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Is it time to start losing sleep over North Korea?

2 Apr

North Korea pic

North Korea is making me nervous.

I know there is conflict all over the world and there’s the threat of heightened conflict all the time but in my mummy-brain it goes something like this – North Korea declares war on South Korea and Japan, the U.S. and its allies step in to defend South Korea and Japan, we are a U.S. ally so our troops who were just about home from Afghanistan are sent out again and then some, every country that has a grievance with the U.S. backs North Korea (the middle east, Russia, China) and the rest of us become targets. World War III begins and every book and movie I have every watched about war time – sitting back smugly because there’s no way leaders are stupid enough to fight like that again – starts to come true. What’s to become of my children?

I am terrified.

North Korea said on Saturday it was entering a “state of war” with South Korea after coming under international sanctions for its nuclear test. North Korea has been threatening to attack the South and U.S. military bases since the beginning of March because it’s this time every year that the North and South carry out routine military drills and have done since the end of the Korean War 60 years ago.

It’s thought that few North Koreans believe their country will risk starting a full-out war, particularly because they are so powerfully outnumbered by America’s powerful military and a successful missile strike on a U.S. target would be suicide. But somehow I don’t think leader Kim Jong Un applies much logic to his decisions.

The two Koreas have been in a technical state of war because their 1950-53 conflict ended under an armistice and not a peace treaty, although Pyongyang said earlier in March that as far as they are concerned the truce is no longer valid.

North Korea has issued two photos to media that appear to show plans for striking the U.S. mainland and rallies are being organised in support of this move. North Korean soldiers are putting on a show that they are gearing up for battle, shrouding their jeeps and vans with camouflage netting, painting signs saying “Death to the U.S. Imperialists” and urging people to fight with “arms, not words”.

Most believe it’s all for show. North Korea is trying to force Washington back to the negotiating table to pressure the new president in Seoul, Park Geun-hye to change policy on North Korea. In July it will be 60 years since the end of the Korean War and in that time South Korea has grown from a poor nation to the world’s 15th largest economy while North Korea is left struggling and has a per capital income on par with sub-Sahara Africa.

North Korea’s national airline, Air Koryo, is adding flights to its spring line up and is preparing to host scores of expected tourists to Pyongyang. I for one would be reconsidering North Korea as a holiday destination. I hear the South is lovely, but I might stay away from there too for now.


I’m too scared to travel

7 Jan


Here it is…the stunning Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. This is the spot everyone. This is where I would go if I could go anywhere. I can see my family and I all crowded around the fountain, tossing in coins, planning to return. We’ll all be happy and excited, finally traveling together as I have always dreamed. All of us, together, in Italy. Just like in National Lampoon’s European Vacation (which I watched countless times as a child).

It’s a shame I’m too scared to travel. It’s also a shame that even if I did want to travel we don’t have the money too. I totally missed my travel window and I’ve regretted it ever since. In my family we usually travel before or after university before settling into full-time employment but I got a great job as I was starting uni. I was too paranoid to leave it. Also, I’ve never really been very adventurous. I didn’t even move interstate for work because I didn’t want to live too far away from my family. In radio this is unheard of. I regret that too.

I have been to Italy apparently. I was four and my parents decided to save up and travel with three children. I don’t remember a thing. I have a vague recollection of my sister vomiting on a plane and my dad insisting that milk would make her feel better. I also remember lots of pigeons in front of a church, a scary motorbike ride on a huge freeway (apparently that was with my uncle in Milan).

When I was in my early twenties my friend got married in Canada. I decided to go but only for seven days (I didn’t want to lose my special radio job!). Customs eyed me suspiciously. Seven days only? I showed them the invitation and even my business card. “I work in radio. I can’t be gone for long.” Seriously, how stupid was I?

A few years ago my husband and I did have money to travel. We dreamed of cruises, European vacations, tropical islands. We got as far as QLD for a few days when our first baby was five months old. It was a working holiday to a resort my husband’s company had bought and was redeveloping. It was boring because there’s not much to do with a five-month old, my husband was working, I had no car and was unfamiliar with the area. I may as well have stayed home.

We haven’t traveled since. That was almost eight years ago. We didn’t even go on a honeymoon after our wedding. I was pregnant, we were both busy with work…Five years ago we decided enough was enough and we’d a least take a cruise for two weeks. We booked it, paid the deposit and looked forward to our January departure. Then our world caved in. We lost everything in the Global Financial Crisis and had to abandon our holiday dreams. We lost the deposit, enough money to catch up the payments on our defaulted mortgage. We used to use the Cahill Expressway so we could see the ships docked at Circular Quay. We stopped doing that. It was too painful.

I’m turning 37 in two weeks. OMG I’ll be 40 soon. I haven’t lived!

I wrote a ‘bucket list’. There are things I want to do before I turn 40. One of them is to travel. I told my husband. “We are traveling to Europe before I turn 40. I’ve got it all figured out. We’ll keep it simple. Instead of spending a month visiting all my relatives well fly straight to Rome for a week, then Euro Disney in France for a week. Simple, kid-friendly, what do you think?”

“That’s cost at least $30,000 Jo,” my darling husband said.

“Well I’m going to Europe before I turn 40. I’m happy to go for a couple of weeks on my own but I’d prefer for us to do it all together.” I stopped short of stamping my food.

“I’m not saying we won’t go, I think it’s a good idea.”

“It is a good idea. We’re doing it,” I stated with determination.

“Let’s do it,” he said.

Several things will have to occur for this to eventuate. We’ll have to save money like demons. I’ll have to get over my morbid fear of flying (I fly in a helicopter for work and every day I am surprised when we land safely). I’ll have to stop watching shows on the CI channel and ‘I almost got away with it’. I will not carry any packages for anyone while traveling.

Families travel all the time. They arrive safely and return safely. They post photos on their Facebook pages and I choose the ‘like’ button and see the smiling faces of their children. They tell me the kids were fine on the plane. They tell me the packing and traveling were a bit hard but once they arrived they could have stayed forever.

Oh, I almost forgot I went to Hamilton Island for my friend’s wedding. I flew there with my son and my husband was meant to join us but didn’t make it due to work commitments (!). It was so fun and once we settled into our hotel we could have stayed forever. It was hot. We took the green bus from our hotel to the ice cream shop every single night.

I will get to Europe by the time I turn 40. I want to blow out my birthday candles in Rome, with my family around me. I will I will I will.

It will be a happy fabulous birthday!

La Dolce Vita, 
Jo Abi

Traveling with kids

19 Jun


Traveling with children isn’t easy. Ha, understatement of the century. It’s difficult enough to travel around our local area fulfilling various obligations without adding a plane, a hotel, mummy’s work and all that this entails.

I have a job in QLD in three weeks time. My three children, my mother and I will be traveling there by plane and flying back a few days later. I’ve never traveled with all three children. I’ve traveled with one….I’m not a drinker but I might be by the time I get back.

The travel, cost and accommodation is all being taken care of for me so all I need to worry about is keeping the kids happy and stop my mother from having a nervous breakdown (a nervous breakdown isn’t an option for me).

Here’s my plan:

* Pack each of them a special back pack with a book, some colouring and their favourite snacks;

* Pack their favourite foods including two-minute-noodles just in case they refuse to eat the magnificent hotel food;

* Bring their special sleeping toys;

* Remember the phone, iPod and Nintendo DS chargers;

* Nappies and heaps of wipes;

* Look up the hotel address and find my local supermarket;

* Make it fun and keep them happy.

I’m excited and daunted at the prospect of this trip. I am trying very hard to NOT PANIC. What if they cry on the plane? What if they vomit in the car or on the plane? What if they refuse to sleep at the hotel? What if they get lost? What if I’m too stressed out to get the job done? What if my mum doesn’t cope?

Traveling with children can be fabulously wonderful (from what I’ve heard) but I’ve never been a traveler on my own so traveling with children is a challenge for me.

So I’m going to do my best to keep everyone happy and have a bit of fun myself. I’m picturing happy children colouring and munching on Pringles on the plane (I always crave Pringles when I fly, not sure why). I imagine delighted shrieks when they see the plane and happiness at their first glimpse of our hotel room. I want our nights to be like slumber parties. I plan to rent great movies, make popcorn, change everyone into their nightclothes and relax together before bedtime.

Bedtime…hmmm…if they sleep at all I’ll be happy. They’ll all want to be in the same room with me and we are in a two bedroom apartment. I wanted one of them to sleep with my mum, one with me and my eldest on the roll in bed in my room. What will happen will be me and all three kids in a bedroom and then once they’ve fallen asleep, I tiptoe out and get some sleep on the lounge before they all wake up.

So, that’s my optimistic plan. Let’s see how I go.

Every time my husband mentions taking the kids on a trip I cringe. He wants to take them to Seaworld, Disneyworld, the Blue Mountains. Whenever he says that I think travel sickness, running out of wipes, crying, tantrums and deep, throbbing headaches.

I know my kids pretty well and I think I know how to snap them out of any bad moods. Lollies work, tickle fights, hugs and kisses and their favourite toys…for me happiness is happy kids, sleeping kids, my favourite coffee and coming home after a terrific weekend.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

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