The joy of anticipation

Anticipation can be one of the best parts of a holiday. Planning where you’ll go and what you’ll do can stir up a sense of excitement long before you go away. And it can colour the way you experience the holiday itself.

Cartoon of a girl saying, "I've looked forward to this for so long and now I'm actually doing it!"

The internet heightens this experience, exposing us to troves of photos and stories that help us plan and visualise the holiday. It also simplifies the logistics – because these days you can book almost every aspect of your holiday online.

Unless you have a significant physical disability, that is. In which case you can book almost no aspect of anything online, ever. Including holidays.

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The massage parlour manicure

Photo of a girl's manicured hand, holding a lotus bud.While we were in Ho Chi Minh, I visited a brothel for the first in time my life. With my 13-year-old daughter in tow.

At least, I think that’s what happened.

We’d been walking for hours in the stupefying heat – first to Saigon Square, a shopping centre my daughter wanted to visit, then on a circuitous route down to the harbour. We planned to check out our options for a family boat trip, taking in the sights of the city along the way.

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Screwed by the cyclo guy

We spent a bit less than two days in Ho Chi Minh, arriving on Sunday evening and leaving late on Tuesday morning: two teenagers and two adults who hadn’t travelled together before.

Taking a spin in a cyclo (one of Vietnam’s three-wheeled bicycle taxis) was high on my wishlist. But given the short timeframe and challenging dynamic, I knew we’d have to be opportunistic; grabbing the chances that came our way and abandoning the ones that didn’t, without regret.

Photo of a food stall at Ben Thanh market

Photo from virtualtourist.com

So I kept the wishlist loose.

On the Monday morning, we visited Ho Chi Minh’s largest markets – Ben Thanh – whose narrow aisles were a dense coagulate of people, noise and humidity. Pretty much as expected.

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The traffic in Ho Chi Minh

Busy traffic on a Hoi Chi Minh streetI’m not a city girl at heart – so as a travel destination, Ho Chi Minh City initially held little attraction for me.

As we planned our holiday, I thought of Ho Chi Minh as a stopover where we would sleep a couple of nights and recover after our plane trip, before beginning our Vietnamese adventure in earnest.

It’s not that I don’t like cities. I work and socialise in Sydney. It throbs with a life that I’d miss if I were permanently banished to the suburbs (where I live) or some beachy bushland (where I’d like to live).

Food, music, theatre, pubs, festivals, ferries, friends. They all connect me irresistibly to a somewhat city-bound life. But I hate the busyness of the city – the press of bodies on the footpath; the noisy, traffic-jammed streets; the feeling of being rushed and stagnated all at once by the sheer volume of humanity competing to move through the same space.

And with a population of nearly 9 million to our 4.6 million, the streets of Ho Chi Minh are notorious for their busyness – and chaos.

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Captain Awesome

Until I met my boyfriend last year, I hadn’t drawn anything for a really long time.

At that stage he wasn’t my boyfriend – just a guy I had a Big Crush on – and when he mentioned he liked ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, I went home and made some stickers of Max and one of the Wild Things for him. As any self-respecting madwoman would do.

pencil drawing of Captain AwesomeI was nervous as hell when I gave them to him – afterall, he had no idea that I liked him, so giving him something I’d obviously taken hours to make specifically for him, felt roughly equivalent to delivering him my heart on a plate.

I handed them over quickly, hands trembling, and mumbled some disclaimer about how they were for him – but only if he liked them.

Luckily, he did like them. Quite a bit, as it turned out. And within a week, we were dating.

Naturally, going out with someone who appreciates my quirky tastes has brought new opportunities to draw! To begin with, I started reproducing existing characters on sticker sheets, but one day, I was doodling in a notebook on the train ride to work, and Captain Awesome sprang to life.

He has appeared in his own comic strip, but Captain Awesome’s a busy man. So mostly he confines himself to stickers – which have a tendency to turn up in unexpected places!

I drew this one to celebrate Captain Awesome’s selection in the 2013 Australian Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup side.