Putanga – Life on the Road

Stories from my journeys around the world…

Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Sunny Brisbane

Posted by Monica Johansen on May 24, 2011

I have started on my fourth and final week in Australia before I finally can head home to Singapore and stop living in a suitcase for a short while. I am currently in Brisbane, and I have been here since Tuesday afternoon last week.

Brisbane River

I have been in this city once before, in fact the weekend when Kevin Rudd won the election in November 2007. I remember this because Brisbane is Rudd’s home town and the entire city was celebrating when he won. Unfortunately, Rudd’s career didn’t end well, but that is another story.

Anyway, I didn’t spend a lot of time in the city back then since I was more interested in visiting Australia Zoo (north of Brisbane) and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (south of Brisbane). However, this weekend I had an opportunity to take a closer look at the city center and the areas along the river encircling the CBD. Brisbane is quite a nice city. Located in Queensland, it is the third largest city in Australia, and the winters are nice and mild due to the northern location.

There are in fact quite a few things to see and do in Brisbane, but I didn’t plan my visit very well and unfortunately the weather on the weekend wasn’t too good either. However, if you are interested you can find more information here.

Right now I am just looking forward to getting home after a very long and exhausting journey, so I will save the sightseeing for my next visit, which by the way will be already next month.

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Weekend in the Australian Capital

Posted by Monica Johansen on May 8, 2011

I am back in Australia for work, and this time I am visiting the Australian capital. Now, a lot of foreigners usually guess either Sydney or Melbourne when they are asked which city is the capital of Australia, but in fact the capital is Canberra, which is a city located in the mountains between Sydney and Melbourne.

Autumn in Canberra

The story of why Canberra is the capital is actually a bit funny. Basically, many years back when the Aussies were deciding which city should be the capital, Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, were rivals and the citizens were unable to come to an agreement. In the end, they made a compromise, and it was decided that the nation’s capital should be situated between the two cities. Hence, the city of Canberra was built for the single purpose of it becoming the national capital, and land for the Australian Capital Territory (originally Federal Territory of Australia) was purchased from New South Wales for that purpose.

I have already been here for a week, and I am staying until Tuesday evening when I am heading to Sydney to work on another project for a few days. This weekend the weather has been fantastic, and I have spent a lot of time outdoors enjoying the fresh and cool air and the lovely autumn colors. Canberra is a relatively small city, and I believe the population is still below 400,000 people. Hence, you can easily walk between the common attractions such as the Parliament building and the Australian War Memorial. It is also quite nice along Lake Burley Griffin, the lake separating the Government area from the main city center.

It is Sunday afternoon, and the weekend will soon come to an end. Hence, it is time to prepare for a new week of challenges.

Posted in Australia, Oceania, Travel | 1 Comment »

So Far So Good

Posted by Monica Johansen on February 3, 2011

It is February already, and I have been on the road quite a bit so far this year. I spent the first couple of weeks of 2011 in Singapore, before I headed to San Francisco and Portland for a week of company conference and APAC team meetings. I had an absolute awesome time in the US, and I finally met my American colleagues that I have talked to on the phone and email several times, and now I can finally put faces to the names.

Albert Park Lake at sunset

The global consulting team is an awesome bunch of people, and I actually feel very lucky to be part of the group, although I am still the only consultant in APAC. I tried to spend as much time as possible with the guys while I was in Portland, but as usual I was struggling with the time difference, and I just wasn’t able to stay up late and hang out with everyone. I was a bit sad when it was time to leave in the end of the week, but all good things must eventually come to an end, and hopefully I will see everyone again next year.

This week I am working in Melbourne, and I am staying here until Wednesday night when I fly to Sydney for a few days. The area I am staying in is called St. Kilda, and it is a very nice suburb just outside of Melbourne city center. From the customer office I can see Albert Park Lake and all the way out to the ocean. My hotel is located just across the street from the lake, and I had a walk around the lake when I arrive on Sunday. The weather has been really nice here, with sunshine most of the time, and on Tuesday the temperatures reached 39 degrees. Now it has dropped a bit, but the sun is still shining and the wind is mild, so I am loving it.

This weekend a friend of mine is picking me up on Saturday morning, and we are driving down to the Great Ocean Road. I have never been there before, but it is one of the main tourist attractions in the state of Victoria, and I am excited to finally see it. I just hope the weather doesn’t change too much. The cyclone Yasi hit Queensland last night and caused some serious damage, and it is heading southwest so we might see some rain and stormy weather down here, unfortunately.

Well, you can’t do much about the weather, so I am hoping for the best and packing a sweater and – the most important thing – my digital SLR camera for the weekend. 🙂

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Bye Bye Year 2010

Posted by Monica Johansen on December 31, 2010

So at last year 2010 has come to an end, and looking back at the last 12 months I can’t say it hasn’t been an interesting year.

I started the year working on a project in the Philippines, before I went back to Europe for the first time in 3.5 years. It was of course a stupid time to go to the UK and Norway, considering that it was pretty much the coldest time of the year, but I didn’t really have a choice since I went for a job interview and everything was paid for by the potential new employer. Nevertheless, it was great to be back in old neighborhoods and seeing old friends again, although it was a rather traumatic experience having to endure minus 15 degrees Celsius.

Taj Mahal in India

After my Europe visit I went straight to Dubai and from there to India. I had never been to the Middle East earlier, so that was a new and interesting destination. India was also a great experience, and I finally got to see one of the most fantastic wonders of the world, the gorgeous Taj Mahal in Agra. I spent quite a few weeks in India during the first quarter of 2010, and I also headed over to Nepal and Kathmandu for a long weekend, which was another new destination for me.

In the second quarter, from April to July, I spent a lot of time in Melbourne in Australia, and I had a great time visiting friends and enjoying the Australian hospitality. It was very cold in July, which of course is the middle of the winter, but it is actually nice to be able to wear jeans, boots and coats every now and then.

In July I started a new and interesting chapter of my life when I accepted a position in a much smaller company than the ones I had been working for over the last nine years. I knew it was going to be challenging to be the only consultant in APAC and trying to implement new processes and procedures for a team who had been doing things their own way for quite some time, and I must admit that it turned out to be even more challenging than I anticipated. However, as time goes by and people get used to new situations, everything will eventually fall into place and life will become easier.

The Sydney Opera House

During the third quarter of 2010 I finally went back to visit the US, and due to a cancelled plane I had the opportunity to spend a day in San Francisco in addition to spending time in Portland and Seattle. Hence, I could add three new cities to my list. I had a fantastic time in the US, not just because of the friendly Americans but also because I spent a week with my new manager and good old friend from the UK.

It was hard to go back to Asia after two great weeks in the US, but it was in fact even harder after my manager sent me to the UK for two weeks of training and job shadowing a little later this year. The days in London and Birmingham were fantastic, and I met a lot of nice people. I also went over to Oslo again for the weekend, and I had a blast with my old friends.

I am finally ending this year in the Emerald City, Sydney, where I have been working for four weeks and spent the last week of the year on holiday to catch up with friends and enjoy the great Australian climate. All in all it has been a really good year despite some work challenges and frustrations. I can only hope that next year will be as good or maybe even better.

Happy New Year! 🙂

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From Blue Mountains to Manly Beach

Posted by Monica Johansen on December 19, 2010

I have been working in Sydney for the last three weeks, and I am here for another two weeks before I am flying back to Singapore. One of the great things about Sydney is that you have fantastic nature all around the city, ranging from fertile mountains in the west to white sandy beaches in the east. And since I love being outdoors I have of course spent some time on the weekends enjoying the great Australian nature.

Blue Mountains

A couple of weeks ago we had a colleague visiting from the US, and last weekend one of the guys from the Australian team took us out for a 4-wheel drive in the mountains. He has a Nissan Patrol which has no problems getting around on the rough bush tracks in the mountains, and we had a great day with fantastic weather. The great thing about the Australian mountains is that there are not many people going outside of the most common tourist areas, such as the famous rock formation called the Three Sisters. Hence, you can find some nice and quiet places where you can be all alone and just enjoy the quietness and peacefulness of the nature.

Australian mountains are not quite like the ones I am used to from Norway. The mountains are very old, and millions of years of erosion have made them into flat hills rather than the steep pointy tops that I am used to. The mountains plateau is not very high either. The highest point of the range is only 1,190 meters above sea level, but the area is dissected by gorges up to 760 meters deep, which gives it the characteristic looks.

We were really lucky with the timing of our trip, because it had been raining quite a bit earlier, and the mountains were green and lush. With the exception of the more tropical areas in the north, the Australian bush is usually rather dry due to very little rainfall, but after a period of rain the forest finally comes alive again. Unfortunately, we didn’t see many animals, but we did meet a little Australian water dragon (my favorite Aussie lizard) chilling out on the road.

Manly Beach

This weekend I have met up with some friends out in Manly. The suburb is one of the most expensive places to live in Sydney, and they have some really nice sandy beaches in the area. Manly is easily accessible from the city because you can catch a ferry from Circular Quay and the boat trip will only take around 30 minutes. You can drive out there too, but on the weekends you will most likely be stick in traffic since a lot of other people are trying to get out there too.

I am not really a beach person, but one of the things I enjoy about Manly is the numerous nice bars and restaurants with a great ocean view. My friends and I had dinner at one of the seafood restaurants yesterday, and the food was absolutely fantastic. You always find the best seafood by the ocean where they get the ingredients fresh from the sea.

Another thing I like about Manly is the small shops where they sell beach wear and handcrafted jewelry made of shells and gem stones. During my time living and working in Asia I have been looking for nice pieces of handcrafts almost everywhere, but I must admit that the nicest stuff can be found in Australia. At least that is my personal view.

Today it is Sunday, and I have no plans for the day yet. However, the weather is great and I am getting out of the apartment very soon to enjoy another day in the fantastic Aussie climate. 🙂

Posted in Australia, Oceania, Travel | 2 Comments »