Saturday, July 16, 2011


OMG. I sooooooo need a holiday.

Oh shut up. Like, I KNOW I just got back from Ayz-ee-ah, but it's post-Asia depression (PAD) that's kinda the iss-you. I just can't take three weeks off my life and expect to come home and resume a normal state of unemployment. There's too much to bloody well do!

Not that I've really started 'doing' any of it. Yet. Bless my VGF (Very Good Friend) Organica, who stepped into the role of my mother and rang me at nine am the first morning home (after a 2am bedtime... Thanks darl!! Although, granted, she HAD found the on-sale Dr Feelgood thongs I want...) and asked me whether I'd put the frigging washing on yet.  The answer to which was no. We hadn't even looked at the suitcases, one of which was trashed by Tiger Air's roooly careful handling of our baggage between Thailand, Singapore and Perth. And here I was thinking that a hundred and thirty-three bucks got you quality air travel. How naive I am. Although, we did get seats in Row 1, which gave extra leg room and quick access to the loo (Yes, we went to Asia, quick access to the loo is more than a bit handy!) and first crack at the six dollar can of red wine from in-flight service (2.6 standard drinks! Value!)  which went down well with a 'Christ I hate cheap flights' diazepam tablet.

I hate getting home and finding that the welcome home elf hasn't been.

In my perfect world, a little elf crawls in through a crevice (or chimney...but let's face it, this is Perth, not the North Pole so a crevice or broken window is a bit more likely) and puts a litre each of milk and Pepsi Max in my cleaned fridge, washes the dogs, mows the lawn, sorts the mail, does the groceries and checks the bin doesn't stink. No elf. So Brad the Tradie and I went to bed (which isn't as good as the one at the Marriott resort in Thailand) without a Pillow Menu (a la Intercontinental Singapore) and lamented the PAD... sigh... we're not on holidays anymore Toto.

Stuff happens while you're away.

It's like being in some alternate universe where you expect that everything stays the same unless you're there to watch it change. Example: in order to get a coffee with milk on our first morning back I needed to venture out of the house (yeah, righto I went to Maccas drive through so it wasnt really that hard...). After attempting to pay a pimply 15 year old with a Singaporean five dollar note ("Hey miss, is this even real money??") I lamely drove off, sucking on my overdue morning coffee (and it was not 'extra hot' as I had instructed... is it too damn hard for people to understand extra hot? Really?) I noticed that there was one less take away open. Yep, Pasta in a Cup had closed down whilst I was in Asia. I'd never eaten there (seriously, Pasta in a CUP as a take-away concept? Blech) but the thing is, I felt a little tug of loss anyway, because it had closed down while I was GONE.  Three new house slabs were poured nearby, a half finished abode completed (where are we supposed to steal bags of cement from now??) and loaves of bread are suddenly cheaper. We even had a power problem that means we missed three weeks of telly (thank god they delayed the grand final of Dancing With the Stars until i got back! Phew!) Things did not stop just because we went away. Bugger it.

Even though I've got less to 'get back into' these days, I still hate that 'getting back into it' feeling.

The Unpack. The wash of the holiday clothes (sigh, pack the sarong away...).  The four-day digestive system flush (those who go to Asia know what i mean....) The letting everyone know you're back (which would be much simpler if everyone was on email or social networking quite frankly). The sleeping on non-hotel not-that-crisp and really not-at-all white sheets. The hoisting of photos on Facebook (a bit depressing and gloaty at the same time). AND... The Shop. Turning the fridge back on and hunting, gathering, chopping, cooking, cleaning up afterwards.... Makes you wish you'd brought half the staff of a cruise ship or resort back with you really. Surely it doesn't take twenty five ingredients to make a four-dish Thai buffet platter?   It only took me five trips to the supermarket to make me think that I might not need to go back for a few days (Thai cooking attempt not included). Then there's the taking back of overdue books, the opening of a bucket of mail (seriously? has the offspring's school got nothing better to do than send me bills for Voluntary Contributions? I've told them that the contributions are bloody well voluntary, what's with the monthly reminder????) and the placing of Thai Silk table runners purchased only a week or so ago in a warm, tropical climate where bright things look pretty.

None of which is terribly stressful or difficult.

It's just.... not as good as being on holiday. But then, if our everyday life WAS as good as being on holiday then we wouldn't need JetStar, Tiger or Southwest airlines would we? Perhaps holidays, like many things in life that used to be deemed 'extra-spesh' and rare (like hair mousse and floppy disks) are simply closing the gap. I remember when most kids didn't have passports and overseas was somewhere rich people went for their honeymoon. Any family that went OS to somewhere posh, like Fiji, had to host a neighbourhood slide night with detailed description of the destinations that the rest of us had only ever seen in Encyclopedia Britannica and the occasional David Attenborough documentary. Where we all went "OOO... Ahhhh... how NOICE!!!!" whilst eating something new and different from overseas like stir-fried pork in plum sauce. Now, you just whip the photos from the iPhone to Facebook and see if anyone cares. And if you travel in winter no one can even appreciate your tan ("They traveled to THAILAND!! AND SUNBAKED? Well that's just asking for an early grave!!") Except that my weird looking face that looks like a raccoon where my sunnies were permanently glued can't really be ignored ("What's wrong with your face darl? Have you been skiing or something?")

And now, a week on from our arrival back home, life has returned to normal, albeit with a tad more Pad Thai on the dinner menu.

Sighing, I longingly read the ingredients of pastes and sauces in the 'weird shit' aisle at the supermarket. And we live our lives in preparation to do it all again. Holiday... it would be so nice. Slide night anyone?

 Holiday, Madonna, 1983.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yellow Polka-dot Burqini

Bogan parents of the world unite.

Yes, I have found the solution to international tensions and racial conflict between cultures.

It is... The hotel swimming pool and bar.

Being in Thailand this week has enabled BtT to slip into a coma, and me to observe a range of international forms of boganism. After two luxurious nights at the Intercontinental in Singapore with complimentary everything, it was time for us to detox and have a wee little lie down. At one of those family holiday resorts that tight arsed middle class holidays makers go to.

You know. The places in developing countries that exploit workers and cheap resource suppliers happy to be underpaid in order to provide a fascimile of luxury. Where Bogans like moi can collect bathroom vanity products to take home and call them 'gifts'. Places where the quality and size of the hotel pool dictates the level of poshness of the holiday. "Mayyyyyyte, shoulda seen the bloody pool! massive! Swim up bar, little helpful pool boys brought us a towel, those back massaging jets, beee-yoooo-ti-foool!"

And it would seem the same for people from non-Oz places.

Different swimsuits styles, different accents, but still the same middle class values. Where the word 'bliss' is defined in two words, 'kid's club' and happy hour means the same thing in any language...half price booze and nibbles. The yanks, bless 'em, have that permeating tone to their voice that radiates across the serenity of pool-side, "AUDREY! auuuuuuuuud-dreeeeeeeee! get out of the pool now. Ya burnt as a French fry in Louisiana girlfriend!" And out Audrey schlumps. Pink, like the rest of us. Half her togs gaping open at the back and her hair dripping all over her iPhone.

There's the Indian family who travels in a large sparkly Bollywood lion pride, with their kids dressed in glow-in-the-dark life vests for evening safety. The Middle East families in swim-burqinis (yes really, that's what they're called) fashionable covered head to toe in all manner of polka dots, patterns and colours (not so itsy-bitsy actually). Quite a use of Lycra compared to the Japanese bikinis, which are so small, yet still cover tiny little Japanese frames. The male Chinese swimshorts, tight around the nether regions and high waisted are worth the price of a Singha beer to watch. The pink Poms and their kids covered in floaties ("Oooi now, dont go too bloody far...oh OK, whatever, I don't care, I'm going to the bar..."). The Malaysian family whose little girl just was dying to go back to kid's club because her parents "just want to sleep". And the Aussies, bless us, whose children all have their hair plaited into little braids with beads on the end (compulsory Asian holiday treat) and wear nasty Tar-jay swimmers all day long. Parents at the bar, grandparents asleep with a book (or pretending to be in case the kids want attention again) and people like BtT and I, just lying there in the pool floating, wondering whether the Third world is a good place or a bad place to holiday (Safety? Huh??? We'll be fine mum!)

Ah well, regardless of culture, you'll all find us at the Mai Khao Marriott Beach Club pool bar this arve at five comparing whether the Banana Colada is better than the Southern Shakeshake.

In any language, it beats workin'!
Yellow polka dot bikini, Brian Hyand, 1960

Somewhere Over the Wainbow

Prepare yourself for a sob story.

When I was a little Bogan my parents didn't take me to fancy hotels. They took the family .... camping. Uhuh. Practically child abuse. Possibly even worse, we occasionally, every five years or so, we'd do a realllllllly special holiday to the beach at Port Macquarie or Surfer's Paradise and stay at a two-star motel. The kind where we could park the EH Holden station wagon at the door. The kind that had a hole in the wall to pass the bread through in the morning for breakfast. The kind with a little pool for the kids, where my older brother would try to drown me then threaten to kill me if I dobbed. And yet, this was somehow better than staying at home.

I no longer have the desire to camp, and have replaced the front of 'otel' from a 'm' to a 'h'. Five star preferably.

And quite frankly, I think Asia has nailed luxury hotels. Which I quite strange for a continent that smells as bad as it does. I'm a bit of a snot really. I like at least an hour or two of complimentary drinks and nibbles in the evening. And a pillow menu with my choice of scented inserts (Jasmine naturally). And high-speed free internet. And scented face washers on little trays. And mirrors that make me look just a tad thinner than usual (nothing like traveling to Asia to give one an attack of Hippopotamus-itus.)

I contemplated Asia over my complimentary high tea (aloe vera jelly with dragon fruit seeds anyone?) at the Singpapore Intercontinental. Asia is such a hotchpotch of people, hygiene standards and currencies that I think I'd like whoever runs Singapore put in charge of Asia. Of creating the Emerald City at the end of the wellow bwick woad. To create a fully air-conditioned Asian paradise that has the beaches of Phuket and Vietnam, the shopping of Shanghai, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong, the airport, hygiene, organization of Singapore, the hotels of Macau and a Thai massage to round it all off.

Asian people are so damned little.

I think, having tripped here a little, that evolution created them this way so that their thighs don't rub together in the humidity. Like mine do. I have a little penguin waddle I do to avoid chafing... TMI? Yes, probably. Standing, waiting for a taxi, I thought I was coping well with the humidity until I felt trickles of perspiration dripping down my legs, my arms, my back.... It's why you wear a dress in Asia, to cover your modesty and also to mop up with afterwards.

Travelling in the wet season does have its advantages in Asia.

 Like being able to afford a club room at the Intercontinental for a start. And also, it rains, which for us Perth Bogans was quite a treat. "Wook!!!" said Brad the Tradie. "a rainbow! been a while since we've seen one of those!" "Ahhhhhhhh...." replied the taxi driver, "Many, many wainbow here. but many, many building cover wainbow to make Sing-uh-pore wery wery rich, so sometimes not see wainbow!" Poor successful as hell country with all the money and progress covering the wainbows.

Pass me another Singapore Sling and I'll sympathise for them.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Judy Garland, 1939