Essential items for a trip to China.

A sense of humour – Let’s face it, as tourists in China, Jez and I stuck out like sore thumbs. They knew it, we knew it and the best encounters we had were with people who accepted our mistakes and our apologetic smiles.

A sense of humour is also invaluable for your encounters with traffic. If at first you don’t see the funny side of the way the driver packed twelve people and their suitcases into a minivan with tetris-like precision, then I guarantee you will by the end of the ride.

An open mind – There are so many things that are done differently in China. Traffic and queues and food are just the surface. If you constantly compare things to ‘the way it’s done at home’ you will limit yourself and risk ruining your time overseas. What’s the point of traveling then? Go with the flow, observe and save your judgements for later.

An above-average skill for charades – If you don’t speak the language, draw from your dinner-party game repertoire and mime the heck out of what you need. If not, make sure you have a pen handy so you can draw or write numbers.

A thick skin – In general, don’t take things personally. There is lots of pushing and queue cutting in China. That’s just the way it goes. There is lots of horn beeping and cars not giving way to pedestrians in China. That’s just the way it goes. Shrug your shoulders and you’re on your way.

Tissues – Don’t leave home without them. You may find yourself in a squat toilet sans toilet paper and then there is trouble! Again, don’t leave home without them.

Autumn in Sydney

Sydney April252013With a week to go until ‘lift off’, I have been thinking about my city in a different light. I’ve been running errands around the place, catching up with friends and getting the final documents in order for our trip, all the while enjoying the fabulous city that is Sydney.

Sydney has the best Autumn weather. The sun is so warm while the air is crisp and the sky is a jeweled blue. I have driven across the Harbour Bridge at least six times this week and I never tire of the view of the city and the water.

I guess that the allure of traveling is the discovery of new places and new customs. I know that I’m looking forward to the surprises that we’ll find in the cities that we go to. I can’t wait to see the mega cities of China and immerse myself in their traditions (and copious amounts of food…!) but I also feel a pang of sadness for the Sydney that I will leave behind. There is nothing quite like knowing a place like the back of your hand.

What do you love about Sydney?

Post Secret

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The Enmore Theatre 16/04/13

Tonight I saw Frank Warren, of Post Secret, speak to an audience about the invisible network of secrets that connects us. His blog, postsecret.blogspot.com, is one of the most visited blogs on the internet and has started a movement of sharing, revealing and healing our deepest and darkest secrets.

I have been visiting postsecret online every Sunday for at least the past 6 years. On Sunday, Frank posts new postcards that have been sent during the week and I always look forward to the postcards that are put up. Some are funny, some are moving, some are truly heartbreaking but they show us that we are all vulnerable.

Frank’s talk was amazing. He is part psychologist, part therapist, part motivational speaker! Something that really stuck with me was how open he was about his own struggles and the reason why his small project has become a world-wide movement. His idea was very simple and he started small – blank postcards asking you to share a secret – that struck a chord with millions. It has allowed us to look at our collective fears and struggles.

I think what Frank has done is so inspiring. He is asking us to make connections, meaningful links, with strangers. Frank and his postcards have changed lives.

While I don’t think I’ll be changing lives on my journey, I know that I am looking for those meaningful connections.

When I was in Rome on a family holiday in 2000, I remember visiting the Colosseum. It stands there so tall and proud, a tribute to the people who built it. As I placed my hands on the bricks of the beautiful building, it seemed unbelievable that someone had once stood there thousands and thousands of years ago, touching the bricks as I was. I felt like this connection between past and present was so profound because it made me appreciate the beauty of things that have been seen by humans for centuries, and then understand how important the things that are not seen, like relationships and families, are to us because they are an experience unique to us as individuals.

It’s not a secret anymore, but this trip will be the start of something truly amazing. Now I just have to open my heart, roll with the punches, go with the flow and wait patiently for lift off to arrive.

That fine line.

A leap

Out there in the big wide world, people repeat that you should “do something each day that scares you”.  Happily, I’ll admit that I live like this – but only because I scare easily!

Perhaps we really should do something each day that pushes us out of our comfort zone. I know that change can make people uneasy, a disruption to the normal daily life can have dramatic consequences for some of us.

Well, what if I was to tell you I was about to turn my own life upside down?

In just over 5 weeks, Jez and I will be packing our suitcases and preparing ourselves for six months abroad, starting in China.

The wheels have already been set in motion and while I am thrilled, ecstatic and terribly excited, I am terrified to make such a gigantic leap into the unknown.

Is this what meant by this statement? I am challenging my comfort zone and staring out in to the unknown. Luckily, I will have my bestest best traveling companion by my side to make these experiences infinitely more enjoyable.

Still, at the moment there I am walking that fine line between the excited butterflies and sheer terror!

New Year’s Wishes

 Kindly borrowed from http://everguide.com.au/music/clubs-and-parties/news/adelaide-nye-lowdown-on-the-countdowns.aspx

This time last year, Jez and I were wandering through the chilly streets of Tokyo, Japan. We were in search of inspiration, excitement and the promise of a wonderful new year.

As it happens, 2012 was a great year. Friends are engaged, family moving interstate, my sister finishing school, my brother finishing Uni… the list could go on and on. It seems that at my age there are people who are making leaps and bounds on this chessboard called life.

Like every year, we start on that steep learning curve to improve and better our performance from last year. I know that in every aspect of my life at present, there is something that I would like to improve on. 2013 will see a change in my work responsibilities, my family’s dynamics will change, my friendships will strengthen, my health and fitness will improve (after the new year, I promise!!!) and above everything else, I hope that I will hold more wisdom than the year before! These pending improvements sound exciting, but there are people in my life that I know will face huge obstacles as they pass through 2013 and my thoughts are always with them for support.

On the eve of the year 2013, we are in Sydney on a glorious summer’s day. Tonight, Jez and I will ring in the new year with friends and offer up a celebration to what this new year will bring.

I wish everyone happy and safe 2013.

All my love, M xx

Itchy Feet

What a busy year!!! The end of 2011 has well and truly crept up on us. Jez and I have both been busy with new jobs and responsibilities. We’re in need of a little rejuvenation and relaxation in the form of a holiday!

We’re planning a New Year’s getaway to Hong Kong and Tokyo!!! So exciting!!! We’ve managed to find return airfares for a very reasonable price and a few nice places to stay. I am looking forward to the planning and research of the trip… having something to look forward to always makes the weeks fly by quickly.

Jez’s best friend lives in in Hong Kong and it will be wonderful to catch up with him & his girlfriend. I am also looking forward to Tokyo, I have not been to Japan and I think it will be fantastic at this time of year. Lots of shopping to do now…!

Leaving San Francisco

Jez on the Cable Car

Today was our last of four days in San Francisco.

We had to check out of the Hotel Diva at 10am, which meant a lot of time between leaving our bags and our flight to NYC at 10pm. We decided to take a MUNI bus to Golden Gate Park which is home to SF’s botanical gardens, a museum and an art gallery. It’s a beautiful garden, an oasis in a busy city. I particularly loved the Japanese Garden located inside the park, with its quiet and calm vistas.

I have to say, there is nothing more satisfying than getting from A to B without a hiccup on public transport in a foreign country! The bus we caught to Golden Gate Park went up Haight St, which we thought was similar to King St in Newtown because of its shops and cafes.This city has a very relaxed and comfortable vibe.

We wandered around for a while, visited Sephora (brilliant make-up store not available in Australia) and other and then had to head back to the city and on to the airport for the red-eye to NYC.