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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Just my imagination

Everybody knows that when they're planning on going on holidays, or going away for a while, they usually have a certain image in their head, as to how that place will look or what the area will be like, before they get there. Well, just like everybody else, I was the same. I had this image of this place, that's just 40 minutes outside of Brisbane, to be red with dust, to be flat, to be secluded.. I imagined there to be no trees, no bush, no animals, no birds. All I expected was blue skies and red fields surrounding their house that was so far from civilization that a roadtrip would be needed to get to the nearest shop. And thinking it was going to be like this, excited me! Really it did.

Well, when I got here, I can't say I was disappointed. Quite the opposite. I couldn't have been more wrong, as to how the area would look. But for the first few days, I had temporarily forgotten that image I had in my head. Once I was here, it had gone. I tried and tried to remember what I thought it was going to be like. I wanted to compare my imagination with the reality. Then this morning, as I sat on the patio in the sun at half 7, I was thinking and suddenly it came to me. What I just described was what I thought it would be like. Instead of their house and surrounding area living up to my imagination, it excelled it.

This whole area, feels so tropical. It's so green, it's so blue. There are mountains, once you go up the highway. There are birds, there are parrots, there is life in so many different forms. It's not secluded, deserted or isolated. It's not in the town and you need a car (or in Waynes case, a ute) to get around, but there are people. Australian people. Just as well.. if you didn't find them here, you wouldn't find them anywhere..

So it's not what I expected, but it's so much better. I don't know how long I'll be staying here in Caboolture (isn't that the craziest name by the way!!), but for now, it's great.. I do know though, that I'm not all too keen on heading South, as it's a lot chillier down there. So maybe I'll head up the coast, to the tropics where it's always warm. Who knows? For now though I'm just outside of Brisbane, sitting on my backside. Somethings never change; you fly to other side of the world, and you continue to do the same: sitting down whilst writing a blog.

Jetlag, Ozzie blokes, beer and heat

It's a week ago since I left Ireland..and how long is the longest jetleg that a person has ever experienced..?? I wouldn't know, but mine could possibly be in the running towards becoming the worlds' longest ever. It still creeps up on me, every evening after dinner. Like an old woman, I fall asleep, waaaaaaaaaaaay before my usual bedtime. But nothing is really usual at the moment, when it comes to timing, because there simply isn't really such a thing as time whilst being here..

Every morning this week, I've been awake with the birds. Or before the birds even.. which is around 4am. I'm wide awake. But it's still chilly outside, because the sun hasn't yet come up.. So each day I'm patiently waiting for the day to begin. The sun then rises at around half 5 or 6 o'clock and the dampness can be felt still. But the sun is starting to shine so it's great to step outside. The smell of the air reminds me of so many different times. The dampness and the morning dew that had set on the land during the night, is starting to disappear as the sun is slowly warming up the life.

It's so so peaceful. The other morning, I was up walking around the paddock (which is a field.. I'm starting to get back into this ozzie slang..what a wonderful feeling!!) standing in the sun, in my pyjama's, taking photo's of the goats that live next door. How funny that was, they weren't too impressed by the way, kept on giving me these silly looks and they're not at all photogenic, wouldn't even give me a smile!

Being up so early, means that the day is nearly over by 9am.. (a slight exaggeration). This could mean that it might only be normal that I'm tired after dinner. I just never expected jetlag to take so long to get over. At times I wanted to write so much, but my head wasn't been fresh enough to get on to this blog and type what I'm trying to make into something entertaining..huumm..don't know if it's working..

Anyhow, I left Ireland a week ago. It's so crazy, it feels like a different me, a different lifetime. But only 7 days have passed. As you might have noticed, I haven't been too busy. The thing that has been keeping me occupied most, is chilling.. I'm staying with Trish and Wayne (aunt and cousin for those of you who don't know), Ed (uncle) is usually here out on the patio with a beer in his hand and throwing some shrimps on the built-in barby, in the garden. He's away for a few months, so I won't get to see you him :(
So for now, it's chilling all the way. There's so much space to do so many different kinds of chilliness in the hot sun - yoga in the paddock, reading the rocking chair, chatting and drinking on the patio, swimming in the pool (!!!I know..they've got a pool!!). So cool! It's the 3 of us anyhow here in the house, and Waynes girlfriend Sarah is here a lot too, who is ozzie, so listening to her chat is still so refreshing! We've been out and about, around the area, mostly I've just been taking in the ozzie life. Yesterday we went for a day out, to a few little towns up the coast. We went to Noosa, which is a real popular town with the tourists and lots of "surfer-dudes", and we had a stroll on the beach!! Soooo nice to see the ozzie ocean again. My god..

The weather has been real warm too. Which is supposedly not usual for this time of year. It's 5 degrees above the average temperature. It's coming into winter, so it's cooling down a lot a nighttime, but in the afternoon it's around 25 degrees. When I got here first, last Saturday, it was 30!! Wouw.. what a shock to the system.. but a glorious one. The perfect temperature to heat my bones again, and my feet, which have been ice-block ever since I left this county a year and a half ago.

I have no wild stories, just that the beer (Pure Blonde) tastes just as good as I remember, after having had my first one yesterday, sitting on the terrace of a roadside pub in the shade, taking in the ozzie blokes as they were stopping off for a few beers during their lunchbreak.. It's gas! I'd forgotten how much I loved the look of the ozzie guys here.. They're ferril (dirty) as I don't know what, they're scruffy, tanned, weatherbeaten, strong and "all-natural down to the bone" which might not sound appealing, but to me it really is and I absolutely love it!

Another thing I absolutely love is all the different memories that I get, from just tuning in to the tv, or walking around the supermarket (Coles by the way is the best!), or seeing a sign for a particular shop, or hearing certain words, or drinking certain beer, or just rolling all these into one which makes up: living the Australian lifestyle that I missed so so much. There's no time, there's no need for anything, there are simply no worries..

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My song

On the journey over, I sat in Singpore Airport, in transit. Looking around while I was chilling out and taking in all the people in such a spotless place that oozed wealth and cleanliness, I was killing time. I switched on my ipod and put it on shuffle, so it radomly selects songs from different albums. I hadn't listened to any music yet whilst being on the road (or in the air).

The first song that it played, was so freakishly meant for me.. It was Nicole Kidman singing one of the songs from the soundtrack of the movie Moulin Rouge.. I'm not too sure of the title, but the chorus goes like this:

"Some day I'll fly away, leave all this to yesterday..
Why live life from dream to dream, and dread the day that dreaming ends.."

As with any chorus, it was repeated over and over again, throughout for 3 to 4 minutes. I couldn't believe the meaning of this song and the fact that my ipod had selected this song, all by itself out of the 500 I have on it, at that moment, when I was acting out the message that song was sending out. What an amazing feeling that gave me: I was in Singapore, I was flying away and I was leaving everything to yesterday. I was not living from one dream to the next, but I was making one particular dream come true. I'll never dread the day that dreaming ends, because living it, is keeping it alive.

I was able to do that, in that very instant and I was able to be so sure that it was going to continue for as long as I truly wanted.
It made me choke-up, but I didn't care. This was my song, this way my dream, this was my flight.. that they were actually calling through the microphone, as it was time to board that plane to Oz..

The start - 2

As I sat and waited for the next plane, the final leg of the journey, it started to get dark. So my bodyclock was starting to feel slightly weird. I had 3 hours to kill, so I had slowed down and started to feel sleep-deprived. I was getting dizzy and weak and it was probably the only time throughout the entire journey when I struggled. They finally called all passengers to board the plane, and it was just as well they did. Or else I wouldn't have been able to actually move myself on to the aircraft. I was disorientated and felt a little high. It was just after 9 at night but it was around 12 in the afternoon back at home. Jetlag is always the weirdest thing.

The flight, from Singapore to Brisbane, was 7 hours and I was back in the part of the plane where I belonged.. economy. It was so different, but I didn't feel out of place. I had little room, couldn't get to the toilet as easy or as often, the food was horrible but the sky was beautiful. Again, I didn't sleep even though I was exhausted. What a bummer that was. Instead of sleeping, I gazed out at the stars, as they got more and more visible the closer we got to Oz. With seeing that, my excitement started to grow again but there was nobody I could share it with..as the girl next to me didn't want to speak. I watched the sunrise and it was such a beautiful sight. Looking in one direction I could see that it was morning, and looking back in the other direction I could see that it was still night. We were situated right in the middle, cruising towards a new day. I'd never seen anything like it before.

Before I knew what was happening the captain was telling us that we were about to start our descent and that it was already 19 degrees in Brisbane..(it was only 6 in the morning!). I was so excited. Getting through customs and security I had no problems. I thought that if something was going to go wrong, then that was going to be the moment. But it never did. Everything went fine.. my visa was recognized, my bag didn't get lost, they didn't have to check my luggage. Nothing went wrong. Everything had fallen into place and I was in Ozzie land!! I walked out through the gates and my aunt Trish and cousin Wayne (for those of you who don't know them) were there waiting. Brilliant!

Sometimes certain things always seem to good to come true.. That's how I felt about getting to Australia. That's also probably the reason why I was paranoid something would go wrong. But it never did..

The jetlag wasn't too major. On Saturday, which turned out to be the longest day of my life, I was feeling drunk all day long. Dizzy and weak and even giddy or high.. High on life, high on being in Oz, high for having made this happen.. I think I'm over it now. I've had 2 really good nights' sleeps, so what more can a girl ask for.. Huummm..maybe A glass of wine?? But that's not a question, that's something that Trish is more than willing to supply me with (well just for the first night anyhow..which ended up being a little too much..).

It felt, and still feels, so normal to be here. In many ways it's like I have never been gone. Or perhaps because I've been gone, I can now see what an amazing country this is. But having said that, I felt the same about Oz when I was here first time round too. I don't need to adjust. I don't need to find my feet. They instantly found their way the minute I stepped off that plane.

I thank my lucky stars to be around such kind natured people, in such an enviroment and with so many options..

The start - 1

Finally I'm here.. Finally I'm actually sitting down to start this blog. It's been so long since I set it up. It's been so long since I left Ireland. Feels like forever ago. A different world, a different zone, a different state of mind, everything so so different. So much has happened in such a short space of time, even though I haven't done much at all. That's pretty contradicting.. At the moment, it's Monday afternoon here (had to think there for a minute) and I've been here for 3 days. I sometimes can't quite believe that I made it.

The journey was so crazy but one of the best I've ever had. It started out on Thursday afternoon. As I set off, by myself, after having said goodbye, things were different than I had expected them to be. During the build-up to leaving Ireland, I sometimes felt slightly panicked by the thoughts of having to say goodbye to Ma and the rest so I didn't really want to think about what it would be like having to walk away. On the day itself everything proved so different. The closer the time got, the more at ease I seemed to be. I wasn't dreading the goodbye too much. I knew I had to do it.. I had to leave, this was my time. So that's exactly what I did. I wasn't an emotional mess, I was happy. I wasn't worried about the journey or about what might lie ahead, but I was excited. I felt more stable and independent that I had felt in such a long time. And it was the best feeling ever. It might sound so selfish, that walking away from the 10 of the most difficult months of my life along with all the people who helped me so much, was so easy and so liberating. But sometimes that's just how a person has to be..

We said our goodbyes, yes I was sad, but so happy too. I turned my back and walked away. Did I look back? Of course I did, but only once I was sure that they weren't standing there watching me go through the security gates. They left and I left. We parted on different terms.. some sadness and happiness. The end of something old and the beginning of something new. I walked through the security and that was it.. Me, on my journey, so strong and independent. I was ecstatic. I was overjoyed. I was free.

The skies were grey, the rain was falling and my heart was lifting, as I was leaving behind more than I ever thought I'd encounter.. I had 3 flights in total, the first one was from Dublin to London. This was all very normal and I didn't feel like I was properly on my way. It wasn't until I needed to get to the terminal from which the flight to Singapore would be boarding. That's when I really knew that I was well and truly on my way. I had so many doubts that something was going to go wrong along the way. I was convinced that I wouldn't actually make it anywhere close to Australia. But as soon I felt I was setting off, I knew that I wouldn't go back if anything went wrong but that I'd do what was needed in order to get to where I was heading.

I was in London at around 8 o'clock in the evening. The flight to Singapore was at half 9. So I had enough time to get to terminal 4, by tube. I met a lady from Northern Ireland, who was getting on the same flight as me. She was delighted to bump into somebody that would help her find her way to the boarding gate. Well, it was like we had known each other for ages by the time we were boarding the plane. Everyone was mistaking us for mother and daughter.. The woman with her insane Irish accent was telling all the assistants that we'd only just met and how great it was that I was helping her. So sweet. We had different seats on the plane though, so we said we'd meet each other on the other side, once we got to Singapore.

It was at this stage that I was told I was getting a free upgrade on the plane! I couldn't believe it.. I had booked a premium economy ticket, apparently, and economy class was full, so everyone with a premium ticket was put in Business class.. Well I couldn't believe my luck. At first I felt uncomfortable just knowing that other people had paid thousands to sit in one of those seats, and I had paid nothing extra.. O well, I took what I was given and it was the best flight I've ever been on..especially when you're used to flying Ryan Air.

I ended up being sat beside an Australia woman, who was the nicest person ever and also the first Ozzie I've spoken to since being here last, with the best accent. I just wanted to listen and listen and listen to her speak. We clicked straight away and within 5 minutes we were talking about Gordon Ramsay and Hells Kitchen.. It was so funny. This was after we had been offered champagne by the air hostess. Me and Michelle (the woman beside me) toasted to our journey and chatted like we were old mates. Little did she know, just how much that champagne, that flight and my journey meant to me.

I had to check if the champagne was free all night.. along with all the other alcoholic beverages.. She had to laugh at my naivety.. "yes, the champagne is on demand..".. oops..

We had a 3 course meal, with proper cutlery, plates, glasses, wine..the works.. We had movies, nibbles, blankets, toiletries and a seat that was made into a bed as we were able to lie down flat!! The airhostess knew my name..(she was so sweet.. a little Asian woman).."Is there anything else you would like Miss Keoghan?" I got a fright the first time she said my name. So, all in all, throughout the whole flight, I sat there with this silly grin on my face, which probably made it obvious that I had gotten a free upgrade.. Not to worry though. Because I was ecstatic with being on that plane (even if I hadn't been upgraded, I still would have loved every minute of it), being in the air and just being moved to such different climates. It was an amazing feeling. I think that champagne gave me a massive buzz. So surreal and the pain that that smile on my face was causing..

You'd think that with having so much luxury, sleeping would be easy. Well, it wasn't. I hardly slept at all, which was such a shame. But I had so much adrenaline, I didn't care. We landed in Singapore at around 5 in the afternoon (local time), on Friday. It was 9 in the morning back in Ireland. I didn't see the lovely lady from Northern Ireland once I was in the airport after being hit in the face with the humidity that was seeping through the "tubes" that led us to the terminal. I hadn't prepared myself for that 30 degree heat.. O well, I was in Asia, if only for 3 hours, so nothing really mattered. I would have happily stayed there, being in that culture. It was an amazing feeling..

leaving on a jetplane

As I left Ireland on the 23rd of April, this was my "goodbye" to Arklow and my "hello" to Oz and to whatever lies beyond..

Well, my friends, this is it. The day has finally come. The day I thought I'd never get to see. I'm heading off to Oz, later on this afternoon.

This is just a short post, to let you all know that I've set up this new travel blog. It will be a lot different to my recent blog. This one will be full of happiness, laughter, adventure and TRAVEL!! Something I've dreamed of for so many months.

I just want to say a big big big "thank you" to everyone, once again, who has supported me over the past year. Everyone of you has been so amazingly supportive. Everyone believed in me, when I needed it most. I've come out the other end, and now the "sky is the limit".. I'll never ever forget everything you all did for me. It means the world and so much more.

So, as I set off to Australia, I'm feeling good, I'm feeling pretty calm. The best feeling of all I have is one of excitement. My backpack is so heavy, but my heart is light and full of life. I'll carry you all with me and I might be far in body, but I'm close in spirit.

Stay safe and keep on smilingxxxxxx Niamh

And so it begins..