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A Kosovo Experience

I was speaking to a lady at work today about the people of Kosovo and their joy at independence and the Serbian people’s riots over their liberation, and it struck me that I can share a unique experience I went through nearly four years ago when I drove through Kosovo, in one day.

My husband and I were travelling all over Europe and living in a van, when we hit Croatia and were busting to go to Turkey, but were hestiant due to the southern countries standing in our way. To drive through Albania meant you would probably get robbed, or your car stolen, and the only other way was to go through Montenegro (previously Yugoslavia), Kosovo, Macedonia, to Greece then Turkey. As we started to plan our trip it was looking unlikely that we’d get into Turkey with the car and we didn’t want to leave it anywhere, so we settled on at least getting to Greece and enjoying the sunshine, food and people there.

We talked to a few tourists that we met, as many didn’t speak english, read our travel books and decided to make a “run”for it, through those countries described, in a day.

Montenegro seemed pretty hard up and still grappling with their own poverty. However, it had some very beautiful elements, that you see in the lastest James Bond “Casino Royal” movie, that is shot on a beautiful island with dramatic mountains and water scenery, see these two pics, that describe Montenego’s beauty.

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Anyway, to the crux of this blog, KOSOVO

As we neared Kosovo, we were not sure what to expect, as we’d been stopped by quite a number of police in Montenegro and we were wondering would Kosovo be even worse than this?? Well, it was actually quite civilised, the police and border guards were on their best behaviour, there was a UN presence everywhere, we noticed the proliferation of children playing on the street or swimming, which we hadn’t seen for quite a few days. People seemed happy and they were all out busy working in the field. I believed they were keen to rebuild their country quickly and felt very proud of their country. They must have been robust to recover so quickly from the disasters of the 1990’s. And maybe they were happy to be rid of communism?? I wouldn’t know. After Montenegro, that was full of mountenous country, Kosovo offered farming land that was flat and farmable. It seemed like it’s land would provide riches if people were able to gain access to land.

Here are some photos of Kosovo. Note, they are taken from a car, so you may notice the cars window’s showing up in the photos, but I think it will paint a good picture of the place for you.

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Since I have learnt that the people of Kosovo have gained indpendence from Serbia (old Yugoslvaia), I felt very happy for a people who are so proud of their own country and heritage.

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Evening journey home…

My trip home from the city this afternoon was quite different with rain hitting as I left the office. (you can tell that this is unusual and we are still in a drought or coming out of a drought) Huddled under my umbrella at the tram stop, I was confident I wouldn’t get too wet. I think, I was lucky. Others weren’t so much.

On my 15 minute or so trip from the top of Collins Street down to Southern Cross Station caused many “oohs and aaaahs” for all the tram travellers. What did we see? a woman with a baby and an umbrella in the teeming rain, an elderly worker wet to the skin in his work suit, an alternate guy at a tram stop without a shelter who was also wet to the core, and then, a car driving alongside the tram, splashing water up onto the windows where I was sitting ! Wow and wow.

Plus, I made it onto Channel 9 news (someone else has said C7, so am not sure, maybe both), but didn’t see it on TV. Oh well. The scene, was of me walking over the road, through shin deep water, near Southern Cross Train Station, umbrella up, high heel shoes in hand, laughing – LOL’ing very much. !! It was such a funny afternoon. Here are some pics for you to view. Tania, this will make you ROFLMAO

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 I mentioned in an earlier post that I met up with an old student of mine, Lizzy Player, in Bangkok, Thailand. Mind you, I had a funny tummy and couldn’t stomach anything. So Lizzy and my husband got to indulge in Thai food while I attempted not to watch.

We still did a bit of a tiny pub crawl, firstly hitting a place called Cheap Charlies. Which is basically a pub on the street where all the ex pats and tourists hit. And yes, it’s cheap but also full of lots of ephemeral stuff that would cause any small child to have nightmares. But it adds to the attraction of the place. Below is a pic of us at CC’s.

Cheap Charlies

Anyway, view below and you will see what I’m on about.

Thanks Lizzy for a great catch up !! You are a gem ! And it’s good to throw out the image of librarians as being shhhhhhhhh people, as this catch up was one to remember. Librarians rock in Bangkok !

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Yeeeees, the restaurant is called, Cabbages and Condoms !!

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I’m BACK !!

Watch out !! I’m back in the land of OZ ! And gee, it’s sooo nice to be home.

My husband and I spent a glorious two weeks in Thailand, we even caught up with Lizzy Player, a previous student of mine, in Bangkok for dinner, pic to come later.

We spent about 5 days in Phuket which was a pretty safe touristy place to visit, with lots of beaching, eating, swimming and shopping to do. It was great though to hire a motorbike and explore some other small towns around the island, to discover a nice beach at Kata and then see some unusual sights along the road like a monkey and an elephant.

Then 4 tranquil days at Phi Phi Island. We stayed at a place that was away from the main town and very quiet. The snorkling was magic and right near the beaches, reached via hiring a long boat between the two of us, over flat ocean (can you tell I usually get sea sick) with great accessibility. (sorry about the spelling !). We spent three days just snorkling and looking at the fish and coral, forgetting all about work and our real lives.

It was sad to say bye to Phi Phi. But it was off to spend a few days in Bangkok ! Well, what did we think of this? Busy.!! One night we travelled 15 min in a taxi and got 100 meters up the road ! mmm, walking the 3 kms was what we ended up doing. Bangkok was busy, “you buy, you buy, cheap cheap, very cheap for you miss !” all day and night ! But great to see. We caught up with an expat friend one night for tea and then Lizzy the next night! Hi Lizzy! She’s going to post her progress here soon and tell you what it’s like working in a library in Thailand.

So ! Now I’ve had my break and am ready to hit work with a vengeance !!

It’s so nice to be home…

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The good news for a brisk start to pre-winter, is that it has started to snow in some of Victorias Alpine Areas, see Mt Hotham’s snow cam. I hope they receive much more snowfall than last year. Last years snowfall levels were in comparison to the drought of about 1982 or 83 (can’t remember which one exactly) and the following year of that drought they had a bumper year.

I don’t know if the snowfall over winter has any correlation to the amount of water that goes into the dams and the Murray River in the spring, but I hope so.

So far the rains haven’t really broken the drought in Victoria. But the countryside has turned green, finally. I don’t remember it being this green last year: personal note: must look at some photos.  I don’t think our grass even grew since December 2005, and I can see over the last few weeks we are already growing a nice patch of lush green grass.

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