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March 31, 2016

I can't live

... if living is without you.

I did say in my packing review post that I wasn't going to replace the Uniqlo ultra stretch jeans that I had to throw out... but I was really, really missing them and wishing I still had them everytime I went to pick out an outfit, so I put myself out of my misery and bought another pair. Super happy that they do free alterations here too.

I also made the bad, bad mistake of trying on a pair of the boyfriend jeans. They are so comfortable and fit so well and I can think of so many outfits I could wear them with. Obviously, I haven't learned my lesson when it comes to trying on clothes that I didn't set out to buy. I'll sleep on it, maybe wait around for one of their limited offer sales. Wish me luck.

March 28, 2016

Taco Tuesday

Last Tuesday, I went back to Barrio Cellar (which I talked about here) with a different set of friends, for $3 tacos. Because the tacos were cheaper I justified getting a margarita, which was pretty good.

Total taco carnage. We all ended up getting four each - I got two fish ones (because they were so good last time), one pulled pork (great) and the special which was... fried feta. I was wary but it turned out to be glorious.

We did not stop there, and ambled down to World Square where we split a Hot Star (my favourite thing in the world). It's better when you split it with people because you get just enough to tantalise.

And finished up at Oliver Brown for some desserty drinks and gossip.

Hope everyone had a good long weekend! In another news, Disqus is being super screwy because apparently Blogger did something to its domains, so lots of comments might not be showing up to everyone (including me). Fingers crossed it gets sorted soon.

March 26, 2016


Last of Egypt! We did a day trip to Alexandria while we were in Cairo. Alexandria was of course founded by Alexander the Great, and one of the most important cities of Ancient Rome. I was really excited to visit, since most of what I knew about Ancient Egypt was actually from a period of fascination with Cleopatra when I was younger.

March 24, 2016

3 months in a backpack: haul

As per tradition, a "haul" post on what I bought over my trip! These get smaller every year, and this time especially because I had so little space to spare.

Stripe t-shirt from H&M in Copenhagen. I'd spent about a year looking for a black and white striped top and this was the one that matched most of my specs (stripe width, cut, price) so I just bought it (it was getting to the point where I was just wasting time looking for the "perfect" shirt). Of course, about a week later I came across an even more perfect one while casually browsing, but let's not think about that.

Black trousers from Mango in Madrid. The prices for Spanish brands in Spain (like Zara, Mango) are so ridiculously low compared to that in Australia. I had also been looking for slim black pants for a while, but most of the pairs I'd come across were too high waisted and too long (alterations are expensive in Australia!). These are ankle length but I like them a little cuffed. The one compromise I made was that these have a higher polyester content than I usually like, but travelling has actually made me more lenient about that (so much quicker to dry!).

Black dress from Muji in London. Not planned, totally sucked in by a discount. I think when it comes to impulse buys dresses are the worst culprit because they're harder to plan for (so many possible variations!). My other two smock/shift dresses get a lot of wear though, and I like to think this fills the gap between my sleeveless summer smock dress and my long-sleeved winter shift dress.

And finally, the few souvenirs I picked up. I don't buy many souvenirs anymore, because I have nowhere to put them and I consider the photos I take as souvenirs. The lioness figurine was from the souvenirs market in Arusha. The two leftmost bracelets are also from Tanzania, which I bought during our village stay from a group of Maasai ladies who make jewellery by hand. In Egypt, I picked up a handful of stone scarab beetles (for luck) to hand out to friends, and an Eye of Horus bangle because I love this symbol, and I can imagine that I actually found it in a tomb.

March 22, 2016


We spent about three days in Cairo all up, at the beginning and the end of the tour. While we were mainly carted around by tour guides, my general impression is that it's gigantic and very densely populated, always awake (there are people casually shopping in clothing stores at 2am) and it's terrifying trying to cross the road. There's a lot to see, here are a couple of places we visited.

Khan el-Khalili bazaar

March 20, 2016


When my mum went to China towards the end of last year, I got her to take a couple of my button-downs for alterations (which are much cheaper there). A bit risky since I wasn't going myself, but I only wanted them shortened. The problem with clothes for me is that I'm wide across the shoulders but still pretty short, so a lot of shirts end up being too long to wear out and to tuck in. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, and will probably wear them a lot more now.

Also progressively feeling more embarrassed about the state of my bedroom decor. If you're wondering why it looks like it's been decorated for a 9-year-old girl - that's because it was, I've just never been bothered enough to change it (also if I try to buy new bed linen while we currently have perfectly usable linen in the house my mother will kill me, it's not worth it).

March 18, 2016

On the Nile

We spent a few nights in Egypt on a cruise on the Nile. I've never been on a cruise before, and I was tickled to death at how fancy it was, I pretended I was on the Titanic (even though river cruise boats are obviously smaller). It was definitely a more comfortable way to travel than the bus - there was a sundeck, bar and pool, but I spent most of my time in bed trying to catch up on sleep, I was so exhausted. These are some photos I took from the cruise/other small boats/from the banks of the river.

March 15, 2016

Life lessons in travel

I've never espoused anything deep about travel. I travel because I want to see new places and take some cool photos, that just happens to be fun to me. It's never been about anything meaningful like growing as a person or finding life inspiration. I guess I've personally got the travel bug, but I don't think travel is a life necessity if you don't want it to be: if you have other things to spend your money on (like surviving), that's totally valid. But this past summer was my longest trip yet - and looking back, I've definitely learned a couple of new things about the world, other people, and myself. Here's a list of ten.

Ronda, Spain.

1. I can and will pee anywhere. There's no longer such thing as a "gross toilet" anymore. I'm here to pee, not lick the floor. A squat toilet? That's luxurious. I can pee on a drop toilet staring a gecko in the face. I can pee in the red dirt on the side of the road, with the tour leader telling us to stay calm but hurry up as he can see an elephant coming over. I can pee in the snow in total darkness with no feeling in my feet. No toilet paper? Take Taylor's advice and shake it off.

2. I can deal with questionable sleeping situations. Camping? I'm totally okay with it now, as long as there's a good shower and toilet block nearby. And an electric fence to keep out hyenas. Mud hut with no electricty, reception, or hot water, but with bonus spiders on the walls and a frog croaking under my bed? That's fine, but only for a maximum of 6 nights please.

3. My small talk is now amazing. Where are you from? Oh I've never been there/I've been there/I met someone from there. What have you done here so far? Oh cool, is it worth going? I went to X museum today, it was all right, it's free so might as well check it out. But I've also learned that the fatal question is "What are your plans?", because then I receive the dreaded "You can come if you like!" Which leads me into the next point...

4. I've learned all kinds of smooth ways of avoiding people. Really friendly hostel dorm mates? Sneak out of there before they wake up in the morning. Spot them while wandering around the city? Turn and run. Look, it's not like I don't like you, but I'm here with things I want to do and I don't want to have to take other people's feelings into account.

5. That being said, sometimes meeting people isn't too bad. Some of them stick out in my mind and it's kind of fun to imagine what they're all doing now. Like the girl in our San Francisco dorm a few years back who gave us Korean souvenirs when we said goodbye (I still have mine), the unintentionally hilarious Brazilian guy who helped us order dinner in Porto, or the well-dressed French girl who was in Stockholm for her Masters interview.

6. There's always something good up or down an outdoor stairway. An awesome view of the House of Wonders in Zanzibar, garden with an old mine shaft leading to the bottom of a gorge in Southern Spain, or a deserted terrace with a perfect view of over the Thames. Or it could just be dark and slippery with ice and you could find yourself thinking that if something happened you would have no one to blame but yourself... but that was only one time.

7. I always learn something from travelling with others. Everyone has a different style to their travel. I've learned to be more spontaneous and more adventurous, to turn off our planned route down an interesting looking alleyway. I've learned to recognise works by Cezanne and Dali and Bacon. I've learned to ask questions and directions when I need to. I've learned to be less self conscious; in the words of one of my blunter travelling companions, "Just think of it this way. After today you'll never see them again, so why care?"

8. A reminder not to take feeling well for granted. You know how when you're sick and uncomfortable and you think back to last week when your nose wasn't blocked and how you wish you appreciated how easy it was to breathe at that point in time? When I got sick, it was this times a billion. I'm also appreciative that back at home, I know what to do. Scene: I'm lying in bed, headachey and sweaty and feverish, convinced I have malaria, Googling "how to see a GP in London if you're Australian".

9. I'll never let med student awkwardness get on top of me again. Fellow med students know what I'm talking about. The finding your team, trailing them around, trying to help out with jobs but wondering if you're just making more work for them, working out how the OT is run, introducing yourself to the disinterested surgeon and asking if you can scrub in to do the all important jobs of Retracting and Suctioning. This was 100 times worse in Arusha, where I knew about 0% of what was going on, and still pretty awkward in London at 75%. Being back on familiar territory in Sydney is going to be a breeze in comparison.

10. I learned how to pan fry dumplings. Two and a half months is a long time to go without my parents' pan fried dumplings (aka potstickers). When peak desperation levels were reached, I headed to London's Chinatown, paid way too much for a pack of frozen dumplings, and cooked them at home with the aid of a friend who's been living on her own for several years (and was thus forced to start pan frying her own dumplings a while ago). Second most important life skill after lesson 1.

March 13, 2016

The only cure

I have been back for about a week now, and I'm over the jet lag, but not the post trip blues. So I'm trying to reintegrate into Sydney life the only way I know how. Eating.

Found Barrio Cellar, a basement bar near Martin Place, while looking for new taco places. I feel like most of the time tacos never really live up to expectations - but the fish taco I got was good. My friend liked her carne asada one, which I got a hint of in the loaded fries we shared. Would totally go back for Taco Tuesdays, except the cocktails are expensive (I saw $13 for a glass of sangria and almost had a heart attack).

Spending too much money on wine and cheese on Friday night.

Went to Spectrum Now (which I think is over) on a Sunday afternoon. We went to the N2 x Blackstar stand, where they told us that their sponsor had pre-paid credit for people to get free items... so between the two of us we got one of each on the menu. I still don't get the Blackstar watermelon cake. I don't want watermelon in my cake.

A breakfast catch-up before lectures first day back at uni. The one thing I'm appreciating about Sydney right now is that I can get an acceptable flat white in most cafes.

March 10, 2016

Monuments of Ancient Egypt

We spent most of the Egypt tour last December on a cruise on the Nile, hopping on and off to see the Ancient Egyptian monuments located along the river.

Colossi of Memnon

March 8, 2016

Giza plateau

Continuing photos from my Egypt trip in December.

The Giza plateau is the location of what most people think of when they think Ancient Egypt...

March 6, 2016

Egyptian Museum

I'm finally going to make a move on the Egypt posts from my visit in December! I'm not going to do it day-by-day chronological this time because I think it'll work better when categorised (it will become clear what I mean).

We visited the Egyptian Museum, officially known as the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (how much cooler does that sound), on the first and last days of our time there. We were lucky enough to be there during a window of grace when visitors were allowed to photograph inside the museum, I assume as a push to get the tourism industry going again. To be honest, I don't quite remember the exact stories behind everything, so this is going to be more of a photodump than anything educational.

March 3, 2016

3 months in a backpack: a review

It's the end of my three months of travel! So here's a follow up on this post, where I talked about which clothes I would be bringing in my pack.

Before I left, I ended up squeezing in my pair of old sneakers that I'd been meaning to throw out anyway. Super glad I did, as I ended up wearing them a lot in Tanzania (wearing my Docs in that heat would've killed me). I left them in Arusha to save backpack space. I also picked up a pair of black trousers in Madrid, which I then wore a lot when I got to London (more than the navy ones I brought, actually). I also bought a beanie before leaving London for Norway (thank god).

Rest in peace
I threw out two pairs of pants. One pair of drape pants, which tore at the butt in a way I decided was irreparable because of how thin the material is, and also my beloved Uniqlo ultra stretch jeans (I discovered that the crotch had blown out during my weekend in Stockholm, when they were the only pair of pants I had). I might not rush to replace them - I still have an old pair of skinny jeans that I stopped wearing when I bought the ultra stretch, and my new trousers will pick up the slack (ha ha) when I need slim black pants.

For next time
I would definitely take better clothes for hot weather. When it's hot in Sydney, I minimise my activity or wear skimpier clothes, but that wasn't possible in Tanzania. I ended up wearing a tank top that was actually an undershirt, which wasn't preferable. At the other extreme, I found myself above the Arctic circle still wearing my flimsy wool coat and Doc Martens... I was cold, just on this side of bearable. If this had been longer than a two day thing I probably would want something with down, if not technical gear, and warmer socks.

In summary
I think I did an okay job with packing overall. I didn't pack anything I regret. I guess I've also learned that I can survive with just these clothes - although I'm definitely ready to be reunited with the rest of my wardrobe! I miss my loafers!

I'm flying home tomorrow morning. Three flights, 24+ hours... I hate this part, especially stressing about making connections. Fingers crossed it all goes okay!