Thursday, February 24, 2011

Being Blond in a NOT so blond country

You can only imagine how many fears a move of this caliber would bring on. Fear of leaving family. Fear of moving to a country where your language is the 3rd language spoken. Fear of getting sick. Fear of finding a doctor or a dentist. Fear of getting around. Fear of leaving friends and a job you adore. Fear of losing the identity you have built and worn for years.

Well, these are all valid fears. Some I have faced, some I have tucked away, squelched really, so as not to think about them. But my biggest, most pressing fear came to a “head” yesterday.

My first cut and color.

Some of you might have realized over the years that my hair is a “thing” for me. When a friend went to Beauty School, she asked to do my hair (let me think about that for a second, NO!) Kelly and I have been together for 9 years (since Kari was in 4th grade). Kelly and I have been through most of the Red kin color wheel together.

I was in a committed relationship with Kelly. I had plans for us growing old together. I was faithful to the end.

Hong Kong tore us apart

After one last foil, color and cut, it was time to say at least a temporary goodbye to Kelly.

Logistics has forced me to cheat.

I have gone to AWA (American Women’s Association) events for two reasons. Make contacts, and stalk the other blonds in this city. THESE were the people in the know! I found a few, and trust me; some women are very hesitant to give up their hair dressers’ name. “uhh, Bank of America Building” was one answer I got. (Should I walk the WHOLE building or can you narrow that down for me?)

Enter Sandy, who I met at my Weight Watcher meeting. Weight Watcher members are always willing to share info. I have found that to be true on three continents now. Sandy is not blond, but she has sassy short hair with great highlights and she was more than willing to share.

I waited a week before I called Ivy, who I was assured spoke excellent English. She did. However, I was a little worried that she could book get me in only two days after my call. Shouldn’t a great stylist be booked weeks out? I grabbed the appointment.

Roots wait for no one.

Well, the morning dawned, and with my map in hand (after getting detailed instructions) off I went. I had to make a new train connection for me and navigate a new train station (all good experiences). I did as told, but promptly, somehow, missed The Holiday Inn Express that was supposed to be my landmark. (Hopefully, she hadn’t slept there last night and woke up a stylist!)

Out came the map. THIS is a skill I am actually getting pretty darn good at. I found my way to her place right on time. She is on the 22nd floor. If I had blinked I would have missed the door.

Ivy’s place is a room. That’s it. When I talked to her on the phone, she said “we” so I thought there were at least two people. Nope. One room, one chair, one sink with a full couch for comfy hair rinsing. Also, a space age looking thingy that sets color. She has a tiny DVD player AND (wait for it) People and US Weekly magazines!! SCORE. We aren’t so different after all!

Ivy took great care to look over what Kelly had done. She made adjustments based on what Kelly had done and the chemicals she had. The rest of the process was pretty much what I am used to. Talking talking, talking, talking talking.,

Ivy spent years in London where she learned her craft and English. She lived in SF for a year before coming back to Hong Kong.

When you are with Ivy, it is just the two of you. No phones. (points for that!)

Two hours later, I walked out with “fresh” color. I am having a frizzing issue (sigh) so she gave me a couple products to hunt down...thank you Internet and kids that ship to us every two weeks! The cut is a little different …she thinned my hair out. With the heat fast approaching, not a bad thing.

It was not as traumatic as I imagined. I am the type of person that will get a whole thing going in my head just to NEVER have it turn out the way I built it up to be. Relief set in.

Time will tell if Ivy and I are meant to be together, but in the meantime, at least part, of one fear, has been conquered.

Next? And the biggest FEAR…my foil. That one is in five weeks. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TSA ...I kinda like them now...

Domestic Air Travel in Australia

I actually spent more of my time in Melbourne than in Sydney and I must say I LOVED Melbourne! I will write on that soon, but for now, let me describe to you how domestic travel in Australia works.

It Is NOTHING like travel in the US. We checked in online and Corey had our boarding passes as bar codes in his phone. Pretty cool. We got to check in, bag and tag our own luggage with Qantas’ State of the art system. Qantas does not let the normal “cabin bags” on the flight. You must check them. Carry on bags can only be 7 kilos (15 ish pounds) More on this in a minute.

HERE is where things got just a little weird. Dumped the bags and headed to security. The only things that are similar between the US and OZ is well, you do have to pull out your computer and throw your bag on a scanner, but that is about it.

So, you ask. Where do you show your ID…you know PROVE WHO YOU ARE AS COMPARED TO YOUR BOARDING PASS? Yea, they don’t do that here. EVER. Not one person looked at an ID of ours. I guess the Ozzies figure if you got in you must be good. (umm, does anyone else see a problem with that thinking?) I had gotten so used to being practically molested at the US airports, I was wondering what the heck was going on. I have to say, I was not happy. The last time I was this uncomfortable on a flight was leaving New York and the guys in front of us were creepy to the max). To tell you the truth, bring on the groping and scanning. Peace of mind is worth it!

Now it is time to board. Ready? GET ON. Yep, no boarding by rows, you just get on. See above about the limited luggage thing. It really makes the boarding process easy. I was waiting for a debacle, but none occurred. There was no fighting for space. I mean we boarded quick.

US TRAVEL TIP: Truly, it is ONLY polite that if you have two carry on bags you put one up in the bin and one at your feet…don’t be a bin hog.

Safety Talk Time: I admit I only listen with one ear. I know how to fasten a seat belt. But there was this voice on the video that I just recognized. I glanced up to see none other than John Travolta in FULL Captain gear introducing the video. Did you know he has flown for over 40 years? (how old is he???) My faith in Qantas was shaken once again. Maybe he bought his 707 from them?? I dunno, but there he was.

In less than 1 ½ hours, the flight crew serves a full breakfast. Cereal, fresh fruit, juices coffee/tea and biscuits. They have it down to a science (like their baggage handling). OK, some faith was restored. There is nothing prettier than a bowl of Zero PointsPlus apples being served with breakfast.

By the way, The Granny Smith Apples here ROCK.

Welcome to the most Expensive City on the Planet


Well, in MY experience…and in Corey’s and he has LOTS of experience.

Don’t get me wrong. I am super thrilled to be here. But I can’t get past the price of things…clothes, but especially food and, gasp, bottled water. Bottled water is like gold.

I arrived, took a super expensive cab ride to the city…where the cab driver (I later discovered as he peeled away) put the wrong address in his GPS so I was 4 blocks from my hotel. (YES, I asked…he pointed to a building and said it’s right there, across the street…No it was not.)

TRAVEL TIP do some extensive research about how to travel from airport to hotel before you leave home. There is a train station SO close to the hotel (yes, closer than where the cab dropped me) and I would have saved $30

Got to see Corey briefly before he went to work, I unpacked and then explored the city.

This is where I got my first err, taste of the prices. I went down to Darling Harbour to walk around, get my bearings, grab lunch. Passing a huge McDonald’s and three “Hungry Jacks” (they are Burger Kings, even down to the Whoppers), I opted for a “food court” like place where I paid $13.50 for a turkey and cranberry sandwich w/salad! The “salad” was the one piece of lettuce ON the sandwich. The turkey was a slice of something …I don’t know what.

Annoyed, I continued to explore the area. It is BEAUTFUL, full of restaurants that are also very impressed with themselves.

Now, let me say that I am so happy with my new black and pink NB walking shoes. I convinced myself that these shoes would make me look less like a tourist. (EVERYONE knows Americans where white tennis while on vacation). Well, my coolness ended in about 5 seconds when I realized I packed a stupid purse and I needed a “carry” bag. Off to buy a tote. Now, which to choose, the one in bright yellow w/Aboriginal art OR the blue one with Austrailian cities written all over it. I picked the blue one so I could put the “city” side against me an continue to look somewhat stealthy in my “tourism” `

The Quay is a definite “not miss” when in Sydney. On the weekends there are open markets (SCORE!) and this is an area with great bars and quaint, somewhat crazy but not ridiculously priced, restaurants.

Between Darling Harbour and The Quay I managed a TON of steps! That is the best thing about being in a new place…all the exploring!