Or, how to hug a koala bear and other exciting Antipodean adventures
19.10.2013 - 27.10.2013 30 °C
It appears that the length between our blog entries is getting longer and longer and we can only apologise for that. It is not through lack of things to talk about but more through sheer incompetence of the writers who, frankly, are pretty hopeless at keeping to deadlines. Well the librarian half of the team is anyway.
To remedy this situation we’ll give you a two, no three, make that four for the price of one offer and throw all sorts of things into this boiling pot of South East Asian and Australasian cuisine.
First up, we spent our half term holiday way down south in sun-drenched Brisbane, and that is the farthest place away from home we’ve ever been in our lives. By miles. We went to visit Daisy and we had a splendid time. Having not seen her for 14 months it was an unusual place to meet up. But it was really, really lovely to see her. Brisbane is a beautiful city and after the chaos of HCMC it was lovely to spend some time in a place that is both laid back and incredibly green and clean. We crammed a lot into our week’s adventures. We began with a busman’s holiday and ticked off the Queensland State Library, including an exhibition on the history of Queensland music, from early jazz and big bands to the Go-Betweens and the wonderfully named Six Ft Hick. We also checked out the restored city hall and the excellent clock tower. We visited the Queensland Art Gallery (which was excellent) and then took in the campus at the University of Queensland where Daisy has been studying. It really is an amazing campus. Universities have clearly changed since I went to Plymouth. I don’t remember seeing lakes and fountains and peacocks and lizards there. It was a fantastic place and Daisy seems to have had a brilliant time there. She bought us tickets for the city ferris wheel and so we had a lovely sunset ride on that. This was followed by a really cool visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where we hugged koalas, fed kangaroos, watched Tasmanian devils being fed, and spotted duck-billed platapuses (possibly platapi) which were a lot smaller than I imagined. Great place though. The day after that we caught the bus up to Mount Coot-tha, which has spectacular views across Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and then visited the Botanical Gardens. Now I don’t profess to know a lot about botanical gardens but in my humble and totally non-green-fingered opinion these were right up there with Kew Gardens. They were absolutely beautiful.
For the last two days Daisy joined us glamping on Moreton Island. This is a stunning island of sand dunes just off the coast of Brisbane and only walkers and drivers of 4 x 4s can go onto it. It is extremely scenic and very peaceful and where we glamped we had the beach virtually to ourselves. We spotted a few dolphins and saw some amazing birds including Ospreys, Brahmany Kites, Whistling Kites, Crested Goshawks, and a few more besides. You might have guessed – I’m quite rubbish at birding. We had some lovely strolls along the beach watching the whitebait and mackerel jumping and it felt remarkably like Burton Bradstock, except there’s no rockfalls.
So, our stay in Brisbane was short but sweet. We crammed a lot in and had a very fine time and it was really nice to spend some time a little more Western, after a year in South East Asia.
Before our Antipodean shenanigans we welcomed a number of friends to Vietnam. Our very, very good friends (whom we love so very much) Peter and Linda visited us over the summer and we had a ball with them. We took them down to the Mekong and paddled up and around the quiet rivers of Ben Tre. We cycled all around the area, through peaceful coconut groves and then cruised downstream on the cargo boat. We also caught the train to Phan Thiet and spent a few days on the east coast. It is really lovely here and we stayed in a luxurious 5 star hotel and were pampered, and pampered, and pampered some more. We visited the local fish market and watched the fishermen haul in their daily catch on their little coracles, cycled to sand dunes and sampled rather potent alcohol with the locals, ate the most ridiculous breakfasts, and generally lived like kings and queens. It was a top few days.
My brother Chris and his wife Pat visited in September and we did much the same thing. We had another beautiful few days in Ben Tre, before they headed off to Hoi An, a crazy few days in Cambodia, and some rest in Phan Thiet. Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong are great places to show people round and Jill and I always see something different whenever people arrive. There is always something new to see, the city constantly changes, the bus station changes every week(!) and new buildings seems to spring out of nowhere. It is a city in constant state of flux and it has changed so much in our first year.
So, there you have it. We’re up to date; Daisy arrives soon, followed by her friend Rhianna; we’re off to Bangkok just before xmas and who knows where after that. We’ll keep you up to date. I promise.
Oh, school continues to thrive. The library was re-vamped and enlarged over the summer. One day it was small. The next day it was very large. It looks ace and it’s full of kids, which is as it should be. They aren’t quiet, they aren’t silent, and I have no control over them, so it’s much like the last 12 years of my professional library career. But it is good. And Jill is now working at the school as a counsellor and is doing a tremendous job.
See you all later.