“So this is Christmas, and what have we done?”
I can’t believe it’s the end of 2011 already. It’s been a very eventful year for me, spread out over three continents. This time last year I was in London, enjoying a small Christmas gathering with friends, in the freezing cold. I was at T’s house with R and C, eating lots, and playing mah-jong until the early hours, then at R’s house, eating junk food, baking, and watching Glee. Ruby was in Singapore, spending a hot and humid Christmas with her family.
Right now, I’m also enjoying a small Christmas gathering with friends, but in the moderate and humid heat of Australia. Ruby and I are spending Christmas up with our friends L&P in Newcastle (the one in Australia a few hours drive north of Sydney). We’ve spent the last couple of days chilled out at home, watching some traditional Christmas fare (Invader Zim’s Christmas episode, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Love Actually), eating (roast turkey for Christmas lunch, roast lamb for Christmas dinner), and drinking (Hendrik’s and tonic mostly).
The difference a year makes.
January to June of this year I was in London, July to September in Australia, Hong Kong and China, and since September I’ve been in Sydney. I was working in London up until a week before I left; my last day at work was June 24. I haven’t worked since then. In addition to working during the weekdays, I was travelling almost every weekend. I managed to cover a lot of ground: Bruges, Berlin, Paris, Florence, Bologna, Cinque Terra, Pisa, Krakow, Budapest, Cornwall, Copenhagen, Lucerne, Interlaken, Barcelona (again), and Granada. I flew out of London for the final time on July 3rd.
I was in Perth for my parent’s 60th birthdays (their birthdays are within 9 days of each other, and in fact, they met in primary school!), and then flew out to Hong Kong, where I spent the next 2 months. In Hong Kong I applied for my permanent residency (which I didn’t get, but I did get my Right of Abode – more information here), travelled into China, and just generally chilled out. I made new friends, finally met people I’d only had phone calls and emails with from work, and caught up with old friends that either live in Hong Kong now or were passing through. I also got to spend more time with my uncle and aunt in Happy Valley, catch up with other uncles, aunts, and cousins, and generally wander around Hong Kong. Had a few drunken nights, ate lots of good food, and sweated heaps in the hot and humid Hong Kong summer.
I finally had the good fortune to be able to travel up to Beijing, where A and C were kind enough to put me up for two weeks in their apartment. It was a great chance to catch up with A, who I hadn’t seen in years, and just chill out in one of the most up-and-coming cities in the world. Later that month, I was again in luck as Mum and Dad finally retired, and to celebrate, we organised to participate in a tour of Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuzhen, Hangzou, Nanjing, Wuxi for 9 days. I really liked travelling with Mum and Dad, and although this was a traditional Chinese tour (i.e. the type where there are numerous compulsory “shopping stops”), the shopkeepers weren’t too pushy and going for the hard sell. We also had fellow travellers who were easy to get along with, which always helps.
On September 23rd, I flew out of Hong Kong. I was sad to go, as I really did enjoy life in Hong Kong. After all, I wasn’t working, and spending my days as a free man, eating, drinking, travelling, and just socialising – what’s not to like? However, I was also really excited to be returning to Sydney and to Ruby, who had been in Sydney since April, and to catch up with all my old friends.
Initially, I thought I’d be able to find work within a month, but it wound up taking almost three months before I was able to find a job. In the meantime, I was able to keep myself busy being the house-husband, cooking, cleaning, and doing the laundry. It was also a good period for Ruby and I to get used to living together again. I always had something to keep me occupied and I was never bored. I was also able to take a brief trip back to Perth to help out a family friend with some IT issues for her business.
So 2011 has been a very busy and transient time for me. It’s definitely been a year of change. I’ve had lots of time to think about life, and I’ve worked my way through different thoughts, ideas, and opinions. I’ve had six months off work which has drained my savings. However I think I’m in a much better place now, and it feels like I’m making a clean start. I know though, that 2011 will be a year that I will miss very much.
Right now, I’m sitting on L&P’s couch, typing away this blog entry while everyone else is watching Mushi Shi, enjoying the air-conditioning and G&T with lots of ice, quite content with life.