“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Australia!

I love Australia! The summers are warm, the people are friendly and speak with the right kind of accent. They have the right mentality of life. There is beach everywhere!

So, yes, it does feel a bit like America. And yes, it's flat most of the time. And while the wilderness (bush) is not quite as beautiful as NZ, it still is magnificent.

I wonder why the Australians haven't asked me about my accent. Are they less concious of foreigners? Or is it just that I really have picked up an Aussie accent?

I'm having a glorious time on this beautiful UNE Armidale campus. It reminds me a lot of Beloit, actually, except all the buildings were built in the 60s. It's as isolated and in a similar small town. Similar weather. The grounds are magnificent--all parkland! There's a deer park right in the middle, and as I was driving to dinner last night I bumped into a kangaroo. I know that sounds like the awe of a tourist, but it was still fantastic. He bounded away from the car before I could get a closeup picture. But damn... it was RIGHT on campus!

It's stimulating being in a learning environment (me learning) again. I find it great to hear about new ideas and theories. The University bookshop is cool too! I love thinking about all the things there are to find out about!

Am past half way and will head back on Friday to Brisbane, then to Bangkok on Sunday, hen Myanmar on Monday. I must be crazy to come so far for so short a time. But it's great--almost like a holiday, but yet work.

Photos to follow--I'm really behind. I have Myanmar at Xmas, NZ, and now OZ to do! Oops.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Back in Burma

I arrived back earlier last week to discover that every proxy and way into gmail has been banned due to some secret government move around. The number one is supposed to be dying in Singapore. There was supposed to be an explosion in a post office on Monday as well. All these are rumors!

It's good to be back. This time last year I had a bit of depression at being here and not in NZ. Instead, I'm going to be having an insane year--not a moment to take a breath! I'm not quite ready for small town NZ yet!

Am off to Oz next weekend, even if I don't know if I'm paying full fee or not! I refuse to stress about it (I've certainly got a lot of other stuff that can worry me instead!).

Anyway, have a great 2007!

P.S. Wedding was wonderful!!! One of the loveliest I think I've ever been to.

2 quotes from "The Sisters"

"Say not that the struggle naught availeth." - Arthur Hugh Clough (from a poem)

"One must never be deterred from what one wants for lack of money." - Nancy (Mitford) Rodd

The Sisters

I finished reading "The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family" before Christmas, about an amazing family of British women that hob-nobbed in European society mixing with Hitler, Churchill and other famous people of the era. Their poltical views were extremely strong and often in start contrast (Communist vs. Fascist). It's amazing to see such a family of extremes and of course, they knew all the right people for their views of the times.

A huge amount of the information came from letters they wrote to each other. It's amazing that they wrote so much about their political opinions in those days. So many of the quotes are completely unrelated to themselves. What a self-absorbed world and society we have become! Most people I know wouldn't have opinions on these kinds of things. Then again, we're not likely to have a world war anytime soon, either.

People did have an opinion about Iraq I suppose, and are very adamantly Democrat or in Sam's case, Republican, but how much does the average while write to her sister or mother about the state of the world, or Africa, or any country but their own?

Now that I think about it, the only person I write to with any political feelings are my parents, so perhaps it's not that unusual. Friends are usually beings for frivolity and fun rather than seriousness. They're more for the problems of now than concerns elsewhere.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

From NZ

Am online in New Zealand-- it's funny how internet becomes so much less of a priorty in Myanmar that it's taken me this long! It's wonderful being home, even if everyone I meet thinks I'm from somewhere else. The food is fantastic, family is good, and the wedding looks like it'll be a huge hit! The setting is glorious and thankfully the weather seems to be good (even though it's quite cold for me!)

Coming back is so strange. Everything is so familiar and laid back. Everyone is relaxed and normal. No extra makeup, just ordinary people. The fashion is still weird and way out, with lots of funky hair dyes.

It's been a whirlwind trip. Stayed a night with Aunty Gay. Spent New Years Day calling to find a rental agency open with a reasonably cheap car. Found one for $35 from an Asian guy who looked like he hadn't cut his lawns in months! But it runs okay so am happy. U. John has bought a place at Cooper's Beach, and everyone was up there so didn't really see many. It's supposed to be good, with two flats on the property, but there was a leak in the water tank so no one could stay for very long! Spent the afternoon with Nadine and her cute (tiny) baby Ruby. She is very well and happy and quite domestic. She isn't working and spends all day as a mum. Felt a bit odd to see her and hear her comments on motherhood--it is such a different world than mine!

On Tuesday, I drove down to Hamilton and had lunch with Lisa, which was really great, but the kids were not there, of course. Had dinner with U. Garry and spent the night there. Shane was very interested in Myanmar and is buzzing with ideas of his impending trip to Asia.

Drove down to New Plymouth yesterday. Stopped at Waitomo Caves for a look... VERY touristy, but pleasant. Arrived for the hen's party, was given a netball outfit for the theme of schoolgirls and met all sorts of strangers of all ages. There were drinks (far too many) and games, and then the only stripper in the New Plymouth phonebook came to give Hayley a lap dance! It was all quintessentially kiwi, even the humility of the stripper (a very surreal experience, as he had his mum along as his "minder", and the bridesmade was worried that he'd be someone that she knew--I mean, New Plymouth is really not that big). She got a box of kinky goodies including a blow up doll. Hayley threw up all the way to town and it was a Wednesday night, so not much was open. The only place open was a strip joint, which of course is the only one in town so of course had the stag do. Stuart, the groom, was also throwing up everywhere.

Got up today and went to visit friend and baby #2, Sami. Huge contrast. Though only 6 months old, Rowan (from Korea, with Moroccan husband Zu)'s baby was 12 pounds and absolutely enormous in comparison! He was a very happy baby, however, and as we wandered about town we discovered all the faults with shopping malls that don't have pushchair access and properly designed baby change facilities (it was very obvious that no planner had ever actually had to USE any of the areas).

The wedding is tomorrow in some gardens down the road. NZ has been having a bit of a bad summer, but the weather has been gorgeous the last couple of days and hopefully that'll continue tomorrow. The reception is here at Hayley's mum's house (which is a dream), overlooking the Tasman Sea with Mt. Taranaki peaking above the rolling hills behind Oakura. On Saturday I'll be driving back up... what a quick trip!

Happy New Year to all!