Five Things

A kind reminder to celebrate the little things in life

The first week of the new year always leaves me feeling conflicted. In some ways, I’m ready for the fresh start, excited to get back to uni and work, and am relaxed after so much time off. But on the other hand, I get sad the holidays are over, and that I’m running out of excuse to approach each meal as though it’s one big celebration. But I’ve been trying to look for the little things that get me feeling excited for this slightly awkward time of year: boyfriend’s birthday and having him back in Brisbane in February, binge watching some of my favorite TVs (Suits, Black Mirror, and completing Stranger Things), and an upcoming birthday trip that’s just a month away.

Here’s to making it through our first month of the year and to really great things to come in 2018! X

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetA cosy little corner in SWOP, West End (more pictures of it hereProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetHome of my the energy pods (my favorite nap spots in uni)IMG_1032New Years Eve’s night out attempt that ended up in SouthbankProcessed with VSCO with m5 presetIn one of my favorite bars in town (one I mentioned here)IMG_1089I refuse to be anything less than a boss since I was a baby, apparently

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Beach Hopping in Byron Bay

You know those awkward days between Christmas and New Years when you’re just kinda lost and don’t know what to do? I knew better than to fool myself into thinking that I was going to be productive – we all know it was going to be spent binge watching some trashy TVs and eating junk. So a couple of friends and I decided to might as well get out of town, and here’s documenting our visit to the small cosy coastal town of Byron Bay, New South Wales.

DAY 1

If there are two things I love doing when traveling, is going on a roadtrip, and going to the waters. Both of which I got to do during this 3-day roadtrip I will take you through. We rented a car from Brisbane and slowly made our way to Byron Bay and made it to our first stop at the Famous Yatala Pies just in time for breakfast. I treated myself to their classic steak&mushroom pie and apple turnover, and just thinking about those pies got me low-key drooling right now, so let’s get a move on.

Our second stop along the way (about 100km south of Brisbane) was Springbrook National Park, located just before the border of New South Wales. After seeing tons of pictures of the park’s Natural Bridge from Google, you would expect the view to be no less than perfect. And after about a half an hour hike through a beautiful subtropical rainforest (it was even better after the rain), it’s safe to say that no pictures could do the place justice. Definitely one of the waterfalls to see when you visit Queensland, hands down.

After about an hour drive across the border, we checked into our accommodation, Two Birds & The Aviary. While far from the usual Airbnb gig I’d normally go for (a tent with a sleeping bag, a shared bathroom, and communal kitchen), I’m proud to say that I survived my first legit camping experience! I’m also really happy about the fact that the camping ground had direct access to Tallows Beach and is an easy roll in to town.

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DAY 2

We started the day with an attempt to catch sunrise at Cape Byron (only to be greeted by rain), which is the most easterly point of mainland Australia and home to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse. Nestled in under the Lighthouse is the Wategos Beach, surrounded by stunning cliffs and crashing waves.

After breakfast, we were headed to Whites Beach, one of Byron’s hidden gems. Take note though, it was quite a struggle for us to get there. We had to travel down a dirt road that winds through the rainforest, our car broke down (God bless the people who stopped by to help jump start our car in the middle of nowhere), almost an hour spent on waiting due to limited parking spots, and trekked along a narrow path down to the beach.

But trust me, it’s worth sweat and sunburn. From white sands, crystal clear water and secluded rock pools, I’m so happy we didn’t give up when we had a million reasons to. We continued with lunch by the beach, a little stroll around town and ended the day in Main Beach, surrounded by live music, sunset, and my loved ones.

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DAY 3

Not being much of an early riser, I’d make exception for a sunrise by the beach, because all the lack of sleep always pays off when Mother Nature puts on her finest show. The track from my camp to Tallow Beach itself is literally a path to paradise taken right out of Nicholas Sparks’ novel. While no sunrise will ever be the same, this one will forever remain one of my favorites.

We ended our trip with a short visit to The Farm, and if you know me, I’ve always had a soft spot for places like this one. From the sunflower plots, cattle-dotted fields, to their restaurant, produce store, bakery, and a florist, I couldn’t stop roaming around this rustic-themed oasis like a kid in a candy store. After grabbing some quick drinks and fish&chips, we drove back to Brisbane and shamelessly stopped at Yatala to bring some frozen pies home, again (it’s that good!).

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2017, Summed Up

Looking back at the year as a whole, 2017 feels a bit like a blur. This was one of my most challenging years, and life as a final year chemical engineering student certainly was not exactly easy peasy lemon squeezy. There were certainly some tough times – but also some really high highs. I think it’s safe to say that this year was…a lot. 

All in all, this year I’m grateful for all the new places & friends I encountered along the way, starting the year off with family back home in Indonesia before flying back to Australia, a cosy trip to Sunshine Coast and Noosa in April with friends, birthday trip to Gold Coast, camped out in breezy Milford countryside in June, winter in New Zealand, and ended the year with a roadtrip across state to Byron Bay, New South Wales.

Exploring new places has always been my biggest form of inspiration and puts me on a creative high like nothing else. And to be able to share a tiny bit of joy through my love for photography, writing, and traveling is something I look forward to do more of in 2018 and this has me even more excited about the upcoming year. Like the past year, I pulled some of my favorite moments from 2017.

I hope you have some calm and restful time with family & friends and my very best wishes for you in 2018, X. 

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My 21st birthday bash with all of my loved ones
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An impromptu dip into the fairy pool in Noosa National Park that was worth all the hours of hike and sunburn
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Moving out of our old apartment and into our cosy new one in Carr StreetProcessed with VSCO with m3 preset
A weekend getaway camping out at a farm stay in Cannon Creek surrounded by farm animals and spent the whole night BBQ-ing and stargazing a sky full of starsProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset
First day of snow during our stay in Late Tekapo, New Zealand20170629 Hot Air Balloon, Canterbury Hororata (129)
Hot air ballooning across the ever changing landscape of Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps 
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Chemical Engineering Student Society Ball 2017 in Hilton BrisbaneProcessed with VSCO with nc preset
Very fortunate to be a part of this group of great engineers and even greater friends & finishing Design Project with an unexpectedly rewarding mark

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetRecent roadtrip across state with friends to Byron Bay, North of New South Wales
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Catching sunrise at Cape Byron, the most easterly point of the Australian Mainland

Happy Holidays from The Down Under

This Christmas was the first one that I had to spend away from home, family, and all the familiar faces. While there is nothing like the warm feeling of being back home for the holiday, I’m happy I didn’t completely miss all of our usual traditions which involved putting up the tree, catching up with friends & family, and lots of sugar cookies (more to be found here). This year, I was mentally prepared for a very (quite literally) Blue Christmas, but it turned out that every disappointment is a blessing in disguise indeed. I get to reunite with my best friend who’s home from Adelaide and spend Christmas at hers (my home away from home).

Living in Australia, it can be difficult to find that comfy-cosy feeling of the holidays. Hot chocolate? Too hot. Sledding? More like surfing. But throwing a funky pre-holiday potluck party, a Christmas family lunch (stuffed turkey included), and swapping Secret Santa pressies with friends seemed like a nice holiday hug for everyone and that’s exactly what we did.

While I was practically adopted for the holiday, I couldn’t be more blessed for all the friends and family that make Brisbane home. And while spending the holiday at home is still all so potently irreplaceable, it’s a lovely realisation that Christmas is not only where you find it; it’s what you make of it. Had myself a Merry little Christmas and I hope you did too! X.

DSC_0767Throwback to a potluck party at our place before everybody runs off for their holiday

Processed with VSCO with b5 presetRare decent picture with the babyDSC_0846DSC_0860IMG_0076Christmas lunch with the CoopersDSC_0865

DSC_0883Chocolate pavlova with cream, raspberries, and strawberry compoteDSC_0853IMG_0153The cutest organic essentials from my secret santaProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetHome away from home

 

What To Do in Brisbane This Holiday Season

My first week back in Brisbane had been pretty occupied unpacking luggages, catching up with classes, attending friends’ graduation, recovering from a nasty flu, but the most fun yet, playing tourist in this Queensland’s proud capital!

One of the things that makes Brisbane so exciting is the endless possibilities of things to do in this sprawling city. Unlike the other half of the world and their whole ‘Winter Wonderland’ situation, we celebrate Christmas under Australia’s warm, summer sky. Brisbane is currently spreading festive cheer across the City and South Bank, from parades to markets, free holiday movie marathons to festive lights thrown all over King George Square. Seriously, you just cannot seem to run out of things to check out here.

A few friends and I decided to spend a day exploring some of the major holiday highlights happening in the city. From checking out exhibitions in South Bank to ending the day at a West End bar, here are some of the Brisbane’s holiday bucket list items checked from our little city detour:

  1. Turning into a tech nerd at The Lab. We started the day at the Digital Futures Lab where part of the second floor of The State Library of Queensland is currently transformed into basically a public Tech Arcade. The interactive exhibition allows you to actually walk in the timeline of the world’s technology history. From drawing with Microsoft Paintbrush on an actual Windows 95 desktop to sketching 3D dragons with a Virtual Reality gear, they’re well worth a return trip. 
  2. Taking shameless Instagram selfies at GOMA. Still in the same South Bank cultural precinct is The Queensland Gallery of Modern Arts (QAGOMA). I think GOMA is a place where one can just kick back and enjoy the calm in the madness. Aside from the Instagram worthy exhibitions, they always have fun and creative activities to do for kids and adults (or in my case, it’s always somewhere in between). They’re currently presenting the Yayoi Kusama’s and Gerhard Richter’s exhibitions but when you don’t have time to go in any major ones, check out their Calendars page because they always have free exhibitions to enjoy.
  3. Exploring West End by foot. West End is one of those unapologetically quirky  inner-city corners rich with culture and its own charming local characters. It’s a melting pot of curated designer boutiques, organic grocers, cosy bars and coffee houses. Explore West End by foot (about 20 minutes walk from South Bank) and you might just stumble across some serious vintage shopping scenes. Bag a bargain of second-hand designer clothes at Vinnies or trade yours in for cash at SWOP on Boundary Street. There are some serious retro finds to be had here.
  4. Grabbing a cider at Brisbane Brewing Co. I must admit I was a little skeptical being dragged here by my flatmate Meta as this bar was tucked away down a laneway off the Boundary Street. But take a few more steps and you’ll find yourself in this airy beer garden with hanging gardens on the bar and outdoor umbrella patio table sets. I’m temporarily taking a drinking hiatus for some health reasons, but I took a sip of the apple/ginger cider she ordered, and I’m already finding reasons to come back there again in a few weeks time.

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Hope you had a good one X.

Slowing down and Staying in

Greetings from room 512.

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I know it’s been more of a death blog than a hiatus by now and if not for me laying queasy on a hospital bed right now, I could not have possibly find the time to sit down to revisit this sweet thing and realized how much I have missed writing again.

If I could blame my final year Design Project** for everything, I would. The last semester  had been a serious struggle juggling between uni and work. School isn’t merely a 9-to-5 job anymore, and I found myself working no matter the time and place, on weekends, all night, sometimes only coming home from uni to take occasional shower and change (I lost count on the amount of times I stole my boyfriend’s t-shirts and hoodie and lived in them for a week).

I flew back to Indonesia right after we submitted our Final Design and (hopefully) rocked that presentation. Without even unpacking my luggage, I had to fly again to East Java for a month for a placement in PGN. By the end of third week at work, this worker bee finally gave up. What started as a mild fever turned into the most horrific pain I had to experience in a very long time. I struggled getting anything into my system without throwing up every 10 minutes, costing me some major emotional breakdown. I stopped coming down to work and by the fourth day, I was hospitalized with Typhoid A.

I spent most of the past few days crying because a). I had to miss a trip to Bali with friends that I had long waited for, b). IV tubes are terribly inconvenient, and c). hospital food just bores me to tears. I could go on with the list of hospital rants, but I somehow started seeing it as a nice reminder that it’s okay to give myself a break every now and then. On a brighter Thanksgiving note, I’m really thankful for my  family here who really sticks around despite my current mental state, mom who flew all the way from Jakarta, shampooed my hair this morning (the hair situation got to the point where I couldn’t tell wet from greasy), and let me sneaked in some sushi deliveries because we are rebels like that.

In the past, I would have pushed through all of the works and vacation plans I had scheduled, but I now realize the importance of slowing down. I’ll be leaning into comfort food once I get discharged in a few days (is it just me or is eating healthily when you’re feeling under-the-weather so unappealing?) and laying low. Happy Thanksgiving and hope you all have a good one. x

 **A course designed to ensure final year Chemical Engineering students have no life whatsoever in their final year. However, I low key miss tagging the team in fresh relatable memes and confessing true emotions in many of the all nighters. 

 

Two Thousand and Seventeen

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It’s almost been a year since I started this blog, and while I often don’t have time to write much, I’m happy with the fact that this journal will always be a click away whenever I need a platform to channel my thoughts, travel adventures, and my love for little things in life.

Looking back, 2016 had been a remarkable year. To say that the first half of the year was tough is an understatement. I remember clearly the days where I was feeling frustrated, bitter, angry, and days where I was simply a miserable mess. But it’s okay, because it taught me to let go. I learned from the hard times, the heartbreak, the tears, from the mistakes and from my own shortcomings. It made me a little bit wiser and a little bit stronger, and as much as it sucked, I wouldn’t change a moment of it because it brought me where I am today.

If I had to pin-point one moment that changed everything it would be moving to Australia. It was one of the most challenging and exciting things that has ever happened to me, and leaving home has changed me and shifted my whole perspective on things. It taught me to survive on my own.

I can’t stress how badly I realized that I love home and the people I call so. There are days where I wanted nothing more than to wake up at home and sneak into my parents’ room and turn on their TV to watch Sunday morning cartoons.These are the things you learn to appreciate more and more as you return home.

I admit, my school itself is a whole different level there than it was in Indonesia. I had to upped my study game to merely pass (I’m glad that all those late nights in the library had successfully paid off). In the weeks leading up to my departure, I remember being absolutely terrified about not being able to “click” with the new place. But never had I been so wrong. It seems like I’ve made more new friends in the past 6 months than I did in 20 years. It may sound crazy, but these improbable friendships often seem destined. It’s when the cliche sayings of “You cross paths for a reason” make absolute sense. Coming from different parts of the world and despite all of our differences, we were there for each other. I’m eternally grateful for the moments I got to share with them, big or small, from pulling up all-nighters in the library cramming our final Unit Ops reports to all the parties we went to with a little bit of liver functionality that we have left.

2016 gave me a lifetime supply of stories to tell and moments to look back to. I’m thankful for the times I spent laughing my face off, the times I stayed up talking to someone I loved, and the times it made me feel invincible. Unlike all other years, it left an impact. As for 2017, it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. Happy New Year from yours truly.

x,
Amanda.

Some of my favorite moments from 2016.

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