I forgot about this - I bought this real orchid flower necklace in Cairns and sent it home with my mum when they were in Australia, so it was a lovely little surprise for myself when I came home :)

I forgot about this - I bought this real orchid flower necklace in Cairns and sent it home with my mum when they were in Australia, so it was a lovely little surprise for myself when I came home :)

It was full of joys, trials, victories and challenges.
But you made it.
The people you met,
the things you saw,
the places you went…
Remember what you have learned.
Embrace the future and your next step.
Congratulations on being where you are,
and best wishes on where you are going.

Joanna Gilbert

Last Days…

It’s my second last day in Australia, and I still don’t think I realize it’s happening for real.

I’ve been walking around tons in the last 2 weeks, but I’ve also had a few days of chilling - I need it, since I’m still a bit sick - which I have to admit has been bloody amazing. It’s been awesome getting to kick back, finish a whole book in a couple days, enjoy coffees in cool little laneway hole-in-the-wall cafes, and just lie in the sun, or spin some poi. (I bought my first set of fire poi!!!)

I also met up with my roommate from first year, which was awesome ‘cause I haven’t seen her since she moved out here almost two years ago. Whoa, time flies. She’s grown up and become heaps more confident, which makes me wonder if my friends’ll think that about me when I’m home.

I just finished reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, which was an extremely sad and incredibly heavy read. I definitely would recommend it as a work of literary genius, but not as light reading for a plane trip, like I intended it to be. I started reading it and realized it was not appropriate plane-reading material, so I rushed to finish it and now have to find a new book to begin when I leave, the day after tomorrow.

Signe’s got a job! Actually it looks like she’s got herself two. Which is great news!

I wonder how it’s going to feel when I step off the plane, back into Canada…will it feel different? The time will be 15 hours off of what I’m used to, but will walking feel different? Will I feel totally completely disoriented like when a triathlete comes out of the water after swimming, trying to run to his bike? I have no idea, but I know that at least one of my best friends is going to be there with my mom to pick me up at the airport, so I have that to look forward to, like a finish line. I feel like I’ll just collapse into their arms, all of the exhaustion from the trip hitting me in that one emotional moment. But I can’t think about that too much! I want to focus on now, on being in Melbourne, enjoying my last couple of good espresso coffees, the sunshine, the art, and the amazing architecture. I’ll think about home when I’m home.

Who knows, I may not get to write tomorrow (though I’ll try). The next time you hear from me could be when I’m …HOME !

I couldn’t imagine a concept as scary and comforting at the same time.

90th Follower!

Shout out to my 90th follower! lunacaifan!

x

Coming home…..

I can’t believe my trip is coming to a close - in some ways it seems like no time at all since I was that young little girl that started this blog and recorded a video of myself talking, explaining the trip I was hoping to take. All of that changed - my plans were only the first chapter of my travels - and here I am, considering if I’ll ‘end’ this blog or continue writing about my time at home and how it feels to return from traveling.

I have just 4 days left in Australia. I have to repeat that to myself until I understand it, because I don’t think my head has got that concept just yet. It could be that all this running around I’ve been doing hasn’t given me the chance to think much about it, but I don’t feel like it’s ending. I think that’s because I’m not thinking of this as ‘my end of my time in Australia’, I’m thinking more about going home.

I remember pretty clearly when I first landed in Sydney, and walked around (a bit pathetically), feeling a pang of loneliness, up until I got my first glimpse of the spectacular Operahouse, after which I was motivated, inspired, encouraged. I flew to Perth, my mind still working on overdrive with the adrenaline of being on the other side of the world for the first time, and surprised people by telling them I was at the very beginning of my trip, and that I planned to be here for 5-6 months, and I was just 19. I spent money like it was going out of style and thought hostel kitchens were too gross to cook in. 10 months later, I feel like a drastically changed person, in some ways, but I know that going home will feel just the same as home did when I left, probably better. I know that seeing my friends will be just as awesome as I’m anticipating.

I’m so glad I’ve gotten good at listening to my instincts. I planned to come home in June, but at that time, I knew that I wouldn’t be ready to go home. Something pulled me to travel to Australia, and my time here didn’t feel like ending. I moved my flight ahead another 5 months, and after all the amazing adventures I’ve had since January, I can proudly say that I feel ready to come home. It’s a good feeling, to know that I’ve seen and done as much as I can but that the time is right and I feel good about coming home.

Woooop! Sorry, the feelings are a-flowin’ this morning, apparently! It’s probably good that I’m thinking and writing about all of this.

Aussie words stuck in ma brain

I had my first experience where I forgot the ‘Canadian’ term for something; I could only think of what it’s called in Australia!

I was talking to a friend from home about cheap, healthy breakfasts, and I was saying that I’ve become a fan of Greek yoghurt, bananas, honey and….something I can’t remember the name of! ‘Here it’s called MUESLI, it’s like oats, nuts and dried fruit…I can’t remember what it’s called at home!’ My friend soon enlightened me that I was referring to ‘GRANOLA’, but it was a pretty funny moment.

Also, my mum asked me recently about my car insurance when I come home, and I pictured myself driving on the opposite side of the car & the opposite side of the road from what I am now used to…it’s pretty scary to think about!

I wonder how long it’ll take me to get back into my habits from home? Will the vocab, phrases and hints of an accent I’ve picked up while traveling disappear as soon as I’m back in my home environment? Or will I have to do a quick Aussie-Canadian / Canadian-Aussie translation in my head during conversations for the first while?

If any of my followers have any experience with this, feel free to tell me about it!

Much love, or as the Aussies might say…cheers mate!

X

totheatlantic said: Hope you're able to recover the photos!!

Ahhhh thanks babe, ME TOO. Not only are they corrupted on the usbs, but my SD cards have caught the virus & they destroy photo files before they even make it to the computer! :(

I’m hoping a tech-saavy friend at home will be able to help me out :(

thetiniestterror said: hey me again. So I'm studying in Cairns until mid november and then its back to the states for me =( but I just saw you're doing this through SWAP. Can you give me more details on what exactly it is? I definitely want to come back to this side of the country after I save up a bit. I would love to see NZ and Bali and Fiji etc. and if I could get a job in Oz or NZ it could be my excuse to come back ;)

Deffffinitely do it! A working holiday visa has got to be the best way for a young person to travel. You only really need to save up enough green to fly yourself over here and be able to pay for some food & accommodation. If you want to bring a bit more savings, you can live a bit more ‘luxuriously’, but otherwise, you can travel purely off the money you make from working. It’s AWESOME.

SWAP helps make the logistics a little easier. They’ll help you get your visa paperwork done, book you on the cheapest flights, and get you settled when you arrive. Basically they take care of the annoying little processes that are just too stressful when you’re all excited & ready to go on your trip.

When do you fly back to the States? I’m flying to L.A mid-November too!

Good luck, feel free to ask me anything else, but I can say this: DOOO IT! Australia is such an easy gateway to New Zealand, Bali & Fiji if you’re keen to do some vacations within your vacation ;)

Walking, Strolling, Wandering, Exploring, Meandering, Sauntering, Roaming & more Walking - Part 2

Yesterday - full day #3 - enjoyed a lovely sunny Sunday with Signe, exploring the suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood. According to Abhi, there are three main suburbs contending for the title of “MELBOURNE’S COOLEST SUBURB”: St. Kilda, Fitzroy and the city centre. My vote is with Fitzroy.

I had the best coffee I’ve had in the whole state of Victoria (hehe, dramatic? I’ve only been in this state for 5 days. Still, REALLY amazing coffee) at Cafe Klein. We sat there a while talking to the awesome German owner, Michael, then continued up along Brunswick Street, the main street of Fitzroy. It’s such a wonderful place, full of quirky art shops, awesome street art, bike racks wrapped in colourful knit, coffee boutiques, and the ever-classic super-hip Aussie cafes. My favourite part was the graffiti; there was some real talent on display down the little alleys and around the corners from the main street.

We found this awesome market ‘down the street and around the corner’, called the Rose Street Markets, with all sorts of crafts; from rings made out of old spoons and forks to necklace pendants made from baby cacti in plastic boxes. Soy candles, artwork, ‘kinetic jewelery’, vintage earrings, stationary, knit necklaces, floral lampshades, Cambodian scarves, and street artists working away at the blank wall out back …it was a little piece of creative heaven.

After a falafel at a veggie restaurant, we wandered up and back down Brunswick Street, along Johnston Street into the suburb of Collingwood. The main street in Collingwood is Smith Street, which to me seemed like a slightly more chilled-out version of Brunswick Street, with more earthy shops and relaxing cafes. We ducked back into Fitzroy through the Gertrude Street Precinct, and popped into say hello to our new darling friend Michael, who was kind enough to shout us a free coffee each. We’ll definitely be back :)

Today’s story should be pretty easy: I walked down to South Melbourne for the markets, which were closed, to make a long story short. Got some delicious sushi on Flinders Street, and looked out over the crowd in Federation Square, packed in under a drizzling sky, watching something to do with the horse races on a giant screen (the famous Melbourne Cup is tomorrow, and the city is slightly chaotic…it’s exciting to be here for this! They call it ‘the race that stops a nation’).Then I spent a couple hours making as many turns as possible in the cozy tangle of streets, laneways and alleys in the city center.

I’m still struggling to get all my photos in order… my laptop (which was given to me by a friend who got it from someone who got it from someone who found it in a bin) has given some sort of virus to all my SD cards and USB sticks, so I’m still trying to recover some corrupted photos from New Zealand and from my first couple of days in Melbourne, thus why I haven’t posted any lately. I need a computer geek’s help!

x

thetiniestterror said: oh my god I just laughed my ass off watching your bungy video! We have a bungy place here in Cairns but its nowhere as high as that! That was awesome haha

Haha thank youuu!! I still do too when I watch it, to be honest, it’s so completely terrifying haha!! When I was in Cairns, I had friends that did it and I swore I never would - it looked too scary and I thought it would be painful. Then I stupidly thought it may be a good idea to try in New Zealand….then I found the highest in NZ……. and there I was, somehow bungying at Nevis!!

Thanks darlinnn!! x

showslow:

Illustrations byPolkip.

ewokchronicles said: Did you really just yell CANADAAAA!!! during your jump?! My hero.

hahahahha, I DID! I needed to yell SOMETHING or I wouldn’t have had such confidence to jump!

You can here the ‘-aaaaaaaaahhh…..’ continue a fair way down, because I think I got a bit frozen with fear and forgot to stop yelling haha.

Not to mention when I reached the lowest point, after a couple of bounces, I was meant to pull out some release cord to straighten myself upright, but I was so distracted by the gorgeous mountains around me, I forgot to pull the cord and I kept hanging upside down…THE ENTIRE WAY UP. It was so scary, and they all made fun of me for pulling the first ‘fish’ of the day.

Still, I did it for my country! (maybe myself too).

:)

Walking, Strolling, Wandering, Exploring, Meandering, Sauntering, Roaming & more Walking - Part 1

I’ve walked around Melbourne so much that my bum muscles hurt.

Too much information?

Well my legs muscles are good & sore and it’s creeped up into the glutius maximus area, too.

On my first full day on my own in Melbourne, I started the day off by walking through the city centre (amongst a hoard of pressed-suit-wearing-briefcase-clutching businesspeople - so out of my element) and the amazing Federation Square, which is built on top of ‘the world’s largest trampoline’ - a massive series of underground cables, beams and springs designed to absorb the vibrations from the train system below from traveling to the surrounding performance spaces. Pretty cool. Then I walked all along the Yarra River, first on the city side, then crossed a bridge and walked along the South Bank. Then it was through the Southgate Mall and on to the Alexandra Gardens, Queen Victoria Gardens and ultimately, the Royal Botanic Gardens. Totally knackered (read: exhausted), I took advantage of the city’s free transport for a bit on the way home, and hopped on the bus up to the National Gallery of Victoria, where I got some cool shots of the waterfall glass art entrance way, and the stained glass ceiling in the foyer. I spun some poi in Carlton Gardens, then met up with Signe at night and we wandered Chinatown and the city centre together.

Day 2, I got to experience the real Melbourne tram for the first time, down toward St. Kilda, but not before spending a few hours strolling through Albert Park. I have to say I’ve never seen so many active people all in one condensed place! The park has a lake in the middle, around which there are running tracks, bike trails, a golf course, the famous Grand Prix circuit, playgrounds, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, soccer and rugby fields, a rowing club, sailing school, and cricket ovals. All in 225 hectares.

After finally finding my way out of the park (it took longer than expected), I sauntered down to the famous Acland Street of one of Melbourne’s coolest suburbs - St. Kilda. It’s known to be home to many a writer, designer, musician and poet, so it’s pretty arty-chic but also the home of Melbourne’s closest beach. I found one of the best little cafes I’ve ever been to on Acland Street. Before I got to the main cafe & restaurant strip, I was drawn into this little place that spilled loud music and smiling people out onto the street. It didn’t have a big sign out front, so it looked like an exclusive club of some sort…that I really wanted to be part of. The servers were all friendly to me for the hours I spent there (one even gave me a free donut treat because I told her the meal I’d just eaten was one of the best in a while, thanks to budget backpacking cooking), and the coffee was great too. Make sure to check out Il Fornaio if you ever find yourself in St. Kilda.

I walked further down Acland, and all of a sudden it was like a cafe bomb exploded, and the debris was crammed into an adorable, thriving stretch of road, lined on both sides with thrumming cafes, bakeries, restaurants, clothing stores and knick-knack shops. It’s more of a middle-aged bohemian demographic than some other places in Melbourne, and definitely a sensory overload walking down that street. But in an exciting way. I relaxed and regained my senses again in St. Kilda Botanic Gardens, which has an awesome fancy sculpture of a man under an umbrella in the middle of a pond.

'Rainman is a solar-powered water feature in harmony with its environment. In utilising the sun's energy, the variations in light are reflected by the flow of the water. On a sunny day rain will fall onto the figure from under the umbrella, the figure's hand stretched to feel the day beyond. A cloud passes over, it starts to rain, the solar power ceases, a dry Rainman reaches from beneath the umbrella to feel the rain.'

The walk along the beach back toward Fitzroy Street (another awesome cafe & bakery mecca) is less than spectacular - it’s a pretty industrial beach with fake-looking yellowish sand, but maybe that’s because I was just in Sydney before this, which is known for its gorgeous beaches. It was cool to see all the windsurfers though - the bay was full of colourful sails swinging around, miraculously not colliding with the other human kites.

I spent the evening with Signe at her Southbank apartment, drinking fruit-blended vodka-liqueur cocktails with the lovely Indian man who owns the place, Abhi. I said I wouldn’t stay long, but it was late by the time I got back to my hostel to finally collapse into sleep.

Caves in Waitomo, New Zealand…..
We got stuck after walking into one of these chambers!

Caves in Waitomo, New Zealand…..

We got stuck after walking into one of these chambers!

An Ode to Instant Noodles

During my 10 wonderful months abroad, I’ve become involved in quite the love affair. No, it wasn’t exactly with the rugged Aussie surfer like I may have hoped… In fact, I have fallen head over heels for instant noodles. Those glorious, plastic-wrapped blocks of starchy, crunchy goodness, complete with super-salty, dehyrated sauces and nearly-fake veggies.

The truth is, I have eaten them throughout my entire trip, and loved it just as much every time. At first I cooked them with eggs and sweet corn, and ignorantly prided myself for making food that was cheap AND healthy. However my ego shut up when I finally read the back of the packet. But finding out I was consuming 40% of my daily allowance of sodium in one sitting did not put me off. From devouring them at 3 in the morning after a boozy night out in Perth to making them over a gas cooker on both of my major road trips, instant noodles have certainly become a motif throughout my adventures. That reliable little 55 cent packet has brought me joy each and every time.

One of the things I love about noodles is how many different ways there are to cook them. They can be boiled with or without the seasoning in first, drained like pasta or left in the water like soup, in the microwave, by pouring boiling water and leaving it covered, broken to pieces or in all of their long, luscious glory…or as one proud Swedish backpacker announced to me in Byron Bay: “they can even be eaten dry like chips for a snack!”. Whatever works!

Once upon a time I thought these instant meals were terrible knock-offs of the real dishes that could be found across Asia, and that chefs of the real thing would take offense to these fakes. But when I went to Indonesia and not just saw them in every shop but also was served some delicious noodle soups with IndoMie instant noodles as the base, my eyes were opened to new culinary possibilities! I didn’t just have to eat the noodles as they were from the packaging. And so began the era of ADDING MORE! Chicken, carrots, fried mushroom/onion, cabbage, garlic, and of course my ever-classic heaping of chili flakes and black pepper…my noodles began to look like proper dishes.

All of the spicy, salty, flavourful details aside, think of the money I’ve saved! A mi goreng dish could cost about $11 in a restaurant in Australia. I could never get tired of noodles, so imagine I ate out every night of the week - that’s $77 a week, which is $3 080 saved over my 10 months! And that is enough to buy me a return flight back here someday, as well as a few weeks’ accommodation!

Therefore, I’d like to conclude my noodle-y rant with these loving, poetic words:

"Doodles of noodles for every day,
Oodles of noodles cooked ev’ry which way,
No matter the place or the time or your mood,
You’d LOVE ya some noodles, I’m tellin’ ya, dude!”