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Riding the Wild Tiger!

27 Feb

I write this post whilst on a plane to Bangkok. I’ll be there for only 12 hours. I’ll meet my friend Pop (we met at University in 2007) and tonight we’ll fly to Siem Reap in Cambodia together. Pop will spend a couple of days with me before flying back to Bangkok. Then I’ll take a bus to the capital Phnom Penh, then onto Ho Chi Min City in Vietnam, and I’ll continue to make my way up the country by bus and by train until I reach Hanoi in a couple of weeks. From there I’ll fly back to Bangkok and catch my onward flight to Perth, Australia.

Yes, AUSTRALIA!! I’m finally DOING IT!!

Anyone that knows me, has heard me bang on, and on, and on about my plans and dreams to go to Australia since I was about 18. That was 10 years ago.

And so after a few bumps in the road, I’ve finally swung my rucksack on my shoulder once more and I am riding the wild tiger, known as ‘Life’!

I have a one-year working holiday visa for Oz. My final destination is Brisbane. But first I’ll spend 2 weeks in South East Asia, then another month or so traveling from Perth, along Australia’s southern coast, to Brisbane. I’ll catch up with old friends in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney and I’ll make new ones along the way! I’m hiring a camper-van with my cousin and best friend (they’re coming down from Brisbane) to road-trip the Great Ocean Road, and I plan to fit in a skydive in my first month too, before finally arriving in Brisbane and catching up with family and friends. One cousin in particular I haven’t seen in 25 years – when he emigrated with his family when I was 3 years old. He now has a 4 year old son and a fiancé!

Words cannot explain how excited I am for what lies ahead of me! This has been my master plan for the past 10 years, everything I have done, all my choices and plans, have been geared towards Australia.

But that’s not to say it was easy leaving home. In fact it’s been bittersweet. If saying goodbye to my nephews, the loves of my life, and my parents, big sister, family and friends wasn’t hard enough, a very special fella walked into my life at the end of last year and knocked my plan out of kilter. In the best way possible of course 🙂

Nevertheless, here I am on the plane. Excited and nervous about what lies ahead for me in the coming year – and that is the absolute beauty of it!

So you can expect to hear a lot more from me, as I make new adventures over the next year.

As David Bowie once said: “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring!”

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Happy New Year!

6 Jan

I’ve been extremely quiet on the ol’ blogging front over the last 6 months. This is about to change, I promise.

As I begin to make new plans for 2014, I spent time reflecting on the many many great times, memorable experiences and personal achievements of 2013. And not one to miss a trick (read social media fad), I made a flipagram:

Flipagram: My Year in 2013

In summary, I saw in 2013 in Donegal, visited Berlin, London, Ibiza, Dublin, Orkney, Prague, Exeter. Went to 7 weddings and 3 hen weekends. Celebrated 3 engagements (and asked to be a bridesmaid at 2 of them!), 1 baby, two 18ths, three 30ths and a 60th. Went to a couple of gigs (Glasvegas, Stone Roses, Kings of Leon, Jake Bugg, Disclosure, Ocean Colour Scene, The View to name a few). First bungee jump, first snowboarding lesson, one year all clear, and lost 4 stones…

All in all, it was a very good year! No wonder I didn’t have time to blog!

What a difference a year makes.

27 Jun

Sunday past marked a year since I returned home from my stint teaching English in South Korea. Which in turn marked a year and a week since I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. It seems like a lifetime ago now. As huge a deal as it was at the time, remarkably it’s something that I rarely think about now. Of course I still have my moments when I think ‘what if?’ – but what good does that do? So I quickly shake myself out of that thought and get on with whatever I’m doing. 

Since I was diagnosed last June, underwent treatment in South Korea & Scotland and then given the all clear in September 2012, a lot has changed. I’ve split up with my then boyfriend, moved back with the parents, started working for Three in Glasgow, going out most weekends, started seeing a new guy, and planning trips here there and everywhere, basically going about my life just as I did before Korea…

I was down in London for a conference this week and as I sat on the tarmac at Heathrow last night, waiting for plane to head back to Glasgow, I spotted a Korean Air plane about to take off too. It got me thinking about what kind of people were on that plane? Was there anyone heading out to Korea to teach English for the first time – full of fear and excitement? And regardless of whether there was or there wasn’t, I was jealous. Jealous of that feeling of anticipation and anxiety in the pit of your stomach. Scared of what to expect when you step off the plane in a new country and excited about who you’ll meet and what you’ll discover. I miss that fear. It’s time to get planning my next big trip.

I’ve got Seoul but i’m not a soldier…

8 Dec

A few weekends ago I took my first trip to Seoul to meet my friend Ellen – a friend I met when I was at Uni in Dundee. Myself and my flatmate Rob, also a teacher at my school, took the KTX up to Seoul (stupidly we didn’t book in advance, so there were no seats were left when we went to buy our tickets at Dongdaegu station which meant we had to sit on the floor of the train for the 2 hours 40 minutes it took us to get to Seoul). Nonetheless, it was cheaper at 27,000 won (about £15) bargain!

Having tried my hardest, and succeeded, at trying and liking most Korean foods so far, when I arrived in Seoul, number one on my list was to get some ‘western’ food, i.e. burgers, steak pie, lasagne, nachos etc. You can get these types of food fairly easily in Daegu, but I try my hardest to resist them! So we went to an American style restaurant/ bar called Geckos in Itaewon (it could have been any Wetherspoons in the UK) and I had a cheeseburger and chips with ranch sauce – deeeelicious!

After that, Ellen suggested that we head over to the War Memorial Museum to see an exhibition called Bodyworlds by Gunther Von Hagen (that man who does autopsies live on the telly). The exhibition documented how the human body is created, grows and then deteriorates through the life-cycle – always fascinating to me, and I was happy to check off the ‘cultural bit’ on my list.

Outside the Korean War Memorial Museum

We then went to get a quick change at our hostel in Hongdae called Kimchi (Hongdae along with Itaewon are the two main party, shopping and foreigner areas in Seoul). It was a no thrills, cheap, clean and centrally located hostel that I would recommend to anyone – although the 4 storey climb to our room was a bit of an effort!

After a quick change, and buying some soju to keep us warm, we headed over to the Lantern Festival along the Cheonggyecheon stream. The festival attracts over 2 million people, and since it started in 2009, there is a different theme each year. This year the theme was ”Stories of Seoul’s Past through Lanterns” in which lanterns depicted the history of Seoul, and for the ‘children’ there was lanterns of famous superheroes. There was estimated to be over 20,000 lanterns! The photos below are Ellen’s because i’m still waiting on my camera to be posted down from Seoul…

Me and Ellen with lanterns on our heads

Some lanterns from the festival

After the lantern festival we headed over to Itaewon to meet some of Ellen’s mates in an American bar – lots more vodka, tequila, soju and beer followed – resulting in a rough morning after! So the next day was a bit of a write-off since I was super rough! I had my first taste of Vietnamese food in the shape of ‘pho’ – basically noodle soup. The plan on Sunday was to visit a pie shop to buy some good ol’ British pies, then do some shopping and maybe head over to the foreigners market to buy some Cadbury’s and bisto… but all I managed was a coffee and I bought some socks, scarfs and reindeer leg warmers – essential winter wear.

It was time to head home, we headed for the train station around 3pm only to find out the next available KTX was at 11pm! So we had no choice but to go back to Daegu on the slow train (4 hours) even better than that, there were no seats left, so we had to sit on the floor, next to the toilets along with around 15 other people – not one of my best travel experiences…

The moral of the story: book transport well in advance when going to Seoul!

Meet Baby Lyall!

9 Mar

I am offically the proud Auntie of my brand spanking new nephew, Lyall Calder. He arrived in the early hours of Saturday 19th February 2011, and not that I am in the least bit biased, but he is the cutest little mite I have ever seen!

I suppose I better get his nursery finished now!

My First Nursery

14 Feb

My niece/nephew is still not here – that’s it a week overcooked now!… But it’s just as well really – as i’m a bit behind with the nursery design!

After much consultation with my sister, we have agreed on a large tree and some toad stools. I like to think the tree symbolises growth and all things natural  – to my sister it’s just a tree. I should get it finished this week hopefully, in the meantime here’s a photo of the work in progress.

 

Nursery Tree