Archive | January, 2013

79 seems like so much less than 80!

31 Jan

Or so I was told yesterday, when I went to bed last night with 80 days to go before I got home and woke up this morning to just 79!.

I’ve been going through so many emotions lately I couldn’t possibly have captured one for long enough to blog about it. One minute, I’ll be waiting for my coconut milk to be made in the market with my lemongrass, ginger, tofu and veggies in my bag that cost me less than $3 and I’ll be like, how the hell am I gonna survive at home (with winter looming no less) and not a dessert mango, daily or otherwise, in sight.

Nek minnit, a 5 hour bus trips turns into 5 bus trips over 9 hours and I’m like “get me the hell out of this country”…. but not to home. But I do wanna go home, cos I wanna go to class and hang with my pals and kiss my cat, complain the whole way up the 1000 steps and catch a scheduled train. But I don’t wanna go home, because that means I need to do the full time job of finding a full time job when an election just got called and nobody knows what’s what.

See what I mean? It’s like trying to catch a snowflake. (side note: is that the phrase? I was never good at using those kinda phrases. Some might remember a certain “if wishes were fishes” argument…)

I had my last monitoring and evaluation meeting last week. I thought I would have to show them the work I had done this year, so to avoid this, I left my macbook at home (“oh crap sorry didn’t know you would want to see actual work!”). But actually it was more about how I can exit smoothly so my organization is happy and even a little about how I am going to take care of myself in the next few likely emotional and confusing months. It gave me some good stuff to think about.

True to the sector I work in, it was recommended that I have a “strategy” for transitioning back into Melbourne life and managing my reverse culture shock. I am having one of those moments right now where the thought of going home makes me feel a bit sick…. so I won’t think too much about that strategies actions at this stage.

But I think the overarching goal of the strategy (yup I’m pretty good at my line of work) is to spend the next few months enjoying everything I love about this place I call home now while at the same time allowing myself to look forward to all those things I have missed about that other home that seems so far away.

So lots of coconuts, mangoes, surf and walks down the street while also checking out the events calender at the Wheeler, unsuspending my yoga membership, getting the book club list from the girls and maybe even letting myself look at the produce list at New Harvest.



29 Jan


The photo above is of the stamp Philippines immigration gave me upon leaving the Philippines…. What a country!

I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that I was more excited to be going to Singapore than I had been to go on trips around Philippines. I fear i have been here too long, have become too accustomed to the beauty and hang around with too many expats who love to be cynical about this beautiful place in which we live!

Nothing like a trip to somewhere like Singapore to make you appreciate the place you live. Didn’t hurt too that finally I got an overnight bus from Manila that didn’t throw any drama at me. Got home in 12 hours, the time they say it should take. Hooray!

Our dear friend Aun lives in Singapore with his wife in a hipster neighborhood called Tiong Bahru. Singapore is beautiful, clean, it works, they have amazing food and it is a true definition of cosmopolitan. However, I felt there was something missing. Everybody was just a little too well behaved, it was all a little too perfect, everything was just a bit too easy. I don’t mind a little drama and grit to make things exciting which then makes you appreciate more moments of stillness.

However, after plenty of drama in Philippines life, it was exactly what we needed for 4 days. Aun was an amazing tour guide, people watching at Singapore laneway people watching still has be bursting into sporadic giggling and I got to spend plenty of time with my fave K Lo.

Happy birthday my friend, or as some would say “saltwater wells in my eyes”


Dunstan checks in

13 Jan

Happiest 26 birthday to my pal, my gal and my number one blog stalker, Kate!

We went to high school together, but didn’t really get to know each other until we were around 20, in a fairly usual way, through a boy. She started dating a mate of mine from Uni and suddenly we were going to trivia nights, holiday ranches and generally hanging out together.

Her and this dude didn’t work out (in part because he’s a bit of a dick and loves the ladies, especially friends of mine) but I got to keep Kate in the split. And thank goodness.

Sometimes I don’t hear from friends back home for days or weeks, but I speak to Kate over trusty old viber nearly everyday. She can be stubborn as a mule, but this also means she holds firmly to what she loves and believes in and being fairly strongly that way inclined myself, it’s something I deeply respect in others.

Sometimes I’ll say something to her in passing and a day or a week or a long time later she will tell me she thought a lot about and looked into whatever it was that I said we’ll have a great talk about it.

Kate is very beautiful but sometimes girls don’t notice it until the guys do because she doesn’t wear her physical beauty like a medal like so many beautiful girls do. You notice her smile, but you also notice how quick she is to laugh, how she’ll argue if she doesn’t agree with you, she’ll firmly support you if she agrees, she doesn’t offer stupid advice when you don’t need it and haven’t asked for it, when she’s sad about something, she won’t make a big deal of it unless you poke and poke and she’s open to new ideas, experiences and love.

Happy birthday Kate! You’re not old at all – when we’re 36, we’ll look back and wish we were still 26, you know it! Thanks for Thailand, Thai rose, Sydney, Meredith, big mouth, la Roche, Hollywood karaoke and everything in between!

Xoxo 20130113-165441.jpg





Here comes the rain again

10 Jan


It’s super raining in beautiful Gubat right now. The third day of super rain since I’ve got back, although it’s been generally raining everyday.

At 4.30 there was a brownout, so I left the office to get some supplies for a couple of surprise birthday craft projects I am working on (hopefully neither of the recipients reads this post) and I finished stage 1 of crafternoon and it’s only 4.52pm.

I’ve sat down to do one of my favorite activities in the world: read. Up there in faves are yoga of course, surfing, floating in the sea, laughing loud and long with friends in cafes and restaurants, writing, picnics, cuddling with my love, kissing my cats head, cooking, eating, watching people cook for me, playing Sunday flip and trying to remember movies actors have starred in while watching them in a movie presently. There might be more, but that’s all I can think of right now.

I’m currently reading saltwater Buddha by jamail yogis, a book about zen and surfing, and the handy feature on the kindle is telling me I’m 54% in after reading for 3 hours. On Tuesday, I read (and bawled openly and loudly over from around 40%) the fault in our stars by john green in 4 hours.

conversely, I started reading the song of ice and fire series in August and only just on Monday did I finish book 4. George R. R Martin is my frenemy – what a story he tells but what hard work for someone who never reads this genre to read. Why say breakfast when you could say “break my fast”, or uncle when you can say nuncle (old timey language for mine uncle) and why say you got your period when you could say I am now a woman flowered. So… As u can tell, frenemy.

Oh I’ll read book 5, but I’ll try and read 4 books I’ve had on my to read list before I get swept up in it. Then I’ll rage over the current lack of book 6 and fear the death of dear George before he can finish penning book 7. What a gift to write such compelling fiction.

So I thought, just for my own fun, I’d share all the books I’ve read during my volunteer year that took me to a different place, which you sometimes need when times get tough. Hopefully you’ll find something you like!

Illustrado – miguel syjuco
Never let me go – kazuo Ishiguro
A thousand splendid suns – Khalid hosseini
The great gatsby – f. Scott Fitzgerald
The hunger games trilogy – Suzanne Collins
The eyre affair: a Thursday next novel – jasper fforde
Atlas shrugged – Ayn rand (another corker that took me several weeks to finish. Have you seen the size of that thing?)
Eating animals – Jonathan saffran foer
Pacific rims – rafe bartholemew
The fault in our stars – John green
Currently reading saltwater Buddha – jamail yogis

And yes of course, 4 song of ice as fire books and one more to go.

Looking at this pathetic list I realize how much the song of ice and fire books have bloody well consumed me. I swear, heaps of those books I read in like 2 days, just Martin writing in a different language and introducing 7 new characters every time he kills one off and rand explaining every minuscule detail of the rail business held me back!

On my current to read list before reading book 5…

Brave new world – aldous Huxley
The omnivore’s dilemma – Michael pollen
On the road – jack Kerouac


8 Jan

A week into 2013 and this is only my first blog post? I start a lot of blog posts apologizing for the previous drought of blog posts, so I will start this one by saying happy new year!

It’s so weird to say certain things happened a year ago… like I haven’t seen my family, my Melbourne friends or my bf since last year. I haven’t seen Australia since last year and Melbourne since super last year! I haven’t been to a yoga class since last year. I haven’t eaten a pad thai since last year!

But on that last note, let me do away with the negatives and focus on the positives of the 2 weeks I just spent on festive vacay with other vols, expats, friends and wellwishers in the visayas, an island group in the middle of Philippines.

I got back just a couple of days ago and my trip home, on a usually 12 hour bus, took 25 hours, so was super happy to be back. I also had my usual manila provisions, like flat bread, parsley and spinach, to keep me happy for a few days.

I kinda needed that food happiness because on my 2 week holiday, I ate so much amazing food that you generally can’t get anywhere else in the philippines! Black bean burgers, yes! Vegetable paninis, yes! Canellini bean tacos, yes! Calamansi muffins, yes! Roti bread and dhal and Indian curries! Yes yes yes!

I could not go straight back into my soup life after all that joy (although admittedly, I do eat better than lots of the volunteers in other places due to creative provisioning and fantastical experimentation). When the volunteers get together, especially vegetarians and vegans from Melbourne, you can bet your bottom dollar conversation will soon and painstakingly turn to food. Haloumi…. Droooooooooool!!!!

So after the initial happiness of being home and not on a bus and eating good food that doesn’t cost Australian dollars and in my own portion sizes, I am missing my holiday family. On holiday with so many people, the biggest group ever assembled in the history of 9 months in the philippines, you could hang with this person for an hour, then join those people, then split up from the original people and go off by yourself before joining a larger group of people.

In gubat, to hang with people, I used to get on a jeep then minivan for a 4 hour round trip. Now, tania is my closest Melbournian and I will see her this weekend for an overnight to break up and 8 hour round trip. I have made some new peace corps friends in sorsogon, only about a halfa away from home here, which will be amazing and definitely stop me from becoming a recluse, with my best frenemy George R. R Martin as my only company.

You realize the amazing luxury you have back home of picking and choosing who to hang out with and when. You realize the stupidity in complaining about being too busy because you have so many catch ups after work and on the weekend. I have certainly realized how lucky I was to be part of a yoga community in Melbourne and could talk to yogis and teachers after class every single day.

Being alone is awesome. But it’s best after being with other people and being yourself in both of those settings. Too many happy hours, green tea bullshits from starbucks, midnight swims and subsequent wet underwear can be too much. But so too can time spent with my new friend Gregor the praying mantis, to whom I may have to give up my apartment in order to have a peaceful night of sleep. If he really is like Kafka’s Gregor though, I will have to befriend him, because after all he is a human spirit trapped in the oversized body of a bug for no known reason, a misunderstood soul.

See? Too much time alone has me thinking crazy.


K Lo and I enjoying a Christmas game in our formal sleep wear


beautiful Boracay



My dream kitchen – Real Coffee Cafe, Boracay



Even though I told these wild American vols I am Australian, not Kiwi, they insisted on doing a haka for me


The stairs aka steep ass ladder up to my private room


My fellow 25 hour bus commuters


Gregor the praying mantis