Happy Holidays!

Ahh Christmas: supposedly the happiest time of the year, but also the loneliest for those that have no one to share it with. And families- don’t even get me started- love them, or hate them, this is the time of year when they are in your face!

This year I am looking forward to a big Sri Lankan Christmas which is so big that we had to hire a hall. No, I am not exaggerating. We haven’t had a Christmas this big since a few of the older generation passed away and the younger generation started breeding.

I am taking delight in the fact that it is the first Christmas that my daughter knows it’s Christmas and is obsessed with Santa, but is not quite yet old enough to demand particular presents that she wants.

I am also looking forward to seeing a few more members of the Canadian branch of the family than usual and sharing some fun in the sun with them. It is probably odd for Northern Hemisphere folk to have turkey in the middle of summer I am sure, but I usually have rice and curry anyway so I wouldn’t know the difference.

And then, before you know it, it will be the New Year’s Eve.

Once a night of drunken debauchery where I whizzed around Sydney trying to attend as many of the five different parties that I had been invited to without the aid of taxi’s and end up walking home with a bottle of champagne.

But New Year’s Eve is one night and now I enjoy the thought of a New Year with new travel plans to new places. I plan to begin the year with a new positive attitude about new possibilities, try to appreciate the little things and dream bigger about the big things.

I will be taking a couple of weeks off from blogging over Christmas and New Year’s as I don’t trust my parents internet/who’s really going to be reading my blog at that time anyway.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers out there- thanks for reading, commenting and for all your social media support over the past year. A special thank you also goes out to those fellow bloggers that have published my articles and let me guest blog for them. I’m excited to share more stories with you all in 2015.

Oh, and start the year right by subscribing to my blog- just enter your email address in the box on the home page and my new posts will be delivered straight to your inbox.

Cheers!

Related posts: Random Public Holiday Ramblings, What’s your obsession?, Canada, 1997-1998, India, 1987-1988, Part 1: The Road South

Europe, 2003

Leaving my parents in England visiting family; I went to Barcelona to party with local friends Ernest and Jordi. Ernest and Jordi were students of Leigh (who I had stayed with last time I was in Barcelona). They had recently travelled to Australia and were now back in Barcelona at university.

This time, I stayed at Ernest’s house with his parents and sister. His mother, Lidia, took me to a modern flamenco show one night. It was very different to what I had previously seen of the traditional dance in Seville, kind of like the difference between modern dance and traditional ballet.

Ernest and Jordi took me to Parc de la Citadella which seemed to be a bit of a student hang- out. There were musicians, fountains and modern statues. We went to Zara and complained about how much the prices had gone up since the introduction of the Euro the previous year.

We went to Parc Guell for its famous view of Barcelona and I was in love at first sight with the place. I marvelled at the pillars, tunnels and ceiling detail underpinning the balcony and the brightly coloured gate houses. My favourite part was the lizard statue on the staircase.

As previously mentioned, the real life in Barcelona starts at night, and this trip was no exception. Most nights we partied too hard, got up too late the next day and missed the entry times for Gaudi’s other masterpieces such as La Pedra and Casa Balto.

We walked La Rambla at night and went to the Mercat del Born. I witnessed the best fountain show I have seen- La Font Magica at Placa de Espanya. The coloured fountains were magnificent and perfectly timed to the music.

There were many new bars on the beach were you could sit on a deck chair with a cocktail and we danced the night away at Otto Zutz nightclub.

I flew back to London for more bar hopping with my friend Selina who was living there with her boyfriend at the time and to travel to Weymouth to visit my grandmother.

Fog in London delayed my flight back to Australia in Paris for 2 days. I was put up in an airport hotel and eventually flown to Melbourne instead of Sydney, but there are worst places you can be stuck in than Paris, that’s for sure!

I went to Sacre Cour to marvel at the white washed building and a view of Paris that was new to me. I wandered through the Monmarte district taking in the artistic alleyways, Moulin Rouge and Monmarte Cemetery which was beautiful in its own way and full of cats.

Flying out of the ridiculously hard to navigate Charles De Gaulle airport on the way home, I hoped that I would never have to go through there again. The only way to get from one terminal to the next was by a bus that only traveled in one direction which almost made me miss my flight again!

This post was republished to the Social New England paper.li

Related posts: Vietnam, 2003, England, 2002, Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona, France, 1997, Part 1: Paris, England, 1997, England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988, Travel rememberings, I first started travelling

How long do you wait?

I hate waiting and I hate queuing; I mean really- who likes to do either of those things.

So, how long do you wait? And for who?

For an acquaintance- maybe only 15 minutes? For a job interview- half an hour? For your best friend- a couple of hours? For the love of your life- forever?!

As a Gen Xer, I remember the time before mobile phones; when you had to be on time because if you weren’t, you would get there and the person you were meeting would have already left.

Now it seems to be acceptable that you will get that “I’m running 15 minutes late” text when it is already past the time you are meant to be met and you have already been there for a while as you arrived on time/early.

One of my cousins is a terrible offender of the waiting game, once arriving more than 2 hours late! But, she is my cousin and I know her, so now I just bring a book whenever I have to meet her. And I can see her point that it is better late than never I suppose.

Which brings me to queuing.

There was a time when I was happy to queue for anything and everything. Bars, clubs, restaurants, free stuff- it was all good.

But now I older, more time poor and often have a toddler in tow. I hate having to queue 30 minutes for a drink in a noisy bar when I can be at home sipping a chardonnay and having an actual conversation with my friend without having to shout.

The recent influx of European and US stores opening their doors to Australia like Zara, H & M, Uniqlo and Sephora; has created an influx of queuing which is mostly orchestrated and encouraged by the retailers. I know it creates a great marketing buzz, but you won’t find me in a queue that is 4 deep- I’ll just wait until next month thanks very much!

My hate of queuing has also extended to public events and toilets. Any free event where there are going to be lots of free stuff being given away= forget it. And why should you ever queue for a toilet ever- isn’t there meant to be venue requirements for this. The women’s toilets are sometimes so ridiculous that I might sneak into the men’s. And of course there are now unisex toilets which just makes it bad for everyone (in more ways than one).

Maybe I am a relic of years gone past, but time is precious…or is it that time is money? Either way I won’t be spending it waiting or queuing if I can avoid it.

This post was republished to the Hijabi Moxie paper.li

Related posts: The fashion files, O-P-I don’t mind if I do, Get your groove on, What’s your handicap, By special request

 

Vietnam, 2003

When my parents decided to go to Vietnam and invited me to go with them- I said yes!

We stayed in a skinny yellow hotel in downtown Hanoi which had bread roll sellers on every corner.

My favourite part of the city was Haan Kiem Lake. Crossing the red Huc Bridge to get to the Ngoc San Temple in the middle of the island, we gazed at the Tortoise Pagoda. We also walked around the West Lake and saw the Swan boats on Truc Bach Lake.

Visiting Ho Chi Min Mausoleum at Bah Dinh Square was an odd experience. The locals treat it like a religious pilgrimage and the line past his mummified body shuffled by very slowly. Apparently, his body is sent back to Russia annually for a re-embalming.

I liked the yellow Presidential Palace with Ho Chi Min’s house and his personal fishing pool. The One Pillar Pagoda was a striking and interesting structure. We also went to the Ho Chi Min Museum and the Lenin statue- both great monuments to Communism.

We walked past many embassy buildings, the plane and tank out front of the Army Museum and found a street that sold only flowers. People were riding bicycles everywhere and in one part of town there was a train track running through the middle of the street with no safety barriers to protect passers-by.

My dad was not dealing well with the heat, so he took to eating club sandwiches and stayed inside the air conditioned room while mum and I went shopping. Reverting back to my teenage self we bickered without my dad there to be the peace maker.

On our last night in Hanoi, we went to the famous water puppet show which told the story of the tortoise legend. It was amazing and well worth the wait.

From Hanoi we travelled through a landscape of rice paddy fields to take a traditional dragon boat ride in Halong Bay. We heard the legend that the rock formations in the bay are the tail of a dragon and visited a fishing village on the water selling fish and turtles.

I loved taking a dive off the boat into the deep green water for a swim. I would have liked to stay overnight on the boat, but we had to stay on Cat Ba Island instead. We visited Thien Cung Caves and I had my first massage which was so hard that I hated it.

Our last stop was Tam Dao Hill Station- a tiny French colonial town in the hills. I liked the old derelict park which had been built by French settlers and the fact that the church had been converted into a karaoke bar.

A local guide took us to the silver cascade waterfall which was very tall and a pagoda on top of a hill. There was a great open air food court in town and we ate frogs legs back at the hotel.

Related posts: I first started travelling, Travel rememberings

Do you need trauma to have talent?

Creativity is a strange beast.

I declare myself regularly to be very lacking in creativity, but I suppose it all depends on what you define as creativity. I can’t draw, paint, act or play an instrument. These are the things that I would consider creative- they are visual or auditory and require talent.

However, I have been told that I am creative in my writing. So I suppose I am creative in that way. I also like to take photos when I travel- a visual medium- and believe myself to be somewhat talented at it after some years of practice.

When you think of the truly creative famous talented individuals, they always seem to have risen to the top following some hardship. They had a hard upbringing, were poor or went through a horrific ordeal.

Which brings me to the question- do you need to have trauma to have talent?

J.K. Rowling’s mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 15 and she was afraid of her father. When Charlize Theron was a teenager she saw her mother shoot her father in self-defence.

Will I never be truly talented because I have parents that are still married after more than 40 years who provided me with a stable childhood home?

However, everyone suffers their own personal trauma to some degree and deals with it in their own way. Lady Gaga was bullied as a child and Gwyneth Paltrow sites here father’s death as a time of struggle.  Perhaps not as damaging as seeing your parents shoot each other, but still trauma none the less.

Surfer Bethany Hamilton survived a shark attack when she was 13. She went on to become a professional surfer, compete on the Amazing Race and write many books.

Closer to home, I think almost most Australians remember the story of Stuart Diver who was the sole survivor of the 1997 Thredbo landslide. His wife died in the tragedy; however his book about the incident was turned into a TV movie.

Will I not be a published author until some horrible accident befalls me that I survive? What a terrible thought!

Related posts: What is news?, Random Public Holiday Ramblings, Kicking goals, Books, books and more books, I first started writing

Thailand, 2002

On the way back from England I met my boyfriend in Phuket.

We stayed on Karon Beach and I found the area very touristy compared to other parts of Asia that I had been to. We climbed to the top of Rang Hill for a view of Phuket and the lovely Chalong Bay. We also went to the Golden Jubilee Lighthouse and the brightly coloured Wat Chalong.

As is the way with a lot of tours in Asia, when we booked in for the elephant ride tour we had the obligatory visit to the shell museum on the way there and the cashew nut factory on the way back.

The elephant ride itself was a great experience. We had to climb a platform to get onto a seat on the elephants and we went on a walk through the jungle and up a hill. Back at the elephant orphanage the baby elephants put on a show- painting and playing soccer. It was cute and entertaining, but I hoped the animals weren’t being exploited.

Another day, we went on a kayak tour through sea caves in Phang Nga Bay. I was dubious at first as I am not the most sporty person, but was relieved to find that we each had our own personal paddler for the day. My guy was cheeky and funny and made the trip more enjoyable.

We went to Panak Kho Diamonds cave, Panak Island Bat cave and inside Kho Hong. It was a surreal experience to go through a dark cave and come out to what looked like a volcanic crater with the sunlight streaming in from the open air.

One night we went to the Phuket Fantasea show. It was very commercial with a buffet dinner included and a mandatory walk through the cultural village which was basically just lots of shops. The Palace of Elephants Theatre where the elephant show was presented was a pretty impressive, obviously manmade modern structure and you had to pay extra to get your photo with a tiger cub.

Heading back to Bangkok, we took a canal boat tour on the Chao Phraya River by Klong boat. I loved the white Wat Arun which seemed to rise out of the water from nowhere. We also went to the Thonburi snake farm which had a scary snake show and tigers and bears in cages that were too small.

We went to the Grand Palace with its gold Phra Siratana Chedi, the Temple of Emerald Buddha and impressive Chakri Maha Prasat Hall. I liked the snakes on the rooves of the temples.

In Bangkok, the thing to do was shop on Khao San Road, and so we did. We also went to one of the infamous ping pong shows where the entertainers looked more bored than I did.

Upon reflection, my first Thailand experience was probably coloured by the fact that I was angry with my boyfriend at the time (we broke up a few months later) and I was willing to give the country another go- perhaps by going to a different area.

Related posts: Canada, 2002, England, 2002