I can’t deny it anymore. The leaves have been falling for months, but today’s chilly morning has finally forced me to accept the inevitable: It will soon be winter. After avoiding a cold climate for nearly a year and half now, my chase of summer has come to a halt.
While Perth’s winters are hardly up to the standards of my friends from the far north or far south, any temperatures below 70°F (21°C) are not suitable for my own preference.
I haven’t been good about the upkeep my blog, but I’m not going to apologize. I’m not going to promise to do better. I’m not even going to pretend like I’m going to make an effort, because I don’t like to lie. Even to you, web world. Ideally, yes, I would like to update more, but sometimes that crazy thing called life just gets in the way.
I could talk about not being a tourist or a traveler anymore and tell you how I feel like a local in one spot again. I’ve written so many fragmented thoughts down on the exact subject. I could tell you that I was approached today by, not one, but two different people on my walk to work who needed my assistance with directions. Apparently being dressed up in a hospitality wardrobe and purple sneakers gives the impression that one is both helpful and not a murderer. I could discuss my two weeks spent back in Cambodia leading a high school trip with Loop Abroad and how much I loved being back in Asia. I could even give a lengthly lament on how much I have begun to miss America.
But I wont.
All I want to talk about today is how much I despise the cold and think that this seasonal change is bullshit.
I’ve long passed the two month mark here in Australia. The three month mark is actually in just a couple weeks. Ironically enough, the day I celebrate three entire months spent in Perth (the longest amount to date) is just a couple days prior to me leaving the country. Not for good - only for two weeks. Exciting details on this front to follow on a later date!
The first month of 2013 has passed by in what seemed like a blink of an eye, but it was indeed a delicious one. If each of the twelve months ends up as surprisingly glorious as January has, then I’m in for a treat. It seems like it will be a golden year for me indeed!
The past thirty-one days have included New Years in Windy Harbor, a Pimms Party birthday shindig to remember, celebrating my 24th on the 24th at the beach, my first “Straya Day” and holding down my first semi-permanent paying job in nearly a year. And let me tell you, it feels beyond fantastic to be receiving a paycheck again.
Speaking of money, my financial freedom resolution is going extremely well - looks like it should be a great success in 2013. Unfortunately, my fitness goals have fallen by the wayside in the meantime. Perhaps February will bring some wisdom on managing my time better to include work, play and exercise.
I similarly failed miserably at the whole 52 Photos Project, so instead how about one photograph to represent each month? The one above was taken from my balcony in West Perth and it symbolizes the beautiful sunsets that I am fortunate to witness every night.
Life in Western Australia has picked up, and I am finally feeling completely positive about being here. Luckily, I still have future adventures to look forward to! Exciting prospects are on the horizon that mean I will hopefully continue to chase summer during June and July. One thing I’ve learned in the last eleven months of traveling: I’m a hot weather girl through and through!
I discovered a new favorite holiday. Australia Day is like the Fourth of July mixed with Memorial Day Weekend and an Australian Sunday Session. It’s sunny, it’s fun, it’s messy. And that’s exactly how it should be.
Threw on the zinc and the Bonds chesty, ate a few lamingtons and watched fireworks celebrating my current country of residence’s national holiday.
Source: Flickr / tom1231
I would like to get into the groove of writing more often, but I feel that my life is a lot less exciting now than the last ten months or so have been. We are halfway through my birthday month (with less than two weeks to go until the day) and I can’t believe how long I’ve been in Perth already.
Australia is still extremely expensive to me and I can’t help but groan and make unfair comparisons to Thailand prices when I see the costs here, but….. I HAVE A JOB NOW, so things are picking up and soon enough I won’t think two dollars for a lime is ridiculous. Hopefully…
Finally having work in my schedule is a huge relief on my wallet and also helpful in fulfilling my time here. It feels good to wake up with a purpose, even if that is making burritos.
My brain and body are still not used to the fact that it is January and summer. If I can manage to lay out on the beach on my birthday that would certainly be a first!
All in all, I’m slowly beginning to acclimate to living here and I’m looking forward to that continuing.
XIII Resolutions for MMXIII
As I’m slowly encroaching into the mid-twenties category (January 24th marks my golden birthday - take note!), there are bits of me that actually feel like a grown-up. Only small chunks though, so don’t worry too much; I’m trying not to.
From what I hear/read/observe, real grown-ups have tangible new year’s resolutions laid out and ready to be tackled. Here’s my attempt:
In 2013, I resolve to…
- Become financially independent. This is number one for a reason, as I (along with my parents I’m sure) really would like to be on my own when it comes to money. Getting a job here in Australia is step one. I want to pay off my debts and stop asking other people to pay for my flights.
- Continue exploring the world. Just because I want to stop asking for help paying for my flights, doesn’t mean I want to cut down the number of them. I would love to add at the very least one new country to my list. I’m thinking that may realistically be New Zealand, Malaysia or Vietnam.
- Lessen expectations to better experiences. This may sound pessimistic to some, but I find that I am happiest when pleasantly surprised. The best things for me this past year have been planned on a whim or not at all. I think I’m okay with going with the flow, but I want to be more spontaneous in my planning (or lack of) and also not work anything too much in my head prior to actually experiencing it - whether it be a film, activity or country.
- Read more. I’ve managed to actually complete a few books this year, and I have somewhat rediscovered my pre-teenage love of reading.
- Send more handwritten letters. I did a good job of this last year, and I need to continue this and stop being so cheap, despite the $1.60 postage fee per letter to anywhere outside of Australia.
- Learn a party trick. I’ve managed to memorize a couple good jokes that consistently get a laugh, but I want to extend my party tricks to something like palm reading. I’ll need to practice on somebody though, any takers?
- Continue exercising with excitement and eating consciously. The key here for me is realistic goals. I’m thinking three runs in Kings Park a week.
- Be a better responder. I find that I get so bogged down by emails, messages and comments that I end up not responding to any of them. Email is the real kicker here - I’m thinking I should establish some kind of one touch method.
- Stop feeling intimidated, inadequate and inferior. Despite the fact that I feel quite confident in my decisions, I’ve heard more than a few times in the last year that I can be very self-deprecating. I plan to work on both what I say that would make people think this as well as the insecure thoughts that are apparently manifesting themselves deep down in my head.
- Complete a 52 Photos Project. This means posting one photo a week that represents something I’ve done or experienced. It’ll give me some incentive to post my own pictures on this blog.
- Learn how to cook. For real. I’ve dabbled in 2012, but I need to perfect three meals (eggs don’t count) that I can easily and happily make for friends, family or whoever.
- Take risks. In 2012, I moved away from home, changed travel plans based off of an airport encounter, lived abroad and participated in many activities that may not have seemed like the smartest idea at the time. I want to continue making stupid decisions that seem silly to an outsider, because those are the things that you look back on with a huge smile and no regrets.
- Keep loving life. I don’t want to become complacent in Perth, since I won’t be moving around as much as the previous months. It is all too easy to fall into a routine, but I know that doesn’t make me happy in the long term. This year I will keep things interesting in whatever way necessary.
It’s been bitchin’, twenty twelve.
Moved away from home
Found happiness in Thailand
Packed and left for Perth
That’s it - simple update for today and lots more to come. All you need to know is that I saw the last sunset of 2012 and the first sunrise of 2013. And for that, I feel fortunate and happy.
Well it is Christmas Eve here in Australia and I have already been down under for a few weeks now. Things have picked up, especially in the last few days when my early Christmas present (read: boyfriend) came home days before expected and surprised me.
I’ve finally gone for a couple runs in Kings Park and gotten back into the swing of things in that way. Spent the early part of today doing some baking and wrapping and I am now looking forward to a very hot Christmas (96°F/26°C) tomorrow at the beach.
That being said, I’m sad to be spending this holiday away from home - both the Californian and Thai ones. For my friends and family all over the world: I hope you have the merriest of days today and tomorrow. Lots of love to all of you!
It has officially been a week since I’ve lived in Australia. I had to hold myself back on including “quotations” around lived, but it’s the truth. This time I’m here on a working visa and all of my stuff is here and (despite a burning desire to go head to Chiang Mai) there’s no prospect of leaving for a while. With seven days in Perth, I feel like I’ve accomplished a handful of things. This last week I…
- Began a job hunt that included fixing up my CV and filling out countless cover letters telling my potential future employers why I seriously rock.
- Set up a local bank account, reactivated my Aussie phone (helloooo Whatsapp!) and obtained an Australian tax ID number. I’m basically a native now.
- Got reacquainted with the free public transport system here in Perth. Despite a few annoyances, the CAT bus system is actually pretty awesome.
- Took a roadtrip down south to spend the weekend at a friend’s parents’ home. They went surfing and I got very existential.
- Made the decision to give surfing another try. The actual attempt hasn’t happened yet, but I now have put my goal to text (and shared it with the world, aka you) so it must happen. I figure it’s been well over ten years since the last attempt, why not give it another go?
- Caught up with a friend that I met in the KL airport back in May (who convinced me on the spot to join her and teach English in Cambodia!). I love that she lives in Perth and we have been reunited!
- Attempted to get into the holiday spirit.
- Devoured some “cheap” and delicious sushi in the CBD. This is something I’ve been looking forward to doing since I was here last. “Cheap” is definitely relative, but delicious is not.
- Reassessed the lack of coffee in my life and grew to appreciate the merits of the Nespresso machine once again.
- Nearly fainted at the prices for everything here. You can get a Cornetto ice cream from 7-Eleven in Thailand for 23 baht (71 Australian cents) and the same exact ice cream costs $3.50 here. I wanted to cry.
- Thought about running in Kings Park, but rejected the idea for now. If we’re being honest in this forum, I think that my outdoor “me” time in the park may actually allow Perth to grown on me, and right now I’m still in mourning for my Thai life. It’s not right to move on that fast. It just ain’t right!
- Dealt with some extreme reverse culture shock - but more on this later.
All in all, it’s been a fairly uneventful, get-down-to-business kind of week, but Perth isn’t a new place for me and Australia isn’t an unknown county. I hope that at some point I am able to maneuver around the city with as much ease as I could Chiang Mai, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. And I certainly cannot adapt all the way in a week.
Hey - at least I finally got my cider!
As I sit listening to the crash of the waves, I can feel myself loosening the restraints of rejection and hesitation toward this new life of mine. The people are certainly different, but it is almost as if my friends and acquaintances here are mirrored characters of those in Chiang Mai. They do not serve as replacements, for nothing can or will replace those kind-faced individuals that represent home to me, but they are a kind a substitute for the time being. With this I do not mean to undermine the importance of my company here in Perth, as they have and soon will again locate an anchored position in my heart. It is just a new life and new changes that I must accept and welcome.
As I sit in the middle of Kuala Lumpur’s airport, I’m watching the many different shades of faces walking past me. I’m halfway through my eleven-hour layover and realizing in this moment that these are my final hours in Asia. For a while…
The differences between the people in this Malaysian airport and those individuals in Thailand are vast and that’s understandable, but I can’t help but feel a longing pain in my heart for those I’ve left behind in Chiang Mai. Not just the people, but the places, the culture and the memories.
The last few months working at Spicythai have made me the happiest that I can ever remember feeling. I know that I’ll be back soon enough, but I can’t help but worry that nothing will ever live up to the amazing experiences that I was able to take part in there. The last week of November was filled with activities and events celebrating Loi Krathong - an annual festival celebrated in Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai. The celebrations have a few different meanings, but the one that I’ve adopted as my most important is that of letting go. Just like the Thai people let go of the fire balloons into the sky and the river lanterns into the water, I am letting go of this phase of my life.
Onwards and upwards to the land of Australia once again. It’s time to find a stable paycheck and become responsible for my actions, behavior and financial well-being.
I guess it’s time to become an adult? Nah. If I’ve learned anything working at a hostel and constantly meeting new characters, it’s that age doesn’t mean anything and just because I’m turning 24 next month doesn’t mean that I have to start to settle. I just have to figure out what I want!
To take from my earlier Facebook status:
Currently en route to Australia on my very long layover in KL… Beyond sad to say goodbye to my favorite city in the world, but so thankful for those who have made the last six months in Chiang Mai my happiest. To everyone involved with Loop Abroad, my fellow travelers and backpackers that I have met along the way and, most of all, my Spicy family: I love you beyond what words can describe. Some of you I know I will see again soon, but I hope that all our of paths cross at some point in the future. Thank you for making my time in Northern Thailand so unbelievably special.
Also thank you to any of you following along with my adventures. I hope that someday you have experiences just as meaningful to you!
A constant challenge recently has been justifying my lifestyle choice to my friends and family. It is all too simple to see my life in Thailand (and soon-to-be Australia) as the easy way out. No, I didn’t want to get a job in the United States. No, I don’t hate America. No, I am not being lazy. The real fact of the matter is that I have lived in one country for over two decades and with so many other countries out there, I feel like it is my time to explore alternative options.
I believe Bart Schaneman explains it best:
To those people I would say there are a thousand ways to live and the only life you should live is the one that makes you the best possible version of yourself.
Much of my time here in Thailand, and specifically Chiang Mai, has made me the best possible version of myself. I wake up happy and so pleased to be where I am every day.
Although I cannot admit to being completely committed all of the time, I agree with what Bart writes about making living abroad possible.
I thrive on living abroad. The travel. The challenge. The people I meet. I love it all. In order to have a good life as an expat you have to commit to it. I’ve seen a lot of people come overseas and not give themselves all the way, pining for their home country — for its food, its government, its pedestrian customs — and they live a kind of half life. Not here but not there, either. It’s the ones who stop wishing for home who make their lives work abroad.
I suppose the point of this is to tell you all that the world is indeed your oyster. You alone can make the decision to do what, think what or move where will make you the best possible version of yourself.
Apologies and Promises
It has been an embarrassing amount of time since I have last updated. It has now been well over seven months since leaving “home” and exactly five months of South East Asia.
Finally, I feel like a local. I have a neighborhood crepe lady who knows me by name. Last week I went for a run and literally ran into two unrelated Thai friends on the way. I’ve got a good amount of Thai numbers in my phone. I have tried (and tried again) all of the restaurants that I previously wanted to. I can get around by foot, motorbike, songthaew or took took alone and without a hitch. I feel more comfortable here than I do in Los Angeles, Perth or even Fresno some days. Chiang Mai is home.
On the other end of things, I have realized the down side to working at a hostel: the goodbyes. I have now had a real visitor and I’ve also met some great friends who have stayed with me for a while. To each, I have had to say an extremely sad (and hopefully only temporary) goodbye. I’m normally on the other end of those - I am usually the one leaving. Going on my next adventure to explore some new corner of the world. Being the (momentarily) stationary one is not a feeling that I enjoy.
With all of that said, I am approaching the beginning of my final full month in Asia… for now. Dates are tentative, but I’m looking at heading back to the Land Down Under the first week of December! You better believe that I’ll be keeping you posted.
Today marks exactly five months since I left the comforts of home. It was then that I gathered my (big hunk of) belongings and got in the car to drive far away from Fresno, California. The next day I climbed up the metal stairs to the airplane that would take me across the Pacific Ocean to the hemisphere that I now call home. The east is where I plan to stay - for at least a while.
Five months ago I left the United States to forge my post-grad life in a different direction and Australia was the first stop. Hardly unfamiliar, Perth quickly became home. It opened its wide arms and welcomed me into the world of sunshine, Sunday sessions and, unfortunately, $10 beers. Two and a half months and a much lighter wallet later, it was time to move on. Finally, I would return to Thailand - the place where I vowed I would return to for years. It was hard at first, but things got easier as such things do.
That’s where I last left off. After only the first two weeks in Bangkok - which is now two months in the past. Looking at the date, I’m beyond awestruck that it is already August and, in fact, over a year since I graduated from UCLA. It seems as if my entire life is a messy web of geographic connections and expanses of time - I visualize it as maps layered in calendars with days ticked off, either awaiting my next trip or checking the one at hand.
So, what’s happened in the last two months? I’ve…
- Taught English to some amazing 3 to 18-year olds in a very small village outside of Phnom Penh (including a handful of monks)
- Explored Cambodia’s capital city and the many bars and clubs that it has to offer
- Visited the spectacular Temples of Ankor in Siem Reap
- Chilled out on the beach in Sihanouk Ville
- Purchased more pairs of “hippie pants” than I care to admit
- Crossed from Cambodia to Thailand via an overland border crossing
- Hung out for a couple more weeks in Bangkok
- Worked as a teacher/counselor at an amazing camp in northern Thailand geared toward American teenagers (check out Loop Abroad’s blog!)
- Made a lot of extra-large friends after a week at Chiang Mai’s Elephant Nature Park
- Got situated into life as an expat in Chiang Mai
That’s all I’ve got. At least for now.