Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Do I miss home? / Weather...

(Warning: Yes I'm a foul mood hence the tone of this post)

People constantly ask if I'm homesick and to be honest I'm not at all which is strange considering I definitely thought I'd start to get homesick around the 3-6 month period and now it's 7 months already. Of course I miss my family, friends, clean air, blue skies, beaches, my own bed/room, yadda yadda.. but apart from that, not much.

The reasons I don't miss home (Sydney, Australia) are as follows (in no particular order) or... WHY AUSTRALIA SUX:

* Everything is so much more expensive there, especially notable is food/eating out

* Everything that involves labour is slow, slow, slow. I mean in the time we've been in Shanghai they have built several new rail lines (officially opened on December 29) in God knows how many years Sydney hasn't even completed one part of one rail line. Here, if I ring the landlord with a problem regarding the plumbing, electricity, water, furniture, etc it is fixed within minutes, hours or at most 24 hours. In Sydney I'd be lucky if it was fixed within 2 days. What about something like the telephone line/internet? Here they will come to your house (usually within 2-3 hours of calling) and look at it and fix here. In Australia be lucky if they come within a week!

* Hayfever. I suffer from very bad perennial (all year round) hayfever back home. Here I don't get it at all. It is such a relief not to have a constantly running sneezing nose (and being asked fifty billion times by people if I have a cold - no I don't!!), eyes so itchy I have constant thoughts of pulling my eyeballs out of their sockets (Itchy and Scratchy style) and dunking them in a bowl full of ice water for a few minutes before putting them back in, etc. Antihistamines and nasal sprays do shit-all for me too (not to mention the expense and the toll on your body by taking these things daily) so I'm stuck with this horrible condition. In Shanghai I only went through a few days where I got it in the beginning of autumn/fall. It was horrible but at least it was gone pretty quickly.

* Crap public transport. The public transport in Sydney is a joke. The buses are crowded and slow. The reason why they are constantly late is because the driver has to give people change. Imagine 20 people get on a bus and 10 pay with cash and need change. AT EVERY STOP. Of course this is gonna screw up the timetable. Trains. Never on time, either. The older ones are disgusting and don't have air conditioning nor heating so you either sweat like anything in summer or freeze in winter. Stations in the city are downright dirty and disgusting and signage? What signage!! They seriously need to get a clue and some brains about labelling and signage and giving names or numbers to the exits for example. I don't think anyone knows what 'information signage' is. And the privilege of riding transport... well it's not even cheap!! I could give them a billion and one suggestions (as a matter of fact have written them countless letters in the past) but when big decisions are made by big, fat, pot-bellied, balding, middle-aged, rich, white men who spend their entire lives in cars - it's not going to be a good outcome.

* Shopping. Expensive and crap. Nothing ever fits. I'll try the smallest size and it'll still be too big. Apparently the smallest size gets sold out the quickest but the dumb-ass buyers don't ever think of ordering more clothes in smaller sizes. Besides the sizing scale is a rort. All it does is make bigger people feel better about themselves.. Wow, I'm now a size 12 instead of a size 16! Cool! Meanwhile the size 8 girl is now a size 4 and not all clothes come in a size 4, hardly any in fact (but the thing is it's still a size 8 just labelled differently). The thing I don't get is Americans generally speaking are also big if not bigger than Australians. So why is in the US I can find clothes and shoes to fit me, but not in Australia? I don't get it. Maybe ALL the buyers for department and chain stores are brain dead. I once did an experiment. I went to Myer in the city and played a game. What would I buy if I had endless amounts of money? So I couldn't look at the price tags, just choose something I really liked. I so I went through the whole floor and chose random stuff and not one single thing I liked came in my size. Even the AUD$300 top or $1000 dress. I used to think it was because of my 'budget' that I couldn't find smaller sizes but nope... Shoes is even worse than clothes because if it doesn't fit you can't wear it at all. I have smallish feet (36-37 Euro, 5.5 Australian, 6.5 US) but not obscenely small but in Australia all I ever get told is "We've sold out of that size." "We can order it in for you... it'll take a week or two." "We don't make that style in that size." "The small sizes always get sold out the quickest." And all sorts of similar comments that just make my blood boil because there are heaps of people with feet my size and smaller! Besides, I don't want to pay $150 for a pair of uncomfortable FAKE leather shoes that are made in China anyway. So in Shanghai I have bought heaps and in Taiwan I have already bought two pairs. It's like a dream come true to know that there is a 90+ % chance they have my size in stock. Also, Australia very rarely gets any cool brands from overseas from Europe, the States, Japan or elsewhere. Zara or Gap? Nope... (in short, what is supposed to be a pleasant experience for any woman just leaves me angry, disheartened, and depressed. Trust me, it's not only the 'big girls' who feel like crap when they can't buy stuff in their size!)

* Uneducated labourers getting paid top dollar ie plumbers, electricians, builders, etc. It makes me feel like getting a degree is not worthwhile and just a waste of time, really. It's funny because the opposite is true here. Those people are paid lowly. Australians don't value education (yes I'm generalising!) and it seems now only rich peiople are allowed to get degrees given the cost these days. Hey I'm not smart enough to get into the course on my own merits so I'll get mummy and daddy to pay top dollar for my degree! Pfft! OK OK I know this is the same for many other countries but they used to have a decent system and are allowing more and more places for fee-paying students which sux IMHO.

* Travel. It costs a lot of money and a lot of time to travel anywhere. It takes around 5 hours to fly from Sydney to Perth, 4 hours Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand, and 6 hours Sydney to Bali, Indonesia. Here I can fly to another country in 2 hours and 11 hours to London. Anyone flying from Sydney/Melbourne/Perth to Europe will tell you it's a nightmare especially if you cannot sleep on planes. I mean it takes 22-25 hours!! It's not just air travel.


I wrote the above post (in draft mode so it was offline) on 6th January.

Now it is 29th January and I find myself really missing home... weird. The number one reason I miss it right now is because of the weather. Because it is summer there! Sure it can get hot in summer but it rarely gets so hot where it is very uncomfortable, like say in Queensland where it is not only hot but extremely humid as well. Summer time in my parents' family home was a true joy. It is so cool in our house (because we live fairly close to the coast) that one year we didn't even need a fan. Most years we get the fan out and use it only about 5-10 days of the year. I shouldn't talk about how freezing our house gets in winter but in summer it is really nice and comfortable. It is 27 degrees right now in Sydney, 15 in Taipei and -1 in Shanghai. What a difference!

The day I arrived in Taipei it was 21 degrees and sunny. I was really happy knowing I had just come from a 4 degree place. It was not too hot and not too cold. It was perfect. Now it's been consistently raining every day and around 12-17 degrees and although it may not seem like it, I am freezing. Yesterday I wore 6 layers of clothes, 2 layers on my legs and I don't feel hot. I just don't get it. Temperatures don't really tell the whole story at all.

I know I think about the weather and temperature way too much and the reason I do is because I find it really affects my moods and my health. I actually find it impossible to be sad or grumpy when it is sunny (even if it is cold) but if it is constantly grey and cloudy and drizzly it is slowing driving me up the wall! If I wake up and look outside the window and it is cloudy, foggy, raining or all of the above I just want to go straight back to bed.

Funnily, as I write this I can see the sun peaking out through the clouds outside the window - Woohoo!

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