my 2011

A year ago I was in Australia, on Phillip Island with James, Nadege, and Ash. It feels like that was a long, long time ago. Since then I have:

— acquired Australian permanent residency:

— quit my job (three little words, a lot of drama)

— sold all my possessions

(pictured: Nom and Mansa, two of my favourite girls in the world, modeling some of the crap I flogged at my yard sale)

— gone on a variety of manic road trips around Australia with James and the White Knight

— run 107km with miCoach, 345km with RunKeeper, and an estimated 15km with James this summer (I know, wow, right??!), which adds up to a total of 467km. There was a biiiig gap in running due to the fact that I…

— travelled around Europe from April to August, mostly on the back of this motorbike.

 It wasn’t quite the self-indulgent experience we had planned, but I squeezed in time in a number of countries:

—  England (London, Devon), France (most of the Lot department, Biarritz & Bayonne, Marseille, Strasbourg, Paris), Spain (San Sebastian), Italy (Florence, Lake Como), Switzerland (some tiny village in the Alps), Belgium (Brussels, Knock), and Sweden (Gothenburg). One day I will get round to writing at least a bit about my travels. I also moved to Taiwan where I have visited Penghu and Taidong as well as of course Taipei. I also spent significant amounts of time pacing up and down the airports of: Abu Dhabi; Copenhagen; Moscow; Beijing. #jetsetting #namedropping

— lost my boyfriend, running buddy and close friend James to MSF after they whisked him away to Uganda out of the blue. A lot of the time I’m ok with this and chalk it up to fate taking us our separate ways. Sometimes I’m not so ok with this. 

— gone back to Mandarin school and somehow heaved my way back up to upper intermediate/advanced level.

— learned to really, truly, cross-my-heart-hope-to-die, love my own company. 

— found the Hash House Harriers — I have no words. 

2012 promises: Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, finish school, get a new job, run two half-marathons, and more…

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Sweden recap

[I wrote this whilst still in Sweden, but wanted to have the pictures to illustrate it before publishing it. Consequently it’s written as if I was still there — I did vaguely think about re-writing it, but it was way too much effort. So instead: TIME TRAVEL! ~~~~~~]

So, what of Sweden? Well, Swedish is very, very different from any of the languages I speak and even deciphering the back of the cereal packet has proven more than challenging. I’m really glad I am not staying here so long as to need to learn more than “Hello” “Thank you” and “Good” (which I have retained phonetically as “Hey”, “Takh” and “Broa(p?)”. That last one I sort of mumble, “bro-a…(hint of p which I can never remember should or should not be there)”. I’ve given up any attempt at pronouncing Gothenburg in Swedish and now stick to the English [edit: I mastered it in the end! it’s pronounced “Yotty-borray”. Would you have guessed that?]. In fact, I am doing that more or less constantly. Yesterday when I tried to ask for a cone with one scoop of Daim ice-cream (YUMMMM), I apparently panicked and asked for “one two cone cup ice cream Daim” — complemented by an AWFUL accent — so nobody knew what I was saying. But who cares, because DAIM ICE CREAM!

I’m not much of a tourist, but the highlights of my visit so far have been:

A walk along the coast near Jess’s grandmother’s house, on Tuesday night. The forest comes right down to the sea (forget beaches) and there are lots of boulders and rocks everywhere. The sun was setting and the whole place was simply magical. You can see why Scandinavian fairytales are so superior!

Gothenburg Slottsskogen or “Castle Park”. Jess trains with her football team several times a week, for 3 hours at a time. So on Thursday I left her to it, and bravely set forth under the rain with the aim of finding and walking around the Slottsskogen. I hadn’t done any research other than spotting a suitably situated green area on the map and sniggering at the funny name, so I was delighted to discover a huge, rambling park. I followed an overgrown path up some steps into the overgrown boulders, and found myself on a deserted and somewhat dated botanical-garden-type walk, reminiscent of my grandparents’ garden. Then I popped up out the top on huge rocks and boulders to discover myself in a zoo! I followed the paths and ended up at a sort of farm, with peacocks and elks and… things (identifying animals has not really been a priority for me I’m afraid), before heading back out into the forest. This led to a road, which brought me to a display of penguins and seals — again, complete surprise. Overall I spent nearly 3 hours roaming the park and loved it…

Mummy, how good is this peacock-henhouse from the farm? I think we should petition David for one, it’s only about 4 metres high!

On Friday we went to Liseberg, which is a “world-famous, well, Europe-famous, well, Scandinavia-famous… well Sweden-famous FUN PARK!”. Fun was had, and I have to say, I find these parks so much more entertaining as an adult than I ever did as a child. Oh, maybe because we never went to any? “Not true!” says Mummy, “we went to the Futuroscope!”. Anyway, beautiful Jessica and I went on most of the suitably thrilling rides.

Note: I didn’t do this one. Jessica did (she’s actually in this picture!) but she is a lot braver than me.

I also went on a more babyish one which I found quite exhilarating but the small children around me cast withering looks at me as I screamed — it obviously takes a lot more for them to be impressed.

AND I got rabbit ears! PS – notice how much REDDER my hair is? Must be a coincidence when I’m staying with a professional hairdresser…

On Saturday I spent most of the day feverishly researching excess baggage regulations for SAS and Air China. The outcome is: I won’t know till I get to the airport. I will probably spend a lot of money sorting it out. But I am determined not to hurt my back, shoulders and neck again like I did coming to Sweden from London. Around 6pm I realised I had completely wasted my day on the internet, and quickly left the house for a nice brisk 10km walk to the sea and back, listening to podcasts and laughing to myself like an idiot. I met a very strange-looking cat, who was a complete cuddle-whore, and once I had stroked it, it would not leave me alone. I tried to get pictures but it wouldn’t stop rubbing up against me and trying to get strokes out of me long enough to get a decent photo.

And as we’re showing pictures of cats, here is Jessica’s kitty Chomme (it means something like sweet thing… I think?) modelling my bunny ears.

I also spent a chunk of today talking to my darling friend Stefany in South Korea. We have plans for me to visit her in either November or February during a visa run from Taiwan, and to even visit the DMZ!! How exciting.