Goodbye UK, Hello Ireland
Trip Start Dec 26, 2005
289Trip End Jan 25, 2009
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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
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.