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Ten Travel Tips from Chasing Chris Campbell Heroin Violet Masonby Genevieve GannonWhen Violet Mason found herself on an unplanned trip through cosmopolitan Hong Kong, calamitous India, and crazy Vietnam, she had never travelled overseas before. She was completely unprepared for what Asia would throw at her. Here are 10 things Violet wish she knew before she set off Chasing Chris Campbell.India1. Stick to the local food. The food in India is rich, flavoursome and excitingly spicy. But, as Violet discovers, when the local cooks try to cater for the foreign palate, dining can take an ugly turn. Non-local food in India can be as harmless as a curious interpretation of a menu item. Say, ground meat and spaghetti with a side of potato chips when the menu says lasagne. Or it can leave the customer doubled over in pain for the next three days. Opt for a korma instead. Which brings us to the next point.2. No water, no ice, no salads. Only eat fruit you have peeled yourself, and only eat street food that has been cooked in front of you. This tip isn’t a guarantee against contracting Delhi belly, but it may shorten its duration.3. Buy some of the beautiful scarves you will see on sale everywhere. In the more touristy parts of India’s major cities there is approximately one scarf shop to every seven people. The scarves themselves are available in any colour you can imagine. Not only do they make lovely, lightweight gifts to take home, they’re very practical when travelling. The long, wide garments provide extra coverage in a country that prizes modesty, and they can be used as head coverings when entry to temples requires women to cover their hair. Smog can be a problem when you’re zipping around the city streets, taking in the sights all day. Covering your mouth and nose with a scarf will filter out some of the pollution until you get off the clogged-up roads.4. On the subject of transport, whenever you arrive in a new city, always ask your hotel if they will pick you up. Many hotels in India offer the service free of charge. Arriving in any new city for the first time can be bamboozling. This is triply so when travelling in India.5. Factor in significant delays to all of your travel plans. As Violet learns the night she takes a sleeper train to Varanasi, train drivers in India have fairly creative interpretations of timetables. This is true of many other services too.6. Visit Delhi’s Lotus Temple. Nothing will help calm you after a day navigating the madness of India’s capital like an afternoon spent in quiet meditation inside a giant, lotus flower built from white marble. This stunning building looks like the prettier cousin of Sydney’s famous opera house.7. Keep samosas in your kit. India is a vast country, and overnight journeys, long bus rides and suspect Air India meals sometimes meant Violet found herself starving, with no appealing food options around. Samosas are deep-fried pastries filled with spiced vegetables. They are widely sold and hold together well wrapped in paper and carried in a day pack, or handbag. They’re delicious cold too, as Violet discovered after a eating them for breakfast one morning.8. Discover your hippie roots in Goa. Big Indian cities may be crowded and fast-paced and packed with rikshaws, elephants, slums and hawkers, but the beachside state of Goa is a fresh breath of salty, sea air. Walk barefoot through sandy streets, eat just-caught fish and lobster curries or stroll through the Anjuna night markets. Neat-freak Violet found Goa relaxing after the big city smog and noise.9. When travelling in Vietnam, embrace the xe om motorcycle taxis. Literally meaning “motorcycle hug”, these little beauties are cheap, ubiquitous and the best was to take in the cities. You’ll feel like a local as you wait at traffic lights on the back of a bike among 40 other motorcyclists.
10. Violet’s first, and also final, destination is the humming metropolis of Hong Kong. Anything goes in this Mecca for expats. It’s a great place to meet other travellers, and let your hair down sampling everything it has to offer.
Chasing Chris Campbell
By Genevieve Gannon
Publisher: AUS Impulse (HarperCollins0
Release Date: June 1, 2015
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Length: 275 Pages (874KB)
About the book:
Violet is saving money: living on rice and beans and denying herself chocolate eclairs all in the name of saving for a home deposit. Once they save enough, she and Michael can buy a house, settle down and live happily ever after. But when Michael does the unthinkable, Violet is forced to rethink her life choices.
A chance encounter with Chris Campbell (first love, boy-next-door, The One That Got Away) spurs her into travelling to exotic locations she never dreamed she'd explore - Hong Kong, Vietnam, Varanasi - on a quest to catch up with Chris and lead a life of adventure. Armed with hand sanitiser and the encouraging texts of her twin sister Cassandra, will Violet find true love before it's too late? Or will the nerve-wracking experience of travelling send her back to Melbourne in search of safety and stability? Can she work out what she really wants before she is left with nothing?
EXCERPTMy heart was galloping as I drove from Mum and Dad’s home in Essendon to the place Michael and I rented. We shared a little terrace in Coburg in Melbourne’s inner north-west with another couple. It had fireplaces and ceiling roses, bad plumbing and dodgy wiring. It was as old as Federation, and every time we got more than a few millilitres of rain the kitchen flooded. The house wasn’t really big enough for four people, but it was nice and cheap. Michael and I saved ten dollars a week each by opting for the smaller of the two bedrooms. Our room didn’t have any windows and shared a wall with the bathroom and its ageing pipes that moaned like a dying donkey every time someone took a shower. But Michael had insisted, because ten dollars a week was more than a grand over two years.‘There you are,’ he said when I walked in the front door. ‘Did you go all the way to Azerbaijan for those sprats?’‘I’ve been at Mum’s,’ I said dully.He kissed my cheek and took the shopping. ‘Dinner’s nearly done.’We didn’t have a dining table, there was no room. Each night we ate on the couch, balancing our plates on large coffee-table books covered in tea towels.This is how Michael and I sat on that eve of Christmas Eve – eating bowls of lentils off The History of the World’s Killer Diseases (mine) and Erotic Art through the Ages (our housemate Lydia’s).‘It’s quite economical, this no-meat thing of yours,’ Michael enthused, scooping some lentils into his mouth.I murmured in agreement. Even my own sister couldn’t bring herself to eat my vegetarian cooking. It was a weekly custom for her to try and tempt me with some of Mum’s Sunday roast.‘Are you sure?’ Cass would say, holding a cube of pink, tender meat on the end of her fork out to me.I’d have to turn my nose away and remind myself of the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Britain that had been one of the reasons I’d taken up vegetarianism. The accounts of the victims of the human strain had been enough to put me off cow for life. Pain. Depression. Certain death. No burger was worth that.‘You don’t have to worry about organising anything for tomorrow night,’ Michael continued. ‘I thought I’d cook dinner.’ As he spoke he used his knife to divide his lentils and rice into half, then half again and again until he had a series of small, bite-sized spoonfuls.‘Really?’‘Sure. It’s our anniversary,’ he said through a mouthful. ‘And I feel bad. I know you hate that job. I know you only took it because you wanted to earn more for the house.’‘That’s not true, I wanted a change.’ I put my lentils and the disease book onto the couch next to me. If I ate one more lentil, one more grain of rice, I would scream.Michael leaned over and kissed my forehead. ‘I know you hate it,’ he said.Until recently I had been a research assistant at Victoria University, caring for mice used in the testing of treatments for multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease. Each day I’d had to remind myself of the lifesaving therapy my boss had already helped develop. Professor Sach’s office wall was a collage of gold plaques, certificates, and smiling children who’d benefited from her work. But I still felt sorry for the test subjects who had to die so we could study them. I always made sure their beds were filled with dry, soft sawdust and that they had fresh water and carrots and lettuce leaves, as well as the pellets. It tore at me when the time came to euthanise them. But I told myself that if I didn’t do it, someone else would, and they may not have been as gentle. It was my job to make their short lives as happy as possible.My new job involved allergy testing for a cosmetics company called Lustre Labs. I was working on their chemist label, CityPrity; a cut-price brand that tried to market its metallic eye shadows and glittery body creams as the height of metropolitan sophistication. The money was almost double what I was being paid at the university and the hours were steady. Plus they didn’t test on animals. But Michael was right. I hated it.‘It was my choice,’ I said.As an insurance salesman, his salary was almost double mine. He picked up my bowl and took it into the kitchen. I could hear him putting my leftovers in Tupperware so I could eat them for lunch the next day. I sighed, wishing I’d bought the éclair and crammed the whole thing into my mouth in the shopping centre car park.‘Besides,’ he said, standing at the door. ‘I have a surprise for you.’I looked up sharply. ‘You do?’ The éclair was forgotten.‘Yeah,’ he smiled at me. ‘It’s a big surprise. I think you’re going to really like it.’‘What is it?’‘Uh-uh.’ He waggled a finger at me. ‘All will be revealed tomorrow night.’
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Genevieve Gannon is a Melbourne-based journalist and author. She wrote stories for music and fashion street press magazines while at university before moving to Canberra to do a journalism cadetship.
In 2011 she joined the national news wire, Australian Associated Press, where she covered crime, politics and entertainment. Her work has appeared in most major Australian newspapers including The Age, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph.
She currently lives in Melbourne where she is a court reporter. At night she writes romantic comedies