Malaysia.

My love life will never be simple. Just when I go and fall for somebody, he has to leave to go and work in India for a few months …

Determined that a little thing like six thousand miles wouldn’t stop us though, in the last week of my garden leave we both headed to Kuala Lumpur for a long weekend.

The flights worked out reasonably well considering, but when I landed at 4:30am, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the three hour wait for Silvio’s flight to arrive from Bangalore. The minutes ticked by while I turned down numerous offers for a taxi, until finally he arrived, and both exhausted, we got a cab and headed through heavy morning traffic to our hotel.

As we arrived, we were directed to the 25th floor – ahhhh, the advantages of gold status! Free breakfast, a quiet room with lots of sofas … after travelling all night, all we wanted to do was eat, shower and chill out. It was lovely not to need to go anywhere!

Exploring the hotel pool

We explored the hotel and swimming pool a bit later, I mooched around the spa admiring all the nice smelling soaps and Silvio … found a body pump class that was running on Saturday. My first reaction was no way, we’re on holiday!! (I admit I did know the hotel offered gym classes, and deliberately did not pack gym gear). I came around to the idea, but not without quite a bit of whinging :)

Quackers gets a dip

Pool bar

Looking up at the hotel from the pool


The pool was beautiful – really huge, with the two wings of the hotel towering over it, and a bar with awesome cocktails, yummy food and shisha, I was very tempted!

In the evening, still recovering from travelling, we didn’t venture too far but the hotel had a nice sushi restaurant. I went a bit nuts, ordering too much as usual, couldn’t quite finish my nigiri! It was great though, the sushi in Sydney is not often that varied. The waiter recommended that we check out Chinatown after dark, as that’s when it gets busy and starts buzzing. We wanted to, but by the time dinner was finished all I felt like doing was collapsing in front of a movie! So we didn’t make it to Chinatown that night …

Friday, we headed up to the club lounge again for breakfast. There were people sitting there with laptops, it reminded me that I would have to go back to the real world of work pretty soon … But not yet!

Central Market

After brekkie, time to head out and see a little of the city. It was steaming hot and sticky, and we walked a fairly long way to get to Central Market. There were stalls outside but thankfully most of the market was inside a large air conditioned building! Fed up of carrying my camera, umbrella (it was supposed to be rainy season!) and various other crap, I bought a bag from one of the stalls. Then of course I had to find fridge magnets, one to add to my small collection and one to try and fit among the crowds of them on parents’ fridge freezer. I guess I’ve ruined the “surprise” now … (Mum, hope you can find some room for it!).

Unusual fruit for sale

Boys and their toys

Central Market


I wanted to go to the Menara KL (Kuala Lumpur Tower) which was sort of on the way back, if we took a funny route back. I was pretty amazed at myself that day for managing to read the paper map and actually get where I wanted to go – I’m usually hopeless at navigating, and that’s when I have the advantage of Google maps on my phone telling me exactly which direction I’m facing.

From the top of the tower

The tower was cool – in more ways than one. It was a bit of a walk up a hill to get in, and I think we were both glad of the air conditioning when we finally got there! The views were awesome though. From the top we could see across to the mountains, the Batu caves, and the beautiful Petronas towers with their flashing lights. We could even pick out our hotel, it looked tiny compared to how it appeared from the swimming pool.

Looking down on our hotel

The towers

More views across the city


There was only one place to go when we emerged back into the humidity: the hotel pool. We spent the afternoon enjoying the delights of the cool water and some yummy food.

Steak YUM

Bread and dips

Wine bottles at Prime


Later on, we headed out for dinner. India, apparently, is not the place to go for a nice large slab of grilled meat, and Silvio wanted to take advantage of being away for the weekend to go to a really good steak restaurant, something I definitely did not object to. Prime at Le Meridien had won several Time Out awards, so we were both pretty excited about having a meal there. It didn’t disappoint – I had a fillet mignon and it was just amazing, with a bottle of good red wine and tasty bread, and topped off with ice cream … perfect. The company was pretty nice too ;)

Orchid garden

Saturday, it was stonking hot and damp again, and this time we opted for public transport instead of a long sweaty walk, to get to the Orchid garden. It still ended up being a bit of a walk from the station – it was very pretty, although not quite as nice as I’d hoped. The best bit was the fountains, where at least you could try and cool off a little in the spray!

Unusual flowers

Trying to cool off

More flowers


By 2pm, we were back in the hotel, in our shorts and heading to the gym where we were the only two participants in Body Pump. With no proper gym clothes, I was improvising with my board shorts and Converse trainers – having lost a little weight recently, they were not ideal though, kept falling down during the squats :( Lucky really that the class was empty so there was nobody behind me!

I felt pretty damn good having done an hour of lifting weights. Endorphins from exercise, as well as relief that it was done :) The best bit was still to come though: jumping straight into the pool to cool down … ahhhh, bliss. We spent another afternoon lazing around, this time with cocktails as a reward for our hard work in the gym.

Cocktails

We finally made it to Chinatown on Saturday evening! It was kind of pretty, lots of lights, although not particularly unique – many more stalls with people shouting at us to buy tshirts, DVDs, watches, sunglasses … and it was definitely the hottest night so far. We eventually had to get inside to a restaurant to cool down, where we ordered noodles, but could have had frog. The entire meal that night was about ten dollars, it was unreal, pretty yummy too.

We could have had Frog

Pretty lights in Chinatown

Finally something to cool down with


After a hot walk back to the subway station, the train was air conditioned to the max, and freeeeeezing cold! Having complained for a significant part of the evening about being too hot, as soon as we got on the train Silvio decided he was too cold … and they call me a whinging pom! On the way back, I tried to take some good photos of the towers all lit up, although without a tripod it was a bit of a challenge.

Towers all lit up

Sunday was the last day and after walking around in the heat on Saturday, neither of us wanted to do more than laze around again all day. So we did. We finally made it to the hotel’s dim sum restaurant, where I indulged my desire for steamed char sui buns, can never get enough of those things!

I <3 pork balls!

Thanks again to Silvio’s gold card, we had a really late checkout, handy since both of our flights were leaving after 10pm. With an hour or so to go after checking out, we made the most of the last happy hour at the pool bar with wine, cocktails and a shisha – finally got one! After that it was back in the taxi, through the traffic, and parting company at the airport … until the next trip together, in July.

:)

It was a really amazing trip – despite predictions of thunderstorms and heavy rain, the weather was actually really beautiful, and the hotel was just wonderful luxury. It was a perfect few days away from the rest of the world, and I can’t think of anybody I’d rather have spent it with :)

A big change.

I think my feet first started itching in early February, but they had been tingling for a long time. After nearly four years working for ThoughtWorks, the time had come to make a change.

The last time I started looking for a new company to work for, I wanted to get out and work across a range of different projects and companies. I wanted to see how things were done in different environments and work with people who truly believed in Agile software development. In every interview at ThoughtWorks, I was asked if I minded travelling, told that this was a key part of the job. I had no ties, no reason to stay in one place, and although it sent butterflies through me, I was excited at the prospects. Before I even started, Heather called me to tell me that my first project would be in Dublin, and those butterflies went mental.

Nearly four years on, I’ve spent time working in Dublin, Manchester, Berlin, Edinburgh, Sydney and many parts of London – around the corner from Borough Market, within walking distance of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, and in the heart of the west end. I’ve had some incredible opportunites and I’ve made the most of them all – and the memories are all over my Facebook timeline (am I the only person who actually likes it?). Most of all, I feel like I achieved the goal I started out with.

Somewhere along the way, I decided to switch from doing business analysis back to writing code. It was the hardest career move I’ve made – at least starting out as a developer after university with very little experience, people had much lower expectations. ThoughtWorks helped me get there though, and I haven’t looked back since.

But goals shift, and always being the outsider on a client site eventually wore me down. I missed being part of a team, I missed seeing and working directly with my own ThoughtWorks colleagues every day, and now I want to spend more time writing code and get really, really good at it. I never quite managed to get used to the uncertainty that goes with consulting, of “where will I end up next and what will it be like”. My poor mum, she had to listen to me worrying about the next unknown project time after time.

So eventually, I started to take notice of my itchy feet and look around. I knew I wanted to stay in Sydney, and I also knew there was a very specific kind of company I wanted to work for – one with a culture with many things in common with ThoughtWorks (as I described it to Steve Gilles “the kind of company that keeps beer in the fridge in the kitchen”), where I could do hands on coding, work with really smart people … and one that would sponsor my working visa. I was really lucky that I already knew a company that would fit that bill, and they were recruiting: Atlassian.

Three months, seven interviews, a whole heap of stress and a brand new visa later … and I am almost ready to start next week!

As a bonus, I wasn’t assigned to a project when I resigned, so for the first time in my life I had “Garden Leave”. I haven’t spent much time in the garden though.

On my last day at ThoughtWorks, those three empty weeks loomed ahead of me like a big void. I had some ideas of how I would fill them: I booked a trip to see Yolly and Claudia, I wanted to finish Seven Languages in Seven Weeks, read some technical books, lots of exercise, cooking nice food, maybe blog a little.

It didn’t take long to get used to getting up after nine am and catching up on TV (MasterChef Australia started just in time …)

I did make it Brisbane though, and I also managed to do quite a bit of exercise, including some circuit sessions on the beach and meeting Viviana for a bit of boxing with an ocean view! But I have to admit that most of my other lofty ambitions went out of the window fairly fast. It only took a couple of days for my brain to switch off completely and go into holiday mode, and I didn’t fight it. I’m hopeful that I will feel very refreshed next week.

With just one week left to go, I’m heading off to Malaysia for a pretty special trip tomorrow, before I have to get my brain back in to work mode next Tuesday. Hopefully, I’ll have enough time before that to write a quick post about the time I spent with the girls in Brissie.

Wish me luck :)

Today’s the day.

It’s finally here, well, almost. And I got the blog ready just in time!

Thanks to my lovely Mum and Dad for, well, loads of stuff but also for the pictures in the header. I could have looked on Flickr but I wanted pictures that had some kind of personal meaning. They’re very photoshopped but I was happy with the end result.

Now I must head off and fix up a small bug on the Divecrew website before I head off to the other side of the world, then finish the packing and I’m off!

Three days to go.

The last week has flown by in a blur of excitement, love and alcohol. I didn’t want to have a big “leaving drinks” because I didn’t want the stress of organising it and then worrying about who would and wouldn’t come. I wanted to have some quality time with my close friends and family before leaving, so instead I organised to meet people in smaller groups. After having spent so much time away, there were a lot of people I hadn’t seen in far too long, and it really has been an amazing week, reminding me that I’m incredibly lucky to have so many amazing people in my life.

By Friday, my fifth consecutive night out in London (and seventh night of socialising), I was almost incapable of having a conversation without yawning by the time I got to the pub! What a wuss – how on earth will I survive an eleven hour time change next week?

myWPEdit ImageThis weekend was our family get together, complete with a beautiful cake decorated with a map of Australia (with a small flag for Sydney!) thanks to my Mum. There was even a tiny plane made of icing – with glitter! We divided into teams for Scattegories: The Bogans, The Wrinklies, and Rack Off, and generally got far too competitive. The fun continued on Sunday morning with a late cooked breakfast before the final few left.

Despite all the parties all week, even leaving the office in London for the last time on Friday didn’t feel “real” somehow. As I walked out of the office I was expecting to feel something: a lurch, some butterflies, a sudden welling up … but I felt a bit numb (and exhausted). It wasn’t until I was finishing off my packing this afternoon that I really felt as though it’s sunk in.

I’m still dreading the actual goodbyes at the airport – I’m sure I’m going to end up in tears – yep, I’m just a big girl at times like that!