Thursday, June 2, 2011

My first overseas trip: A year on- Woking


I had never traveled and had no intentions to. But, it was obviously meant to be. The universe conspired to get me there. It started with a dear friend seriously suggesting a trip together, the conversation escalated and the planning started. And finally at age 38, I applied for a passport. Then things changed. My friend moved into a new job and couldn’t take time off. Just as I thought about shelving the trip, another friend stepped up and said that he planned to be overseas at the same time. He suggested that we meet in Europe and travel together. The trip was on again! I met with the travel agent and obtained quotes for airfares, a eurail pass and travel insurance. Then my mate dropped off the radar. It was then I realised that I was meant to go and more than that, I had to go on my own. I, who was anal and had need for everything to be organized and done to plan, I gave notice at my job. I would return from my holiday broke and un-employed. That was such a huge thing for me to do, no security (OMG!!!). How would I pay the mortgage??? I tried not to think about it and to have faith in the process which was leading me to where I needed to go. I had gathered my small amount of savings into one account. My mindset was to ‘enjoy myself and not to count the pennies’, because this may be my only holiday overseas, ever and I don’t want to have any regrets.

I finished work on Saturday the 29th of May. I then put my mind towards my final essay for university. Which I handed in at the last class of semester on Tuesday evening the 1st of June. The next afternoon I flew out.

Join me as I celebrate the anniversary of my first whirl-wind overseas holiday!

02/06/2010.  Melbourne to Heathrow and then Woking, Via Singapore.   

The thing I recall from my plane trip, was the chubby, scruffy young man in front of me, zonked out on meds, and showing maximum bum crack. I am an avid fan of bum crack, but this was a vulgar display, having said that, It didn’t stop me eating everything served up. How could I sleep when there was food and drink to be had, to refuse was not to get my monies worth!!! That went for movies as well. Every film I watched was potentially $5 saved (based on me hiring it as a ‘new release’ at the local Video store). From memory, the flight ended as the sun came up over london and I sat chatting with a heavily accented tractor driver from Gloucester (I think). I was just mesmerized by his lovely accent and had no idea what he was saying most of the time.

Anyway, After 22 hours of flying, I arrived at Heathrow Airport on the 2nd of June at 5.35am local time. I swiftly picked up some duty free and found a bus to take me to Woking.

I arrived at 7am. I was going to stay with my friend ‘F’, who I had not seen in years. Now she was married, with a young child and another on the way! She did tell me to call her when I arrived at Woking station and she would collect me, but as it was so early and there was a not-quite-drunk-enough man eying off my duty free, I decided to make my way to her house. How hard could it be? I am in the mother country, same language and everything. I grew up on British comedy. Easy peasy!  Apparently she lived 5 mins drive from the Station. Unable to find a ‘civic map’ I stumbled into a post office sorting house and asked for directions. I could barely understand the heavily accented men there. At that point any normal person would have called F and been picked up, but not I, no…. I walked about town, backpack on, and suitcase following… I walked through the nice green leaved wide streets, I walked through the dodgy sections, with English soccer flags hanging out of windows. Any moment I expected English soccer hooligans to beat me up (Hey I live in the real world, I may have watched those British comedy shows, but I also saw most of Shane Meadows, Mike Leigh & Ken Loach’s films and ‘This is England!’ (Shane Meadows related pun))…so before I knew it I had passed through the poorer and rougher looking section of town (alive!), crossed a creek and I was suddenly surrounded by woodlands. After a few more phone calls , me getting lost several more times and ‘F’ out driving about looking for me, I finally arrive at the address feeling foolish. F arrives back soon after, fortunately not upset. You will not be surprised to know that getting lost was a constant theme of my trip.

My first day overseas was spent catching up, relaxing, settling in, and visiting the lovely Wisley Gardens, in Woking, Surry. The drive to and from Wisley was done on very narrow roads that snaked their way through gorgeous woodlands, very picturesque! Over the next few days, in between trips to London, I visited the main part of Woking itself. I was delighted to finally shop at ‘Sainsburys’, have a full English breakfast (with fried bread) and just soak up the atmosphere. One heavily accent shop assistant (when I was having trouble working out the pence and pounds), very quickly realized that I was visiting from Australia and incredulously asked why was I in Woking - ‘It’s a hole’. I smiled, what a quaint accent, like something from a BBC television series. I walked away trying to recall what TV show I had heard that accent in.

Next stop London, Brighton and Portslade!

Wisley Gardens:

The trip back from Wisley, to Woking.This was taken through the car windscreen:

Nice wide, leafy street in Woking:

I was so excited to see any signage that looked different to the signs back home (yes I am a trainspotter). Plus this reminded me of 'Keeping up appearances':

This is soo cool it has its own postcard!!! I sent one to my mate Dean. This is a tribute to H.G. Wells, who wrote in Woking (as well as had the martians land there in the book 'War of the worlds').  

Full English Breaky in Woking, with fried bread of course!..Warning, it wasn't as yum as the picture might suggest.

The Wey and Godalming Navigations. This is a navagatable part of the river Wey which runs for 20 miles. 

Boats Lined up along the side of the river Wey. The building in the background is a an English pub where F and family took me for a proper English sunday lunch!

More boats in the other direction. The water was so still and mirror like!

Sunday lunch at the pub. Yorkshire pudding anyone? Don't worry I was confused as well and asked where the pudding was!


  1. wow how brave are you? i wish i'd done something like that when i was younger. such an interesting blog i can't wait for more and i love the photos. doesn't that river with the boats on it look gorgeous. like a postcard. :)

  2. Hi Yevisha,
    Not too sure about my being brave..maybe foolhardy??

  3. Errr...I think you're the only person in the whole wide world who has blogged about Woking!

  4. What??? I am surprised more people haven't done so...
    I know the local at the supermarket thought i was insane for even visiting.... but it was cool to check out for a few days.. infact I would love to explore Surry on a future Holiday (Woking is in Surry right??).