Big Ol’ Family Trip

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So my mom, dad and brother came to visit in November. I was really excited to show them everything Australia had to offer, but as luck with have it, both mom and dad landed in Melbourne with a cold. >.>

Despite hacking coughs every hour, my parents were good sports and even went on a Sunset Tour with me to see the 12 Apostles. From being attacked by those darn Australian flies to almost missing the sunset on the sunset tour (blame the pizza place…), I had forgotten how hilarious it is to travel with each other.

After visiting Melbourne and Sydney, we all went to Hong Kong to attend my cousin’s wedding.

While we were there I took the opportunity to go back to Disneyland Hong Kong and show my brother how fun this Disneyland can be. I mean look at the fabulousness of it all.

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We also took a ferry to Macau. I had never been to Macau, but I heard it was basically the Vegas of China and it didn’t disappoint (sort of). From the outside it is pretty spectacular, but after you go in, you notice a big difference. The games were all exactly the same in EVERY casino, and there was definitely a lot less people gambling their life savings away. It was all just too new and too empty to be fun.

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I also found out that Macau has quite the split personality. On one hand, it has the glitz and glamour of Vegas in Cotai, but when you drive across the bridge in to actual Macau, you get hit with an old Chinese town with Portuguese influences! I also found out that my mom took a bus here from China when she was six (all by herself) to meet up with her grandma to live and go to school until her mom got her Hong Kong papers ready. It was really great to see how excited my mom was to see her old haunts. She took us to the exact spot where she met up with her grandma, the place they lived and where she went to school.

Macau, you hold a special place in my mom’s heart and now in mine as well. I would definitely come back to show my kids in the future.

 

Visual Overload – Shanghai Part 1

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Mainland China…. the place where everything you own comes from. Now it even has it’s very own Disneyland! Seeing how it is on my bucket list to go to all Disney parks around the world (it was 5/5 until Shanghai came along…) I had to go. So after waiting a couple months after opening day, Doran and I made our inaugural trip to Shanghai Disneyland, China.

I did some minor research so that I knew just enough to get around while not spoiling some of Disney’s trademark storytelling and surprises. My biggest worry from all the research was China’s crowd behaviours and lack of personal space, however, I am happy to report that I encountered very little stereotypical Chinese idiosyncrasies and had a WONDERFUL time there. The weather was unbearably hot, but the skies were blue and wait times were all under 30 mins. Below are some of my favourite moments during my 2 days at the park:

1. My first moment in any Disney park is always a favourite and this time was no different. However, this time was especially magical because it was the first time I get to see the largest Disney castle to-date!

2. The “Running of the Guests” is a scary yet exhilarating experience. You are allowed to purchase tickets before the park opens. Once you have your tickets, you are allowed to enter the park up to a certain point. When the time has come for the park to officially open, the rope drops and the guests are released into the wild. Chaos ensues because everyone is running for their first ride of the day. Thank goodness most people are not runners and we soon passed them to go on our very first ride.

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3. TRON Lightcycle Power Run is one of the best roller coasters Disney has to offer. With it’s innovative ride vehicles (you sit like a you are riding a motorcycle!!!) to the cool queues, this was such a great first impression for us of the park.

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4. Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure is BY FAR the most advanced ride I think I have ever seen. This ride took a Disney favourite and made it EVEN BETTER! From Jack Sparrow materializing from a skeleton to really feeling like you went under water, I never knew rides could be done like this. It’s so hard to explain without spoilers, so just get yourself over to Shanghai Disneyland ASAP!!!

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5. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Look at it. Just. Look. At. It.

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This place is amazing. Well done Disney. Well done.

How to fly to Australia and visit a few of your favourite places in the world along the way

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So for the past month, I flew back to Calgary while Doran stayed in Melbourne since my leave of absence was over. Then I received an offer to work in Melbourne, so I resigned and spent the next 3 weeks preparing our condo for rental and packing everything to start a new career back in Australia. This is my step-by-step guide on how you can fly from Calgary to Melbourne and visit a few awesome places in between!

Step 1: To save money, book a standby flight back to Melbourne via two connections: one in Vancouver and another in Sydney. Remember to give yourself a few days just in case you don’t get on (eg. If you are supposed to start work Oct 5th, leave Sept 30).

Step 2: Have heartfelt goodbyes and start your journey to Vancouver.

Step 3: Find out that your flight to Sydney is somehow overbooked and there isn’t another flight until the next day. Show your standby ticket to the gate person and get scolded: “Absolutely not, no staff will fly on this flight.” Thank them without showing how devastated you are and head to the nearest hotel to rest while your boyfriend tries to figure out the answer to the question at hand: “Now what?”

Step 4: Flights from Vancouver to Sydney for the next few days look overbooked as well. New plan: Go from Vancouver to LA to Honolulu, then from Honolulu to Australia. Go to sleep and be happy that there is a plan.

Step 5: Arrive in LA and head over to the connecting flight to Honolulu in the domestic terminal in LAX. Meet a really nice Delta agent who comments on how fun you are by looking at your fun carry-on and bag tags.

Step 6: Don’t get on the Honolulu flight because it’s severely overbooked. You’re 44th on the standby line. That’s last place. Talk to the Delta help desk to see what you can do, only to find out the flight has been overbooked. Your checked luggage, however; somehow has a seat and has already been put on the plane to Honolulu.

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Step 7: Run to the United Airline terminal to see if you can get on their flights.

Step 8: They are completely full for the day and overbooked too, so run to the American Airlines terminal to check there.

Step 9: Be sweaty and distraught while you go back to Delta to inquire about the extent of how overbooked everything is.

Step 10: Get lucky and find out someone cancelled their flight tomorrow morning to Honolulu. Pay for a confirmed ticket and be satisfied that you have a way to get to Honolulu. Thank the Delta agents for their help and sympathy.

Step 11: Things are looking up so why not get out of the airport (it’s 5pm) and go to Disneyland to lift your spirits?

Step 12: Rent a car and get stuck in LA traffic.

Kill me now.

Step 13: Drive up to a hotel in next to Disneyland so that you can stay as late as possible in the park. Talk to the hotel for rates and find out the park closes at 10pm tonight. It’s 8pm.

Step 14: Die a little inside and head to the only place that has Wi-Fi (McDonald’s) to lament your situation to your boyfriend on the phone and have dinner.

Step 15: Since all your toiletries are all in Honolulu already, head over to Walmart to buy some small travel stuff and an apple because dinner at McDonald’s is not filling.

Step 16: Have your Visa payment be declined at Walmart for the 15 dollar purchase. You’re already dead inside so this is nothing. Just ask to use the phone to call Visa.

Step 17: Visa has office hours? Apparently so, because they are closed. Head back to the Walmart cashier and say you don’t need those items anymore and head back to a Wi-Fi area (McDonald’s) to find a hotel.

Step 18: The cheapest hotel near the car rental place smells like marijuana, but be glad you have a place to sleep and collect call Visa again. Don’t forget about the LA traffic.

Step 19: Find out your card was fine and realise you could have used your Visa debit card. Again, no worries, you’re already dead inside.

Step 20: Wake up and head to Honolulu.

Step 21: Make the best of the situation and utilize the 18 hour layover in Honolulu to have a mini vacation. Reminisce about your last couple of times here. Eat an Acai Bowl, walk along the beach in Waikiki. Eat the best Japanese curry of all time (Coco Curry House) and enjoy your time at the Ala Moana mall.

Ahhhh, it's so nice to be back!

Ahhhh, it’s so nice to be back!

Yummy!!!

Yummy!!! (Acai Bowl)

Step 22: Wake up and head to the airport. Pray you get a seat from Honolulu to Melbourne.

Step 23: You have a seat and you’re on your way home, but just before you land, have the 10 hour flight be meal-less because apparently you have to pay extra for a meal. And be ignored by the flight attendants when the drinks cart rolls by. Watch other people eat.

Step 24: Arrive in Melbourne 16 hours before your first day of work on Oct 4.

Thanks Doran!!!

Thanks Doran!!!

Moving to Australia!

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It’s done! We have officially begun the transition from Canada to living and working in Australia! It has been a long wait since the idea to do this came up, but here we are…. blogging from Sydney, Australia.

Getting here was a bit of a trek, over 20 hours of flight time and an 8-hour layover in Los Angeles. We did, however, make the most of our pit stop in Los Angeles.

YES! We went to Disneyland!!! How can we go to Los Angeles and not have a stop in Disneyland?!? As short as it was, we did get to go on a few of our favourite rides and managed to get back to the airport in time for our flight to Sydney.

We’ve been in Sydney a couple of days now and here are our first impressions:

  • The $2 coin is disproportionately smaller than all the rest of the coin denominations. Seriously, it’s like the size of a thick $0.10 coin from North America.
  • The future of banking is already here and it’s in Sydney. The ATM counts money (including coins) for you when you deposit, and telephone apps allow you to withdraw money from the ATM even if you’ve forgotten your bank card at home.
  • A lot of shops close at 4 or 5pm. The bank is open only from 9:30am to 4pm….. talk about banker’s hours…. yeesh.
  • Figuring out the transit system is a nightmare. Good thing we can walk everywhere (my feet feel like they’re going to explode).
  • Jet lag was ok…. we are super tired by 9pm …. then wake up at 6am only to lay around til 9am. What a vacation!