Berlin Summer

Happy Swiss National Day everyone and greetings from Berlin! It’s great to be back in our neighbourhood, to catch up with our local friends as well as our visiting friends.

Top left and clockwise; Christoph and I joined the party on Christopher Street Day, I finally got to hoon around the city with friends in my little Hot Rod, sharing the fun of bouldering with little AG and Christoph giving AH a lift when she was visiting us with her dad, CH.

Top left and clockwise; Christoph and I joined the party on Christopher Street Day, I finally got to hoon around the city with friends in my little Hot Rod, sharing the fun of bouldering with little AG and Christoph giving AH a lift when she was visiting us with her dad, CH.

Despite the unpredictable weather, we’ve been thoroughly enjoying being outdoors, on our bikes and sharing our love of Berlin with our wonderful friends. We have another few days with our current visitor, BF, and then we’ll head north to visit Christoph’s mum.

A good friend told me a long time ago that the three keys to happiness is to have someone to love, something to do each day and something to look forward to. We try to keep that in mind whenever we make plans and I can tell you that so far, this summer has been a blast! Hope your summer (or winter, for those in the southern hemisphere) is too! Happy Days!

Feeding the Soul

We are in our last few days in Berlin and have started packing for our flight back to Shanghai this weekend. We had such a fabulous time visiting our dear friends in Switzerland. It was an epic road trip to make sure we were able to touch base with friends we haven’t seen in a long while. If we missed you, we do apologise, but it was definitely a squeeze for time. We hope to make it to you when we next have the opportunity!

We could not have asked for nicer weather, Walenstadt.

We could not have asked for nicer weather, Walenstadt.

Christoph and I soaked in the most stunning weather which allowed us to take plenty of walks through the most simply beautiful places. I’m sure almost every Swiss resident is aware of how lucky they are to be so close to such amazing nature. I love the mountains, especially when they are snow-capped. I love the green with the abundance of trees in all shapes and sizes. I love the blue with wispy clouds and then the smattering of stars in the evening sky. All these aspects of nature when living in a big city are the details we forget; that we miss them. And when we do get to see them again, we smile, like the smile we give to a long lost friend ;o) Here’s a small selection of places that made us smile on our trip.

Having a cuppa at one of our favourite spots in Lucerne.

Having a cuppa at one of our favourite spots in Lucerne.

So thank you to RR, HR, PZ, CZ, MS, JB, SS, LZ, MM, IR, MF, JF, GM, LA, OM, BT, LK, JK, YS, KB and AK for the best Easter break we’ve had in a long time! ”Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”- Marcel Proust.

Happy Australia Day!

We've been in Perth together for almost a week and today will be our first 40 degree day. Ugh! Other than the sudden high temperature, we've been having a great time. It's been a mix of catching up with family, friends and having time to ourselves to soak up the sun and enjoy a slower pace before we return to Shanghai.

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Cottesloe beach: you can't tell but it was extremely windy and slightly on the cool side that day. 

Most of my friends also turn 40 this year and so it's been wonderful spending time together and celebrating where our lives have taken us...and how we've managed to stay in touch! Happy Australia Day and happy getting ready for Chinese New Year!

Vietnam: Week One

The past week has flown by! Since I landed it's been a wonderful mix of catching up with friends and family both in Saigon and Rach Gia. Linh and I have worked out that we have thus far travelled by bus, taxi, private car, motorbike and ferry. This evening we will travel by plane up to Da Nang; the only vehicles left to ride would be a bicycle and train ;-)

Although I grew up with Vietnamese food and have tried many dishes throughout the years, Australia does not have the full range of what is on offer here. So it's been great fun learning and re-learning names of dishes and regional specialties.

Top left and clockwise: cockle shells, flower blossoms, Vietnamese baguette, chicken noodles for breakfast, clams, Viet dessert, savoury coconut tarts, stewed fish and me in the centre with the biggest selection of edible jungle leaves that I have ever seen!

Top left and clockwise: cockle shells, flower blossoms, Vietnamese baguette, chicken noodles for breakfast, clams, Viet dessert, savoury coconut tarts, stewed fish and me in the centre with the biggest selection of edible jungle leaves that I have ever seen!

Other than food, family and friends, another reason for coming here was to try and get our birth certificates sorted out. I am told that I did have one, once upon a time, whereas Linh never had one at all! We'd therefore been planning this activity for a while, each time saying 'the next time we go to Vietnam together, we should get it done'.

In order to apply for our certificates, we had to travel to our birth place of Rach Gia which is 250 kms (or a 5.5 hour bus ride) from Saigon. It's a provincial city located on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand and doesn't have much in terms of tourism other than being a ferry wharf for boats to Phu Quoc or Kien Hai islands. We have a few uncles and aunts who live there and other than visitng with them, it's not the kind of place you want to spend more time than you absolutely have to in the sweltering heat.

Bai Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island

Bai Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island

We therefore tried to get there as soon as we could after meeting up in Saigon and after arriving at 5:30h on the Friday, we were at the Bureau of Births, Deaths and Marriages by 9:00h. After spending a relatively short time filling out the required paperwork (1.5 hours) and a small 'envelope of encouragement', we left for the island of Phu Quoc for the weeeknd. We ferried back to the mainland yesterday morning and by 14:30h, received our official birth certificates. The processing of our applications took only 2 and a half working days which is in fact quite speedy for these guys!

Me with my very official Vietnamese birth certificate :-)

Me with my very official Vietnamese birth certificate :-)

Having accomplished our goal, we bussed back to Saigon this morning and will fly to Da Nang in the evening. From Da Nang, we'll start our slow southerly journey along the coastline back towards Saigon. This month is hot and humid with the temperature currently reading 33 degrees Celcius while the 'Feels Like' number on my phone reads 46... I'm melting!

It's December!

It's been a while since I have written and a lot has been going on during that gap. Shanghai kept me occupied with a few visitors and then I headed to Perth for my return flight to Berlin.

I had exactly a week in Perth which ended up being exceptional. During this visit, I could really see how the city has changed significantly for the better, especially over the last 5 years. It has been slowly morphing into a cosmopolitan arena boasting artisanal small bars, chic restaurants and international cultural events.

I then had a few highlights which truly made the year end on a high note for me. Firstly and most importantly, I was able to celebrate my birthday with family and friends in Perth for the first time in 15 years! Secondly, I got to see Passenger busk in the city. It was only for one set but they were the best 45 minutes spent sitting on the State Library steps ever! And lastly, I got to hang out in the kitchen with my sisters. Who could ask for more than that?

I am now waiting to board my flight to Berlin. Christoph is still kept busy with his work and still in Shanghai but will join me a week later. I'm really looking forward to putting up our Christmas tree and decorations and getting into the season's festivities. I'm also hoping for a little snow to go with the Christmas theme ;-)

My Current Escapade

I am at this very moment in the Old Town of Split and half-way through a 10 day trip along the coast of Croatia, travelling from Dubrovnik to Pula. My travel buddies include my sister, Linh and a school friend TL, who is a long-time family friend and lived down the road from us as kids.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

We flew into Dubrovnik from Berlin and after 3 days there, took a ferry to Hvar. Spent a couple of days there and then took a ferry to Split, arriving late last night. Thus far, Croatia has been amazing, beautiful, tiring and eye-opening. Dubrovnik was without a doubt a highlight. Hvar was eye-opening. And Split, so far is stunning; though I have yet to explore it in daylight.

Our destinations after Split will be Zadar and Pula. More details and photos will come at the end of the trip :-)

Multi-culti And Multi-talented

We had a former classmate of mine, KM, over for dinner on Sunday evening. We started our B2 course together in Bangkok in the last month I was there. He had then decided to come to Berlin to continue his German studies. We, of course, had to meet up again and he brought along a classmate of his from his current course. Now this is where the dinner became very interesting.

KM is Malaysian of Indian decent. His friend SK is Russian. He's 21, she's 17. They are both intent on going to univeristy in Germany, he for Engineering and she for Medicine. So there we were, the four of us conversing in German with Christoph being the only one at the table who has it as a mothertongue. This really shows the direction the world is moving toward and that not all is lost with the next generation ;-)

To top off the evening, KM had made me a gift that I thought was absolutely brilliant! He's shown that he not only has a talent for languages and studying, but also for the arts. Can you see the resemblance?

A fine piece of work :-) 

A fine piece of work :-) 

Happy Mother's Day

I take this oppportunity to wish all my wonderful family and friends who are mothers a grand, super relaxing and fun Mother's Day!

Image source: http://www.happymothersdayquotes2015

Image source: http://www.happymothersdayquotes2015

I have been very quiet on the blogging front this past week and I apologise for the lack of action. My reasons are rather ordinary as Christoph and I have both been keeping rather busy in our last month in Thailand. Christoph has been consulting which entailed April and May being filled with business trips, while I've continued to tackle my German classes and the heat.

In between our various activities, we recently managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Chiang Mai to catch up with DL and RL who live in a wonderful oasis there. The weather was heavenly for me as it was about 10 degrees cooler than in Bangkok and it was great to have a chance to see our friends again before we head back to Berlin for the summer.

We now have only 16 more days in which to pack up our living arrangements here and hop on a plane to the Land of Wurst!