He explores

"Traveling at the Speed of Life"

Tag: just for laughs

The Lost Gypsy Gallery

All children have an insatiable, inquisitive appetite and are naturally curious. But growing up, it’s one of those things that most of us, sadly, start to suppress. The ability gets lost in translation, drowning in school systems and formal education revolving around giving you the right answers, instead of making you ask the right questions. However, it’s one of the most important, pure qualities to cultivate throughout your life, even when you’re sitting in a rocking chair, grey and old – it’ll keep you rocking for a long time still! Why? Because it’s the powerful drive inside of you that keeps you in motion. It keeps you motivated to learn and discover new paths. It ignites your creativity, seeking out answers and solutions to all the questions life and the universe brings forth and is basically the foundation of all innovation.

Luckily artist Blair Sommerville never lost his curiosity growing up.  Hidden in the heart of the Catlins in the far south of New Zealand he has created a major magnet for the curious, a hidden gem, an anomaly like no other: the Lost Gypsy Gallery. I’ve always been fascinated by out-of-the-ordinary, odd and quirky attractions around the world and stepping inside Blair’s gypsy bus is like tumbling down the rabbit hole. With imagination, humor and creativity he has made the world’s largest collection of rustic automata. In his own words:

“My aim here is to reward the curious, to offer a creative place of wonder, beauty, gadgets and gizmos, made mostly from natural or recycled materials that will warm the heart of even the most cynical. An antidote to consumerism.”

The 1st object that catches your attention, coming in from the main road.
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The 2nd one brings a smile upon your face. 3

The 3rd one sets the tone.  
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Walking into the front yard, things start to get really weird. 
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The entrance to the Gypsy Bus.
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Can you guess what happens when pressing the button?
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Blair’s sense of humor, with a twist of truth, clearly shines through on this sign.
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Inside the bus you can’t help feeling nostalgic seeing an old, classic game like this.
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And this one is even more old school.
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Penguins on Parade.
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Humor is a big part of the gallery.
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And Blair obviously has a thing for clocks. 
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There’s so much to look at in the bus, that you easily lose track of time.
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If you don’t find the right speed to turn the LP around, people will think you’re communicating with extraterrestrial life!
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Music is what makes the world go round.
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Even looking up at the ceiling, you’ll find things that you thought were extinct.
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And morbid discoveries like this baby, that can turn its head 360 degrees!
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Interactive and fun. Press a button and they will perform!
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The front of the bus.
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If you’re still curious after exploring the bus, you can head on to the backyard.
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In case you were wondering…
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Nothing is sacred here. But what can you expect from Darth Vader?
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However, compared to this man, Darth Vader is a Good Samaritan.
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Most of the pieces of art in the backyard are interactive.
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At the end of another flight of stairs, you encounter a small gallery,
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Where Blair’s sense of humor shines through again.
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A prime example: Pinocchio’s awkward adolescence.
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The 3rd best way to end your visit to the Lost Gypsy Gallery is a jam session on the piano here.
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The 2nd best is to enjoy a coffee made with love.
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However, the absolute best way to finish your visit at the Lost Gypsy Gallery is a game of Table Soccer.
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How to get there?
Get on what is called the “Southern Scenic Route” on New Zealand’s South Island, which you can start either from Dunedin or Invercargill. This beautiful drive takes you through the wild Catlin Coast with amazing waterfalls, lush forests, lonely beaches with windswept trees and loads of marine mammals. At some point you’ll reach a small rural town called Papatowai and BOOM!! There you got it, the Lost Gypsy Gallery. Now, what are you waiting for?

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
Albert Einstein


The Curious Case of Lost Thongs

A lot of things bind us together as travelers. The insatiable hunger to see the world. Trying to make ends meet on a low budget. The frustration of things not turning out the way you planned. The ability to swear in 5 different languages and last but not least: The curse of lost thongs! You know, the ones you wear on your feet – not the other kind. If you’ve ever been backpacking, I’m sure you can relate to this post.

Thongs seem to disappear in the most curious ways, kind of like the mythical lost sock. I’ve lost count of just how many I’ve had to buy while traveling Asia and Australia. Here’s 5 real-life examples of curious cases of lost thongs:

1st case: The Beach Party
This is a classic case! Eventually most backpackers end up partying on a beach, drinking cocktails and beers, dancing till the break of dawn. At some point or another, you’re most likely to get the brilliant idea to take off your thongs to feel the sand beneath your feet. That’s the moment when the curious case of lost thongs strikes! This happened to me during a crazy Full Moon Party in Thailand. My thongs lost and gone, without a trace, like a ship in the Bermuda Triangle.

2nd case: The Houdini
Landing a job in regional Australia I invested in a new pair of decent thongs, which were to last me for the 3 months length of my work stay. They lasted 1 week! To this day I’m not quite sure what happened to them. However, I’ve got an idea of where and when they were lost. Going to a swimming hole to chill after a long day’s work they suddenly disappeared. I looked for them everywhere, but no luck. The next day my thongs, or so I thought, magically reappeared on the feet of one of my co-workers, who blankly denied them being mine.

3rd case: The Fire
One of the best things about road tripping and camping is the campfires. One chilly night in Australia, I was enjoying the warmth and coziness of a campfire in good company. My feet were freezing, so I decided to rest them on one of the stones surrounding the fire. With my thongs on! 5 minutes later someone in our group cried out: “What’s that smell!?” That same instant smoke started coming out from under my feet, which were not so cold anymore, rather burning hot. Another good pair of thongs – melting away.

4th case: The Quicksand
After 3 days of living as castaways on an island in The Whitsundays, it was time for my travel partner and I to get back to civilization. We heard our boat taxi coming and were suddenly in a hurry bringing all our camping gear down to the beach. Running back and forth between the boat and our camping spot, we were finally down to the last run. About 20 paces from the boat my right foot got stuck in the wet sand. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to pull it out and when I finally succeeded, my thong was gone! In a state of frenzy, I knelt down, dug my hand deep down into the sand and searched for it everywhere, while the people on the boat impatiently were signaling me to hurry up. It turned out to be mission impossible to salvage my beloved thong.

5th case: The Flood
It’s not always easy finding a good, free camping spot, when you’re in a city in Australia. However, my travel partner and I did so, when we were on the Gold Coast, trying to find a place in the dark. Public barbeque, toilets and a beautiful river as a backdrop. Or so we thought. We decided to sleep in our car instead of our tent and to make enough space we left half of our stuff outside. The following morning we woke up to the sound of birds singing and water flowing. Blissfully ignorant, we rubbed our eyes and looked outside. Then we rubbed our eyes some more and looked again, while reality slowly sank in. We had parked our car on a boat ramp subject to rising water levels and were now surrounded by it, knee-deep! The stuff that we had left outside, including my thongs, was peacefully floating down the river.

So, why is it that thongs disappear in the most curious ways? My theory is that they feel enslaved. Thongs have an innate urge to free themselves and escape to a safe haven, a sort of thong-paradise, where there are no feet to oppress them.

What about you? Have you lost any thongs recently? (: Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your story!

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