Things that I miss about the motherland.

The past year or so has gone by ridiculously fast. I pinch myself and wonder, how are we in November and are about to plow into December?

Did you know that August was my third Hong Kong anniversary? I can’t believe it myself. Sometimes it feels like we have been here for three months, other days it feels like we have been here for 30 years! What was a one or two year plan, has blossomed into a three, maybe four or five year plan. At this point, I have given up on trusting in any plan.

Living here is a great experience, but the longer I am here, the more I miss home for as the old saying goes “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.

For the most part, I think that this is due to our life circumstances changing this year and I have begun to crave the familiarity of Australia. Time is also a significant factor.

By the Yarra River, Southbank, the City of Melbourne.

So, what are some of the things that I miss about my home country? Very glad you asked!

1. The fresh air.

I must confess, I didn’t appreciate how good the air was until I left Australia. I also did not realise how smoggy and humid it gets in Hong Kong until I lived here for more than two weeks at a time and had to maintain an apartment.

During one of our last trips back, Panda and I wearily walked out of the sliding doors at the Melbourne International Airport upon our arrival. Pushing our luggage onto Australian soil for the first time in a year, we both simultaneously and unconsciously, inhaled the fresh, crisp, morning air with a big, deep breath. It was like our lungs had been liberated and had taken their first real breath in a year.

It was made even better by the intoxicating scent of the native plants nearby, leaving us feeling as refreshed as we could feel after nine hours in the air and zero sleep over night.

Once we realised what we had both done, we roared with laugher, amused by the synchronicity but mostly happy to be home!

The pesky tight chest and cough I had suffered for two months before going back to Australia (the one that Panda was convinced was a terminal illness but the one I was sure was the result of the constant pollution and humidity in H.K.) disappeared instantly, only to reappear when I got back to Hong Kong. Coincidence? I think not!

To be fair, the air in Melbourne isn’t perfect either. We too have peak hour traffic pollution. During summer you can sometimes smell smoke in the atmosphere as it’s bush fire season. During spring (and other random times), pollen can invade the air and while bees love pollen, it can be toxic to people and invoke things like hay-fever allergies and even worse, asthma. But the clear skies and blissful breezes seem to be more the norm than the exception, depending on what season you are in.

At the end of the day, there is nothing like sitting outside in the evening and taking in a deep, refreshing breath to inhale the calm of the evening and exhale the stress of the day.

Just chilling by the water, enjoying the sea breeze- Williamstown, Victoria.

2. The shopping.

When I tell people in Australia that I am visiting from Hong Kong, one thing people often comment on is how lucky I am to live in a place where I can do all this amazing shopping. I struggle to keep a straight face as while yes, there is some great shopping to be done if you know where to go and how to bargain, I find that most practical things of interest to me are either not in Hong Kong or are more expensive, which means I do a lot more shopping in Australia than Hong Kong!

The supermarkets.

I’m embarrassed to admit that the most exciting moment of any visit home is my first trip to my local Coles or Woolies supermarket. Maybe it’s my brain being overstimulated by the bright lights or the annoying upbeat music being played in the store but the exhilaration as I enter is overwhelming. For most part, it’s the plotting of what foods I will splurge on for the next few weeks, before I have to go back to a place where the same items are either unavailable or double the price.

I will try new things, but as a koala of habit and one who has certain dietary issues, my shopping list is quite consistent. Moving to a new place where my eating habits don’t exactly align with the general population took some getting used to.

I am much better now but you can be sure that when I hop onto the plane back to Hong Kong that I will be carrying at least ten kilograms of food.

This might seem odd to some, and as Panda once said to me “you realise there’s food in Hong Kong right?!”

The funny thing about this situation; a few years before I moved to Asia, we had travelled back from Hong Kong after a holiday and I was standing at the luggage carousel at the airport. While waiting for my case, a young man caught my attention as he struggled to pull a large box off the carousel which appeared to be instant noodles. I watched in amusement as I thought to myself “that’s a long way to bring your favourite snack!”

Five years on however, I have become the noodle guy. To my disgust, you cannot get Maggi’s Oriental flavoured Two Minute Noodles in Hong Kong!

Clothing retailers.

I hate clothes shopping. Unfortunately I like wearing clothes so alas clothes shopping one must go. While you could get a cute and inexpensive wardrobe in Hong Kong, this is very much on the condition of what size you are, what you like and what styles suit you.

While Hong Kong is my favourite place to buy shoes, I struggle to fit into the fashion sizes here being the jelly-belly koala that I am. I do fit some clothing at international stores like Marks and Spencer but apart from the expense of shopping there, there are certain essential items that I can never find in my size since Hong Kong stores do not stock the full U.K. range.

To add insult to injury, none of my favourite Aussie clothing retailers ship to Hong kong. Why oh why? I am willing to pay the exorbitant postage fees, please take my money!

These things have changed my mentality in two ways;

I now love shopping for clothes in Australia. It is so exciting to walk into a store and know that they have the styles I like, in my size, all at a reasonable price.

It is so depressing to see the many cute clothing stores in Asia and to not even dare to walk into them as you know that they are not for you. Because of this, coming back to shop at my favourite stores in Australia, I feel “normal” again, not like some odd alien who can look but not touch.

Consequently, despite having less room than ever to store clothes, I now have more than ever as I have become a hoarder of clothes! As I buy my garments in bulk a year at a time, If any thing doesn’t fit any more or gets torn, I am terrified to donate it or throw it out as If I need that size again I may not be able to find it here.

The department stores.

Oh Kmart, Big W and Target, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

I love that I can spend an entire afternoon browsing through these stores on the hunt for clothing, cheap books, craft supplies, well priced homewares and my favourite thing at the moment, Christmas decorations!

One thing’s for sure, I am not the only one who loves these shops; there are Facebook groups devoted to these retailers and fellow department store groupies flood my Facebook feed daily with photos of their bargain buys.

At least twice a day, I find myself in a state of envy because I too want a shiny, gold, decorative pineapple for my living room coffee table and a shaggy, pink blanket to drape glamorously over my bed.

Oh how I dream of the day I can move back to Australia and redecorate my home with such bargain buys!

3. The space.

Wide open spaces- The Twelve Apostles, along the famous Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I can almost smell the sea salt.

In Australia, we have a lot of space. How much space you have ultimately depends on where you live, but if you live in the suburbs like me, you may have some room to move.

Walking down a residential street and being able to see grass, trees and a sky sprinkled with stars in the evening, is so very refreshing. Walking the dog without being run over by hoards of people, even better!

On the days we want to escape the “confines” of suburbia, we hop into our affordable car and hit the wide open roads. Whether it be beach or forrest sceneries that we are craving, there are plenty of options near or far, depending on where we want to go.

Baywalk bollards @ Eastern Beach, Geelong, Victoria.

One sad thing is that every time I go home, I hear locals complain about how crowded the area has become with new housing estates invading the area and all of the lengthy periods of roadworks that go with it. Panda and I have had those discussions ourselves given we have witnessed many changes there over the past decade and the fact that the area feels less recognisable every time we go back. Despite the feeling of having ones territory being encroached upon by residential and business developments, our area will never be anywhere near as crowded as it is where we live on Hong Kong Island. I will just need to remind myself how good we have it when we face these challenges in the future upon our return.

4. My house, a.k.a. our castle.

Most certainly, our favourite space of all in Australia and what I crave the most is my house. We were lucky enough to buy our own home and while technically the bank will own it for at least the next 20 years, it’s still nice to know that as long as we can maintain our mortgage repayments that we have our own “castle” as Panda likes to call it.

At the moment we are renters in Hong Kong, not being able to afford to buy into the super expensive housing market. We have been lucky to get good landlords, especially important since in Hong Kong we deal exclusively with the landlord once the real estate agent has helped us to sign all the contracts.

While our house in Melbourne is not any thing exceptional by Oz standards, by Hong Kong standards it’s a mansion! And despite the drastic differences in the size of the properties, we are paying three times the money for our small apartment in Hong Kong than what we charge to rent out our house in Australia.

Speaking of houses, living in a home that is a seperate dwelling from ones neighbours is something I miss dearly.

In Melbourne, I would open my front door and the scent of flowers would waft through. This is compared to the strong smell of incense that overwhelms my small and badly ventilated flat twice a day from neighbouring properties.

Panda misses our living room that comfortably housed his big television and the comfiest sofa ever, a blue recliner named Sheridan. (Yes, our couch has a name!)

I miss my kitchen which has plenty of bench and storage space and the best thing of all, a full sized gas oven. I had to say goodbye to my baking habit when we moved here as not one of the three apartments we have lived in has had an oven, though maybe that is a good thing since all the people I used to bake for are now 7,427 kilometers away!

Probably what I miss most however is our backyard where we would regularly barbecue and eat during the warmer months. Also a nice place for a cup of coffee in the morning, I could get my daily dose of vitamin d without having to leave my property, a brilliant solution for a lazy and antisocial koala like me!

5. The volume.

I feel like whenever we are in Hong Kong that the volume is turned all the way up and once we go back home, it is turned back down again!

The noise levels are so definitively different that whenever we go back to Oz, the first night back I cannot sleep, because to quote Bjork, “it’s oh so quiet, It’s oh so still”.

A part from a few dogs barking, a random cat fight at 3:00 AM and the enchanting choir of crickets that call our yard home, the night air is still and at times eerily quiet compared to the constant buzz of the Hong Kong streets that surrounds our little nest.

There are of course tranquil areas in Hong Kong but I have yet to have the pleasure of living in one of those.

I have to say with the exception of inconsiderate drivers who blast their horns in residential areas at 3:00 A.M, I have adapted to the noise levels in Hong Kong somewhat. Despite this, it is only when we return to my natural habitat that my brain feels like it can relax again as I can hear my own thoughts when they are not fighting the constant sounds of people and traffic.

6. The food.

A Pizza Land Combo from Pizza Land in Geelong. (Yes that is corn on the pizza & no, most places don’t put corn on their pizzas- but they should! )

I feel pretty fortunate growing up in Melbourne. It is a multicultural city and consequently this gives the city a diverse range of foods available.

Growing up, I acquired a taste for English, Australian, Chinese (Cantonese & Shanghainese), Indian, Japanese, American, Mexican, Greek, Vietnamese, Turkish, Thai and Italian cuisines, and ate a diverse range of foods and flavours regularly.

By far my favourite time to go out to eat however is for brunch because ultimately I like to sleep in and I will find any excuse for a coffee.

Melbourne has a fantastic cafe culture so the general standard of coffee is pretty good which is a blessing while I am home, but a curse while I am away as it has given me a very high benchmark!

And while people in Australia debate over the prices of my favourite brunch order, the smashed avocado (basically mooshed up avocado on toast or if it’s a fancy place, turkish bread or foccacia), knowing that it is at least half the price of what you could find in Hong Kong (if you could actually find one) is a great incentive to eat my weight in avos!

To be fair, there some great cafes in Hong Kong, but I am still waiting for the day when I can order an iced coffee that is served with good quality coffee beans, ice cubes, a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream, lashings of whipped cream and to top it all off, a couple of coffee beans sprinkled on top for presentation .

Maybe it’s time to start my own Australian styled cafe in Hong Kong? I like to eat and I am Australian, surely this gives me the “koala-fications!”

*inserts eye roll!*

The first thing Panda ate on his last trip back- a Big Breakfast, for a big panda!

7. Last but not least- the people!

I have met some pretty awesome folks in Hong Kong and have gotten to know other friends better since I have moved here.

Despite this, I have come to realise that you can meet the most wonderful people but still miss individuals at home. People simply cannot be replaced. Out of sight, out of mind doesn’t really work for me. This has been particularly evident in the last year or so but is more noticeable at different times of the year.

We have had five Christmases in Hong Kong and for me, each Christmas feels worse than the last. I used to think it was the Christmas traditions I missed and for some part it is, but it dawned on me one day that if you don’t have certain people to celebrate with, it’s just not the same any way. I mean, while I may get an hour of excitement over finding my favourite Paul’s Christmas custard and egg nog at the international supermarket, it’s a bit lonely if you are slurping it up on your own!

While we thankfully live in a connected era where we have video chat and instant messaging, it can never replace the joy of sitting in someones kitchen having a cup of tea and a biscuit together. It’s funny how such simple moments can be missed when you can’t experience them any more.

No doubt in a couple of years time if we return, I will be missing my Hong Kong crew as much as my Australian friends and I will be lamenting the lack of their presence.

Expat problems!

What do you miss about your home when you are away?

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Five great things about living in Hong Kong.

I have been here for about two and a half years now. During this time, I have been through phases of mental fatigue related to living in a foreign country, feelings of isolation and bouts of homesickness. But the good news is that it is not all bad. One phrase that has snuck into my vocabulary is “We wouldn’t be doing this if we were in Melbourne!” to which Panda’s response is always to roll his eyes, given that he has often been the more homesick of the two of us.

I know every time we go back to Australia that there are certain things we wish we could bring back (Fresh Air? A Woolworths store? My doctor and dentist?!) but there are other things that we have grown accustomed to in Hong Kong .

It’s more complex then a shortlist, but if I had to narrow it down to my five favourite things;

1.Public Transport (P.T) :

Living on Hong Kong Island we are spoiled for Public Transport. We have trams, buses, mini buses, taxis, trams and ferries. P.T. is excellent value for money, services are regular and best of all, they’re clean and well maintained, as are the stations.

The Octopus Card is used for ticketing and can be used on all forms of transport, except cabs. It can be easily topped up at the Mass Transit Railway stations (or as we call it here, M.T.R. stations) or at one of the many gazillion 7/11 stores around.

The last time I used P.T. in Melbourne, I ended up missing a train despite being at the (unattended) station 20 minutes early. There was an issue with my Myki card and I wasn’t willing to travel without a ticket. As there was no one at the station to talk to and I couldn’t resolve the issue in time, I ended up missing the train and then had to wait at the isolated station for another 25 minutes. The words “This would never have happened in Hong Kong!”  spewed forth from my mouth as I saw the train departing without me, making me appreciate Hong Kong public transport even more.

2.The beautiful sceneries:

On my first trip to Hong Kong, I had no idea how many beautiful sceneries Hong Kong hosts. My impression was that it was all city sky scrapers which is far from the truth.

It was while we were waiting at the A12 bus stop outside of the Hong Kong International Airport that I turned to Panda and asked “Hong Kong has trees and mountains?!” He looked amused as he explained that yes, Hong Kong has many trees and mountains.

Australia has many natural wonders also,  but I like that in Hong Kong there are water, mountain and city landscapes all in very close proximity. I look out my window and I see boats cruising along the harbour, I see the mountains on Kowloon side staring back at me and the iconic bright city lights and neon signs. Our nightly walks are by the water  while weekend strolls are through the hills of Hong Kong. How can you get bored with that?

  1. Public Facilities;

While some people might like to talk about the great night life scene in Hong Kong, I am a quiet koala who likes to spend her time at libraries and strolling the local parks.

Libraries:

The day I first felt like a resident was not the day I arrived or got my visa; the day I felt like a real resident was the day I got my library card.

There a many small libraries here but the jewel in the crown is the Central Library in Causeway Bay. 12 floors, most of which are available to the public, jam packed with all sorts of learning resources in both Chinese and English. It is every book worm’s dream.

Parks:

Parks are like little oasis’s in the city that break up the concrete jungle.  They are clean and well cared for. My favourite park, Hong Kong Park in Admiralty, even has fish and mini tortoises making the park their home!

Parks are a hive of activity. For some, it’s a  place to practice tai chi and exercise, a place to read or socialize with friends and for kids, a space to shed some energy after school.

Bigger parks like Victoria Park hosts many activities during the year such as Lantern Carnivals or flower markets, making them important places in the festive calendar for the community. I am sure many memories have been made in local parks during Hong Kong’s history.

(Victoria Park – top, Quarry Bay promonade – bottom)

  1. Festivities:

We have so many festivals throughout the year in Hong Kong. While I don’t even understand the significance of them all, it does give the place a celebratory tone throughout the year.

Just some to note;

January 1st- “Western New Year” : Usually there is a countdown and fireworks display over the harbour and if the weather cooperates, it’s dazzling.

Chinese New Year: This is the “real” New Year in Hong Kong. Once Christmas has passed, the city seamlessly transforms from Christmas lights, to glittery gold and red decorations. Animals start to appear everywhere; this year there were dogs for the year of the dog.

Street corners are adorned with brightly coloured fruits, and flower markets blanket local parks during this time as well.

C.N.Y is an interesting time to be in Hong Kong. Even if you don’t follow the tradition, it is hard not to feel the joy, it’s infectious!

Mid-Autumn Festival: if coming in to Autumn is not exciting enough (I hate summer more than I can express!), we get to celebrate this special time of year with free lantern carnivals and eating moon cakes. If you are brave, you can wear a flashing fluorescent Minnie Bow on your head because you are in Hong Kong and Hong Kong does not bat an eye lid at an adult wearing such head-wear. I can tell you this from personal experience!

Christmas: Yes, Hong Kong does Christmas too and because no one can out decorate Hong Kong, the Christmas displays are amazing.

These are just the annual events. Throughout the year there are always other activities so it’s easy to find something to do, and because every where is so accessible, it’s easy to get there.

5.The convenience:

One notable thing about living in Hong Kong is the overall convenience.

Shopping centres and supermarkets are not in short supply on Hong Kong Island. In fact, I have a supermarket under my apartment building so I don’t even need to leave the building to do grocery shopping. Perfect for those crazy rainy days we get during the wet season.

There are many restaurants in residential areas making it easy to grab a quick meal on the go or if you are lazy like me, just Deliveroo it!

Part of Hong Kong’s convenience is due to its small size. After living in such a spread out place as Australia, it definitely alters your view on what is “too far away!”. A one hour drive to work feels pretty standard in Melbourne, but one hour commute to work in Hong Kong- now that is way too far!

Of course all this convenience is good but can it be too good? Definitely! You can get so used to it that you become a tad lazy because everything is so close and accessible. When things are run so frequently and efficiently you can begin to feel impatient when things don’t run the same way when you go back home. Funnily enough, it’s during these times when we go back to Melbourne that Panda and I will end up saying to one another ” we wouldn’t be waiting this long in Hong Kong!”

Have you been to Hong Kong? What are some things you enjoyed about the “fragrant harbour?”

Moving day.

Face Book regularly reminds me of milestones during the journey that is my life. Some leave me thinking “what was I thinking?”, others, “wow, I forgot about that!”

This week, there were recollections of a significant day; the day I left Melbourne as a resident of Australia, to become the expat koala girl that I am today in Hong Kong.

This is a modified version of something I wrote three months after my arrival. It is hard to believe time has gone by this fast but here we are.

Join with me, as I remember.

I didn’t sleep the night before. That was to be expected. What I didn’t expect was that I wouldn’t even go to bed. I am sure my neighbours appreciated hearing the vacuum cleaner at 3:00 a.m., and me then dragging boxes into the garage at 4:00 a.m. all while the rest of neighbourhood was eerily quiet.

My suits cases had been ‘packed’ for a week, but the contents had been constantly repacked, as I washed and sorted my belongings. The most time-consuming chore was deciding what I was leaving behind, a torturous task for an indecisive koala.

By 4:00 a.m., I had lost my sanity. Maybe I had packed it in a box somewhere? It was to be the last hours I would spend with my pets, but instead of snuggling up with them, I was pacing the house like a mad bear. My dog, who is a sensitive soul, put herself in the dog house outside, away from the havoc being created by the crazy lady.

Before I knew it, it was 6:00 a.m.. All morning I had been wishing that time would slow down, but it didn’t, it just seemed to slip away faster than the previous hour. By now there was no feeling of excitement, just exhaustion and a deep sense of dread for the inevitable knock on the door.

Believe it or not, moving overseas had been a dream of mine since I was a teenager. (Think of Kelly Clarkson’s song “Breakaway” and you may get the picture)  As a lesson in not tempting fate however, I had said to Panda in late 2014, that I was taking the goal to relocate off the table for the next year, so that I could focus on other important and timely priorities. Of course, less than a month later, stuff happened, and the consequences of those events changed the course of our future in ways that we hadn’t even realised at the time. Before we knew it, we had committed to moving to Hong Kong.

We packed up our house in less than four weeks and moved in with the panda mummy for the interim. I was due to fly over but had to cancel my relocation last minute as I had unexpected family business to attend to. By time I finally arrived in Hong Kong, Panda had already been there for six months. This was coming after a horror Christmas period, which then followed us into the new year and beyond. I could safely say that we needed a holiday from everything and everyone, not an international move, but alas, such is life!

Just before 6:30 a.m. I got a text from the taxi company advising me that the driver was on his way and minutes later I could hear the big, Yellow, Ford sitting in the drive way.

I guiltily hugged the dogs for the last time as they sadly watched me struggle down the hall with two heavy suit cases, a back pack and a lap top case, on my own. They had seen Panda’s suit cases months earlier. The dogs knew what a suitcase meant and they didn’t like it.

As we drove down the freeway in the dark, the driver politely asked me about my trip. I told him I was relocating overseas. He shared with me that he had moved to Australia from India a year ago. He said he loved Australia but he was the only person in his family living there, so he was lonely. He was excited about visiting India in the next few months to reconnect with his loved ones.

As I sat there, I realised that the world is full of expats and migrants. I may call Australia home, but to someone else, it is a foreign land, away from the comfort of familiarity, family and friends. I figured, if this kind, young man from India could survive a year here, then I was going to be fine as I at least had friends and family in Hong Kong and I had come this far already.

We eventually arrived at the International Departures Terminal and the driver helped me to unpacked the car. I paid the $110 AUD taxi charge, and loaded my bags onto a luggage trolley. My biggest anxiety was being late for my flight so I promptly shuffled into the departures hall in search of the airline.

The good news was I had arrived early, a rare occurrence, a miracle! The bad news, the person who checked me in was incredibly rude and condescending, lacking any empathy. Maybe she was at the start of her shift and didn’t want to be there? Maybe she was at the end of the shift and was tired?! Maybe she needed a Snickers Bar? I don’t know! I couldn’t bothered making a complaint, so I will complain about it on the internet like everyone else, Ha! It turned out that my whole moving experience was disjointed and stressful, even down to the check-in.

When I finally escaped the check in counter, I made my way down towards Cafe Vue for breakfast. I savoured my last Melbourne coffee. I even indulged in a chocolate crackle as I knew that I would not find one in Hong Kong. Besides, it’s a known fact that calories don’t count when you are travelling, though I may have made that up to justify the  chocolately goodness!

As I sipped my cappuccino, I watched random planes and people and frantically tried to message and call as many people as I could before I boarded; the next time I would turn on my phone, it would be a long distance phone call.

As I walked down the air bridge onto the aircraft, I said my silent good-bye to Melbourne as I sombrely prepared to leave Aussie soil with the heaviest of hearts.

On the surface, the flight was uneventful. The staff on board were much friendlier than the woman who checked me in. I amused myself by eating and watching movies for ten hours. The plane made it safely from point A to point B most significantly, and as the flight wasn’t full, we had space to stretch out, so it was actually a good flight, thank GOD!

Stepping off the plane into Hong Kong, it was the first time that I wasn’t there as a holiday maker, with a head full of exciting holiday plans. This time it was me arriving as an expat, clueless about what I was doing, and pondering the foundations I now needed to establish and how I would do that in a way that suited me.

My work was (and still is) cut out for me, but after months of uncertainly it was good to finally arrive.

 

Hello Blogosphere!

12019980_1015652668487175_959969694075072424_n(1)About two years ago, I was on the verge of making my first move overseas from Melbourne, Australia to Hong Kong.

Amid the million thoughts I had during this time, there was a very persistent one – should I write a blog about my experiences in Hong Kong?

Eventually these thoughts were drowned out by the stress of moving and questions as to why I would write a blog. After all, who would read it? I’m not a writer, do I have any thoughts worth sharing? What if people don’t like what I write? Will it become a self-indulgent, glorified diary?

This train of thought continued, and I teased myself with hypothetical questions like, what would I name a blog? After thinking of some rather forgettable names, A Koala Girl In A Panda World came into being and once the name was created, there was no turning back.

As I am a bit of a cautious koala, I decided to start a Facebook page as a bit of a tester,  which to my shock, I still maintain two years later. Alright, a bit of a glorified diary,  but still,  I have interacted with some really interesting people who I would not have otherwise and I figure, if one person finds the page of interest or is inspired to visit the Fragrant Harbour, then that is all right with me!

Of course, after two years, that voice in my head still asks, nags and questions, “Should you be writing a blog?!”

I think we by now know the answer to this question…So here I am, giving in to the voice in my head that tells me to write. A.K.G.I.A.P.W will continue on Face Book because realistically I still need to feed my social media addiction, but I will be challenging myself to write a little  more and I feel this is a good platform for this, so hello Blog Universe. Please be kind.

sincerely,

Koala Girl,

from a panda world.