Monday, 3 December 2012

Leaving Nepal – G’day Australia!

With Caroline in Pokhara and Fishtail in the background

What lovely send offs I got! 

The first one in Pokhara from Caroline, Kenta and John :) 

They came with me to the bus stop and waving me off. Then back in Kathmandu a lovely afternoon in Bouddha with Sharyn.

With Sharyn in Boddha/Kathmandu

In the evening I met the South African couple in OR2K and we had some delicious dinner incl. chocolate cake and we exchanged our trekking stories since EBC!
On my last day I posted a parcel to Germany, met Dinesh and Jeanette with her sister & Mum in Chikusa café! What a nice send off! I took a taxi to the airport and arrived 2.5hours before the flight was leaving. But you should have seen the queues!!! Unreal, we already had to queue to even get into the departure terminal! That’s Nepal ;)
The check-in was really quick, but then you should have seen the Security check-in queue! Oh mine good god! It reminded me about London airport. Oh well, at some stage I was able to go through – after I realized they had a special queue for just man and just woman. I had a last chat on the phone with Caroline and said goodbye before boarding the plane.
There were so many young Nepali men boarding the plane. I was wondering if they all go over to KL to work there. On the plane Nepali surrounded me and luckily enough one was able to speak English. So we chatted along and he told me that they were 40 men on the plane to fly into KL to work in a biscuit company. They had no idea where it was, in which city they would live etc. They all signed a 3y contract and they will earn a monthly salary of 35.000Rp (400US$). They also had to pay between 120.000 – 150.000Rp (130US$-160US$) to be able to get the contract. The only things, which are covered, are the plane ticket and the accommodation, but they don’t know where they live and with how many they have to share. This is an awful lot of  money for Nepali therms!
Most of the Nepali people had never been outside of Nepal or even on a plane beforehand. They were excited like little kids, which is understandable.
After the take off from Kathmandu we had a stunning view onto the Himalayan range and there was Everest again! I told the Nepali, that this was Mt. Everest! They had no idea! Most of them have never seen it with their own eyes.

We arrived on time in KL, I got my luggage and walked over to the Domestic Terminal to get the shuttle bus to the Tune hotel. There were so many people waiting and we would have never fitted in that Minivan. Then I realized that I was actually able to see the hotel, so I decided to walk! 

It was really only a 5-10min walk! So cool :)
The hotel room was small, but very luxury! I haven’t seen a hairdryer since over 9 months! The shower had glass doors and the shower head was huge and working! Wow! I’m back in a different world indeed!!!
Before I went to sleep I had a look into the 7Eleven. I was so excited to see all these products on the shelf! All the different brands I hadn’t seen for a long time.

On my way to Australia!

All went well at KL LCCT and I had checked in went through security in less then 30min! Amazing, it went so smooth :) Really delighted I have to say. Looked a little bit here and there in the shops, but I was too overwhelmed of all the things, which were available really! Good so, as I saved some money ;) The 2nd flight with Air Asia was good as well. There were so many empty seats, that I was even able to swap to a window seat in the end. I was delighted! I got my screen I had ordered for some in-flight entertainment and my food as well. Good service for sure. We arrived on time at the Gold Coast, but there was quiet a long queue for the passport control and later on we even had to go through another checkpoint, where they scanned my luggage for any items which were forbidden to bring inside the country, like special food items, wood, seeds and more ;)
But all went well and I met Ica & Ken at the airport, who picked me up! Ica had prepared a wonderful dinner for us and I ate some tasty Schnitzel! 

Thank you so much Ica!

My first week in Australia

I was very fortunate to spend my first week at the Gold Coast in Varsity Lake, in Ica's house. The weather was beautiful, some light rain showers at the weekend but other than that it was really humid and hot. 
View onto the Gold Coast
Gorgeous beach
I went to the beach every day, sometimes for a run or for a swim or just for a leisurely walk. It was beautiful down there. The water was turquoise and the beach had very smooth white sand, very similar to Danang ;) 

Big lizard right next to the beach!

The coastline reminded me about Ireland so with the black big rocks, the strong winds – almost everything except of the temperature. It was indeed at least 10-15 degrees warmer ;)

So far from what I have seen Australia reminds me about Ireland, US and Germany and sometimes even Singapore and today when we came down to Glen Innes even of Sweden.
There are many shops and companies, which we have in Ireland as well, so it feels a little bit like home. When I walked into my first shopping center it could have been in Dundrum!
I even found an ALDI and bought some Gingerbread! Ohhh, was that tasty stuff!!!
My favourite Gingerbread hearts filled with apricot jam! MMMMHHHH :)

I visited Point Danger, Burleigh Head, cycled a little bit through the neighbourhood, checked out different stores and shopping centres and got an Australian SIM Card.

Point danger 

Burleigh Head

Day Trip to Brisbane

It’s a very modern city, with a fancy CBD (Central Business District).

I loved the area around the South Bank. 

I have never seen such a fancy library! 

Stunning and so lovely to see such a nice building. Very modern, but still cosy and a warm atmosphere. Right next to an Art Gallery with a lovely garden and fountain.


Fountain in the Art Gallery
Garden at the Art Gallery

I had a long walk alongside the river until the Story Bridge and then walked my way back to CBD on the other side. Beautiful walk in the sunshine!

City Hall

Memories - How cool is that - Nepalese Pagoda!

Beautiful church

View onto CBD

Maritime museum

Another beautiful lizard

Lovely view onto the CBD

Oh and I had a pretzel at a German stall at the local market! So tasty!

Meeting Susan - Exploring Byron Bay - Lake Ainsworth – Lennox Head – Glen Innes

On Friday morning Susan’s Dad picked me up and we drove together down to Byron Bay. He was German but lived in Australia since he was 13. He has such a lovely Hamburg accent when he talks and reminded me about Nina’s Dad ;)
We met Susan & her brother’s family around lunchtime and we went straight to a Creative Arts Camp at Lake Ainsworth, where Monty was performing. Monty is Susan’s nephew. It was such a lovely place, so many colourful drawings & T-shirts – I loved it! 

The program was very nice and cute. All students really gave their best! Have a look at the video!

In the late afternoon we drove to Byron Bay, which was just a short drive away. 

It was beautiful and we visited the most easterly point of Australian mainland. 

Oh mine goodness was that windy!
Byron Bay Lighthouse

Beautiful coastline

We actually stayed that night in Lennox Head in a hostel and we all went out for dinner. 

My first stay in a hostel in Australia!

It was very tasty, but nevertheless very expensive. But I loved the pizza and we had a good evening. Susan’s family is lovely & so welcoming :)

We all had breakfast together the next morning and I had a stroll along the beach beforehand. Beautiful beach :) 
beach stroll in the morning

Then we drove to Glen Innes, the town Susan and her brother live in. We stopped at a viewing point called “Raspberry Lookout”. Beautiful view over the valleys!
Raspberry Lookout

It’s part of the Gibraltar Range National Park and there was an historic tree stand. It’s a reminder of the hardworking men and women that settled in this area. It was cut down by axe and its stump shows the anchor holes that once held the springboards that supported the axe men. 

Glen Innes is a small town with Celtic history and you can walk almost everywhere. 

It was such a relaxing time there and the house we were staying in is very spacious and cosy! Reminded me a bit about Swedish houses.

Susan's house in Glen Innes

I unpacked the AM/PM coffee from Pokhara, Nepal where Susan and myself had our first coffee coming back from our 20 day Annapurna trek! Our favourite coffee place :) Now we are having one together in Australia! How cool is that ?!

Susan & me in Glen Innes - Drinking AM/PM Cafe from Pokahar/Nepal!

I spend my days running with Susan in the morning, going swimming in the local pool, did some food shopping and we cooked together in the evenings.

Susan & her Dad

Doesn't that look delicious? Kangaroo sausages :)

I baked finally after a very long time - a marble cake for all of us! Oh, it was so tasty and felt like a piece from home!
Marble Cake

One evening we stayed in Susan’s brothers house. He and his family live in a community of around 100 people in the middle of the forest! There are no houses anywhere near, which means not even neighbours anywhere close by. 

Dinner in Susan's brothers house

Guess what I saw live there! Kangaroos! OMG, are they cute! My first Kangaroos live :)

I not only saw Kangaroos! When we arrived at Susan’s brothers house they had Alpaca’s! They were cool :) I was even allowed to feed them!

One afternoon I walked up a little hill in Glen Innes to the Australian Standing Stones, which is the equivalent to Stonehenge in England. 

I looked at the leaflet I got at the nearby coffee place and found the Irish Stone!!! Here it is :)

I learned many new words and specifics about Australia from Susan and here Dad! Thanks so much!!

Platypus is an unspecified animal – a mixture between a duck, otter and beaver and on the back of the 20c coin!

Frangapani is a beautiful flower that looks like an orchard.

Jacaranda trees have beautiful purple buds.

Macadamia nuts are white inside and very tasty.

Wallaby is a small kangaroo.

So where next?


Susan & her Dad dropped me off at Byron Bay airport and I had a stunning view onto Byron Bay from the plane. It was also very impressive to fly into Sydney, so many small Islands everywhere, beaches and rocks!

I took a shuttle bus to my Backpackers HQ hostel in Kings Cross and checked into a dorm room with 7 other girls including one bathroom.
My hostel was gorgeous. It was spacious, had high sealing’s and everything you needed. The kitchen was very well equipped and the dining area full of light. There was even a terrace where you could eat. I really enjoyed my stay there.

Backpackers HQ - Kings Cross

The terrace

Common Indoor Area

I had my Kangaroo Sandwich for dinner in the common area and decided to go for a late walk to see the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

OMG, it was stunning, awesome, beautiful, gorgeous Harbour Bridge & opera house! It is out of this world really! I loved it :)

I couldn’t believe I was there – so far Sydney reminds me about London, New York, Dublin and Hong Kong. - a great mixture of everything really. I’m excited to see it tomorrow by daylight. So glad I went out and went down to the harbour!

St. Mary's Cathedral

On my first day I bought a weekly commute ticket for the public transport, so it was easier to get around. I went for a job interview at St. Leonard and had a lovely chat. After that I explored the Botanic Garden & surroundings.

The next day I did a 3-hour Walking Tour through CBD, which was great and helped me to get a better understanding of the city. Gorgeous places and areas really! 

Captain Cook

Queen Victoria Building - Now an exclusive shopping centre

Beautiful clock tower

Written everywhere in Sydney in the 50s!

Playing chess in the park!

Il Porcellino in front of Sydney hospital

Customs House
Famous fountain - The movie Matrix was filmed here! 

The Harbour Bridge

Famous Pub!

The Docks
In the afternoon I took my first ferry ride out to Mosman. It was lovely out there, but too posh to live. Not my cup of tea really. 

View from the ferry onto the skyline!
On the ferry to Mosman




Then I checked out Paddy’s market in Chinatown, but decided not to buy anything yet. 

For sunset I took the train to the other side of the harbour and walked back over the Sydney Harbour Bridge (1.3km)! It was just stunning :) I could have stayed up there almost the whole night! The view is just spectacular!

After that I decided to go back to “The Rocks” area, where a lovely local market was on. I strolled a bit, chatted to a lovely woman who sold gorgeous porcelain cups and plates with colourful paintings of Sydney. I also bought a tasty dark chocolate rock with marshmallows in it! MMMHHHH ;) People in Sydney seem to know what’s tasty ;)

On my 3rd day I decided to take the ferry out to Manly to the beach early in the morning. We had stunning sunshine and the ferry was almost empty. Perfect to take gorgeous pictures and enjoying the peacefulness! Met a nice French man on the ferry who was here on a business trip. He was on his way to Manly to surf for a bit before flying back to France.

I reached Manly and first of all saw the gorgeous beach. 

Then I passed an ALDI, next I step out of the Manly Wharf and saw the Bavarian Bier Café! 

Not sure, but that might be a sign! This place might be perfect for me to live in. I went on and walked a bit through town. Lovely shops, palm trees and it felt like you were on vacation in Italy and it even reminded me a bit of Malahide in Dublin! I reached the other side of the beach and it was just stunning! I felt like I could live here! That would be the place to be – nice restaurants, coffee places and there was a small little market on as well. On top of all that I found a Brezel Bar, which sold German bread!

Nevertheless I decided to take a bus further out to Dee Why to check it out as well. It took maybe 20 min by bus, however it felt more like a family place and didn’t really catch me at all. So back on the bus to Manly, where I strolled around for a little bit longer ;)

Later on I took the ferry back to CBD, where I met Lorenzo and Ana (Ex colleagues from IBM Ireland) at Darlinghurst Harbour. It was lovely to see them again and we had some coffee & ice cream! The weather was just gorgeous!

In the evening I made my way to the Sydney Entertainment Centre to watch the performance of the school band “Marimba Band” where Susan’s nephew was playing in. 

Around 40 kids from different schools played the Xylophone and I really enjoyed it.

On Sunday I decided to go back to Paddy’s Market to buy some souvenirs and around lunchtime I made my way out to Ana & Lorenzo for a BBQ. Lorenzo picked me up from the train station and he showed me the IBM location. It’s in the middle of the forest – wow, so different to Ballycoolin ;) But as well, very far out! I ate some tasty meat BBQ meat and it was nice to see both of them again.
On my last evening I decided to go back down to the harbour to enjoy the view onto the Opera House & the harbour bridge one more time! I bought a cappuccino for take away, set down at the harbour and just glazed with amazement out onto the water!

It was hard to leave that beautiful place! On my way back to the hostel I decided to spoil myself with some ice cream!

My five nights flew by really as there is so much to do and see in Sydney. It is unreal, but I loved it!
I had 2 very special moments – one when I went down to the Harbour on my evening when I arrived. I couldn’t believe, that I had arrived in Sydney, standing at the harbour and glazing with amazement onto the Bridge and the Opera House! A moment, which will be very memorable :) The second one was when I took the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly! Stunning really! I was sitting on that ferry asking myself what I had done in that life to deserve to be here ;) But it seems like I had deserved to be here and I decided to enjoy it to the fullest!
Manly felt like being at home – such a cosy, vibrant, stunning beach location with lots of shops and markets. Even a German Pretzel Shop and a Bavarian Coffee & Restaurant were there! This place is perfect for me :) But unfortunately a bit far from IBM. Oh well, let’s see. I would love to live here.

So that’s my overall impression of Sydney so far:

Lots of Asian people, which makes me feel at home, Irish flags, Guinness signs, pie stores with tasty muffins, public transport looks like in London, beautiful beaches, stunning Harbour Bridge, gorgeous Opera House, The Rocks which look like the Docklands, lots of coffee shops, Woolworths supermarket which looks like Dunnes Stores, lots of greenery everywhere and water! Irish sounding street names, lots of sporty people and people say “You know what I mean?!”
CBD (Central Business District) reminds me about Manhattan, suburbs look very greenish, Shopping Centres remind me about Ireland and you can even find Bupa here and Toni & Guy. There are so called Bottle shops which are the same as Off Licenses. I found German Bakeries with real Pumpkinseed Bread rolls and Pretzels ;) Aussie’s seem to love to eat sausages – me too!
The public busses look like in Dublin, even the colour of the seat covers is the same ;) Funny, lots of small little things – but they make a difference!

I’m so looking forward to come back to Sydney! But for now I’m off to New Zealand :)

As I don't think I'll write another blog entry before Christmas, I would like to wish you all a 
Merry Christmas and all the best in 2013! 

May these be your gifts this Christmas Season!

The Blessing of Peace
The Beauty of Hope
The Spirit of Love
The Comfort of Faith

David Jones Department Store X-mas window decoration in Sydney!


  1. Liebe Kerstin

    Thank you very much for all those great pictures of my second country, made me feel as if I was there in the glorious sunshine. many kisses, Valerie

    1. You are more than welcome! Good to hear from you :)

  2. Thank you for the update kerstin..always love reading your blogs :)..can't wait til you're back in oz next year! I will fly up to visit you as soon as i can! Peace, love and sunshine to you beautiful one x x

    1. Thanks so much Tali :) I can't wait either - we will have such a good time! Big hug :)