Goodbye UK, Hello Ireland

Trip Start Dec 26, 2005
Trip End Jan 25, 2009

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Today was huge... another goodbye, a car breakdown, a long delay on Heathrow's runway, and another country. Who said travelling was easy?

I've now left the safe and comfortable surroundings of Cheam and am now in Kilkenny, several hours south of Dublin. I must admit that I was kind of emotional leaving Cheam because I really fell for Wendy and James... such great people... hospitable, interesting and special people who would do anything for a roaming backpacker like me! Truthfully, it was great to get to know my cousin, and her family, and I look forward to returning the favour, even if it's cooking one of my newly acquired Asian dishes, when we meet up together in Perth. I know you're reading... so thankyou for such a sensational stay in the UK. Makes for such a life-long memorable experience that I won't forget.

I left Cheam at 10.10am and caught the 1.5 hour, 1.50 bus to Heathrow's terminal 1. Aer Lingus, the Irish airline is nothing to rave about. I didn't really enjoy their service and subsequent flight at all. It was like a budget, Asian airline with no inflight entertainment, pay for your food and drinks, and the service was quite unfriendly. Maybe it's because it is only a 50 minute flight. We were on the runway for 1 hour, waiting for about 20 planes in front of us. To make the most of the time, I got my watch out and timed the spaces between planes landing... I was kind of interested to note that planes landed every 80 to 120 seconds. That's between 30 and 35 planes an hour. Wow!

Boy... I'm kind of worried because I can't understand the Irish accent/language at all. I have to ask them to repeat everything. It's like I'm back in Asia with a foreign language. It will be interesting to get to know a few Irish whilst over here. I've heard they are very friendly. I wonder if they will win over the Thai?

I have a pretty average deal with Budget Rent A Car... initially, I thought I had an excellent deal at 11 a day but the additional expenses like government taxes, automatic transmission surcharge, excess waivor insurance - mum, I thought I'd take this out given your experience etc. takes the total charge to about $50 a day which is a lot more than I wanted to pay but I know it will make my life so much easier over the next two weeks. And I can rest easy in knowing that I won't have to pay a cent if I write off the car. I won't even have to pay if someone else scratches it.

I can't believe I've finished my 2 weeks in the UK... the weeks went so fast. It was good to keep busy and experience a bit of the Welsh and English countrysides, and I was truly blessed having a place to stay. It makes such a huge difference to the overall quality and satisfaction of the trip. It was also interesting to compare and contrast the quality of living between Australia and England... a few interesting facts:
1. 40% inheritance tax on wealth created at time of death;
2. people have to pay a licence to watch TV in their own homes;
3. income tax rates are lower than that in Australia;
4. retirement age is 68 before you can access the old age pension... since been increased. STUFF THAT (mind my outburst)! There is no way in hell that I would want to be doing what I'm currently doing at that age. Raises the importance of investment/saving and having a good retirement strategy.
5. young people are forced to pay 4% of their incomes into super if they want government support etc... houses are so expensive that new home buyers have barely no chance at all of owning their own home... $7000 first home grants as in Australia, from what I've heard, are non-existent here.
6. petrol is over $2.20 over a litre, compared to $1.30 in Australia.

Goes to show that Aussies do have a much better deal on the whole. And we have the better climate... I will never complain about our quality of life in Australia again.

So here I am in Kilkenny... nothing special compared to what I've seen. Kind of takes me back to the south island of New Zealand but nowhere as beautiful SO FAR. There is a castle that I will check out tomorrow. I'm surprised that I got here at all... my car broke down and wouldn't start. I had to get AA out to have a look... as it turns out, I wasn't turning the key properly. Irish cars!

I'm staying in cheap hostel on the main road for 17 euros ($30). I'm a bit scared about tonight... when I entered the room, I saw a breathing aparaturs (I think it's called a dilapidator?) so hate to think what I'm up for tonight. I don't know where the ear plugs are... damn. Let you know how I go tomorrow.

Will eventually download photos of Wales etc... unfortunately, the USB thing isn't working at this cafe. Off to down some guiness... love the stuff.
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