Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Oh The Places You'll Go


After I wrote my last post about wanting to travel more around this part of the world, we got to talking about the where and the when.

For those of you with children, you know being spontaneous isn't that easy anymore.

For those of you with an infant getting ready to crawl, you probably know taking that airplane ride long distances is about as fun as punching yourself in the face as hard as you can.

So it takes a bit of planning but here are some of the places we would like to visit while we are living in Australia.

Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Heart Island, Whitsundays

Apart from pointing out that this place is obviously beautiful, the Whitsundays are a group of islands off of the shores of Queensland and a part of the Great Barrier Reef. The snorkeling is supposed to be amazing and the beaches impeccable. We've been to the Great Barrier Reef before but stayed near Cairnes and if you speak to anyone who is a frequent diver, they will probably tell you that the Whitsundays are hands down so much more spectacular. And who wouldn't want to stay on an island shaped like a heart or an island with the name: Daydream Island?

Fraser Island

I want to go to Fraser Island because of it's beauty, diversity and all the interesting elements that make it different: 1.) It's the largest all-sand island in the world 2.) An interesting fact I learnt from some friends that recently took a diving trip there is that there are also over 100 lakes on the island and a ton of different types of animals, insects and plants. I don't care about the insects part, btw.  3.) The other night I was watching a show on TV where it was stated that it's the only place in the word where rainforest grows on top of sand dunes.


Not only do I want to visit Melbourne to see these cute, quaint little beach huts (and I want a picture of me standing in front of them), but Melbourne seems like it's so different from Sydney. Or so I hear. Some of the impressions of Melbourne that I've heard from others that have been there is that it's very artsy, hipster and the shopping is good. Those aren't good enough reasons for me to visit just another large city but since it's such an easy flight from Sydney, why not check it out for the weekend?  

Indonesia: Bali (top) and Jakarta (below). 
Sources: and

We have family that live in Jakarta so why not kill two birds with one stone? The city seems like it can be a little dangerous and scary but sticking close to the locals is the way to go. And when I say locals, I mean my father -in-law. :) Again, it's another city but since the culture is SO different and non-Westernized, I'd really like to visit here. While we are at it, a person or two has said Bali is pretty great too! ;) I know there are a lot of family friendly resorts in the island town and who doesn't like staying on a gorgeous beach?  

Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

This is the only trip that we sort of have planned. In June there is a long weekend because of the Queen's Birthday. I don't know her personally but if she's going to give us a reason to take a holiday, I'll help her celebrate.
Ningaloo Reef is one of the few places you can swim with whale sharks. I think they are harmless to snorkel around... I think. It's a short flight to the Coral Reef from Perth in Western Australia (Sydney to Perth is a longer 5-hour flight). I don't know much about the western part of Australia except the beaches are pretty and full of dangerous, hungry sharks. Little Decker will not be swimming here and I possibly won't either. We'll leave that to Kevin who says, I quote: "Sharks are just like dogs, they are just curious." Well Kevin, I quote, "Curiosity killed the cat." Sharks or no sharks, I look forward to checking out Western Oz.

The 12-Apostles along the Great Ocean Road-South Australia

Lastly, there is the Great Ocean Road. It's 243km's long and can be driven from Melbourne to Adelaide (South Australia) over a few days. There are many breathtaking spots to stop at and explore along the way such as the 12-Apostles. A couple of our friends have done this and said that the limestone rocks that stick up out of the ocean are massive. I can't wait to do this drive and plan to bring my SLR camera, if I don't, I know I'll regret it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

1 Year Anniversary living in Australia

I should have written this post back in August but time slipped away from me, again! Two weeks ago we moved and then Kevin had to take a business trip overseas so I've had my hands full. Anyway, I thought I would do a 1-year anniversary post on living in Sydney and write about the pros and cons living here and overseas in general.

With my loves at Opera Bar, August 2013

Living in another country definitely has it's challenges / cons.

1.) Even though everyone speaks English, there are some language barriers and new words we've had to learn and incorporate into our vocabulary. We've noticed there is a lot of slang and the locals add an "o",  "ie" or "y" at the end of a lot of words. Most of the words you can figure out but some make no sense to me . It's funny and charming but it's a little annoying too.  But that's the Ozzie's thing, I guess.

For example:

Lift = Elevator                                                  
Ambo = Ambulance
Pram = Stroller                                                  
Arvo = Afternoon (I have NO idea how this translates)
Bin = Garbage Can                                          
Mozzy = Mosquito
Garbage = Rubbish                                          
Footy = Rugby
Nappy = Diaper                                                
Swimming costume or Togs = Bathing buit
Coriander = Cilantro                                        
Doco = A documentary film
Chips = French Fries                                        
Tradie  = A Tradesman or blue-collar worker
Bubbles = Sparkling wine                                
Esky = Cooler (In NZ, they call this a 'Chilly Bin')
Flat = Apartment                                              
Ice Block = Popsicle
Rashi = Rash guard                              
Woop Woop = A small town; out in the boonies
Thong = Flip Flop sandals                                
Whinging (Kevin's favorite) = Whining or complaining

2.) Living away from family and friends. This one is really hard for me, especially now that Decker is here. God Bless the inventors of Skype, Viber, FaceTime and iMessage. Without these advancements in technology I would be lost. End of story.

3.) Trying to find the comforts and conveniences of home from food to Target & Nordstrom. It's always fun to discover little pieces of America while overseas. It was an exciting day when we found Costco and Ikea, ha! It sounds a little materialistic but when you are living so far away, sometimes it's the little things that can make your day. I feel like Australia is more Americanized than New Zealand was but it's still a challenge not having a 'one stop shop' like Target. I miss you Target, more than you know! BTW, there is a Target here but it's not the same-different quality and different brands. They try to make it similar but it's so bootleg it's not even funny.

4.) Driving here sucks! Uggghhhh. We have an SUV or Ute (as they call it here. Another slang word I'm guessing is short for Utility Vehicle?). There are not any major freeways like the 405 or the 5 that you can travel long distances at a fast speed. All vehicles, including huge semi's (there's another word for these too but I can't remember it right now) have to travel through the suburbs to get around. Traffic is horrendous all the time. ESPECIALLY on the weekends. Because businesses here close down at 5pm Monday-Friday, people that work have to run all their errands on the weekends which is major cause for a cluster f*$k on the roads.
The roads are also very, very narrow. Since I drive a bigger car, I feel like I'm going to hit either the side rails or another car. I've already been in one accident here and I'd rather not relive that experience. Thank you very much.

5.) It is so flippin expensive here. I keep telling myself that I really need to get over this one but it's so hard. Especially since we are American and we know the cost of these things in our home country. Stuff is double, sometimes triple the cost in Australia. I rarely go shopping here, definitely not for cosmetics. Poor Kevin always gets a shopping list from me when he goes to the US for work.  Ever since we've lived in NZ, I told myself that I was going to start a business of importing cosmetics and iPhones from the US and sell them back to people here (for a higher cost than what you buy it for in America, but WAY cheaper than what they sell for here in Australia). Then I got reading into all the taxes and other BS you have to go through. Black market business anyone? No thanks.
Rent is another huge cost that makes me sick. I'm not even going to disclose what our rent cost is per week (you pay by the week vs per month). You would keel over and vomit as well. I know what mortgages and rents are in the US and comparing it to OZ,  it's like the cosmetic prices here- double and triple the cost.
I miss the American-style houses- spacious and convenient. Thankfully our new place is more spacious than our old place but we had to move 45-minutes away from the city to get it. But the beach! The Beach! THE BEACH! We are closer to it now. A 7-minute drive to be exact. And it's a beautiful beach too with tons of diving and snorkeling spots too.

On the flip side... here are the Pros.

1.) Everyone for the most part is friendly. It's not "American friendly" but people aren't going to snub you if you walk up to them off the street and ask for directions.

2.) It's beautiful here and the weather is great. In Sydney, the weather is very mild. It's spring time right now and I can't count the days that it's been in the 80's which is my ideal temperature to live in. I'm not a big fan of rain, grey skies or cold weather . I love that I can spend a lot of outdoor time with Decker whether it's laying a blanket out in the front yard or going to the beach for a long walk. Being a stay at home mom, it's important to me that I get out of the house so having gorgeous weather to get out in is a bonus.

3.) Traveling around this country is fairly easy. Within the city, there is public transportation; busses and trains. It's easy to get a taxi and there are a few lower cost airlines that will fly you around the country with good timetables.

4.) Australia is a great place to have a baby and to raise your kids. The whole country is very kid and family friendly.
Things that I have noticed in Decker's 6-months of life: Almost every public place I go, there are baby changing tables in the bathrooms and all the malls and shopping centers have a really nice parents room complete with private feeding stalls, microwaves to heat up food and seating.
There are activities galore for kids and a lot of mother's groups, play groups and support groups for babies and parents.
Even though we aren't eligible for the public healthcare here, we do have private healthcare and there are a lot of great doctors available for us to see. There are also a lot of free telephone hotlines available for us to use if we have questions. The hotline option sounds weird and in the past was a sketchy concept designated for dating but they are staffed by qualified nurses and sometimes doctors for advice. Believe me, when you have a newborn screaming in the middle of the night and you can't call your mother, you are grateful these hotlines exist!

5.) The experience of living in another country. We're not sure how long we're going to be living here, my guess is a few more years but only time (or Kevin's company) will tell :)
Seriously, how many people get to do this? I'm excited to show Decker all the adventures he went on, that he won't remember. I take a TON of pictures that I will show him when he's older. Thank you Apple TimeCapsule for backing up my habit.

Aside from all the challenges that living so far away brings us, we do have some great days here. It's made us all stronger as a family and as individuals. K and I are looking forward to more trips and traveling we want to do while we are living in this part of the world.