You know you’re getting excited about returning to Australia when…
- You take over cooking duties at a BBQ (admittedly on a 21st floor balcony)
- You are not alarmed by the falling sky - it always seems to bounce back into place
- You take an interest in Australian news stories
- You’re interested in what changes have been made in the latest budget
- You start saying “Please talk to X, they’re responsible for that now.” rather than dealing with problems yourself
- You look forward to no longer starting emails with “there seems to be some miscommunication here”
- Your concentration levels at work vary more frequently than a diabetics blood sugar level
- You start making last visits to places and restaurants you like
- You start working out what to buy before you go
- You know the RMB : AU$ exchange rate to 5 decimal places (6.69287:1 today)
- You start to not replace things at home when they run out
- You start giving away or throwing out things that aren’t taking the long journey home
- You write the remaining weeks on tiles in the kitchen with a whiteboard marker, one tile per week
- You reminisce about the delightful summer rains, where you don’t mind getting wet
- You hope for just one more blinding thunderstorm
- You imagine the bliss of sleeping in a bedroom that is both dark and quiet
- You look at your ailing dilapidated Metro card and think ‘She’ll be right’
- You realise that, when talking with Australians, your accent has changed slightly
- You start mentally planning what to take on the plane - more than a month in advance
- You start researching on-line replacement items for things you sold before leaving Australia
- You start bracing for how expensive everything is going to be
- You make a mental decision to ‘From brain Chinglish put out’
- Your wife uses the word ‘Bonza’ in an email
Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Aus we go!
For the next fortnight or so Gail & I will be back in Australia. The middle slab of our time will be for my work but hopefully there will be plenty of nooks and crannies in our schedule to enable us to see all the various people we want to catch up with.
See you there!
What you see here is an Australian Bush Biscuit, coated in Vegemite and margarine goodness. Today I had been feeling quite sick of China-food. Soy this, rice that, noodles with this, fatty pork those, oily vegetables, greasy dumplings. Bah! A string of days of China food has left me hanging out for a good chicken parmigiana. How to drag me out of this slump? A good Aussie Bush biscuit.
Kudos to the top chick (my sister) who thoughtfully gave us a pack of Arnotts Bush Biscuits just before we returned to China.
For the past few days we've had Wozza, Kiah and Hugh come and
terrorize our household stay with us. After a fleeting sleep on Wednesday night they whipped of to Huizhou for two days before returning for the weekend.
The weekend was a bit wet which precluded us from doing too much, that and the fact that we were all rather tired from hectic weeks. Despite the high humidity which made walking around Lichee Park a little unpleasant, Gail enjoyed one of the first proper rains of the summery season. Even so, we managed to have a bit of a look around together, ate lots of yummy food and watched the complete Series 9 of Top Gear. Besides, nothing beats hanging out with your mates, regardless of what you get up to.
Prior to their visit we 'Hughie-proofed' the house as much as possible. At the end of the weekend we'd made it through with no harm done; or nothing that didn't look the same after a quick spray and wipe anyway. Mission accomplished in 10 minutes. The whole time Hughie managed to keep his cuteness reserves sufficiently high to cover his occasional grumps and grizzles, providing us with plenty of laughs and smiles. He was a particularly big fan of our little red trolley, with pushing it, standing on it collapsed and standing in it receiving wheelies around the place.
Hooking up with friends in a foreign country really does make living abroad seem a whole lot easier. It's a different feeling, having friends drop in after crossing half of China, compared to a half-hour drive. The best way I can describe it is like being re-united with a piece of your identity. How much of that is to do with being friends and how much is do do with them being other Aussies is hard to say. Regardless, it was a breath of fresh air (pun intended) to have them here.
Here’s one for all the Holden fans. Whilst in Guangzhou we came across this Buick Royaum: aka Holden Statesman. The biggest difference, apart from being left-hand drive, is the ditching of the Aussie-spec 3.6L V6 or 6L V8 in favour of a 2.8LV6, not sold in Australia.
It was quite odd to see a formerly Australian-specific car on the roads here. It was a timely reminder that borders between countries are dwindling as the global free trade of the world marches on. A few thousand re-badged Holdens isn’t going to make a scrap of difference to China’s phenomenal trade surplus.
Note the adjacent Chinese men in the familiar squatting position.
Last week I’ve had general feelings of weariness, low energy levels and a lack of enthusiasm for doing things. After a little while I realised that I’d been having a dose of Avian Flu, complete with … just kidding … I was feeling home sick!
The best way to describe it is as waves of sadness - sadness for no particular reason that seems apparent at the time, but in retrospect it seems to be related to a sense of loss of the familiar, the comfortable, the relationships and the freedom (BTW, even Jackie Chan was censored by the Chinese government on Discovery last night!).
Gail also experienced similar feelings, but they started only a few weeks or so after we arrived here and they manifest themselves in a whole variety of different ways. I’ve had work to keep me interested and engaged, whilst she hasn’t. I suspect that this freedom of time and space brought her to the point of feeling home sick much sooner than me. Now that routines and patterns have settled down, and we’ve had a couple of quiet weekends, I’ve had the mental space to go through the same thing. Gail stopped feeling homesick at the 3 month mark, the point at which we were able to take our first return flights home, if we wanted them. Just the knowledge that we could return home at any time was enough for her.
The trigger for my home sickness was the prospect of returning to Australia for work for a week or two. Now that it’s confirmed that we’re coming back for a fortnight I’m really looking forward to it. Can’t wait in fact. We’ve been keeping a list of all the things we need to do or want to get whilst we’re back and it’s become rather long! Having the things on that list realised will be great, but it won’t be as good as catching up with all our great friends and our families back home.