Angie sat down with World Nomads podcast to discuss life as a digital nomad, making films for social impact, and virtual reality.
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“The ocean taught me that no matter how big your house, how big your ego, at the end of the day we have little control over life but we can choose how we respond to life’s many challenges.”
Covering themes so close to my heart, and offering very different experiences, the exhibition is an absolute must for anyone interested in Virtual Reality, immersive storytelling, design, art, documentary film and raising empathy through storytelling.
When I was a 'grommet', all I could think of was building a life based around surfing. I had a fleeting moment as a young teen surfer that I might strive to become a professional competitor, but truth be told I loved surfing mostly for the community, the travel, and that feeling of freedom that dancing on water permitted. Competing, sadly, gave me the shits (literally) and I simply could not stomach competition (pun intended).
Through my university years I surfed less and partied more. I dated a musician and our life was filled with live shows and loads of boozing. It was not until I moved to the coast of Japan, after a year in the mountains snowboarding, that I lived within walking distance from the surf and I possibly surfed harder and more frequently than ever. In my first trimester of pregnancy with Ryder, I jetted from Tokyo to Delhi, and spent almost a months surfing the west coast of India. Shortly after, my little bulging bump turned into a hindrance on a board, and I switched to an inflatable mat, getting in the water daily until the day of delivery. Post-baby, I surfed like a nut again, spending months in Australia with my cousin Serena, a surf coach and previously Australian champ, and also a new mum to baby Jet who was just two months older than Ryder.
Over the years that followed, I have learned that ocean and the joy it offers will always be a part of me, but that there is more to life than an unhealthy addiction to surfing. Travel and a love of the mountains has taken me off the beaten path more than once, particularly in the past two years as the kids and I have lived in locations far from the sea, such as Colombia's Bucaramanga, and Japan's Hakuba.
When I met Remy, it was as though we both felt the same about our love for surfing and our ease in adapting to varying landscapes and travel opportunities. In fact, in the first six months of living together in Australia, we surfed only once together. Our weekdays were filled with ocean swims and beach walks, but we had our heads buried in new pursuits - Virtual Reality development for me, and music for Remy. We thus did not hesitate to venture off on a surfboard-free road trip to far North Queensland, and then later a four-month epic across Asia and the Himalayas.
Fast forward a year, and we have both been missing the ocean. Jumping in for swims as much as we could during our weeks in Adelaide, when we arrived to Lennox Head to surprise the kids and re-organise our few belongings before Remy was to take off for a visa run to New Zealand (he left this morning) with plans to meet the kids and I in Canada by the end of the month, surfing was finally on the agenda.
We snuck our first little session in back at The Pass, in Byron Bay, with my cousin Serena and her kids. Then yesterday, with the winds offshore and eager for one last mini adventure before Remy hit the skies, we threw our boards in the car and took the ferry over to South Ballina to my favourite wave around this area (name omitted). As a true gentleman would do, Remy let me paddle out for a couple waves first. The water like a bath and crystal clear, I felt at home again on my board, although my shoulders and legs in their jelly state were yet to catch up. My first wave a wobbly disaster, by the second I recalled what it felt like to surf and I felt a deep sense of connection to riding waves that may never be lost despite how many months I spend away from the sea on my travels.
Remy was next, tag teaming daddy day care for the board and getting out there in board shorts to show me that this French surfer boy raised in Congo could still shred the lip, even tucking into a sneaky little closeout barrel and poking through the wave to claim a 'kinda' pit. After hours in the sun, with the kids screaming in joy as dolphins relentlessly bodysurfed the transparent waves, we packed up our gear and shuffled our sunburned pasty skin back to the car and home for one last family meal together for the month.
I feel like I went another layer deeper with Remy today, sharing this love of surfing that we have both grown up with but not yet had the opportunity to experience much together in our relationship.
As I kissed him goodbye this morning at Gold Coast Airport, my heart felt strong in our love and I bid him a great fucking trip.
See you in a few weeks babe. Ready for the next chapter.
Let's start with the cliche, 'home is where the heart is.' We made the journey back to Lennox Head, surprising the boys and then all their friends. Ryder nearly cried. Hunter almost peed his pants. Lennox is, after all, the longest place they've ever 'lived' despite the continuous moves and overseas travels. But what makes this place truly special is the group of friends the boys have made over the years, a group that I am certain will be in each others' lives no matter how far the distance, no matter how far each of them eventually roam.
The first day back I felt that familiar feeling of nostalgia. After six months away, it felt like we'd never left. The sultry air, the hypnotic sound of crashing waves, the birds at dawn that wake me for my sunrise walk to the point and early swim...By the second day, nostalgia had turned to a lump in my chest, a strange sensation that made me feel uneasy. For some reason that I am yet to fully understand, I have never felt completely 'at home' here in Lennox Head, and I began to question "why?" and try to uncover what might be wrong with me that I can not seem to just bunker down in one place. It only took a few moments to remind myself this line of questioning is indeed pure madness. I have learnt over the years of travel and through many experiences that being grounded in heart can allow you to feel at home all over the world.
With Remy's final days in Australia approaching - his visa is expiring this week and he's bound for New Zealand before we all meet in Montreal at the end of the month - we have been spending as much time visiting friends and catching rays at the beach as possible. The constant movement has been exhausting, so today we opted for a quiet visit out to local waterfalls with our dear friend Cade.
Cade is a beautiful young man with an old soul. Not only does he make the best chai in the world - this is no joke, we have crawled the globe searching for a better chai latte and we are yet to discover a better brew than his - but he is also one of the most grounded and inspiring individuals we have met along the path. A fellow traveller, both internally and externally, I could spend hours chatting with Cade and today we certainly did.
After a dip in the freshwater swimming hole, I felt completely energized, a stark contrast to the lethargy I felt after a morning in the sun at the beach. Last year upon return from huge travels overseas, I made a commitment to spend more time inland visiting waterfalls and connecting with the energy of the lush rainforest that surrounds us here in the Northern Rivers. These visits gave me an opportunity to hit refresh on Sundays, giving me a booster that would continue through for the rest of the week.
With Remy leaving for three weeks, our biggest separation since we met, I will be making regular waterfall visits a part of my weekly routine, knowing that how I fuel my body and mind is a matter of conscious choices that I am making every day, every hour, every minute, every breath.
It is this grounding of heart that gives me peace, and trust in the journey ahead.
First thing's first, I am committing to a solid effort to regularly blog from here on in.
So here's goes it. Rather than give a blow by blow update on the past six months of our Gypsy Journeys (go check out my YouTube channel and keep an eye out for more vids from our recent trip in Asia), let's just say for now that following our #crossingasia adventures, we landed back in Australia in early February and havebeen laying low in my hometown of Adelaide. By laying low I mean shaking our booties at Womadelaide and shooting some 360 video for my talented Aunty Evelyn Roth, reading a ton, indulging the festivities of the Fringe Festival, and frolicking in the dazzling Adelaide metro beaches.
Today, we packed up our Toyota Prius and once again hit the road. As of today, I am a homeless CEO, and I couldn't be happier. Our bigger goal is Montreal, Canada. Today is the first step in a short process to get us there. After 18months of learning and yearning in immersive media, I am slowly cooking up a dream start-up with Montreal-based creative super mama Paula Toledo. More to come on this, but in the meantime check out our instagram and twitter at @welltechinnov.
We kicked off the first of our two-day road trip from South Australia to New South Wales at 4am, with a solid 14hours of driving to land in Parkes for the night. Tomorrow we are off again at 4am, bound for Lennox Head, where we will be surprising the kids with a few weeks of catching up with friends whilst Remy gets kicked out of Oz (visa) to NZ and I begin logistical planning for Montreal.
Did I mention tomorrow we are off at 4am? I did, yep. Well, lucky for you, my droppy eyelids are begging me to log off, so I will spare you my shockingly crappy review of the Newell Highway Caravan Park - do not stay here, even in a cabin (we booked the family cabin for "2 adults and 2 kids" on booking dot com, then got pinged by the not-so-friendly Chinese owner for extra money for the kids)...
Bon nui (French spelling may not be on point).
We finally made it to Japan, touching down a couple weeks back just in time for my 35th birthday. In what was kind of an anti-climax to the #crossingasia voyage, we decided to fly to Japan from Chengdu, in China, instead of take the ferry from Shanghai to Osaka, because quite frankly we were running out of budget and the boat was significantly more expensive than flying.
As vegans, we were also starving in China, a country that is definitely not ready to adopt the concept of taking meat out of anything, let alone creating stand-alone vegetarian dishes or anything vegan. The decision to fly the last leg, after traveling almost the entire route across six countries overland (bar the India to Thailand flight - unavoidable) was completely sporadic. We were cold, almost broke, and hungry one afternoon in Chengdu after arriving by overnight train and a few scrolls of my Instagram feed's #japow hashtags, plus a quote from the ferry company (over $1000 for the four of us to travel 48hours from Shanghai to Osaka sleeping on the floor), was enough to have me searching, and booking, the flights.
To be honest, I wanted to get the boat, for half the price. But in life, sometimes we don't get what we want, we get what we need. Instead we high-tailed it to Japan, Remy and I spent two days in Tokyo together, without kids (who went to visit their father) for the first time in over three months, then we all took the bus to Hakuba and within days were shredding powder on the mountains and soaking in hot springs. The lesson: be strict, but flexible, in life, and thou shall be rewarded.
So this is just a quick post to say HI, we made it, and we are now busy editing all our vlogs from the trip and writing articles to post and share! The Freeride World Tour is also in Hakuba this week and I've been on the mountain doing some media work for Evergreen Outdoor Centre, excitedly soaking up the action from all the shredders in the village and keeping my eyes peeled for Travis Rice, who has received a Wild Card entry to the Main Event, which is currently on hold until the snow dumps next week.
Thanks for your patience with the Vlogs, they're coming, I promise.
The Pushkar Camel Fair had been on my 'to-do' list since I was the editor at Yahoo!7 Travel, when we'd create galleries and blogs about the world's craziest festivals. I'm not sure what attracted me the most at the time. Was it the cinematic elements of dressed up camels in the Rajasthani desert? Or was it the stories of gypsies gathering to trade their animals and enjoy the accompanying festivities? Probably both.
In the six years gone since those gallery-building days, I have turned vegan, and have a completely new outlook on dressing up animals for entertainment. Regardless, as fate would have it I found myself on a bus to Pushkar at the tail-end of the 'Mela', Remy and the kids, and my camera, in tow.
Held each November at the time of the Kartik Purnima full moon, Pushkar Camel Fair is quite the spectacle, attracting thousands of camels and their owners from all over the Indian desert region of Rajasthan, and visited by almost half a million people in just two weeks. Photographers and travel writers have long-documented this cinematic event, but I was intrigued to visit first-hand to witness both the carnival atmosphere and the camel vibes.
The fair is, admittedly, impressive. Seductive even. We arrive at dusk, and the light is a photographer's dream. As I rush around in the sand taking shots of the camels and their owners, I'm drawn to the community atmosphere oozing from the makeshift campsites of the traders. We are joined by a local Rajasthani musician whom we met in the market, who doubles as our guide and informant. He walks us through the hundreds of camels and humans and I'm in awe at the magnitude of this event.
On one side of the fairgrounds are food and trinket stalls; camel decorations hang from shop tents like tinsel from a Christmas tree. Flamboyantly decorated camels stand attached to ruby red wagons, aka camel taxis, waiting for the tourists (mostly domestic) to hop in for a ride around the desert. Camels have a unique personality that I can't quite grasp; solemn, perhaps, proud, perhaps, but I'm quite sure I didn't spot a happy camel among the throngs. I see one camel tied at the knees, screeching as its owners try to force it to the ground. Another is being dressed decorations through the nose, similarly resisting with all its vocal might. One more walks heavily through the sand transporting a 'healthy' family of Indians in the red taxi cab, the camel master whipping the animal's rear to keep her inline. The kids are perplexed; such a wonder to be surrounded by these mystical animals, but why do they look so sad? Empathy builds.
What we know about camels
"The earliest known camel, called Protylopus, lived in North America 40 to 50 million years ago (during the Eocene). It was about the size of a rabbit and lived in the open woodlands of what is now South Dakota. By 35 million years ago, the Poebrotherium was the size of a goat and had many more traits similar to camels and llamas. The hoofed Stenomylus, which walked on the tips of its toes, also existed around this time, and the long-necked Aepycamelus evolved in the Miocene.
The direct ancestor of all modern camels, Procamelus, existed in the upper Miocene and lower Pliocene. Around 3–5 million years ago, the North American Camelidae spread to South America as part of the Great American Interchange via the newly formed Isthmus of Panama, where they gave rise to guanacos and related animals, and to Asia via the Bering land bridge.
The last camel native to North America was Camelops hesternus, which vanished along with horses, short-faced bears, mammoths and mastodons, ground sloths, sabertooth cats, and many other megafauna, coinciding with the migration of humans from Asia.
Like the horse, before their extinction in their native land, camels spread across the Bering land bridge, moving the opposite direction from the Asian immigration to America, to survive in the Old World and eventually be domesticated and spread globally by humans. Most camels surviving today are domesticated. Along with many other megafauna in North America, the original wild camels were wiped out during the spread of Native Americans from Asia into North America, 12,000 to 10,000 years ago. Although feral populations exist in Australia, India and Kazakhstan, the only wild camels left are the wild Bactrian camels of the Gobi Desert." - Source: Wikipedia.
When should we transform tradition?
Years ago I joined my good friend and professional surfer Dave Rastovich to the south of Japan, filming for The Cove, a film that exposes the horrific annual dolphin drives and slaughters in Taiji, Wakayama. The night before our intended peaceful paddle-out ceremony to pay tribute to the dolphins who had lost their lives over the years in this eerie yet stunning bay, my ex-husband, Dave, Hannah Fraser and I found ourselves on a night-mission trip from Osaka to Taiji to meet with local fishermen and surfers to discuss the issue and potential solutions.
It has been clear to the dolphin hunters for many years now that the West does not support its capturing of dolphins for aquarium trade and the subsequent slaughter for meat that has now been well documented globally by the likes of Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd. And whilst Dave presented many alternatives for economic empowerment, including dolphin and whale watching, which would generate much more revenue for the fisherman and require far less physical output, the local consensus was made very clear: killing dolphins was their tradition and they weren't planning on stopping.
The irony of the Taiji saga is this: Japanese people don't eat dolphin. At least, not knowingly. Some eat whale as a delicacy, but those who consume dolphin are mostly unknown to the fact, with the meat sold under the term 'Whale Bacon', or being used for dog food and fertilizers. When The Cove was shown to Japanese citizens, many were shocked that the huntings were happening in Taiji at all and couldn't stomach the footage.
But despite the global attention that the film generated, the killings still continue, even under the watchful eye of the world. Tradition, for now, prevails.
So what fate lies in store for the camels of Rajasthan, with almost half a million festival-goers treading through the sands each year to get up close and personal with these intriguing creatures and their pom-pom adornments? Let's hope more love is offered their way and as with the slow demise of elephant riding in Thailand humans raise their awareness to appreciate these creatures without exploiting them .
What do you think? Should we transform tradition in respect for the animals? Have your say in the comments below.
Jaipur was our first destination of the 'Crossing Asia' adventure (with no planes, no plastics, and two kids!), and just a few days felt like a few weeks.
Arriving at midnight on Scoot Airlines from the Gold Coast via our layover in Singapore, I was not at all surprised to find our hotel transport was not there to greet us with a shady handmade sign bearing 'Angie Davis and Remy Richard' in smudgy black texta. Shame. Nevertheless, being my second trip to India, I had presumed this would be the case, and thus did not panic at all. Rather, it felt like the adventures were all beginning with the necessary 'happenings' (or 'not' happenings) that make India, well, that place you love and hate at every moment all at the same time.
Funnily enough the fixed-price registered taxi that we succumbed to directly out front of the airport exit doors offered us a cheaper price than the hotel had promised. Winning. We met our bobble-headed driver and were soon whisked away into Jaipur's rather fresh, orange-lit night air.
Ahh, India. It felt good to be back.
Compared to my first arrival in India eight years prior, when I was pregnant with Ryder (now sitting by my side with boggle eyes taking in this strange yet seductive place ), I had landed in Delhi, and started my trip scared shitless. This time around I felt seasoned. I knew how to do India. Come on, bring it.
Our hotel, unlike that last time in Delhi, was better than I had gauged from the booking.com photos when I had booked a few weeks earlier (I like to book a hotel for the first couple of days when arriving into a new city at night, period). It offered clean rooms, check, a rooftop restaurant, check, and toilet paper. Bonus! We liked to so much we extended our stay an extra night, staying three in total, and took to settling in to our new home, taking off for long days exploring the city.
Jaipur, in comparison to those years prior in Delhi, was, how can I put this, easy! Ok yes we were getting ripped off every time we breathed in a Tuk Tuk, and yes the streets were ear-piercingly noisy, dirty, and we counted more animals than we probably should have in the confinements of a major Indian city, but it was all so exhilarating and our movements all seemed to flow quite nicely. Heck, our Tuk Tuk driver (who we totally overpaid) even took us to a local textile factory where we saw men, yes men, stamping hand made fabrics with local dyes made from vegetables. For us vegans this was the jackpot!
Now if you've been following our journey on social media, you will 1. notice that this blog post is weeks behind the actual events (apologies, the WiFi access and time to sit and write has been, well, as thin as uncle Brenton's crew cut), and 2. that we are completing our trip using no plastic drink bottles. AKA, no PETs. Now this made for interesting hydration experiences in India. Think 40°C heat, warm tap water, and a UV filter that kills all the bad things, except, you guessed it, the taste.
Nevertheless I was proud of us for sticking to our plan from day one, hell if we had of caved on the first day I may as well have packed up and started flying all over the country (we are doing the trip with no planes, too), so I am happy we stuck to the plan.
You might also recall, if you're over the social airwaves, that I am attempting to daily VLOG, well as close to daily as possible, the entire journey. And lucky for you, the first two videos, shot in Jaipur, are edited and live on YouTube. Now if you'll forgive me I'd best be getting back to the five-week back log of edits so that I can keep slinging you some interesting content to view!
Follow the journey
Angie: @theaniccaway @angiedavisfilms