More on Dubai

A Break from a Long Flight

Since my return to Australia folk have asked me about my trip to Dubai and London.  I have really not updated this blog with the posts and photos that I had planned.  There’s been too much happening in my life since my return.  However, I will update some information. To break up the long journey from Australia to London, I had four days in Dubai.

I loved Dubai.  Now, I know there are issues.  The heat is one challenge.  OMG – I have never experienced such weather – it was almost breathtaking – in that it was hard to breathe.  I learned on day one, that I had to be in air conditioning at the hottest part of the day.

Dubai – Great for Shopping

That is why the shopping centres are so popular!!  They have amazing shops, are air-conditioned and many have entertainment.   The Dubai Mall has many shops, an exhibition of photographs, and the huge icing rink, and there was more.

The photography exhibition below

Playing on the ice rink

More of the Dubai Mall

Really one needs a few days to take in all that is in the Dubai Mall, and the same goes for the other major shopping malls. Just go in the middle of the day – avoid the outside heat.

I stayed at a hotel near the Dubai Creek in a suburb called Deira.  It was an interesting area – plenty of small shops, a park opposite the hotel.   McDonalds and KFC were nearby – not that I went to either.  I had asked at the hotel travel desk about interesting places to go to within walking distance and was told that there was nothing.  Wandering around on my own,  I was thrilled to find that there were interesting places around – including the Dubai Creek.

Tour of Dubai Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Creek

I walked along the waterfront – there was so much to see. I loved the wooden boats (dows) – there were heaps of them and I went for a short cruise on one of them. The boat driver was a Pakistani guy – who had lived in Dubai for many years. I got the impression that he lived on board the boat too.  It was only a short tour – but enough to learn about the road on floats, to see the rulers property, and see the amazing buildings going up all around.

This was the view from my hotel – on the 5th floor.  No trees to see in this area – it was all desert.  There were a number of mosques too – so five times a day you could hear them praying.

From the hotel window

The Doorman at the Dubai Mall

I’d love to go back.  Maybe one day.  I would like to go out to the desert and perhaps to Abu Dhabi.  And go out to the amazing man-made islands, and up into the tallest building.  There’s so much to see.


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London Visit

I arrived in London on Monday night and as I arrived in the evening I chose to stay at a hotel near Heathrow and caught a taxi to Surbiton, where my cousin lives on the Tuesday morning.

London in the Hop On Hop Off Bus

Pauline and I have not had a lot of contact in recent years – she and I used to correspond regularly when we were younger, but have not done so for a while.  She has lived in the UK for many years, and closer to London the last few.

She lives in a seniors accommodation place in Surbiton, which is not far from the centre of  London.  It’s not far from Wimbledon either.  We had a lot to catch up with and chatted nearly all day first day.

Watch for biting horses

The next morning we set off by train from Surbiton, into Waterloo Station. I remember being there in 2005, though I can’t recall much more about that day!

Pauline and I joined a Bus Tour, which was not far from Waterloo Station and set off.  It was so cold that we didn’t go upstairs, but it was still cold downstairs.  There was no heating in that particular bus.  Brrrrr.  Trust me, who hates the cold, to arrive in London when the “Beast from the East” was about to land.

To Buckingham Palace

We got off near Buckingham Palace and walked through the park.  We don’t know what event was on, but it finished as we arrived and thousands of people were there.

Parliament House on the Thames

 

We got off the bus and walked through the park. I was surprised at the number of people, police etc, but there had been an event at the Palace – not one where the Queen was involved, but there was some special changing of the Guard.  We missed it and didn’t learn what it was about.

At Buckingham Palace

The crowds were dispersing and there wasn’t much to see, so we walked back via a different path to the bus stop and waited for another bus to continue our journey.

You can see by the photos how cold it was and how rugged up people were. But at this stage, the snow had not started.

At least I can say I have been there.

 

On Duty at the Palace

The Park Surrounding Buckingham Palace

 

I travelled on the Bus with my cousin, and did the full loop, though as well as getting off near Buckingham Palace, we got off near the Tower of London and went on a short cruise on the River Thames. I was so disappointed that it was so cold, as it made it hard for me to get off and walk around. Even taking photos was a challenge to me.

 

 

 

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Another Adventure – to Dubai

Off to London – via Dubai Adventure

Most of my friends and family know that I have been working on a project for senior solo women for a long time.  It is part of my adventure to explore.  Things are developing well, and one place that I keep referring to is the New Ground establishment at Barnet in London.

I have been communicating with some of the folk there, and feeling that I needed to know more about them, I have been talking about going to London.  Well, a few weeks ago, I “bit the bullet” so to speak and booked to go to London via a four night stop over in Dubai.

Travel Stress

So, yesterday I flew out to Sydney from Brisbane airport, and on to Dubai.   I had been having some angst about the flight – arriving in Sydney with only 75 minutes to find my way and get to the International Airport was really scaring me.  I would rather have 3 hours (a long wait) than have to do it quickly.  What if the Brisbane flight was late?  All would be well, I was assureed, but I still had some concerns.

As it was the Brisbane flight was delayed.  As I eventually got into my seat on the delayed plane, my stress went up a few notches, as I read a message from Qantas.

It read “We’ve had to change your flight QF1 on 15FEB at 16.55 from Sydney” and went on to say I had to log onto the Qantas site for more info.

Flight Changed?

Having just got on the plane, with my phone on “airplane mode” I could log on, and soon asked the Qantas staff if they could find out.  Initially they said “no” but later came and told me that I would not miss my next flight.  It too had been delayed due to some engine issue.  (Just what you don’t want to hear when you are going on a long flight on a plane!)

Me on Board – Hope my luggage is!

Anyway, the rest of my challenges were minor.  I didn’t get the promised window seat, but got into Sydney without a hassle. And got through to the International area ok, and waited along with everyone.  It was an A380 – huge plane and almost fully booked.  Again I was not in a window seat. I was seated beside a man in the middle of the plane, who wouldn’t move to let me into my seat (Language probem?).    I had to get there via the other aisle, next to a young French girl who didn’t like speaking English.

It was  long night, though I slept for a hour or so at a time.  Eventually we arrived in Dubai, just after 1 am.

The adventure continues….

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My House-Sitting Journeys

UBC – Day 31

Discovering House-Sitting

House-Sitting saved me. Quite a few years ago, I learned about house-sitting and started to do occasional weeks here and there.  It was of interest to me while I studied (around the turn of the century), as I could study at any hour of the day or night without interruption.

It was later, when my marriage broke up, that I took it on enthusiastically as I had nowhere to live.  I did one year of house sitting in an inner-city suburb, and the following year, further out.  The latter came with a little fluffy dog – and we got on well, though I didn’t like him sleeping with me!

Back to Study

As I couldn’t find work I went back to university and completed a master’s degree.  Again, little interruption to my study and I managed to complete the study in less than usual time.

After graduation, I didn’t have a house-sitting job to do, so I drove around Australia – completing 45,000 kilometres in five months.  I stayed at a variety of places, often with friends or friends of friends, as well as in cabins in caravan parks and cheap motels.  It was a trip that I certainly will never forget.  We live in such a wonderful country and I was honoured to see so much of it.  There is of course much more to see!

The Rental Market

When I returned to Brisbane I took a break from house sitting and rented a lovely duplex at Beachmere, a seaside township north of Brisbane.  After four years, and with rents going sky high and with rather unfriendly neighbours, I moved into a 1983 Toyota Coaster. The day I was moving I was quite unexpectedly offered a house sit for 6 weeks, which I accepted.

Journey to the Red Centre

When time was up, I went off on an adventure to the centre of Australia.  I attended a camp for solo women travellers just out of Alice Springs, and then drove down to Uluru. I travelled 7500 kilometres in the bus, with a myriad of adventures, before returning to Brisbane to do some more house sitting.

Amazing rock formations in the centre of Australia - travelling not house-sitting

At the Devil’s Marbles, Northern Territory

That is what I am doing now, but this project comes to an end next week, so it is back to the bus for a few days, before another adventure.

My 1983 Toyota Coaster Home when not house-sitting

My Home on Wheels

I am part of an organisation looking at housing options for senior solo women, so I am travelling to London via Dubai, to research a wonderful project just north of the city.  Exciting.  Hopefully, we can help find a solution to the homeless problems here in Australia.




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The Ultimate Blog Challenge

UBC – Day 30

The Ultimate of Blog Challenges

Over the past few years, I have participated in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is always held on a month with 31 days, and the aim is to write a blog post every day!  What a task!!

As someone who does workshops to inspire and assist bloggers, writing a daily post is not something I would recommend to my students.  It is a heavy commitment.  It’s possible to do, but I wonder if all your readers want to be bombarded by your words – even if they are words of wisdom!

When you get a few days behind in such a program, be it your own plan or something like the blog challenge, you can find it very hard to catch up.

January 2018 for me has been an enormous month.  As president of one busy organisation, and in the middle of forming another major entity my life was chaotic. Also, I was planning and booking a rather sudden overseas tip.  I was overwhelmed.

However, I am determined to complete the challenge, even if a day or two late.  This is post number 30, so almost there.

How often should one post in a blog?

It depends.  Generally a maximum of two or three posts a week is recommended.  However, if you are doing a travel blog and you are travelling, you could probably have a mass of info and photos.  Perhaps your followers would not mind a daily, or more frequent updating.  Or if there is a major event that is significant, a daily or more often post will do.

Nearly there…..

Regardless of how often you intend to post, you should have a plan.  I did, but it went pear-shaped as my life went into major chaos. I know now that I was well overcommitted, and am currently trying to ward off a cold/flu.  Over the next couple of days, I will have to get more rest.  With an overseas trip coming up, I need to be well.

My Ultimate Blog Challenge is almost over.  I do recommend it.




 

 

 

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The Big Tree

UBC – Day 29

What’s in The Big Tree?

Across the road from the house where I am caring for Lulu the cat, there is a big tree.  I haven’t worked out what type of tree, but it is two or three stories high.  The house I am in is on the high side of the road, overlooking the tree.

I have taken a photo of the tree, but find it hard to identify any of the birds and creatures in it, but it is so huge that there are several varieties with their own families.

Birds

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There are crows, pigeons, magpies, myna birds and more.  Occasionally there are “fights” between clans but mostly is all quiet.  There are kookaburras that come most mornings and evenings, but I am unsure if they actually live there.

One day a mother (or is it father) magpie came down to feed its noisy offspring on the lawn – it squawked until it was fed.  Always amusing to watch!

The big tree

 

Sometimes it is very noisy with all the birds.

Bats

I can’t see them, but there are bats too.  I do not know if they actually live in the tree, but I suspect that they live in a big colony somewhere near the Brisbane River and come to visit most nights.

It is a common sight at dusk to see the thousands of bats flying across the skies – seeking food or fun wherever they can.

Bugs and Things

There are many lizards around here too.  Mostly tiny little creatures, but I have seen one large adult blue-tongue lizard.  Actually, it was here on the front lawn for a few days, and a couple of days later, the next door neighbour rescued it from their pool.  It may have fallen in, as lizards don’t normally swim, and it was stressed when he found it.  Apparently, it survived its ordeal.




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Home Grown

UBC – Day 28

Home Grown is Best!

Home grown fruit and vegetables are best! Many folk do not, or have not, enjoyed the fruits of their own labour.  Especially now with many people living in apartments, there is little opportunity to grow their own vegetables or fruits.

I can remember post-war (World War II) there was a terrible shortage of food.  It was a time when there were not yet supermarkets, though folk sold eggs, fruit and vegetables from their own plots or gardens.  There was rationing.  Many items were rationed including butter, eggs and milk as well as clothing.  Those folk who grew their own, were fortunate.

My parents worked hard in their garden with a wide range of fruit trees and vegetables.  Our neighbours had chickens – which were kept for their eggs.  Eating chicken was rare – and it was expensive.  A treat for Christmas usually!

And in the future?

What is something happens in the future?  Would people be able to grow their own foods?  If a catastrophe happened, would anyone have the seeds to start again?  (I know that there is a place near the north pole where seeds of thousands of plants are kept, just in case something happens.)

How long would it take to distribute the seeds to all who had the ability and resources to grow things?

Community gardens are familiar in some areas, and on some apartment blocks, there are garden plots on roofs or other areas of the surrounding land.

In less populated areas there are communes of people growing fruit and vegetables, or learning to, mostly though at this point for safety.  Their foods are not contaminated by toxic pesticides or similar.  Healthy and fresh they are.

These communes also set themselves well away from our cities – thus avoiding the pollution of traffic, noise and chemicals.

Let’s Learn to Grow our own.

I have no doubt that I could grow fruits and vegetables successfully.  I have done so.  It was my parents and my experience in my early days that taught me.

We are lucky in Australia as we can grow most fruit and vegetables here.

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More on Exercise for Seniors

UBC – Day 27

Exercise for Seniors

I know that to improve our health we must exercise more.  However,  I am disappointed at the offering for ageing people. Let me explain.

I am what is often referred to as a senior, elder or just old. I have lived three score years and ten (plus a little more!)

As I move in this cohort, I am surprised at a lot of things. In some ways, it is no surprise, as our politicians and public servants have not reached this part of their lives. Most are under 65 – and probably don’t feel that they are ageing. They ignore the fact that there are two choices – AGEING OR DYING.

I know there are clubs, gyms, and the like, where for a fee (usually), one can work with others on some form of exercise. Often these sessions are more for the young and fit – those men and women dressed in tight gear, often not the type of garb that seniors are comfortable in.

Outdoor Gym Equipment

Often in parks, there is an array of gym equipment, but I wonder if it is suitable for older members of our communities. What exercise do older people want? I should do some more research, but I can guess that much of the “popular” exercise programs are not necessarily suited for seniors, who often suffer from a health problem, an old injury or arthritis.

My arthritis doesn’t allow me to walk too fast. If I am not careful, I am likely to fall, and often on return home, I need a massage and rest for a few days to recover!

There’s a video below, with two younger folk telling viewers how to exercise. You know what? I’d rather someone near my own age show me what’s possible, but I can’t imagine spending much time alone doing these moves. Boring.

Recycled Rubber Pathways

I think walking is good, but these days most walking is done on cement or hard pathways. In China and Korea there a recycled rubber walking tracks.  It means that seniors can get out and enjoy the outdoors and exercise with some safety.  It’s rare to see such pathways in Australia.  there are also safe riding tracks – something that is becoming more popular in Oz.

Early in the morning in parks all around China, seniors are out doing Tai Chi or similar. No, here we have to do our exercise indoors, although I see a growing use of the outdoors for gym work.

Do you want to dance?

Ballroom dancing is common with seniors in China too.  I was amazed when I first saw it as it is common during the day – though often in strange places.  Under bridges, you might find large groups of elderly folk enjoying dancing.  I’ve seen groups in Nanjing Road, the main shopping mall in Shanghai, and I’ve seen a huge group near the great wall of Xi’an dancing.

 

And you can see from this video of dancing in Shanghai, that you don’t need a partner, and you don’t need to dress up.

And here’s another….

What about a swim?

Sometimes it is so much easier to do exercise in a pool.  So, more encouragement for this type of exercise.  It works for me.

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Long Distance Driving

UBC Day 26

 In Australia, there is plenty of long distance driving.

I like driving long distances.  Perhaps it is because I spent my earlier years travelling back and forth across Australia to see my families.  Though in those days I was only the “back-up” driver, taking over when my then-husband was tiring.

In 2012, I tackled my very first really long distance drive.  I took over four months to circumnavigate much of Australia, driving some 35,000 kms on my own in a Mitsubishi Lancer.  I did take a tent, but spent most nights couch surfing, or staying in caravan park cabins.

A couple of years later I travelled from Brisbane to Tasmania and back to Brisbane via Adelaide.  I can’t recall how many kms that was, perhaps 12,000!! In 2017, in an old 1983 Toyota Coaster, I drove from Brisbane to Uluru – some 7500 kms.  As always, I did it solo.

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Generally, I prepare very well.  The car is packed quite neatly and I am a bit fussy where things go.  I have a box for my camera equipment, and another for cables, papers, documents and more.  (I do a lot of writing and photography on my journeys!)  I always travel with a small printer too, as I occasionally get asked to do workshops.

Between Cloncurry and Mt Isa

Travel Tips for Long Distance Driving.

I have some tips:

  1.  Only drive a mechanically sound car, and check oil, water, tyres etc, regularly.
  2. Don’t take too much stuff.  Generally, you can buy whatever you want, except in the outback.
  3. Take an Esky or cooler – for water, milk and other foods that need cooling.  I carry some freezer bricks and put them in the freezer when I have access to a refrigerator.
  4. Take healthy snacks – especially in small bags, so you don’t overeat.
  5. Keep a supply of fresh fruit/vegetables for snacking.  (In Australia you need to be organised with this as there are long distances between shops!)
  6. Take plenty of water.
  7. I often use Diet shakes for lunch.  Shake the powder with water in a shaker – quick, easy, cheap and you can stop anywhere and do it.)
  8. Don’t drive too far each day – stop when you get tired.
  9. In Australia, we don’t like driving late in the afternoon or early morning as this is when the kangaroos and emus can create a danger on the road.
  10. Keep a friend or family member informed of your whereabouts and/or destination.
  11. Keep paperwork in your car glovebox, with your name, address, next of kin, etc so that if anything happens, it makes it easier for emergency personnel to help you.
  12. I also download Podcasts, and music, to a USB stick and play regularly.  In fact, I have my own “program”.  If I am feeling tired I play CD’s or music I can sing to.  It wakens me!
  13. Do anything to keep safe.




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Journey to China

UBC – Day 23

China?  Me?

Go to China?  Was I mad?  I remember that in 2008 when I was offered a position at a college (which became a university while I was there), I had a lot of negative feedback.

Where was I going?  I had no idea, for what happened, occurred so quickly that I had little time to research.  There had been communications with a school in Vietnam, about teaching Medical English.  As an ex-nurse, with an Adult Teaching degree, I thought that I could do that.  A phone call from a friend changed all that.  The college in Shaoxing, south of Shanghai was urgently seeking a teacher for someone had just cancelled.  Would I go?

So, with a couple of weeks to get organised, I changed my plans and set off for the unknown.  As it happened, I met two guys who were also going to the same college, and we travelled together via Singapore.  I felt safer with the company.

First Impressions.

When we reached China, landing at the old airport in Shanghai, we were shattered.  Everything looked old, trashed or dead!  It was towards the end of a brutal winter, so any garden was dead-looking. It was cold and miserable.  My first impression was depressing.

As it turned out, I enjoyed the challenge of living there.  For each day was a new adventure.  I stayed for just over four months – it was 2008, the year of the Olympic Games in Beijing, an event that was celebrated everywhere in the country.  I returned to Australia just before the Olympics and went back to China in September.  Same college (now university), same city, and the adventure continued.

modern city

Rows of housing in Cixi

China is such a fascinating place.  A place of great contrasts.  There are ancient buildings and towns, side-by-side with modern cities.  The history goes back several thousand years.  The history of Shaoxing is fascinating.

Sightseeing

On weekends we would travel – getting to know as much as one can in a few days.  We had adventures in Shanghai, Ningbo, Hangzhou and many places in the region.  We were taken on tours by the College and were able to do our own research in Shaoxing.  There is always so much to see!!

I also visited Beijing and The Great Wall, and later X’ian.  I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in the country.  Perhaps I should have started my travel adventures when I was a bit younger!

transport

The old ways go on.

p.s.  It may not be so easy to access good teaching jobs in China, but if you can, I recommend it.  Amazing.

If you are seeking work in China, let me know. Maybe I can help.

 




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