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Procrastinating: a ramble

May 21, 2015

What happens when you have a whole week off but were unable to get any trips lined up for the time off? You have a LOT of free time! [not complaining though!] After failing to get anything lined up for this week, and with my Darwin trip falling through for my next week off,  I decided I didn’t want another week off sneaking up on me with no set plans, so I just spontaneously booked myself a ticket to Hong Kong for the first week of June. It’s so difficult making travel plans here on the west coast of Australia. Much more difficult than on the east coast. [Due to a variety of reasons, but mostly due to the long distances between towns/services and the fact that it takes days just to get anywhere and then you have to make it back home in time, too, leaving you no time to see your destination.] I might not end up getting to see as much of Australia as I wanted, but at least I can still make use of my free time to travel.

I haven’t been to Hong Kong before. And I don’t know anyone there. So this will be an adventure. But I’m sure something will work out. Have you been to HK? I would love to hear others’ suggestions of the best areas to stay in, etc!*

Sometimes I have to laugh when I look at my life today and then look back to the terribly shy girl I used to be as a child/teenager. I am so thankful for parents who recognized the fact that someday [despite my declarations of “never getting married and living at home forever”] their children would need life skills to be out in the world and who forced us to do scary ;) things like actually talk to people. Deep down I am still a bit shy and it pops up at the randomest times. [When I was in Brisbane I went to a conference/meeting at a local church and two well-known California pastors were preaching, plus another speaker, all of whom I knew knew my dad, but I didn’t talk to them because I didn’t know what to say, and later when telling my dad about it he said something to the effect of  “ahhh the shy Jenny hid in her shell.” He knows me too well.] But for the most part, if you live abroad you just have to get out there and meet people and do things and live life. I know of people who, despite living overseas for years, still don’t travel by themselves into the city where they live! It can be scary sometimes getting out there and doing things. But the best things happen when you get out there and just explore!

Ugh, see? I can ramble like no other when I am supposed to be doing things like researching Hong Kong and updating my resume. Actually, my resume is updated but it needs to be tailored to this one specific job I want to apply for.  Or, I think I want to apply for. It’s hard trying to decide if you really want to go back to the real working world or if you just want to keep living the most fabulously amazing life you’ve ever known. It’s hard being a grown up sometimes. ;)

Anyway, life here in Australia is great. I still love it, despite the fact that the kids I work with are probably going to give me gray hair! I can’t believe I only have 3 months left here. It’s been such an incredible journey and I am beyond blessed to have been able to do this. God spoils me rotten!

*I really do want to hear about your experiences in HK if you’ve been. Especially if you went over to Macau. I’ll take all the advice I can get. Thank you!

 

Southwestern Australia

May 14, 2015

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So I know I have been jumping back and forth between posting about my Asia trip and my current here in Australia, sorry if it’s been a bit confusing. I am trying to get caught up on Asia because it really was an incredibly fabulous trip and I don’t want to just skip posting about it. But I have been seeing and doing so much here in Australia that it’s hard to keep up with posting what I am doing down here.

Last Friday I met up with 4 girls who are also in Australia on work and holiday visas (two Canadians, one American and one French girl) and we all set out on a road trip down the coast to Margaret River and then to Albany. We stopped along the way at various places and finally rolled into Margaret River that first evening. It was cold and dark and the small main street had various cute cafes and restaurants decorated with sparkling white Christmas lights. We walked around looking for a cozy place to eat (and exclaiming how it felt like Christmas) and finally settled on an Italian place. Such a fun first night. After that we checked into our hostel and we’ll just skip all that because it wasn’t that great a place and I would not go back.

The next day we set out for Albany and checked into the coolest hostel I have ever stayed at.

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Looking down into the lounge area that had a ping pong table and guitars and a keyboard for anyone to play. One night I sat down there listening to a woman play the keyboard, it was nice background music for my book. =)

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Country flags line the hallways of the hotel

 

 

We loved it. The 1849 Backpackers at the London Hotel is Albany’s first (and, obviously, oldest) hotel that was turned into a backpackers/hostel about 5 years ago. Apparently it was still a hotel up until that time. Hard to believe. It was such a fun and funky setting AND on top of it all they serve a free breakfast in the morning! The website had said it served all-you-can-eat pancakes in the morning, so I was expecting simple, American-style pancakes. But in reality they serve lemon and orange crepes! Talk about a fun surprise! [they were amazing, too].

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We spent two nights in Albany and visited a lot of local places (chocolate factory, cheese factory, toffee factory…) and several fabulous beaches! This part of the coast is stunning!

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The girls climbing the huge rock that juts up against the beach at Green’s Pool

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This whole beach area was filled with huge rocks, some of which had huge cracks like this in them. And lots of colorful crabs live in them. =)





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Three of our girls trying to get the courage to cross the small gorge to the other side =)

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These rocks don’t look big in the picture but they are actually huge

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We climbed all over the place

 

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The entrance to this place is so cool. And behind me is the entrance to the beach!


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The entrance to this beach (and the spot where I had my above picture taken) is where the two huge rocks meet on the right

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Coolest flowers ever!!

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Love the two different colors

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Sunset one night at Little Beach

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Stretching our legs at Eagle Bay (?) on the way to Margaret River

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Sunset at Yallingup Beach. This place was so much fun!

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A church in Albany

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Albany Town Hall

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Art in the park

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Goliath’s backpack!

 

 

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In one of the huge Tingle trees at the Treetop walk in Walpole. [This is on the free walk side and in my opinion much more interesting than the paid walk on the other side. I don’t think the treetop walk is worth doing at $15.00. We did it because it was recommended to us, but I wouldn’t recommend it]

We had such a fabulous 4 days and I can’t wait to visit all these places again next month when one of my Brisbane friends comes for a visit. =)

*Picture above are from Elephant Rocks, Greens Pool, Elephant Cove, Three Peoples Bay, Little Beach, Yallingup Beach. All stops I’d recommend!

 

Thailand’s floating markets

May 7, 2015

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One of the most interesting places we visited while in Bangkok was the Damnoen Saduak floating markets. Contrary to what I thought before I arrived, they are not located in or near Bangkok, but are at least an hour and a half away [depending on traffic]. So, with no other reasonable ways to get there, we hired a taxi to take us there, as well as to some other places on the way back. It cost a bit more than we wanted to pay [around 60 each if I remember right] but it was the best option [the less-than-desirable-looking city bus would have taken us much longer to get there and with the heat, having an air conditioned car was a much better option.] Thankfully I had read a blog the day before that told of what to expect when we arrived, and due to that knowledge, we were able to bypass the expensive water taxis that they try to rope you into and instead of paying $60.00 each for a ride, we paid $3.00 each for a non-motorized ride which was much better for taking pictures.

*When you arrive by taxi or tour, tell your driver that you don’t want to take the motorized water taxi and instead you want to walk the canals. Hopefully then he will drive you to the starting point and not make you walk. That’s what we did, fully intending to just walk around the canals, and when we showed up we discovered that you can hire a boat yourself for $3.00. [the blog hadn’t mentioned the fact that you can actually get a boat yourself when you get there, so that was a pleasant surprise! Now I’m telling you =)]

It was so fun to slowly float along and look at all the merchandise for sale, take pictures, and enjoy the fruit and juice we bought along the way. You can’t look too interested in something though, or the shop owner will use a  long metal hook to pull your boat over to his stand so you can have a better look and buy something. I ended up buying a skirt I didn’t want, due to that.

At the end of our ride we stopped for some [delicious] Pad Thai and then hopped back in the taxi to continue our adventures. =)

I did my best not to overwhelm you with pictures below, but the place was so fascinating and so colorful it was hard to choose just a few to post. 

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Little bit of a traffic jam here

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Navigating through the crowds

 

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Needless to say, when this thing popped up in the water right next to me, it scared me half to death!

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If you are a vegetarian you can always order “not meat” =)

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mmmmmmm

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Batu Caves, Malaysia

May 6, 2015

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One of the coolest places we went to while in Asia was the Batu caves near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And the best part? They are totally free! [you just have to earn your entrance by climbing about 300 steep stairs] They are even accessible by public transport [the train stops almost right outside the caves], you just need to navigate two different train systems. [A ticket must be purchased at the ticket counter at the central train station [Sentul], you can’t buy tickets for the caves directly from the machine like you can for the main city-wide monorail. It was a bit confusing to me, but people speak English there so you just have to ask around to find the right place.

They are definitely a MUST see when in Kuala Lumpur.

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Climbing alllll those stairs

 

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How many monkeys can you find in this picture? (I promise they are there)

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Any guesses?

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Heading back down all those steep steps!

 

 

I love you, Australia!

May 4, 2015
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Shells on Shell Beach, Shark Bay

I have these says [like every day] where I walk around with a stupid smile on my face just because I love being here and I feel like life couldn’t be any more perfect. And everyone around me thinks I’m just really super friendly with my “lovely American accent” [yes, I am going to run that quote into the ground] and I just want to say “I love living in your country.” [Truth: I had Advance Australia Fair stuck in my head after ANZAC day. If that doesn’t scream “I love Australia” I am not sure what does.]

I mean, really, what is better than living in a country where everyone has an Australian accent? And you have kangaroos living in your backyard.
I mean, really.
Except it does bother me when you call tomAtoes tomAHtoes. And fish fillets “fill-ETs”
But other than that…I can call sweaters “jumpers” and flip flops “thongs” and I can even call ketchup “tomato sauce” if I have to. I can even spell curb k-e-r-b. And I can call bell peppers “capsicum” and the trunk of my car the “boot” and the hood “the bonnet.” [because honestly, I have a fascination with all things Britain and I feel very British referring to the “boot and bonnet.”]
I will even humor you and let you think that “Mahz Bahz”  [Mars Bars] are an Australian invention. [I’ve never been to a country where a candy bar is a “THING” like Australia treats Mars Bars].
Just let me live in your country and soak up all your sun and gorgeous beaches and quirky animals and beautiful accents. Forever.
As long as I don’t have to eat your vegemite.
– your not-so-secret admirer

Who am I if I am not an Expat?

April 29, 2015

Who am I if I am not a redhead? I’ve always felt a strong attachment to my hair color, as weird as that sounds. [it’s probably a redhead thing, I can’t be alone in this. Can I?]

But today’s thought was: Who am I if I am not an expat?

I booked my flight “home” today and for a few minutes afterwards was elated. Then later on in the day it hit me.
This means I only have 4 months left in Australia.
Then I started to panic. I’m not ready to leave this Australian life just yet. There is so much I still want to see and do. And…I’m not ready to be living back in America yet.
I ran into a new friend from my new church at the grocery store today. It was such a nice surprise to see a familiar face when I least expected it. She asked me about my recent road trip and then told me “welcome home.” Then she smiled and repeated home with air quotation marks. I knew what she meant. Later on as I was unloading groceries and thinking back to our conversation, these words popped into my head: “home is here…home is there… home is kinda everywhere.” [I read too many Dr. Seuss books as a kid].
My thoughts are a jumbled mess these days. Not in a confused sort of way, I actually feel really at peace. It’s just that there is, or will be soon, so much to think about, so much to process and so many decisions that need to be made.
I am elated to be seeing family again soon, but the thought of living in America again gives me pause. On the one hand I had been dreaming about that normal life off and on for months [mostly on days where I can’t find what I need in the grocery story, or when things that should take 20 minutes in a life you are familiar with take over an hour and become frustrating. That and when I start to miss my wardrobe again.] But on the other hand, who am I if I am not an expat? It’s something I have become used to. A role I snuggled into and made all comfy and warm and familiar, such as it can be, fluid life that it is. Without trying to, or meaning to, it has become an identity of sorts, and I have a hard time imagining myself without it.
Many, many good articles have been written on the topic of repatriating, so I don’t need to go into all that. (Google “I am a Triangle” to read a fabulous piece that explains what people repatriating go through). Anyways, I say all that to say that I am not sure what is next. I’m not even sure, at this point, what I want to be next. I guess that’s part of this whole living by faith thing that I am not always so good at. But I am trying. And I know God will show me what is next. And, I am sure, He will give me the desire for it, just as He did for Russia and Australia.
But in the meantime, you can bet I will be packing as much Australian adventure as I can into these next 4 months!

New Zealand – the Coromandel Peninula

April 23, 2015
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Cathedral Cove

 

I am going to attempt to get this blog caught up on all my latest travels, starting with the most recent and working all the way back to the beginning of Asia. I leave in a few days on a 6 day road trip up part of the west coast of Australia, so I am quickly getting behind on posting all my trips!

So let’s go back to New Zealand. I know I posted a few pictures of New Zealand once, but there is so much more to write and post. New Zealand is fabulous. And by fabulous I mean it’s my new favorite destination. Seriously. There are downsides, of course. One being that it’s ridiculously expensive. So you have been warned before you go. =) But the upsides are the fact that the geography and topography of the place is amazing. It’s constantly changing and so unique and stunningly beautiful. And it’s not overrun with people! We had most places to ourselves when we stopped at random places along the way. It was awesome.

For our last few days there we drove up to “the Coromandel” as locals call it and had a relaxing time on the beaches there. The water wasn’t as warm as we had hoped (even at Hot Water Beach) so we didn’t swim, but we did get some nice pictures. The whole area is just gorgeous, with some nice hikes along the beach area.

 

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A closeup of all the tiny little shell pieces that made up the sand in the beach

 

 

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