Archive | March, 2015


18 Mar

Because I’m not Canadian (or any host of other nationalities) I am unable to extend my visa in Australia.  No fruit picking, no farm work, nothing.   I have to leave.  It’s tragic because I’ve grown to love this country.  Mostly the accents and a couple of the people.  I’ll be back but I don’t know when, visas make things complicated.  I am going to keep traveling for now — off to Asia next. If I have been lucky enough to meet you during this epic year long journey THANK YOU for the impact you have had on my life — I am grateful for your friendship. Except for Jeff, Australia rocks.

In conclusion:

Bars are called hotels

Bars are called hotels

1 in 10 Australians can trace their direct lineage back to a convict.

Get amongst it

Get amongst it

Emus are scary as.

Rocket > Arugula

Yurong is the name of the street I lived on and always/often/occasionally how we feel about union members.

It’s Sydney, bitch.

I finished The Art of Uncertainty and understood it all. It was about boys, right?

I finished The Art of Uncertainty and understood it all. It was about boys, right?


You can surf with Australian money. It’s waterproof and rip proof!

Why do we call them peppers in the US? They're not even hot.

Why do we call all peppers peppers in the US?

Kilometres go by faster and thus are more fun.

The Capricorn Caves are worth visiting.  Ghost Host James is not.

Barramundi is an aboriginal term. Those fish are born males and turn into women later in life and IT’S ALMOST TIME FOR NATIONALS!

We carry around fishing rods for fun.

We carry around fishing rods for fun.

Pretty Faced Walabee is the actual name of an actual animal.

I think the reason people drink so much at sporting events (cricket) is because you can’t understand anything that’s going on anyway.

In a country that's famous for abbreviations, why do they pronounce ever letter in IGA?

In a country that’s famous for abbreviations, why do they pronounce ever letter in IGA?

ALWAYS expect a train at a train crossing.


Australia Day is freaking great

Can you walk? Stop complaining.

Wait.  IS there a boat ramp over there?

Homemade Pavlova tastes like marshmallows. —  I’m feeling Hun-ga-wee.

OMG, I think there's a boat following us...

without attitude you’re just the bait.

I think there’s a boat following us

Everything is AWEsome!! !

Everything is AWEsome! ! !

I’m going to to miss you, New Zealand!

bloody oath,



18 Mar

Singapore is perplexing because it is the name of the only city inside of an entire country that shares the same name.  Also, it’s disconcertingly easy to wind up inside of a well air-conditioned shopping mall. Singapore is a confusing because it is the name of the only city inside of an entire country which also happens to share its same name.

I found "The Irish" right away.

I found “The Irish” right away.


75% Chinese 10% Indian 80% Dutch and 100% intelligent, good, kind people

I went to Gardens by the Bay which was hard to appreciate in the humidity but the Google images are spectacular.

Gardens by the Bay was hard to appreciate with that humidity but Google images removed that discomfort.

It was a short stint in this modern, paved, best-airport-in-the-world metropolis and my favorite part were the Couchsurfers.  I’d come back just to visit you guys.

Serious face

Serious face

adventure and romance,

Uncle Sam

You should have come in February

17 Mar

IMG_3728 My year in Australia was almost over and I needed to cull clothes, choose which ones were going to make it into my 10 (!) kilo backpack as I prepared to sling it over my shoulders and continue traveling around the world.  I find it easier to make decisions regarding my changing threads whenever I see them being worn by my permanent best friend, Molly Dworsky.  We had talked about what she should bring before she arrived, “contact solution and underwear”.  And then, during her trip we had a handy euphemism for any and all things we were underprepared for during her stay — “Zero pants.”


Its called the Australian Open because there are so many open seats.

Its called the Australian Open because there are so many open seats.

Our inconsistent ability to attract sport and exercise into our lives made it a surprise when we found ourselves in downtown Melbourne during the Australian Open and, on a whim, we bought tickets to the event.  Through a series of restrictions we weren’t allowed into the Rod Laver Stadium (where the only people we had ever heard of were playing). So instead we had a semi unforgettable experience procuring ice and eating the sushi we had stowed in our backpacks.

The next morning was a relaxing run towards Andrew, our guide on a private food tour — that’s hilarious — and then scored free hats which were too good to be true as we quickly found out they were advertisements for a brothel. So we bought more hats which also turned out to be too good to be true but for an entirely different reason:  They would not fold up as we packed and repacked our bags and boarded a plane bound for Tasmania.

Tasmania's in the South East.

Can you find Tasmania?

The Cranky Penguin is the name of a 40km mountain bike race in Cradle Mountain that Molly and I literally had no business being involved with. One of those situations where we were so underprepared we didn’t even deserve to say the words “The Cranky Penguin”.  Here’s what I mean: The day before the event I was calling every single bicycle shop on the entire island of Tasmania trying to locate our bikes.  I had failed to store the rental places’ number or write down their name, they was were no longer in my call history, they hadn’t charged my credit card, and the manager had not been in contact.  A “zero pants” situation.   In serendipitous fashion, 24 hours before the race we were back in touch with Damien at Rockey Mountain Rentals: “Yes, your bikes will be there.”  Shucks, that would have been a great excuse.

We had hired a car and the night before we drove as close as we felt comfortable to the start of the competition, parked our house next to blackberry brambles, and ate our prerace we’ve-obviously-never-done-this-before dinner; a block of cheese, a box of crackers, and a tub o’ jam.  We slept in the car, got up in the middle of last night, and looked for a signal that light was still on the payroll.  “This is the closest we’ve been to this race being behind us!” Molly said, still retaining her chipper smile which was hours away from decaying. We met Damien at the timing tent and he gave us our bikes, helmets, and numbers.  He asked us if we’d like to take our bikes for a test run. “Nah. What’s the point?  We’re gunna be on them for a long time anyway.”  Damien laughed and asked how we’d heard about the race (in a recent Mens Health magazine) while echoing several other people by saying he “didn’t think we were going to complete The Cranky Penguin”. We shrugged and asked him to root for us anyway.


Molly and I kept a steady last place by periodically getting off to walk.

What the heck else did we have to do all day?? It was Sunday.  We were determined to finish. The Sweeps kept us company which we didn’t like because that made it hard to eat our inappropriate-for-a-bike-race snacks which consisted of canned food and suckers.

About one hour into the race (or 4 kilometers, for those of you keeping track) we saw the contests’ first victim — a fit, 20 something male shaking uncontrollably with blood gushing down what I swear was his eye.  The paramedics had to hike over 2ks on rough terrain to bring him a stretcher.  We found out later that 9 ambulances were called throughout the day for the less than 200 people that had entered the race.

Girl, you're making that look easy.

“Girl, you’re making that look so easy” said nobody, ever.

5 hours in and only halfway through, to the surprise of no one, Crash and Bam called it quits and hitched a very grateful ride to the finish line.

we had bruises on our shines wider than the grins on our faces.

we had bruises on our shins much wider than the grins on our faces.

We licked our wounds with honey from the local honey farm, curled up in the car, and eventually made our way down south to the Tasman Peninsula where real beds and a family were waiting for us.  We brought with us a bouquet of wildflowers, which is all I’m going to say about that.

Were you standing in the canoe when you stabbed him?

Rocky and Tynan, the hunters!



The view from the Bartolo’s home was immediately breathtaking — most of the views in Tasmania are — but it was the people who truly made our stay remarkable.  Jude, Rocky, Jessie, Tynan, and we’re-mad-at-you-Jack welcomed us Australian style with fresh-caught octopus and delicious home-cooking which ended up being a major theme for the duration of our trip. Scrumptious pizza, American style Burgers, Kangas and Mash, the fun process of baking Chocolate Chip Cookies with Jessie!, cooking up Pork Ribs for days, Macaroni and Cheese, and Eggs Benedict nearly every single morning.  We had to dance to burn off some of those calories! Luckily it was Taylor Swift 24/7 and the girls made up the perfect octopus routine. See it here.

Molly and Jessie <3

Molly and Jessie ❤

A BBQ with a heap of good friends was thrown and the hysterical Pam showed us all how to play the box game and the 10 cent piece game which will both stick with us 🙂

The Wooden Boat Festival was in town and while the rest of the family went to check out the scene Molly and I had what we had come to expect as a typical, unprepared 5 hour hike on the top of Mt. Wellington which included drinking water from any stream we could find and the strategy of wearing clothes on different parts of our bodies so as to unsuccessfully avoid getting sunburnt.  Sorry dad.

We went to the Tasmanian Devil Park!

A Tasmanian Devil!

Personal Notes:

~”Well it’s a cup of meat and grapes. Just give me an ‘F’ and move on.”

~Brumby’s thwarted us more than once.  But like a kiss with a fist a cold meat pie is better than none, eh Brett?

~Giving meaning to Bush Tucker by “Tuckin it!”

~Mom/Mum! There were Salamanca markets in Tasmania and I went and I thought about how excited I am to see YOU!!!!!!!!!

A real dog lover

A real dog lover

~rainbow socks and neon shoelaces

~Bubble Tea and The OC pilot

~February 2nd, celebrating Laughter Yoga’s Birthday at home.

~Going to the Honey Spot. Twice. And then The Bee Movie.

~Glamping or Flashpacking: Spending our first night ever in a camper van!  As we were setting it up torrents of giggles and fun was had “sam?” I heard.  “yeah?” “Should we get one?!”  Even when those metal bars fell on my head I reckon it only added to Molly’s joy.



~We went to two Mole Creek Caves: Learned that there is no such thing as a poisonous spider (only venomous), heard a fungus gnats tirade from our philosophical tour guide, and then Our Team made quite the impression when, in Old English, we spat Shakespeare off the walls.

~Freycinet fishing and Wine Glass Bay! We caught more fish in those few hours than in our combined lives. Molly screamed like a girl and honed Jew fishing – which is where you keep the bait.

~Perth’s Fringe festival!

~was it ever going to be popcorn time??

the rocks whispered secrets they shared with the bats.

the rocks whispered secrets they shared with the bats.

Our trip ended much too quickly, as always.  We’re still in Love.

‘mi and ‘ly

PS: Hey Jessie, how many minutes did you do on the bike today??  You got this!!!!!!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas, if you’re into that sort of thing

16 Mar

Last year — two weeks before Christmas — I handed over a smile and my passport to a Japanese customs officer.

Moshi Moshi!

Moshi Moshi!

I had a very happy Christmas Day.  20 second link.

Even cooler in person.

Even cooler in person

When I was small my parents got me a realistic animal book and the very first page was a herd of buffalo with their horns out, making a circle, protecting their young.  And the second page was essentially the above photo except that 18 years later that picture was taken by ‘mi.  After I spent the whole of December 25th, 2014 hanging out in a park with wild snow monkeys I realised that dreams can be hard to articulate but they make you restless and smell good and are always there.


Japan is out of this universe.




Golden Pavilion.

The iconic Golden Pavilion.

Japanese people don’t jostle each other even during rush hour!   It’s a remarkably safe country and I felt comfortable acting like a tourist; mouth agape, bag unzipped, camera snapping.  Public and private bathrooms are amazing, clean, and all have heated toilet seats.

In Tokyo, a city of crowds, I stayed in a traditional Ryokan (a Japanese bath house) in the quiet, old district called Ueno.  I viewed the city from above, saw Robots in Shinjuku, walked the streets of Shibuya, and spent an entire day stalking Sumo Wrestlers. I explored temples in Kyoto, met generous Misaki on the street, cooked, and made life-long friends.

My favorite city was Nagano and it turns out that I like Osaka more than most.

Mt. Fiji

Mt. Fiji at dusk

Went bathing in an outdoor Onsen, Takaragawa.  They told me it was the size of "470 Tatomi mats".

They told me this outdoor Onsen was the size of “470 Tatami Mats”.



At The Tsukiji Fish Market things from The Sea had all been removed from their original context and juxtaposed incongruously amongst pavement and people and yet seemed perfectly in place. I  hardly recognised anything.

I pointed to sushi off menus that I couldn’t understand. Every storefront I saw looked like the outside of a yoga studio.


The Japanese don’t walk and eat so I sat down to eat my harf and harf green tea ice cream with beans.

In restaurants my order was taken last and on trains people tried to create space around me.  It could have been because I smelled like the food that I had eaten or because of a belief that foreigners carry diseases.

There were Japanese gardens made of gravel that no one was allowed to walk on and I laughed every time I saw a bouquet of flowers after a play I had seen that outlined just how skilled Japanese people are at making floral arrangements. Apparently it runs in their blood.

I got the feeling that San Ramon, Costa Rica was closer than ever.

I came to understand that it’s hard to sleep in an Internet cafe and not because of the lights, confined space, or cigarette smoke. It’s hard because of lightning fast Internet at your fingertips and included-in-the-price, caffeinated soft drinks out of a vending machine.

My weeks in Japan were delicious and memorable. I flew back “home” to the warmth of Australia on a New Years ticket.


“Fall seven times and standup eight.” – Japanese proverb