jenn jay tales

Jennifer Johnston shares her travel tales; life adventures; observations, photos and random thoughts

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Win a trip to Cambodia

Thought the title might interest you – but sorry after that headline grabber – this post is actually about me trying to win a trip to Cambodia (not the other way round!)

I’ve entered a blogging competition with a worthy prize – the only thing I need is your vote – so to help me win a trip to Cambodia please go to my entry Naked Communion – a divine onsen experience and follow the links.

This is my last week of campaigning for votes as the comp closes August 3rd. Hopefully in a few months I’ll be sharing stories about Cambodia!




Giving back – an inspirational story

Meet My Huong Le

When travelling through Vietnam, I was fortunate to spend a day in Vung Tau with this amazing woman. She opened up to me about her childhood, being taken from her mother at the age of five during the Vietnam War. My Huong was part of operation baby lift, an initiative towards the end of the war by American President Ford, where children from southern Vietnam were adopted out to American and Australian families as the Vietcong invaded the south,

My Huong Le returned to her country of birth 30 years after leaving. As an adoptee herself, could there be a better person to understand the plight of orphans?

My Huong now helps manage an orphanage in Vung Tau and also works closely with a learning centre for disadvantaged children. She has an incredible life story and is only just beginning it she says!

My Huong Le at her desk

Her story about giving back despite all the challenges in her early childhood is incredible and inspiring.

Please find my story about my time with My Huong Le LIFT Magazine Issue 8 Winter LIFT 8 15-19  published in Lift Magazine.

Long Hai learning centre grounds Vung Tau, Vietnam


Mosquitoes and soft tofu – another side to Vietnam

Vietnam so many highlights – what about the lowlights?  Here’s my travel story  with a few of both Mosquitoes and soft tofu – another side to Vietnam

mekong river dwellers 2

Transport styles

Transport styles


Crazy Times Ahead ……..

Crazy times ahead 

Most of us lead very busy lives. Just when you think your life could not be any busier, people like me decide to seek new challenges to prove life is not NOT busy enough!

Not sure what has possessed me other than the notion I am always up for a challenge – but I’m (close to) entering the home renovation/demolition “arena.” Without any prior knowledge or serious experience in any of these areas – other than a small renovation projects on the house that (could be) about to become my BIG project and an investment property renovation/modernisation project for six months – I’m not sure why I’m considering undertaking such a project.

Neither of those previous projects involved an architect – this one does. Throw in a Town Planner and you get the picture – I’m on a steep learning curve!

It also explains why I have not been blogging as regularly as I should!  This whole approval process has consumed six months of my life. But I rarely follow a sensible / conventional path!

This is as a result of my desire to down-size my home – an outcome from my personal-life circumstances. I began looking in the real estate market to determine what I could buy to suit myself and my three kids who are getting older and therefore have different space needs in the house. The Brisbane market seems to have moved to a seller’s market. I was viewing newly renovated houses that were on the market for only a matter of weeks (in many instances) and were selling for prices I thought were a tad on the high (er) side.  So my active little brain started thinking. If these property developers are buying large blocks and splitting them into two, building a new house on half the block and renovating the original house – selling both – for a reasonable profit – could I do the same?

My house is reasonably large (for a single mum and her three kids) and the block of land it sits on is sizeable too so the questions began: what zoning is my house? Can I split the block by partially demolishing some of the house, raise it, slide it over and create a second lot to be sold at a later stage?  These crazy notions started around July 2014.

Its now May 2015 and my zany project has introduced me to foreign world.  But it has been an interesting ride. Why?

  • I am the “boss” of this project (as in the chief decision maker)
  • I am female and
  • I am about to enter into a male dominated industry of which I know very little about!

The conversations I’ve had with my lovely architect, town planner, various builders, demolition guys and house raisers have been enlightening (to say the least!)  The writer in me knows there is a story to track on my blog.

Although I have not signed the dotted line to progress to the “yes it is definitely happening stage” I am moving closer.

So renovation junkies out there – watch this space ………….

This is the house in its original state - circa 1928.

This is the house in its original state – circa 1928.