10 Reasons to Love Melbourne

*note, some of this is a bit tongue in cheek but I do have a lot of affection for the place*

1. The people

Are just insanely welcoming. Smiley, happy, relaxed and friendly. Also absurdly hot. Why are you so hot people of Melbourne??? But hate them because they run. Like seriously- I’ve never seen so many people out running in the morning. Why are you making me feel bad about staying in bed?

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That time those two super-friendly Melbournian lovelies took me on a birthday tour of Melb (I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22…)

2. Lucas Papaw treatment

The Aussie’s answer to Vaseline only far more effective/superior. It sorts dry lips in an instant, and is also a topical ointment application for boils, burns, chaffing, cuts, cracked skin, bites, nappy rash and more. As is the case with wine, the Aussies tend to keep the best for themselves and it is less accessible (though not impossible to purchase) outside of Australia.

3. And in the same vain… the wine

People doubt this, but I actually never used to be a fan of wine. Now I am. Maybe it helps that my Aussie relatives like a drink or two. But definitely the wine is all round lovelier here than anywhere else I’ve ever been (especially red hill from the Mornington Peninsula- sorry France).

4. The Tram Network

With your little Myki, getting around Melbourne via tram is fairly easy. Trams, by and large, are regular and stops are readily located. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely easier to pick up than the London underground. Plus, the overground network in Melbourne is not at all bad either.

5. The beaches

Rosebud, Safety Beach, even St Kilda… beaches in and around Melbourne and Victoria are lovely, a novelty to Brits like me. Though they can get busy, they are treated, by and large, respectively- retaining their beauty and natural state.

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Safety Beach ❤

6. Aboriginal heritage and general Aussie history

Some Aussies joke about what they perceive to be a lack of culture in their country (not my view). However, whilst Australian history is very much entangled with European history (especially with the mass incoming immigration the country saw from Europe in the 20th Century), there is history. For more information on immigration, see the Immigration Museum in Melbourne- near Flinders Street Station. Better still, the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Centre is absolutely amazing and really opens your eyes to customs, norms and the trials and tribulations the aboriginals have experienced previously. Be sure to check out the Shrine of Remembrance as well, which provides relevant knowledge about the role of Australia in the war and the main event (Gallipoli) that underlies Anzac Day (the day of remembrance there).

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An exhibition at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Centre

7. The Grid System

For a girl who still relies on Google maps an unhealthy amount, Melbourne being built on the hoddle grid (named after the designer) is an absolute blessing. If you get lost, just walk down any side road and you’ll get to the parallel main road that you need eventually.

8. Lord of the Fries

I hate most fast food (bar Domino’s UK and Chinese/Indian takeaways). McDonalds, Burger King, KFC… they don’t float my boat. But there are two reasons why I love Lord of the Fries. First, the name has the literary nerd inside of me rubbing her hands with glee. And second, the chips with garlic mayo are SO DAMN GOOD.

9. Aussie slang (not just relevant to Melbourne)

Just the little things really. Like calling a six-pack of beer a slab. And Bogan is definitely weirdly more endearing than chav. But interestingly on the topic, you can’t compare the rough parts of Melbourne to the rough parts of London. The rough parts of London are far far worse. Maybe it’s just the sunshine that does those parts of Melbourne favours. But in my opinion, everyone there (regardless of wealth) seems to just have a better quality of life.

10. The climate

I don’t really know if this made me love or hate Melbourne. But it resonates with British weather. The temperature in Melbourne is insanely variable- it is more temperamental than a girl with PMT. And pretty much everyone I met over there warned me about Melbourne being “four seasons in one day”. One minute it can be 29 degrees Celsius and sunshine and the next it has dropped to 20 degrees Celsius and windy (*grabs leather jacket*). But even 20 by UK standards is warm. So actually, I really loved the weather in Melbourne (though I did struggle during the periods where it hit the 30s) 😀

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Blogging Retrospectively: why I am determined to see this to the end and where I am right now

It’s now May 2015 and I’m not in Asia or in Australia. I don’t want any of my readers to feel deceived since I aim for my blog posts to maintain high levels of integrity and purity of emotion. However, the truth is I fell behind with my blogging whilst travelling. I still have thousands of photos to sort through, and Australia brought with it new challenges and triumphs that required me to very much live in the moment. Not that this should eclipse my ability to blog, but it did mean that whilst diary entries were rife, translating such entries into pieces of writing that (hopefully) maintain a good balance between personal (but not too much) and engaging (reporting every aspect of each day would be bland) became somewhat difficult.

So what’s the future for the blog? I want to see it through until the end of Australia- I’ve written up few entries on Melbourne yet have developed a genuine and fond attachment to the place. My Australian family have joked that they expect me to return when I’m 25 (I’m currently 22) and it’s not outside the realms of possibility that I will. I’d like to say that there will be another point in my life where I can take some time out and see more places. I know that, by living in the UK, I am incredibly fortunate since Europe is very accessible to me. And if I’m being totally honest, there are still lots of parts of Europe I’ve yet to see. Even those that have been explored have not been viewed through the eyes of my 22 year old self. So, should the opportunity present itself, I would like to be able to blog about any future travels too (time, money and audience- I don’t know if you guys would be interested- permitting).

Right now I’m working in my home town. This period of time (let’s call it spring 2015) has had a comfortable feel- lots of routine, limited pressure. In June the tide will be changing- I can’t say whether this will be for better or for worse, but I strongly believe that life is about new challenges.

The next entries posted will pertain to Melbourne. I went to see the Great Ocean Road, and have explored places around the city including the Yarra Valley, Rosebud and Safety Beach. Completing this blog- though insubstantial and small- would mean a lot- closing the chapter but providing another source through which I can revisit those experiences. To everyone that has taken the time to read any of my blog posts- thank you 🙂 And I will be keeping a close eye on other WordPress travel blogs to see where I can be inspired to visit next!

Why so over-jeju? My explanation to you.

Time is liquid, it ebbs and flows,

Plan for the future- sure- but who really knows?

You can anticipate, and this steers our imagination I suppose.

But the longer I go without writing,

the more my regret grows.

It’s been a while on the blog post front. I know this, and I spoke to my mum just now (trust her to feed me a strong dose of reality). She asked me when my next entry would be up, she told me my readers might lose interest because of the inconsistency of my blog entries- the fact that it has been a while since I’ve written a post which encapsulates the normal essence of my writing (my recent entry on Melbourne was an in the moment snapshot, an exception to my normal travel posts) is not great.

So I guess I am writing this for two reasons. 1. an explanation and 2. what you can expect from now on.

1. I’m in Melbourne. And I’m very happy right now. But it has not been without it’s challenges, and whilst trying to find a job, and somewhere to live, and adapting to a new dynamic (without my travel companion but with incredible friends and distant relatives) time has just disappeared ridiculously fast. When I travelled Asia, my companion disciplined me to write up my diary entries, put a post up, and gave me time to accommodate this. Here, self-discipline is key and I have so much more of my adventure to relay to you (whilst trying to monitor my current experiences and document them so that they can also go onto this blog) that I feel slightly overwhelmed. Nonetheless memory is a tricky customer, both friend and foe, and I realise as I read over old entries just how grateful I am to have posted about these experiences, to know that I can revisit them at leisure and lessen the risk of inaccurate recall.

2. You guys know I’m doing Asia and Australia. You might have read about my time in HK, Japan and part of South Korea. But as of yet, you don’t know the rest of South Korea or any of China or my second stint in Hong Kong or Melbourne. So here’s the new deal- I’ll be putting a post up weekly MINIMUM. Doesn’t matter if I’m in Melbourne, Hong Kong or London (that’s my next few months right there), I want to share with you and am so grateful for you if you’ve had the patience to wait for me, and continue to support me.

Travel is beautiful and I am fortunate to have experienced some really cool things. And what makes me so happy is knowing that you are reading an entry and in some cases, pressing that star. Because it makes me realise that although I can always improve, and some will dislike or disagree with what I have to say, there are others that have been undertaking this journey with me, and will hopefully continue to do so.

If you like, look out for my next post on Jeju Island over the next few days (hence the title- why so over-Jeju instead of why so overdue… sorry I couldn’t resist) .

And a very Happy New Year to you all  🙂

Familiarity: friend or foe? And why is there so much to do and so little time?

*quick note, it says 6 days because I wrote this last night. *

Spoons and forks rattle from within the kitchen downstairs. There is the intermittent sound of a hairdryer whirring and my sister’s voice upstairs. I have 6 days to go until travelling. It should be no big deal- dozens of people choose to see new places at some point (I’m sorry to say that I can’t reference that statistic accurately, but many people seem to know someone who has travelled 🙂 ). And sometimes familiarity feels suffocating, sometimes I can feel the tension in my upper back and the world seems confined to the four walls of my room. Sometimes my eyes are unable to look away from the To-Do list which I know will be sitting in the top left-hand corner of my desktop when I load up my laptop.

6 days.

But sometimes familiarity breeds comfort. Sometimes I want to be in the lounge, doubled over in hysterics over something my mum has said, or having a light-hearted discussion with my dad in the car on the way to the swimming pool. Sometimes I want to exchange that look with my sister whereby we feel like we’re the only two people in the world who at that moment have tuned into each other’s thoughts with perfect synchronicity.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is- I’m starting to feel nervous. Of course, I’ve been away from home before whilst studying, but that sort of felt like leaving one family and re-joining another.

And I think I owe an apology to the people reading this, who might be expecting or wanting more of the food reviews/attraction reviews/city descriptions etc… When I arrive in Hong Kong and travel onwards from there, I’ll move the blog more in this direction. But until I get there, I have lots of time to dwell and/or anticipate yet a minimal amount of time to do everything I need to do. And for this I blame my inherent procrastination trait 🙂

I need to pack. The problem here is my inability to pack light. Rummaging around in my handbag normally provides me with a multitude of surprises (that is once I’ve wrestled open the zip, which tends to be straining anyway due to the excessive contents of my bag). However, when travelling, the term “pack light” would be rather handy. Not to mention when faced with a baggage limit.

I need to figure out how to use my new camera. This is coming from a slight technophobe who has broken at least two of her digital cameras in the past (my dad refuses to let me forget that fact). My bank account also refuses to let me forget that fact. Consequently I anticipate that my cautious approach to handling the camera equipment combined with my desire to read all appropriate instructions at least three times might be somewhat time-consuming. And I need to pick up a good few more items from the shops. Time-consuming. Though part of me wonders whether I should really bother- after all, Hong Kong (alongside places like New York and Paris) seems to be held in great esteem by those who faithfully love shopping. What do you guys think? Better safe than sorry?

My hoarding (which, not bordering on compulsive according to my final year module but which I’d say is still pretty extreme) may make locating what I need in my bedroom to take travelling somewhat challenging.

Time-consuming.

I need to sort my CV. Because as much as I’d love to say I have the funds to enable me to continue to travel without finding a job in Australia, that is simply not true. So there is a bit of pressure there.

Time-consuming.

And even when I arrive in Hong Kong, there is still the small matter of obtaining my China tourist visa. This could have been done in the UK but to cut a long story short, circumstances were not on my side and getting it sorted out over here when I have to be in Hong Kong by the 1st October could be difficult.

So yeah…

Busy, busy, busy!

And during that whole period of time thinking about what I have to do and typing it into this blog post, I briefly forgot about familiarity. Without it, how will I feel? Homesick? Inspired? A combination of these feelings? Perhaps it won’t even be an issue during the Asia leg of my journey because I’m travelling with friends. But if I focus on the many places to go and things to see and try, maybe I will forget about the concept of familiarity entirely. And even in Australia, perhaps all that will really matter will be forming that new memory, experiencing that moment and being able to exist completely within it.

I’ll blog again once I arrive in Hong Kong. Thanks for reading!

Welcome to my blog!

SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?

That’s the question the majority of us confused graduates get asked when we finish our studies. For the minority that know, I am in awe of your focus and ability to discover what you want out of life. For the rest of us, we’re faced with a number of options… post-graduate study… job… graduate training schemes… volunteering… or…

Travel?

Yep, I didn’t think that would be my immediate decision either 🙂 But since it is, I’ve decided to write this blog in order to articulate my musings, share a photo or two, get ridiculously excited about food (I am besotted, thankfully so is my travel companion) and just generally describe where I am and what I’m doing.

So to the introductions- I’m Olivia and I’m a 21 year old British student who has just graduated from university.

YAY UNIVERSITY!!!

During my time at this glorious place, I was fortunate enough to meet a multitude of people who were both entertaining and inspiring (slushy but true). I stress this point because honestly, had you asked me a few years ago, never would I have considered taking some time out of education or the world of work to travel. But things change and having completed my degree, I decided that now was the right time to spread my wings a little and immerse myself in some different cultures. Since two of my close friends come from different parts of Asia (Hong Kong and South Korea respectively), I decided that travelling to learn more about where they’re from and other nearby countries could be a lot of fun!!!!

For the first part of my journey around Asia, I am travelling with a friend (soon to be long-suffering travel companion) and am going to Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and China before returning to Hong Kong. After these 6 weeks, I have decided to go it alone and settle in Melbourne for a while… in spite of having absolutely nothing set in stone there. Which could represent foolishness or become a mark of successful spontaneity (hopefully the latter). I’ll keep you guys updated on that front.

Feel free to comment on any of my posts (all feedback would be hugely appreciated) since this is the first time I’ve ever blogged and if there is something I could be doing to make it better (from the reader’s perspective), I would really love to be able to make those improvements!

Hope you enjoy my blog!!!