Finally, after two years of dealing with the Covid pandemic, things were looking up in 2022. The world was opening up, and finally, so were Australia’s borders. I could travel more easily once again.
But did I? Well, not really. I didn’t add a single new country to my tally, but I did get to travel overseas to two of my favourite countries.
I was so excited to leave Australia for the first time in just over two years and head to Dubai. So many people were dubious about us travelling this soon after Covid, but I had plenty of contingencies in place.
Dubai has a lot of backstory for me. We almost moved there in 2008, and not doing so has always been something I, well, not quite regret, we absolutely made the right decision at the time, but I do wonder how my life might be different if we had made that move.
I have a cousin there who I love to visit, and always work in a few days in Dubai any time I am travelling through the area. I think I’ve been there at least 5 or 6 times before.
This time, we were there for nine days, and the whole visit was about the Dubai 2020 World Expo. Clearly it did not happen in 2020, instead it was held from Nov 2021 – March 2022. We were there about a week before it finished.
When planning, I thought we would only spend around three days at the Expo, but in the end, we were there six out of the nine days. It was so much fun and just mind blowing to see what had been built out in the desert!
We didn’t do a whole lot more in Dubai. We had dinner one night in a restaurant overlooking the Burj Khalifa fountain show which was fun. We tried to visit the newly opened Museum of the Future, only to discover once we arrived that tickets needed to be bought online and they were sold out for weeks.
We also spent a night camping out in the desert with my cousin and her husband which was great fun. We went right back to basics and found a spot in what seemed like the middle of nowhere to pitch our tent.
As we made our campfire, the call to prayer rang out, surprising me that it could be heard where we were. Apparently there was a mosque just around behind the hills, and soon a whole pile of people walked right by our camp to go to the mosque. I have no idea where they came from – perhaps there was a farm behind those other small hills that way.
On the way back from camping we went the long way, via Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE to ride their new sledder which was so much fun!
My second – and last – international trip for 2022 was to Singapore in October.
Singapore is another country I have been to multiple times. I think this was visit 7 or 8 (not including those times we didn’t leave the airport)
I originally booked these flights thinking that we would spend a few days in Singapore and a few days elsewhere. In the end, we spent the whole nine days in Singapore. Our daughter flew from Sydney to join us.
And before you ask, yes, there is PLENTY to do in Singapore over that amount of time. In fact, we didn’t get through all our list. I still need to go back to get to some places I keep saying I am going to visit – like Pulau Ubin.
Unsurprisingly, we spent a lot of time eating! Hawkers stalls are the best, and we tried more of the local food and had plenty of old favourites too. Dishes like Char Kway Teow, Satays, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Carrot Cake, Oyster Omelette, Kaya Toast – oh boy, I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it.
We did lots of different things, and I could go on about it all for ages, but here are some of the highlights:
- Universal Studios was fun, even though we’re not really theme park people
- Jurong Bird Park. Loved all the flamingoes. Will be interesting to see what their new home is like when they move over to the Singapore Zoo area
- Getting a Merlion selfie with no crowds. Okay, so it was pouring with rain, hence the no crowds, but it was still fun
- Watching sunset and the light shows from the viewing deck on the top of Marina Bay Sands
- Seeing otters playing in the Singapore Botanic Gardens
- Just walking the streets, especially around the Chinatown area where we stayed, always so much to see and explore – love the architecture and the street art.
- The free walking tour we did in Little India. I always like these tours, and will do more next time we are in Singapore
- Hells Museum at Haw Par Villa. Last time we were here the museum didn’t exist. It’s a fun addition – if you like death and all that stuff
2022 was the year I was FINALLY going to tick off some of those big name places that I have been saying I need to get to for years. In hindsight, I can say I wasn’t very successful as a few hiccups throughout the year meant multiple cancellations!
The first thing to put a dent in my travel plans was a minor surgery I had on my foot. I ended up with a pin sticking out of my toe and I had to lay on the lounge with my foot elevated for six weeks. This meant that I had to cancel a weekend on the Gold Coast. It was probably a blessing in disguise, as my husband still went, came down with Covid the next day, and had to spend a week on the Gold Coast shut up inside in quarantine.
I also got Covid, but at least I was at home, and already stuck on the couch, so I was kinda killing two birds with one stone.
Later in the year I was kept home more than I planned as my Aunt passed away. She was ill and we knew it was coming. I was her power of attorney and executor of her will, so I had to be around to take care of things.
I still got in a few trips though.
In February we went across to Smoky Bay on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula for a few days R&R. We camped in our tent by the beach and spent much of our time fishing, catching up with family and having a look around the local area.
On our return from Dubai in March we spent a week in Sydney. The NSW covid rules at the time meant we didn’t have to test or isolate, but if we came back to SA within seven days of being away, there were more rules in place. So we spent a week with our daughter. We did a weekend trip up to Newcastle while we were there, but most of the time was spent dodging all the rain in Sydney.
The next trip was in May, and it started with a road trip over to Sydney so that I could finally tick the Vivid festival off my bucket list. We only stayed a few days, before spending the next two and a half weeks driving down along the coast to Melbourne, then across the Great Ocean Road, through the Grampians and back to Adelaide.
Late in July I finally got to visit my final Australian state. Perth wasn’t initially on the schedule for 2022, but after booking tickets to Darwin and discovering the insane prices (and lack of availability) of accommodation, I changed them to Perth. We had six days exploring the city and surrounds, and would love to get back and explore further afield.
I was only home for a few days before jumping on a plane again over to Sydney for almost a week. This was a cross between a girls trip with my daughters and a work trip.
September was meant to be our trip to Cairns and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, but with everything happening with my Aunt, it didn’t work out. We did squeeze in a few days in Melbourne though, where we again caught up with friends we hadn’t see since before Covid and did a few of our favourite things such as checking out the street art, eating plenty of delicious food and visiting the National Gallery of Victoria.
We also went up to the Flinders Ranges for a few days, doing a station stay and eating flinders feral food at the Prairie Hotel – two more things on my bucket list.
After our trip to Singapore in October, we planned to have a quiet couple of months with no travel leading up to 2023. My husband had a weekend in Sydney booked, and my daughter who lives at home had a cruise booked, but I was the one staying home and looking after the pets.
It didn’t work out that way, as my daughter’s flights were cancelled and we ended up doing an overnight drive across to Sydney through floodwaters to get her on the cruise. Normally this drive is an easy 16 hours – this time it took us 20 hours, with three of us taking turns to drive and minimal stops along the way.
I spent the next week in Sydney as flight prices to get home were insane. At the time flights were being cancelled all over the place too, making it even harder to get back. During my stay I got to see my first ever opera, Carmen, which was showing over on Cockatoo Island, so not your usual opera in a theatre.
That proved enough excitement for one year, and apart from a quick visit to see my parents in the Flinders Ranges just before Christmas, December was spent at home.
Plans for 2023
2023 is starting with a bang. In just a few days I am off to South America, including an Antarctic cruise – the most ambitious thing on my Fifty before 50 Bucket List – and thanks to having to delay this due to Covid, I will be scraping in with only weeks to spare.
We will be visiting three new countries – Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, and the territories of Antarctica and the Falkland Islands. This trip has been quite challenging for me to organise, with changing visa rules, changing covid rules, and the fear of cancelled flights, tight connections and testing positive to covid are all still very real.
Once I get over this trip I will start to think about the rest of the year. I have got a few days booked down on the Fleurieu Peninsula and a trip to Sydney planned in March to catch up with some friends visiting from Germany. Just before Easter we are hoping for a few days in the Clare Valley – another trip that seems to keep getting put off.
Darwin and Cairns are still on the wishlist as is a road trip to the south of WA, and later in the year I would love get back to South East Asia somewhere. I also have an event in New Zealand in October I am keen to try to get to, but the timing is tricky so we will see.
*Sigh* so much to see, so little time!