Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Wilson's Boathouse

There is a little "peninsula" at Manly, not far from home with a stunning restaurant, almost at the end of said peninsula, overlooking the entrance to Manly Harbour.

On a good day, it is a fabulous place to watch the boats coming and going.

And today, being Wednesday, there was a lot of action, because each Wednesday it is WAGS. "Wednesday Afternoon Gone Sailing" where those who have the afternoon off, set of from the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to do some sailing.

I haven't done it, but if anyone wants to try some sailing, can go to RQ and get a chance to crew on any of the yachts. They are always looking for crew!

But today, I was sitting in the restaurant watching the action on the water.
Enjoying a wonderful meal!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Has the dust gone?

Small particles of dust are still in the air, but most folk have started to clean it out of their homes. I've dusted and dusted but still don't seem to be able to get it all. No doubt there is much hanging in the air.

Despite the drought we have a week to clean our homes inside and outside using water from our taps without getting fined by council officers who are pretty keen to catch us breaking the rules in the current drought situations.

We have been advised to wait until all the dust has gone, so the car probably won't get cleaned until later in the week.

I've got quite a few luncheon events with friends - trying to catch up before I go away.

Still plenty to do.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Still working on material

I'm still busy putting material together for teaching in Korea. So much work to do - and so little time. It is starting to stress me, but I continue.

The weather has been strange - lots of wind and dust continues and everything everywhere is covered in the fine red dust from central Australia. Much less than Wednesday, but still not worth cleaning up.

We had lunch on the back deck - but the fine red dust took a while to clean off the chairs and tables. Even my laptop is covered in fine dust.

I spoke with my parents today - still have not told them that I am going to Korea. Still it will be only 7 weeks I hope.

We have sent our documents to the Korean Embassy with the application for our Visa. Hopefully we will get them back in plenty of time before we are due to go on Wednesday week.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Red Dust over Australia

It seems like the red dust from central Australia has been spread over New South Wales and Queensland by high winds that have picked up the dust and spread it around.

This photo was taken from my back deck, which shows the red dust in the air.

The house (despite the windows being closed) has a fine layer of dust over everything, and it will be days before we get rid of it.

Sydney - Brisbane the airlines have had troubles as many flights have been delayed because of the dust.

It has been chaotic.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

A visit to the Wheel of Brisbane

I've passed this massive structure at South Bank as I travelled to and from the city and as when I visited the Cultural Precinct for the Brisbane Writers Festival and yesterday had the chance to go on board. I was a little disappointed in that the weather wasn't perfect. I had thought of going the day before as the sky was clear blue and the air was cleaner - but as it turned out the air was a little smokey or dusty, and the sky was slightly overcast. Warm and wonderful - but I could almost see the dust in the air.

There was a lot of activity around the South Bank area - and being a warm day, the beach was pretty busy.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Up, Up and Away again

Notification came through today that we are booked to go back to South Korea. I have my itinerary. Now I have to organise myself. We are due to fly to Incheon Airport, South Korea on October 4th, and due back in Australia on November 24th.

The spelling of place names in South Korea is confusing - you can see the name Incheon, or Incheion - it is just a different spelling, and I've forgotten why now. Will have to look all that up again.

Koreans will spell a place one way, and when you can find it on a map you search for other spellings and lo and behold it pops up.

While I was in the doctor's surgery on Tuesday (getting the all-clear from the ENT man) I found a National Geographic with a graphic story about North Koreans escaping from their country via China, and then back to South Korea. Incredible story - and gives a bit more insight into the atrocious circumstances in North Korea.

One thing that puzzled me when I was in South Korea last time, was the apparent indifference to the conditions of North Koreans, and the indifference to the strange behaviour in the north - the food shortage, the lack of basic conditions experienced by all other communities (there is no mobile phone capabilities, and the locals cannot access the Internet),but it is the nuclear weaponry and testing that I found alarming and seemingly the locals had not concern about it.

In the National Geographic article it mentioned the apparent indifference to the situation in North Korea by the South Koreans. I don't know why that would be but it is quite interesting to see. On the one hand they seem to be a caring community - very Christian, and yet, they do not show any concern about the situation.


Tuesday, 15 September 2009


It is unsettling. I mean, I am home in Brisbane, but with no job and no direction. I keep busy of course, and I am writing a lot, but sometimes I feel at a loss. Other "English teachers" who have been overseas report on this too - except those who has a job to come back to.

The Korea plans are on one day, and off the next, and as I write it looks like it is back on again. There are two small cities that are on the agenda and we are waiting for confirmation. So it is possible that I will head off early in October.

As it turns out I have been near both of the cities. One is on the way to Jeonju and the other is south of Jeonju. In any case, at the moment I am just waiting for confirmation.

I'm spending time practicing with the new camera, and I have done a lot of writing. One of my projects is the "novel" and the other is course material for Korea. It's funny - we've both found it a little hard to concentrate on it. Is it on? Is it not?

Anyway, I have a couple of weeks to pull it all together and I am full speed ahead.

Today I am going into the city again. I have an appointment with my ENT surgeon to check on my ears, and I will go to Ted's Cameras - I lost a lens cap on Saturday at the Writers Festival, so I need a new one, and I will walk through to the Roma St Parklands and see if I can get some good photos of flowers there. I like taking photos of flowers, and as it is early spring there may be some good subjects for me. Roma St Parklands is built on old railway yards. There are apartment blocks and a great park area. I haven't been for a long time.

Then to the ENT man, and back home on the train again.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Rise and Rise of China.

I attended quite a few sessions of the Brisbane Writers Festival over the last four days, and enjoyed the whole atmosphere, though I have some complaints or issues to communicate with the organisers.

On Sunday morning I went in early to a session entitled "The Mona Lisa Meets the Girl with the Pearl Earring". Tracy Chevalier wrote the book "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and Prof. Donald Sassoon wrote "Mona Lisa: The History of the World's Most Famous Painting."

I had only seen the full program on the Saturday, and did not realise that the two sessions I had intended to attend needed tickets. Luckily only $12 each, but I had to rush and purchase tickets after learning of that necessity.

I had not seen the film or read the book by Tracy Chevalier,but the blurb about the session intrigued me, and I am glad I attended. There was great discussion about both books - the fact that the Mona Lisa tome was about fact and the other book was very much made up as there was little information about the artist of the painting, "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and most of the story was created by the writer because there was so little known about the girl and the painter.

Interesting discussion.

The session on China, clearly was of interest to me. The two writers were most fascinating. Linda Javin is the best selling author of 8 books according to the program, and works with the University of Beijing (or is it Peking?) and as I write this is either on her way back to China or leaving some time today. She was fascinating. The other speaker was Frances Guo, who according to the program "is a Peking University graduate and journalist. She has worked at Australian universities, Australian Embassy in Beijing and News Corporation. She now now researches Chinese media at UTS" ( I will have to find out what UTS stands for. A Google search indicates it might be University of Technology, Sydney.)

Frances spoke of her life in China, and how she escaped after the major battle at Tianamen Square. She tells a little of her family story in the latest issue of Griffith Review.

One thing that neither speaker mentioned during the session was the affect that the one child policy of China will have on the future of China. Both speaker suggested that the policy was not so strict now and that many families had more than one child, which is true in some places - especially in the rural areas.

However, the statistics about the inequality in genders - there are some millions more young men than women - suggest that there could be further challenges.

In any case I found the discussion most interesting.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Brisbane Cultural Precint.

Across the river from the city of Brisbane is The Cultural Centre. It is here that one will find the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Queensland Conservatorium of Music,
the Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland State Library, and lots lots more.

Surely it is a must see for locals and visitors.

It is handy to public transport (buses and trains) and of course via the Citycats which ply the river.
The photo above is the city looking from the Art Gallery - the old building is the old Parliament House, which is now a Casino.

On again, off again, on again

We are still not sure if the Korean contract is going ahead, so we are in a "holding pattern" at the moment, waiting to see what happens.

I am finding it hard to move forward - I'm not sure what direction to go. So life goes on. I've had a BCC (basal cell carcinoma - skin cancer) removed from beside my eye this week - my right eye, and I think it is odd that the problem ear with the grommet and the skin cancer were so close to one another. There's probably some weird message in having two things so close together, but hopefully all my medical problems are over after this. I have the stitches removed tomorrow.

I went into the city today - it is the Brisbane Writer's Festival held at the Queensland State Library. I attended only one session in the end, though walked around to take in the "culture" of the area. But it was pretty busy. The session I attended was on biographies - with Estelle Pinney and Sally Morrison as guest writers. Estelle has written a number of books, not really biographies, but she's had such an amazing life, that there are elements of her own experiences in her books.

Sally Morrison's book "After Fire" is a biography of Clifton Pugh, one of Australia's famed artists who also had an incredible life. The session was great.

I had lunch in a cafe in the Queensland Art Gallery - Smoked Salmon and dill bruschetta and a glass of chardonay.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Jazz Festival

I went to a local Jazz Festival yesterday - an annual Father's Day event here. It starts around 11 am and goes all day. There was a group of us - under two "tents" to keep the sun off, but it was most pleasant sitting sipping a glass or two of wine, dining on roast chicken, salad, pate, cheese and biscuits.

The performances were excellent - including the Andrews Sisters Tribute Band (see photo), and the Royal Australian Navy Band, and local groups.

One wonderful local singer, is 76 years of age. "Our" Glad.

Still waiting......

Maybe I will know in the next day or so if I have to pack my bags and go to South Korea. In some ways I am looking forward to it - others I am indifferent.

I have been watching the news from South Korea, and find some articles quite alarming, especially the buildup of weapons in North Korea, but at the same time there is improvement in relationships between the north and south.

And the South Koreans beat Australia (the Socceroos) 3-1, over the weekend. It was a "friendly" game, whatever that means. I think South Korea has had some challenges with soccer there in recent times, but good to see a good friendly match!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

To Korea or not?

I think it is always a challenge doing international business - and we have had some challenges putting together a program to take us back to South Korea to teach TESOL.

The language barrier is one thing, and the culture is another - so all up it is difficult to make headway at times. But it looks like it is full steam ahead to go back there - BUT, (and isn't there always a "but") there are still some things to be finalised before we pack our bags.

I know we will only be going for 8 weeks, but it will be autumn and heading for winter, so clothing is an issue. As usual, I will be taking my usual supply of jeans, and will be wearing them often, but I wanted to have a few more things, and warm ones this time.

It certainly is the wrong time of the year to be looking for things for winter in Australia, as all the summer fashions are in the shops, but I have managed to add a few pieces to my "wardrobe."

I'll be OK - remembering that she should be back in Australia before it gets too cold, before the snow falls etc. But, as climate seems to be changing everywhere, we will go a little prepared.

Having travelled to the East on three occasions in the last two years, I'm pretty adept at taking the right things. I've been looking for a back pack too. I have a small one, but it is a little too small, and I want one that I can wheel when I need to, or put on my back if that is better at the time.

That way, I will just have my big suitcase, and my cabin luggage will be one piece, which will have my laptop and camera within it. Then I can be hands free if I wish. Sometimes I found that carrying my laptop, and my small back pack was too much. So hopefully I will be able to get away with the new bigger back pack.

And I can use that for the occasional days off if I travel to places beyond Busan or Seoul.

Anyway, I'm preparing.