Friday, 31 August 2012

Friday Fave: Wombats!

This is my wombat. Her name is Anabelle.
I knit a tutu for her because she was cold when we visited Canada.

Lovely readers, when I touched down in Sydney two and a half years ago, I had no idea that I was going to meet my most favorite animal yet. I was well aware that Aus = land of things that can kill you (think snakes and jellyfish and sharks and crocs and a whole lot more snakes and a teeny little octopus that's the most poisonous thing in the world), but I did not know there would be a fuzzy fellow who would capture my heart so very hard.

When I had settled in Canberra and made a few buddies, two of those buddies ( <3 to Adam and Vanessa Taylor!) took us out to see friends of their family who ran an animal rescue operation out of their home. This volunteer animal carer couple would get calls from drivers who had hit a wombat, or a variety of other fauna, and then they would go to the scene, assess the animal and do their best to care for the injured animal, or, in many cases, the baby left behind.

The point of all of this is that lovely friends Adam and Vanessa told us to get ready because they were on their way to take us two Canadian kids (PIC and I) to meet a wombat. This sounded neat, but I didn't actually really know what a wombat was.

I found out! 

Her name was Button. She was a 'teenaged' wombat, and she was about to be weaned off human contact in preparation to be released back into the wild. I got there just in time!

Why I LOVE Wombats:

  • They're kind of grumpy, but in a sweet way. 
  • I like their tails, of which you will hear more below 
  • It's funny when they try to eat your shoelaces just because the shoelaces are there and why not, but of course you don't let them because that would hurt their tummy
  • THIS IS THE BEST ONE: If you were to touch a wombat's lower back, like right near its bum, you will feel a steel-like shield of super thick skin. That's because when a wombat senses an intruder, such as a dingo, coming into its burrow, it waits for its assailant to get really close, and then bum-butts the head of the attacking animal: effectively crushing its attacker's head with its bum! SERIOUSLY!
  • Male wombats have a heart shaped scrotum. No lie. See below.

    P.I.C. loves wombats, too, although he loves echidnas more. He's cuddling Spike.

As if introducing me to my most favorite animal in the world wasn't enough, those Aussie buddies proceeded to send me a calendar of the fuzzy fellows a year later! The calendar is published by Native Animal Rescue Group, the proceeds go towards assisting the volunteer wildlife carers, and it seems like you can get your own handy dandy calendar here. (Also, you should probably click on that link because their site has SO MANY wonderful wombat pictures!)

Our cover model is "Cinders", and the lovely
lady to the right is named "Osh"

Best of the wombat fun facts from this delightful date-tracker: 
  • "Wombats have a cute little tail, but it's not easy to see!"
  • "Wombats claws are built for digging. No wonder they are called 'bulldozers of the bush.'"
  • "A wombat's nose pattern is as individual as a fingerprint." 
  • "A wombat can scratch every part of its body, and does so often!"

If human babies were this cute, I'd probably be a little more into that idea.

Do Tell:
Lovely readers, have you ever met a wombat? If so, were they grumpy or sociable? Did they seem to think your shoelaces looked delicious!?

If you haven't had the chance to meet a wombat personally, have I at least succeeded in convincing you that they're basically the best animal in the world ever?

If your answer is "Yes!", you are officially invited to like my Facebook page!
If no, then, um, maybe next time. (Just kidding - come one, come all!)

Button + Spike = I love.

xx Lady Expatriate

Monday, 27 August 2012

Yes, We (Don't) Have No Bananas!

With a bit of extra cake mix on top, 'cos I'm wild like that.

I was relaxing a few nights ago, feet up after a hard day of expat-ing, and enjoying the delightful blog Sometimes Sweet. Little did I know I was about to stumble upon a solution to a common problem in Cambo: too many bananas!

I love that you can get a literal bunch and a half of small, sweet bananas for under a buck, but at the same time a girl only needs so much potassium, and the shelf-life of these bananas is exceptionally short. Luckily, Danielle posted about a homemade fruit version of frozen yogurt featuring... wait for it... bananas.

Next time your bananas start going bad, chop them up and put them in the freezer. When you're ready for an easy-as dessert, blend the frozen bananas up with some dry powder cake mix (I couldn't find cocoa powder, as Danielle originally instructed) and a splash of water or milk. Or cream, if you're feel indulgent. And maybe some avocado? Mmmm.  

You can eat it frozen, or thaw it out and turn it into a pudding. Either way, it's delicious, cheap as chips (especially compared to the $7 tubs of ice cream offered at Lucky), and saves you from tossing bananas when you've just got too darn many. Get on it!

Do tell:
Will you give it a go? If you do, definitely let us all know in the comments just how it turned out!

xx Lady Expatriate

Like chocolate? Like bananas? Then, logically speaking, I'm sure you'll also Like my facebook page!!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Loveliest Links

Dancing as though no one's watching while in a very public place:
Silent Disco in Hongdae Park, Seoul, in 2011.

<3 Loving this post from Matador about silent discos. Reckon we should get one going in Phnom Penh - who's with me?! 

<3 I'm going to break my rule and talk about another link from the above site, mainly because the "wicked" public art installations of David Černý in Prague have to be seen to be believed. 
<3 A restaurant in the Penh after my own aesthetic heart: Khmer 440 reviews 'Deco,' a classy local eatery, and makes me wonder why I'm not there at this exact moment gorging myself on sticky toffee pudding. Ooo and there's even more shots of the interior on the official Deco site

<3 Continuing with the art deco theme, check out the exquisite pics snapped by Lady Melbourne when she was visiting the incredibly unique Manchester Unity building. The architecture is incredible, but my favorite part is the door to the Typing Room.

<3 Loved both the description and the photos of Laura from A Wandering Sole conquering the Dead Sea Marathon. It's not everyday you get to read a first hand account about running 42 kilometers towards the lowest point on Earth, and it's definitely inspiring for Partner In Crime and I as we start to amp up our training for the Angkor Wat Half Marathon.


Hope the week ahead holds only good things for you, lovely readers! I'm starting the training for my main teaching job tomorrow... wish me luck!

In the meantime, do tell:
Have you ever danced your face off at a silent disco? Eaten sticky toffee pudding at Deco? Seen babies crawling on buildings in Prague? Leave a little note in the comments, I beg!
xx Lady Expatriate 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Saturday Wayback Snap: Lovers' Locks on Seoul Tower

Loved going to Namsan Tower and spotting the locks that couples had written on and attached to the chain link fence around the base of the tower.

The above sign "Do Not Throw Your Key Away" was to try to stop people from throwing the keys down the mountain beyond the fence, but I'm sure a hopeless romantic could add another, gushier, layer of meaning to it.... oh l'amour... <3

xx Lady Expatriate

Get a kick out of this pic? Then you might enjoy my facebook page! Please do wander by!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Friday Fave: The Dollhouse

Lovely readers, in case you missed all of the previous references, I'm on a slight Roaring 20's / Great Gatsby kick. Slight. Almost unnoticeable? Rather subtle, really.

Basically the trailer for the upcoming $127m spectacle starring Leo and the divine Carey Mulligan has been on repeat in our house. Partner In Crime loves it! (No, no he doesn't. I think I have about 3 replay opportunities before the trailer is forevermore banned during the hours that both of us kids are at home.) Anyway, all of the flash and fashion and passion in the trailer has clearly infiltrated my brain, as has the influence that this era has recently had on the fashion industry at large.
Warning: This part may seem unrelated to the above, but please do hear me out!
So, yesterday, I woke up feeling most melancholic, which I attribute to the tiresomely predictable yet intense desire to get a pet as soon as I settle into a new place. What better way to overcome the blues than to spend a few hours being pampered and preened?

Off I went to The Dollhouse - a salon that all of my expat girlfriends swear by, and promptly let Ryan, the "Dollmaster," go to town on my locks.

I had taken in pictures of Carey Mulligan showing a cute short blonde cut with a fringe and a bunch of volume in the back. Ryan quickly dismissed the fringe, explaining that the heat here would have me constantly pushing it off my face and into disgraceful disarray. He loved the bob idea, though, and promptly name-dropped Louise Brooks as another influence he was envisioning for my cut. I could have screamed with joy - this guy totally got what I was going for! 

A luxurious shampoo and head massage followed, a curtain of hair was was cut away, and then Ryan guided me in brainstorming color options. The below result came about after we decided upon "Natural... but on the extreme edge of natural" for the highlights. It felt like heaven to be able to communicate with a hair stylist, and I enjoyed every moment of sipping Perrier and reading the latest English Vogue and Marie Claire while the color set. 

Enough dallying, you say: time for the reveal! Get on with it, girlie! Well, dear readers, I'm a massive fan of the Before and After, superficial as it may be. Thus... 

In the spirit of infomercial Before's, here I am sans makeup after a day of hiking round Ta Prohm Temple, provided in hopes of making the After snap seem particularly dramatic and most good. Shall we?


Doing my best 'Doll / Daisy' impression.
If after seeing this snap even one single person calls to mind "Gatsby? What Gatsby?" then I consider myself a woman with a goal accomplished. And OH how much better it feels during the muggy rainy season! 

So ladies (and gents, but of course) - when in Phnom Penh, believe the hype: Ryan is wonnnderful, and he has created a gorgeous space to bring ideas and influences and turn them into something that works with your own pretty face. Cannot recommend The Dollhouse enough! 

Cheers to you, lovelies, and Happy Friday! I'm off to go practice drawing on cupid's bow lips...

xx Lady Expatriate

P.S. Note to fellow teachers:
Isn't observing your students' reactions one of the most entertaining aspects of a big appearance change? My students went nuts! I think the funniest is when they ask "Teacher - haircut?" and I deny it with a quizzical look on my face, savoring the momentary confusion that clouds their faces before they realize I'm pulling their leg... Oh delightful. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Expat Interview #2: My Aussie Pal Rossco!

Lovely Readers! In this, the second edition of Expat Interviews, I'm chatting with Andrew Ross - one of my dear friends who I met while living in Australia, and who PIC and I have both visited in Japan and hosted in Korea. This guy's a Legend: he's a fully certified teacher, now headed towards his PhD, and not only is he one of the smartest kids I know, but he's also a mighty fun buddy to have around on the weekend.
This Aussie fellow started off his expat experience in London back in 2001, then tallied up just about four years in Bangkok, and recently completed a year of teaching university in Osaka. Between each of these trips, Rossco has opted to take a year or two and head back down under (probably because Australia = Tim Tams, and thus I don't blame him), so we're sure to get a good, balanced point of view out of him.

Let the barrage begin!

What did I tell you? Legend!
So, Rossco, what initially drew you to pursuing a life abroad?  

It’s funny, looking at this question, the apparently subtle, but actually significant difference that I feel exists between what ‘a life’ abroad means, and what it means to ‘live abroad’.

I first left Australia for an extended period of time immediately after I graduated from my undergraduate studies from the ANU. I was to go to London for six months (this became two years). Looking back, sure, I was leaving Australia to live abroad, but I never considered it in terms of ‘pursuing a life’. It was to be an extended period of fun and travel before heading back to continue ‘a life’ in Australia – ‘pursuing experience’ is perhaps more fitting. Regardless, in this time abroad I never really thought anything further than returning to Australia and doing my Dip.Ed and getting into teaching. At the time I was a learned, but otherwise useless Arts graduate (wouldn’t change a thing though!), so something leading to a vocation was next on the agenda. On my way home from the UK I was to do some travelling around SE-Asia, and was encouraged by my Mum to make contact with a very long-time family friend who … long story short … offered me a teaching job at the Royal School in Bangkok. I didn’t take it immediately, but went back a year later for 12 mths, and it was an incredible experience.

That time also triggered a deeper interest in, and realization that I was suited to, foreign language teaching and that it was a great vehicle for further travel and overseas experiences. After doing my MA back in Oz, I took up a university job in Bangkok, which has served me well to now. Of all the places I have lived, and I think not only because I spent the longest time there, it is Thailand I have developed the deepest affection for.

Last year I had a chance to teach at Osaka University in Japan, which was also very rewarding professionally and personally. I am now back in Oz (and loving it I must say!).

I should just add that the older I got and the more ‘seasoned’ at living abroad I became, it did start to fee more and more like I was attempting to make ‘a life’ in the places I was – a stark contrast to my initial extended period away.

Any close calls? Locked up abroad, anything like that? 

Hmmm … I have been robbed once. I recall turning up to a hostel in Barcelona and the first thing the American guy at the desk told us was to, “have a great time, but be careful at night, there will be friendly kids running up to you asking what football team you like and playing around – but all the while they will be patting you down and looking for goodies”. I remember having a bit of a chuckle at this, thinking he was maybe exaggerating a little bit … but sure enough, as a couple of friends and I left a paella restaurant more than a little inebriated, said kids ran up and asked said questions about football and patted down said pockets! They actually got my wallet the little shits, but I was not too fussed as I have always made a point of carrying only a little cash and no cards – take note fellow travellers.

Oh, and there was the time my mate (and yours, Our Dear Lady Expatriate) Teifi and I were brutally robbed of our cameras in Nicaragua … but that’s a story for another time ;)

Best adventure story?

I drove around Western Europe for a couple of months over Summer camping with some mates about 10 years back (wow … 10 years!). That was fantastic. Nothing too CRAZY happened, but if adventure can be defined by waking up in a foreign place with no places for that day or the next, and ending up somewhere new, interesting and fun that night – it was an awesome one.

What are some of the most shocking things to make their way down your gullet?

I am actually a real wimp when it comes to eating gnarly foods. I guess some kind of bug (cricket or something) that I ate in Thailand … grasshoppers in Mexico … witchety-grubbs in Australia. Jeez, looking at this track record you would think I actually enjoyed such earth-dwelling creatures. Well, like anything, season them well and they aren’t that bad!

Stock question as, but what's your fave country/city to live in, and why?

It might be a stock question, but not the easiest to answer. Looking back, when I have been entrenched in foreign cities I can recall moments when I have thought each respective place was the best experience I have had away from home. I guess, though, in my life as an expat I would say that Bangkok/Thailand was the best place I lived. The fact I was there for quite a while helped, along with the food, culture, and general laid-back nature of the people (even in the midst of a huge metropolis) which, in particular, suits the Australian approach to life.

Having said that, I do find it difficult to name just one place as my favourite place. My expat life and my life at home are different beasts. Canberra is my favourite city to live in, and Australia my favourite country. It’s home.

Do you have a 'Never Again' country?

Not yet!
Do tell: one pleasant and one rubbish aspect of expat life.

It’s always easy to find work, especially in my profession. Also, particularly in Asian countries, foreigners are granted a great deal of respect, which is nice … although the more you start to feel a part of your foreign community, the less necessary it is!
Foreigner prices for things! Museum entries, tickets etc. even when you make it obvious you live in the country!

When you think of capital-h Home, where do you think of? Do you think of the lyrics from Ball Park Music's iFly?

It's a good song, and I kinda do think like that. Another song I have also played as I think about home is this one by the legend Tom Waits …

Wow, dude - good tune. So, when you have a pony and are no longer bound by the workforce, to where will that pony return home? Um, as in, any ideas where you plan to retire?!

Not particularly, but it will most certainly be in Oz. I would like to live in Melbourne I reckon, soaking up the arts, food, and footy for the rest of my days (Go Collingwood!!).

Go Magpies indeed.
Will the future find you expat-ing it up once again?

Perhaps. I think, though, that if I end up living abroad again it will be after my studies are done and will be on a more short-term basis of maybe six months to a year. My goal now is enjoy life and work in Australia, and to reach my academic goals here, and then consolidate them here with a university job.

How did you go with learning the languages of the countries you lived in? How much of a priority was it?

I’ll work backwards through the two places I have lived that use a foreign language. In Japan last year I took a few lessons but never really progressed too far. It was a good feeling, however, to be able to read some things on some signs in a different script after hours of poring over the characters. I was able to get from A to B, and to order basic things and maintain a degree of politeness, but by no means could I hold a conversation.

I was in Thailand longer, and certainly picked up more. One of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to have a girlfriend from there … and this certainly helped me pick up a lot.

Being an English teacher, the workplace is essentially an English-language workplace, so you really do have to make an effort outside of work if you want to get anywhere with the language.

How’s your Khmer going?

I'll ask the questions around here, mister! (And if you are in fact curious, I've answered that question here.)
Back on track: In your opinion, what's one of the most pervasive stereotypes about expats? And do you reckon there's some truth in it?

Perhaps that they don’t feel any connection with home anymore, and that’s why they moved away. I encountered that a few times in my travels. It couldn’t be further from the truth though in my case.

I recall a frosty 3am 17Km run that you and I shared in Japan... Tell us more about your thoughts on running in the different countries you've lived in!
Sadly I don’t have much to add here – I only got into running seriously in Japan. In Thailand I was not a runner (maybe the odd few kms on the treadmill at the gym). So, having developed my love for running in Japan, I have very fond memories of running there.

I recall some sections of that run too – it was really cold!

"I recall some sections" - oh dear!
Final question: Asahi or Coopers?

Coopers. There’s no place like home.

Thanks so much to lovely Rossco for being a peach and agreeing to let us in on some of his expat insight. Catch the next expat interview on the first Thursday of September, featuring the delightful Whit of Whit B Nimble!

xx Lady Expatriate