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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Hope you had a good one X.

Advertisements

Two Thousand and Seventeen

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

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.

IMG_7726IMG_6787Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetimg_3619Processed with VSCO with c1 presetimg_1959img_3622Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetdsc_3877Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetimg_3455img_3084Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetimg_3635

Summer Bliss

This week has already been a series of bad luck; starting from a major accident that I got into on Monday morning (which I’d rather not talk about), an ugly allergy reaction and the nasty flu that caught me after. All of this only leads to my organized plans falling apart including work and a medical check-up appointment for a student visa that had to be rescheduled until after I fully recover. I usually get stir crazy after being in bed for more than a day, but I made the right call and opted to get the rest I needed.

Since the days pretty much forced me to stay in my pajamas and bed all day, I decided to try my best to stay positive and reminisce about a picture perfect weekend spent on an island getaway last week. I posted some pictures and videos up on my Instagram and Snapchat, which surprisingly led to so many people commenting and personally messaging me to ask where I went (half actually guessed Bali in the first try). One wouldn’t guess that only two short hours by speedboat from the bustling city of Jakarta, you’d find such a gorgeous and pristine place. Tiger Island, or Pulau Macan as they call it, is a true hidden gem and even that is an understatement.

The accommodation (we were in the Island hut) was the most romantic I ever stayed in with a deck and stairs over the sea. At night we laid down on the deck stargazing for hours and in the morning we got out of bed, stood by the sea and watched the sunrise. One of highlights of the trip I must say was the little island hopping adventure I had with my siblings the next day. At the crack of dawn, we took a little paddle boat out and rowed our way to a nearby island. There were no people occupying it and it was just the three of us snorkeling and swimming on the beach where warm sands meets crystal clear turquoise water. It was so calming and serene that we simply didn’t wanna leave. There were plenty to do – and not to do – involving a lot of soaking in the sun, listening to my Spotify summer playlists (mostly by Kings of Convenience), and taking lots of naps.

While this may or may not be my last official family vacation before I’m leaving for Australia in just the count of days, I’m glad that it was such a bliss and filled with beautiful memories to look back on. Looking forward to sunnier days and recovering real soon. Have a great week.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThis epic cold has me missing sunny days

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetOur eco-friendly hut with no air-con. But who needs one when you have the sea breeze?

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetA private deck to our own side of the beach

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset
Because if you’re not barefoot then you’re overdressed

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
What every morning should be like if I had my way

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Paddled our way across to this breathtaking (unoccupied) paradise and was worth all the sunburn

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset
My absolute beach essentials (minus my SPF 50 sunscreen) 

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Irresistible naps after mornings spent lazing in the sun, swimming, and snorkeling

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
Then waking up to this, I could really get used to.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetTo say I fell in love with this place is an understatement because no words or pictures could really do the place justice

A Day in Bandung

A few weeks ago I went for a little getaway to Bandung with 2 of my girlfriends, which I wrote about in this earlier post. So this video pretty much summed up our trip including all the foods and sight-seeings we managed to squeeze in a day in Bandung. Now that we’re officially on break, it just reminds me of how much I miss their silly company and what a lovely day it was to look back on. Desperately need to have something planned out real soon. I hope you check it out and give it a thumb up.

 

Bandung in 24 Hours

My girlfriends and I had been wanting to plan a quick relaxing getaway and we simply took advantage of our 4-days long weekend last week. Bearing in mind we couldn’t really go far away considering we have final exams starting on Monday (I don’t know what is it with me but going on a vacation right before exam just seems to be my thing), Bandung sounded perfect and our minds were set. We drove up to Bandung on Wednesday right after class and arrived around 8 at night. The drive took about 3 hours with some traffic, in which I switched driving with my girlfriend halfway. We didn’t really plan much, and considering we were on a budget, we decided to crash in my grandma’s house up there.

Since our trip was pretty much unscheduled, we were able to arrange a spontaneous dinner with some friends on our first night in to simply catch up and grab some drinks afterwards.The weather couldn’t have been better and we decided we wanted to spend as much time outside in the sunshine, so we started the next morning with our first stop at Armor Coffee for breakfast. I had been reading a lot of good reviews about this place and the coffee itself definitely didn’t disappoint. We ordered some bites, salad, and coffee and enjoyed them in the middle of a pine forest with leaves falling and birds chirping.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 preset

We went for a little hike afterwards and made it to this historical cave site used back in war times that now serves as tourist attraction. We had conflicted feelings about going in at first but we thought that the whole point of the trip was to explore new places so why not. We trailed our way inside and it was spookily pitch black. The fact that it was broad daylight outside didn’t help, and there were bats actually living inside, so go figure. I’d have to say it was fun and we came back learning new things about the history of the place itself, and we got to watch Z overcame her fear of going in at first!

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetScreen Shot 2016-05-24 at 03.16.57Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

We made another hour drive up to FarmHouse in Lembang where were supposed to have lunch, but the place was so packed and we ended up just exchanging our entrance tickets for some free milk and sausages, took a few pictures and left. We eventually found ourselves in Dusun Bambu for lunch, in which they served Sundanese cuisine in our own private little huts with this lake-facing outdoor terrace. I couldn’t think of any better way to spend the rest of the afternoon with my girlfriends, taking countless selfies and laughing our hearts out. We drove back to Bandung and decided to just chill and grab a few drinks on our last night in town (we were still too full for dinner). It was a perfect end to our little getaway with a slight melancholy knowing that we’re already reaching the end of the semester, and later we’ll be going our separate ways.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 03.15.54Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetScreen Shot 2016-05-24 at 03.18.43

But most importantly, I had an absolute blast running around town trying to hit up all of the best places, good foods (I still can’t comprehend how we managed to squeeze in so much food and traveling in three short days), and scenic views to share with my most favorites. And it doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing, we always have the best time filled with endless laughs and stories to look back on.

Birthday Weekend Getaway

The last time I visited Singapore was nearly two years ago, when I stayed with my best friend in town for a few days on a short summer getaway. It was somewhat a farewell trip, a few months prior to her moving to Adelaide. My trip this time was almost spontaneous, considering everything was booked only two weeks before. I actually had a lot of conflicted feelings about leaving right before my exam, but after a string of particularly challenging weeks, I simply needed something relaxing to look forward to. Plus, it’s my birthday and that should be good enough excuse – no pun intended.

I’ve always loved the energy of the city – the dynamic mix of cultures, ideas, and histories – sparklingly savvy with a touch of old school. From the bustle of Orchard crossing to the off-the-beaten track neighbourhoods of Haji Lane, the city is a cultural melting pot – a blend of old-world and new architecture. I intentionally left my schedule open, to accommodate for those leisurely afternoons that I’m usually too busy to enjoy. I was able to arrange a spontaneous meet up and watched Batman V Superman together with a couple of friends, and going to church for the Holy-Week Mass. But the highlight of the trip I must say was the casual afternoon picnic we had at the Singapore Botanic Gardens to celebrate my birthday. The weather cooperated wonderfully and we just sat down by the lake for hours – finishing our chips and boxes of orange juice. I truly wouldn’t have spent the day any other way.

I anticipated the typical post-vacation letdown to hit as soon as we got on the plane back to Jakarta. But gladly, that wasn’t the case. The quick getaway has helped me hit my reset button, and I came home with a renewed sense of energy and positive vibes. I wish I never had to end it, but here’s a glimpse of our 4 days in Singapore.

thumb_IMG_2325_1024
My window seat series no. 33
thumb_IMG_6350_1024
Evening spent after movies with friends, waffles, and a few glasses of winethumb_IMG_6425_1024
Old-town buildings featuring beautifully broken walls
thumb_DSC_2492_1024
One of the many vintage boutiques in Haji LaneProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 presetPlaying tourist for the day, from one vintage shop to the next
0b14282a6e97465d9e6392e5d458d481
View from the indoor garden of Singapore National Librarythumb_DSC_2552_1024
Orchard bound after a Good Friday Mass where we basically shopped till dropped
thumb_IMG_6599_1024
Look who barged into the room & showered me with kisses right when the clock strikes 12IMG_6462
My first bizzare wish-list as a 20 year old: Have Jollibee for breakfast
_jcr_content.renderimage.carousel.rect.1670.940
The charm of Chinatown that is impossible to miss
IMG_2525
Strolling around the park trying to find the perfect picnic spotthumb_IMG_6583_1024
H&M dress, Kate Spade pouch, Bonia vintage wrist watch, Vans Canvas Authentic (True White)thumb_IMG_6582_1024Chocolate ganache cupcake for a birthday cakeProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetThank you for the cupcake, and for eating them too. I’m lucky I got left one bite.
thumb_IMG_6606_1024
I don’t know how you guys do it, but thank you for putting up with me for the past 20 years. 
Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetOne of my absolute favorite spots at the Singapore Botanic Gardens
thumb_IMG_6612_1024
Hanging out at Changi before flying back home

Day Trip: Lembongan Bay

On our second day in Bali, we decided to book a day trip to Nusa Lembongan, which is an island located southeast of Bali. It is part of a group of three islands that make up the Nusa Penida district, of which it is the most famous. This marks my second trip there since my last visit with family last year and I am still so in love with the place and what it has to offer. It is just slightly under an hour of ferry ride from Sanur and there were actually several boat services that arrange daily transfers to the island so you have plenty of options to choose from.

We only had 5 hours to explore the island and we rented 3 motorbikes for the 6 of us as soon as we arrived. We took a speedboat to a snorkelling spot called Mangrove Point. It was an easy drift snorkel and a mild current runs along the spectacular reef here. Being the adrenaline junkie that we are, our second stop was cliff jumping.

Nusa Lembongan is still a fairly secluded island and without phone signals, we only depended on a paper map of the island. We had to cross this small bridge connecting to an even smaller island to get to our cliff jumping spot, where we made countless wrong turns. What was supposed to be a 15-minute journey turned into a 40-minute one, and we arrived only to find out that we couldn’t make our jump due to the ugly weather.

We headed back to Nusa Lembongan, where we relaxed and had lunch at Dream Beach. It was raining on the way back, which only made the ride so much more exciting (Not so much for the chauffeurs, sorry not sorry). En route to the harbour my friend and I faced a minor motorbike incident due to the slippery and gravelly road after the rain, where I might have sprained my toenail a little bit. It was pretty bad but hilarious at the same time.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetBillabong bikini top, Forever 21 shorts, Hat from Bali (Unbranded)Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a5 presetYellow floaties for the win! Captured by D.Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 presetPicturesque cliffs and the never-ending turquoise we stumbled uponProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 presetDefinitely worth all the wrong turnsIMG_5532Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetLate afternoon relaxing in dream Beach, Lembongan BayProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 presetSerenity at its best if I must say

I know there are tons of lovely beach clubs around Nusa Lembongan (it’s apparently what they are known for), but since we only had a few hours at the island, we didn’t get the opportunity to explore them. From snorkelling experience to a sprained toenail, I will definitely be back for a more in-depth exploring! Hopefully with a sunset to gaze upon, next time around.

x, Amanda.