Thursday, February 17, 2011

Back in the Blog-o-Sphere

It's been a while, eh?

In fact, I kind of can't remember what I last wrote about... I think it was bread. But I could be wrong, and since I don't feel like fighting with the proxy network I am using to write this to find out what the topic of my last blog was... I suppose I'll remain in the dark for a bit longer. If the last blog was about bread, however, and was pleasing to my dear followers, you may be happy to know that I have since tried my hand at naan, pita, oatmeal bread, and today it is baguettes. All successfully delicious.

But I, as always, digress.

I just returned to China from Australia. Yes, my life is that much more absurd than yours. For Spring Festival (the mammoth winter holiday in China- similar to Christmas in terms of family gatherings and time off) Pat got three weeks off.. As I am perpetually off, we decided to take advantage of his long teaching break (and some astonishingly cheap airfare) and hightail it to the Land Down Under. We even had a long layover in Kuala Lumpur, home of the Petronas (don't quote my spelling on that one) Towers- the second tallest (again don't quote me there because I am definitely not fact-checking this and Pat is not here to correct me) buildings in the world. We had about 24 hours to spend wandering around there. KL is... probably like any other large, central pacific city. I know that does not give a lot of description but there you have it. It's big; lots of people, buildings, transportation, stuff. It was predominately and suppressively a muslim state until recently. Now there is an odd but appealing hodge podge of Indian, Thai, Malay, Muslim, and Chinese culture. I dig it. For short periods of time.

But really, let's get to Australia. Since returning to China and swapping stories and war wounds with everyone else, I have found myself with a strange inability to describe Australia. It's everything you imagine:

Everything can kill you. Literally every time we met and fell into conversation with a native Australian, we were informed of one more thing that could potentially end our time-share here on planet earth. It's true that Australia houses venomous snakes, spiders, trees (yep), jelly fish, octopi, and other fun life forms (all of which you will encounter at some point or another). Pat adores mentioning a book of native snakes he found when we visited Lamington National Park- the two categories of snake were venomous and highly venomous. It's also true that if you survive unscathed by one of those creepy-crawlies, you still have to contend with Great White Sharks, saltwater Crocodiles, and apparently the most deadly of the large creatures- the Australian Water Buffalo. But that's not all, not by a long shot. Because you still have to avoid car-i-cide by kamakazi kangaroo- marsupials large enough to total your (our) tiny little rental car. But wait! There's more! Because, as one charming old Aussie put it- "Naw, mates, it's the rip tide that'll kill ya."

Oh good.

Australia is endlessly and dramatically beautiful. Everywhere you turn there is some new captivating vista. The huge and wildly blue ocean occupies the forefront of most scenes, but there's also the perfect and peaceful savannah- pastoral land that stretches for miles and miles in a faint, washed-out green before dead-ending into rain forest. The mountains, filled with variations on eucalyptus plants, seem constantly blue and foggy, like they are just a bit out of focus. It's an eco-bears dreamland. There is so much space and life there. Regardless of the fact that, yeah, most of it can kill you, it's still just indescribably beautiful.

The underpopulation engenders this wide and sweeping sense of peaceful solitude. Coming from crowded, noisy China, the abrupt change in atmosphere was most welcome. This fact I know I cannot describe with any justice or sense of reality. To understand the impact of Australia live in a city of 14 million for several months- a city where people regularly push each other out in front of busses, where they yell constantly and relentlessly into their phones, where they have no conception of trash cans or recycling bins, where the sky is littered with particulate matter that you and everyone else breathes in daily. And then go to Australia. Get on a plane, fly whatever amount of time you need to to reach the island-continent, then stand outside for a moment. Bask in the sun, breathe in the clear air, go to the restroom and read the sign posted above the sink: "Every Drop is Precious."

Then you will understand what I think when I think of Australia. And you will understand just why I am utterly incapable of verbalizing my experiences in Australia.

Anywho, until next time,
Cheers, friends.