Posts Tagged beaches

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Oye, Oye, Oye!

Sydney Train Station

Ms. HalfEmpty with her duffel in a Sydney train station

After spending a week on the beaches in Noumea, we headed back to cooler weather to visit the fourth country on our 30/40 World Tour — Australia.  We flew into Sydney and took the train downtown.  But we weren’t the only ones visiting Sydney; Lady Gaga was also in town.

Perhaps that’s why we were awoken at 2 AM one morning to a man shouting, “Welcome to f#@*!ng Sydney, Australia,” from the sound tunnel street ten floors below our room.  I’m fairly certain that drunken outburst was not our welcome committee.

Lady Gaga Kids

Lady Gaga fans in crazy costumes doing a photo shoot @ Sydney Harbor

The Lady Gaga followers were quite a sight to behold.  We watched them pose in their crazy outfits as multiple photographers swarmed to capture the shot.  It’s not the type of thing you see every day.

chocolates

No wonder my pants were sung... look what I was eating in Sydney!

Our hotel room turned out to be a suite with a full kitchen, two balconies, and a washer/dryer.  I guess they ran out of standard rooms or made a mistake.  Score!

It was awesome to have a free washer/dryer in our room.  This was a single front-load machine that washed and dried.  It seemed like a pretty neat concept… until Mr. HalfFull washed my jeans.  Now remember that I only had 1.5 pairs of pants for 10 weeks.  Plus, those jeans were my warmest pants and it was winter.  We soon learned that the all in one washer/dryer uses extreme heat for the drying cycle.  It was so hot that it melted the leather tab on the waist of the back of my jeans.  That made the pants way too snug and I certainly wasn’t losing weight on the trip (although Mr. HalfFull was).

Sydney Walkway

Wide sidewalk through Hyde Park under a canopy of trees

We were only in Sydney for a couple of days, so we mostly explored on foot.  Our hotel was across the street from Hyde Park, which had a huge canopy of trees above an oversized walkway with fountains and monuments throughout.  It was a fun place to people watch and stroll.  We noticed that pinstripe suits are very popular in Sydney.  It was quite a departure from the less formal attire we generally saw in Fiji and New Zealand.

Hyde Park Rainbow

Sometimes even Ms. HalfEmpty spots a rainbow @ Hyde Park

The Royal Botanic Gardens was another green area near our hotel.  Despite being winter, it was still beautiful.  But I think I was most surprised by the colorful birds we spotted flying free.

birds in Royal Botanic Garden

Birds munching on bread @ Royal Botanic Gardens

Our second day in town was unseasonably warm and sunny.  I was quite congested and didn’t feel very good, but I decided to be a trooper and take a short ferry ride to Manly Beach.  I was apprehensive about another ferry ride, but I hoped I would fare better than last time.  I knew it was a much shorter ride, not on open waters, with great weather conditions; so I took my chances.  Fortunately, the ride was uneventful.

Manly Beach

The tiny dots in the water are surfers @ Manly Beach

When we arrived in Manly Beach, we headed to the drugstore to find a decongestant for me.  I read a pamphlet at my doctor’s office a while ago that said the cold medicines you find on the shelves are ineffective as decongestants and you should buy the type with pseudoephedrine behind the counter.  Those are also sold behind the counter in Australia.  So I spoke with the pharmacist to see which ones they had in stock.  She asked me if I wanted codeine!  I didn’t take her up on her offer, but I was certainly surprised that you don’t need a prescription for narcotics in Australia.  Anyway, I took my decongestant pills and felt better.

We spent a few hours walking along the beach and watching the surfers.  Even this half empty girl could realize that it was a glorious day!

Sydney Harbor

View of a sailboat, the Sydney Opera House, and another ferry while ferrying back to Sydney Harbor

In the afternoon, we went back to Sydney and walked A LOT.  We were on a quest to find the best meat pie after reading a review.  We never did find that restaurant.  I was disappointed because I fell in love with meat pies in New Zealand.  Those pies were so delicate, flaky and delicious.  But in Australia, the pies I tried in Sydney were rather disappointing.  Maybe it’s because I was sick, but I don’t think so.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Fortunately this bird did not poop on Ms. HalfEmpty @ Sydney Harbor

In fact, I didn’t like much Australian food.  We always try to sample the local cuisine in each country, but we were generally disappointed with Australian restaurants.  We soon learned that the Asian restaurants were delicious.  I guess that makes sense with the close proximity and number of the immigrants.  So we ended up sticking to Thai and Japanese with great success.

Coffee School

Should Ms. HalfEmpty enroll at the Coffee School?

During that long walk, we found the perfect place for me — a coffee school!  Was it a sign?

Sydney Opera House sign organ poster

Mr. HalfFull at the Sydney Opera House. Is that the only answer? =)

That evening I took another decongestant pill before we walked to the Sydney Opera House to see a play.  It was our 5th play of the 30/40 World Tour… and the worst.  It was such a strange play.  But perhaps this was once again clouded by my sickness, although I doubt it.  On the walk to the play, my heart was racing, my legs were tingling, and I started shaking.  Then I was no longer able to flex my feet as I stepped off sidewalk curbs.  It was such a strange feeling.  When we got to the theater, Mr. HalfFull got me some juice.  After a few sips, I promptly ran to the bathroom to vomit.  Yes, I defiled the Sydney Opera House; it was an accident.

But don’t worry, even though I’m Ms. HalfEmpty, I got better.

 

 

  • Would you dress up for Lady Gaga?
  • Have you ruined clothes in the dryer?
  • Have you preferred non-native food to local cuisine while traveling?
  • Have you gotten sick while traveling?  Did you notice differences in the availability of medications?

Related:  All posts in the 30/40 World Tour series

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Fiji Time

Air Pacific

Our Air Pacific flight landed early in the morning in Nadi, Fiji

Bula everybody!” I probably should apologize for not posting since leaving the United States, but actually I’m on time. Let me explain. Within an hour after setting foot on the main island of Viti Levu, we were quickly indoctrinated to Fiji time. As we learned repeatedly, there is “your time” and “Fiji time.” When the 9:30 AM boat to Likuri Island motors up to the rickety wooden jetty at 10:45 AM, it’s on time in Fiji time. When we were told to be ready for snorkeling in 2 minutes, about an hour later we’d board the dingy headed to the reef.  Thus, we would often clarify if a stated time was our time or Fiji time. This blog post is right on schedule, considering I’m on Fiji time!

Island Lodge 4

Our lodge -- perhaps the most opulent hut on Likuri Island

We roughed it a bit more than I expected at the beginning of our 30/40 World Tour. Mr. HalfFull offered to book our Fiji accommodations, which seemed awesome until I realized that he considers me to be Ms. HalfRugged. This week taught me that I’m a little more resilient than anticipated, but perhaps only a quarter rugged.  In fact, my new found rugged side felt like we were totally wimping out by checking into a posh hotel for our last night in Fiji.

Sofitel

Our chic bathroom at Sofitel

This guilt quickly subsided as I enjoyed my first hot shower since leaving the safe confines of Northern Virginia. It felt so luxurious! Mr. HalfFull was even able to do our laundry (not in the shower). Plus, we experienced feeling cold again in air conditioning, which will hopefully help us transition to the winter temperatures in New Zealand.  (We’ll have to remind ourselves of the heat and mosquitoes while shivering next week!)  And of course, my favorite treat was freshly brewed coffee! I’ve been making do with instant coffee since arriving in Fiji, so I really savored the perfectly prepared cappuccino after dinner. It was glorious!

Bush Walk

Local Fijian took us on a bush walk to search for coconuts

Our travel misadventures began shortly after leaving the airport in Nadi, Fiji, but I’ll have to fill you in after we get settled into Auckland, New Zealand.  Suffice it to say, the overarching theme of our week has been the friendliness and generosity of the locals – pedestrians in Nadi, Hindi taxi drivers, fisher-women at the dock, tribal villagers, pretty much everyone. The landscape is certainly breathtaking, but the Bula spirit truly sets Fiji apart. We have been welcomed into the family with huge smiles (some with more teeth than others). The Fijians have certainly set the hospitality bar high for the rest of our quest. For now, here’s a small batch of my favorite photos, each of which has a story from our first week in Fiji.

View from Likuri Island

View from Likuri Island; these awesome sitting hammocks are made in Fiji

Bonfire on Likuri Island

Bonfire lit singers to welcome boat of dinner guests

Warrior Paint

Mr. HalfFull was invited to go native with warrior paint

Dance show

Evening show included dancing, machete twirling, and even fire dancing (in an amphitheater made of highly flammable dried coconut leaves)

Ms. HalfEmpty eats breakfast

Ms. HalfEmpty eats cereal by headlamp because electricity is off until 7 AM, but we had to catch the 6:30 AM staff boat (with the island's trash bags)

Sunset on Drawaqa Island

View from Sunset Beach on Drawaqa Island (it's not just a clever name)

Mr. HalfFull atop Drawaqa Island

Mr. HalfFull (sans warrior paint) practices machete dancing atop Drawaqa Island

View of sailboat from village

View of our 108 ft. sailboat from the tribal village island we visited for a kava ceremony and dancing

Native Fijian village

Native Fijian village in Yasawa Islands

Vinaka vakalevu!
(Thank you very much!)

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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The Heroine’s Journey?

Stereotypical around-the-world trips seem to be undertaken by youthful backpackers eager to explore (and apparently party across) the world — those who just graduated from high school, those on college break, or recent college grads.  I certainly don’t fit this mold; I’m older, married, have career experience, mortgages, and car payments.  And most importantly, I’m at a crossroads.

The old model of “maid, matron, crone” for women’s lives was based on a much shorter average life-span.  Modern technology, over the past 150 years, has literally doubled the life expectancy of women in industrial societies (from 40 to 45 years to 80 to 90 years).  With lower birth rates, “matron” takes less of a bite than ever out of the prime years, and the debilitation of old age is pushed off for decades.  This gives instead a life structure of “maid, matron, 20-or-30-year-blank, crone.”  There are no historical social models for that second-maturity period.  It’s something our time is having to invent.

I am most definitely in that “20-or-30-year-blank” period, attempting my second maturity.  Hopefully, my 30/40 World Tour: Quest for Passion will help me usher in this next phase of life.

The Power of Myth book cover

Today Mr. HalfFull sees this defining book from his college years in a new light

I’m not a fan of ancient mythology, fantasy, or science fiction genres, but Mr. HalfFull recently suggested to me that perhaps our trip really is a quest.  Of course, we dubbed the trip a Quest for Passion, but it’s somewhat in jest and mostly because it sounds awesome! =)  Yet Mr. HalfFull now contends that I may be on “The Hero’s Journey,” which he learned about in the early 90’s (when I was a 10-year-old…haha) watching “The Power of Myth” hosted by Bill Moyers on PBS.

I begrudgingly watched that old interview with Joseph Campbell, and was pleasantly surprised to find that much of it resonates with me today as I ponder my upcoming trip.  Campbell asserts that there are two kinds of hero journeys — heroic acts and spiritual journeys.  Obviously, mine would be a spiritual journey, which is described as a death and resurrection, like the transition from childhood to adulthood.  This type of journey involves a going and a return, which is exactly my plan.  Campbell also discusses how spiritual journeys must be taken intentionally, rather than being conscripted.  The only thing certain in my mind is that I’m ready and willing to go.  As Mr. HalfFull would say, “Let’s light this candle!”

Chart outlining The Hero's Journey

Chart outlining The Hero's Journey

The basic outline of the hero’s journey comprises three major stages:  a departure (before the quest), initiation (adventures along the way), and return (with new knowledge from the journey).  The first stage in the departure is a “call to adventure.”  Mr. HalfFull and I have been thinking about our round-the-world trip for years.  Well, he came up with the initial vision, and I’ve been thinking (and stressing) about it for years!  My ISTJ nature persisted in channeling his ENFP energy, so together we could sort out the minutiae that renders a quest of this magnitude possible.  We have truly inspired adventure in one another.

However, I had my doubts about this whole heroine’s journey when I saw the next step of departure, titled “refusal of the call.”  Hmm.  Well, we have talked about the trip for years, but did we go?  No.  We considered going after our wedding in 2009.  We considered going last summer in anticipation of our 30th and 40th birthdays.  Whoa, twice we refused to heed the call to adventure in the past!  Thankfully, we have now been inspired by “supernatural aid.”  In our case, events in our professional lives conspired to lead us toward travel this summer.  Mr. HalfFull changed careers, becoming a teacher with summers off.  Meanwhile, I’d never felt passionate about my career, and my small company was sold twice, finally being absorbed into one of the largest companies in the world.  I don’t know what I want professionally, but I definitely don’t feel a meaningful connection to this revenue-fueled behemoth.  So here we are, ready to cross the mythical threshold in five weeks.

feet on the beach

Belly of the Whale? Nope, just Ms. HalfEmpty's feet.

The final step in the departure phase is the “belly of the whale,” which represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. By entering this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis.  Campbell explains that within the context of the belly of the whale, water represents the unconscious.  Much of my trip revolves around water since most of my destinations are island nations.  So as I lay on the beach looking out at the water, I’ll have to try to figure out what my unconscious is telling me.

The second major state of a hero’s journey is initiation, which involves trials.  This scares me a bit, but I do realize that you can’t grow if you don’t challenge and test yourself.  Campbell thinks of these trials as losing yourself and giving of yourself in order to transform your consciousness.  I wonder what revelations await me…

Campbell also believes that the landscape and conditions match the readiness of the adventurer.  So the hero will not get more than he is prepared to handle — not what he thinks he can handle, but what the universe knows he can handle.  So at least I’ve got that going for me!

According to Campbell, as humans we all operate in relation to a system that is governed by our minds.  The key is to operate within our humanity, governed by our heart and spirit.  From a young age, we are conditioned to align with a programmatic life: sitting still in our school desks and raising our hands to speak, while learning to play by society’s rules.  I am particularly susceptible to this, and Mr. HalfFull often jokingly refers to me as a robot, while trying to bring me back to the human side.  [“Robot is a bit cold; she’s more of a cyborg,” says Mr. HalfFull.  Darth Vader would approve!]

Empty Coffee Cup

Nirvana? Maybe I just need a refill!

Apparently, the goal of this whole heroine’s journey is to find a place of rest and repose within myself.  To allow action to come from my center, so as not to create tension.  Campbell explains that ideas like Nirvana are not actual physical places, but rather a psychological state of mind where one is not compelled by desire, fear, or social commitments.  Sounds like a tall order for Ms. HalfEmpty, but definitely a worthy goal. Perhaps this suggests that my quest for passion might culminate within myself as well.  For now this heroine remains content with her current itinerary, searching for Nirvana with Mr. HalfFull along some of the world’s loveliest beaches or perhaps at the bottom of a cup of coffee.

Campbell mostly speaks to the hero’s journey; I’ve read that the stages of the heroine’s journey are similar, but the circumstances are different.  The journey of a female hero

…does not involve swinging a big, phallic sword like a man (or Joan of Arc), nor defying patriarchal oppression. She does not run away from her evil father, pretend to be a man, or move off to an Amazonian commune. Her struggle is to find her own way at a time in her life when all her previous duties and roles are gone, when she doesn’t know who she is anymore, and is in a spiritual crisis.

Wow, that last sentence really resonates with me.  Let’s break down my current existential crisis:

  • Struggling to find a path that works for me (check)
  • At a time when my previous professional role is gone (check)
  • While feeling like I don’t know who I should be (check)
  • Spiritual crisis (well, I’m more of an agnostic, but sure, check)

It has been suggested that the final return phase is also different for heroines.  Crossing the return threshold often involves a meeting with the heroine’s parents.  Coincidentally, my parents will probably be picking us up from the airport when we return in August.

Mr. HalfFull, perhaps I really am a heroine on a journey…

  • Where did you travel as a youthful backpacker?
  • Do you enjoy ancient mythology, fantasy, or science fiction genres?
  • Have you embarked on a hero or heroine’s journey?
  • Is Mr. HalfFull getting me swept up in his flair for the dramatic?
  • Can Nirvana be found at the bottom of a cup of coffee?
  • Is simply traveling enough, or does a framework of meaning add value?
  • Do you tend to follow your mind or your heart/spirit?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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