Across Continents

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A bit behind…

July 25th, 2011

I’d finally made it back to friends in Sydney’s northern suburbs. Bit later than I’d hoped. Immigration to thank for that. Bite to eat. Glass of wine. Chance to reflect on the day’s events. There’d been the unexpected airport departure tax. Not included in the ticket. But only for those bound for Australia.


More expense. Which struck me as odd. Just why was Australia so expensive? If any country was justified in being more costly than, say, the UK, it was New Zealand. Far side of the world. Relatively small population. About four million to Oz’s twenty or so. And yet I’d found it pretty comparable to Blighty.

As we’d made our approach into Sydney the Captain had announced they were two hours behind. I’d laughed out loud. Quipped if you came out from the UK make it twenty years.



Curable condition

April 2nd, 2011

Chocolate addiction. Hardly intravenous drug use I admit. Undermining the very fabric of society. Addicts turning to crime to feed their habit. Actually, that might be said of both. In Australia. For, whilst the first world is never cheap, the cost of living here is eye-watering. And, even allowing for the strong Aussie dollar, this is an expensive country. Compounded by the lack of free lunches. You pay. For everything. Inclusive notably absent from the Australian lexicon.

Never mind the basic necessities. For which, to be fair, the savvy shopper can keep down at a cost broadly comparable with that of the UK. But take non-essentials like confectionary. Wide variety of well-known brands. You’d be lucky to get much change out of the equivalent of two pounds for just one small bar of chocolate. So, if you do need encouragement to quit the sugary stuff, try Australia. Especially the tropics. Turns to liquid in minutes.

[With especial thanks to Claire in Cornwall for the inspiration to write this piece. Teasing mention of After Eight mints]



On the box

August 20th, 2010

Since crossing from Kazakhstan into China, the standard of living, in general, has climbed steeply, whilst the cost of living has dropped considerably. Accommodation, food, much cheaper, the quality much higher, few exceptions. Remarkable value for money. Shades of the West, but without the price tag. For now at least.


But narrowing of the gap with the Western world extends beyond the necessities of everyday life. Issues discussed on national television, health awareness, tackling the underlying causes of juvenile crime, concerns at rapidly rising property prices in the cities, resonate closely with those you’d find being discussed in the West. And not just on China Central Television’s English language service.

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