devouring one country at a time

I’ve had cabin fever for the past few days. I’m sure it’s as a result of the constant bed-work-dinner-bed-work routine I’ve had going on all week and last night I couldn’t hold it in any more.

I can’t say I’ve been up to anything exciting but I did go out to dinner both nights and had some amazing meals: Indian last night and Chinese tonight. Chinese for me is always a bit hit and miss but we managed to find a fantastic, authentic little place which on our side of town is incredibly rare and had the most delicious duck ever.

The combination of cabin fever and an empty stomach got me thinking about the best and worst meals I’ve had while travelling. Everywhere I’ve been had amazing meals and not so great ones, but lets face it I love my food and it’s my number 1 priority when I’m overseas (my waistline will agree!)

Of course, Asian countries will always take the cake, especially SE Asian cuisine! If you ask Boyfriend, the ultimate Japanlover, he will say the land of the rising sun has no competition, but for me it’s all about chilli and fresh flavours and amazing street food. Excepting the time in Vietnam when I accidentally ate dog…

I was geared up for delicious Middle Eastern flavours when I headed to Dubai: shwarmas and meats and pork-free bacon. It didn’t really deliver. A lot of the food was dry and a bit tasteless, but who knows, maybe it was dumbed down for a bunch of westerners. In terms of bacon, I expected good old-fashioned turkey-bacon, but it was veal-bacon that was served. Interesting…

Seafood, seafood, seafood! As a lobster fiend, Fijireally is my paradise. I was once served a lobster-themed meal: lobster bisque to start, lobster with garlic butter for main course and lobster-shaped cake for dessert!

Yes, France screws with my body clock (sweets for breakfast, heavy food for lunch, ploughman’s dinner, cheese for dessert). But the flavours! And I really have no idea why “French women don’t get fat” because I sure as hell did!

Italy  was okay. I’m sure I’ll be reprimanded a lot for tis, but nothing particularly blew my mind here…

…But Croatia was a different story! Fantastic fish dishes, cured meats and the best gelati I’ve ever tasted (better than Italy, no joke).

And I could keep going on and on, but that might take precious time away from eating my way around the world!

how i knew

I sat in the Beach Bar at Byron last weekend, taking it all in. The rugby was on and All Blacks were playing Ireland. Boyfriend is a Kiwi and thus a mad All Blacks man and I’ll admit it makes for tense World Cups.

For some reason though I wanted them to win. Even though I’m of Irish heritage (who isn’t these days?). Even though my favourite color is green. Even though Kiwi pride bloody annoys me!

I realised it’s because I’m so in love with Boyfriend. It’s puke-worthy. It’s gross. It’s “Un-Austrayan”. But he’s so cute when his team wins and it’s the best feeling in the world to see him so happy.

So go All Blacks! (until the next World Cup anyway)

kicking goals

On the 23rdJune 2011 (exactly a year ago tomorrow) I sat down with my manager at the time and penned some goals I hoped to achieve. Today I found these while clearing out my computer and I was a bit surprised to see how things have changed.

Sure, there were some I definitely didn’t achieve, and there were some that I’m not even heading towards anymore because my priorities have changed. But what surprised me was the legitimate shock I felt when I looked at the ones I had achieved. Admittedly, I missed the deadline on some of them, but I have achieved them all the same – it just took a bit longer than expected. But some of them I made with eight months to spare!

I have been struggling a lot lately with a feeling of not being good enough or never being able to do enough or compare to everyone else. Logically, I see that this is really a complete load of BS but the mind isn’t always 100% rational.

Looking back on this time last year I can finally see just what I have managed to achieve. I’ve started a life with the person I love (which I think is the most important of all), I’ve forged a career and been promoted, I’ve seen some amazing parts of the world, I managed to buy a new car, I’ve dealt with some really tough times and come through the other side much stronger and wiser, and I’ve met new people and made new friends who make my life so much richer.

You have good days and bad days, good months and bad months, good years and bad years. What I think I’m finally starting to learn is it all comes out in the wash…

And “I get by with a little help from my friends”!

freakin’ hippies

It’s time for a getaway a bit closer to home.

This afternoon I’m heading to the sunny Byron Bay with Boyfriend and four awesome girls who I didn’t even know six months ago, but who I’m growing to love.

It’s “Team Trip” time, where we pool the funds together for an office getaway where we can get to know each other, bond, hopefully have a few too many drinks and explore somewhere new.

I wasn’t sure about Byron at first. I don’t subscribe to the hippy lifestyle and, although I hate to be judgmental, all that came to mind at first was tie-dye, dreadlocks, vegan menus and stoners… oh and people who reek of patchouli. BUT I’m expecting this place to prove me very, very wrong and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for me.

Apparently, Byron is in the caldera of an ancient volcano which of course excites me a lot and will not excite anyone else on this trip, guaranteed. No matter, I accept myself as the nerd that I am and will get my happy juices flowing by reading this while everyone else “smashes tins” on the plane.

And back to hippies.

I am all about rules, I think we need “The Man/The Establishment” and I don’t know how I feel about randomly hooking up with all sorts of people: I’m not really a “Free Love” subscriber because I think you need to work hard for that! But I will concede that  it’s nice to love one another and just be free from judgment and negativity and that’s what I really need this weekend. So Hooray For Byron!

…Somehow though, I don’t think a trip to Nimbin is on the cards!

“Peace Out”.

an "inspirasianal" escape

The time has come to make a decision on what to do with my annual leave in August. We were originally planning on spending some time in China and Hong Kong (both places Boyfriend has been to but I haven’t) yet for some reason, as much as I knew it would be a great trip, it just wasn’t exciting me as much as it should have been.
Now, we have decided to cut back on the budget as we’ve had some big expenses this year and we would like to start planning for the future a bit more (we know there will be more massive expenses to come!) so back to the drawing board we went.
Working in my industry has some advantages and disadvantages. It’s great because I have so many options and resources at my fingertips, but it’s hard because the last thing I want to do when I get home is plan a holiday. Work kind of sucks the fun out of that! On top of this, after the last 12 months I’m not sure I can even be bothered getting on a plane… but the important thing is to spend time with Boyfirend, explore the world together, grow as people and create new memories. So that’s what we’re going to do.
It seems we’ve settled on Cambodia. No matter how many times I visit South East Asia, it seems I cannot escape it’s pull. It’s toxic – in the nicest possible way but, in some cities, the literal way too. The way affluent Western influence merges with centuries-old Eastern traditions and beliefs never fails to enthral me. The happy-go-lucky attitude of its people and the way no question is off-limits makes me feel so alive and complete.
I will never forget as an 18-year-old who had never been overseas walking in to Ben Tanh markets in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City so unprepared for everything I would experience over the next two weeks. Not least my first full conversation with a Vietnamese person: she simply grabbed my boobs with both hands and asked, “why so big?!” I really had no answers to give her.
A lot has changed in six years. I’ve grown up a lot and had a lot of experiences, both at home and abroad. I feel I understand people better and I understand cultures, religions and ideas better than when I was 18. I embrace differences and I like to make the best of them.
I’m looking forward to getting away again; to spending time with Boyfriend and experiencing new and exciting things with him, and also to learning about myself some more. I think that really is the most important thing in life because if you don’t know yourself, who do you know?