Galileo actor Ravikanth Gurunathan shares his favourite holiday memories
What do you miss most about travel right now?
Honestly, I'm so lucky with the whole travel thing as New Zealand is full of wonderful places to check out. It's a bit rough when we go into lockdowns and I have to stay in Auckland.
What are your strongest memories from the first overseas trip you ever took?
When I was 5, I had open-heart surgery and we weren't sure whether I was gonna make it or not so Mum took me to the States to meet my uncles. The stand-outs for me on the trip were the Grand Canyon, going to the Nasa space station and of course getting to go to Disneyland. I got my first ever Gameboy from my cousin which was a huge deal for young Ravi.
What was a standard family holiday like when growing up?
We didn't really go on holidays to places much when I was younger, but I did love going to see different family friends/members around the country, specifically in Hamilton. I have really strong memories of being at the Hamilton botanical gardens and absolutely losing my mind looking at the flowers. I do really love parks and gardens.
Who has most inspired your travels?
Most of my travels have had some sort of purpose. The most inspiring trip I took was in 2011 when I went on a mission trip with my local church to Cambodia. I think it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It allowed me to gain a new definition of the word joy and what can incite joy within you.
What is the greatest trip you've ever been on?
My trip to Cambodia was by far the best one I've been on. I have a strong memory of playing a bit of football with some of the kids at one of the orphanages we went to and being absolutely blown away by how happy they were to see us. Really helped me to feel more grateful for the things I have in life. Another memory was going to a village and learning about their day-to-day life. One of the boys there was really into this blue Casio watch that I had, so I gave it to him and I can remember the smile he had on his face like it was yesterday. I think we really take for granted all the inherent privileges we get to experience living in New Zealand.
And the worst?
The absolute worst trip I went on was with my dad on a road trip down to Lake Tikitapu and Lake Rotokākahi in Rotorua. My stepmum had some really intense motion sickness during the drive home and I do not do well with vomit. I stuck my head out the window and prayed the wind passing over my ears would act as earmuffs.
What's your approach to packing for a big trip?
Pack 7 pairs of undies, 7 t-shirts, 3 different coloured pants, one nice button shirt, 3 jumpers, toiletries/phone charger/laptop. Take 3 pairs of shoes (1 running, 2 Converse). Do laundry regularly.
What is the destination that most surprised you?
On a two-week road trip an ex-partner and I took together from Queenstown to Christchurch, I had my mind blown by Lake Pukaki by the number of rocks there were. Legitimately it was a beautiful lake, but I just couldn't get over the sheer volume of rocks and the type of rocks they were.
Where was your most memorable sunrise/sunset?
A bunch of my mates and I stayed for a weekend at an Airbnb in the Waitakeres late last year after the second lockdown. On Saturday night a few of us walked up and sat on the road and watched the sunset from beginning to end. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. Makes you feel small and big at the same time.
What's the first thing you do when you get home from a long trip?
Take a shower, get into my bed and have a nap. Bed is sacred.
What do you miss most about home when you travel?
Where is the one destination you must see in your lifetime?
I really would like to go to Amsterdam to see the Van Gogh museum. I recently went to the Van Gogh Alive exhibit at Spark Arena and it fuelled my desire to get over there and see more things honouring him. He is really interesting to me in that he became famous and loved only after he passed away. A very egotistical thought I have about myself is: I sometimes wonder if I am destined for the same thing.
What's your favourite thing about travel?
I think the best part of travel is definitely meeting new people and learning the intricacies of different cultures. It can be an eye-opening experience and can help to combat any ideas of xenophobia that might live within you. As long as you're actually taking part in the real world of the new place you've travelled to and not just doing tourist trap activities, it can really help to widen your understanding of the human condition.
Ravikanth Gurunathan stars in the Life of Galileo, ASB Waterfront Theatre from June 22.