Monkey See-Monkey Do!

Monkey2016 Happy Chinese New Year…a couple days late, I know. That sneaky monkey! I’ve been so busy that I barely noticed the changeover, although I did pack away all the Sheep paraphernalia decorating the house.

So, what is this new Year of the Monkey going to bring, you may be wondering. Hang on to your hats, folks, because 2016 promises to be quite a bumpy ride! The monkey represents one of the most unlucky years in the Chinese calendar.

First, let’s look at the monkey’s characteristics:

  • intelligent
  • witty
  • inventive
  • playful
  • curious
  • creative

Those are the positive traits. The negatives include:

  • opportunistic
  • tricky
  • untrustworthy

What does all this mean for you? Well, the positive and negative qualities that characterize the monkey make for a year in which anything can happen. Forget planning, because everything is going to be in flux! However, the monkey’s resourcefulness translates into the ability to find unconventional solutions to problems. Things may be happening fast, but with a combination of humor, communication and wit you will make it through.

2016 will see a general undercurrent of insecurity in spite of an upturn in finances, politics and real estate. But don’t fear – the monkey is conducive to risk-taking. You must be both creative and inventive. It’s a good year to break free of old restraints and take a chance on something you have been dreaming about! The monkey’s energy supports change. But take care and educate yourself. Take a class or join a group that shares your interests.

In this new Year of the Monkey, it’s going to be every man for himself. Be shrewd and make any big decisions with your head and not your heart!

The Week That Was in Asia Photo Gallery

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)


Categories: Feng Shui, Fun Stuff, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Australia is My “Happy Place”


The Thorn Birds The last time I was in Australia was in 1988, just after college, when I backpacked dragged a suitcase around the country for 6 months. I was not a backpacker. I needed my blow dryer and curling iron, hair products, and more than one pair of shoes.

Lured by the rugged landscape and romance portrayed in the movie The Thorn Birds, I spent a couple of weeks in Sydney before traveling up the coast to see Brisbane, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. I went all the way up to the rain forests of Cape Tribulation. Then I took a bus across the vast desert to Mount Isa, a dusty little town near Ayers Rock, where I worked in a youth hostel for a few weeks waiting on the big rodeo to come to town.  After that, I went to Darwin, and then hitchhiked down the west coast to Perth.  It was an amazing experience. When I returned to Sydney, I got a job in a bar in King’s Cross, planning to stay forever. When my visa expired, and I wasn’t able to renew it, I was devastated. I didn’t want to leave.

This time was no different, except I wasn’t by myself. And I didn’t end up working in a bar.

Australia is officially my “Happy Place.”

It’s the only country (so far) that ticks all the boxes on my “must have” list:

  • temperate climate
  • beaches and mountains
  • big cities for entertainment/airport access
  • great food
  • lots of outdoor activities
  • lots of places to see and things to do
  • nice people
  • low crime
  • affordable

G and I flew over to Australia a couple months ago, to help his brother celebrate his 75th birthday. His brother lives just south of Brisbane, in Sanctuary Cove, a beautiful, master-planned community near the Gold Coast. It’s a resort, but with full-time residents, and everything they need is a golf cart ride away. Somehow, it felt like stepping back in time. It reminded me of what it was like growing up in Saudi Arabia, in a community that cared and looked out for its members. People in Sanctuary Cove love to socialize, and dinner parties are occasions to dress up and actually interact with each other. You don’t see everyone checking their cell phones every five minutes. Friends go on trips together. Women play bridge and tennis and have weekly coffee dates. The guys fish and golf and go to Happy Hour together. No one cares what anyone else does (or did, if they’re retired) for a living. It’s very social, and everyone is accepted for who they are, as part of the community. Even the kangaroos.


Kangaroos on the golf course!

What struck me the most was how fast we were accepted into the fold. We felt so welcomed and included in the various activities – dinner parties and birthday lunches and golf games. It takes years to achieve that kind of acceptance in the States, if you haven’t grown up in a particular place. G and I both grew up in expat communities, so we have always felt pretty much like outsiders wherever we have lived. But Sanctuary Cove immediately felt like “home.”  We absolutely fell in love with it. Now we’re trying to figure out how and when we can return full time.

The only down side to living Down Under, as far as I can see is, is that it is so far away from the U.S. and Europe. With all our kids located on this side of the world, it doesn’t make sense for us to move any time soon. We would be spending our lives (and money) just traveling to see everyone (all eight of them)!! But I know that some day, I will be living in my “Happy Place.”

Here are some of the highlights of our recent trip…



Sanctuary Cove:

Sanctuary Cove

Sanctuary Cove

A pool that looks like a beach!


Downtown Brisbane

The waterfront area had so many cool buildings and restaurants.

SouthBeach, Brisbane

South Bank was such a great area, with a huge public pool and playground, and lots of pubs and eateries.

Brisbane - Old vs New

I love the juxtaposition of old and new.


Double Bay

We stayed in Double Bay, or “Double Pay” as it is also known, and took the ferry to the harbor.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

The French flag was being flown on the bridge due to the terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris.


Oysters at The Rocks



The Rocks

Sydney Opera House

Of course I had to have a picture of the Opera House

The Rocks

This building is right behind the train station.

Icebergs Pool, Bondi

Swimming in seawater at Icebergs, Bondi

Cool rock formations on the Coastal Walk, Bondi

Cool rock formations on the Coastal Walk, Bondi (I was able to do some research for my current novel!)


Manly Beach


See you soon, Australia….

Water Dragon

Water Dragon

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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