I know I haven’t even finished the previous photo-diary of my trip to the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves.. but I’m feeling motivated to post up photos from my 3 night trip to Melbourne from a couple of weekends ago!
It’s only my second visit to this wonderfully chill rival and sister city. Melbourne is an intriguing hub, blending with ease trending modern style and pop culture with timeless grace and genteel charm. In the heart of the city the beautiful and historic Flinders Street Station and shiny new shopping mecca Emporium reside harmoniously, attracting tourists and Melbournians alike. Street-side you see the endless scuffle of popular stores and eateries vying for customers’ attentions, flecked with the quiet stone church here and old Victorian building there.
Blessedly, the weather was just gorgeous! Truly the beginning of Spring, the sun shone bright despite the chilly air and sunnies were in order. Sydney was still at the end of the looonnggg wet phase and I’m glad it didn’t rain in Melb – ain’t nobody got hands fo that! One hand for food, the other for shopping bags, my camera in between somewhere, and umbrella..? Forget it.
More than a few glimpses around the city made me nostalgic for New York. Maybe it was the yellow taxis, bare trees lining the Yarra, quirky streetstyle, graffiti, buildings..
All I know is that I so adore Melbourne. And I have a few special places (read: FOOD PLACES) I’d like to share with you :9 stay tuned!
Again, a long break between finding the reason and time to post ..
Today, I share with you a note. I’ve been meaning to write more, whether it be current descriptions, reminiscent memories, snippets of could-be songs and scenarios .. This is my mood for today, scribbled as fast as they were draining from my brain.
It has been MONTHS since I’ve last blogged, and I barely recall how to navigate around WordPress (nicely updated, btw) but I’d like to thank you random trickle of people who have been visiting :)
It’s my 25th birthday today. Sometimes I feel like I’m still 16 .. mostly though I feel like I’m 50. But it’s definitely a blessing to have lived to this milestone, and I’m very grateful. Accidents and attacks happen on the daily, as do genetically inherited diseases and sudden illnesses – it could have been me. But it wasn’t. And I’m going to make a greater, concerted effort to make the most of my life now, and what it has been, for what it will be as planned by my loving God.
I’m not sure if it’s my calmer family environment, a recent high at work (Anaesthetic rotation FTWNEVERLETMEGOPLS), my skin stabilising, exercising more regularly, or the mental preparation/acceptance of turning 25 – but I’m feeling. great. hehe :) I just.. feel like.. a normal person my age. It’s all I’ve ever wanted, and it feels like some prestigious achievement though I’ve not done anything to get to this stage.. I feel and know that I am an adult now, that noone or nothing should or can hurt or sway me unless I allow it to. Too many “or”s but you get the point.
Self-efficacy is the difference. For what can’t I do with God’s guidance and anointing?
I thought, wished, that my 24th year of life would be the best and brightest. But I’m ready for my 25th one to be. No more hiding, or denying :) Oh, and less SERIOUSNESS. Seriously ;) Time to be who am, who I want and need to be.
Photos below are from my day out with my mother and mother’s mother (visiting from Korea) – three generation celebration! None of us ever thought we’d see the day. Also the most beautiful bouquet I’ve ever received in my life plus some early gifts <3
Day 2 Photo-diary:
Day 2 Schedule:
- Wake up and enjoy the buffet brekkie in the beautiful, old-world elegant dining room.
- Do the Temple of Baal Cave Tour! It was just incredible.. not much walking at all, being in awe of the ethereal formations and taking in the history of that cave and its early explorers. The names of the formations are Biblical in nature, as the extraordinary young man who discovered them was Christian and inspired by figures and events from the Bible. It was a Sunday morning, so there were only about 8 people which made the atmosphere even better, almost reverent. Highly recommended.
- Drive to the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba and snoop all around the grand Victorian building, transported to another era. So beautiful!
- Grab lunch at a local eatery and walk (the very LONG walk) down to Echo Point and the Three Sisters.
- Explore, explore, explore! Mindfulness. Clarity. Breathe. I adore the sounds of the birds that rise from the forests and valleys below.
- Back to base to unpack and change. The drinks were calling and plush armchairs inviting in the sitting room near the bar. Chat and drink, like a sir!
- Check out the Old City Bank Bar – wood-fired pizzas (delish!), chess, more drinks.
- Nightfall .. admire the Carrington, fall in love all over again. Prepare a spa with skincare and edible treats.
- Quiet time.
It’s been a while since I’d intended to post this up! I have just started full-time work as a perioperative nurse with orientations finally out of the way, so things have been a little hectic and exhausting (this calls for another post).
Day 3 coming soon! ;)
This s a new undertaking I have been meaning to do since the beginning of the year via Instagram.
I find it very difficult to get along with the world I am in, and with the people who live it “normally”, mindlessly, sensibly as expected, socially acceptably .. but that doesn’t make me any less affected by its conventions and temptations..
I just want to find balance and be at peace ..
I want to love the life I live, the life I have been given and will forge.
I ultimately want to love myself more .. and this project is a step towards that.
Here is Day 1!
I’d joined IG to document slices of everyday life, as a personal reminder of things that I was grateful for or made me happy that day. That soon gave way to first world complaints here and comparing myself or faking normalcy there.. so for 100 days I will be making a concerted, daily effort to recognise things that I am sincerely grateful and genuinely happy about/for! Feel free to do it with me or block/hide me.
D:1/100 ☆ I’m sincerely grateful that I have much in my life to be grateful about, and will discover more that I’m not yet grateful about. ♡ I’m genuinely happy that I’m taking steps to become a more positive person.
Day 1 Photo-diary:
Day 1 Schedule:
- Reasonable 9:30AM-ish start and brekkie from Chatswood then head out to LOTR soundtrack (AN EPIC TRIP CALLS FOR AN EPIC PLAYLIST. A moderately exciting roadtrip also requires one to make it more exciting)!
- Arrive in Leura for a stroll-around and dessert at a local cafe to recharge.
- Drive straight to the Jenolan Caves Village!
- Park! Check out the cave tours timetable! So adventure! Much excite!
- The River Cave Tour (Strenuous Level, 2 hrs, 1271 m, 1298 steps)
- Have an incredible experience, all whilst juggling the dslr and phone on slippery ground and steep steps.
- Go for a quick walk around the large pond – home to 2 elusive platypi.
- Unpack from car to lodge, then attempt to get all 500 flies out of the room (staff left the door open. Still mystified as to WHY.)
- Unwind at the pub/bistro/bar at Jenolan Caves House. Mmmm, cider and overpriced bar food ..
- A brisk, long walk far down on the trail past the pond, a tiny waterfall and through beautiful eucalyptus forest, following the rivulet. Also try not to step on the lizards chilling on the track that you see every few metres.
- Simple dinner and drinks.
- Float up to the lodge, tired and dazed and radiant -> Night-time routine -> Sleep.
Pretty much how the day went! It was a perfect mix of adventure and activity with relaxation and calm. Absolutely loved it! We chose to do the River Cave Tour first because it was highly recommended to us, and I wanted a more challenging first tour. IMO it turned out not to be “strenuous” but for a simple guided tour I suppose it was appropriately warned – you do get a little breathless at some point, especially the older participants. I have much more on the tour and other components of Day 1 to post as sub-stories and photo-diaries in coming days, but I’m doing a general Day 1, 2 and 3 before that.
I can’t quite put in words how wonderful it felt, though, to experience the breath-giving (opposite of breathtaking?) flora and fauna out and unimaginably exquisite cave formations in. It was exactly what I’d needed.
Last month (18th to 20th of Jan) I went on a 3 day trip with my photography friend to the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves – two of the most dominating tourist attractions in NSW. Overall it was everything I needed – part relaxation, part action, a thorough mix of discovery, all wrapped up in adventure as well as countless laughs and photos and videos! At times it truly was trippy and surreal – what I was seeing before my eyes seemed so impossibly magical.
The above video is my first attempt at travel videography/video-blogging, and I have to say it was difficult to do on top of trying to take in the reality and being mindful of the situation at hand plus taking some photos with my dslr. Looking back at this, though, I’m really glad I took the time and effort to do so. I definitely need to work on keeping my hands steady, and I had to speed up each clip to reduce total video length so the shakiness is much worse – apologies if you got a headache from that!
Highlights and exceptional memories of the trip:
- revisiting the caves a decade later (not nearly as cold as I remember!) and being dumbfounded by the absolutely incredible wonders of the River Caves and Temple of Baal Cave.
- seeing a wallaby (possibly a swamp wallaby?) a few times, and once up VERY close and personal. I was oblivious to it, skipping down a trail and stopping when I heard heavy rustling just behind me. We looked at each other for a few seconds, then it hopped two steps away so I bid it good-day.
- seeing and hearing the painfully shy and rarely sighted lyrebirds and their song! The couple were quick to run up to higher ground and thicker bush when they heard us.
- staying a night and being nosy, peeking into every room I could, at the Carrington Hotel – old world class at its finest!
- discovering you can walk right to the edge of the spectacular Wentworth Falls overlooking the forests, mountain ranges and the Three Sisters, and even to a huge ledge halfway down to the bottom (the track down there was either closed or there was none..but that didn’t stop a bunch of tourists we saw)
I’ll be posting photo diaries in the coming days! Please enjoy and visit – I highly recommend seeing these natural gems and icons in person as no photograph or video could do them justice.
CNY Twilight Parade:
Another day out in the beauuutiful, chill glory that is Darling Quarter and Harbour, Sydney. As luck would have it the annual Chinese New Year Twilight Parade was scheduled in a few hours time but
somehow as planned, my friend and I were too busy and happy to eat our way through Darling Quarter to want to join the crowds lining up along the roads in the heat. I’ve mentioned this several times but I absolutely love how family-friendly this famous nook of Sydney has become. Everything from picnic blankets and LED balls/furniture can be rented, and you are free to enjoy classic movie screenings and other simple pleasures in life with your young and energetic beloveds.
When we were done sharing happy thoughts and gorging it was past 9PM, with the parade still underway and fireworks due to explode between 10PM – 1AM. We weren’t motivated enough to battle through the masses and wait further so we started walking back up to our car – only to meet the beginning of the end of the parade. Groups of performers freeing their faces and bodies of costumes, exhilarated expressions, laughing and posing for cameras, the continued thundering of traditional drums in the distance – even such moments were joyous to watch.
It’s amazing to think that the White Australia Policy was only abolished in the 60’s, and I certainly remember learning about the horrific racism and persecution of Chinese migrants during the 1800’s NSW gold rush. We have come a very long way, and must continue further!
One thing that really irked me about the parade though was how blatantly commercialised it was. Sponsors had massive floats, and the parade seemed to become an obvious excuse for advertising at one point, and what do the children wearing random European costumes have anything to do with celebrating the lunar new year, exactly..?
Anyway, it looked to be a big effort and as they attracted large multicultural crowds, it would count as a success. Celebrations continue until the end of this week so check out the official website for more events and details!
Happy Year of the Horse! Neigh~~
It’s been a sweltering but beautiful summery month, with temps refusing to dip below 28°C. Times like these, my best friends the ice-maker, ice-blocks/creams, and mool-naeng-myun (Korean cold buckwheat noodles) help me to keep cool at home when I don’t want to face the heat and go out (all my friends are food, *facepalm). I will happily skip out in SPF 50+ sunscreen though, when the day includes a trip to one of my favourite gelato joints.
The photos above are from the Messina branch at The Star/Pyrmont, and of the five stores around Sydney it’s the place to pick when wanting peace and quiet with your gelato in an air-conned environment. The photos below are of the Darlinghurst branch (taken last Winter), right next to the “Creative Department” – the “laboratorio and patisserie” headquarters of the gelato magicians. AKA – “Messina-gallery-of-gelato-all-so-beautiful-it-hurts-place”. Large gelato creations are enshrined in glass boxes suspended in a row along one wall, gilded with gold, and it’s an injustice to merely call them “ice-cream cakes”. Same goes for the individual beauties presented as you would haute couture jewelry in the middle of the shop.
I’ve been a fan of Messina for years, and I’m glad they’ve received much deserved recognition from the greater public thanks to MasterChef Australia. But. But.. Aside from bigger crowds (which affects seating, service, waiting times), the general atmosphere has seemed to change. Messina has been in memory a warm and inviting place despite the cool products, and filled with friendly locals.. their patisserie creations always whimsical and textured, as if inspired by a children’s story, flights of fancy transfigured and enjoyed through gelato. Now, servers are impatient (“don’t you dare ask for a taste test,” say their eyes and pursed lips), a “get in and get out” affair, creations catering for adults with tongue-in-cheek names, etc. Still, great gelato, just not the Messina I knew and loved. I once, too, believed it to be the best gelato in Sydney, but blasphemy was uttered from my lips when I realised it to be matched, even surpassed, by others. Do try it though, and go for the daily mixed and mashed specials!
Contact Gelato Messina: