Catching Up

As with most blogs, journals, video diaries, or … pretty much anything else I tend to start, I completely forgot about this. At first there was nothing very interesting to say, so I left it alone. Then came my Australia trip. Now I’m in the limbo stage of half-packed to ship stuff out for my big move home at the end of next month. So that’s my little excuse for not having posted in a month and a half.

I suppose the most exciting thing – and the topic you’ll all want to hear about – is my Australia trip, so let’s begin there.

April 29th in Japan is Showa no Hi (Showa Day), which was the birthday of the former Emperor Showa, who died in 1989. This year it fell on a Wednesday and provided a lovely little break during the work week. Shortly after that, from May 3rd – 5th are a string of holidays such as Midori no Hi (Green Day) and Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day). These days are also breaks. Together, these holidays from April 29th to May 5th make up what is known as Golden Week, one of the busiest holiday seasons in Japan.  Last year I did nothing for this but enjoy some time off. This year I went to Australia.

Before I continue, let me state here and now something that I learned in a 20-minute internal freakout moment.  I was in Singapore’s international airport (Changi). They do something there I hadn’t seen before where the seats at the gates are behind glass walls, and a few rows of chairs sit outside the gates in the hallway. Passengers wait in the hall until they open the gate. Then they go through security and show their boarding passes. Once checked and declared okay, then passengers wait in the gate seats until it’s time to board.

Well, there was a mishap on my part. Foolish me didn’t carefully check visa requirements for Australia. I assumed that, like other countries I had been to, I could travel there without a visa if I was leaving in 30 days. Apparently, everyone who is not from Australia or New Zealand MUST have a visa to enter Australia.  I didn’t realize this, so when the woman scanned my passport, she didn’t find a visa there. She informed me of this, and I panicked inside. My flight was leaving in thirty minutes! She said they could do the visa electronically at the cost of about 79 Singapore dollars (roughly $58 USD). Obviously I let her coworker handle this for me, and no problems arose, but for what felt like twenty minutes but may have been ten, I thought everything was going to fall apart. Lesson learned. Alright. On with the vacation story.

A friend who shall not be named (but who will appreciate the reference) lives in the Gold Coast, which is on the very eastern edge of the country. The friend’s family was kind enough to let me crash at their place for a week, eat their food, and use my friend’s bike to ride around the town at will.  I also got a bag of welcome gifts, including a bracelet I love! (See the cover image for this post.)

My friend’s family lives very close to the beach, to which I paid the obligatory visit one night. (Beaches aren’t my thing for more than an hour or two in a row, really.) I went shopping (also not my thing) at some stores just down the street from the ocean. My souvenir was a coffee mug from “The Bitter Tea Mug” company. It has the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland – no, not the movie version – and says “It’s never too late for coffee.” Another awesome mug for my collection! (Side note: If you don’t know, I’m collecting mugs from every place I visit, and I try to find fun or unique ones because tourist-y items are generally a huge turn-off for me.)

I ate a lot of delicious food there, from sushi at a conveyor belt sushi shop to yellow curry from a Thai restaurant. I also had not-damper. I say “not” because, though it was the Australian bread by label, my friend’s family swore it didn’t taste the same and was more like a dinner roll.  In terms of sweets, I had gelato and a Golden Gaytime ice cream bar (my friend couldn’t have been happier that I tried it, though I thought it was only average), and brownies that we made for my friend’s mother’s birthday.

One day we went to an English pub for lunch, and I learned that it was taken brick by brick from England to Australia and rebuilt. Fancy that. I had a good roast beef meal and scones for dessert! I haven’t had roast beef in I don’t know how long.

After the lunch we took a longer route home and stopped at the top of a mountain. Sadly the picture I took with my friend didn’t get the background well. Picture the Appalachians. For Sewanee folk, imagine the view from the Cross.

My friend and I went on a casual hike near a wildlife park, and a few days later we all went to another wildlife park to try and feed lorikeets. The birds did not fly down for their meal. Alas.

I went to two other places that I recall. One was an apparently irregular meeting of the Wordsmiths (writing club) meeting at my friend’s school, and the other was to an exercise class at a trampoline park. If you wonder like I did what on earth a trampoline park is, picture a large warehouse. Now fill the floors with trampolines. You’re done.  It was a neat place, if not quite my thing. My sister has to be utterly jealous! She adores trampolines. (I find I get motion sick on them a little now. Grand.)

Oh, and it poured rain the first two days I was there. After that Australia started to show its heat. And the internet. Awful. Horrible. Absolutely the worst I’ve ever experienced. I kid you not, if I could load 5 pages a day at my friend’s house – while my friend’s worked (almost) perfectly well right beside me – I was lucky. The public library was little better. It would load pages at first, then suddenly decide to take a 20-minute break. Then it would return for a couple pages, skip off somewhere, and flit back like a butterfly torn between flowers. Potential visitors, you have been warned.

Well, now that you know about the biggest adventure I’ve had lately, know that my next one is to South Korea in July and August. I’ll be in Seoul for a week and on Jeju Island for a week. Then it’s finally back home!

Other life events – in bullet form!

  • Participated in two synesthesia research projects. Am figuring out my taste/smell-color syn more, too.
  • Packing to ship boxes home
  • Failing to study Korean, French, or German. (I really need a teacher, not just a book or a website.)
  • Failing to write stories
  • Applying and interviewing for jobs back home
  • Wondering what I want to do with my life. Went from “definitely teach at university” to “maybe teaching at university. I’m not feeling grad school right now, and I don’t want to go if I’m not 100% committed to it.” to “I think travel writing would be neat!” to “Wait, but I’m not that talented a writer and I don’t finish much outside of RP posts.”
  • Wondering if I should start up a new RP site despite knowing very little about the subject matter and already having a couple sites and DOZENS of characters.
  • Procrastinating everything!

Sorry this post is this long overdue. I’ll try and stay more on top of it, but I make no promises. With my failure to finish things, my boring life right now, and my busy schedule in a month and a half, we’ll see what I can come up with!

Mata ne!

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