All over red rover

Asia ~ China ~ Shanghai

Well, I’ve done it, it’s all over.  6 weeks of intensive study in Shanghai have finally been pulled off – not without the occasional hiccup – and I’m ready to move on…

Last week was the craziest it’s been in Shanghai, beginning with New Years eve.  We started off at an all-you-can-eat steakhouse, which had the best steak I’ve ever eaten, ANYWHERE.  And no, I’m not just saying that because I’m steak deprived, it really was that good.  76 kuai (about $12 AUD) for as much steak and vegies as you can fit – and the best part was, they bring the steak right to your table and carve it up for you.  Delish.  After dinner we roused ourselves from the table (not easy given the fact that we were delirious on meat) and went off to find a cab.  Given this city has more cabs than it does people, you’d think this would be easy enough – not so on New Years Eve.  Eventually we got one (involved our tall foreigners running up and down the main road, I think we scared the other Chinese into thinking we’d mug them if they didn’t let us have the taxi) and headed back to the hotel, to meet up with the other group.

And that’s where the troubles really began.  Jumped into another taxi with a different group of ppls and off we went.  Despite having a Mandarin speaker with us, we ended up at the wrong place.  As my clock struck 11.20pm, and we hadn’t managed to find another taxi, I realised I was going to spend New Years on the corner of a crazy street in Shanghai, with an even crazier group of people, AND I couldn’t see and vodka in sight…  That was enough to spur me into action and off I bounded to find another taxi.  We got one – a dodgy one mind you, but we got there.  Who cares if we pay a dodgy taxi driver $9 Australian instead of $5 – at least I got my vodka!

We walked into our venue for the night – a rave in a Chinese Art Gallery – at 11.50pm and I got my drink in time for the count down.  Small miracles.  The rest of our night was primarily spent at the rave, before heading off to another club and then a different bar.  Arrived in my bed at 9.30am New Years day, not a bad effort.

Class Photo

Class Photo

Other than that, my week was crazy, studying like mad for the final exams on Thursday and Friday.  Exams are now over, it’s kinda sad but I’m ready to move on.  Last night (Friday night) was spent celebrating and packing, ready to move on.  You wouldn’t believe how much rubbish I’ve accumulated over the past 7 weeks, it nearly all fits in my bag.  Kinda.  Other than the hour it took to pack my bag, I spent last night farewelling all and attempting not to drink – I have to catch a ferry to Japan in 3 hours.  Despite the determination not to drink, I managed to not get any sleep, which has the same effect, so I’m desperately hoping for good weather on the trip, do not want to be sea sick!

Next blog will be from Japan, woohoo!

xoxo Bobs

Shengdan Kuai Le!

Asia ~ China ~ Shanghai

Merry Christmas to one and all – or, as we say it in Chinese ‘Shengdan Kuai Le!’. Christmas in Shanghai has been an interesting affair…

My friend Matt from Australia arrived last week in time for the weekend, and provided a great reason to go out and see more of Shanghai. So I finally got the chance (I’ve been sick for the past 3 weekends, so haven’t been able to go out with the Monash group) to go out in Shanghai at night. And what a night we had! We went to a club called BonBons, where entry is 80 kuai (about $13) a head – unlimited drinks. Unfortunately, they were a little too generous with the drinks (75% vodka with a dash of sprite and a sprinkling of ice), and the quality of the alcohol wasn’t the best – not a great combination, which lead to me taking a ‘sick day’ the following day…

We spent Christmas morning recovering from our late night the night before, and opening all the pressies that came via Australia from Santa… Bon-bons with kaluah certainly impressed everyone. A 9am wakeup call from Australia was not well received – 3 hours sleep is just not enough anymore. After being pestered by everyone else on the floor, we got up and headed off to the restaurant where we were to have lunch. And what a lunch – we were on a table with some of the more ‘interesting’ people on the course, but that didn’t deter us from enjoying the lavish Chinese Christmas lunch – bowls of noodles, rice, fish, mushrooms, sweet and sour dishes, black bean dishes, chilli dishes, you name it, we had it. After lunch, we headed off to Carrefour (supermarket) to work on Matt’s Christmas wish.

Which lead to Matt and I wandering down Nanjing Road – a street a little like Bourke Street Mall (for the Aussies) – dressed head to toe in Santa suits, giving out lollies to the little kids. The people of Shanghai didn’t really know how to take us – some kids came rushing up to us to grab lollies – some parents hid their children away from us. Then again, the ones that were scared by us might have had something to do with the fact that Matt’s pants kept falling down because the pillow he had stuffed down them (gotta look like a legit fat Santa :)) was a little too big. On top of that, all the normal hawkers trying to sell silly foreigners DVDs came racing up to us, started to say ‘you want dvd, i got dvd, you want watch, i got…’ got all confused and would just splutter before racing off again. Despite the lack of sleep, we had a great time, and I can now cross that one off my list:


  • walk down a main street on Chistmas Day dressed as Santa – DONE

Well, that was the craziest thing we’ve done – for the rest of the week we’ve been sightseeing and exploring the area more and more. Matt took off on Thursday to Beijing and I’m left here to finish up my course. New Years Eve tonight and I’m absolutely wrecked (Bon bons again last night and a different club the night before), but it should be a good night. We are going out to an all-you-can eat steakhouse before we go out tonight, everyone (even the semi-vegetarians) are extremely excited… real meat!

Shin nian kuai le (Happy New Year)

Love, Bobbi

Chomping on churros

Europe ~ Spain ~ Girona, Barcelona & Madrid

Getting here turned out to be harder than we thought… Cast your minds back to a week ago, when poor, exhausted Bobbi and Tash stumbled out of bed to catch the 4am bus to the airport. What really happened is we got to the bus station at 4.05am, consequently missing the bus. The next bus didn’t leave until 5.30am which meant we would have missed out flight. As there were no other busses or trains to the airport, we were just about to catch a taxi (would have been about $280 AUD) when… a Swedish girl rocked up to the bus station with her parents, to find out she’d missed the bus also. So, in return for the money we would have paid the bus driver, they offered us a ride to the airport, and we all caught our respective flights. Looked bleak for a moment there though…

Arrival in Spain went really well, considering how much trouble we had just getting to the airport in Sweden. We spent our first two days in Girona, a small town about an hour and a half north of Barcelona. We were lucky enough to find a bed at the first place we looked – a pension run by an motherly Spanish woman. A pension is basically a flat that the owner has opened up to guests – for a double room (with bathroom, yey yey yey) it turned out cheaper than a hostel would have been. We spent our first day seeing the sights of Girona (cathedrals, river, Arab baths) and our second day bathing in the beautiful Costa Brava – the Spanish sea. We lathered ourselves in sunscreen and ‘baked’ away for 5 minutes – and got sunburnt in the weirdest spots. I got burnt in two places on the small of my back, whilst Tash has bright red ankles.

Standing in the entrance to our pension in Girona

Standing in the entrance to our pension in Girona

We rocked up to Barcelona with the intention of buying a ticket on the night bus to Madrid. Which we did. Kinda. Having brought the ticket, we spent the rest of the day wandering about, idly looking at hostels for when we returned to Barcelona later in the week. It wasn’t till about 8pm (our bus left at 11.30pm) that we looked at the tickets and realised the bus left the following night. Whoops. Rushed down to the station to attempt to change the tickets, but quickly realised there was no hope, so concentrated our efforts on finding somewhere to stay. Did I mention that Barcelona was in the middle of a fiesta (festival)? Luckily, we once again found a bed at the first place we looked, so it wasn’t all bad. We were able to spend the second day seeing the sights of Barcelona (mainly Gaudi’s cathedral – La Sagrada Familia and some of his other buildings), wandering along the main street of Barcelona and watching the going-ons of the festival.

We spent the better part of 3 days visiting our cousin, Katy, in Madrid. She’s over here improving her Spanish (not really sure how, it seems pretty fluent to our ears!) and is really living it up the Spanish way. She took us around town, showing us some of her favourite haunts. One night was spent in a hookah bar, where we used a giant pipe to smoke flavoured (in our case, apple) tobacco. Very laid back, cool atmosphere. Katy also took us to the big park in Madrid, where, on a Sunday, everyone congregates to dance, fire twirl and play bongo drums. Once again, fantastic atmosphere, everyone really gets into it. We went to the Sunday market (so many people, luckily our experiences in Asia taught us how to act in a crowd) and tried chocolate churros. Yum – you’re served a big plate of churros (long, Spanish donutty things) and a mug of thick hot chocolate, used to dip your churros in. Mmm.

Katy, Tash & I trying hookah

Katy, Tash & I trying hookah

We spent last night on a bus from Madrid to Barcelona, arriving here in Barcelona at 8am. Tonight we are camping out at the airport before our 6.30am flight to Italy. Traveling is fun, but I sure do appreciate a bed!!!
Take care peoples, let me know how you’re going,
luv bobs

Pippi Långstrump is coming into your world..

Europe ~ Sweden ~ Stockholm & Uppsala

No-one warned us that Sweden would be COLD. To be honest, we sort of knew it anyway, but choose to ignore it and worry about it when we got here. Our first warning was when we stumbled out of the train station on our way to the hostel, and noticed everyone wearing snow jackets. Our second warning came when we realised that our hostel offered a free sauna. Hmm (fact: in Sweden there is a sauna for every 3 people). Despite the weather (which really isn’t all that cold – after all, it could be snowing), we have been enjoying ourselves in this Scandinavian country. Did you know Pippi Longstockings (in Swedish: Pippi Långstrump) is Swedish? That’s why she has long stockings – to keep warm!

Playing in the rain in Stockholm

Playing in the rain in Stockholm

We became braver on the second day and decided nothing would stop us. And then it started pouring down with rain. We ended up wandering around town in our ridiculous looking $2-shop plastic bag ponchos. Eventually we found a museum which listed ‘fri’ entry (our language skills are getting much better, I bet you didn’t know I could read Swedish!!!). The museum turned out to be the Royal Armory, which had, amongst other things, the clothing worn by one of the Swedish kings when he was assassinated – blood stains and all. The best bit was when we stumbled across a kids section all about princesses. They had swords to fight with, a frog to kiss and even a colouring-in area. To the amusement of one of the tour groups we sat down and did some great artwork! We also visited Skansen (large open air museum, they have brown bears and elk) and the Vasa Museum (huge ship), which were interesting, although they didn’t provide crayons and play swords.

Tash concentrating hard on her picture

Tash concentrating hard on her picture

Spent a couple of days visiting Sophia, a friend of Tash’s. Sofia is studying in the town of Uppsala, 45 minutes north of Stockholm. She took us to a couple of parties – one in her ‘nation’ and a corridor party. All students of her uni join a ‘nation’ when they start studying at university – the Swedish students join different nations based on what area in Sweden they are from, whilst the international students get to choose which one they’ll join. The nation organises parties, dinners, extra curricular activities, that kind of thing. The corridor party was weird, a bit like what the U.S. TV shows portray college life to be. Everyone goes to a particular hall in one of the student flats (in our case building 9, floor 7), and party in the corridor. Loud music, BYO beers, its like a paddock party back home, just cos we’re in cold Sweden they have to do it inside! Sophia showed us around Uppsala a bit as well, we got to see the ancient burial mounds of the Vikings in Gamla Uppsala. Although I envy the fact that she gets to live here for 6 months, I’m glad its Sophia and not me that’s going to be braving the Scandinavian winter.

Bring on the warm weather – next stop Spain!!!
xoxo ME

Following the Beatles in Liverpool

Europe ~ United Kingdom ~ Scotland ~ Edinburgh & England ~ Liverpool

We’ve been on holidays these past few days – decided it was time to take some time off (… being a tourist in Edinburgh…) to be a tourist in Liverpool, home of the Beatles. Elysha is a huge fan, so off we jetted. Liverpool is an interesting town, used to be one of the bigger ports for England. Nowadays the port doesn’t get as much business, and you can tell. The town has a lot of deserted and run down buildings. On the other hand, Liverpool boasts a University with 70,000 students – pubs everywhere! Stayed in a fantastic hostel, after walking in, Tash pointed out the smell. ‘What smell’, I asked, immediently worried. Turns out she was happy about the lack of smell… Elysha was a bit disappointed over the lack of Beatles memorabilia (we brought all our souvenirs at the airport, better and cheaper!), but Tash and I thought it was tacky and great fun! Went on the Magical Mystery Tour – a tour bus that stops at all the houses where each of the Beatles were born, everyone troops out of the bus and takes photos of the houses and then troops back onto the bus. The poor people that now live in these houses – I feel sorry for the people who will eventually buy our house back in Toomuc Valley. Imagine all those people that will stop to look at the house because the famous Bobbi once lived there… hehe

Magical Mystery Tour Bus

Magical Mystery Tour Bus

Apart from that, we’ve just been doing the same old same old. Elysha and I ventured out the other night to find some-where new to eat, ended up at a quaint little Italian restaurant, very cute, although the waiter left us a little perplexed. An Italian accent is hard enough to decipher on its own – try throwing a bit of Scottish into the equation as well, absolutely impossible! After dinner I tried a fried mars bar – didn’t need any vodka that night – I was well and truly high after the layers of sugar and fat. Not bad though 🙂

Totally used to life at the hostel now. Spend most evenings with the crowd in at reception, listening to music and talking general rubbish. The other night, one of the girls commented that when we all get home, we are going to wake up in the middle of the night and want to have a conversation about nothing – and have no-one to talk to. At the hostel, there is ALWAYS some-one awake, always some-one to talk to. Have mildly been discussing setting up a phone-club, so once we’re home we always have some-one to call in the middle of the night, to talk about nothing at all. Dealing with everyday things can be tough, I constantly dream about being back home, in my own kitchen, when finding a bowl for cereal is not an ordeal. Was eating brekky the other day, when one of my friends came in, and sat down. Placed his pint glass of tea on the table (no mugs left), and proceeded to take a handful of cornflakes from the box, followed by a swig of milk from the carton. “No bowls” he grumbled as he grabbed the paper…

Elysha & I at the hostel

Elysha & I at the hostel

I’m nearly on the move again – I booked flights over to Ireland for the week after next, so excited. I’ll be flying over there, traveling for two weeks, then back to pick up the girls, then onto Paris. Woohoo!! Am madly planning out an itinerary for Ireland, will be flying into Dublin and out of Shannon. Must try and get to a good Irish pub and grab a pint of Guiness, yum yum. Wonder if there is a brewery tour for the Guiness brewery, or even the Kilkenny one? Must find out. If you know of anything I must do whilst in Ireland, let me know!

xo Bobs