Sydney Gets Better the Second Time

by Pricilia Clarissa Syafira

(I was just going do a post about my recent trip to Sydney when I found this piece about our trip already so perfectly written by one of the most adventurous souls I know, Fia. I decided to keep the title as this was my second time visiting too, since the last time I stepped foot in Sydney in 2009. Easily one of the perks of having a QUT student blogger and an incredible photographer as your best friend. Read her original piece over here). 

Especially in the beginning of summer.

I felt lucky, with time and prodigious boundary size of mine dragged me to be able to explore. I mean, everywhere in Australia clearly is not a cheap destination compared to my travels to local cities in Indonesia. But there I was, graduating soon enough and I’m going to explore the city one last time in a while.

The holiday started out by hunting a promotional airplane ticket by Tiger Airways; TigerAir Tuesday, where they discount the price every now and then for certain dates. The ticket was $150 return Brisbane – Sydney. The budget trip took us to another level; we rented out a private room hostel in Kings Cross Station (we didn’t know then it was a party area, there was loud music now and then but we were pretty much a heavy sleeper), Astoria Pop Space. The place was near the Kings Cross train station and the train is pretty much the most effective public transport the whole time I was there. The time spent was 4 nights.

The first day we arrived quite late, so the only thing we explored was dinner around Kings Cross. We found this underground restaurant, looked much like a bar as the place was so dark. Turned out to be Ms.G’s Restaurant, the best Asian fusion restaurant I’ve ever tried in my life. As an Asian, the recipe is approved. Best food: Cheeseburger Springroll, Silken Tofu, and Baby snapper with sambal balado.

The next day we spent the whole day as a tourist and did a lot of photoshoot. I like to take pictures more than taken, so here are the photographs I took, mostly of my weird friends Amanda Indriani and Sara Setiadi.

46302313652_d2cac27fac_o.jpg31413655097_c36c8d984d_o.jpg Sydney’s festive displays on George St. 

46139854702_d98453ce95_o.jpg45278122115_9eb8928fc7_o.jpgMr. Wong. A popular Chinese restaurant that I think is overrated and overpriced.

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46190344241_7685865c2f_o.jpgWendy Witheley Garden – one of Sydney’s best kept secrets.

46190326141_008346bacf_o.jpgScreen Shot 2019-01-23 at 10.03.30 PM.pngHopping around Luna Park.

46139673072_91db2ac38c_o.jpg31250917027_02f7be5269_o.jpg46190148561_4546cf2470_o.jpg Opera House in the golden hour.. is so great for my Canon EOS40D to be in action!

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together with this view!

The next day, the day started off with brunch at the Sydney Fish Market. We had a fight though with a bunch of seagulls and an ibis who decided to take three slices of fresh salmons off our plates! Lol, it was so fun nonetheless.

46190085571_38481ba390_o.jpg32870263528_ab2069c797_o.jpgEssentially a seafood paradise

46745621581_e07d75ba92_o.jpgDarling Harbour’s Tumbalong Playground Park

We spent the afternoon eating McDonalds $0.75 ice cream while sitting down on the side, planning on how to slide on the playground slide without destroying the children’s dreams, and also talking about marriage… how we’re going to face adultery and many other dark stuff.. WHOOPS! however we ended up playing on the playground and not give a damn about that part of life, and kept thinking like a child because we’re on holidays after all!

Well the day didn’t end there, but I went to a rock show afterwards. It was Neck Deep in Metro Theatre, Sydney. I don’t have pictures but I have some videos that I will keep to myself and my instagram for 24 hours.

The next day, we needed fresher air. So off to Bondi we went.

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It’s true that hanging around the beach makes you hungry at the end. So we went off directly back to town, Chinatown, to try one of the best ramen known to asian people in the city ~ Ramen Kan. IT’S SO GOOD.

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The last day was spent in The Grounds of Alexandria for both brunch and coffee hour. The place is too crowded, but we were too tired to explore with our three suitcases tagging along.

Your feminine side will definitely go out when you’re here, it’s all garden and being cute. They managed to blow out some snow in the middle of the day in the Christmas aisle. It was hot that day, but the glass houses filled with plants kept us lukewarm.

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Since one of the chef is a friend of ours, she ended up bringing her recipe for us, a recipe that she brought to the restaurant; Mango Parfait! It tasted amazing.

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We were accompanied by Fluffy, the house’s bird pet! He just sat there without anything to tie him, he was just amongst us minding his own business with the passionfruit that he showed off on purpose.

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This girls trip is just what I needed while waiting for graduation. Cheers to these two!

-PCS

Head to Fia’s Flickr account and mine for more pictures.

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Two Thousand and Eighteen

Since I’m a pretty sentimental person 90% of the time, it’s only fitting that this first week of the New Year has me feeling all nostalgic – I’ve been constantly looking at old photos from my phone and polaroids, going through my old agenda, and simply reflecting on how much one year can do to a person.

2018 was all about building my grit. I learned the hard ways that achievements are earned, not gifted on a silver platter. That dreams demand hustle, hard work, and persistence. While it may seem like I always ‘have it together’ most times, the truth is far from that. People close to me are aware that I’ve had my share of failures and breakdowns, because juggling uni, job, and being 5,000km away from home has not always been a breeze.

While it wasn’t without its share of downswings, I learned a lot and came out feeling more confident and sure of myself.  This year brought me my angels in human form. It brought me grace upon grace, showed me the harvest of my hardships, and reminded me to have faith in myself. 2018 was a good one and I’m nothing less than thankful for every big and small bits of it.

Here are a few of my most favorites from last year:

IMG_1532.jpg1. January: Completed my first internship in Australia during my summer semester. I had the pleasure of working with insanely driven young individuals through a fin-tech start-up. While it was a long shot from my engineering degree, I’m glad I was able to pick on their brains around all things business and finance (something I obviously didn’t get enough exposure on).

30829467_207756613154407_6747935599644114944_n.jpg2. February: Set foot in Cairns and snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef. Another thing checked off my bucket list!

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3. March: Turned big two two with the sweetest surprises from my loved ones, my home team. To say that I’m thankful to have them is an understatement.

35948698_428971210903964_2198940130754953216_n.jpg4. June: Submitted two thesis projects which I somehow manage to complete in one semester. I will forever remember walking home from the library at 4am most days only to catch a 3-hour nap and a quick shower (which was often opted out because an extra 15 minutes of sleep was clearly more crucial than one’s hygiene) before heading back to uni. This photo was taken right after my final presentation with a gorgeous bouquet from my man and a grin bigger than my face.

38802364_242607113246381_5978184723267059712_n.jpg5. Graduated with two degrees behind my name: Bachelor of Engineering with Honours from The University of Queensland and Sarjana Teknik from Universitas Indonesia. Easily one of my life’s proudest moments.

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6. Took a well-deserved break and spent two months back home to catch up with my family and friends. One of the highlights has to be this impulsive trip to Jogja with mum, my best travel buddy for life.

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7. Despite the mounting rejection letters in my inbox, I got a call one day with an offer for a position I didn’t even apply to. When I was able to trace back how they found out about me, I thanked myself for taking the time to build on my connections during my time in University. So if there’s one tip I could give all graduates seeking jobs out there it’s this: Networking will get you places. I’m so grateful to have found a place to learn and grow professionally and to be surrounded by the friendliest group of colleagues I could ask for.

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8. July: Left my old place behind and moved into a two-bedroom apartment in the city. It’s definitely been an interesting change of scenery after two years of suburb-living, but Carr Street will always have a place in our hearts. I know that it’s not just the house I’m missing, but the love that filled it (and the parties too).

d1083345d0427d78920120b7d4cc5f61.jpgCredits: Pinterest

9. September: Bought a studio apartment as my first property investment back home. It won’t be finished until 2021 but my Pinterest is already so full of interior/decoration ideas that I can’t wait to recreate.

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49650791_531100570730520_2560627160771461120_n.jpg10. Explored Tasmania in June and Sydney in November with my favorite people. I’m one to constantly plan my next adventure, so I’m excited to see all the places 2019 will take me.

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Credits: Pricilia Clarissa Syafira

11. 2018 marks the year I’m finally able to fully support myself financially. After starting my first real job, of course (packing groceries at a local deli weren’t exactly the most lucrative careers). While it’s thrilling to be independent, I’m still learning to manage my finances and trying not to spend like a rock start after every paycheck. One of my resolutions this year is to learn more about saving/investing, so if you know any good tips or books on them, give this girl a shoutout.

49661536_300110913982944_3198398614174957568_n.jpg49428987_2165026370185687_483911628778110976_n.jpg12. Another Christmas away from home, but made sure I’m ending the year with the right people at the right places. We spent the last bits of 2018 swimming in waterfalls and counted down the New Years playing sparklers by the pool in our cosy Airbnb in Lota. Wouldn’t have want to spend it any other way.

Looking forward to great things to come in 2019. Here’s to new chances, new adventures, and to trust in the magic of new beginnings. Happy New Year! X. 

Postcards from New Zealand

You can probably tell straight away that these photos aren’t recent… they are back from my family trip to New Zealand in July last year. Credits to my brother who happens to take amazing photos, and to my dad for driving nearly 2000km in two weeks taking us around from Christchurch to Queenstown, Auckland, and all the wonderful places in between.

Hands down, the most beautiful place I’ve stepped foot on, and it’s still an understatement.

Here are a few of my favourite snapshots from exploring New Zealand over winter, playing in the downpour of snow, counting sheep in our backyard, hot air ballooning in Canterbury, and skydiving over Taupo. But the highlight of it all was simply to be wrapped around my dearest ones that kept me warm all winter long. X

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Cairns Summertime

A beach getaway was the perfect way to mark the end of my internship, summer class, and simply to celebrate the warm weather appropriately. I had the pleasure to visit Cairns with my favorite person, and I still can’t believe it took me so long to explore this tropical paradise just 1.5 hours flight from Brisbane.

Cairns (lesson learned, pronounced ‘cans’) has it all: gorgeous beaches, beautiful waterfalls and rainforests, swimming lagoons, marine life galore, waterfront boardwalks, and natural beauty all around. And even though it was a quick four and half day trip, we had enough sunshine to make it feel longer. I believe that every place can be visited on a budget and Cairns is no exception. Here’s a glimpse of what our itinerary looked like.

Day 1: Brisbane to Cairns
We flew TigerAir (because budget) and was welcomed by one of the most beautiful sunsets overlooking the mountains and coast of Cairns, flying just hundreds of feet above the Great Barrier Reef shortly before landing. Since we arrived in the evening on Sunday, we took full advantage of the free time to unwind in the city, took a stroll and dined in the Night Market, just a short walk away from our accommodation.

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We stayed in Global Backpackers hostel, which was $30 per night. Staying in a hostel was fine, despite having to share kitchen and bathroom with about 50 other people. Perks: just a two-minute stroll from the Esplanade lagoon and Woolworths just around the corner.

Day 2: Great Barrier Reef
While there is a huge variety of cruise excursions available, considering Great Barrier Reef was going to be the highlight of the trip, we thought we’d splurge on this one. We chose the Ocean Spirit cruise, and it surely didn’t disappoint. It was an epic full day tour, and I’m already low key planning to go back with my siblings to scuba dive together.

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We boarded the catamaran early in the morning and sailed our way to the Michaelmas Cay, where we got to jump on board their semi-submersible and snorkeled straight off the beach. The cay itself is essentially a National Park and a protected sanctuary for migratory seabirds, fringed by white sandy beaches, and pristine blue waters. We saw lots of colorful fishes and giant corals (mind the stingers), which kept us entertained for hours.

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Day 3: Chasing Waterfalls
The Great Barrier Reef may be this region’s major calling card, but don’t let your adventures stop there. We went with the Waterfall Wanderers tour and traveled south of Cairns to discover North Queensland’s hidden rainforest gems.  First was sliding down a natural rockslide of Josephine Falls, and next was swimming in the iconic Milaa Milaa Falls.

GOPR2779.jpgFor lunch, they took us to a classic small-town pub where we enjoyed some good old-fashioned country cooking. As the afternoon rolled in, we were headed to the Mount Hypipamee crater and Dinner Falls, and finally to check out the Curtain Fig Tree in Yungaburra (the inspiration behind Avatar’s giant tree). Our last stop was Lake Eacham, where we could apparently swim with harmless freshwater crocodiles.

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Day 4: Palm Cove – Cairns Esplanade
This was Valentine’s Day and our day was pleasingly unscheduled. After a brief stop for coffee and froyo in the morning, we decided to get on the bus and headed for Palm Cove. The picturesque little beach town is a hub for spa resorts, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and a gorgeous beach lined with palm trees and jetties.

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After loading on the sunscreen, we laid down our beach towel and took a blissful nap under the shade. We went back to Cairns for an afternoon swim in the Esplanade, taking in the stunning view as the sun went down.

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We then had little birthday/Valentine’s Day dinner at the Salt House restaurant & bar by the pier and went for a long walk along the beach. It was the perfect way to end our last full day in town.

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Day 5: Flying Back Home
After checking out, I Googled for a local’s favorite for our last meal in Cairns. We had an exquisite brunch at Perrotta’s at The Gallery, where I wrote down postcards to be addressed to my family back home and to Canada. By then it was too humid to be outdoors, so we went inside the Contemporary Arts Gallery to enjoy a much-needed air conditioning and kill time before flying back to Brisbane.

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If you’re ever planning to visit Cairns, get some itinerary ideas here. And I would love to hear your say on your favorite destination in Australia!

 

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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Very fortunate to be a part of this group of great engineers and even greater friends & finishing Design Project with an unexpectedly rewarding mark

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Catching sunrise at Cape Byron, the most easterly point of the Australian Mainland

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.