Sydney, Australia (Part I)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

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Travelling is something I don't particularly yearn for. I mean, don't get me wrong - it's always fun to see new sights, visit attractions and eat lots of food with less guilt (we always cut ourselves some slack when overseas heh heh) but somehow, I always end up being a lot less excited when I'm overseas or maybe I just don't seem to be able to comprehend or take in the fact that I just flew halfway across the globe to some foreign land? 

I don't know, but new experiences don't interest me very much even though my head tells me they should. Most of the time, I end up constantly forcing myself to think and reflect about every single thing I see so that I'll be able to take something away from it. And trying to make everything a learning experience causes activities like feeding kangaroos absolutely unsatisfactory for me and my selective brain. Is this part of growing up? To be honest, it feels a lot more like I'm trying to make myself grow up quicker... but I don't know. Either way, I can't seem to help it and all I know is that it has definitely helped make travelling a lot less enjoyable for me. 

That said, my trip to Sydney from 21 December last year till 4 January this year is still something that I count my blessings for and if anything, it was a great bonding opportunity with my brother (our parents stayed in Singapore)! This is my second time to Australia and I suppose Australia isn't a place that you'll experience culture shock or gain massive takeaways spiritually. It was all very normal and the environment was quite comparable to Singapore (except of course, a lot more scenic and less man-made) so I spent my two weeks there resting, relaxing (considering it was the only legit break I got after A Levels since I started my internship almost immediately after the exams) and playing with my camera. 

With that, I bring to you some of the photographs I took on this very chill trip that I don't actually have much to say about (that's a first). I'll be splitting my posts into two, and this first part will cover the countryside-rural-beach-nature places while the second post will be of the city. They aren't in order of the places we visited though. 

Some of you will know that I am allergic to seafood (although I'm already growing out from this allergy so don't worry guys) and seafood isn't one of my favourite foods but what would visiting the Sydney fish market be without trying some of their freshest catches? (hint: a lot less terrific.)

This was just rice with a whole load of seafood on top but the rice was so flavourful from all the seafood juices. 

I must say, this was probably the best dish I ate during the entire trip! The scallops were cooked with rice and cheese and roe and everything went so perfectly well together. It made for three greedy mouthfuls of goodness. 

We had a lots of not-so-good company throughout our meal. 

Most of the people working there were Asians (both Australians and mainland Chinese!) and a lot of the tourists who visited the market were from China. 

 Never-ending greens. 

And then we met a couple (actually, a lot!) of free-roaming kangaroos and this particular one was pretty darn photogenic. I mean, just look at those soulful eyes. They usually roam near a particular hospital.  

I wasn't really interested in the kangaroos so I didn't feed them but I can't deny that they are adorable. 

This is Nelson Bay at Port Stephens. The seas in Australia are really blue and clear. This was a tourist attraction but if I remember correctly, apart from a couple of souvenir shops, there was nothing much there. Of course, it was naturally scenic and beautiful. 

Hello, pelican. 

Hello, pelican number two. 

This was called "Bub's Famous Fish & Chips" but I didn't really like it. The batter was pretty bland but Australia has this thing called "chicken salt" that almost all Fish & Chips shops have. It's basically MSG and I suppose that makes the dish more tasty to your own liking. 

We headed to the Sand Dunes where we did sand-boarding. It was quite fun but climbing up to the top of the sand hill was really tiring and required a lot of effort to walk as my feet kept sinking into the soft sand. I'm not very adventurous though so I kept slowing down my board with my hands. 

Hello, pelicans x 10000. They all gathered for fish! 

 This was really cute and made me very happy to see and talk to the people behind the food truck - they have this Driver Reviver food truck in the middle of nowhere for drivers who are making long distance drives to stop and grab tea/ coffee/ juice and biscuits free-of-charge. Of course, you can choose to make a donation to the Morisset Lions. One thing I noticed along the Australia expressways and roads is that they really care for people's road safety. There's always signs that show the toilets/ amenities available at each exit of the expressway and after stopping over at say, a fast food restaurant, they have signs that thank you for stopping by so that you'll be recharged and awake for the rest of your journey to prevent accidents from happening. I don't know, just thought that was a really nice touch.  

We hiked at the Blue Mountains and this was one of the iconic landmarks - the Three Sisters! Landmarks like these undeniably look good but I find it sad how I don't get awed by them. They just don't seem all that sublime. The thing about witnessing such large and amazing natural pieces of art is that there's always a lot of other tourists/ people surrounding you and it takes a lot away from the experience. 

Hello, brother.

I got a little scared, we were pretty high up.  

Took the opportunity to snap a shot while the butterfly landed...

... and another one. More bokeh in this one - definitely one of my favourite shots of the entire trip. (Notice me, National Geographic! Just kidding, I don't enjoy photographing wildlife/ nature/ fauna that much plus I recently read about the life of a Nat Geo photographer and it's really tough.)

Into the woods. 

Iguana, chameleon, some lizard, I don't really know. Eeks. 

Throughout the trip, I kept taking photographs of strangers. If anyone's been photograph-ed by me and happen to stumble upon their photograph and don't like it... feel free to get me to take them down. Please don't sue me!

But I really love this photograph! The man's so chill - he just brought a (presumably) good book and (presumably) his best friend to the park, laid down and relaxed. That's a lovely way to spend a late afternoon. 

I got to try Adriano Zumbo's pastries, which I was super excited about. I mean, if someone can get rich and famous from baking, I have got to taste it for sure. We got the tarts from his first, original stall at Balmain but they don't have any seating space and sell everything to-go. So we had them at a nearby park! 

I can't remember what exactly they were called by there were essentially lemon meringue, strawberry and coffee tarts. They were done well - I don't think it would've disappointed anyone but I couldn't see how they stood out. 


Feet to mouth - some flexible gymnastics going on here.

I could spend a day just watching waves hit the shore. Just the sounds and sights of it calms me down immensely, as if time stopped for a little while. I love the light blue area where the white bubbles and the blue sea meet. Hashtag aesthetics. 

More gorgeous-ness. 

Hello, Fido. (Heh heh making use of my newly-acquired list of ways to say "dog" other than "dog", from my internship.)

Maronga Park. 

Although it was supposedly summer while we were in Australia (yes, another country that doesn't have a White Christmas too), it was mostly cold at around seventeen degree Celsius. That was the perfect weather for me though because it was chilly yet sunny at the same time. Their proper summer only started during the last couple of days of our stay there which allowed me to see the locals come out and embrace the heat. On the day where the temperature hit 25 degrees, Sydney went a little wild and everyone swarmed to the popular Bondi Beach. The radio deejay even told everyone to head outside to tan as well. 

Tumblr-worthy, yes?

Bondi Beach was crazy crowded but somehow the photographs I took don't really show the extent of it. There were so many seriously sun-burnt humans walking around and they looked like cooked lobsters. Such a funny sight but at the same time it's also worrying because the damage caused from the Sun's rays can lead to pretty nasty outcomes. I, for one, was not hiding how typical of an Asian I was with lots of sunblock smeared over myself, with hat and all. 

Overall, the countryside-rural-beach-nature side of Sydney has a very laid-back and relaxed vibe, which makes it a pretty ideal holiday destination if you're looking for a chill time.

More about my trip in my next post where I will share photographs from the city side of Sydney! :-)
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Hello 2016

Sunday, January 17, 2016

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So it's already been eighteen days into the new year. I've been meaning to write a concluding post for 2015 for a while now and I even tried penning some of my thoughts down on the aeroplane home from Sydney but somehow it was a very challenging task.

I don't know why, perhaps it's because 2015 already seems too far away. Even in the last couple of months of it, I felt like I was already living a new chapter of my life, away from junior college, away from school life and unfortunately, away from a lot of my friends or just all the familiar faces I've grown so accustomed to for the past six years. I've moved on so quickly the moment A Levels ended and truth be told, I never once caught myself feeling upset about it. Which was strange because I've always thought myself to be a sucker for nostalgia - maybe I've learnt to accept that people have got to move on from things and we should just appreciate that they happened, or it could be because it's difficult to long for the past or feel sentimental about things that didn't impact me that strongly. That said, 2015 still deserves some credit. Sure - it wasn't the most fulfilling or eventful of years but I was still fortunate to have lived through some pretty wonderful moments and surviving twelve years of formal, MOE-regulated education and the A Level examinations are milestones in itself that should be celebrated (that is, before the results are revealed). With that, I shall take a little look back at how 2015 went and hope that my memory doesn't let me down now.

Studying in the Shaw Foundation Library took up majority of my time in the past year and while the memories are not vivid, it was during that time where my class truly bonded and it was then where I got completely comfortable with them and their company. And for that, I am so thankful. I don't think I could have survived without the knowledge that they were always there and that I could count on them for anything I was unsure of. They brought a lot of much-needed laughter into my life (although we were mostly laughing at ourselves and how we were all wallowing in misery). In hindsight, they are probably the most underrated group of friends I've ever had - I don't write sappy Instagram dedications to them nor acknowledge them publicly but the year would've been so different without their presence.

Interact was also one hell of a huge blessing. Truth be told, I never had a burning desire to be a part of this CCA but I'm incredibly appreciative of how well things have worked out for me. Right from the start of 2015, Interact Camp stressed me out big time especially with Orientation and CT1s but it has been a while since I've done this sort of event-planning or been responsible for a large group of people and to me, these things are what makes life more fulfilling and exciting (as much as I vowed not to get involved with all these when I first entered junior college). Perhaps the best decision of the year was to give up one week of my June holidays' study time for the Interact trip to Cambodia. I learnt so much more about life than if I had spent the week just facing pure academic material, and I found myself in a company of people who loved so selflessly. Of course, Interact also gave me CSL - they made me look forward to Mondays and that's probably one of the best ways to start a school week.

Orientation was pretty far back and it does feel like a distant memory but it gave me my favourite lil shits. They are always showering us with so much love and care especially during the A Level period - it's always a joy seeing them around and having little individual impromptu chats. Few OGlings still include their OGLs in their activities and outings but they are always so inclusive, which makes me really happy and to see them genuinely enjoy each others' company is one of the loveliest feelings in the world. Starting every single school morning for the past year with them seems like such a minute event but having something constant like that is comforting and they've definitely lifted my spirits on dreary mornings.

Now when I really think about it, there's been so much to be thankful for in 2015, many of which I can't cover in this post.

Anyway, since the start of 2014, I've actually been doing this thing where I talk to the camera about my thoughts and feelings and really just anything that's on my mind at various times of the year. It's quite nice (but also a little surreal and strange) to be able to look back and see how my perspective on certain topics changes. I must admit that 2014 was an insane emotional roller coaster ride but I just saw several of the clips from 2015 and I must say that considering it was my A Level year, I was surprisingly calm and happy and even proved my January 1, 2015 self wrong about how I was probably going to regress into my anxiety-stricken Primary six PSLE-sitting self. You go, girl! :-)

Thanks for the better-than-expected ride, 2015.

And hello, 2016. You are already the most unpredictable year in a long, long while. For the past couple of years I would always know where I'd be a few months into the future but what's staring at me right now is a complete blank. I can't say I'm ready for what's to come but one thing's for sure - I'll try my very best to be open to whatever lies ahead.
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