Dear Mum,

Being the mavericks that we are we have forsaken South East Asian paradise to lay low in the UK. And by “mavericks” I of course mean “morons”.


Who’s idea was this?

With Jenny out of money and mine dwindling quickly we decided we should retreat to a defensible position and plan our next move. England seemed appealing as we would be able to sponge some free accommodation and meals from Jenny’s parents whilst we looked for work with a reliable internet connection. We departed Siem Reap via bus and spent a night in Phnom Penh catching up with a friend from our course who happens to live there. After a pleasant evening we awoke the next day faced with the vicious reality that we were about to leave Cambodia. To make matters worse, our foraging efforts for breakfast found only a noodle bar with the decidedly limited choice of duck noodles or beef noodles. Those who know me know that I avoid eating duck on principle (ducks are rad and if you think otherwise shut up), but faced with the choice between bird and what might very possibly have been dog (again) I chose the bird.


A traumatic experience for both man and duck.

Our flight from Phnom Penh went via Kuala Lumpur, where we had an excellent opportunity to see the inside of the airport, and after a few hours doing nothing there and then a few more hours doing nothing on a plane we finally arrived in the glorious uterus from which modern Australia sprang.

England is a few latitudes further away from the tropical climes of Thailand and Cambodia, and when you’ve packed for consistent 30 degree heat and make an unexpected flight to Northern Europe one  might find themselves under-equipped in the wardrobe department. We landed in temperatures near enough to zero and there hasn’t been much variety since. Despite the fact that it is April, in theory the middle of spring, it is snowing as I write this.


The view from our window (a week ago).

The first order of business then was to purchase some warm clothes. I did have the foresight to have carried around a couple of pairs of jeans and some thin hoodies on my travels, but against the frigid Arctic winds of the British Isles they were as naught. A short trip to a neighbouring shopping centre, two thermal t-shirts, a scarf, and a borrowed coat later and I had something resembling a reasonable body temperature. The second order of business was drinking a beer that wasn’t complete piss.


A delicious pint of Not Complete Piss.

Despite the inhospitable environment they apparently exist in, Jenny’s family have somehow managed to avoid transforming into beastial scavengers concerned only with their own survival. Our first week in their lovely house was a constant, glorious onslaught of roast potatoes and meats, gravy, sausages, and all those other most excellent foods that the South East Asian people just can’t seem to do right. We are extremely thankful for their continued generous hospitality. I have tried to repay the kindness with some food preparation of my own, and on one occasion I decided to try my hand at making a personal favourite Thai dish: noodle soup.


Still a passable cook.

The purpose of our UK visit was primarily to lay low and look for work, and most of our time is spent staying indoors and not spending any money. Without a work visa I am unable to find any real work, which means my funds are limited to a couple of lonely hundreds sitting in my Australian bank account. This is the first time I have been without an income for as long as I care to remember and to be honest, it’s poo.  Early on, Jenny took me down to her old place of employment, the Sidcup Working Man’s Club, where we were lucky enough to consume some cheap beers and enjoy some excellent company from the local clientele.


This gentleman showed us his egg.

Excursions into the frigid wasteland are limited, as despite having some economic issues England somehow manages to remain as expensive as balls. We have managed to find a free pick up game of ultimate frisbee on once a week only a bus ride away, but even public transport is a rort.


Still, frisbee.

Jenny’s parents have also taken us out on a few adventures to look at some old stuff, which as you know is the kind of stuff of which I am a fan. We’ve also managed to catch up with a few friends for some socialness and have a few more of such adventures to come.


The best wine is complimentary wine.

Luckily, we have so far managed to mostly occupy ourselves with reading, internetting, and an endless stream of job applications (for me at least). Jenny’s twin brother has come through with a heroic play and managed to source an Xbox and a cat to help keep us distracted as well. What an absolute legend. The cat belongs to his girlfriend and is on loan whilst she moves house. The cat is also called Ripley, which is weird because my dog is also called Ripley. Both are named for the xenomorph-hating arse-kicker from the Alien franchise, and both are kind of neurotic and wimpy. That’s a lot of coincidences.


Here they are meeting on Skype. Which was also a bit weird.

I mentioned earlier that I was the one sending out all the job applications. That’s because Jenny has used some kind of witchcraft and managed to land a teaching job before me. Come mid May we will be relocating to Hong Kong where Jenny can definitely begin her new job teaching English as a foreign language. What I will be doing is less certain. I have been sending out applications to Hong Kong schools like a madman but as yet have not had any replies. It can take a week or two for the schools to respond and I have been sending at least a couple a day so there’s no need to give up hope yet, but there is a chance I might arrive in Hong Kong and have to continue the search for work.

In any case that’s all a few weeks off and plenty can happen between now and then. With a little luck we might even see some mercury rise a little bit. All in all UK is OK and I’m in better hands here than I would usually be if I had to look after myself. Although Jenny’s mum might be making me fat.

More updates to come,

Joel xx.

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