Category Archives: travel

Palawan

My external hard drive has been playing up which means I’ve had no access to photos! But I have them back and now I can enthrall you with the freakin’ amazingness that was Palawan.

I can’t even begin to properly describe how fantastic this place is. The airport is this tiny little thing tucked away in the corner, and you walk in to fresh food and all the coffee you can drink, and friendly people and then they put you on a tiny plane and fly you for like an hour or two out of Manila, until you arrive here…DSC_2493

And I mean that literally. The airport we arrived in is behind this. Directly behind this. There were people waiting there who sung to us as we arrived and gave us more beautiful food until we were driven 5 minutes to here, where we climbed into boats and were taken across the sea to our resort.

So, the resort is on an island and…that’s ALL that’s on the island. We stayed at El Nido which caters for about 50 guests, and was the one recommended to us as the resort with the more energetic itinerary.  We had left Manila after being stuck there due to the APEC conferences in a tiny little hotel near the airport with absolutely no redeeming features, and that smelled like pee. The window was just a curtain covered wall, and outside there were riot police all lined up down the street – which was completely blocked due to traffic.

Manila was an interesting city. I would have liked to have been able to see more of it to be honest, and am super disappointed Ollie wouldn’t hire one of the guys on bikes to take us around. Because we walked, and it was miserable. Too hot, too big, too dirty….too full of riot police.

I should write a post about Manila too actually. I’ll do that. Back to El Nido!! So after about two hours on a boat, we rounded the corner of an island to find this waiting for us…

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I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything that quite resembled my idea of heaven…and then I saw this.  It might not look like much, but…

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It was freakin’ paradise at every hour of the day.

Their were people waiting here for us too, singing us a welcome song, with the most amazing coconut juice I’ve ever had in my life. From the moment we arrived, to the moment we left, we felt like it was home. The staff knew us by name, and were always available. They provided a turn down service every night, which included a handwritten note in silver pen written on a leaf, and a Palawan folk story. I wished we’d stayed forever, just for the stories to be honest!

They were right about the activities too. We did all of them – well, I missed the last snorkeling trip in favour for lying in a deck chair and looking at the view and reading.

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I honestly could have stayed forever. This water!!!! That view!!! Ollie and I went off one morning by ourselves to the “big lagoon” where we pushed the kayak up on a small beach and just lay in the water for hours. We went caving, and rock climbing, and island hopping and snorkeling. It was so, so, SO gorgeous.

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Look at those fishiiieeeessssss!!!!

It was just the ultimate. I wish we’d gone to this resort last, because it sort of ruined the last part of our trip, because it was so amazing that nothing could compare!

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We took boats out to watch the sunset over this island. Just out in the middle of the sea, with nothing around you except ocean. And I broke my ‘never’ again sunrise watching, so that I could watch the sunrise one more time.

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It hid itself behind this perfectly placed cloud, but that just made it all the more beautiful for me. Slightly melancholy and throwing beautiful shade, the colours of the sky are so much softer in the morning than they are at night time. I did not regret the wake up call, nor the beautiful coffee served to me while we waited, or the amazing breakfast that was ready for us on our return.

Palawan is an incredibly beautiful place, and if you get the chance to go there – you most definitely should. If I could have stayed there forever I would have.

They also sing to you as you leave the island. They stand at the end of the jetty waving and singing until the boat is out of sight. It was so lovely.

After El Nido, we went further down the coast to Puerto Princesa, which was a much larger place but equally as beautiful. The coastline was more rugged here, and we stayed at the Sheridan which had the most amazing swimming pool in the world! I spent more time in that pool than anywhere else I think!

We went to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park which was so amazing! They take you one kilometre into the cave and then back out again. We also took a boat ride to see the mangroves. And wildlife.

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I really enjoyed this trip. Our guide was lovely and told us all about the flora and fauna of the area, pointing out birds and snakes in the trees, and explaining how the ecology works. It was very beautiful.

You can also zip line from the top of a hill down out over the sea to the beach – which of course we also did. The Philippines is just such an amazing country. There’s so much diversity and difference amongst all the islands. So much to see and do.  I’d go back a million times over if I could.

Sagada

I haven’t forgotten you! I just got really, REALLY sick. Which is strange, and yet kind of typical for me in mid Australian summer. I’m not sure why my body decides to do this to me when it’s hot, but it does. Three weeks later, I’m finally starting to feel human again. So here’s the last part of our Northern Philippines tour!

After leaving Batad and Banaue, we were taken by our guide to Sagada, which is about a four hour drive through some truly amazing hill country. Everything is so beautiful and green, and then out of nowhere, you look down the hill and this is the view. I’m not sure what this village is called, but we just rounded a corner and there it was. Nestled into a valley, right up against the cliff side. Like brightly coloured lego blocks just scattered over the carpet.

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Sagada itself was a beautiful township. The main street runs up and down one hilly street, and is mostly just full of tourist shops – which isn’t exactly a bad thing. But what it’s really famous for, are the Hanging Coffins. When we were planning our trip here, I had two things that were definite musts for me. To visit the hill country and see the hanging coffins, and to chill out on a beach. Although I was still not 100% better during this part of the trip, I am so grateful that we were able to do these things. I’ve never seen anything like Sagada in my life, and just like Batad, it was incredibly difficult to leave.

The Hanging Coffins are a pretty short walk from the township and so worth it. We hired a local guide to take us here, and then also caving. The two smallest coffins are the oldest ones, and he told us that they’re small like this, because before the country was colonised, they would bury their dead in the fetal position. It was the Christian missionaries who taught them to bury their dead laying flat. So the smaller coffins are pre-Christian era, and the chairs you can see were used to display the deceased person so that family and friends could come and pay their respects, before they were interred into the coffins and hung on the cliff faces – sometimes – as you can see, with the chairs they rested on.

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They also interred their dead in caves.

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It’s a little morbid perhaps, but I’ve always been fascinated by graveyards. My mum would take me to them and we’d walk around them together for hours, reading the names and imagining the stories of their lives, and it always gives me a sense of peace. It’s extremely interesting to me to see how other cultures bury their dead. Some of the coffins were so old they were broken apart, and the bones inside were visible. In the cave, they were all stacked in tightly together against the walls, held in place with rocks and some where decorated with lizards carved into the wood. There was one which had a thigh bone resting on the coffin lid. Most of these are very old, but the latest hanging coffin was placed there only about 5 or 10 years ago.

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We walked for another hour or so to the opposite end of this cave, where Ollie went spelunking with the guide, but – due to my still not great health, I stayed behind at the one cafe where I sat upstairs and watched the locals come down the paths with brightly coloured packages held on their heads, tourists come for the caving, and read my book.

Probably my most favourite thing about the hill country – aside from the amazing views – was the coffee. It was rich and thick and so delicious. They also have their own tea, and so obviously I had both. The tea was delicious, very mild and not bitter at all. I would have loved to have brought some home with us, but I wasn’t sure it would get through customs. I did however bring home the coffee. Of which, I no longer have any, which is a travesty! I miss this coffee more than I can express!

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There were a lot of things that made this part of the trip incredibly memorable, and also very hard going. We had heard so much about watching the sunrise over Kilpetan, that at the time it really seemed worth the 4.30am wake up call. It was so cold, and beautiful, and thank god for the coffee!!  This was as good as we got though, because the entire place just filled up with tourists, and it was all too much. So we went back to our homestay and slept a couple more hours before we left to head back to Banaue, and the 10 hour bus ride back to Manila.

Never again, I told myself. Everyone who knows me, knows I am not a morning person at all. Also, of course..the night before the rest of the tourists at our homestay partied until early in the morning, and Kelly on anything less than 6 hours of sleep is generally not a Kelly you want to spent time with. Poor Ollie.

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Still though, it was incredibly beautiful, and a lovely way to end our stay in the Northern Philippines.

We Went To The Philippines!

In November, the husband and I took a trip to the Philippines child free. It was our first ever holiday without kids in 19 years! So many things went wrong with it. Now that I think back on it though, I wouldn’t have changed anything. Ollie and I got to spend some really amazing quality time together, and it was just what we both needed. Plus…we were in the Philippines, and it looked like this at breakfast time.

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This is Banaue. It’s a 10 hour overnight bus ride from Manila, and worth every second. We spent two nights here, at Ramon’s Homestay in Batad. The food was amazing, the coffee was to die for, and this view? Honestly, leaving here was so hard. We had no access to internet and the time off was beautiful.

I don’t think I’ve ever done so much walking in my life! And we took the easier walking option! You definitely need stamina for this place and I suggest lots of hill walks before you go! But I seriously don’t think there’s a more beautiful place in the world. The people were so friendly and our guides were amazing. We hired ours with Irene Binalet who was just the best ever. She and her guides made the whole trip so amazing. Without them, I don’t think we would have seen and done as much on our own.  She has a great sense of humour and organised everything for us. I definitely recommend doing this if you’re traveling to a country where you don’t know the language yourself.
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We took a 4 hour guided walk to the waterfalls while we were there. Walking the Rice Terraces was both devastating, and incredible! It was the hardest walk I’ve ever done in my LIFE! haha! But man, what a view! In the picture above, we had reached the top of the terraces and were looking down into the villages. We were staying in the top right corner, the largest white roof you can see – underneath a red one. After that, we walked down the opposite side of the hill to find this.

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This was as close as I made it unfortunately, and is definitely the reason I’ll be back! During this part of the trip, I got sick – right as we left of course. So I didn’t get to do as many things as I would have liked to have done.

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But considering these were our pathways, I’m pretty proud of myself! Sickness be damned! It was a balancing act most of the way there. I really want to go back when the terraces are all planted up before harvesting.  I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved being here. It was like a giant version of my childhood garden, when I spent all my time outside playing witches and making potions and catching tadpoles.

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Having a guide with us was really awesome. She was able to tell us so much about the people and their customs and as a result, we were able to be respectful and interact with local people, which was one of my favourite parts of the trip.  Tourism is still fairly new in Banaue, so the people there are just as interested in you, as you are in them.  I just can’t tell you enough how friendly this place is. DSC_2280

 

The roads are rough as guts and mostly only wide enough for one vehicle, which is super exciting when you get to a place in the road that looks like the photo below, and it’s raining super hard! Which is pretty much THE WHOLE ROAD! I was constantly impressed with how easy it is for these guys to navigate these roads. Like…seriously.

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Also, dogs. <3

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sick remember?!

Whoa…two years? Really Kelly? >.<

I started this blog nine years ago, after on my last teaching practice in my hometown, my husband set it up so that I could write about whatever I felt like. It was such a godsend to have a place that I knew was mine, and felt safe. Over the years, I let things make it feel unsafe for me, and after a couple of years of pretty good, solid blogging, I just sort of…stopped.

It’s hard to start back up again when you look back over how long it’s been since you did anything, and realise it’s been almost two years.

I didn’t write anything at all last year. Not here at least. I’m not entirely sure why to be honest. It certainly isn’t because my life hasn’t been interesting. I think maybe it’s just become only interesting to me. Or that’s how it’s felt.

I also often feel like I’m being disingenuous, because typically my writing has always been very personal, and putting it online for people to read and pass judgement over filled me with horror. I’ve always sort of brushed things under the carpet. Things that feel too personal, or like I will be judged badly because of my honesty.

I’m at a place in my life now, where other people’s opinions of me no longer matter. I’m almost 40 and I can’t believe that I’ve come all this way only to still feel shame and fear over certain aspects of who I am.

I know that I write my best stuff when I’m being honest, and I kind of needed a really huge kick in the butt to get myself organised. I also needed some inspiration, a change of scenery – because moving to Australia wasn’t enough apparently. So my husband took me to the Philippines and it was amazing.

I’m half way through my second book edit, by the way. That’s still happening. I have to keep reminding myself to stop editing and thinking about everything that’s wrong with it, and just continue writing. I know what needs to be fixed, but then I think about fixing it and end up sighing in despair and putting my creative energy into other things. So the book comes along super slowly. But it comes along…so, there’s that!

I Like Birds

I really do. They are the coolest creatures in the world. I like everything about them and always have. Part of my excitement at our move to Australia is all the interesting bird life just living there in the wild. I have been dreaming about planting fruit trees and nut trees to encourage them into my yard.

October arrived and we were finally ready to go over. It was a hectic trip, full of school visits and work prospects and looking at places we might end up living and spending time with family, etc. But it was also really great! Ollie and I haven’t been away for any real length of time without the kids ever, so it was really nice to have the chance to just be together – even though we were mostly doing things child related.

We got to meet two of the new baby arrivals – there are several still brewing. And I got to be the annoying Aunt who always wants to hold the babies and to show off my incredible skills with them.

Babies just love me. No really, they do.  This bundle of gorgeousness who did not at all want me to be annoyingly squeezing him is Hudson, and he’s a whopping 10 weeks old here. He gave me a lot of very serious looks and some windy smiles before filling his pants and then he’d had enough of me thank you very much. 🙂

He will grow to love me, because that neck in there needs to be raspberried many, MANY times.  That’s what babies like the most you know. That and having their feet eaten.

We timed our visit really well – accidentally, and ended up being there while Ollie’s dad and step mother also were which was lovely. It’s always good to get to see them again, even if for only a short time.

And on top of that, one of Ollie’s cousin’s wives very thoughtfully gave birth to their second child only three days before we arrived! I know! Good lord but is she the most beautiful wee thing in the world. I almost took her home with me. This redeems my claim that all babies love me, I swear. Check out the very serious face she is giving me. We were having an incredibly intense conversation together. Babies are the coolest, because they’re always so enthralled with what you have to tell them. You can tell she believes every word I’m saying.

Argh! Honestly!!!! That FACE!!!! Her name is Caitlin and if she was any cuter I would have just eaten her all up. OMNOMNOMZ!!!

Most of our ten days was spent ringing around schools and organising to meet with people to be shown around so that we could take back some information to the girls and let them decide which school sounded the best. We managed to narrow it down to three schools, all of which offer completely different things and styles of learning and we’re still deciding which to go with. Hopefully we will know by the end of this weekend, because that will decide where we end up living.

Our plans changed in regards to this part of things when we got there and were bombarded with so much information we went to bed on overload! Our original plan was to move over and buy a house close to the beach and send the girls to a school that was close by and looked great! But then we checked out some other schools, which were also great, and which meant that we’d have to be zoned if they chose to go there. Luckily all three schools have pointers in terms of living. The original one near the beach, another in a beautiful almost country setting and the other quite close to the city. All very different in terms of education and living. I’m excited!

And then we went to the beach. Actually, we went to Victor Harbour and stayed in a family holiday home for the weekend. It was so lovely, quite similar to Christchurch weather and scenery wise and we got to relax for awhile.

On our second day there, we went to Granite Island, which you can walk out to. It was such a lovely island, small enough to walk around and reminded me a lot of Canterbury’s coastlines.

There is even a horse drawn carriage you can take out there, but we opted to walk. Unfortunately for me, something on the island was in bloom and flared up my allergies something terrible! I sneezed the entire way around the island and went through an entire packet of tissues.

Ollie found a pair of birds sitting on the pathway and we paused so he could take photos of them. He crept up quietly as close as he dared and snapped his picture. The birds took offence and flew into the air screaming at the top of their lungs. We thought that was the end of it until they circled around and divebombed us! Not just once mind you, it was a complete bird aerial attack! They would not give up! We were shouting and laughing and trying to shoo them away and they were diving and shouting back, tips of wings touching the tops of heads, long bird legs scraping backpacks.

Look at his angry face! You can almost make out his birdy eyebrows drawn together in anger!

Yes, that is the top of my head that a bird is swooping in on. And yes, my husband did stand at the ready with camera poised to take pictures of me being attacked! He truly is my hero. When the second one divebombed him and hit his backpack and he shrieked in terror I was appeased! How rude!

Go away birds!!! Do you see his wing in the far left corner? These were by far the most hilariously evil birds I’ve ever come across. It was so funny and we were laughing so hard, which I think just spurred on their fury as they came back again and again. We didn’t even want their silly eggs! Not that I know where they were, but why on earth were they making their nest so close to the pathway? Eventually we managed to get far enough away that they roosted back down on rocks below and kept their evil birdy eyes on us until we had gone around the corner and left them for their next unassuming victims!

Aside from that though, the island really was very beautiful and full of incredible rocks. Ollie finally gave up his camera and allowed me to take his photo.

I think it’s his best angle.

After all that adventure and my endless weepy eyes and sneezing attack, we had a quick lunch, I bought some incredible allergy medication (Australian pharmacists are so much more helpful than ours!!) and we went back home to read and rest for awhile. Ollie was on the bed, I was in the lounge and fell asleep on the couch. Allergies are the worst thing in the world! They totally zap your energy! And he got to a really exciting part of his book and yelled “DUN DUN DUNNNNN!”

I swear to god, I almost crapped my pants. Holy shit internet! The place we were staying at is echoey. It was TERRIFYING!!!!! Who does that?! Who just assumes their wife is wide awake in the next room and shouts at the top of their lungs? Not okay! Luckily for him, he’d taken me out for a really lovely meal the night before.

We had a simple dinner that night and then spent the evening walking along the beach. I just can’t get over how warm the sea is over there. I’ve become so used to freezing cold Christchurch sea, that to walk into water and have it feel so warm is a novelty! It was just so gorgeous, even though the day itself was not really all that warm.

The evil Granite Island looming innocently in the background.

 

We’re Looking For The Whales!

Several months ago, one of the girls from Ollie’s work who was also hurt in the quakes started a charity event where she ran a silent auction to raise money for the kids here whose families have been badly effected by the quakes. She helped send them to Auckland for a weekend where they got to go to Rainbow’s End and just enjoy themselves, which is something a lot of kids here haven’t really had the opportunity to do much of. Stress of losing loved ones, of losing their homes, their schools, their favourite places hasn’t been easy on anyone. She did an amazing job, especially because of the fact she had been in hospital for around six months and to learn how to walk again herself. One of the things on offer was a family trip to go whale watching in Kaikoura!

We won!

Ever since then, we’d been trying to get out there to actually GO whale watching, but the weather was just never right. It was always too rough on the seas, which was a little depressing. I have always wanted to see whales but was slowly giving up hope that we would ever get to see them. We called them up last Sunday morning to see if it might be possible, and they told us the weather looked promising, so we bundled into the car and off we went.

I love Kaikoura. It’s one of my favourite places in the South Island. It’s always slate grey and cold – even in summer, but the sea is turquoise and rough and almost everywhere you look there are seals sunning themselves on the rocks. It’s rugged and beautiful and the township is just far too cute for its own good. I love stopping there. I love that it smells like the sea and that nowhere in Kaikoura are you without a sea view.

Every time we pull in, I imagine having built a house with floor to ceiling windows against the side of the hills. Nestled in there, surrounded on three sides by trees and facing out to that amazing blue sea. It’s a writer’s paradise. Although to be fair, I’d probably get far less written there than I do right now, facing a blank wall. My degree used to be on it, but the earthquakes have made us take down most of our pictures. It’s just easier that way.

It was FREEZING! But not even that could dampen my mood. I don’t think Siobhan was ready for my exuberance. When we got there and the weather was still perfect, I was far too excited for my own good! We had spent two other days waiting in Kaikoura all day while they continued to tell us that the weather might be better later that day, then later again, then apologising when it just wasn’t going to happen, so to actually have fine weather and good seas? Bet your arse I was excited!

Seriously. I’m on a boat! My kids are cool as, man. Me? I’m on a boat. You all know the song.

Look at how ridiculously beautiful that child of mine is! No matter what we do, the both of them just continue to get more and more adult and stunning. Let’s not even talk about how tall they are. Yeah, EVERYONE is tall next to me, but I was sort of hoping that my girls wouldn’t betray me with their Amazonian willowy status and remain little girls forever. It’s not happening though, those beasts plan to tower over me by the time they finally stop growing.

Anyway, we went out on the sea in a super fast boat which took us over the shallows which dropped off into sea that went deeper than the Grand Canyon in a very short time. It’s a little strange to think of that much water underneath you when you can still see the shoreline. He said that the Grand Canyon would fit into the shelf below us twice. I haven’t seen the Grand Canyon yet, but I am assuming that’s an impressive amount of sea.

This is how you find whales. You insert a rod into the water and listen through your iPod headphones for them to start talking to one another. They do this as they’re coming back up to the surface. Did you know that whales can stay under the surface for up to 2 and a half hours before they need to come up for air? Did you also know that the sound they make when they stun their prey can turn your insides to liquids? Yeah…I did not know this.

Anyway, it didn’t take as long as I’d imagined before he heard a whale. We saw three in total, but the one below is the first one we saw. They’re all boys. Apparently the girls don’t come here often, it’s a boys only club. I don’t blame them. It’s COLD.

There he is! Look! The boat was full of tourists, and I swear I was still the most excited person onboard. Every time he blew water I celebrated his cleverness. I am lucky that I’m blessed with such an understanding family. I am sure I’m terribly embarrassing with my “OMG! LOOK! IT’S A WHALE! LOOK HE’S BREATHING!!!!! LOOK! HE’S SO CLEVER!”

The guys who run the trip know when a whale is getting ready to go back down again. It’s amazing, he talked us through it beautifully. It was a little like giving birth but without the pain. You sort of just hold your breath and blam! Awe inspiring beauty. Perfection. He was my very own creation and I was the only person on board who got to experience it. Shut up, the two of us were having a serious moment together right before he said goodbye to me forever. As soon as his tail came up like that? I cried.

I did. I admit it. It was so beautiful that I actually sobbed. “Did you…*sob* see that?” Apparently, everyone did, but no one else seemed moved to tears. No one who knows me will be surprised to hear this news though. After all, I cry at everything. It’s okay though, I wasn’t wearing mascara.

We also got to see an amazing array of seabirds, including Albatross! And, hundreds of amazing little dolphins, who were so precious and so thrilling. They zip under the boat and burst out of the water right in front of you. They threw themselves all around the place, and many of them did full 360’s! It was very impressive. Especially when they did it in pairs. Like synchronised swimmers but awesome.

so camp darling!

Happy New Year! 2011. So far, I’m really kind of enjoying it. For the most part anyway.

We went camping on the weekend. It was supposed to be a two day trip to Hanmer Springs Thermal pool resort. Here’s how it went down.

We arrived at the camp site around 2pm to the most stiflingly hot and windy day imaginable. We were sprawled on the ground going “OMG THE HOT!” Ollie, the poor thing pretty much put up the tents singlehandedly. He struggled a lot with the stupid pegs and the stupider rock hard ground. When they were up, we stood back and watched in horror as gale force winds blew them almost horizontally with the ground. They stayed up amazingly.

We sprawled out inside them for awhile, Ollie and Aleeya played frisbee and wandered down to the other end to the playground which was apparently quite cool. Siobhan and I stayed in the tent and listened to music and talked. Then Ollie and I drove into Hanmer and ordered the BEST Indian food I’ve ever had. And he took Aleeya to the hot pools for an hour afterwards while Siobhan and I listened to more music and talked. It was far too windy to toast marshmellows, so we played cards, then played one word games. The second of which had me laughing so much I was crying.

It finally got dark and I took the girls to the bathroom. On the way, there were MASSIVE bugs on the ground. Massive flying bugs, which I found thoroughly interesting and the girls did not. They were no shit, as long as my pinky finger, but as fat as my thumb and had what looked like really hard wings. On coming home, we used the powerz of Google to look them up and found out they were Huhu Beetles! There was one in the toilet as well which Aleeya and I watched kamikaze itself in the shower. A girl came out and was most concerned that we didn’t like it, scooped it up and threw it out. Really, we were just waiting for Siobhan.

On the return back to the tent, one of these bugs…they were EVERYWHERE, found its way onto my shirt without my knowing it. So we’re in the tent and I’m explaining them to Ollie and I feel something on my arm, look down and OHAI MR BUG! The girls freak and I’m like “It’s okay! It’s fine! Plz get it off me.” To which Ollie does. He curls it up in his hand and he’s all “see? It’s fine. I have it. IT IS BITING ME OH MY GOD FUCK IT’S BITING ME!!!!!!!” And he threw it across the tent….at Aleeya.

He did. She is SCREAMING and I’m going “WHAR IZ IT?!” And he gets it and finally tosses it out of the tent and I take a look at his thumb and he is BLEEDING. BLEEDING interwebz. Not just under the skin…it broke his skin and he is BLEEDING! We’re all three of us girls sitting there dumbfounded and terrified by these killar massive bugs from hell and the entire tent mood is completely sombre. “This isn’t fun.” Siobhan pouts, and I’m kind of in agreement. It’s time for bed though, and both girls are meant to be in the other tent. He takes them in there and I’m like “do you really think that’s a good idea? Ask them if they want to swap.” So he does, and I end up with Siobhan in my tent. I’m like “just so you know, I’m not the brave one. You’re no safer with me.” But I don’t think she really cares.

So I put on headphones and listen to music while the wind howls around us, because every noise sounds like someone trying to get into the tent and I am REALLY paranoid about night and wind and not being able to hear anything over said wind, don’t fret though, I had it on very low, and I made sure she knew I could still hear her if she needed me, which thankfully she didn’t, because I meant it when I said she wasn’t any safer with me. I’m about as brave as jelly. And eventually I turn my music off and drift in and out of sleep. A sleep plagued by nightmares, where my husband is covered in SUPERMASSIVE BUGS and I’m terrified!

In the morning, the birds are SO loud that it sounds like they’ve all converged on the ground outside the tent, which I truly believe they did until other campers started getting up and moving about. Everyone is exhausted, except Aleeya who apparently slept fine. Ollie didn’t sleep at all, Siobhan has her period, the poor girl and I’m trying to be into this, because I know how much it meant to him and how much he wanted us to like it.

We were supposed to go on walks and spend all our free time in the hot pools, but it’s SO hot and so damn windy and no one has slept that all we do is lay around going “murrrrr.” At 11am I get us up and to the pools and it was really lovely for everyone except Siobhan. Afterwards, we got some lunch, which was just as lovely and go back to the campsite, with the intent of going on a short hour or so walk, heading back to play some mini golf and then to decide if we’re going to stay another night.

We get back there, and what really happens is the heat exhausts us further and we decide to just pack up and go. Which we do. The wind almost blew the tents away while we’re wrestling them to the ground and we leave. Half way home Ollie almost passes out with exhaustion and I do something I’ve never done before. I offer to drive the rest of the way. Which I successfully do without panicking once.

Give me a cabin any day!! 😉

Are We Human?

I don’t know about you, but I’m dancer.

I’m heading back to Nelson in 3 hours time.  Going to go see my parents.  It’s a little heartbreaking for them at the moment. Hopefully, things will calm down soon and everything will be…well, I don’t think it will ever be normal, but okay. Let’s hope for okay.

I’ll be gone for about a week I guess. We bought a one way ticket.  Guess I’ll just see how it goes. Expect some emo writings in the near future. I imagine I’ll have lots of odd thoughts to voice.

Think happy thoughts for us.

Australia Part 3

Our third day in Australia, we were left to our own devices again, and decided to spend the day at the beach.  It was Aleeya’s 10th birthday, so we thought we’d catch the tram out in the morning and spend the day hanging around on the beach and doing a bit of shopping.

She had a party before we left, which is when she got most of her presents, but still the excitement over the new version of tamagotchi had not quite warn off.  We left around 10.30am and got into the beach about 15 minutes later. It was a stunning day, and not too hot – due to the fact it was morning, so we’d all forgotten about the dangers of the sun, and had no sunscreen.  You know where I’m going with this, right?

When we arrived, there were three people setting up camel rides.  We’ve done the elephant ride, so we have to do the camel rides too right?  The girls were slightly nervous, but once he’d stood up, they were fine.  Camels are so weird, they tuck their legs under them at the most bizarre angle.  Don’t you totally love the big bearded man?  He was so awesome.  I think he was possibly part Aboriginal, and his accent was so very strong.  He walked them around the park and then stood there with them so we could take a million and one photos, which must be done, you know.

So they rode their camel and then we headed down to the beach. The water was amazing, it was so beautiful and clear and relatively warm. Although, I forgot my swimming gear. I KNOW! No sunscreen, no swimming togs – in Australia.  I really am a bit stupid.  I did go looking, but all they had were string bikinis and you know, if I were still 18, I might have considered it, but I’m so not and it was totally not happening. Anyway, I sprawled my white little body out on the sand, and the kids buried my feet, then they buried Aleeya up to her neck before they went swimming.

And I, smart girl that I am, lay in the sun, determined that if I was going to have spent 10 days in Australia, I was going to have a tan to show for it.  What I forgot, was that I’ve been living in Christchurch for almost 13 years and that, while we do get the sun here, most days are overcast and cool.  Summer lasts a month and not a month in a row, but a month of sun interspersed with rain and hail and wind and cloud spanning the 3 months that is supposed to be our summer.

So, my poor white body was delighted by this sudden attack of sun and surprised me, greatly, but burninating to a crisp. A CRISP internet.  I woke up the next day and I was almost blistered.  THAT is how bad it was. I was scarlet and trying to put clothes on left me hyperventilating in pain. I had red lines everywhere, I hurt to the point that the slightest touch almost had me in tears.  I couldn’t lift my arms, or wear a bra.  I ended up a couple of days later buying a strapless one, just so that I didn’t have to feel the agony of straps on my shoulders.  It was – awful.

Look at me.  Without a care in the world. Having no idea at all just how terribly I was burninating.  We spent four hours there. We had lunch, we bought Aleeya some really cute emo girl clothes, we walked from one end of the beach to the other, and then we went back to our apartment, where we realised, just how burned I truly was.

With the wedding the very next day, you can, I’m sure, imagine my complete horror.

It’s such a hard life you know. All that sun and sea and lack of working really wears a man out.  Course, he -is- getting old.

Australia Part Two

Day two was filled with loads of walking and a little bit of shopping. We caught the free tram which stopped basically outside the door to our apartments and got off at Rundle? Rundel..the mall anyway.  It was extremely busy, as should be expected a mere 7 days before Christmas and much bigger than we were expecting. In fact, we didn’t make it the whole way down, but we did find some of the cutest shops ever.  Including a chocolate store called Haighs which truly was something to remember.  The chocolate at Haighs is better than anything I’ve ever tasted in my life. And as one of the biggest chocolate connoisseur’s in the world, that’s saying something.

They had some awesome stores, and malls within the mall which was incredibly disorientating but really fun to explore all the same.  It was, nicely hot, but not too hot, and we spent the morning exploring as much of the mall as we possibly could before the heat tired our feet and we had to stop for a break.

That’s us right there, posing in a line (uh huh with an audience) while Ollie captures us in the great balls of Rundle mall. Immortalising our reflections for all eternity.  He also found himself, embellished in bronze and turned into a swine.  Perfectly apt if you ask my opinion.  Yes, that’s right, the pig he’s standing with?  It’s name is Oliver.  Who could resist having their photo taken with it, while it’s searching for truffles and tragically, for a bronzed eternity, never being satisfied (yes that’s a rubbish bin, cute right?)  Still, if you can tell me which one is my husband, I’ll give you a dollar.  The resemblance is remarkable right?

Siobhan made friends with what I think is possibly the world’s biggest teddy bear ever, in another mall within the mall that was so beautifully decorated and full of interesting, but rather expensive everythings.

This, and I have dutifully forgotten the name of it, is one of the malls within a mall.  It just went on forever, both upstairs and down, and we didn’t get to see all of it I don’t think.  But riding the glass elevators is always fun for the kids, and waving from the very bottom floor is almost just as entertaining.

Afterwards, we virtually had to run to meet Nick, and Sharlene – a brother sister team of cousins at the food market where we had an extremely good lunch with them.  These two are so fun, I really enjoyed their company. Although, in traditional Ting style, they were later than we were, so the running was just a big waste of precious energy, of which, us poor unaccustomed to warm weather Cantabrians, had very little.  They both were on their lunch breaks, and kindly showed us to the Central Markets, where we spent another hour or so perusing the amazing variety of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, nuts..ohmygod just everything edible you can imagine, and where I could not go past any more stalls having found the cheapest – of course – without buying way too many bunches of grapes and cherries.

That guy? How pleased does he look that I’m buying his cherries? And then we went back to the chocolate shop, because you cannot be virtuous with fruit without indulging in chocolate too.  I tell you, the food was glorious, and the hour or so rest we had when we got home was full of decadant eating and deciding that, Adelaide was very much a city that I could most certainly see myself living in. Of course, any time we go anywhere that isn’t Christchurch – I love you Christchurch, I do, but please, your weather? So not cutie cutie – I say exactly the same thing.

The last thing we did, was took the tram to the end of it’s free line, where we sat trying to decide where and what we’d see if we just rode right to the end of the free section, and were overheard by this really helpful lady.  You know what? So many people say that Australians aren’t polite, and I totally beg to differ.  They were SO nice, and so willing to help and converse with complete strangers.  It was really, really lovely. Of course, we looked like overwhelmed tourists, which probably helped – or rather, made them feel sorry for us. One or the other.  We had intended to find our way to the river, much like Christchurch – did I mention that the same guy designed both Adelaide and Christchurch? I know! So interesting. I’d tell you his name, but Ryan is too busy killing aliens with Oliver, and I’d hate to disturb his concentration.  Anyway, we didn’t find the bridge, but we did find the coolest Aborignal Art Gallery.  It was so cool, and so beautifully decorated and like all art, so incredibly expensive, but we were impressed with our find.

That’s my serious photo face and my bag full of really cheap clothing finds! OMG! The things I got for like, less than $50 total? Bargains! Two tops and the coolest dress which rocks when worn over jeans. You’d think that would bring a smile to my face, but sometimes art deems it necessary for a moment of seriousness. You’ll see my dress later on in my tales. Yeah, I know, you’re dying to see it too, right? It’s coming!

Later that evening, we showered, and yes, had our photos taken.

That totally, is Aleeya getting her freak on, out on our balcony.  Yeah, she’s got it going on right?  Shh though, she will tell me off if she knows I’ve posted it. But honestly, you cannot have a post without an obligatory shot of Aleeya being Aleeya.  How awesome is she?  I know.

And then, you must also have proof you see, that Siobhan is as high maintanance as her mother;

I know, my face?  Priceless.  It’s because the mirror gave her another two inches. No, it’s true. *crickets chirp* Also, that’s one of the tops I bought.  It was like $15! I KNOW! Then, we were picked up by another cousin and his girlfriend and taken out to a Japanese restaurant for dinner.  This place, was to die for.  The food was utterly delicious. I’m sure they ordered every single thing on the menu. “What would you like?” Ken asks, and we stare blankly and go “um.  Aleeya likes sushi rolls, and we all eat anything.”  So, anything apparently means, everything and I had my first very pleasant experience with an assortment of raw fish.  I mean, raw salmon is quite delicious, but I’ve never been able to stomach the thought of raw other fish. But, I wasn’t going to sit around and not try things, so I did, and I have to admit, it was glorious. Unlike the rest of his family, Ollie refrains from taking photos of the food, which is unfortunate, because this meal was definitely photo worthy.

Later, they took us to an icecreamery called “Cold Rock”.  Ohmygod internet!  Firstly, the kid serving was so adorable, I wanted to take him home and raise him as my own.  I was so indecisive and he was so sweet.  What they do, is this – you choose from one of the biggest ranges of icecreams I’ve ever seen in my life, and then an even vaster range of sweet things that go in it, and they smash your icecream with anything you like until it’s all icecreamy biscuity M&My goodness and internet…it is so good that I almost wept with pleasure.  I don’t know where the photos are, I’m sure we had some, but wherever they are, I just couldn’t find them.

We got in at a rather respectable 12am I believe, and fell into bed full of sushi and icecream and wishing that we could keep Ken and E forever.