My New Zealand travels

For my 18th birthday, my Dad took me on a trip to New Zealand – awesome gift right? My Aunty came along too, so it was three of us for two and half weeks of adventure across the South Island.

The South Island of New Zealand (and maybe the North Island too but I haven’t been there yet so I can’t reliably comment) provides some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable. Bright green fields, crystal blue lakes (some are more of a jewelled aqua tone), soooo many sheep, and renown south hemisphere endless blue skies (to be clear, I am not at all biased by being Australian).

Over the course of our trip we covered a big loop starting and ending in Christchurch. We took the cable car to the top of Mount Cook where had an amazing buffet dinner (I realise buffets are not usually an amazing thing, but seriously, amazing is the best description), and watched a Maori cultural show.

From there we travelled (in a hire car) to Dunedin, through some beautiful scenery – including the aqua green water of Lake Tekapo. Dunedin was a town of tours for us, specifically the Speights Brewery and the Cadbury Chocolate Factory (yes it is as awesome as you are currently imagining). On a beer related note, this trip was the first time I ever drank alcohol in front of my dad, except for a maybe a glass of sparkling at Christmas, it was quite an odd experience –  I also discovered at this point that I am really not that big a fan of beer, something that has very much lasted until now.

Anywho, back on track. From Dunedin it was onto Queenstown, an incredibly gorgeous place (please note: I do not use this term lightly – the scenery is completely stunning and the people are really friendly –  though that can actually be generalised to the whole of New Zealand I think). We went white-water rafting, which was awesome, even if dad was absolutely convinced that I couldn’t hold myself in the raft – I freely admit that I am very challenged when it comes to coordination, but seriously. Jet boating was also awesome fun 🙂 From there we made our way back to Christchurch. But not before an amazing helicopter ride onto Franz Joseph Glacier  where I made a snow angel – word to the wise, soaking wet jeans that result from snow angel making take FOREVER to dry in the cold – and yet, still completely worth it 🙂

Other highlights of the trip included a pony ride (to me they are all ponies no matter how big they get, visiting the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch (a must see), and did I mention the stunning scenery ?

I think we can all agree my dad is an excellent gift giver 🙂

ttfn, Bec

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Jet BoatingHelichopperRafting!SNOW!

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More Tanzania pics

Tanzania is one of those places where it is almost impossible to take a bad photo. I don’t think the few it my last post (My Adventure in Tanzania) really did it justice, so here are a few more 🙂

Masai childPretty treeMasai menTired hippoThe everyday

I would love your feedback on these 🙂

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ttfn, Bec

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Do we ever really grow up?

BabyAs far as I can see, at each stage of life it seems that the next stage is the one in which you become a grownup, even before the next stage in any way makes you a legal adult. But the question I have is – does this feeling ever pass? Do we ever really grow up?

For me being a grownup is solidly linked to the notion of being in the real world. The trouble is I can’t quite seem to define what this real world is. I have, however, identified several factors that I think are involved – parts of a checklist if you will for recognising whether or not you are in the ‘real world’.

1. Working full time rather than studying (this may be biased by the fact that my desire to be done with uni is growing on a daily basis)

2. Living away from home – think: paying rent or a mortgage, having bills arrive in your name, knowing that if you want food you will have to make it yourself

3. Be responsible for things – this can be living or not living – a mortgage, a puppy, a plant (a bad Bec example since planes don’t seem to stay living around me but it may apply to some people), and even little people (other people refer to them as children)

4. Having life in general pretty figured out – you know where you are going and what you are doing

So I thought I had this model pretty well figured out, but the more adults I spoke too, the more I came to understand that no-one ever feels like a real grownup, even if they feel like they are living in the real world (at least according to the criteria of my first three points). The fourth point seems to be the one that really gets people – people don’t feel like they have it all figured out – I have heard it described as “everyone is always pretending they know what they are doing).

As far I can see, there seems to be an agreement that we become grownups (at least in the sense that we turn 18 and can vote and drink and watch all movies released kind of way), but don’t necessarily grow up. There is no point when you figure it all out – to quote a highly overused phrase – maybe life really is about the journey not the destination. I don’t know about anyone else but I find this to be a very positive thing – it means that you are allowed to keep making mistakes (it is after all how we learn) and attempting something new is more than half the battle. It also means there is no right way, just the way that seems right to you.

With that all in mind, I shall hold onto my stuffed Yoshi toy with pride.

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ttfn, Bec

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My exploration of Tanzania

In 2008, after returning from Schoolies (a celebration for those who have finished year 12 – our final year of schooling – where groups head off for a week away and let off steam), I headed off on a four week school trip to Tanzania.

The trip was divided into four week-long parts which each took place in a different part of the country. The first week saw the group climb Mt Meru, a steep but not too big mountain 70 kilometres (~ 40 miles) from Mt Kilimanjaro. It was certainly a challenge (particularly with the discovery that I get asthma at altitude (yes, even my body is odd)) but it was great to push out of my comfort zone.

The next week I took part in a community project, helping with the construction  of a mud brick kitchen and pantry at a local school. The local kids were incredibly inquisitive so playing with the kids took up almost as much time as the construction did.

The third week was the one I was looking forward to most and it more than delivered – it was safari time. I have had a obsession with African animals, particularly elephants for as long as I can remember, so going on safari was a complete dream come true. I saw all of the big five (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard) – so as far as safari experiences go, it was completely magical.

The safari week also included  a tour of a traditional Masai village, which I would call an absolute must do if you ever get the opportunity – seeing one on TV doesn’t even vaguely compare. THere are some pics here

So, I guess that about summarises it. Tanzania is an amazing place, and one that is definitely at the top of my list of places to go back to.

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ttfn, Bec

P.S. More Tanzania pics can be found here

ElephantRaaaaMt KiliSunrise on Meru

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Holidays and Long Distance Relationships (LDR post no. 2)

I am going to keep this pretty short, because it is a busy day – some call it Easter Saturday – I have decided I prefer the term ‘one sleep to bunny day’. First up, let me be clear, I love holidays, both of the travelling kind and the non-travelling kind – but in this case I mean the second kind. Christmas is by far my favourite time of year – and not because of the presents – but all the stuff that comes along with the festive season. I’m talking twinkly lights, Christmas trees everywhere, Christmas carols (even though as an Australian the vast majority of Christmas carols are completely seasonally inappropriate e.g. singing about snowman is odd when it is more than 35 degrees Celsius outside, but I love them anyway). But my love extends far beyond just Christmas, Halloween and Easter are equally awesome – frankly, pick a holiday and I am pretty much guaranteed to love it.

But onto the bit where I link my love of holidays to being in a long distance relationship. My love of holidays is slightly dampened by the fact that the man I love is on the other side of the planet. I promise this isn’t about to get all soppy, but I think it speaks to an important point about long distances relationships in general, they are not easy, and some days will most certainly be better than others. Accepting this facts, at least in my opinion, will make dealing with being in a long distance relationship a whole lot easier. Spend as munch time as possible with family and friend when you are having a not so good day, but don’t fall into the trap of only talking to your other half when you are happy – you need to share the good and the bad or your relationship can only ever exist at a surface level. Figure out what makes things harder, for me holidays and any significant event (job interview, fight with a friend etc) are tricky because I am a person who likes to share, as in I talk and talk and talk and talk, and talking over Sykpe just isn’t quite the same. But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you will be sad all the time, in fact it should very much be the exception not the rule, but knowing what things are more likely to make you sad means you will be prepared. My top suggestions for overcoming the sadness that comes from missing the one you love around holidays are: spend time with family and friends, particularly those that will let you talk about what your feeling; talk to your partner – remember you still have to share the good and the not so good; and accept that feeling sad will happen, but it will also be short lived. Focus on the positives as much as you can, and know that the effort will all be worth it in the end 🙂

Also, happy one sleep till bunny day every one 🙂

ttfn, Bec

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My time in Cambodia

The end of 2010 saw me spend four weeks in Cambodia, based in Siem Reap – by far the most western of Cambodia’s cities. The trip was shaped around providing assistance to a group of soldiers and their families who were being moved into a new centre for those injured in battle. Also, importantly, it was my first trip overseas on my own – in the sense that I knew no one who was going to be there – but it was still overseen by an organisation I had travelled with before (on month long school trip to Africa I had been on two years earlier).

Siem Reap is an amazing city, and a perfect example of Cambodia’s regrowth after  the destruction of Pol Pot’s regime. During his short reign, and through a combination of forced labour, starvation, disease outbreaks and execution, more than 25% of Cambodia’s population was killed. This horrific regime set the country backs decades in development, and yet you will never meet a people that are more open, friendly, happy and welcoming than the Khmer people.

During the week, we got on a bus each morning that transported us to the centre, which consisted of soldiers housing, a hospital that was in the final stages of construction (it was being used but did not yet have power), and a school. I partook in a combination of running English classes with some of the lower grade levels (we put together the syllabus ourselves) and offering some basic medical lessons to the soldiers (on topics like oral health, hygiene, first aid etc).

On the weekends we organised our own travel within the region. We spent half a day in Angkor Wat, which is a completely amazing places, and a definite must see. It is immense, and the detail in both the construction and decoration of all the structures is phenomenal. I also visited Bayon (the temple faces) and the pink Women’s temple. We took a day trip out to a floating village – which is a another must see – it totally redefines your idea of community. The final places I have to mention is the land mine museum – started by a local who was involved in the removal of land mines after the war, it is a shocking but important educational experience.

So that,in brief summary, was my experience in Cambodia. My biggest regret was that I didn’t make to Phnom Penh – guess that gets added to my list of places to visit. I have included a few photos below.

ttfn, Bec

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Bayon TempleExploring temples

The floating villageHanging with the kids

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A beginners guide to Long Distance Relationships (LDR post no. 1)

Normally when someone writes a beginners guide it’s because they know a lot about a topic and want to backtrack and let you know what they wish they had known at the beginning. This beginners guide is a bit different, for one, I am still kind of at the beginning of this long distance relationship. But probably more importantly, relationships are individual things, well two person things normally, but each person deals with relationships differently. And so this is very much from my perspective. This is what has worked for us, particularly me, thus far.

The first key point I can offer is to have a clear sense of direction. This is particularly important if you will be spending a while together before moving into the long distance portion. What the direction looks like isn’t the important bit, it’s that you have one and you both agree on it. It a long term eventual sense, you need to be working on a way for the distance to be eliminated – whether one of you moves to be with the other or whether you both relocate to somewhere entirely new, distance should only ever bee seen as a short term solution. Now, let me be clear, short term can be a matter of years, there just needs to be a plan beyond it.

You also need to break up the time apart as much as possible – as much as is financially possible – so make plans to see each other. Now this can be much easier or much harder to achieve depending on how far apart you are. I am by know means suggesting that you go into massive debt to achieve this, but if you are committed to the relationship and the person, you have to be willing to move a few things in your life around. No amount of Skype time or emails can make up for a few hours of time together, so if you have the opportunity to see each other, take it.

On the note of communication, Skype is a life saver. Use it. Try to get yourself into a routine that let’s you talk to each other a lot, but don’t make your life revolve around it. If you have plans with other people, keep them, living your life through Skype will only lead to you resenting the relationship. Also, accept that keeping conversation going over Skype is not always as easy as it is in person, and for this I recommend online quizzes. There are literally thousands of them that are only a click away. In my case this started pre-long distance as a get to know you thing, but it works equally well now. Of course you don’t have to use someone else’s questions, if you can come up with your own, all the better, but either way, they are an awesome filler when the conversation starts to lag and you learn a lot about each other at the same time.

There are sure to be many more posts on this topic, so keeping checking back (I’ll edit the title to indicate parts as we go). As always, your thoughts, comments and opinions would be very much appreciated.

ttfn, Bec

Just as an FYI: this is going up the day after my six month anniversary with the boy and two months to the day since we started long distance 🙂

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