human kindness and the importance of travelling light

I just made my way to Australia for the second time in my life. When I was younger, Australia seemed like a very far off land that you could’t really go to unless you were very rich and very adventurous. There’s a lot of things that my younger self thought that haven’t quite turned out to be true, of course, but my family hadn’t really travelled far unless it was for work, and I couldn’t see myself working with anything that would take me to the magical land down under. I would never have believed, had you told me when I was ten, that I’d be going to Australia twice in my life (at least!).

I was 100% sure that my baggage allowance was 30kg, but as it turns out, it was only 20. I had tried very hard to take only the non essentials and leave everything behind that I couldn’t absolutely see myself using a lot during three months, and I still weighed in at 28.5 kilos. I suppose I am pretty materialistic. I’m not even sure what it is that I’ve brought that weighs so much, but maybe I’ll open my luggage and find I’ve brought my pet anvil.

Obviously, going over by that much doesn’t come cheap, but the check in attendant asked me to repack a little bit as otherwise she’d have to charge me 190 pounds(!!!) and of course I obliged. I like to try shedding the non essentials along the way, and travel light not only when I am going somewhere, but through life. Beauty is an important ideal, but I’d like to think that it can be achieved with minimal luggage. I am constantly torn between this belief, informed by my dear grandmother, who spent the last five years of her life trying to throw everything non essential away and still leaving us with way too much stuff after she passed, and my natural tendency to hoard absolutely everything, which I believe also comes from her. It’s a struggle.

Oh, and they didn’t charge me at all. The second time I came to the check in desk, the attendant seemed pleased that I’d at least made the effort, so she let me through scot free. Sometimes all you need is a smile on your face and people will do what they can to keep it there.

DISNEYLAND

One thing I really wanted to do here in Tokyo was go to Disneyland. I went to Euro Disney in Paris when I was five, but it was in November (for my birthday!) and I was tiny so there were a lot of things that either weren’t open or weren’t open to me. So I was pretty excited to get to do everything this time!

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The first thing I wanted to do was meet Mickey! I met him when I was in Paris as well, and my mum wanted to get a picture but our camera was out of film. Pretty naff. But this time I got a picture, and I am so happy! I waited almost exactly twenty-one years for that so there was no way I was gonna miss it even though I had to queue up for over an hour.

The second day, I went to Disney Sea on the recommendation of one of my friends, and I am so happy I did! It was so aces! Such a beautiful park, so many more characters walking around, heaps better rides… if you have a chance to go, but only have one day, definitely do Disney Sea! I think the only thing that was better at Disneyland was that they had the castle.

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I got some pictures with various characters (and Mickey again, of course), and I went on all the rides that said to avoid them if you have high blood pressure. I loved Journey to the Centre of the Earth, so I went on that twice, but my absolute favourite was Indiana Jones! It was probably the most fun ride I’ve been on in my entire life and I just screamed and laughed the whole time – I could barely breathe! It was like a mix of a roller coaster and a haunted house, and though I do hate haunted houses, knowing that we’d be swept away in a second made it all okay. It was the last one I went on and it was absolutely the perfect finish to an amazing day! I’m almost sad I didn’t get a three day pass so I could go again.

japan

I am in Tokyo! I used to be obsessed with Japan when I was younger (yes, even then I was a huge nerd… I loved mangas so much), and I honestly never thought I’d actually gett to visit this country. I’m very happy to be proven wrong! I just told my mum on the phone that if it wasn’t for the fact that I moved to Australia (which I never planned), I probably wouldn’t have gone to Japan either, because the thought of going halfway across the world seemed so huge to me. Now, I’m flying to other countries willy-nilly!

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My first two days I just went shopping in Harajuku and Shibuya, which was nice, but wasn’t as different from back home as I was hoping for. Today, I went to Sensoji temple, and that was really nice – very different from anything you’d get in Europe, and a bit more culturally inclined than running around in stores all day. Probably should have done that the first day, to be honest! But I got to go with a girl I made friends with at my hostel today, so it all worked out for the best.

We also went to the Imperial Gardens, and we got picked up by a group of Japanese people who asked to give us a guided tour in order to improve their English. Pretty random but fun!

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Tomorrow, I am going to DISNEYLAND! I am freaking out quite a lot. I’ve got my false nails on and my outfit and makeup planned! I will be looking absolutely perfect when I meet Mickey, or else.

there’s no place like home

I’m really sad to leave Australia, which I am pretty surprised about considering I’ve been so excited for so long to go back home and see all my friends and family, and to see London again. But now that it’s actually coming up I find myself holding on to every minute that passes, wishing I had still more time in Australia.

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It’s the curse of the traveller, I suppose; wherever you go there’s also somewhere else that holds your heart. I feel like I’ve settled in and taken root, and now that I’m leaving those roots are ripped up yet again. Leaving Sweden was terrifying and I asked myself if I’d made a mistake (spoiler alert: I hadn’t). Leaving London was heart wrenching and as soon as my plane took off I started longing for the day I would set foot on her filthy sidewalks again. And now, leaving Australia, I can’t wait to come back and drink my fill of this country again.

I think you leave part of yourself wherever you make a home, and with the people you find there, and though I still feel whole I feel stretched over a huge distance. I think part of me will always be missing somewhere else, wherever I go. I have had similar feelings since I was a young girl, though at the time I was missing places I had never even seen, and something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it was foreshadowing for how I would feel later on in life.

whitsunday islands

I continued my journey down the coast of Australia with a boat trip out to the Whitsunday Islands. My travel agent insisted I had to go there, and with a few days to spare before I have to leave, I thought why not. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, because I’m not really a beach person, but I thought we might get the opportunity for some more snorkelling, so I was pretty excited!

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The first day we just went for a snorkel and a trip further south to get closer to Whitehaven beach. I really enjoyed it, but I also did think that the snorkelling in Cairns was somewhat better. The water was a lot clearer up there, and they didn’t warn us about any deadly jellyfish, which I definitely appreciated.

The second day, we went to Whitehaven beach. Now, I am not a beach person, but I must say that it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my entire life! The sand was like walking on flour – it is the whitest sand on the planet, and to be honest it looks more like snow than like sand.

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It was like walking around in a postcard! This was such a beautiful experience, and I’m really glad I went.

Now, I’m en route to Sydney for my final four days in Australia!

under the sea

I just went scuba diving in the Great Barrier reef! At first, when I booked my trip, I was absolutely terrified of the thought, and I had intended to just go snorkelling. However, my travel agent strongly encouraged me into trying scuba diving instead, so after a bit of hesitation, I agreed. I’m so happy I finally got to do something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I first got to Australia!

I arrived to Cairns yesterday, after flying overnight which was a terrible decision considering the flight is only about 3.5 hours long and I need heaps more sleep than that. I got to Cairns around 7 and then I couldn’t check into my hostel until later in the afternoon! So basically all I did yesterday was hang around and try not to sleep too much, since I knew I needed to get up early today. I did manage to have a look at the city though and found one of the most beautiful city spots I’ve seen.

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Who ever saw a public infinity pool before?! I didn’t have a swim in it yet but I don’t have anything to do on Saturday so I just might then.

So after a beautiful night’s sleep I woke up at 6.30 this morning and made my way down to the harbour. It took us about two hours to get out to the reef and then we were set loose! I didn’t manage to take any pictures, unfortunately, since I didn’t have an underwater camera, but rest assured it was easily as beautiful as the pictures you’ve already seen. I saw so many different fishes! I could have easily spent several days out there.

I did enjoy the dive, but as someone who’s scared of everything, I must say I preferred the snorkelling since that came with a bit more control of your surroundings. That made it a lot easier to concentrate on what I was seeing, rather than on breathing properly! I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who asked, though.

melbourne redux

Yesterday, I abruptly started feeling like Perth was not for me anymore. I felt like I’d done everything I need to do here and to stay for longer would just be a long wait for when I could finally leave. So I’m going back to Melbourne for two weeks! I am not a very spontaneous person, but I do have a very strong sense of what I do and do not want. And I do not want to stay here any longer.

It’s a bit silly because I already have tickets to Cairns booked from here, and plans on my last day, so I ended up having to come back to Perth again rather than just flying straight from Melbourne. I still feel like it’s a small price to pay for greater happiness. And it will give me another chance to catch up with people that I didn’t get to say goodbye to properly! Also, in the vein of my last post… Madame K’s every day.

perth

So I went to Perth! It was a bit willy-nilly, I suppose. I wanted to see a bit more of Australia, and I have a friend here, so I thought I would give it a go. My first impression of this city was that it was almost like an amusement park; small and delightful and the streets smell like popcorn! I quickly figured out that that is only because I am staying in the arty part of town, and there’s a San Churro down the street.

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I’ve been amusing myself by going to the botanical gardens, which are absolutely beautiful and well worth a visit. My slightly updated view of this city is that it’s a lot smaller than Melbourne, and there’s a lot more homeless people here. Street harassment seems to be a thing a lot more than it is in Melbourne, unfortunately, but during my time in Melbourne I have realised that it is a safe haven for women. I think I would not need more than at least both my hands and feet to count the times I’ve been sexually harassed on the street in Melbourne – and yes, I realise that is a sad thing to say, but if you compare and contrast to London, for example, where it will happen maybe sixteen times every time you leave the house, it seems like it’s not so bad.

Anyway, back to Perth. I’ve got another two weeks here, and I intend to make the most of that. I haven’t been to the beach yet, so I’m going there as soon as I can. I just have to find a day where I have the motivation, the weather is right, and I don’t have plans that night. Because I am the type of person who can do one thing only in a day.

prodigal

Yesterday, I booked the first of many tickets for my trip back home; my plan right now is to go back to Sweden via Hong Kong – Japan – Thailand. Before that, I want to travel Australia a bit as well, and see more of the country than just Melbourne. I’ve got a lot to squeeze in before I leave in September! I’m missing everyone back home a bit more now that I know when I’ll be back – it’s always harder when you know for sure when you’ll be seeing them again, rather than when it’s just an abstract point in the future.

I’ve been away for a long time now, to the point where it stopped feeling like being away, and started feeling like home. I was actually pretty unhappy with Melbourne for a few months, and it’s not until now, when it’s sunk in that I’m leaving pretty soon, that I’ve started liking it, and wondering if I shouldn’t have been so quick to say I wouldn’t stay for a second year.

When I left for Australia I promised my mother two things; that I wouldn’t fall in love (unlikely, seeing as I completely lack the normal range of human emotion) and that I’d come back at the end of the year. I’m not exactly unwilling to honour that part of my promise, but the fact that I briefly considered staying is pretty telling, considering I was adamant that would never happen to me. Ultimately, I think my year in Australia will have been a great learning experience for me, but it’s not a country I’d like to settle in permanently. Though who knows where life will take me!?

surfers paradise

It’s getting cold in Melbourne. Granted, “cold” in Melbourne means not quite the same thing as it means in Sweden, or even in London. I feel like a weakling when I call home and I complain about how freezing it is, at sixteen degrees celsius – in both Sweden and the UK that counts as a mild summer day. I thought I’d be perfectly okay with the colder weather, but truth be told I’ve got so used to the temperatures that now I feel like I’m halfway to being able to break off my frozen extremities. Luckily, I have a friend who was born in June, and she is not down for a winter birthday, so she decided to round up some of her girls and go to the Gold Coast!

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This was the view from our hotel room! We were all pretty shocked at how nice it was – we got a groupon pretty cheap, so we were expecting like one room with two bunk beds and no space for anything, but we got a really nice flat!

We mostly went out partying at night and did not much at all really during the day. It was a lot colder than we had hoped! We had all packed like fifteen bikinis each, but ended up going to the beach only once. We didn’t even go for a swim in the sea! Despite all that, it was really nice to just get away for a bit, and I feel super refreshed and ready for the rest of the week!

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