Glamping?…I think not

Have you ever gone glamping? When you think of glamping in your head, what do you see? I’ll tell you what I see, because when I booked it, I was looking at the company’s Instagram page getting really excited!

 

One of my besties and I booked a few months in advance. We were really quite excited because, well, wouldn’t you be? We would be able to get into the mountains, do some fun hiking… why not? Lovely little girlie weekend away in a super cool tent, and if the weather was going to be warm enough, maybe even a dip in the lake!

So off we go, Friday afternoon. Slightly behind schedule due to the bad traffic headed out of Sydney but ok, we were still going to make it before the 8pm cut-off for check-in.

It’s a pretty long drive on the Western Highway, with quite a few traffic lights too. But no matter, we’re going to do amazing camping! We had a picnic basket, cheese in the eski’s, and 10L of water freshly purchased from Woolie’s.

The instructions on IG, were, in all fairness, very clear. We managed to find the place OK, except… well, it was REALLY dark. There was no light really, and we couldn’t even see the tents! They didn’t even ask us for our name, and just showed us to a tent with a few torches. I had to pull out my iPhone to make sure I didn’t trip or fall.

We get into the tent and….

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THIS is what we were expecting…

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So… not super great. Then we were told, “We weren’t expecting the moon to play hide and seek, so we will have more lights tomorrow.” (UMM EXCUSE ME IT’S A CRESCENT MOON HOW DO YOU NOT CHECK THAT WHEN RUNNING A CAMP?)

Putting disappointment and the chill in the air aside, we quickly change into warmer clothes and head into the tiny town of Lithgow to have dinner at the Blue Fox. We didn’t take pictures of the food (soz) because we were really quite hungry and just really wanted the wine. We eat ourselves into a food coma (it’s good there, btw), and head back to our tent. It is FREEZING. We decide that if it’s too cold after 10 minutes we’ll go steal a blanket (read: doona) from the empty tent next door. 10 minutes and brushing our teeth with our heads sticking out of the tent later, we had to go and get the duvet because I couldn’t even feel my nose! We fall asleep on the really cheap and crappy pillows (read: I had to fold two over to make it feel like some semblance of a pillow) and await tomorrow with excitement. It will be better tomorrow, we told ourselves. 100%, we will make the best of whatever comes our way. We wanted to bond, right?

So the next day we are up EARLY. The birds were chirping the sun was starting to shine. It was still cold AF but the promise of a warm day was there! We get a chance to look around, and we see port-a-loos, port-a-showers, and a marquee with ‘Bavarian-style seating’ (think October fest with plastic chairs). Okay… um… where is that plush seating area? I don’t see it. Oh and the promise ‘fully furnished tents’ was starting to get annoying now.

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4 port-a-loos for 20 tents… that’s 10 people per loo.

We work up the courage to make our breakfast (banana pancakes thank you very much) in the wind, and it was quite unpleasant!! We had to use the covers of the BBQ to protect the gas from the wind in order to actually cook… gahhh!!

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my friend trying to heat up water in the wind… it took like 25 minutes for the water to get warm enough for tea (yes we should have brought a lid I know)

OK, OK, fine. We can deal with this. It’ll be fine. We’ve got a great day planned with a bushwalk, a farm visit, and lunch in a popular cafe in Lithgow. We would go kayaking in the afternoon and to end the perfect day we would have a BBQ with locally bought produce and drink to our heart’s content by our fire in the evening.

So… most of that came true. The bushwalk was good, the farm was cute, and lunch was so good we went to lie by the lake instead of going kayaking while we got over our food coma. But then… the wind really started picking up. Like, REALLY picking up. So much so that when we got back to our tent at like 2.30pm, a few of the spikey things had come out and the marquee had completely blown over. Before 4pm, the 3 staff members walking around taking care of things had made sure the tents were secured and got into their car to leave. We asked about the marquee, they said, “it’s too dangerous to put up now so we’ll do it first thing in the morning, see ya.” Oh… okay…

I went to take a shower at 4pm, right after my friend had gone first. According to her, at least the shower was nice. She felt like a new person. I went and tried 3 of the 4 showers, and there was absolutely no water coming out of any of them. Either she had finished a tank of 5,000L of water, or… I don’t know. Anyway, we emailed them, and they were like ‘but are you sure?’. We kind of gave up, I said I’d shower tomorrow even though I felt gross. It was getting cold again and I was too tired of things going wrong. I was disappointed that this luxury-experience didn’t come with above-and-beyond customer service that you would even find at a hostel. Another point deducted for lack of interest in guest well-being.

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Like the total troopers we are, we started getting ready for our BBQ… except… the wind was going REALLY strong now and they had taken away all the BBQ lids… we had to fashion some kind of shelter for the BBQ or else we would never be able to eat! We pulled some tables out from under the carnage of the marquee and propped them up on fire pits. At least we could eat now. The sun set really quickly and by the time we started eating, other campers had come to try out the BBQ. They all had to use our sheltered BBQ because otherwise it was impossible. We were all grateful the camp wasn’t at full capacity this evening because otherwise there would have been a long-ass queue for the BBQ too (I think, due to the wind, that most people went to the Blue Fox to eat). Can you imagine the camp at full capacity? 3 BBQ’s for 20 tents, that’s … 13.3 people per BBQ. Joy.

Thank god for prosecco. We would not have made it without. The wind kept howling and we built our fire… which went out really quickly due to said wind. We finished off a couple bottles of wine and the rain started falling. That was it, we decided to pack it in. No more use trying to make this a glamping experience when you’re huddled over a fire praying for the embers not to fly into your face.

We packed it all in, and went to hide in our tents. It was probably one of the worst nights of sleep in my life EVER. I was pretty sure we were going to be found in the morning unconscious because the tent pole had fallen down and hit us hard. The flapping was truly, truly unbearable. By about 3am the wind died down enough for us to get a few hours’ sleep… and by the time we got up again, it started picking up.

We decided we would keep trooping! So we made breakfast. But you know what? Breakfast was still so damn windy, we decided to give up. At 9am, the staff finally came rolling into the campsite and started pulling the marquee together, tidying it up (it was SUCH a hazard I can’t even tell you). It felt like they had given up too. Rain started falling again, and that was game over for us. By 10 am, we were packed up and ready to go. One last coffee stop, Spotify on the phone (make sure you download a playlist or two, bad reception in the mountains), and it was time to say goodbye.

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One sheltered breakfast…

Overall, I had a great weekend with my bezzie because we bonded big time. But what we got, facilities-wise, was definitely NOT worth the $150AUD a night we spent. There are cottages in the area that sleep 4 with actual toilet and shower facilities worth the same. Most campsites in Australia will have running water, which we didn’t have. There would have been plenty of other facilities, and the campsite would have been in a sheltered area, not in a bare field that wind just whipped over.

The saddest part is that we emailed them to ask for a partial refund, and also to offer some advice for future weekends (especially with the long weekend coming up), and we haven’t heard back. We emailed Sunday morning before we left Lithgow, and still nothing. Why? There didn’t seem to be an issue in responding when we needed stuff done on site, but now nothing? We tried messaging them on FB, and nothing, either. Very, very sad. We will have to take this up further with some authority or another, because a) it was not as advertised, and b) service was seriously, seriously below par of what was promised. We waited until now to write a review, because wanted a chance to settle things without having to tell the whole world, but alas… is this the only way things can be done today? Airing dirty laundry publicly?

It’s too bad it has ended this way. As a business-owner myself, I know that customers aren’t always right, and things are not always within your control (who can control 70kmp winds?!). But there is such a thing as basic decency and also upholding promises made. Big fluffly cushioned seating areas vs marquees with plastic chairs is a far cry from upholding promises. Leaving said marquee in a state of disarray was extremely dangerous, especially in the crazy winds. We hope to solve this somehow.

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Political Apathy and the Global Citizen?

I love being a Global Citizen. I love travelling, meeting new people, being a bit vague about my story because it is so damn complicated and if I have to tell someone I’m half-Dutch half-Taiwanese and explain my American accent ONE MORE TIME…

 

I believe that through my confrontation with so many cultures over my lifetime that I am quite an empathetic person. It’s easy for me to step into someone else’s shoes, consider their thought processes and thinking. I don’t always agree with their point of view, but I can usually see why they are the way they are. This makes me quite the liberal. I believe in universal health care, voting rights, women’s rights, LGBTQIA rights… you name it. I’m also extra-sensitive when it comes to race, having experienced both positive and negative racism regularly (and still regularly do).¬†

The only thing is … all this country-hopping and trying to understand different political climates has made me a little… numb. Some big things still affect me, yes. Brexit affected me so much I felt I had to leave the UK… But on a larger scale, things just don’t affect me anymore. Sure, I vote through postal votes in the Dutch election and if it works out I go back to Taiwan to vote in the presidential election but when it comes to the country I’m living in and their political issues? I play the foreigner card and shrug my shoulders. I don’t get a vote, I don’t get a say, right?

I don’t want to get overly involved anymore. While I was essentially laying down roots in the UK, I didn’t want to get overly involved in its politics. I feel like that is where I always pointedly felt like an outsider, and that reinforcement was just not a reminder I needed or wanted. That lack of interest found its way into other parts of my political thought and action… when I was in Denmark, my heart broke for the refugees we regularly saw at Copenhagen Central station, but I couldn’t get angry anymore at the Danish government. Whenever videos now show up on my news feed of Taiwanese law-makers throwing shoes and chairs at each other, I just sigh in disappointment like a mother does her 12 year old child. Now, in Australia, I don’t get worked up that the government is fighting so hard¬†against same sex marriage. Like, whatever.

I’ve come to find that it’s much more important to have the people around me walk to the talk and live up to what they preach than trying to change the hearts and minds of others. It’s not my job, because I’m not permanent. It’s actually a bit of a ‘get out of jail free card’ I suppose, but is that so bad? My energy gets thrown into other things, other causes, and other battles. A wise teacher once said, “We all need to choose our causes and our battles. For some it will be the environment, for others human rights, for some even something seemingly small to others…” There are battles all over that need to be fought, and despite my avid interest in it, the battle of political landscapes are not one that I’m going to get myself into.

“One Year Ago Today…”

Where would we be without social media and all of its reminders of how well it knows us? Well, today it’s Twitter reminding me of my life milestones.

Twitter reminded me that I started my Horizons21 account one year ago today. One year ago today, I embarked on a journey that I had no idea where it would take me. So many ups, and yet equally so many downs.¬†Starting your own online company may look and sound easy – and some parts are- but in reality it’s very lonely. Thank god for the Internet. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the support that I have found online. The women and men that are going through exactly the same thing, sometimes slower, sometimes faster, than I am.

Not that my friends aren’t supportive, but a lot of the time, it’s hard to understand, or even explain what I’m going through (and I don’t always do a great job of it either). I don’t like talking about it too much because I don’t want to bore people with it. Often I’m afraid their flattery is a way to get me to stop talking about how great my new website looks or something (there are, of course, exceptions and you know who you are– and with you I’m even harder to shut up).

What have I learned in my year-long journey?

I’ve got a helluva long way to go.

Not just with the products that I’m creating and working on, but also just with myself. Becoming an entrepreneur is the best thing that ever happened to me, because it’s forced me to look inside myself a lot more than anywhere else. A year ago, if I was putting together IKEA furniture and couldn’t figure it out, I would give up with a huff and a puff, call a friend or my dad, and get them to do it. Yesterday, I fidgeted as long as it took to sort out my housemate’s newly purchased bedside table. I mean, it’s not 100% and the back is a bit loose but it’s standing, stable and not going to fall apart anytime soon so score for Arna and happy housemate to boot (yes he knows about the back being weird. Design flaw.)

Learning to keep going despite hardships is something everyone should know how to do, and you know how it’s made easier? With cheerleaders. I never appreciated them as much as I have come to this last year. Without unwavering support, listening ears, and people to hold me accountable, I never would have gotten this far. Everyone needs to have at least 3 cheerleaders in their life. Why 3? Because one and two aren’t enough. That’s why. Find your¬†¬†cheerleaders, and don’t let them go. Find people that will rally you when you need it most and that are willing to kick you in the ass when you need it most, too. Work on those relationships, because they’re the ones that are going to last. Nurture them, take time off with them, and enjoy the little (and big) things in life with them.

 

 

Having a positive attitude is the hardest challenge so far. This past year, I’ve listened to so many self-help videos and audios I feel like I should be starting a course on it. But I’m not practicing what I preach enough AT ALL. Do I believe with all my heart I’m going to make it? Hell yes. But in the day to day slog, it’s hard to remember that bigger picture. It’s hard to remember that the Universe has got my back.¬†Self-doubt, doubt in others, in the bigger picture… they start to creep in and suddenly the Universe is like ‘girlfriend you better keep faith or else things are gonna get messed up again’ and I have to work my positivity ass off to fall back in line. How do I keep in touch with that inner self and inner power? I’ve been on and off, I’ll be honest. A lot of it has to do with journalling, introspection, meditation. Even just affirmations that you read out to yourself 3/4 times a day (yes I’m aware I sound like a hippy but go with it, it keeps me grounded). It’s about making decisions that benefit you and your soul, and putting yourself first. It’s about being brave enough to say ‘no more suffering’, whatever form of suffering is taking.

 

On that note, in the last 3 months I’ve had to cut 2 very important people out of my life and it still physically hurts. I thought these people were in it with me for the long haul. But their negativity was getting in my way, or maybe my negativity towards them and the situations they/we were in was getting in the way…whatever it was, something was wrong. I did one of the cruelest things I have ever done and cut them out. And ever since then, I’ll admit, I’ve not been very friendly with the Universe. I’m kind of pissed off with the Universe for making me lose out on two friendships I really cherished… but at the end of the day, they were my decisions. They were my decisions to keep positive and stay true to my path. It meant focusing on me again. It meant being selfish so that I can keep travelling down the path I want with the right people in my arsenal. God, it kills being selfish, and I was so convinced they were the right people in my life. But being at one with the Universe means making decisions that benefit ME. And if relationships aren’t aligning with that, then you need to get rid! (this is not saying that all relationships can only benefit you. Relationships are mutually beneficial but no one should be brought down for the sake of the other. I felt I was being dragged down and unable to be myself, and I had to put a stop to it. That is the main point of this: don’t let others drag you down and not allow you to be who you want to be).

 

Authenticity is the best way forward. If you do not love what you are doing, if you do not love where you are, then it’s going to show. ¬†Your anxiety shows, it truly does. I’ve gone to job interviews really hating the job… and then I don’t end up getting the job… why do you think that is? It was obvious, despite my Oscar-worthy performance, I was not meant to be there. By being the truest version of yourself, you are going to attract the right people that you want and need with you on the journey. Being honest, clear, and open about your intentions you’ll go a lot further. I’m so lucky, I have met the best people so far on this journey that let me be myself. (Seriously here’s another shout out to all the wonderful people in my life. So grateful for you)

 

Not everything has to be perfect.¬†I think there are currently like 4 spelling mistakes on my home page on my website. The course I’m creating looks a bit rough around the edges. My invoices don’t look super professional (or maybe I’m just too paranoid). But you know what? If you don’t start you won’t finish. I’m just going to keep going. Yes, I’m going to make mistakes along the way but I’m only human. There is only so much I can do with my one brain and one laptop. I don’t have a team, and I certainly don’t have more hours in the day than everyone else. I have to keep remembering, it doesn’t have to be perfect, yet. When I grow big enough, have my own team, etc, I can make sure someone spends time looking over those mistakes and ensure they don’t happen again.

 

So how far have I actually come? I don’t really talk about my business on my personal pages and profiles. Mostly because I don’t really know where to start. It’s easy to tell people I’m a social media manager, but I’m so much more than that! At least, I’m working on becoming so much more than that! Those of you that know me well enough will know I’m always on the look-out for a new project and a new way to work or new people to do new things with. But I’ve been focussing on this one thing for a while now: I’m coming towards the end of creating an online course, and when that launches, I’m throwing a big party (Sydney-siders all welcome. I’m buying the first round of champagne). It’s been 4 months of extreme stress, tbh, because there’s so much to do. I have thought a few times “never again” but you know what the ideas keep coming and I can’t seem to stop. Ask me again before Christmas how far I’ve come, because I’m still not ready to talk about it… Call it fear: fear of judgment, fear of not finishing, whatever… the Universe and I need to talk and be aligned again before I start shouting about this from the rooftop….

 

I was listening to an entrepreneur podcast this morning on my way to my day-job, as I usually do, and one question stuck with me which, among other things, pushed me to write this post… “What is your life mission statement?” ¬†Well, that’s easy. Mine’s always been the same.

I want to make the world a better place. I want less anger, less hatred. More understanding, more compassion. I want to start an inter-generational dialogue that doesn’t seek to alienate. I want more harmony and appreciation for others, I want others to learn to walk a mile in other people’s shoes.

No. Let me rephrase that.

 

I will make the world a better place. I will help create less anger, less hatred. More understanding, more compassion. I will start an inter-generational dialogue that doesn’t alienate. I will create more harmony and appreciation for others, I will help others learn to walk a mile in other people’s shoes.

What the next year holds? God only knows. But I can’t wait for it all to happen. The travel plans, the business plans…the Sydney living, the beach breaks…The potential heart-breaks, the heart healing… all of it.

And I’m going to start making concrete plans, too. Big, scary plans. Eurotrip next Spring/Summer, Taiwan with my soul mates, and lots of little weekend trips in between. ¬†OHH and I’m booking 1 night at the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi for January 2019. I’m putting down a deposit. Because I’ve decided I’m not going to wait anymore. I’ve been biding my time for so long. It was always ‘next year’, or ‘next time’… You could say I’ve been waiting all my life. The Universe knows what’s up, that I need to be held accountable for my dreams and how far I’m going to go in the next couple of years. So let’s party, let’s rock n roll. Bring it all on.