March 2015


Some Sunday morning photo buddy shots at our favorite brunch spot, “Elevator”.  We make sure to get a seat in the sunny courtyard, next to the operational dumb-waiter.  Love the floors here.


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Just an afternoon picnic with little Hay.

Playing at Hostie with some good buddies..

It’s Sunday, it’s Sweaty, it’s Screaming (sometimes), it’s Simple.

A hike to Monkey beach with friends is a great way to spend a weekend morning in Penang.  Even better when we unexpectedly find more of our friends already at the beach ready to play.  And best is the breezy boat ride back.  Home by noon.

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That’s a good Sunday in Penang.

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Here’s Hazel’s name.  Don’t mess it up:

Hazel-Peppa Pig-Snowy-Let It Go-Speedy-Cropty Cropduster-Mickey Mouse-Eyore-Mr Happy-Shi Xiao Zhen-Finally Hazel.

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What do we the morning after landing from Australia, having mentioned there would be a hot air balloon festival to the kids?  Give into jetlag and get there before dawn! (Seriously)  We missed out on the tickets to ride (even arriving in the dark!), but we did get to see a lot of launching.

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Last year, when our time in the Eastern Hemisphere was extended by a year, we sat and thought about our travel priorities.  For me, the choice was clear – I wanted to make a trip back to Wollongong where I had studied abroad in 2002-2003.  Eight months out, tickets were better than reasonable and we booked it for CNY 2015.  This much anticipated trip snuck up on us, and we had a lot of last minute bookings!

We started in Sydney… 24 hours in one very cool city.  We checked into our hotel and headed straight to Circular Quay for a view of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and city skyline while on the ferry to Toronga Zoo.  The kids’ priority for the trip was clear too: koalas & kangaroos!   Check, check!  Our next morning included breakfast at the park and a visit to the Contermporary Art Museum, where one of Tim’s favorite artists was featured.  Interspersed with this fun, we drank good beer, ate fabulous deli food, and brunched on the green.  Love Sydney!

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We picked up our rental car and headed south to the ‘Gong.  We stayed with friends who, in the space of time since we booked the trip, announced their second pregnancy and had a son!  Such gracious hosts, we all stayed comfortably in their home, and Hazel made fast friends with Elina, their almost-3 yr old.  Our first night was a stormy Valentine’s dinner out (with the kids! no wonder they stuck us in the corner), but the weather cleared for a perfect North Beach day the next day.  We spent the whole of it seaside, swimming, digging, surfing and just soaking up the gorgeous late summer day.  My heart was soaring and breaking at the same time, I love this place.  Tim got caught up in it too, and by the time we hit the Rock pool (a favorite from my uni days) on the way out of town the next morning, he was ready to fill out the immigration papers too!

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The road turned north while Tim’s health went south.  He spent the next two days suffering from the flu whlie we camped near Port Macquarie up the NSW coast.  Still, the kids and I had some highlights from this spot.  The holiday park was amazing, right on the beach with tons of stuff for the kids to do (spash pad, mini golf, giant jumping bubble, playground and pool).  Another great beach day was made even better for Miles with a trip to the koala hospital.  Unfortunately, those noctornal guys are the victims of roadkill and loss of habitat and sometimes end up hurt.  This is the spot that rehabilitates all the reported cases from the area.

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Heading north again, via more amazing beaches (we couldn’t help stopping for a swim and play with Miles new boogie board after lunch at Shell Harbour) we finally made it to Byron Bay.  Our final stop in this Australia tour is a surfers mecca and our holiday park was right on top of the action.  We watched as the surfers walked along the beach to the high point, then surfed the long break all the way to the left before walking back up to the tip again.  Tim, feeling better, joined the surfers, and I even joined an early morning swim group who walked up to the point and swam the rip (you don’t even need to paddle!) 1.5km to the surf club.  Skies were grey and the sea was rough for our one beach day in Byron – a Cat 5 Cyclone was heading in!  My swim was breathe right! breathe right! and a pretty intense ride in.  We soaked up every moment of that day, with both kids taking turns on the paddle board in the relatively warm waves.  By 6pm, the storm had hit and our last 24 hours in Australia were full of driving rain and wind.  We went out for coffee and hot chocolate in our swim suits.  Hit the town barefoot (I only had leather sandals and running shoes – didn’t want to ruin one and needed the other for the flight home!) for shopping and lunch, sampled beers and took a tour of the local brewery (of course) and just enjoyed the view of the surfers from the lodge (they were still out there!).

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Our flight was not affected by the storm, and we headed back to Penang the morning of our 10th day.  I cried on the way to the airport, not at all ready to go.  We truly enjoyed this holiday, all the natural beauty and great food and friends.  And beer, adds Tim.

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