12 cities, 7 countries, too many meal replacement shakes

aka a very belated life lately update. Hi, remember me? I used to write some stuff here sometimes. Then I stopped. The reasons were manyfold, but largely revolved around entering a fairly intense phase of travel which has now lessened, although not exactly abated… Since I went to some pretty cool places, I thought I’d update you on where on earth I’ve been jollying off to.

Edit – I just started writing a 70000 word essay but that way madness lies, so this will now be a pure overview post. Anything more substantial I have to say about each trip, plus photos, will be in posts to come. And now I’m committed to writing more posts. Maybe that will work?

Stockholm ¦¦ Sweden

Why?

I headed to Stockholm way back at the end of January (yes, it has been that long since I’ve properly posted here) for some training on Basic Accounting and Finance.

Gamla Stan, Stockholm under fresh snow. Doesn’t that just sound like a dream??

Highs

  • I got to attend a very intense but super interesting training course on the other side of the world with nothing but encouragement from my leadership and team. Trust me, I don’t take that for granted.
  • Crunching around in the freshly fallen snow on my last afternoon in the city – I had one full hour of free time before sunset and I made oh so full use of it. Stockholm really is beautiful, isn’t it?

Lows

  • It was a brisk -7C when I stepped out of the plane and didn’t warm up the whole time I was there. My borrowed coat was a lifesaver (thanks Eliza!) seeing as I’d left all my winter clothes back in the UK.

London ¦¦ UK

Why?

It would have been remiss of me to go so near to the UK and not stop in to say hello, so that’s what I did on my way back from training in Stockholm. I didn’t really tell anyone I was coming because my training got confirmed very last minute, which had its up and down sides…

<3 Grannie

Highs

  • Spending time with my Mum, one of my sisters and her boyfriend, and my Grannie and step-Grandad
  • Enjoying a whole day of bestie therapy
  • Surprising another bestie by turning up at her house without telling her I was coming, and her surprising me right back with some news
  • These people make me so happy, man.
  • Other things that made me happy: playing my cello, playing my Dad’s piano (badly, sorry Daddy) and sitting in front of an open fire

Lows

  • Seeing my step-Grandad for what he and I both knew would be the last time. He dealt with his failing health with incredible dignity and my Grannie was so brave, too. But it was sad. I was sad. I was so sad.

Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto ¦¦ Japan

Why?

I was told when I started this job that the best thing to do was block as much training together as possible, and to do it between projects. That way it’s minimally disruptive to your work, plus you can actually concentrate on your training and not be still trying to work at the same time. So a few weeks after Sweden, and the week after I finished my first ever project with my new company, I embarked on a month of assorted non-project activities.

The first being a training course on how to be a woman in our company – I was deeply sceptical but it actually turned out pretty well in the end.

A couple of colleagues and I took the opportunity to fly out a few days early and stay a few days late so we could explore Osaka and Kyoto, as well as Kobe (the location of our brand new training centre).

Tourist torii!

Highs

  • Climbing the sacred Mount Inari with its striking (and dare I say over-grammed) torii gates
  • Bonding with colleagues over a shared love of Japanese skincare (but studiously avoiding anything mentioning the word ‘placenta’)
  • Participating in an all-female training course. Women ladies!!
  • Hearing from senior women from across Asia, and feeling like maybe I can maybe do this thing?

Lows

  • Having really very little to eat for the entire week I was away. I took a suitcase full of snacks and survived on that, meal replacement shakes, packet food provided by the training, McDonalds fries, and lots and lots of fruit. If it weren’t for that, I’m pretty sure I’d have returned with scurvy
  • Being extensively questioned, then laughed at in a McDonalds in Osaka for asking for a burger without the bun. Haha silly westerner, of course we don’t do that??? (except they did in the branch down the road but you know what I’m done trying to explain and I’m done trying to find any gluten free protein in this completely unfriendly place)
  • Can you tell I ended that trip thoroughly, utterly and persistently hangry?

Kuala Lumpur ¦¦ Malaysia

Why?

The big team I’m a part of at work spans Asia and has an all-hands get together once every 18 months or so. I had no idea what to expect but after the first day started with light-up dancers and heavy techno I genuinely questioned whether I’d accidentally gone to the wrong function rooms.

I then stayed for an extra day and a half before flying home, because why not?

Sad lego person hair. Why yes, it is slightly orange with, oh, is that an undertone of green??!

Highs

  • Geeking out with my fellow supply chain nerds
  • Getting a glimpse of tropical Malaysia

Lows

  • Getting a terrible no good very bad haircut on a whim. I really need to stop doing that. See above for me with sad Lego person hair before I spent all the money I saved in the first place trying to get it fixed.
    Yes, I’m still mad about it.
  • Being asked to name a K-pop band in a K-pop-themed-store to get a discount, and instead of naming the one K-pop band I know (BTS) I named a serial killer instead (BTK) #murderino
  • Struggling to find anything to eat… again. KL was slightly better than Japan, but I still got a nonchalant shrug when I asked the buffet staff what I could have that was gluten free.

    By this point I was beginning to get a bit fed up with being sent places for work that couldn’t, or wouldn’t, feed me safely. I was set to make a scene, then food was found… then I got sick.
  • So I had another meal replacement shake. And was so, so very over the whole notion of trying to travel in Asia as a coeliac.

Port Douglas ¦¦ Australia

Why?

Every two years, the Australia office has a retreat where we all go away for a couple of days and do some learning, do some activities, and have a bit of a knees up.

A glimpse of the beautiful resort in the 10 minutes of sun we had throughout the duration of the trip

Highs

  • Spending time with my truly excellent colleagues
  • Enjoying the facilities at the very nice resort in Port Douglas that we stayed in

Lows

  • It rained the. entire. time. Which did prevent us from enjoying a lot that was on offer – but you know what, the pub was probably more fun anyway

Perth ¦¦ Australia

Why?

After that month of fun was over, it was back to reality. A new project for me; based out of Perth. I spent two weeks there in total, one at the beginning of the project and one at the end.

Perth sunrise – when the view from your hotel room is this good, it makes early mornings (slightly) more bearable

Highs

  • Loving being back in Perth. I really like Perth. It’s a bright sunny place, and the centre is kind of pocket sized which is ideal for business trips
  • Meeting up with some excellent people – Lauren, and heard her exciting news!, and some long-lost relations who turned out to be the most lovely people. I’ll definitely be seeing them the next time I’m back
  • Enjoying the hotel breakfast. Sorry, I can’t not rave about it. Did you see my instastories? If not, I just have one thing to tell you. Gluten free chocolate cake for breakfast. It made the horrors of finding food on my Asian travels fade into a dim memory

Lows

  • Realising the project had a slightly funky setup and although I had originally signed on for 8 weeks, it quickly became apparent in the first week that it would be much, much shorter than that

Melbourne ¦¦ Australia

Why?

Same project as above. The middle two weeks were spent in Melbourne, because of planned workshops that ended up not happening and clients that ended up being too busy to see us

Fun fact: I firmly believe this hotel room was haunted. More on that another day I guess?

Highs

  • Discovering an excellent chocolate shop on the ground floor of our Melbourne office
  • Also discovering the gym in my hotel (and actually enjoying going to it)… these two facts may or may not be related
  • Catching up with an ex-colleague-slash-mentor who is such a positive guy and who was so happy to hear about how everything is going for me

Lows

  • Getting a bit frustrated by the fact our project wasn’t exactly running smoothly
  • Realising I still don’t really ‘get’ Melbourne. I’m sorry, I know everyone loves it and I’m sure it’s not Melbourne it’s me, but I am not there yet and I don’t know how to get there
  • That’s probably apparent from the fact that the only pictures I took on that trip were of my haunted hotel room (taken in the dark, because it was always dark when I was there) and the chocolate bar that I triumphantly found in my minibar one night

Singapore ¦¦ Singapore

Why?

A holiday! S was adamant we needed to spend some time together after all my travels so after I came back from my final week in Perth, we headed off on holiday to actually see each other’s faces. Actually, we met in Singapore as S was coming from the UK where he had been for a couple of weeks after his Grandad passed away.

The house my great-grandparents lived in

Highs

  • Spending proper time with S for the first time in I don’t know how long
  • Visiting the church where my great-grandparents got married, a plaque honouring my great-grandpa in St Andrew’s Cathedral, the old courthouses where he worked as a judge, and the house where they lived and where my granny grew up. I love family history and they had such fascinating lives!
  • Celebrating our second expativersary with the now traditional gluten free afternoon tea. I made a huge effort to polish off the entire stand they brought me, which nearly floored me (despite the fact I hadn’t eaten all day). At which point they brought out another full one??

Lows

  • Oh, you guessed it, I could barely find anything to eat. That which I could, was ridiculously expensive. Cue very grumpy Rachel.

Langkawi ¦¦ Malaysia

Why?

From Singapore we flew to Langkawi for the second part of our holiday, which I impulse bought from Living Social. What about that could possibly be a bad idea?!

Spoiler alert: actually nothing. I’m just as surprised as you, trust me.

Spectacular views from the cable car landing – and this was only halfway up!

Highs

  • Everything.

Lows

  • Having to come home.

Atlanta ¦¦ USA

Why?

You guessed it, training. This one in operations e.g. manufacturing and warehousing. I wrote most of this post from a hotel room near Atlanta, where I chose to extend my stay. I mostly spent it enjoying a heatwave, watching an unreasonable amount of HGTV, and purchasing a 5 year supply of extra-strength melatonin.

In PPE in a model warehouse and loving life.

Highs

  • More supply chain geekery with other supply chain nerds and meeting some of our internal experts, most of whom turned out to be refreshingly honest British people
  • Playing with a model warehouse! Such fun
  • Enjoying balmy 34C weather the entire duration of my stay
  • Trader Joe’s. Need I say more?
  • Plenty of time to enjoy perusing the outlets at my leisure

Lows

  • Being accosted by multiple randoms in downtown Atlanta
  • Being simultaneously disappointed by the selection at the outlets and also spending far more than I planned to. On about 3 things. None of which are designer. Waiting until all your bras have disintegrated and buying all new ones is expensive, I guess?

In summary: I still love travel, but I miss my husband; I qualified for Qantas Platinum status in 4 months; this job is astounding in the best and worst ways possible; and I am dreading my next trip to Asia because I have had enough meal replacement shakes to last me a lifetime and beyond.

Meal replacement shake hack: when the drinking water is dubious, use the free bottle of water in your hotel room as a makeshift shaker. You are welcome and I pray you never need this terrible hack.

Oh and next week I’m off to Perth for the next 8 weeks. Catch ya’s!

-Rachel

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