Posted by: Megan | August 16, 2007

The Perfect Cup …

… ah and at this precise moment – it is just that!  Sorry, I am talking about my latte I am consuming at The Perfect Cup (see – coffee plunger not needed – not yet, anyhow…).  I am in transit at the moment at Singapore Airport, and of all airports in the world to be in transit – this one is not bad – good coffee and free internet (head office accounts getting off lightly – so far …)! 

I’m feeling shattered to tell the truth, and where is the taxi driver who took me to Melbourne airport last night to explain?  You see, when I told him of what I did, which went along the lines of travel writer come tour leader he commented along the lines of; “Your job is a glamour job”!  Said from a man who has never left Melbourne because he tells me he suffers from claustrophobia (I’d hate to think what would happen if he picked up a full load in his cab …) and so him and planes do not mix – I can see why he might think so!

I DO have a great job (for sure for sure) but I wanted to tell Mr Taxi driver that it aint all glamour at times – you know – put some perspective into overseas travel!  First of all, let me start with the immediate – I can’t tell you how far from ‘glamorous’ I look and feel right now after flying the first 7hr leg from Melbourne to Singapore … and that was a short one!  The blonde curls have just gone flat into a mat – simple as that!

Let’s step back in time a little though … last night I experienced the worst check in wait time EVER … even worse than in the United States – and that is saying something!  In front of me were 60 Caulfied Grammar Students with their teachers – bound for the same destination as me!  In front of them were equal numbers of random travellers!  2hrs … yes 2hrs I waited in line … hideous … I debated after finally checking in if I should have coffee or wine as a ‘reward’ – I had both!  So, it was at that moment when I realised again (and I have realised this before) that going somewhere exotic and exciting comes with a price – not always but certainly sometimes!

Now then, I am only meant to be on this free internet for 15 minutes.  I guess I could stay a little longer if I bought another coffee but I don’t think I need to be that wired at the moment!  Besides, I need to head to gate F37 real soon … I need to get to Shanghai – where it all begins …

Chat soon …

Megan 😉

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You see, it is all a part of my radical new approach to packing lightly! Look, I have to be honest here – it won’t be an easy thing to do – you know – leaving the beloved coffee plunger and ground coffee behind in the cupboard. But … it just has to be done – right? Yes, it does. Ah, those overnight train journeys in China will not be the same though. At the end of every carriage is a hot water boiler. The Chinese mainly use it to add water to their instant noodles but no – not I. I still have fond memories of walking my plunger to the end – for a freshly brewed coffee! The bewildered looks that I would receive in the process – as I began to press the plunger down and the smell of coffee began to permeate throughout the train – for that reason alone it is almost worth packing it but no, no, no – sachet coffee will have to suffice this time. I know, I know, I know – seriously …

I’m leaving tomorrow – bound for Shanghai, and I think my little blue backpack knows it is coming along for the two-month journey throughout China, the USA and then Morocco. It sits in my living room and waits anxiously in anticipation of being packed. Surely that is enough for it to know? One would think so – especially as the big green backpack remains under my bed and the wheels of the big brown suitcase have not moved an inch of late. Oh no – god forbid … did I just admit to owning a case with wheels? But, even if my little blue backpack knows it is the chosen one for the journey, does it know it is about to undergo a strict diet regime? I am soon about to sit down and explain why it can’t take 95% of my wardrobe this time.

I hate packing. I honestly hate it, which is odd considering that packing generally equates to going somewhere exciting! My last big trip saw me pack so bloody much that when travelling in the States I felt compelled to try and explain to passing travellers that there were no native animals to Australia bulging out of my suitcase! Because it was a business trip the big brown suitcase came for the ride along with two huge Intrepid Travel banners used for trade shows. Half of what was in the case could have stayed at home though. Mind you, the offers I received for assistance from sharp business-men at Amtrak Train Stations were a bonus! Surely such offers would not have come as a result of packing lightly!

“So little blue backpack, you are the one I am choosing to take with me on my 2 month journey. You got it – big green backpack and big brown suitcase stay at home! Are you excited? Thing is, I won’t be feeding you as well this time. Even the muesli bars stay behind, as I am sure there will be some in China. Why? Because little one … you and me … we have to really enjoy this trip … we want to fit onto the overhead luggage racks on the overnight trains in China with ease and show off to those with a laden load! We want to keep up with the pace of the trip and not be weighed down with any extra stuff – you know we don’t need and if we do … guess what … we can buy it at a fraction of the cost in China! So little blue backpack, what do you think? Coming?”

I thought my spiel would go along those lines. Anyhow, enough of this writing. I have my packing to do. “So little blue backpack …”

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Posted by: Megan | August 14, 2007

Japanese Counts in English!

This is hilarious and about as good as my Chinese … which says it all really!

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Posted by: Megan | August 14, 2007

Update on Variety Bash – report from the road!

If you are in the Outback of Australia you may see several heavily stickered cars splattered with dust and mud, negotiating the last stretch of the stupendous Sydney to Darwin Variety Bash – a race that is all about going to extremes to help raise money for children’s hospitals across the nation.  It really is an “I’ve been every where” race  for the towns this race has passed through.


If you have been following this race in the televised media, look closely at the Yellow Winged Holden. There is … I am proud to say an Intrepid Travel logo atop the roof with our extremely appropriate motto: Real Life Experiences. It is up there on the flashing police car – style light gathering not just a little attention reports Tommy, one of the drivers of the bash car. “A helicopter piloted by an ex Vietnam Vet swoops down buzzing us… just meters away from our windscreen, for close ups. It’s like a Hollywood car chase but this is real life” says this Sydney born stair maker in a telephone interview from Long Reach. “Its exhausting and the roads are savage. I wouldn’t drive a four wheel drive above 60 km, but we are all pushing speeds of 100, 120 and these 2WD cars are rolling, snapping axels and breaking down on a daily basis. This is our one day off, and guesses what; we are fixing the car again.”

The cars are now on the last leg to Darwin, the place where all good Australians on the run, flee to. Our very own end of the earth!  Who will win? More to the point; will they all make it? I have a crazy vision in my head. A new tribe out there in the dessert, Sydney urbanites lost in cars, gone feral, chasing each other across the dessert. Wait … that’s Mad Max … and we are sponsoring it… for the children. I am so proud …






Above: Tommy’s car!

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Posted by: Megan | August 13, 2007

This Fragile Life …

My mother the other day emailed me this interesting article – one I believe puts a very befitting take on travelling the world. 

 Article by Ruth Ostrow

What are your thoughts?

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Posted by: Megan | August 13, 2007

I’ve Been Everywhere man – Australian Version

Gosh, and even to Adelong/NSW where the population sign boasting 900 residents has not changed in the 37 years I have been back to where I was born!

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Posted by: Megan | August 13, 2007

Bathsheba Brown and Bill Bryson.

Touring with me proves to be an intrepid experience – as all good travels should be! Of late, I have been reflecting back on my leading days – given I am soon about to fly into Shanghai to lead and write about the North China Highlights, commencing this Sunday.

Three years of leading armed me enough classic stories to potentially bind into a book – worthy (hopefully) of publication. And then, I would just have to excogitate the motives of attracting attention to my writings. Conspire to an author name that would make me stand out from the rest. Perhaps under the persona of Bathsheba Brown (a hint of ethnic comes western)? Shelved right next to Bill Bryson – surely then not missed? Or use a name that would shelve my book slap bang amidst them all. Megan …

In the meantime one for the book? …

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Posted by: Megan | August 10, 2007

When wrong feels right!

Just as living and travelling abroad requires a number of adjustments to be made, so does coming home! Cross-cultural re-entry is a process I am well familiar with. I experience it every time – to varying degrees! Sometimes, if truth be known, the process of cross-cultural re-entry isn’t as bad as I anticipated due to the need of a decent latte – the taste of one can be very good at deflecting from that foreign feeling of being home!

Not so long ago the bed-sheets covering the faded blue couch were finally pulled from underneath me at Jac and Dyan’s beachside LA home – in a bid to farewell me after 5 months away before heading back to my Melbournian lifestyle! Hope of being a new trend that breezed (like the palms of Santa Monica) through to Hollywood was no longer an option as their linen cupboard was full again!

After 5 months I had become almost too comfortable with my new lifestyle – to the point I did not want to leave. I wondered on the eve of my return just how fast the ducks on the Venice Canal system could digest my Australian passport. I mean, I even managed to master the successful art of driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road! Do you know how long that took? Seriously … And so then being re-united with Melbourne was like starting all over again. The wrong side became the right side and in turn the right side suddenly became the wrong one … My only visible trace of my time in LA then being a LA Lakers T-Shirt and UCLA sweat I had bought there …

So I decided to ask other travellers about their experiences and here is what some of them had to say …

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With just a week left before I fly out to China, I thought it was about time I decided to not only brush up on my Chinese – Ni Hao (hello) can only take me so far – one thinks – but to find out how China is doing these days considering I was last there in June 2002!

In endeavoring to find out, I thought who better to email other than a good friend of mine from my China leading days; Miss Stacey Shine – an Australian still living in Beijing who not only towers above 6ft but has more energy than the Duracell Battery Bunny! Let’s just say that nightclubs in Beijing don’t close early when Stacey decides to dedicate her night to a local dance floor – in such a manner that gives true meaning to her last name! When her long straight blonde hair touches the dance floor in ways that knocks the Ni Hao right out of the locals it is assured that the night will only end when the sun next comes up!

So from the girl I still have fond memories of convincing our poor unsuspecting taxi driver in Ulaan Baatar (Mongolia) to play her cassette of ABBA’s Greatest Hits from tracks 1-16 – start to end – here is what she has to say (and funny that she still continues to make friends with the local taxi drivers!) ….

“My advice for those coming to China is to make sure you pack your ego and a thick skin. This is also the reason why sometimes it can be better not to understand the language”

Maybe I will get by with just Ni Hao? Anyway, back to Stacey …

“Conversations with taxi drivers in China, nearly always start with “Where are you from?”

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Posted by: Megan | August 8, 2007

A Hong Kong Joggle!

Let me set the scene. Picture this – a running track in downtown Taihang just out the back of Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island! There are fan dancers, Tai Chi Squads, Film Executives doing their laps of the rubber track. Then, there is this tall Australian man jogging – and wait – juggling all at the same time! That’s right the feet are flying, arms are waving, and balls are dancing circles in the beat that links the whole ensemble!

And it’s not just in Hong Kong!

Let me introduce Bruce Foreman (former full time Intrepid Tour Leader) and interject here with the address of his blog;

“Joggling”, as Bruce calls it, “is a real phenomenon”! Bruce takes joggling seriously in his ex-pat home away from home in Hong Kong – amid his own creative writings and work on his tour company The Funky Golden Dragon


Above: Bruce juggling in Alhambra in Granada – image courtesy of his blog!

For an amusing light-hearted and interesting read log in for more of an insight to his joggles!

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