opportunities, short walks with fantastic views, with very reasonably priced accommodation some of which have both dorm-style beds or private rooms. The island is known for windsurfing and is a popular spot for both tourists and locals. To access the island from the mainland you will need to get a boat from Ellington Wharf on the Kings Highway, accessible either by taxi or bus, and then a short boat trip.
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I could almost write an entire list based on the Isle of Skye alone. Such a beautiful scenic place. I am told to avoid during June – August as “Midges” (swarms of small mosquito type bugs) can ruin a trip, or you could simply purchase “Midge Masks” to keep them away. There are a few reasonably priced backpackers on the island (which is connected by mainland to the bridge so no worry about bringing a vehicle) so don’t worry about finding accommodation.
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I know it’s over – Jeff Buckley
This cover of a Smith’s song wonderfully blends the melancholy writing of Morrissey with the soulful singing and guitar work of Jeff Buckley. Although his version of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen is the better known and more obvious pick, I have always been partial to this track and find the lyrics, which cover loneliness and loss, to be the more sorrowful. As far as I know there is no existing studio version of this song, only live versions. But the quality is great and the live aspect really helps to convey the raw emotion in the song.
Heaviest lyric: “If you’re so very good looking, then why do you sleep alone tonight? I know. Because tonight is just like any other night.”
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To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer
This novel begins the “Riverworld” series. It is such an intiuging idea for a story and the world Philip creates is so detailed you will inevitably become enthralled with the series. Essentially all of humanity that have been born on Earth from the beginning to the end of time wakes up on the bank of an impossibly large river. From there we follow a group of some historical characters mingling with people from varying eras in history and the slow creation of a new world. It is a lot of fun to read about Mark Twain meeting Odysseus while building a steamboat and Philip Jose Farmer really explores the possibilities and probabilities of the world he has created. Also, points for having such an intriguing title.
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Here are 7 songs that are best listened to at the dead of night through a pair of good headphones or performed around a campfire with a faint smell of pine to complete silence as the audience collectively contemplates existentialism. These songs are not necessarily solo guitar pieces. These is singing, drums, an occasional tambourine, but all of these songs can be played with just a guitar and still work as full-bodied songs. I’m sure there are a bunch of Spanish Flamenco or Classical pieces that should be included on this list, but frankly I don’t know enough in that area of music to rightfully include any songs. To summarize, these are the songs I daydream about playing to the woman I love on a beach in Greece as the sun sets.
Baby’s Arms by Kurt Vile
The opening song to Kurt Vile’s fourth studio album Smoke Ring For My Halo
and by far the standout track on the album. His guitar is tuned to an open minor chord of some kind which makes spontaneous playing nearly impossible unless you have a great ear for tone or carry a tuner on you, but the song is absolutely gorgeous. There is a touch of reverb or echo on the guitar and a maraca in the background, but other than that just a man and his guitar. Kurt has a great voice which is especially haunting on this track but really the guitar outshines him on this one. Not too complicated once you master the finger picking pattern, it’s mainly arpeggio’s and with a few embellishments it can be a truly impressive piece.
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As a huge classical history fan I just had to do a Roman list. These 4 Romans, from both the Republic and Empire, are the people I most enjoyed reading about. Whether it is because of their accomplishments or principles, I found these 4 men to be the most admirable and interesting. Of course all classical history information is only as good as its sources, and I’m sure biographers such as Plutarch would have embellished the lives of their subjects, but from what knowledge we have, these 4 men stuck in my mind. I have chosen to not source anything as I am incredibly lazy, but a good place to start for anyone interested is Plutarch’s lives.
Tiberius Gracchus was a true man of the people. He was a politician who, among other things, worked on a reform to redistribute huge chunks of valuable farmland from the aristocratic Patricians of Rome to the poor. Tiberius was in fact just enforcing an old law that had been ignored for so long, which stated that no citizen should be allowed to own more than 500 jugera of land (about 125 hectares). Many wealthy citizens found illegal ways to bypass this law, and then worked the land with slave labour, leading to poverty among many Roman citizens. These land reforms threatened the wealth of the rich landowners in Italy and Tiberius’ political enemies attempted to convince the people of Rome that he was attempting to take control. Tiberius was eventually murdered along with many of his supporters by members of the Roman Sentate, this murder being the first case of a Roman politician being assassinated by another Roman. It is believed that Tiberius was not merely killed because of the content of his land reforms, but also because of his method of applying them. The Roman senate was a group of very wealthy elite who had huge political influence in Rome but no actual political power. Tiberius went behind the backs of these men which scared them enough to commit murder. Tiberius was one of the first Roman politicians to stand up against the senate for the benefit of the people of Rome, and he was murdered for it.Read More »
How to boil down all my favourite novels into a list of merely eight? So many great books left out that I could never be satisfied. I decided to not “over-think” the occupants of this list. Instead I chose the first 8 best books that popped into my head rather than spending time toiling over which books should be included. Not a very scientific method, but a more honest one. This way I believe my list is less subject to the possible biases and influences that come with list writing (trying to include things everyone likes, trying to impress readers). So it would be more accurate to say that these are the 8 most memorable books I have ever read. They have stuck in my mind while many others have been forgotten. Some I read when I was thirteen and some I read months ago, but all of them have remained in the forefront of my subconscious, which surely merits inclusion on a list, does it not?
The God of Small Things By Arundhati Roy
This debut novel managed to win the Booker prize in 1997, and rightly so. This tragic story is based around the lives of fraternal twins, female Rachel and male Esthappen, and follows certain events of their lives from the age of 7 years old to 30. It is written in a non-linear timeline so the events are constantly shifting from the past and future. Arundhati Roy’s writing in this book is truly superb. The small details bring the Indian town of Aymanam to life and the book captures elements of Indian lifestyle, such as the Caste system, which should interest western readers. You will genuinely fall in love and despise the characters of this novel and the struggles they go through, an amazing read.
Memorable Moment: The Orangedrink Lemondrink man (Not a happy memory)Read More »
In its most basic sense, a documentary gives insight into a life that is not our own. They capture emotion and motivations of individuals, or they attempt to define a whole movement or setting in the space of a few hours. I believe that the movies in this list not only succeeded in the various goals they set out to achieve but did so in a particularly beautiful way.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Jiro is an elderly man who owns and runs an incredibly high end sushi bar along with his son and several sushi apprentices. Classy enough to earn the greatly coveted 3 star Michelin rating, Jiro’s restaurant serves wealthy food lovers who often come from miles, and wait on month long waiting lists to eat there. But the real focus of this movie is on Jiro’s perfectionism towards his sushi and his love of the craft. He meticulously creates every single piece of sushi in front of his customers, refusing to serve anything with even a slight imperfection, and even considers details such as giving smaller pieces to females and serving on the right side of the plate for left handed customers. This documentary will leave you wishing that you could ever be as passionate about anything as Jiro is passionate about sushi.Read More »
At first this list was simply going to be labelled my top 5 rappers of 2013, which would have been a very different list. But by adding the “You may not have heard of” portion to the title I turn this from a generic list of the successful rappers active in 2013 headed by Kendrick Lamar or someone else everyone is sick of by now, to something a bit more personal to my tastes in music and something more useful to the reader. A list which will hopefully help you discover new music so that you may fall in love with it as much as I have. Also, this way I can avoid being labelled a hipster for putting lesser known musicians in my list which is always a bonus.
And so here is my list of Top 5 rappers you may not have heard of:
Member of New Zealand collective “Young, Gifted and Broke”, Half of rap duo Team Dynamite and one seriously talented dude. I first came across this MC when he completely bodied my favourite rapper on a guest verse (I have supplied the link to this song, check it out). A really fresh and unique style as well as voice. With only one Mixtape and one full album out he isn’t quite as experienced as the others on this list but I honestly think this man, with his huge frame and beard which almost resembles a Pacific island version of Action Bronson, can stand up alongside big international names in quality and production levels. The Team Dynamite album is available for 16 NZ bucks on bandcamp, check it out.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Lzu23EKJHE – shepherds delight
Final verse on aforementioned song, Nobody – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZHnPchG_Kk
http://teamdynamite.bandcamp.com/ Album available hereRead More »