Accidental Aid Worker, Sue Liu on Hawaii and Sri Lanka

Humanitarian efforts in far flung locations: terrible natural disasters and appalling acts of terrorism become believably real through Sydney author Sue Liu’s debut work, Accidental Aid Worker.

This is a moving and real-life account of one woman’s drive to survive and support others while masking battles of her own. 

Sue stumbled into voluntary aid work in the wake of the 2004 tsunami during the civil war conflict in Sri Lanka. She teamed up with a tour guide, a Catholic priest and a community of refugees, beginning a 10-year obsession with helping people in need.

Along the way, Sue lost her grip on life and embarked on a harrowing journey through mid-life crisis, disconnection and chronic depression. She was forced to face inescapable truths about herself in order to navigate her way to the woman she really wanted to be.

Sharing her most vulnerable moments with warmth and bare honesty her story is set alongside epic travel adventures and quirky tales involving; priests, nuns, a rabbi, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, a tuktuk accident, refugees, orphaned children, surgeries, fishing for marlin and at times, spontaneous singing and dancing with children.

“I believe life is a series of next steps and pieces of a puzzle and I certainly have had a full, interesting and quirky life. I couldn’t keep these stories to myself anymore and part of my healing was writing and producing this book. I think my struggles will really resonate with a lot of people. There are plenty places to laugh with and at me, and plenty of times to commiserate.  I recommend reading with tissues and a glass of wine.”

Sue Liu lives in Annandale, Sydney, with her enormous brown Burmese cat Moet. She’s ‘Chiefette’ of her own Marketing Consultancy, Zulu Communications and Candles for Community. Sue puts in an equal amount of time as a volunteer, and is currently working in the areas of health care, mental health and support services for Sydney’s homeless community.

When not at work Sue likes to relax by plotting and planning travel adventures which include diving trips.  Two of her top vacation destinations is the islands of Hawaii and Sri Lanka.   Here are her recommendations:

In Hawaii:

  • Exploring the incredible and fascinating Big Island of Hawaii. Driving right around the island you’ll discover four seasons in one day – rainforests, waterfalls, desert, a mountain you can ski on, active volcanos, lava fields, cattle ranches and of course some of the world’s most stunning beaches. 
  • Drive to the summit of Mauna Kea (14,000 ft) from sea level at Hilo.  Take your time. It is a steep rise in altitude so driving up too fast can leave you giddy! Your head will be above the clouds and you can then explore the universe at the observatory. If you’re there at sunset – it’s truly a sight to behold.
  • One of my top 3 dive experiences just outside the town of Kona is the manta ray night dive/snorkel experience.  It’s a breathtaking spectacle watching these enormous, gentle creatures perform a ballet by the light of 100 flashlights as they come to feed on the plankton. Snorkellers view from the surface while divers get amongst the action in one of the most spectacular experiences of your life.
  • When on Maui, drive the windy back roads of the island and explore the organic farms of ‘up country’. If you make the effort to watch the sun rise on the island’s highest peak, Haleakala, take a blanket with you because it gets chilly!


In Sri Lanka:

  • Take the train from Colombo or Kandy to the luscious and serene tea plantations in Hill Country. You’ll be transported back to colonial yesteryear as you ‘clickety clack’ over mountain ranges with warm-hearted Sri Lankan people – it’s a truly authentic, breathtaking experience. Try the wadi and samosas, the pineapple with a touch of chilli salt offered onboard by the food sellers that jump on an off from Kandy onward.
  • Base yourself in Haputale, the heart of Hill Country and be guided by Bruno and his team from Discover Sri Lanka with Bruno (voted the best tour guide in the world in 2011 by UK magazine Wunderlust). Visit temples, hike the forests and discover the best that this sweet tear-drop of a country has to offer.  And eat, eat, eat!  Devour delicious curries and sambals. The egg hoppers are to die for, you won’t get them like this outside of Sri Lanka.

Accidental Aid Worker is an independently published book and Sue’s travel memoir.  Her thought-provoking story will make you laugh, bring you to tears, inspire a thirst for travel, a yearning to give back, and pause for thought about what really makes us all tick.

A limited edition memento paperback of Accidental Aid Worker features a special memento double cover and is available for $35.00 plus postage and handling. You can purchase directly here and your book will be personalised and signed by Sue. The ebook is $12.99 and also available for purchase and download from the website.

Books are also available at ‘Hill of Content’ in Balmain and ‘Gleebooks’ in Glebe.




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