vendredi 27 janvier 2012

Animal sightings

Happy belated Australia Day everyone! My very first Australia Day was wonderful, Young, the kids, Nathan and I did some very Aussie activities. Including some offroading, picnicking, and swimming at a beautiful secluded beach. Despite the large bugs we all had an awesome time to celebrate the holiday.


Speaking of large bugs, the animals here are definitely something......mostly strange, some cute some scary. Last week I saw my first what I though to be a massive spider. Ai-Vy found it crawling up the wall and had quite the scare, she seems to have a good eye for scary animals in the house. A few days ago she found a little gecko crawling on the ceiling of my room. Although he was actually kinda cute, and I decided to keep him around for a bit cause geckos eat spiders and such.


The First week I was here Young took me to an amusement park, which was great fun. I was able to see many Aussie animals as well! I really enjoyed petting the kangaroos once I warmed up to the idea, and the koalas are so cute. I was really lucky to get such a great picture of one!



I don't see many koalas or kangaroos around town, but there is always a new animal to discover. One morning Young and I went to get ice cream because it was rather hot, and a very large lizard ran under my chair.......it was surprising, but pretty neat.


mercredi 18 janvier 2012

A little bit about me (not Meagan, me) :)

My turn... Meagan chose 4 photos from my Facebook and I'll tell you the story behind each of them.



The first picture was taken recently, just before Christmas. We went to O'Reilly, quite a popular national park located in the south of Brisbane (a bit further down the Gold Coast), famous for its birds (loriquets) that you can get very close to and feed.
We went there with Thu-Trang (who we call TT) and Dirk, a couple of Vietnamese/Australian friends.

This was quite amazing to be able to get that close to these "birdies". Kien-Nhu, and especially, Ai-Vy did really enjoy having all these lovely birds around, on the head, on the arms, everywhere! It doesn't look like that, but they do really hurt! Ai-Vy left with many scratches on her forearms but didn't complain (too much).

A mon tour... Meagan a choisi 4 photos provenant de mon Facebook et je vais vous raconter l'histoire derriere chacune d'entre elles.

La premiere photo a ete prise recemment, juste avant Noel. Nous sommes alles a O'Reilly, un parc national plutot populaire situe dans le sud de Brisbane (en fait, un peu plus au sud de la Gold Coast), celebre pour ses oiseaux (loriquets) que vous pouvez approcher de tres pres et aussi nourrir.
On y est alle avec Thu-Trang (que l'on surnomme TT) et Dirk, un couple d'amis Vietnamien/Australien.

C'etait assez incroyable de pouvoir approcher ces oiseaux de si pres. Kien-Nhu, et Ai-Vy en particulier ont beaucoup apprecie etre entoures de ces adorables oiseaux, sur la tete, sur les bras, partout! On dirait pas comme ca, mais ca fait vraiment mal! Ai-Vy est repartie avec beaucoup d'egratignures aux avant-bras mais ne s'est pas plainte (enfin, pas trop).



The second picture was taken during an Halloween party this year with some friends that we celebrated at Helen's place.

I know, Halloween is not really big in France and does really feel like a very commercial and artificial celebration, but I guess, it's been around for a longer time in the English/American countries, so that's quite a big thing here in Australia.

Kiki was disguised as an Evil Fish (perfect while he was still crawling!) and Ai-Vy was a Scary Witch. Stephanie, that we can't see here on the picture was a Vampire.
Myself, I transformed into a Living Dead! The kids were really scared! Ha ha, note the tripes and ribs... these are real ones that I bought at the supermarket right before getting to the party: some cheap sausage and lamb ribs. The effect was quite good... especially that it came with the smell! It was really stinking in the car! We ended up putting the ribs on the barbie... no way we were going to waste good meat!

We also brought some funny creepy food: real "finger food" (cheese, pistachio and ketchup that look like cut fingers and a sculpted watermelon that did really look like a bloody brain).

La seconde photo a ete prise cette annee durant une fete d'Halloween que nous avons celebre avec des amis chez Helene.

Oui je sais, Halloween n'est pas tres populaire en France et a un cote tres artificiel et commercial, mais j'imagine que ca fait bien plus longtemps que c'est une tradition dans les pays anglo saxons, et c'est un evenement assez important ici en Australie.

Kiki etait deguise en Poisson Demoniaque (parfait tant qu'il rampait!) et Ai-Vy etait une Affreuse Sorciere. Stephanie, qu'on ne voit pas sur la photo, quant a elle, etait un Vampire.
En ce qui me concerne, je m'etais transforme en Mort Vivant! Les enfants avaient vraiment tres peur! Ah Ah, notez que les tripes et les cotes saillantes etaient veritables... elles etaient faites de saucisse bon marche et de cotelettes d'agneau que j'avais achete juste avant de me rendre a la fete. Effet guaranti... avec en bonus une odeur nauseabonde! Ca puait vraiment dans la voiture! On a finalement mis les cotelettes sur le barbecue... "faut pas gacher"!



The third picture is quite an old one! It's been taken like 10 years ago... Yeah I know, we still look the same ;)
In fact, that was a self-portrait we took at the Airport in Toulouse. I can still remember it, we were about to leave our little city in the south-west of France to go to Paris, me to do my internship at Total (the french oil and gas company) and Stephanie to do her Master Degree at the University of Paris.

Ha ha, at that time, it did really feel like a very big move to go and live in the Capital City, Paris! I remember, we phoned our parents and asked them for advice. Should we do it, not do it? We knew that this decision would change our lives... forever... and it has! But this... is another story...

La troisieme photo est assez ancienne! Elle a ete prise il y a peut etre 10 ans... Ouai je sais, on a pas change ;)
En fait, c'est un auto-portrait que nous avions pris a l'aeroport de Toulouse. Je m'en rappelle encore, on etait sure le point de quitter notre petite ville du sud-ouest de la France pour aller a Paris, moi pour faire mon stage de fin d'etude a Total (la compagnie petroliere francaise) et Stephanie pour faire son DESS a l'Universite de Paris.

Ah ah, a cette epoque, aller vivre a Paris, la Capitale nous apparaissait comme un enorme changement! Je me rappelle que nous avions telephone a nos parents pour leur demander conseil. Devions nous faire le grand saut ou pas? Sachant que cette decision changerait a jamais nos vies... et elle l'a en effet change! Mais ca... c'est une autre histoire...



The fourth picture was taken during our last holiday in France, end of July 2011.
We try to go back to France at least every second year (and also, that tim, it was the opportunity to show baby Kiki to our families).

When we go, we stay about 1 month and go to Toulouse and Castres where our parents live.
This time, we've been traveling quite a lot, driving almost 5000 kms around France, to Paris, Blois, Chambord, the South-West and the Pyrenees. This picture was taken in the Pyrenees, the southern mountains between France and Spain.
My sisters rented a big cabin in the Mountain and we spent some quality time with my two sisters, brothers in law and 4 nieces and nephews.

This one particular picture is one of me and my nephew Corentin during a hike in the Mountain. We stopped for a picnic at a small mountain torrent and decided to go for a swim... The water was so cold that it burnt!

La quatrieme photo a ete prise lors de nos dernieres vacances en France, fin Juillet 2011. En general, on essaye de revenir en France tous les 2 ans (et aussi, la en l'occurence, c'etait l'occasion de presenter bebe Kiki a nos familles).

Chaque fois qu'on y va, on essaye de rester 1 mois et d'aller a Toulouse et Castres ou nos parents vivent.
Cette fois, on a fait pas mal de route, effectuant pas loin de 5000 kms un peu partout en France, entre Paris, Blois, Chambord, le Sud-Ouest et les Pyrenees. Cette photo a ete prise dans les Pyrenees, les montagnes du sud de la France, a la frontiere avec l'Espagne.
Mes soeurs avaient loue un immense chalet dans la montagne et nous avons passe de tres bons moments en compagnie de mes deux soeurs, beau-freres et de mes 4 neveux et nieces.

Cette photo en particulier est une photo de moi et de mon neveu Corentin pendant une randonnee en Montagne. Nous nous etions arrete pour picniquer pres d'un petit torrent de montagne et avions decide de piquer une petite tete... L'eau etait tellement glacee que ca brulait!

mardi 17 janvier 2012

My new family

Bonjour! I am settling in quite nicely now that I have been in Australia for a little over a week now.
Although it of course takes some time to call a new home yours and feel completely comfortable Stephanie and Young are doing a great job! The house is great and they have kept me very busy :)

Young is very enthusiastic and up beat, something I am going to have to work on during my stay.

Stephanie was out of town for work in Sydney the first week I was here, but has now been back since Friday night. She is very nice, and will soon be teaching me to drive her car... which is a manual and will be driven on the left side of the road, two things I have never done before.
It will be interesting and I will be sure to update everyone on how it goes.


Ai-Vy is adorable with a big personality, she loves to swim and never gets tired of reminding you haha. I am having lots of fun getting to know her and playing games with her.

Although she won't let me do her hair yet, but I'm sure she will come around. She is currently taking swim lessons (what a surprise), and will soon be starting dance...
I'm excited for that and am looking forward to going with her and watching, as I did dance when I was young :)


Baby Kiki (Kien-Nhu) is quite the cutie, he is a great baby... but doesn't seem to like the car much , unless we are off roading, which I find very odd.

He is on the brink of walking and is standing up on his own, we are just waiting for that first step which I am very excited to be able to be here for! :)

I can't wait to see how he grows in this next year!


So far I am having a great time in the land of OZ and I'm sure it will continue to be amazing.

I am looking forward to all the adventures that lay ahead! :)

mardi 10 janvier 2012

Finally here!

Hello everyone! I have finally arrived in Australia safe and sound. The plane ride was very long and boring but I managed. When arriving at the airport in Brisbane I was very surprised with how easy going through security and customs was, it was quite the relief! :)


After a very long flight with some not so very yummy food I have officially arrived in Australia and was greeted with a camera in my face by Young and lots of hugs from Ai-Vy at the Airport in Brisbane! :) Upon arrival we drove to my new home, driving on the left side of the road....it will take a bit to get used to it. Ai-Vy showed me around the house, and asked to go to the swimming pool right after (she is a fish). We swam for a while but then the rain came so we were off to the beach! Where it was surprisingly warm, but I didn't bring a suit so I missed out on all the fun :/



The second day I was here Young and Stephanie were sure to keep me busy, jet lag was not allowed to ruin the fun. We went out to the country a bit and did some off-roading to get to a beautiful place. Although I was a bit skeptical about the mucky water and what might be lurking in it.......crocodiles, snakes, sharks.....who knows! :) but after seeing everyone swim I was reluctant to jumping in as it was very warm out, and the water tuned out to be quite nice.



Ai-Vy and I enjoyed the sun and the pretty views at the lake.



All Ai-Vy wanted to do was go fishing! She had never been before and was very excited, although she discovered that it is quite boring and involves a lot of doing nothing. She soon hopped in the water with Young and swam all day long. We didn't catch any fish that day, but we did catch a turtle! :)



My third day in Australia it was very hot, nearly 35 degrees Celsius, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It involved a lot of lounging around the pool and eating delicious mango's, yum yum.



I have already tried so many new foods here! It is awesome, although in this picture I am eating tripe.....I didn't know at the time, so it was not so awesome ha ha. After discovering what it was I didn't find it very appetizing. Although I did try kangaroo meat tonight and it was surprisingly good, as has all the other food Young has made, he is a very good cook. sadly I haven't had the best appetite since I have been here, I'm thinking it could be part of the jet lag, and am hoping my appetite will resume to normal shortly so I can try more yummy foods.



After an interesting lunch we picked Ai-Vy up from childcare and took her to the beach, she was very happy. The beach was wonderful and with nearly no waves it was good for Ai-vy and the water was very warm. We walked down the beach a bit and found some rock where there were lots of little fish and some cool shells to look at. Next time we go there we will have to bring goggles and snorkels :)



At the beach we found lots of fish, and even caught a shrimp. I have already seen many cool animals, I saw a caterpillar with a horn, some wild turkeys, and a wallaby. Lets not forget the strange sounding birds that wake me up early in the morning, which is 5:00 here! I knows that sounds early to everyone back at home, but it is already light out by then and very warm, so it makes it fairly easy to wake up:)

mercredi 4 janvier 2012

Camping on Stradbroke Island

Camping... The last time I went camping was when I was still a student and that it was the only affordable way for me to travel. Camping... the lovely smell of dirty toilets, the infernal heat under a small tent, the yummy pasta at every lunch, the "bogans" (that's the Australian version of the "redneck", which is the American version of the French "bidochon")...

Fifteen years, a wife and two kids later... here we go camping again! But a very different type of camping, the real stuff, with a four wheel drive, no electricity, no toilets and camping on the beach. And for this, Australia is the place to be!

All packed and ready to go in our brand new shiny Land Rover.

Le camping... La derniere fois que je suis parti camper, j'etais encore etudiant et c'etait le seul moyen de voyager pas cher. Le camping... et ses inoubliables odeurs de toilettes parfumees, la chaleur infernal sous la minuscule tente, les delicieux repas a base de pate a l'eau, les "bidochons" (c'est la version francaise du "redneck" americain ou du "bogan" australien)...

Quinze ans, une femme et deux enfants plus tard... nous retournons camper! Mais cette fois, c'est un different type de camping, le vrai truc, avec un 4x4, pas d'electricite, pas de toilettes et camping sur la plage. Et pour cela, rien de mieux que l'Australie!

On est fin pret a y aller dans notre tout nouveau tout beau Land Rover.


Let's go to Stradbroke Island!
Stradbroke Island is the second largest sand island in the world (Moreton Island being the third and Fraser Island being the first... all three being in Queensland and not too far from Brisbane!).

Stradbroke (Straddie) is really very close from the Brisbane CBD, maybe just 15 kms away, and a short 45 minutes trip by ferry.

Allons a Stradbroke Island!
Stradbroke Island est la seconde plus grande ile de sable au monde (Moreton Island etant la troisieme et Fraser Island etant la premiere... toutes les trois etant dans le Queensland et pas trop loin de Brisbane!).

Stradbroke (Straddie pour les intimes) est vraiment tres proche du centre de Brisbane, peut etre juste a 15 kms, et a 45 minutes en ferry.


Arrived in Cleveland, we embark on the ferry ready to enjoy the little trip that will take us to Straddie.
On the boat Ai-Vy has spotted a really cute little puppy Rottweiler and gives him some cuddles.

In the meantime, I'm taking a nice photo of a whale jumping out of the water... (hmmm, or may I say, a picture of a poster of a whale on the door of the toilets... but that's just an insignificant little detail)...

Arrives a Cleveland, on embarque sur le ferry, prets a apprecier le petit voyage vers Straddie.
Sur le bateau, Ai-Vy a repere un adorable petit bebe Rottweiler et lui fait des calins.

Pendant ce temps, je prend une jolie photo d'une baleine qui saute hors de l'eau... (hmmm, ou devrais je plutot dire, une photo d'un poster de baleine accroche a la porte des toilettes... mais ce n'est qu'un detail sans importance)...




Time passes very quickly and here we are, on the island... The difference with Moreton and Fraser, is that Stradbroke has got hard bitumen roads (and not only sand or gravel tracks). So getting off the boat is fairly easy with no risk of being bogged down. We stop at the news agent and buy the off-road permit before heading to Flinders Beach where the camping is located.

Fortunately, I've done a bit of research about "beach four wheel driving", and one key recommendation is to deflate the tires... Especially that I've got 20 inches rims and that my tires are not very thick. But then how to re-inflate them when back on the bitumen? The answer is an air-compressor that I bought just the morning before, very handy.

So we arrive at the beach, deflate the tires (from about 40PSI to 25PSI) and off we go, testing the 4WD on the beach (did I already say it was brand new and shiny?).

Le temps passe a toute vitesse et nous voici arrives sur l'ile... La difference avec Moreton et Fraser, c'est que Stradbroke a des routes en bitume (et pas seulement des circuits de sable ou gravier). Du coup, descendre du bateau est relativement aise et on ne risque pas de s'enliser. On s'arrete au premier marchand de journaux pour acheter le permis 4x4 avant de se diriger vers Flinders Beach, la ou est situe le camping.

Heureusement, j'ai fait quelques recherches sur le sujet de la "conduite 4x4 sur plage", et l'une des recommandations importantes est de degonfler ses pneus... En particulier, sachant que j'ai des jantes de 20 pouces et des pneus assez peu epais. Mais alors, comment les re-gonfler pour rouler a nouveau sur le bitume me direz vous? La reponse est un compresseur a air que j'ai achete le matin meme avant de partir, tres pratique.

Voila, on arrive sur la plage, je degonfle les pneus (de 40PSI a 25PSI) et c'est parti, on teste le 4X4 sur la plage (est ce que je vous ai deja dit qu'il etait tout beau tout neuf?).



All right, this is not my first 4WD... We had a Mitsubishi Pajero a few years ago and we've done some hardcore four wheel driving, taking it to the bush, on the rocks, etc... but for some reason, we've never really tried driving it on the beach.

Believe it or not, that was Stephanie who really wanted me to buy another 4WD this time and I must say, if there is only one country in the world where it makes sense to own a 4WD, it is Australia. There are so many places to explore where only a 4WD can take you!

Bon, ok, ce n'est pas notre premier 4x4... On avait deja eu un Mitsubishi Pajero de cela quelques annees et on avait fait un peu de 4x4 hardcore, dans le bush, sur les rochers, etc... mais pour quelques raisons, on ne l'avait jamais vraiment essaye sur la plage.

Croyez le ou non, c'est Stephanie qui voulait absolument racheter un 4x4 cette fois et je dois dire que s'il y a un seul pays au monde ou avoir un 4x4 a du sens, c'est bien l'Australie! Il y a tant d'endroits a explorer ou seul un 4x4 peut vous amener!


video

All kids love playing in the sand and Ai-Vy and Kien-Nhu are no exception! We stop on the beach and enjoy building some sand castles.

Tous les enfants adorent jouer dans le sable et Ai-Vy et Kien-Nhu ne font pas exception! On s'arrete sur la plage pour construire quelques chateaux de sable.




It is now time to find a nice spot for the night. Camping in Australia is really great... even a camping is so big and desert that you feel like you're the only one in the world... We settle on a nice spot under the pines... Even fully booked, the camping spots are so big and so far from each other that we can't see any neighbor.

Now the real test... Am I going to be able to mount the tent? Yeah, easy... I made sure I bought the "easy" tent... at least, that was what was written on the package... and... it ended up being really easy! Just half an hour to do the large 4 meters x 3 meters tent without sweating, that's a good performance! Ai-Vy couldn't wait and has already decided she would sleep outside...

Bon, il est maintenant temps de trouver un bon spot pour la nuit. Camper en Australie, c'est vraiment super... meme les campings sont grands et paraissent deserts, vous donnant l'impression d'etre seuls au monde... On s'installe a un endroit sympa entre les pins... Meme complet, le camping offre des emplacements si grands qu'on ne voit pas les voisins.

Maintenant, c'est l'heure du veritable test... Vais je reussir a monter la tente? Ouais, facile... J'ai bien fait gaffe a acheter la tente "facile a monter"... enfin, c'est ce qu'il y avait marque sur la boite... et... finalement c'est vrai que ca a ete tres simple! Juste une petite demi heure pour finir la tente de 4 metres sur 3, sans suer, c'est une bonne performance! Ai-Vy, elle, ne pouvait attendre et a deja decide qu'elle dormirait dehors...




I must say that it would have been a much better idea than what we ended up doing....
As Stephanie has a terrible phobia of spiders (and all insects in general), she's decided she would sleep in the car. And that's what we did with Ai-Vy... leaving only Kien-Nhu and Valerie in the tent.

That was my worst night ever! It was really hot in the car, even with the sunroof open... so we ended up opening the windows (and of course mosquitoes were only too happy to have a free dinner)... also, Ai-Vy was snorting and kicking... What a peaceful night! But hey, I think now Stephanie is ready to use the tent next time!

Je dois avouer que ca aurait ete une bien meilleur idee que ce qu'on a fini par faire...
Comme Stephanie a une terrible phobie des araignees (et autres insectes en general), elle a decide qu'on dormirait dans la voiture. Et c'est ce qu'on a fait avec Ai-Vy... laissant seulement Kien-Nhu et Valerie dans la tente.

Ce fut la pire nuit de ma vie! Il faisait vraiment chaud dans la voiture, meme le toit entrouvert... alors finalement, on a aussi entrouvert les fenetres (les moustiques n'etant alors que trop heureux de diner gratis)... rajoutez a cela une Ai-Vy qui ronfle et donne des coups de pied... Quelle nuit paisible! Mais bon, je pense que maintenant Stephanie s'est faite a l'idee de dormir dans le tente la prochaine fois!



The day after, a nice little breakfast on the beach and a good nap will be enough to recover from this sleepless night.

Le lendemain, un bon petit dejeuner sur la plage et une bonne sieste seront suffisant pour recuper de cette nuit sans sommeil.



For lunch, some YumYum, the 50 cents noodles, the same as when we were students! See, some things never change!

And then for dinner, direction the restaurant in town for a nice fish and chips... not so wild! Ha ha, that was our first attempt... we'll get better at it... next time, we'll try to fish and cook our own fish on the barbecue!

A l'heure du dejeuner, des YumYum, les nouilles liophilisees a 50 centimes, les memes que quand on etait etudiants! Comme quoi, il est des choses qui ne changent pas!

Puis ensuite, pour le diner, direction le restaurant en ville pour un bon fish and chips... pas tres sauvage tout ca! Ah Ah, c'etait notre premiere tentative... on compte bien s'ameliorer.... la prochaine fois ce sera peche et barbecue de poisson frais!


So, that was just 2 days... to try and see how it would go with the kids. They did love it! And in fact we could have brought ChomChom and Todd as well as dogs are allowed. Ha... Australia, the only place in the world where a "dogs allowed" camping is clean and people pick up after their doggy!

So that's decided... from now on, it will be wild camping only, it's really cheap, fun, and I'm sure we'll get better as we do it more often!

Bon, on est juste restes 2 jours... pour essayer et voir comment les enfants reagiraient. He bien, ils ont adore! En fait, on aurait meme pu amener ChomChom et Todd puisque c'etait un camping autorise aux chiens. Ah... l'Australie, le seul endroit au monde our les campings autorisant les chiens sont propres et ou les gens ramassent apres leur toutou!

Aller, c'est decide... a partir de maintenant, ce sera camping sauvage tout le temps, c'est pas cher, fun, et je suis sur qu'on aura le coup de main a force d'en faire!


dimanche 1 janvier 2012

A little bit about me :)

Hello everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful and safe New Years :) I will be celebrating the New Year here tonight! This is a little photo assignment that Young and Stephanie gave me. These four photos were chosen by them from my Facebook, and I will tell you the story behind each :)



This is a photo from my Senior High School prom with two of my good friends, Jade and Kayla on either side of me. Prom is a big formal dance at the end of every school year for Juniors and Seniors. This was right before we went to dinner and before our big pink Hummer limo picked us up!



My beautiful dog Leum in the snow. We were trying to sled although there was only a dusting a snow but it was exciting, we don’t get snow too often here in Vancouver because we live in a valley. Sadly we had to give Liam to one of my dads friends because he was a bad dog Luckily he went to a place with lots of room to run and play!



This was during a high school soccer game, we were winning against a team with good rankings and I just wanted to be out there on the field playing. That explains the look on my face haha! Also one of my best friends was taking the picture so I was just being a goof.



This was before my High School graduation in my cap and gown. My mom made me a pretty crafty confetti cake in celebration J Although I didn’t get to eat much of it because apparently my uncle is a pretty big fan of confetti cake too haha!