Last week I saw Aung San Suu Kyi receive an honorary doctorate from ANU (that’s what that blurry photo is, my camera phone is beyond obsolete these days). I think she already has a lot of honorary doctorates. I went because it was a pretty great opportunity to see an icon (I hate that word, but it is true). Obviously, like many people concerned about human rights, I’ve also been troubled by some of her recent comment (or lack of comment) on the plight of ethnic minorities in Myanmar, such as the Rohingya. But I don’t think a single person can be all things to all people. She’s not just a human rights figure, she is also a politician. And I guess that can be a hard thing to reconcile, even though it shouldn’t be.
I’m in a bit of a rut with Canberra right now. I’m trying really hard not to be in a rut and proactively trying to get out of said rut but I am still in a rut.
I’m just a bit bored with it.
I feel like I need to get out and meet more people and do more stuff but I’m not really sure where to start.
I also feel like the town itself is in a bit of depression with the change of government and people being worried about their job security etc. It’s like the centenary bubble has burst. It’s also the end of the year so I guess some things are winding down.
I’m also painfully single and getting fed up with it and experiments with online dating have not yielded any positive interaction. And when I am in a rut I am usually at my least confident and sparkling, so it takes extra effort to overcome that. It’s a cruel Catch 22. And Canberra is a town full of couples, except everyone seems to have imported their partner from somewhere else and dragged them back here. I seriously can’t even think of any couples I know who have actually met in Canberra, so that’s depressing.
The things that are generally nice about Canberra are also starting to irk me. Like seriously, markets of Canberra, why do the stalls never ever change?
Also, I think in the colder months I was like ‘it’s OK, things will be more fun when the weather is less miserable’, yet now the weather is less miserable and that hasn’t directly translated into more fun. I’m swimming laps and trying to do more exercise now the weather has improved, but yeah, swimming laps is hardly social.
People in Canberra seem to largely meet through team sports, which has never been my thing (they really bring back the trauma of school and I am terrible at them, and I hate being on teams where I’m the weakest link and dragging everyone else down and everyone here is so damn fit and alpha and competitive. This is a town where people do boot camps everywhere and on everything, even national monuments are not safe from sweaty hoards of boot campers and their early morning enthusiasm).
And then people are like ‘sign up for a class to meet people!’ Well, everyone arrives at a Zumba class or a yoga class with their friends. So I haven’t found these kinds of things to actually be at all social. They just provide an obvious reminder of capital clique-ness. When I’m out here as well, nobody mingles outside of their group.
In the new year I will try some other things, maybe another language class or something. But I kind of detest that forced interaction stuff too, it always seems so fake, like pre-determined networking events. ‘Hello, I”m going to network with you right now.” So awks.
But at the moment I’m just a bit frustrated with Canberra, especially after spending another Saturday night doing nada. So sorry about the whinge but I just had to vent somewhere.
My friend Amee came to visit me here in the Can a couple of weekends back. Amee and I worked together in Jakarta and I most recently caught up with her in Singapore last year.
Compared to the amazing options of Singapore, and the amazing mall-based options of Jakarta, Canberra was a bit of a sightseeing struggle, especially since it rained for half the weekend. We do have a good Parliament House though. And no macet to speak of.
This is mum’s new puppy, Winston. He’s very cute, he almost looks like a toy rather than a real dog! Though he is very slow on the uptake on things like… making it out the doggy door before he pees. But he is cute. And hopefully he will be a good friend to our other dog, Pogo, who is also not the smartest dog on the block.
Me in my new bird skirt from Modcloth (cannot see clearly in this photo, but I am also wearing an I heart Canberra badge).
My sister’s response to this skirt was to send me the classic Portlandia Season 1 video ‘Put a bird on it’ to mock my innate hipsterdom.
My sister came to visit me in Canberra a couple of weekends back on one of the lovely long weekends we had lately, so I had to pull out the big guns to impress her now that she is a Sydneysider and hence oh so cool etc. So we headed to Mocan & Green Grout, one of my favourites.
It was packed, as usual. I ordered the Tripoli Baked Eggs, pictured above, and they were rather fabulous indeed. Britt ordered some smoked salmon eggs thing, that was good but not as unique and amazing as my breakfast so I think she had some food envy.
The kawfeee was good too.
We also hit up some of the embassy open days. We had sate and roti canai at the Malaysian embassy, and at the South African one we tried Amarula, a national alcoholic beverage that tastes kinda like Baileys. We sat in the sun and listened to the music there for a while on the lovely lawn.
We look a lot alike in this photo I think even though there is nearly 10 years between us, we have the same smile (and hair)!
It was a cool building. Britt spent some time in Pretoria in South Africa last year and said that the buildings were a similar style to the embassy.
We also went to night Floriade and saw some good circus acts and paid a lot of money for some terrible fish and chips. I don’t think Floriade Nightfest is really worth the money — plus you get much better photos during the day (see mine from 2011). Also I didn’t have my SLR with me as it needs to get repaired, so camera phones at night are always shonky. But we made our own fun.
We also went to Lonsdale St Roasters and checked out some of the shops at Traders. We both agreed the coffee was better at Lonsdale St than Mocan, but they were both pretty good.
We also tried to bake Adriano Zumbo macarons from the packet mix they sell in the supermarket. They didn’t turn out very well at all. This Sweet Berry Lime cake that we baked turned out much, much better. It was delicious.
It’s always nice having my sister visit. It’s funny because when I moved away to uni she was just a little kid (only nine years old). Even though I have spent a lot of time away we are still very close. And now she’s an adult, living in the city at uni. It’s still a bit weird when I buy her beers, it still feels a bit naughty.
I recently went away for a GIRLS LONG WEEKEND (cue squealing, cue hugs, cue two cases of sparkling wine) at Lakes Entrance with some of my girls who I have been very close friends with since the first year of my undergraduate degree.
Lakes Entrance, while still fairly cool in terms of weather, was really lovely and quiet, and a good midway spot between Melbourne and Canberra. We rented a great holiday house on Stayz (this one) which had plenty of room for the six of us and a lovely deck looking out over trees… we stayed out of the man cave downstairs though! The beach in Lakes Entrance is very pretty and so is the lake, and we found a nice local market on the Sunday down by the water to explore as well. But mostly we stayed holed up in the house just making our own fun, which is never hard for us when we get together.
The girls were as amazing as ever–in fact, I think they get more amazing each year. I hope we are still doing karaoke together and talking about politics and policy and problems and trash TV and celebrity babies and just laughing like crazy while painting our nails crazy colours when we are old ladies.
Sunday brunch at the best cafe in town. My flat! Poached egg, baby kale, portobello mushrooms on Autolyse quinoa rye sourdough with local organic tomato relish from Loriendale Orchard. Served with a side of Belle and Sebastian, sunshine through the windows and a freshly mopped hardwood floor.
The Autolyse sourdough is truly amazing bread — got to get down there to Braddon to check it out for lunch sometime soon. It’s always so busy. You can buy their sourdough at Wiffens fruit & veg in Fyshwick now.
I just realised I’ve been back in Canberra for six months.
And it is quite strange to suddenly realise it, because I barely noticed the time passing.
I haven’t baked anything sweet in a while, but a colleague was having a birthday, so I was like hell yes, cake time y’all.
I used this recipe, doubling it to work in a 23cm pan. I replaced the fresh raspberries for frozen ones, since I’m not a millionaire, but that was the only other modification.
It was really nice and moist — overall I was really happy with it.
I made a quick ricotta buttercream icing for the top. No recipe for that sorry.
I actually love baking. Especially on a Sunday afternoon. Especially the decorating part (I probably made this cake a bit girly for a guy, but hey). There’s something very satisfying about making food and sharing it with friends.
Washing up afterwards is the thing I dislike. I don’t even understand how I got cake batter splotches in so many places around the kitchen. It’s like a five year old ran secretly ran through there while I wasn’t looking.
Lately, I’ve been making a regular effort to catch up with a friend/s for breakfast during the week. So I’ve been sampling some of the (ever-expanding) list of options out and about in Canberra.
Here’s some quick reviews of some of the hip places around to get breakfast (and a coffee) in Canberra at the moment.
‘The volunteer blog’ has been a recurring feature of my life since the end of May, when the volunteer blog was published.
The volunteer blog is this blog post that I wrote for my work about how I thought the Australian Volunteers program could be improved.
It has been very strange. I can’t count the times that I have been introduced to someone since the end of May and they have gone ‘oooooh. You wrote that volunteer blog’ or ‘yes, I read your blog post’.
It’s nearly the end of August and three times this week I have still met someone new and been immediately identified as ‘the girl that wrote the volunteer blog’.
I mean, there are a lot of returned volunteers in Canberra so that has probably amplified this reaction, but it is insane how widely that post has spread. I never anticipated it going quite so far.
I have no regrets about it and stand by what I wrote and I’m really happy that it has started a conversation about how the program could be improved.
But it’s still pretty weird for me. To be identified by writing about a time in my life where I felt like I was making so little of a contribution, where I was failing to be useful. A time I still catch myself beating myself up over a little, wondering what more I could have or should have done.
I went to Sydney last weekend, to catch up with a few people, including my little sister. She moved there at the start to the year to study at university. I also moved to Sydney right after finishing school to study at uni, so it makes me feel all nostalgic in many ways to spend time back up there. The pubs I drank in as a student, the suburbs I explored as a local newspaper journalist. I spent about five years in Sydney, and I have a lot of good memories of the place.
And the weather sure is better than in Canberra, at least at this time of the year.
The many shades of Dickson Wetlands… a place nearby where I go walking a lot.
I wondered why I was suddenly getting all these emails from PR companies wanting me to promote travel products on this blog.
Turns out that the official blog of Queensland has listed me as number three in their post on the ‘41 Australian travel blogs and bloggers to follow in 2013‘. Thanks Queensland, I really appreciate it! It’s always nice to get appreciation for what I’m writing.
But somewhat ironically, they linked to me just as I have returned back to Australia and put the backpack in the cupboard for a while!
Also, Travelfish is an excellent resource for SE Asia travellers.