Five Beautiful Corners of the World With Jennifer Hawkins
Consider the flamboyant extremes of Los Angeles, the quirky food movements and street art installations of Melbourne, and the gorgeous yellow sand of the Maldives – the Earth has spread its beauty far and wide. So far, in fact, as to suggest it wants us to leave our home place and go anywhere beyond what’s comfortable. Here’s where you might go first.
Walk down Venice Boardwalk any day, any time and you’ll see a kaleidoscopic showcase of humanity at our brightest and most enthusiastic. Buskers will play old dixie standards, original new-wave blues tunes, garage rock jams, and smaller, less ambitious arrangements of time-honoured big band numbers. Some musicians are good, some are bad. This variance in quality is true of all the Boardwalk’s performers, be they drum-circle facilitators or magicians or whatever. When they make your ears (or eyes) bleed, you won’t shield yourself or turn away, but be utterly entranced and endeared and thank them for their contributions. Because that’s Los Angeles: a place of experimentation, of vivid colour, of art for its own sake, no matter what. You’ve seen these attitudes celebrated in Hollywood.
Something about LA you may not know: Like Paris, Melbourne, New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Rome, Los Angeles has its own foodie scene, a community of world-class chefs and weird fusions and frankenflavours. LA hosts luxe champagne bars and gin bars and craft beer houses on mini-strips taken over by hipsters, as well as 5-star Michelin-grade bistros and coffee art emporiums. Casual dining is undergoing a shift, too. People are fobbing off long-standing chains like Applebee’s and Wendy’s to buy gourmet artisan salads from smaller corner store bruncheries.
Jen: Los Angeles is so amazing to travel to, it’s like being in all of your favourite movies. I also love the great party scene there, there are so many cool bars and restaurants! The people there are also so positive, friendly and accommodating.
Draped like a stylish necklace across the Indian Ocean, the Maldives certainly lives up to its name. This ‘Garland of Islands’ – conjuring up images of golden sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and gorgeous tropical sunsets – is easily the closest you’ll come to living out your island dreams. Hosting a perfect blend of tropical bliss and world-class luxury resort life, the Maldives offers its guests the holiday of a lifetime… and it goes much further than simply soaking up the sun on the beach.
Rich with culture, the Maldives is home to stunning ancient monuments and vibrant local villages bursting with local smells, sights and sounds. Take the Old Friday Mosque in the capital of Malé for example – built in the 17th century from coral stone – much like that of the coral stone in the local diving hotspots – it’s time-worn, it’s uniquely rough to the touch and it’s like no other mosque you’ll see in Asia.
Jen: The Maldives is my all-time favourite destination hands down. It’s a place you can switch off and relax while being surrounded by water that you will never see as beautiful! It is so incredibly clear, it is something that you have to see in the flesh. The Maldives is so hard to describe, especially as it is literally in the middle of nowhere. I feel so grateful that I’ve been able to see it in my lifetime.
There are few people who disagree: Melbourne is undoubtedly a cool place to be. There are the bustling laneways of the inner city, packed with stunning street art, authentic eateries and designer boutiques. There’s the diverse collection of neighbourhoods, each full of more character than the next. There’s the eclectic mix of cultures, creating a hub of some of the best food to be found in the world. And to top it off, there’s even a beach. It’s not hard to see why Melbourne has been voted as the most liveable city in not just Australia, but the entire world.
Physical features aside, it’s the people that make Melbourne what it is. This is where the world comes to meet – from your average Aussie local to world-class travellers, backpackers and youngsters coming to start their life. Everyone is open to welcoming another into their social circle, and the emphasis on a balance of work and life is obvious. People are happy; people are friendly – and you’ll always feel at home when you’re in Melbourne.
Jen: I spend a lot of time in Melbourne for work, I can almost call myself a Melbournian! I love that you can experience a true Winter, without having to travel halfway across the world to find it. I’d love to spend more time down there, outside of work.
Sweeping white-sand beaches, history and culture at every turn and vibrant, mouth-watering cuisine aplenty. It’s easy to see why Thailand is known as the ‘land of a thousand smiles’. You can holiday your way in Thailand. Retreat to a tropical beach paradise on Ko Samui, party in Phuket and Ko Phi Phi or explore the bustling markets and gleaming Buddhist temples of Bangkok. If you’re feeling adventurous check out Thailand’s northern capital Chiang Mai, a city that seemingly embodies the old ways of Thai life with its laid-back feel and unique atmosphere.
Food is usually the first thing that springs to mind when people are gushing over how incredible Thailand is, and with good reason too. Thai cuisine is vibrant, bold and showcases delicious local ingredients like pungent lemongrass, spicy chillies and exquisitely fresh seafood. It can be spicy, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter yet somehow finds a balance between these intense flavours. The dishes are usually much like the land itself — colourful, exciting and always unforgettable.
Jen: Thailand is so amazing! I love that you have both the relaxing tropical element to a holiday, and it’s so rich in culture. I was lucky enough to travel there during my Miss Universe journey and it has always been somewhere I would love to go back to. The food was especially to die for!
This unique island, nestled in its mothering indonesian mainland, offers the opportunity to truly unwind. Bali is peppered with public holidays throughout the year to celebrate its many important cultures, bringing together a colourful and enriching experience for anyone wanting to visit. Set your eyes upon sights you have never seen before, from the laddered acres of rice fields and hundreds of temples, to the whitest beaches and rumbling volcanoes.
With worldly food options, more or less any international food is catered to. But if you are looking for local cuisine, look no further than nasi goreng, the Indonesian dish. For those looking for nightlife, look no further than Kuta, the party capital of the island. Then wind down at nearby Sabur for secluded beaches, refreshing cocktails, and if you are lucky, the chance to swim with dolphins.
Jen: Bali hold a very special place in my heart because Jake and I got married there! It’s such a beautiful and spectacular destination, especially for a wedding. A time and place in my life that’s unforgettable. I love a tropical holiday, so Bali ticks all my boxes. Being near the water is always amazing.