Part 2: 5 lessons I’ve learned from my first camping trip

This is the second part of ‘5 lessons I’ve learned from my first camping trip’. Click here to read from the beginning.

Photo from Torpedo7.com.au

Photo from Torpedo7.com.au



Our tent was erected quickly, along with the foldable table and chairs. Richard made us tea from the hot water in our shiny new Thermos flask. We sunk into our chairs, listening to the birds chattering away as they returned to roost.

This peaceful moment did not last long. A loud, heated argument had erupted from The Tent – the one we avoided like the plague! The angry man started pulling The Tent down as one of the girls flung herself on him, begging desperately for him to stop.

“I’ve had enough! We’re leaving right now!” he bellowed. The woman chased the girls away from him and they cried hysterically behind some trees. The argument grew in intensity and there was nothing anyone could or woud do but watch, completely gobsmacked, like a herd of deer in headlights.

The bedlam finally ended when the man suddenly stormed off with one of the girls in tow. And then there was silence. The woman and the other two girls retreated into The Tent for several hours, probably asleep or in shock.

As we cooked over our little camp stove, we theorised about this extraordinary turn of events. The main question was what was the story behind this family. It made for an interesting dinner conversation but I could not help but feel for those poor, traumatised children. There is no doubt in my mind that they would be scarred.

4. Summer ≠ warm nights

We had our fleece jackets and long pants on over dinner. The temperature had dropped quickly and the wind was chilly. Some of the other campers were not as prepared and they had to take shelter in their tents (and car!) to get away from the elements. The sun had not even gone down yet.

I’m so glad we used this camping checklist when packing. It paid off being prepared with the right equipment. We sat outside chatting and playing chess until bed time, which brings me to the last lesson.

5. Air beds in a small tent is not a good idea

As it was our first camping trip, we did not want to spend a lot of money on equipment in case we hated it. So we brought along a couple of air mattresses we owned, instead of buying sleeping bags. We had a doona to share and pillows too. We thought we’ll sleep pretty well…

Until we placed the inflated air matresses inside our small tent. The air matresses took up the entire tent floor! It was like stepping in and out of a cramped jumping castle!

Richard in tent

And if that wasn’t bad enough, both the matresses had a slow leak and we gradually deflated through the night! LOL… 😀

On the up side, we slept better than those in The Tent as another explosive argument ensued when the man returned near midnight. It was weird and scary at the same time as the man started bawling like a two year old!

“No, no, no, no! I don’t want to go!” he pleaded endlessly.

We remained shut up in our tent, only peeking out when it was all quiet again. Thankfully that was the last we heard of them until we left bright and early in the morning.

Do you think I will go camping again?

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5 lessons I’ve learned from my first camping trip

We went on a short 2 day trip to Canberra. It’s a 5 hour drive there with a couple of mandatory breaks in small towns along the way. The scenery was mostly golden – rolling hills of dry, parched grassland in desperate need of rain. A reminder that we are indeed still deep in drought.

Road trip to Canberra

Car cricket amused us for hours as we made the rules up as we went along. Utes and trucks were 1 point, SUVs 2 points, hotted up cars were 4, emergency vehicles and luxury cars scored 6 points, and creeks and red or yellow cars got us out. It made the monotonous driving rather exciting for Richard as he strategically sped up and slowed down to get the best score. 🙂

The reason why we drove to Canberra brings me to my first lesson.

1. Grab the chance of a lifetime

Photo from National Gallery of Australia

Photo from National Gallery of Australia

‘Masterpieces from Paris’ is an extraordinary and rare exhibition as it is the first time that these impressive artworks have ever been displayed outside of Paris’ Musee d’Orsay. There are 112 of some of the best-known works of modern art, including those from Van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin, Picasso and Monet. You can view all the works on display here [link].

And it certainly did not disappoint. There were so many moments where we stood there in silence, hand-in-hand, in absolute awe of the beauty that greeted us. “I can’t believe I’m looking at this in person,” we whispered, nodding in agreement.

We have decided to make a return trip to the exhibition in a couple of month’s time before these masterpieces leave for Tokyo and San Francisco. Just one more time to soak it all in again.

Well, after having our minds fully nourished and feeling a little bit more cultured, we head off to our campsite and to my second lesson.

2. Motor village ≠ Holiday park

No, it really does not. They might have the same things like cabins, camp site, swimming pool, tennis court, bbqs and shower amenities. On the surface, it sounds like Canberra Motor Village could be a holiday park but I think we were just naive and too much of an optimist.

Maybe it was because we were in Canberra. The grass isn’t thick and lush due to poor rainfall, and our camp site looks more like a fenced in dirt patch. Whoever wrote the awesome reviews for this place on Google were probably in cahoots with the owners!

On the upside, the amenities were clean, modern and everything looked rather new. Not too bad, if you don’t mind setting up camp on dirt, by the fence, with the endless drone of traffic in the background. Not too bad… I guess.

3. Don’t ignore the warning signs

The reason why we chose a site near the fence was we both listened to our instincts. We were actually designated a powered camp site next to something that looked like this:

family tent
Photo from ontheroad.buy.co.uk


The music emitting from within the tent was rather loud and unfriendly. There was a dirt bike parked in front of the tent too. Our two sites were seperated by towels and clothes hanging from a make-shift clothesline between a pair of skinny trees.

There was no way I wanted to spend an entire night next to that. I’m glad we didn’t ignore the signs and moved as far away as possible from them. The events that unfolded through the night will surprise you.

But I will tell you more about that tomorrow and I will share my last 2 lessons from the trip with you too. See you then!

Update: Click here to read Part 2

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22 Hours in Melbourne

Richard had to work in Melbourne on our anniversary so I decided to fly down with him and join him on his little trip. It was my first time there and I absolutely loved it! It was very different to any other Australian city I’ve been to. I suppose it’s due to the high number of international students around. It is very multicultural and it felt good to blend in.
Silhouette

Melbourne was vibrant and alive. It felt a lot safer than Sydney at night. We walked from Lygon Street to the Federation Square after dinner and there were so many people out and about on a Wednesday night! There were people sitting around chatting in the park and having coffees at cafes. The tram was busy too when we were heading back to the hotel after 10pm.
Bourke St
Flinders Street-Station
SBS TV Studio

And the best thing was that I was absolutely spoiled for choice when it came to food. There were two Muslim Singaporean/Malaysian restaurants opposite my hotel at Swanston! And the art! I was just visually overloaded with colours, sculptures and architecture. Richard said he has NEVER seen me so happy and energetic! I was bursting with excitement!
RMIT University
Library?

I traveled by myself when he had to go to work in the morning and it was so easy to find my way around. The Melbourne weather lived up to its reputation of having all four seasons in one day. Definitely have to dress in layers there. It didn’t bother me much cos I was just having too much fun!
Within Central Station Mall
Click here for more photos

Melbourne has everything I want in a city. Good food, shopping, art, culture, sports, nature and a multicultural society. I can’t wait to go there again and visit the suburbs and see how people live there. We’ve been toying with the idea of moving there in a couple of years. So, Sydney or Melbourne?

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Family Holiday 2008

My mum and two of my brothers, Hakiim and Irfan, came to visit us late last year. It was their second visit to Australia, which made it much more relaxed than when they were here the first time. We travelled from the Hunter Valley down to the South Coast, beach after beach after beach.
Newcastle

We stayed at a holiday park on the South Coast for the weekend. Our cabin was just by the Crooked River, Gerroa, and the sunsets were stunning! This was my most favourite part of the entire holidays. South Coast really impressed me with their picturesque valleys and rolling hills.
Sunset over Crooked River
Herron @ Crooked-River

The holiday park was very close to Seven Mile Beach too and the sand on the South Coast seemed darker and not as soft as those found on the Central Coast. The beach was huge and flat. Perfect for young families, I think.
Seven Mile Beach
Family @ Seven Mile Beach
Us @ Seven Mile Beach
Clouds over Seven Mile Beach
VIDEO 1
VIDEO 2

As it was nearing Christmas, Richard’s mum put on an early Christmas dinner for us. It was the first time for my family to experience how Christmas is celebrated here. We had quite a few laughs over dinner with reindeer ears, funny hats and cheesy Christmas crackers jokes!
Christmas Dinner

In general, there were lots of mucking around (done mostly by the two boys) and doing heaps of nothing-ness. Quite a neccesity in our otherwise very busy lives.
Hakiim Trying to be  a Dog
Umi @ Terrigal Beach
Siblings @ Taronga-Zoo
More holiday photos found on Flickr

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The Big 3-0

Sorry for being away for so long. I have been too tired and busy during Ramadan to do any blogging. But I’m back!

I celebrated my 30th birthday halfway through September. One of my colleagues drew a birthday cake on the whiteboard and they sang me a birthday song. They wanted to get me a cake but I was fasting. It had to be a pretend cake. It was a very nice surprise nonetheless!

In the evening, Richard and I went to a nice Italian restaurant at Ettalong Beach and watched Mummy 3 afterwards. The food was delicious and the movie was super corny. The special effects were cool as usual and overall, it was easy to watch and entertaining. Not as good as the first one of course but you’ll get a few laughs.

I'm 30!
And in the last minute, we booked a 5-star hotel room on Friday night and spent Saturday in Sydney. We stayed at the Sir Stamford Hotel in Circular Quay. It was a nice, very large room with an equally large marbled bathroom. Despite being surrounded by grandeur, I didn’t really enjoy the room. The way the room was arranged just didn’t feel right. Maybe it was too old fashioned for my taste.

Botanic Gardens
But I must say that I had the absolute best time in Sydney on Saturday. It was warm and the sky was clear and so very blue. I haven’t done the tourist thing around Circular Quay so I enjoyed the experience thoroughly. I absolutely LOVE the Royal Botanic Gardens. You just can’t beat walking in a beautiful garden with that kind of waterview. It was almost pornographic!

An unusual sight in the garden was the bats. There were hundreds of them in the bare trees! They were loud and still quite active in the hot, blazing sun.
Bats in Botanic Gardens

We did so much walking that day. By the time we walked all the way around to the Harbour Bridge, we were both so exhausted. We laid on the grass watching people and boats pass by. Richard, eventually fell asleep so I occupied myself with a little photography. These are some of my favourite photos from the mini shoot.
Richard's Hands
Harbour Bridge
Wedding Photography

The whole day I was trying to get a good photo of the Harbour Bridge. It was too bright and glary and there was always something in the way. I gave up and we took our luggage from the hotel and headed home. We were sitting on the platform of the train station and you wouldn’t believe it. I turned around and I saw this –
Sunsetting over the Harbour Bridge
Pretty freaking awesome! 😀

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