Things this trip taught me

A souvenir shop's garden
A souvenir shop’s garden
  • If I pack three pairs of ‘pants’ (one skirt, two pairs of shorts) – then I need the same proportion of tonal knickers (cause I’m like that!).  I didn’t have enough light toned knickers, but Uni Qlo to the rescue…
  • Synthetic pockets in my white shorts – need replacing stat!
Inside the moss garden
Inside the moss garden
  • I had the least luggage, but could have wedged in a few more light/thin t shirts of similar – not that I owned something I ‘should’ have packed
  • I’m incredibly well travelled, and actively seeking to learn and work things out. I did NOT like my discovery being short cut by a friendly helper I’m travelling with, but I love to teach when people are interested (like teaching Japanese characters to the girls)
Moss garden
Moss garden
  • I love to write – I wrote daily emails, AND a handwritten journal, which I bought some great scrap booking stickers for in Kyoto – mighty proud!
  • I’m not the most obsessed about wifi or internet! At least in this group of 12!
Gift shop after moss garden
Gift shop after moss garden
  • Handbags really are the best way for me to day trip – easy to get tickets out repeatedly, small and therefore light, and had a light bag in there for ‘shopping’.  Someone pointed out it was getting rain in it, but seriously, it didn’t, and no zip didn’t worry me in Japan!
  • Runners are way more supportive than $4 canvas slip on runners.
Bamboo
Bamboo
  • The smell of cigarette smoke is pervasive, and smoking is still quite acceptable in Japan (with smoking rooms quite common).  Three nights in a formerly smoking room was a little unpleasant :s
IN THE BAMBOO FORSET
IN THE BAMBOO FOREST
  • You are automatically charged for plastic bags at grocery stores, but at convenience and all other stores, it’s the default way to show you paid for something.  If you mime you don’t want a bag, plastic branded tape is placed over all items’ barcodes!

 

As soon as I hit publish, I’ll think of more things! But that’s ok, blogs are living, I can update it 😉

What did you learn from your last trip?

A selfie a day

I’ve often travelled alone. I’ve often not taken any photos of myself. With the BF back home, and this echo of friends in the past, I implemented a policy of ‘a selfie a day’. In reality, some days there are a few selfies, and other days there are none. But you get the picture:

At sumo tournament. Incidently, I found out after the fact that my cousin was also there!
At sumo tournament. Incidently, I found out after the fact that my cousin was also there!
Floating temple in Kyoto
Floating temple in Kyoto
Ferry ride near Hiroshima
Ferry ride near Hiroshima
Me with the O-Torii gate
Me with the O-Torii gate
That's hot work, but shaved ice will fix it!
That’s hot work, but shaved ice will fix it!
Maple flavoured maple leaf shaped cakes. My guide didn't believe I saw them in the station, but I won that one!
Maple flavoured maple leaf shaped cakes. My guide didn’t believe I saw them in the station, but I won that one!
Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle
Me in a kimono in Suita City
Me in a kimono in Suita City
Golden Temple in Kyoto
Golden Temple in Kyoto
Modelling my provided clothing for our Japanese baquet
Modelling my provided clothing for our Japanese baquet
Me with the Maiko (apprentice Geisha)
Me with the Maiko (apprentice Geisha)
Hello kitty - at the sulphur hills near Mt Fuji
Hello kitty – at the sulphur hills near Mt Fuji
Moss garden in Kyoto
Moss garden in Kyoto
One of many Shinkasen rides!
One of many Shinkasen rides!

Do you have a favourite?

Japan’s differences in dot points

There’ll be many a post on my two weeks in Japan, but I thought I would start with the big difference I noticed and didn’t expect (like, obviously the language and alphabet is different!)

Lining up just so - no one had to tell them on the loudspeaker, like here in Sydney
Lining up just so – no one had to tell them on the loudspeaker, like here in Sydney
  • They are SO tidy – even though there aren’t many bins, you just don’t see rubbish lying around.  I saw someone *clean* the pavers of an ice cream drop or two
  • There’s no paper hand towel in bathrooms, almost across the board.  My eco conscious REALLY like this!  Instead, men and women carry handkerchiefs or what we’d call ‘face washers’ (terry toweling) and use it to dry their hands, or wipe their brow…
  • Japan is HOT! Wow, there was 95% humidity some days
  • They are such obedient people – they line up either sides of the train carriages in pairs.  Just such restraint.
  • Everywhere seems very visually cluttered – some many words in your face!  Negative space in print isn’t something that’s used as much as it could be
  • They certainly love a cute uniform with a hat!
Cute uniforms (there's more photos like this of different women in different places - this one was at an Aquarium)
Cute uniforms (there’s more photos like this of different women in different places – this one was at an Aquarium)

Just a short post for now, but I thought I should break my two week posting drought!

Half marathon – 12 in 2 list

Hot on the heels of my harbour bridge climb last Friday, yesterday, Sunday 6th July, I did the Gold Coast Half Marathon.

Talk about a busy month – between the BF cashing in his skydive, to me climbing the bridge (and having a fancy dinner), then the half marathon, and in less than a week, leaving for Osaka, Japan, I hardly have time for chores 😮

My running pal!
My running pal (still asleep?)!

My training program heading towards the half marathon was sporadic.  I had periods of very regular short runs, and I moved from a non runner to 5kms in a period of 12 weeks.  After that, things sort of feel apart, and my running routine was more ‘resistance to running’.  I managed two or three ‘runs home’ which varied from 6-7kms to 13kms, but that’s probably as far as I ran prior to the half.  So I always knew it would be TOUGH!

Usually, I run first thing in the morning, or after work.  Neither times, is it just after a meal.  Despite this, I decided I’d have porridge before the half marathon.  Perhaps a rookie error!  I’m pretty sure all that liquid was the cause of some serious cramping, or stitches I felt in my side.  I just walked them out, but it got to the stage that returning to running was a sure way to shake another stitch into forming!!

Derange 'why am I doing this' face - and we're in C starting group - ie not the slowest!
Derange ‘why am I doing this’ face – and we’re in C starting group – ie not the slowest!

I also run with a heart rate monitor.  This started when I started the Michelle Bridges 12 Week running program, as a way to ensure I wasn’t overexerting myself, and in the early days, I realised I was running at too high a heart rate.  I was shocked to repeatedly see my heart rate at 180 during the half marathon.  I usually want it to be under 172, and in training runs, once it gets to 177-178 I usually walk til I can bring it down.  In the race, I ended up employing the same strategy.

Those speedy gonzalas in front... at the start line
Those speedy gonzalas in front… at the start line

I hoped to run to my usual pace, which is about 9km/hr (5.6mph).  This would have been ambitious, but part of goal setting it to aim high!  This would have had me with a finish time of 2hrs 20mins. Thankfully, the very well organised Gold Coast Half Marathon has pace runners, the ‘slowest’ of whom ran at a target completion time of 2:20.  Sadly, I let them get ahead of me, and never caught up with them somewhere in the middle single digits of the run.

Proud father and daughter duo!
Proud father and daughter duo!

I was lucky enough to run the race with my father, who I ran with for the first few kilometers.  My father has run a number of ‘halves’ before, including this particular race when I was young.  It came as no surprise that he beat me, quite substantially!  He is slow and steady, but he NEVER walks!!  So my father finished with a time around 2hr10!  I however… came in at about 2hrs33 (by my timing – official timing below).

My stats
My stats

To be honest, I’m pleased I made it across the line unaided!  Was it a run?  Mostly not!  I walked a WHOLE heap, and I wish the pain I felt from the stitches, and later my heart, could have made it possible to run more of the race, but no.  That being said, I don’t for a minute diminish the achievement that is finishing a 21.1km course!

Dad's more impressive stats!
Dad’s more impressive stats!

A day on, I’m sore in my hips, the right arm (from the ‘strain’ of holding my phone… I prefer that to an arm strap).  Even my shoulders are achy.  And I spent the whole day after the run sore and tired! Tired beyond belief!

Views to die for!
Views to die for!

The only photo I wish I had to share with you is of my T Shirt – duly handed out once you FINISH the 21.1kms!! I did take this freebie (but not the medal) cause I am gosh darn proud, and feel I need proof I made it! I will wear it on (much shorter) runs in the future, to shock & awe!

Harbour Bridge Climb – 12 in 2 list

I finally did it! For a long time I’ve wanted to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so I made it one of my 12 in 2 goals (12 things I wanted to achieve in two years).

It's on!
It’s on!

I have an incredibly generous boyfriend who took the hints… and bought me a voucher for my birthday to use.

Onsie... unisex... with enough D clips so that nothing falls on the traffic below
Onsie… unisex… with enough D clips so that nothing falls on the traffic below

The frugal minimalist in me did NOT want to pay for a photo, but after reflecting on it for 5-10 mins, I went back and paid for one of the eight photos they took on the trip. Yep, no BYO cameras allowed… Cars below etc.

$15 to prove I got to the top!
$15 to prove I got to the top!

To be honest, I wasn’t scared for a moment!

Here’s the view of our bridge in the early morning…

Thanks former polo coach/ref... stole this photo he took today!
Thanks former polo coach/ref… stole this photo he took today!

Some pretty famous people have climbed the bridge – and some pretty famous people have had their affairs come to light thanks to being on roof top pools…! We heard some AWESOME stories from our guide Billy. The usually group is 14 people, but I was lucky to be in a group of 7 – a couple (with grown up children) for California, who had chickens. A mother from Queensland and her son (who’d gifted her the climb) from Sydney. And a pair of sisters from Sutherland Shire, who’d climbed before. One of the sisters was doing it for her 18th.

The things we were told!  For example:

  • It took 8 years to build, starting in 1929
  • 16 people died during it’s construction, which is NOTHING given they had no fall arrest or protective gear like harnesses.
  • Families were given £800 for the death of the worker
  • Only one person feel from the bridge construction and lived – using his tool built to break the harbour’s surface tension before he entered the water.  He suffered some broken ribs amongst other things, but returned to work 12 days later.
  • When it was designed/built, there was five cars in Australia, and one in Sydney
  • It was designed with two ‘lanes’ for trams, two ‘lanes’ for trains, and four lanes for cars.  It now has no trams and more car lanes.
  • This bridge is SEVERELY over engineered!
  • Almost all the steel came from England (which is comical given Australia’s large steel mills now!)
  • The large sandstone pylons are ‘hollow’ and don’t actually support the bridge as you might think

 

  • It’s 145m from water to the base of the bridge – supposedly a Defense Force aircraft flew under it recently!!
  • The bridge is currently undergoing a treatment to remove the lead paint, and have a permanent polymer coating on it.  The projections on how long the project will take to complete are astronomical
  • Before the ‘Bridgeclimb’ business, all sorts of drunken fools can and did climb parts of the bridge
  • You are given a breath test prior to getting in your onsie… no drunks on the bridge now!
  • You walk through a metal detector before induction.  My bobby pins were rejected, and I was given hair elastics
  • Everything you take up (fleece, hat, beanie (or toboggan?!), gloves are all attached to you.  There are significant risks to traffic below should things fall, and we were told of some horrific accidents
  • You get put through a test climb with ladders and your harness – if you don’t pass you don’t climb the bridge
  • Some of the walkways are wooden – which just blows my mind, given how wood can rot etc
  • The whole time, you are continuously attached to a line, that naturally takes you up one side, across the middle, and down the other side.  Not once do you get unlatched.
  • Riveters used to throw hot bolts to their mate – just incredible in today’s workplace health and safety conditions!
  • One guy climbs the bridge every six months when his wife comes to town to go shoe shopping. He’s now got a personalised onsie!

 

  • Tour guides are part time employees, some being teachers, lawyers, and our guide is a photographer the rest of the time
  • Billy, our tour guide, kept telling me I should be a guide – I’m really not sure why (I do know I spent more time in awe, than giving smart alek comments, which is usually more my style on guided tours!)
  • The busiest time of year is between Christmas and 4 January
  • The bridgeclimb is suspended for the NYE fireworks display and preparation, which you can imagine eats into the profits of such popular days!
  • Our guide told some amazing stories – such as guiding a blind person the whole way, with multiple guides used to share what he would see; another person did the whole ‘climb’ on their bottom with their hands – they had some disability with their legs.

 

  • There’s been countless proposals (and one the day we climbed).  Only one has been rejected, and the groom had filled the tour with his mates.  Talk about tense!
  • The best time to climb, according to two staff, is winter.  The weather compresses the air, so we could see the Blue Mountains to the West.  It is also more comfortable, with a onsie etc
  • The flags fly all the time, one of the very few places to fly flags at full mast all the time.  We saw the damage to the flags at day 12 of their life – the winds up there just destroy them!  Their is the state flag and the national flag up there most times, with the state flag occasionally being swapped for the indigenous flag.
  • The Bridgeclimb owner was rejected 4 times in his applications, and each time, with a list of concerns. Supposedly, to each list, he ticked each off, and raised a larger list of things authorities hadn’t thought of.  It is, without a doubt, an incredibly well thought out business, and nothing is left to chance!

For someone who usually has poor fact recall, I think I did well!!

Any questions you have, I’d love to know!!

Oscillate Wildly – Newtown

I use this blog as much as a photo album, so here’s another multi course dinner at Oscillate Wildly in Newtown, Sydney.  I avoided using the flash in this small restaurant, so apologies for the grainy footage – it’s mainly so I can remember the night 🙂

Sorta creepy tea light holder
Sorta creepy tea light holder
Butter and... some smoked fat of the pork mmm
Butter and… some smoked fat of the pork mmm
Starting course - some root vegetable I'd never come across with mushroom dust, and a sugarcane slither infused with gin & tonic
Starting course – some root vegetable I’d never come across with mushroom dust, and a sugarcane slither infused with gin & tonic
Very decorative... seafood. BF got grapefruit (sadface for him)
Very decorative… seafood. BF got grapefruit (sadface for him)
More yummy seafood... and kelp
More yummy seafood… and kelp
Some sorta seafood in broth mmmm (The BF got a gingery coconut broth with his non fish - so yum!)
Some sorta seafood in broth mmmm (The BF got a gingery coconut broth with his non fish – so yum!)
Fancy creamed corn
Fancy creamed corn
Beef playing hide and seek with a sesame leaf
Beef playing hide and seek with a sesame leaf
Beef - mmm yummy beef
Beef – mmm yummy beef
Optional cheese course - cheese with coffee stewed onion
Optional cheese course – cheese with coffee stewed onion

Oh no! I forgot to photograph the ‘custard apple’ course – with guava and cucumber. Deliciousness, I tell you – like and fluffy, crispy but sweet but neutralised by cucumber…

Strawberries and cream interpretation
Strawberries and cream interpretation

There were also some lovely truffles and jellies for having with coffees… mmm…

We went for matched wines – most of them were biodynamic or similarly untouched by chemicals and preservatives. Mostly whites, but still tasty!

This topped off one of the best days of my life – the day was my Harbour Bridge Climb:

Bridgeclimb selfie
Bridgeclimb selfie

To friends, and boyfriends, and expensive experiences.

12 in 2 progress

I have til 19th Feb 2015 to meet my 12 goals for two years.  Given I turn 30 on the 30th Jan, it’s a nice way to leave my 20s.

How am I going?

The eating out? Done like a dinner (boom tish!)

1. Dinner at Quay – done in January for my birthday.  They have the menu online so you can all ooo and ahhh

2. Dinner at Aria – next birthday seems like a good idea!

3. Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb – the darling BF gifted a voucher for this on my 29th birthday.  I’ve waited til winter, when the cooler weather is usually ‘clearer’ (with those harsh winter winds… which blew in yesterday!).  Alas, I’m booked for THIS Friday, my day off a month 😀

Source: http://www.bridgeclimb.com/

4. Go jet skiing

5. Go Zorbing – this is no longer offered in Australia.  And the locations aren’t exactly ‘nearby’.

6. Visit Lexi in NZ – Lexi stopped living in NZ, silly billy.  She got into Medicine in Sydney, so it wasn’t for naught, however, it makes going to NZ less of a driver.  The BF was recently asked if he’d like to work there, so that’s something.  Perhaps I should endeavour to get  to Coffs Harbour to see another friend before my time is up.

7. Do a knife skills course – for cooking of course

8. Learn to surf.  Regular readers might remember I planned to do this when we got back from the Cairns holiday?  Instead, we got back on a plane, and went to visit the BF’s family in Adelaide.  Then it got cold (I got wimpy?).  There’s time this summer though!

9. Read the new testament – thought I’d down grade from ‘whole bible’.  Alas, I’ve gone ‘whole bible’ and let me assure you, the old testament can be dull at times!  I’m on track to have this whipped by October, so time to spare if I get ‘behind’.  The train rides to work are dedicated bible reading time.

10. Go on a silent retreat – I relegated this to after the next goal, as many won’t let you do any exercise whilst you’re there.  I’m terrified to do a 10 day course (and that IS a lot of time).  But then all the propaganda says three days isn’t the ‘real deal’.  Your thoughts?

11. Run a half marathon –  (Update 1) My, my! My personal best, two weeks out, is 12.5kms.  The physio is not sure my body will make it! So I’m a little scared.  I aim to finish, ideally around 2hrs 20mins, which is on par with my usual speed or pace.

12. Plan and prepay my funeral – I have the cash, but I’m unsure.  I want something that’s ‘easy’ in it’s release in my death, which funeral insurance isn’t.  That’s just a con, and you’re forever paying premiums.  I could get a funeral bond, but again, I don’t think it’ll be liberated in time for a funeral.  I wonder if a will is a document that could outline all my wishes.  Then there’s the question of a ‘family’ funeral home, or a chain?  No matter, a pre bought funeral is held in trust, so I don’t have to worry about the money sinking with a business specifically.

So to sum up, I have to

  • turn up at 12.15pm on this Friday to meet goal 3.
  • get my backside across the finish line on Sunday 6th April to meet goal 11.
  • keep read, read, reading (mindful that two weeks in Japan won’t come with much bible-age) to meet 9
  • make bookings for 6, 8, 10 and 12
  • settle for 11 goals, and one beyond my reach

Right, to the calendar to start planning dates!

This and that

It would come as no surprise, but work has been insane.  Me blogging bloomed out of a less busy time at work, and now that work fills 40 hours and then some, and I still do many things after work, I’m finding blogging slipping by the wayside.
That, and a certain brand phone makes it SO much harder to share photos than my old phone (which couldn’t answer calls… so you can see why I stopped using that!)

Here’ some of what I’ve been up to:

State Emergency Service – mass casulty exercise a week ago

Moullage injury (ie injury made by make up)
Moullage injury (ie injury made by make up)
Close up of the 'injury'
Close up of the ‘injury’

Sunday early starts can be worth it.  This was my birthday gift for the BF last year

Sunday morning adventure for the BF
Sunday morning adventure for the BF (this is not him!)
IMG_0677
This is ACTUALLY the BF, the last to land

Less than a month to my half marathon – last week, I found out I’m not built for them, according to my physio. So it’s a slow build and I hope I make it over the line intact!

Then a week later, I’ll be off for two weeks in Japan with the SES.

What’s new with you?

Falling in love

I know most of my (known) readers are married, so it brings me to a question: how does it feel knowing you will never (or should never) romantically fall in love again?

The recent Father’s Day PostSecret post started me on these thoughts, here’s an example:

Postsecret 1
Postsecret 1

It’s not Father’s Day in Australia, we celebrate that in September.  However the above secret seems somewhat perverse to me.  To me, once you’re married, that’s it.  You make it work.  I strongly feel divorce is the last resort, and love is something to be worked on.  It’s not to say I think divorce shouldn’t exist – there are many situations where I think it is suitable.

I don’t miss my Dad (other than him being in Tahiti with my mother for three weeks!) cause he is a great dad.  And my mother and father are committed to their warts and all relationship, for that I am SURE!

I know, though, that I fall in love insanely often.  One year I counted at least five men I was romantically fixated on.  And this was as recent as before the current BF.  This wasn’t as a teenager.  If anything, I was hooked on one guy for longer then!  Is a fixation different to love – for sure! Is that insane level of curiosity and the desire to know more about them and spend more time with them the foundation of a relationship – most definitely.

One thing I wish, dream and pray for is to have a marriage as long, happy and stable as my parents.  It’s the only way strong families can be built, from a strong foundation in the two parents. But gosh darn do I worry about my ability to become attracted to someone else.

And of course there’s this:

I'm not single
I’m not single

How high is TOO high to set your standards on your life partner?  At church today, I spoke about this with a woman who’s husband passed away a year ago and she has daughters approaching their 40s.  Both her daughters married in their late fourties, one has children, one is still trying.  We spoke frankly – the good fortune of one to have children.  Of her long and happy marriage.  She confided that she mourned not so much the passing of her husband, but the passing of the idea of what he might have been! She said, he was wonderful to offer to make her a hot drink countless times a day (and now she seldom makes them herself without him).  But how she *still* wishes he had looked her in the eye more and said ‘I love you’ or ‘You don’t seem happy today’.

And this rocked me – here’s a woman who spent most of her life happily married to a man whom she admits she loved, and mourns but still wonders what could have been.  How he could have been better?  And whilst she didn’t say it, I felt there was a thought ‘if I’d been married to someone else’.  I asked her “What’s too much of a compromise?  What do you live with, so that you can have children and have a family?”.  There will always be times of doubts in relationships, surely…?

Presently, my BF is well aware of my most recent crush.  I feel that at least being honest, open and transparent I can help work through this.  Thankfully, the BF is not the jealous or non trusting type.  I feel like sometimes the ‘secret’ that comes from affairs is half the fun – the sneaking around, the hiding.  However, it IS unsettling to love your current partner, and to find yourself interested in someone else. Odd though it may be, perhaps it’s not all that uncommon.  How do you make these fleeting interests outside your primary partnership short lived and not destructive?

So many big questions – your wisdom and experience welcomed.

Career choices of children

Another (potentially) controversial article, although not touching at all on religion.  I like to explore issues by writing, but my aim is never to offend anyone.  If anything, I welcome people to provide me alternative points of view!

It’s a long time before I’ll have to worry about the career choices my children will make.  But then again, high school education is often the start of the path to (hopefully) teritary education that might lead to a qualification for a career.  And high school… well you get the picture.

My child WILL have a blue mortar board too! source: lovinthealien.blogspot.com
My child WILL have a blue mortar board too!
source: lovinthealien.blogspot.com

I am definitely part of the generation that ‘expects’ my children will receive a tertiary education.  At the same time, I internally criticise the quantity of degree qualified people in countries like the US who remain unemployed despite their qualifications, or require a second degree, such as a Masters or PhD to feel they are competitive in the job market.  I also readily agree that 100% tertiary education is probably both unrealistic, but not ideal for a society.  A high level of education isn’t needed for a great many jobs, and the investment (of time to start with but also financially) in tertiary education can also develop higher salary expectations.

source: www.arttherapyblog.com
source: www.arttherapyblog.com

I honestly find it difficult to imagine if my child was to ‘grow up’ to become an artist.  I’d worry they’d lack the work to maintain their lifestyle, at no matter what level, and would be dependent on either others (such as their parents) or the government.  Interestingly, I know more than one career artist who graduated from my private (and expensive) school.  I don’t know them well enough to be as coarse as to ask about finances, but I gather they make ends meet to some degree.

It’s entirely unrealistic and unfair to think I might force my child into certain career paths or courses solely based on the projected earning capacity.  That being said, is the love and passion for something that they’ll call a ‘job’ sufficient to overlook the realities of not being able to house, feed and clothe oneself?  I have no problems should there be some assurance that financial self sufficiency is possible and not just a dream.  I don’t discount doing what you love, but I’m enough of a pragmatist to also look at doing what you can do, that ALSO supports you!

Oh, and the BF, he’s on board too… So at least we agree with some things!

What are your thoughts – especially all you parents?