Five places that changed me: Joseph Mitchell, OzAsia Festival Director

Hiking is my way of switching off from the world and recharging: Joseph Mitchell. Photo: SuppliedJoseph Mitchell, OzAsia Festival Director, former Australian Swimming Team member  DOHA, QATAR
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I spent a month in Doha back in 2006, working on the Asian Games. It was only 10 years ago, but you could still see the local culture and tradition in quite an authentic way, just before all the supermalls, business centres and tourist-ready sites were built en masse. The main city had very traditional markets, barely any tourists and practically no western influences. It seemed as if I had an opportunity to glance the last moments of a traditional Doha just as it started to transition into a more accessible and marketable destination for foreigners.  LIJIANG, CHINA  

In 2010, I travelled through China for five weeks, seeking out different arts and cultural experiences. One of the most memorable places was the remote town of Lijiang, in the Yunnan Province. The Mufu Palace is smaller than Beijing’s Forbidden City, but no less impressive and with far fewer crowds. The highlight of Lijiang was the Naxi Orchestra who perform on classical Chinese instruments that date back around 800 years and were kept safe during the Cultural Revolution by being buried in the earth so that the authorities couldn’t find and destroy them.  NEW YORK, US

NYC is my favourite place in the world to visit. On any day there must be nearly 100 different theatre or dance productions, countless music concerts and a never-ending selection of galleries to explore. I try to stay in different areas of the city each time I visit to get a sense of the neighbourhoods. The Lower East Side seems to be where I keep returning most. Around 2013, I lived in Toronto for a year, and every long weekend I would nip down to NYC for a few days and binge on theatre. The locals in Toronto would ask me why I would travel all the way to NYC for such short periods of time, and I had to explain to them that a one-hour flight for an Aussie was like skipping down the road.  NEW ZEALAND

Hiking is my way of switching off from the world and recharging. And New Zealand has to be one of the greatest places for hiking on the planet. A worthy mention for something different is Mount Taranaki in New Plymouth. The 2.5-kilometre-high snow-peaked mountain jets up into the sky but is only a few kilometres from the ocean. Hiking up takes a good five hours but standing at the peak surrounded by snow and looking down at the expansive Pacific Ocean makes one realise how diverse and wonderful the world is. NIAGARA ON THE LAKE, CANADA  

When living in Toronto, I would regularly head down to Niagara on the Lake, a boutique wine region near Niagara Falls, and stock up on local wine as well as catch performances at the Shaw Festival. The Shaw Festival is a summer theatre festival dedicated to staging the works of Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries. The large repertoire company which produces this festival is incredibly talented and they perform many classic works that are rarely, if ever, staged in Australia. And a quick mention that the ice-wine from that region is amazing.

The OzAsia Festival is on in Adelaide from September 21 until October 2. The full program will be launched on July 12. 

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