I would really like to see some of the animals that are found only in Australia. When I was little I was fascinated by koalas and kangaroos. Not quite sure that this was what I had in mind…
Yesterday, armed with maps and Google directions, Christine and I set off to see the Blue Mountains. I was impressed that we didn’t get lost as I didn’t have a lot of faith in directions like, “drive for about 53 minutes and then turn left at Yeaman Brce”. I didn’t think that we would ever find the turn-off and I have no idea what “Brce” is an abbreviation of. We actually made the correct left turn but not because of the directions. Christine had been to Katoomba before and thought that it would be a good idea to go that way.
We checked into our hotel and spent most of the afternoon being pampered in the spa. Thankfully, once we have finished, we decided to go for a drive before dinner as otherwise I would not have seen the Three Sisters as today the whole area is blanketed in fog.
I went out this morning to take some pictures of the beach and sea. I also bought some groceries to make myself a light lunch at the apartment. On my way back I was stopped by a couple of British men who wanted directions to somewhere. One of them had pointed at me and said, “There’s a native we can ask”. I smiled and told them I’d only been here one day and that I couldn’t help.
I assume that they thought I was native because I wasn’t wearing beach wear and I was carrying groceries. But really I don’t look like the Australians in Manly. The thing that sets me apart is my white skin. I am so pale. This is a beach resort where the streets are full of people dressed for water sports or a day in the sun. Their skin is either red from sunburn or a golden brown colour. I look as if I have never been out in the sun. This is a look I will continue to have as I wear sunblock when I go outside.
That last time this happened I was in Tallinn, Estonia. Maybe all the travelling I have done has taught me how to look as if I belong somewhere. If only I could find a way to look more Japanese…
When people come to visit me in Tokyo we get to have conversations about earthquakes and tsunami. Now that I am in Australia I get to hear about natural disasters and the threat from wildlife.
The sea looks so beautiful but I don’t know how I feel about sharks and jellyfish. I do know that the thought of killer spiders made it hard for me to sleep last night. Christine has told me stories of these deadly bugs being found near beds and in shoes. This did wonders for my imagination as I could imagine them crawling about my bed in the dark. Every time my skin tingled I feared that some creature was sharing my bed with me.
She has a chart – just in case I forget that tiny arachnids with white tails can cause horrific ulcerations to the skin or that the ones with red backs can kill.
I used to tell people that I liked to travel but really I like to arrive. The journey to Sydney wasn’t too horrible and I had been warned about the queues for immigration and customs.
I didn’t know what to expect but so far Sydney is beautiful. My sister-in-law lives in Manly overlooking the beach. The sun is shining and whilst I sit and relax I can watch the more energetic people outside.
I am always surprised by how few people there appear to be in Narita airport. I’m sitting at the gate waiting for my plane to board and there are hundreds of empty chairs. I can never decide if the airport is actually empty or, unlike airports like Heathrow, they actually have lots of spare chairs.
Looking at the airline statistics for 2007 Narita is busy enough. More than 35 million people use it in a year. It’s not as busy as Haneda airport, the other airport in Tokyo, which had 66 million people in 2007.
Since I am flying to Australia in the morning I am probably going to miss seeing the cherry blossoms bloom. It was rumoured that these would be open in time for today’s holiday but the predication date has moved to next week. Marty and I went to Ueno Park today in the hope to see at least a few flowers.
We weren’t alone in our quest as the park was full of people trying to take pictures under the few trees that have started to bloom. We even saw a couple of Hanami parties though most people will wait until the trees bloom. The park will look stunning when the trees open but the beauty may be marred by the thousands of people who will party there and the large numbers of bins that are being put out the part to cope with the rubbish.
I don’t think I ever celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Northern Ireland. For most of my life it was not a national holiday. I have no fond feelings of the day as it was a religious holiday that highlighted the divide in the country.
It’s much easier to celebrate this living in Japan. When I tell people here that I am from Northern Ireland they assume that I am Irish. I don’t often try to correct them as even I have difficulty in deciding if I am British or Irish. To have to choose from either of those national identities feels wrong. I am Northern Irish and a child of the Troubles.
The first time I ever attended a St. Patrick’s Day party was in San Diego. This was also the only time I have ever eaten corned beef and cabbage. Last year I attended my first St. Patrick’s Day parade – though this was in Tokyo. This year Marty took the day off work and we went for a walk. We won’t be eating potatoes, wearing green, drinking Guinness, or singing sorrowful songs. Those are not the things that make us Irish, no matter what the Americans tell you.
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