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!
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.
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].
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.]
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 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.