Tag Archives: Adventure

Photo Friday: Inner Sunset, SF

“I’M HURDLING LIKE THE OCEAN TOWARDS YOU”.

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I was wandering around the Inner Sunset last June, when I stumbled upon this, a beautiful piece of art by Alphonzo Solorzano It was prominently displayed in the window of a small business just off Judah and framed by heavy, deep blue curtains.

But this moment and the visual stayed with me: ‘hurdling’ with a sense of urgency, a flurry of tremendous activity covering vast distances like the Pacific. I’ve spent countless hours searching the waves for signs, for comfort, for change. I’ve been in, on, under and above it. But most of all, I need to be near it. My various current ‘lives’ are connected by an ocean.

Whilst I see me in the physical reflection of the photo, it’s the words that echo the way I live my life — bouncing between two worlds. Hurdling, if you will. Those words for me also encompass all that I experience: hurt, happiness, homesickness, alienation, joy. Hurdling with a fearlessness masking the anxiety of fear, but it’s a hurdle I will always take for the adventurous spirit trumps inertia.

I’m hurdling like the ocean towards my life

Grey and Red

It’s all head-down-bum-up at the moment as I finish my classes. I have an obscene amount of work to achieve in a very short amount of time, and my technique at procrastinating is second to none. As you can see!

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I wanted to share this pic of a cute little place I stumbled across on a walk around SF a few weeks ago. It’s tucked up a little alleyway on Nob Hill, and looked so inviting with the red door, grey paint, white trim and red geraniums outside.

Well, must get back to it! See you on the flip side.

Photo Post: Summer in Chicago

I’d heard from many people just how lovely Chicago is during the summer, and it lives up to the hype.

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind, trying to enjoy the city in the height of its splendour whilst we can. The days have been a little cooler than the local average, but still perfect for cannon-balling into Lake Michigan. Bars and restaurants throw open their french doors, blurring the lines between inside and out. No one seems to really care how they look, people ride their bikes everywhere, and everyone stays out until well past their bedtimes. The longest lines are for the establishments selling frozen yogurt.

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The American's view from the game.

The Start of the Baseball Season and of Something New

I switched on the TV and the lounge room flooded with the familiar voices of Kruk and Kuip. The channel was already set to FOX Sports so without even searching for it, I was plugged in to the SF Giants – my World Series-winning baseball team. I was overjoyed to see the boys, the ballpark, the Bay, thecity. I felt a pang of home-sickness.

Feet up, baseball on.

Feet up, baseball on. The view from my end.

Local boy Brandon Crawford was warming up in the on-deck circle and I settled in to enjoy the last two innings. Soon, I was feeling a little less excited and more melancholy. It’s the sadness that comes when you’re away from the one you love. I knew he was at the game: he’d sent me a photo earlier from the third deck. And half a world away, I, too, was at the game.

The American's view from the game.

The American’s view from the game.

For the past few days  returning to the Bay Area has been at the forefront of my mind. And the universe always seems to send little messages: catching this baseball game was more along the lines of

‘We miss you, too. Life goes on without you, but it’d be better if you were here. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing, and look forward to your return’.

I’m back in a handful of weeks, and checking the days off on my handmade calendar.

The handmade post-it calendar, blu-tacked to the wall.

The handmade post-it calendar, blu-tacked to the wall.

New news

So it would seem most of you either thought I’d checked myself in to a facility, decided to get a divorce or just wandered out into the Tasman Sea, never to be heard from again. I’m happy to report none of the above is true.

My time has been more than accounted for, with two uni classes, training for a race in San Francisco, meeting with friends, and working very hard on a project for a client set to launch in June. It’s such an exciting job and I’m so fortunate to be working with one of the most talented and professional designers around. It has also been quite the learning curve and am so very lucky to have a client that puts total faith in us to produce something incredible. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Riding CityRail trains for fun.

Riding CityRail trains for fun. Makes BART look like amateur hour.

New blogs

In other news, I was so pleased to have my snapshot feature on Jill’s blog, Battered Suitcases, this week!  I have really enjoyed reading about her adventures around Australia recently (I haven’t visited the Big Merino since 1986!) and particularly love her section on novelty snacks. It’s something the American and I do when we go travelling, too.

I love stumbling upon new blogs, and finding real like-minded people. Do you have any good ones to share with me?

My brother even bought me a present: the newest Sim City, with a German Cities expansion pack. Be surprised if you hear from at all!

My brother even bought me a present: the newest Sim City, with a German Cities expansion pack. Be surprised if you hear from me at all!

New music

I have barely oscillated from the Belle & Sebastian / Pulp / the Beatles fad I’ve been on for about two months. But this week, I found something new via a friend on Twitter. The song is ‘Royals’ and is by a young Kiwi girl called Lorde. I’ve played it 30 times at least. It’s super catchy!

New buns

Babies are what is happening in Sydney right at this moment. So much so, I’m certain there’s something in the water (and my friend, C, calls it H2Grow. Ha!). But it’s all rather exciting.

I even gave up a chance to see the unfurling of the Sydney Swans’ 2012 Premiership flag at the Swans game (tear!) to have lunch with two of my closest friends. I guessed they had some news for me, and it turns out my instincts were right. I was so happy to share it with them! Baby G will be here in September.

Is there a better way to share good news than over pizza? probably not. Pizza from the Clock & Oyster.

Is there a better way to share good news than over pizza? Probably not. Pizza from the Clock & Oyster.

New travels

In a few short weeks, I’m heading back to the US via Singapore. I am really looking forward to returning ‘home’, to see the American and to start our next adventure.

But it’s also bittersweet, because arriving in one home means leaving another. It’s going to be much harder than I imagined. I have really bonded with people, and my family and I have become so close in this short space of time. It’s been such a wonderful adventure, and I am so lucky to have been able to do this. I have much more to say on this matter, so I’ll compose my thoughts and save it for next time.

Life’s good.

Buddha gets around.

Wats, wats and more wats

Wat Chiang Mun.

Wat Chiang Mun.

In Thailand, if you only have one thing on your To Do List, chances are it’ll take you a week to get around to it. The one thing on my list was to go adventuring and check out some of the temples around my guesthouse. And yesterday, I finally managed to accomplish that.

I haven’t sought out the beauty in Chiang Mai and I haven’t documented it. Wandering, looking, snapping: that’s my preferred means of distilling the essence of a city. I use my camera to capture the parts that contribute to the whole picture. But I had not even bothered to charge the battery for my digital SLR since I’d left Sydney. That’s so unlike me.

Buddha standing tall.

Buddha standing tall.

Dogs are as ubiquitous as wats here.

Dogs are as ubiquitous as wats here.

Chiang Mai is famous for being a city of temples, known locally as Wats. There are over 300 of them in the city, and as we discovered on our way to the driving range yesterday, there are wats opposite wats, beside wats. I have been in Chiang Mai for about three weeks, and today was the first time I’d stepped foot inside a wat.

For a brief moment, I flirted with the idea of spending my days visiting every single wat in Chiang Mai. It’d make for an interesting experience, but Wat Fatigue set in quickly after my half-dozen. Much like my experience with cathedrals in Europe, they all start to look the same after a while.

No post is overlooked. Everything is decorated.

No post is overlooked. Everything is decorated.

An offering to Buddha.

An offering to Buddha.

Dragons abound.

Dragons abound.

The chedi at Wat Chiang Mun.

The chedi at Wat Chiang Mun.

Minature buddha with an elephant army.

Miniature buddha with an elephant army.

Chores and tourists.

Chores and tourists.

I waited until the golden hour to go adventuring – just me and my camera – and my favourite time of day didn’t disappoint. The whitewashed walls of the wats are shaded enough to cover any signs of fatigue, the mirror mosaics that adorn the pagodas shimmer in the setting sun, the gold-leafed chedis seem lit from the love, compassion and knowledge within. Some of the junior monks were out sweeping up the leaves around the compounds, dressed in their ceremonial saffron-coloured robes. Dogs lazed about on the grass, the paths and on the cool, tiled stairs. Even they seemed to be at peace.

I’m enamoured with the quiet beauty of wats. There’s something calming about being inside these places, and as ye of little faith, I find that very, very interesting.

Wat Baan Ping.

Wat Baan Ping.

I love the decorative elements on these temples.

I love the decorative elements on these temples.

Lots of decorative dragons.

More decorative dragons.

On the temple trail.

On the temple trail.

The stunning amount of details on a simple window shutter.

The stunning amount of details on a simple window shutter.

Buddha gets around.

Buddha gets around.

Koh Samui, Heaven to some, but certainly not to me anymore.

On Dealing with Things when They Don’t Work Out

I had spent months staring at a photo I took on the Thai island of Koh Phag Ngan many (full) moons ago. I had tacked it to the wall of my cubicle and had been letting my mind wander to the soft, sandy beaches of the island paradise and the feel of the warm sun on my skin as I sat on the porch of my beach-side bungalow, eating pad thai and drinking fruit shakes.

In the photo, it was late afternoon on Haad Rin. The American and I were young and happy. Smiles, unblemished skin, absence of wrinkles. A memory of happier, simple, carefree times. I wanted that freedom back of having no strings, no commitments, no pressing cares. And this time around we had a plan to improve ourselves, to eat better and learn new skills. This was our time to get back out on the Banana Pancake trail and live the impromptu lives of ‘world travellers’ once again. Sounds like heaven, right?

Koh Samui, Heaven to some, but certainly not to me anymore.

Koh Samui. Heaven to some, but not me.

But a picture of an exotic land away from the harsh fluorescent lights and the demands of regular life is one thing. In reality, it turned out to be everything I didn’t want. The American was as crook as Rookwood. I was being eaten alive by gigantic mosquitoes and dealing with bogans. And then, without warning, we were living without both power and running water in a hot and humid climate with no wind.  This was not the ‘paradise’ I had imagined when daydreaming in my cubicle in Oakland.

Since we arrived in Singapore a few weeks ago, things had been going downhill. No matter where I found myself, I just couldn’t get comfortable. We tried different spots on the island, but it didn’t alter the situation. Nothing felt right. Within me, there was a melancholy and a voice telling me that this wasn’t going to work. I’d had my heart set on these bloody islands, but it was just not working for us. We had to get off the island!

The only illumination we had. For days.

The only illumination we had. For days.

We made our way from the islands on the bus-ferry-bus-bus-and then overnight bus to Bangkok, and everything was still going wrong for us. In Bangkok, same same. I was getting more down about the situation and the American was withdrawing entirely from conversation. So essentially it was just me, trying to make myself feel okay and make it sound like everything is rainbows and unicorns. Because it totally wasn’t.

“Ugh! Here I am, on extended holiday, doing what others would kill to do, and I am miserable and unhappy and completely hating my life right now!”.

I felt the shame of being such an ungrateful suburban twat, and was really questioning if I have ever really been happy anywhere. In fact, I felt as though the whole trip was just one big, fat flop and I was the world’s biggest idiot. I wallowed in self-pity for a while, and then we enacted Plan C: All we needed to do to (hopefully!) save this trip was to reach Chiang Mai. If things were not working out for us in Chiang Mai, then we’re on the next plane out of here. Deep down, I was not ready to give up on the adventure. I am obviously a sadist, because then we almost died in a bus fire on the dreadful overnight bus to Chiang Mai. True story. Grab some popcorn and settle in to read more about that here.

So with a little down time here in Chiang Mai (and fewer things trying to kill us), we’re already liking life much better up here in the mountains. The American and I have recommenced communication, our clothes have been washed and we’re staying in a cute little guesthouse run by a spunky woman in her 40s. Still being eaten by mozzies, but that’s par for the course. They love the European blood. So we’ll see how much we like Chiang Mai, but already, it’s another world up here. I think we’ll unpack and stick around, and see if we can rekindle our love of Thailand.