Seventeen seventy 

Overnight in Town of 1770. First time in about 30 years. It’s the sort of seaside village I love, and I have spent many hours and days in villages all over the world that are just like this one, Dreaming. Dreaming I lived there, dreaming of the businesses I could start so I could live there. All of the business ideas centred on cooking or coffee or caravans, which are unappealing.  

Kyleakin, Portree, Strahan, Kingscliff, Yamba, Akaroa, Lyttleton, Castlebay, Tarbert, Dunvegan…

There is a photo of Mum breastfeeding me on the beach here. As the story goes, Dad had some kind of episode at work/home, threw everything in the Chesney and took off. This is where he came. 
I wonder what my Dad found in his place. It interests me that the place he came to for refuge is almost identical to all the villages I have tried to escape to.

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Logistics #blogjune 17-18

Falling behind with #blogjune but I have an excuse! We have finally found a way to ship some boxes of stuff to Spain. I’m not sure how confident I am it will actually arrive. All the stuff for shipping is slowly being stockpiled in the lounge room:

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Mostly I seem to be shipping suitcases. How many suitcases does a person actually need? I think I have around 15…and that’s not counting those half handbag/half carry on bags!

We are flying AirNZ to Australia (squee!). They’ve always been one of my favourite airlines, but sadly leapt out of my price range when they started emulating budget airlines with a ridiculous Seat+Bag+Meal pricing model. Somehow by stopping over in Auckland for a few nights en route we managed to find the cheapest flight home. Yes, I realise I will spend those $$$ anyway by staying in Auckland, but it’s been too long between NZ visits! Ironically, given price moan above, they are letting us bring 2 x 23kg bags EACH. What on earth? I’ve scoured the web to see if I can get this deal going to Spain, but so far nope. I even considered ditching the shipping and paying extra to fly AirNZ to Europe, but I have a hatstand and a rug and can’t see that getting stowed by any airline.

As we are backpacking south China for 2 weeks before we fly to Australia we’re going to leave our big bags in the apartment until we get back from our Yunnan/Guizhou/Sichuan adventure. Speaking of which, I haven’t kept up with blogging due to the pain of trying to book that trip. If only China had a rail pass for travellers! But as with everything, why on earth would they try to create new markets when there are already 2 billion people chasing the product?

Queensland Day #blogjune 6

Running out of ideas for #blogjune already !!

Nobody here knows it is Queensland Day, and I was struggling to explain it, so I’ve googled it. It is the day at school when we used to colour in the Queensland flag and state emblem, then forget about them again for another year. Oh! And our local historical museum used to sell billy tea and damper, and probably have a log sawing contest.

Apparently it’s a celebration of the day we broke free from the colony of New South Wales, and these days it is known as Queensland Week

We have our own state flag, which is really the British flag “defaced” (according to wikipedia) by the state badge:

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Mysteriously, the state bade is the Cross of Malta – for which even the State Government struggle to provide a logical explanation:

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Our coat of arms is inexplicably being held up by a deer:

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They were the first Arms assigned to a British colony since Charles II granted Jamaica its Arms in 1661, so perhaps they were a little stuck for inspiration? (Actually, the red deer is supposed to “represent the old world”. Ugh.)

We are also known for our rainforests, reefs and wild weather.

For more Queensland, check it out here for the boring tourist website, or here for the funny Buzzfeed one.

 

Hong Kong

Overnight transit in Yau Me Tei. Hong Kong seems like a magical land after 3 solid months in 2nd tier China without a break. We didn’t go away for CNY as it is a ridiculously expensive time to travel. We went down with Influenza B all holidays, so my frustration with flight prices and refusal to buy tickets was for the best in the end. We spent 4 days in bed, sick, freezing, band eing rocketed to oblivion by new year fireworks. By the end of the holiday we were both ready to kill the next person who hocked up form near us. 

So I sent the 10 year old back to Australia for a month. She’s spent 3 weeks climbing trees, swimming, fishing and going crazy with her cousins. Not entirely sure she’ll get on the plane back here. But if she does make it, there’s only 12 weeks left in China and it won’t be minus 5

I have a week of holidays before I collect her. I can’t remember the last time I travelled on my own. I’m doing a hand papermaking workshop in Chiang Mai, meeting a friend in Bangkok, re-learning screen printing in Hong Kong, and meeting daughter off the plane at HKIA. 

Today though, I’m spending Easter Sunday roaming the streets of Kowloon, thinking about how fortunate I am. It’s hard to say it without sounding like a prat, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to travel, to explore, see the crazy things I’ve seen; to be healthy, to have an amazing daughter who is growing into a super smart tween with a Hogwarts obsession; to be Australian and come from that crazy flat land where the sun and spiders and snakes are all conspiring to kill us; to hear that nasally drawl in backstreets or Cafes or airports always makes me smile.

And mostly, I am awfully grateful to have survived two difficult years in a not-so-awesome job in China, and grateful for the job and all its trials, because it is the means by which we will travel and live in Europe. 

  

‘Home’

Back to Australia for a flying visit as our Chinese visas did not arrive before we left for Europe.  Although frustrating (particularly as I am not entirely convinced HR actually applied for them when they said), it worked out for the best as we got one last catchup AND had time to pack all our stuff for storage.  To be honest, we were ready to leave Europe a couple of weeks ago and could’ve done with the extra time at home, but Qantas have made changing flights more expensive than it’s worth so it was no go.

Somebody’s happy to see us!

Boonah was completely freezing after our muggy week in Prague.  We had to go straight from the airport to Brisbane CBD to drop off our visa application docs as they take 4 working days to process.  China have vastly improved their visa application process in Brisbane.  In 2009 lined up for about 4 hours at the Consulate.  Now there is a Visa Applicant Centre on Ann Street and I waited less than 15 minutes.  The only downside was the security guy at the door who insisted on going through my paperwork even though I explained I had just got off a plane from Munich and wasn’t ready.  He grabbed it from me, then snapped at me that I needed to get more organised.  Yeah, mate, yeah.

A fraction of the stuff I've moved into mum's garage
A fraction of the stuff I’ve moved into mum’s garage

Anyway, our week flew by. After my previous experience in China where ducking home for Christmas made it impossible to resume life in China, this time I have told everyone we will not return to Australia within the first 12 months.  This makes leaving more difficult.  We dropped in on my Nanna and realised this is the first time she legitimately may not be here when we come back.  Leaving has become a lot more difficult for my daughter as she gets older.  She is really starting to feel the distance and time.

The worst part was packing up all my stuff for storage at mum’s place.  I’m not selling my car just yet because I am in love with it I am trying to pre-empt any sudden return to Australia.  I will get my brother to sell it after we’ve settled into life in China *sob*  I am also keeping Tupperware because apart from the car it is the most expensive thing I own! Fortunately all the furniture and bigger stuff we sold/gave away when we sold the house in March, so mostly we’re left with clothes, linen, toys and BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!  After disasters in the past where I’ve come home to find my book collection saturated, mouldy, eaten, Mum has agreed to let me store them in the house.

Bags ready!
Bags ready!

We dropped in on my old workplace where I am a stranger already, but the new lass seems to be settling in.  Feel a lot more at ease with leaving now.  I think it is definitely time to move on.

So……….China, baby!

 

Sunny last day in Australia (Brisbane)
Sunny last day in Australia (Brisbane)

Double shot latte in a glass not a mug and extra hot

One of the perils of travelling is undoubtedly bad coffee. I knew the coffee was bad when I lived in Scotland because they let ME make it and I didn’t even drink the stuff. Since developing an addiction to it after having a baby I was a little nervous about how I’d cope for a month in the UK, but figured it’s been 10 years, surely things have improved?

Well, no.
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Froth has no place in a latte people! Just like single shots need company if you’re going to serve them in a BUCKET of milk, and lastly (but most importantly UK), if someone tells you their coffee was served cold, it is never, ever, ever acceptable to put the whole thing back under the wand! Believe it or not you clown there is a reason the milk is added to the coffee afterwards.

I’m looking at you Princes St Waterstones in Edinburgh!

Found this –> which may explain my coffee rage:

Are Australians Coffee Snobs