Change is the new black

This year has been a year of changes for me. One of realisations, discoveries and learnings.

I have realised the strangeness of my past and accepted those things I cannot change. Rather than dwelling on what was not, instead I am looking towards what can be in the future and how I can change the patterns of the past.

I have discovered strength in myself that I never knew I had, as well as several professional strengths that I sort of knew were always there. Clarity of, and confidence in, these strengths is what will lead me to my next adventure in the New Year.

I have learnt how to be flexible and change my approach. A different path forged can sometimes be lonely, but prioritising what is important to you helps lead the way.

I have realised the greatness of people around me once again. Conversation, human nature and the desire of the majority to be friendly, helpful and kind.

I have discovered the joy of a little growing person who I actually get a kick out of spending time with. Going to the movies, the zoo or just being at home.

I have learnt a new appreciation of the city I live in. Drinking, dining and boating on the harbour. Date nights, work outings and hanging with friends.

The biggest change has been the discovery of exercise. That’s right, you heard it here first, this non-gym goer now has a personal trainer and loves it!

This year has also been a year of domestic travel. Back on the wine trail in Tasmania, the Barossa and the Hunter Valley with good friends and my small family of three.

Next year I look forward to more of the same, plus hopefully more international travel to destinations unknown. I can’t wait to realise my own potential, discover the value of a mentor and learn more about other people and places.

I have definitely achieved my end of year goals from 2014 of trying to appreciate the little things and dream bigger about the big things, beyond even what I had thought was possible.

Yes, change has definitely been the new black for me in 2015 and may 2016 continue this exciting trend.

Catch you in the New Year, and as always, thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: I can’t take credit for the title of this week’s blog post, but it got your attention didn’t it?!

P.S Thanks to all the website owners that have published my 2015 travel tales from Barcelona, traveling with kids, Sri Lanka and closer to home.

Related posts: Work, work, work, To Belong, Having it all?, Reinvention, Sydney vs MelbourneNew beginnings, Nostalgia, Pride vs The fallPeople vs PlaceDiscovery,  It’s a Sri Lankan Thing, Kid at Heart, Dreams vs Reality, Happy Holidays 

Malaysia, 2012

A runway had been built on the island since last time I had been to Tioman Island, so instead of catching a boat, my husband and I took the plane.

We landed at Tekek village where the resort bus picked us up. No hut on the beach for us this time- we were staying at the Berjaya Tioman Resort.

We were shown to our room on the ground floor of a double story free standing apartment which had a wide verandah just metres from the beach. It was perfect.

The resort also had a beach bar, a pool bar, spa, waterslides, a pool and a real river running through the grounds. Everything you could need for a relaxing holiday. I started with a manicure at the spa.

A little way up the beach was a pier where scuba diving boats went out to Renggis Island and beyond. My husband wanted to dive, so I went on the boat trip with him and a few other keen divers.

The view of Tioman and the resort from the boat was lovely. We spotted another more reclusive resort in he hills which looked interesting.

We went past many other smaller and uninhabited islands during the day. I snorkeled at Pulau Chebeh and Pulau Sepoi that had large rocks jutting out. We could hear whales in the water which was beautiful.

Docking at Tekek village pier, we had a look around and ate at one of the local seafood restaurants for a change from the resort food.

That night we met a French couple and their two daughters who were also staying at the resort. My husband enjoyed speaking French and drinking beers, while I enjoyed watching a mother with her children and wondering what was to come.

Our last night in Tioman was marked by a sunset on the beach with a boat bobbing in front of Renggis Island. It was a familiar scene to me and I took an almost identical photo to the last time I had been here.

My husband was staying at the Orchard Hotel for work back in Singapore, which was a little bit swankier than our hotel at the beginning of the trip.

I stayed for an extra day and we discovered the shopping side of Singapore at the ION Orchard. I bought so much at Zara and H&M that we had trouble fitting it all into our bags.

Related posts: Singapore, 2012: Old vs New, Singapore, 2012: Part 1, England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988It’s an Asia Thing

Work, work, work

“Just because someone doesn’t see your worth, it doesn’t lessen your value.”

I heard this quote the other day and it really rang true for me.

I have always been a hard worker, hate sitting in the office doing nothing and will tackle just about any task.

But just because you are a hard worker, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get the promotion. Often lazy people who do nothing, but just know who to network with, are the ones that seem to get ahead. Maybe I am the one doing it all wrong?

I also don’t need recognition for my hard work, much preferring to do the behind the scenes work and have everything run so smoothly that it appears seamless.

But by being this way, I run the risk of others taking credit for my work. And by making it look easy, others don’t realise just how much work has gone into it and see my worth.

When hard work is not valued, it can lead to demotivation and mystification. Sometimes I really don’t understand why some people get away with things that I would be fired for.

For me, I guess that hard work has to be it’s own reward because I couldn’t adjust my personal standards anyway. Does this earn me respect in the short term? Perhaps not.

But in the long run, I think I am better off. I can see the tangible results of my hard work and feel like I have achieved something at the end of the day. Perhaps not the smartest move, but the happiest for me.

So maybe my worth won’t be recognised everywhere, but when the right people see my value, then their value rises too. And I would much rather be around people who share the same values. That’s just human nature right?

It’s why we choose the partners that we do, have the parents that we have and raise our children to be a certain way.

And you can bet that I will be teaching my daughter the value of hard work, so that that the right people can see her worth, and she has the option to stand on her own two feet whenever she needs to.

Related posts: Power Plays, To Belong, New Beginnings, Pride vs The Fall, Dreams vs Reality

Singapore, 2012: Old vs New

The next day, my husband and I headed back to Chinatown to explore further the mix of old and new. The old colourful Hindu Sri Mariamman temple was still there along with the Buddha Tooth Relic temple.

There was an old Buddha statue near a new perspex temple and old markets next to the new Tin Tin shop. My husband was a big fan of Tin Tin from his days of living in Belgium and he was happy to find some of the books in French so that he could teach the language to our child once it was born.

Another Asian favourite of my husband’s is a good hawker centre, so we found an authentic one here for lunch. The humidity being cut briefly by the afternoon rains was an old familiar Asian experience. One clap of thunder was so loud that it made me jump.

After the rain, we went into to the new Marina Bay Sands to journey to the top. We got a tip that the best place to go was the cocktail bar at the curved infinity pool where you got the view without having to pay for the observation deck.

From the bar we could see the shell like Art Science Museum, the Singapore Flyer and the domes and trees of Gardens By The Bay that was currently under construction. It was a clear day so I felt like I could see almost all the way to Malaysia.

On our last day in Singapore we went to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. We saw the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, a statue of Chopin and Swan Lake with fountains, swan statues and real swans and turtles. We went behind a waterfall, which triggered the old memory that I had been there before.

I’m not usually a flower person, but we figured it would be rude not to go into the National Orchid Garden while were here. After all, the purple flower is the national emblem. There were arches of golden orchids, an interesting cage display and a tiger orchid fountain.

The waterfalls in the cool room were another welcome reprieve from the heat. We got lost heading out of the gardens and found it hard to find a cab home, so that evening we took it easy by dining at one of the riverside restaurants at the foot of our hotel.

After a hectic couple of days in Singapore, my husband was looking forward to some relaxing beach time on Tioman Island and I was looking forward to returning to the island that held old memories from the last time I had been there.

Related posts: Singapore, 2012: Part 1

Old Skool vs New Skool

In the office there are old skool workers and new skool workers. Those that have a methodical, often longer way of working at things with great attention to detail; and those that work creatively, quickly, but not perfectly.

And it got me thinking about other old skool versus new skool ways of doing things. And whose to say which way is best?

Take bus tickets for example. You used to be able to pay the driver with actual money to get on the bus. Then we moved to pre paid paper tickets and now we have automatic electronic plastic tickets. Easier and quicker, yes, but much less personal as you don’t even have to speak to the bus driver anymore.

That’s even if you are listening to the outside world, as you might have your earphones on listening to music on your phone that you are live streaming from the internet. No more records, CD’s, MP3 players or even iPods anymore. More portable, but less tangible. I secretly still love buying a CD and popping it on the shelf.

And what gives you that capability to do all that live music listening- your smart phone with internet of course. No more dial phone, home phone, car phones or even mobile phones anymore. I must admit that I love my smart phone and having everything available 24/7, but I also enjoy switching it off and leaving it at home when I go on holiday.

If you are driving and don’t know how to get where you are going, talking Google maps will get you there. No more asking directions, Gregory’s books, maps or even static maps on your smart phone anymore. But there was that time that Google maps sent me down a dead end street and I had to find my own way out in an area I was completely unfamiliar with proving that even technology isn’t perfect.

Socialising and Dating will also never be the same. Forget the old skool way of meeting through friends, at a party, on the street or even at a bar. Everything from a film buddy to a husband can be found online these days. Sure it’s great to know up front what people are looking for, but it also kinda takes the mystery/fun/spark out of it doesn’t it?

The world of traveling has also changed. It takes less time to get to places and if you are in a new skool place to you, chances are that it is old skool to someone else. No one uses guide books, they use ebooks. Blog advice has replaced the advice of locals. Sometimes I find myself writing about a hidden treasure and I almost don’t want people to go so that it remains old skool.

And I still love taking my real Lonely Planet guide book with me and asking a local for their opinion on what I have read. After all, we can’t get free live streaming internet on our smart phones with Google maps everywhere right? And that’s why I love to travel in the first place- to get off the grid, feel something and discover the new skool experience in the old skool.

Related posts: Real Friends vs Digital Friends, Traveller vs Tourist,  Reinvention, Universal vs Personal, What’s in a number?, By special request…

Singapore, 2012: Part 1

When I was 5 months pregnant, my husband and I took a trip to Singapore and Malaysia. It was my first trip back since the 1990’s and my husband’s first time there at all. He had recently acquired a job with an international company, so we were fitting the trip in before his work trip in Singapore.

Singapore had modernised over the last 18 years, the Chinatown had shrunk and big sleek high-rise had popped up everywhere. We stayed in the Riverview Hotel where there were lots of lovely old buildings, most which had now been given a fresh coat of paint and a face-lift. Necessary, I suppose, but sad that it also meant a loss of authenticity.

I started our tour of Singapore with the iconic Raffles Hotel. The Indian doorman I remembered, but not the fancy expensive shops. The Singapore slings also seemed a bit out of reach expensive this time around.

We headed for the waterfront, past the futuristic looking Esplanade Theatre, to my favourite white Merlion fountain. It was now overlooked by the new Marina Bay Sands which was three towers with a curved cruise boat shaped roof, shimmering in the sunlight.

Passing the Fullerton Hotel, we walked to Clarke Quay with all the bronzed statues of buffalo’s and children jumping into the river. We had lunch at one of the many riverfront restaurants boasting fresh seafood and good beer. Here it felt a bit more like the Singapore I remembered.

My husband is a bit of a fan of markets, so we headed to Bugis Street markets to see what we could find. We also stumbled upon Chijmes, a church surrounded by a new courtyard complex of restaurants, including a very nice Tapas restaurant. Chijmes was one of the nicer new developments where I could see improvements to the old.

That night, the bus picked us up from the hotel to take us out to the Singapore Zoo for a night safari. I love zoo, but had never heard of a night safari before and was quite excited to be embarking on a new experience. We sat in a jeep vehicle train with zebra stripes for the safari.

The light was not good enough for my camera to be able to take photos in the dark, which turned out to be a good thing as it forced me to sit back and enjoy the animals rather than concentrate on recording them all. There were Indian wolves, elephants and Himalayan Tahr.

Some of the animals were not naturally nocturnal which was a bit worrying, but I guess animals are adaptable, just like humans. After the drive, we got out of the jeeps and took one of the walks to see the bizarre fishing cats which I had never seen before. They became a new favourite of mine.

Related posts: It’s an Asia Thing,  Indonesia and Singapore, 1994, England, Malaysia and Singapore, 1988

It’s a South Pacific Thing

The South Pacific has been largely romanticised by the musical of the same name. As an Aussie, I feel like the South Pacific is not so much of a novelty as it close by and therefore accessible.

It is also cheap and an easy beach holiday destination with built in babysitting services for families. Of course, some may be more expensive than others. Any island carries higher prices on food due to transport, which is why you may choose to stay on the mainland when visiting Fiji.

The South Pacific has also become one of the places to go for a destination wedding with 5 star resorts catering to every need.

Personally, I like the friendly people, having a cocktail in the pool bar and the beautiful sunsets.

But what do you do when the weather is bad?

This happened to us on a trip to New Caledonia- it rained all week. So we focused on the food and indoor activities such as shopping and museums.

And of course there are other cultural experiences you can partake in like visiting a cultural village, drinking cava and experiencing the local market.

In more developed islands such as Oahu and Hawaii, there are so many activities to choose from that it’s hard to pick no matter what the weather is like.

The South Pacific is about palm trees, drinking out of fresh coconuts and listening to the ukulele. It’s scuba diving, poolside time and smelling the Frangipani’s.

Sliding down a waterslide, visiting a waterfall and watching as the night time torches get lit. It’s bright tropical colours, shell necklaces and endless lazy days.

Crazy cool resorts like the famous ones in Bora Bora and Vanuatu plus lots of little islands I’ve never even heard of.

And of course, you could always fall in love and have a real South Pacific story of your own.

Related posts: Fiji, 2011, Fiji, 2008