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Expensive Australia October 8, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Australia, Observations, Travel Diary.

Whenever I return to Australia from overseas or look at travelling in Australia, it strikes me just how expensive this country is. One good example is walking tours.

Chris and I are going to Melbourne in December* and I wanted to do a walking tour of the art and grafitti of Melbourne- it is $55 per person for three hours, and that is the cheap tour. Some of the others are up to $95. I couldn’t believe how this differs from the walking tours we have taken overseas. That is the great thing about walking tours- the overheads are low so they are usually affordable. But not in Australia apparently. See the list below for a comparison

Berlin €12=$18 AUD and this walk was more than seven hours long! The tours are all conducted by people who have degrees in German history.

London £6 = $14.00 AUD

New York $15 US = $16 AUD

At least two of these cities also run free walks- why is it so expensive here?

*ok the one thing that is not expensive about this trip is the flights. We are going with Tiger for $40 each return including taxes!


A year ago … June 30, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Personal, Travel Diary.
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It is one year today since we left to go on our six month journey around the world.

In some ways I feel really sad that it is over because it is unlikely that I will be able to do something on that scale again. It was without a doubt one of the best experiences of my life. And the other best experiences involve travel as well. It is my obsession.

I find it hard to look back on travelling in some ways because it is such a highlight that it feels like nothing will ever be as good as that and everyday life can seem very ho-hum. It is like I have reached the peak and am now on the inexorable slide.

But before you think I am completely maudlin, I have been thinking about what we have achieved in the last year and that is quite satisfying. Of course there was the trip but as well as that, we have moved back to Brisbane and settled in, I have finally finished my studies and am now doing some work that I have wanted to do for a long time. And we have bought a flat- that is something Chris has wanted for ages. I think that when you add all that up, we haven’t done too badly in twelve months. 

Living Overseas February 6, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Media, Travel Diary.
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I am listening to “Australia Talks” on Radio National and they are talking about Australians who live overseas, why they do and what are the consequences.

This is something that occupies my thoughts quite often. Someone said to me once that the trouble with living overseas is that you are forever torn between two places. I have found this to be very true.

There is always a longing in me to move overseas again. There is nothing quite like it for living an exciting life. The challenges are huge but it means that life is rarely boring.

I would love for Chris and I to have a number of stints overseas throughout our lives. Even if it is just for a couple of years, I think you learn so much that it is well worth it.

Wide brown land continued … January 20, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Personal, Travel Diary.
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On a slightly lighter note, the drive from Brisbane to Canberra has been an interesting contrast to the other travel Chris and I have done in the last six months.

The vast emptiness of Australia was what stood out to me today. We came down the Newell highway via Goondiwindi and Dubbo and there are times when you are looking at spaces that go on as far as you can see without much of anything. This is so different to the places in Europe and Asia where we spent most of our time overseas. In those places you can’t go more than about half an hour without seeing something that reminds of the humans about the place. Utah is probably the one place we went that had these great spaces. I would love to see Mongolia for the same reason.

I love these long drives through the Australian landscape. Quite a few people expressed surprise when I said we were driving to Canberra not flying, but this is something that my parents have done all my life and we all enjoy it. There is something amazing about driving all day. It can be quite meditative but can also be the time when you have the best conversations.

The most enjoyable holidays Chris and I have had together are those where we have just driven and driven. Our best effort was when we drove 8500 kilometres in two weeks and went to Broken Hill, Coober Pedy, Uluru, Kings Canyon and then back to Sydney via Mildura, Melbourne and Lakes Entrance. Our drive through Utah and Arizona was a highlight of our most recent travels.

I know to a lot of you this sounds like torture but it is almost something that I have to do every now and again. It feels like freedom.

Don’t be following us! January 1, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary.
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It has happened again. Disaster follows us.

This time I am referring to the New Years Eve bombings in Bangkok. Chris and I were of course supposed to stay in Asia until January 3 and were planning on having New Years in Bangkok. One of the bombings was right near where we were staying and another one in the shopping strip where we went many times.

Of course last time we were in Asia, we left Phi Phi island just before the tsunami. And on this trip a typhoon hit southern Vietnam after we were there and there was flooding in Hoian the day after we left. As well as that, when we went to Uluru a few years ago, the campsite where we were staying was evacuated because of bushfires a couple of days after we left.


Re-entry successful December 30, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary.
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After 179 days, 17 countries, 70 different beds, 26 train trips, 25 bus rides, 13 flights and 12 boats*, we are back in Australia.

We surprised the families by arriving in Brisbane on Boxing Day rather than 3 January as we had told them.

By the last couple of weeks,  we couldn’t wait to get back as patience thinned and money grew tight. Now we are back it is all a bit daunting as we try to find jobs and somewhere to live.

We spent the last week or so in Thailand. We were going to spend a lot of that time on Ko Samet but the accommodation was very expensive so we went back to Bangkok and just hung around there. On Christmas Eve, we splurged a little and went to stay in the Davis Hotel which was very nice after all those hostel rooms.

So now we will look forward to catching up with you all at some point in Brisbane or Sydney or whereever!

*These are only the major trips, not running around cities.

Weather woes December 12, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary.
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After a pretty good run of weather for most of this trip, the last couple of weeks have been a shocker.

We have hardly seen blue sky since we have been in Vietnam. We had rain in Hoian and Hue, cloud in Hanoi, fog in Halong Bay and now here in Sapa, we are completely enveloped in mist. There is also another typhoon headed our way. Sapa is very cold and we don’t really have the clothes for it. It is all a bit depressing.

The most disappointing has been Ha Long bay as I have wanted to go there for a long time. The fog was so bad we could hardly see the islands at times. It was too cold to swim and the company on our tour was woeful so it made three days go pretty slowly.

We arrived in Sapa this morning and despite the weather it is very interesting. It is up in the mountains and is quite a small town with apparently amazing views if we could see them. There are many people from different ethnic minorities living here so the clothing is quite colourful and diverse.

We are here until Thursday night so hopefully it is going to clear up.

Wat’s on first November 17, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary.
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So here we are only with now only a three hour time difference from Australia.

We arrived in Thailand on Tuesday afternoon from London.

Our last few days in London were spent doing touristy stuff. We went to portobello Road markets on saturday, had lunch with Fil and El and Siobhan at Brick Lane on Sunday, went on the slides at the Tate Modern, had high tea and all of that guff.

We have been in Bangkok since we arrived and have mostly shopped for Chris because everything is waaay too small for me but perfect for Chris. Of course it is hot, hot, hot so we have had to get used to that again.

Tomorrow we head for Trat and then either Ko Chang or Cambodia.

High street couture November 12, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Fashion, Travel Diary.
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It was a big few days on the British high streets this week with two major designers releasing collections in Gap and H&M.

Tuesday saw Gap’s collection by Roland Mouret who designed the Galaxy dress that was seen everywhere in the last twelve months. The Gap range consisted of cute voluminous dresses with pintucks, pleats and the like. I broke my resolution not to go into Gap stores just to have a look. I didn’t buy anything though!

On Thursday we were on the spot to see the collection by Dutch designers Viktor and Rolf go on sale at H&M. The stores opened at 9.00 am and we were there at 9.15. By that time, a lot of the racks were empty and there were about 50 women grabbing at whatever was left and going to the counters with armloads of clothes. I didn’t like this collection as much but it was interesting to be on the spot for the feeding frenzy.

Having designers work with high street labels is becoming a regular thing here but I don’t know that we will see it in Australia because we just don’t have the big high street labels like Topshop, Zara, H&M etc so the market is not as competitive.

Humour on the edge November 11, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary.
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We have had a funny week this week. Yes funny ha ha.

I don’t think that you often see entertainment that really makes you laugh but this week has not been bad.

On Tuesday night we went to see Borat with Fil and El in Oxford. Although a lot of the laughs were tinged with a cringe it was very funny. Then on Thursday night we went to see “The Producers” in the West End.

The thing that both of these had in common was that they played with humour that could be risky. Borat has something in it to offend everyone and if the racist or sexist jokes don’t get you, then the naked wrestling scene is sure to do it.

The Producers is of course about the production of “Springtime for Hitler” the musical. Along with the obvious in the title, there is the “make it gay, make it gay, make it gay” twist. I don’t think I have seen Chris laugh so much in a long time.

so that’s that.