last day

It’s fairly obvious from the drop-off in updating that I haven’t been all that sparkly recently. My work here in Sri Lanka has been sucking all the joy out of me. There are a few highlights: I have been on a couple of runs with the local Hash House Harriers chapter, and of course nothing can beat the delight of having James stay with me for a week — we went diving in Unawatuna and every moment was simply blissful. I wrote a detailed account of the diving trip but I’m waiting for pictures from James (who has an underwater camera). On the list it goes!

It’s my last day in Sri Lanka and tomorrow I fly to Australia, my adopted homeland! I will be starting a Masters degree, which is exciting but also a little terrifying as it means staying in one country for potentially several years, as opposed to the 15 or so countries I have visited in the last 18 months. Plus James is off to Afghanistan for a year because he is James.

I have a list of all the things I want to do in Melbourne. I wrote a similar list (seen here*) when I was getting psyched about going “home” to France. I did fulfil every single item on that list, apart from La Pataterie, which is quite satisfying. So I’m writing down (in no particular order) the things I’m looking forward to doing “back home” in Australia:

  • – ridiculously delicious and unhealthy breakfasts at Alimentari and Arcadia: crispy bacon, poached eggs, corncakes, rocket, delicate salsas, sourdough toast… Fitzroy does breakfast like nowhere else in the world
  • – dragging Graham out for runs
  • – Ashtanga yoga
  • – Vietnamese food
  • – Ethiopian food
  • – long walks with Rebecca
  • – Bikram yoga
  • – the Veggie bar
  • – trams
  • – decadent French toast at Babka’s with James (before he goes all Afghan on me)
  • – Fitzroy pool (I don’t know how I plan to get so much Fitzroy when I blatantly can no longer afford to live there)
  • – tea and bicycles with Amy (if I can find a bike!)
  • – supermarkets that always stock: haloumi; tofu; hummous; olive oil Nutelex
  • – no longer living out of a suitcase
  • – watching Stick It with the other Sugar Zombies, Kerry and Enza
  • – fish and chips, as well as Lord of the Fries fries
  • – that Qantas advert with the kids singing “no matter how far or how wide I roam, I still call Australia home”, which always makes me bawl my eyes out and which they always play at Christmas time
  • – multifriend cocktails! (also the chocolate gingerbread cocktail at Polly) (also I’m guessing that Bonnie will be massively influencing my cocktail consumption)
  • – SCHOOL!
  • – being able to run outside
  • – my doctor, Genie (gosh I hope she is still working at the same clinic!)
  • – diving again, preferably in Queensland, preferably with le James
  • – D.O.C. pizza aka the best in the world (better even than in Italy)
  • – Bonds undies!
  • – ordering a flat white to be cool, realising caffeine kills me, swearing off it again for a year
  • – never going to the beach even though it’s just a tram ride away
  • – trying a third time for my driver’s license
  • – reuniting with my possessions that have been in storage as well as the bags and boxes I have abandoned scattered around the world and which can now be sent to me (cue Lesley, Mummy, Rebecca all sighing with relief).
  • Of course I also need to sort out vaguely unpleasant things such as finding a place to live, finding a source of income, investing yet again in furniture (or at least a bed and some milk crates) and paying my tuition fees, to the tune of many thousands of dollars. Also a major downer: the aforementioned departure to Afghanistan, early in February. But overall, I am so very much looking forward to this next step.

    *that post was written SIX WEEKS before my actual departure. Six weeks?? wow my life must have been dull and predictable for me to be able to make decisions and plans that far ahead. I guess I have changed a lot! Nowadays I would never write (in fact would not even bother to think much) about something so far away, because my life tends to change so quickly… if you’ll forgive the humblebrag


    today in numbers

    5 hours of sleep
    6:30am start
    30 minutes of stretching and upper-body workout
    2km walk to school
    3 hours of mind-numbing class
    1 presentation
    2 completed job applications
    10 lengths of front crawl and backstroke
    4.5 hours of Catherine+Rosie time
    6km walk along the river

    2 very sore and angry kneecaps, currently being iced
    0 minutes of revision for Chinese test tomorrow

    I just cannot seem to get it right. I thought swimming and walking were ok? I thought if I took my anti-inflammatories, stretched and did my exercises, and stopped running, everything would be alright. My knees beg to differ, using the medium of “getting very hot and tender” to express themselves.

    Also, really: who wants to study for exams? I could care less (OK OK Adina and Gareth and you other linguistics freaks: I couldn’t care less). I am working on my Chinese MY WAY — translating all my Facebook updates into Mandarin.

    all the things

    I knew already yesterday morning that I wouldn’t be going to school today. It was an executive decision: I own that decision and I stand by it still tonight. Not that yesterday’s China Hash was particularly strenuous, as instead of running I got to hang out with the little dude below, before soaking in hot springs once the runners had returned.

    Anyway, today I had a morning of luxuriating in the sunshine, dutiful stretching (working on rehabilitating my knees), tidying and packing, intermittent embroidery (whenever I felt the creative urge), working out (upper-body and core only! I am leaving my legs alone), and laundry. Far better than going to class…

    Then in the afternoon I went swimming. First I picked up a real swimsuit and new, non-leaky goggles; as this is going to be my main form of exercise for the next few months, I could put it off no longer. I pushed myself through 1km of utterly agonising flutter-kick. 12 tedious lengths with the board float (thanks Nikki… I blame the French and their planche!), 4 of actual crawl (I thought I would drown) and then the last 4 on my back, clutching the float. It was nothing like the pleasant, meditative experience of swimming breast-stroke; I kept reminding myself that it will get better and one day I will actually be quite good at it. Advice on how to stop sucking at front-crawl accepted!

    After that, spurred on by last week’s visit to the doctor, I swung by my dentist and he confirmed that both my lower wisdom teeth need to come out. One of them looks really nasty, I think it will need to be broken as it’s kind of weird and impacted-looking. I don’t particularly relish the thought, but I might as well get it done here in Taiwan where the entire procedure, including X-rays, will cost less than AUD $75 — the price of a simple check-up in Australia. So that’s booked for Wednesday after lunch. Fun fun fun…

    And to end my day on a victorious note, I have finished polishing my CV (我完成了修飾履歷表 — sorry, smug alert, I just love when I know these things in Chinese) and cover letter for another job application in Hong Kong. I would send it off right now, only the library closed at 8:30 and now I don’t have access to a computer. It’s ok, I will do it tomorrow after class. And it won’t count as tomorrow’s job application (yes, standing by my decision to do one a day).

    Now… homework. Yuck. I think I will run down to Starbucks, despite the late hour, because otherwise it won’t get done.


    There are only a couple of weeks left here in Taiwan and it’s starting to really sink in. My housemate Silva and I just spent our evening blasting our rooms; I have determined that this time I will avoid the usual panic and hideous amount of waste. I have grown a nice big pile of recycling in the middle of the living-room and I am hoping it will all make it to its rightful destination.

    Whilst sorting Silva’s rubbish I found this adorable nanoblock koala set, unopened! Also, a lavender-scented embroidery kit which Mummy gave me this summer before I left. I am going to need these distractions, as Facebook friends will know: after seeing a proper sports doctor and getting proper x-rays… the verdict is a stress fracture in my right tibia and very inflamed knee-caps. Turns out I had been doing EVERYTHING wrong during my time off. Those Nike Training Club workouts with their lunges and squats; those long kilometres on the stationary bike; those ecstatic China Hash runs — bad, bad, bad, as every step I took slammed my inflamed knee-cap harder into the bone and made things worse.

    So… three months off from running and my other preferred forms of exercise — no cycling, no swimming breast-stroke. I am going to have to get seriously into swimming, except of course it will need to be crawl aka freestyle. Which I suck at. Oh well. And also I can do the elliptical machine, but unfortunately there isn’t an elliptical at the tiny school gym… So swimming it will be, for the next few weeks at least!

    I have at last managed to liberate myself from that deer-caught-in-headlights paralysis and complete a CV and cover letter and APPLY FOR A JOB! I thought it would never happen but at last it has (much thanks to, in chronological order of assistance, Jed, Thilo, Ollie, Ben, and last but not least my previous boss, for their patient and repeated support whilst trying to drag my application into something presentable), and now I am determined to send at least one every weekday until I leave. I am still at that silly stage where I think I should only apply for ones I am “qualified” for, but I remember that after a couple of weeks of desperation one will apply for anything and everything… might as well save myself some time and start that sooner rather than later.

    By the way, as you may be able to tell from the enormously oversized pictures on this post, something else emerged during this evening’s storming of the house, an old friend who has only ever taken 823 pictures, despite being over a year old…

    Welcome back to the real world, Lumix! I found a few photos on there which I want to blog about but I will do a separate post for them.


    My brain is sneaky. It’s lazy. I am realising it has to be tricked; just because something worked on one day, possibly two, doesn’t mean I can expect it to work regularly. So I keep trying new tricks in order to get something, anything, out of it.

    Today’s trick was born of reading a motivational post… I wasn’t really reading, as I was on the bike at the gym browsing my iPad (that, I have to say, is pretty fun compared to running outdoors). Anyway, I mainly remembered the first line: Set your alarm an hour earlier tomorrow. That’s a risky approach to take for someone who never gets enough sleep, but that’s what I did. I got up at 6am, and had time to wash my hair, hang out the laundry, make and eat breakfast, do homework, pack my gym bag and get to school on time. Win!

    I also almost, almost managed to send off an application for a job (tomorrow, I swear. I just can’t bear to send out something that isn’t perfect) Turns out, being trilingual and having experience and various office skills… there’s quite a few interesting jobs available in Hong Kong. I don’t know how hard it will be to get a work visa though, but I will cross that bridge when we come to it.

    I did some weights at the gym this afternoon, after cycling for an hour (26.5km!). But there was another foreigner in there today, and not even an unthreatening one. He scowled at me when he realised the only other recumbent bike was broken, and then watched me with narrowed eyes as I wandered around the gym looking for weight machines that suited my purposes. I hadn’t felt that nervous in a gym for years… I thought I was over the “I don’t belong here” feeling a long time ago.

    I don’t know how long/far I should be cycling for. I don’t really get to break a sweat on the RB, but it’s the activity seemingly best suited for my knees. Cycling for an hour doing intervals of resistance 1-3-2-1-3 etc is hardly cardio… I have no real idea what I am doing on that bike, actually. I should probably swim afterwards to get my heart rate up, but it’s still freezing in the pool/gym and I have no desire whatsoever to get into that swimsuit!