Travel: Sydney, Australia
This was the first time I lived away from home. I found a very good place to rent a room and it was about an 8-minute walk to where I worked. The family that owned the home lived there too and I felt like I found such a warm family to be with - there was Casey, Olivia, and their 2-year old handsome toddler, Sammy. Sasha also rented a room in the same house, she was finishing her studies. I found an ad listing online for a "room for rent" and I took my chances. I just made sure I'd save enough money for at least 3 months' worth of rent. My aunt lived in a suburb in Sydney too and I distinctly remember one thing she said when we were having Shrimp Laksa for lunch. She said, "It's good you're doing this. One thing's for sure - you'll never be the same again. This will shape you." And it did. I worked as a dessert chef at The Meat and Wine Co. at their Parramatta branch but was trained in their Sydney Harbour branch for the first week.
The Parramatta River Walk alone left me stunned. It was a 1-minute walk from where I lived, and the route I took everyday to work. This river had benches where you could just chill the day away and there was one particular bench I essentially claimed as my own. I'd read books and just have a snack on this bench while admiring the peace and serenity nature offered. The first few days in Parramatta, I just wanted to get lost - I always found this the best way to greet new places, wherever I was. I even discovered there was a free shuttle (The Loop) to take me around Parramatta! What a relief when I had to do groceries and carry my loot home. Little did I know that this river walk was just the beginning of my appreciation for Sydney, for Australia.
Other than my aunt and her family (Tita Maritess, Uncle Michael, and Martin), a few of my friends were also there in Sydney: Lui, Gops, Jenny, Christel, Chef Ixi, Kuya Third and his family, and even Carlo's family - Tita Lorna and Tito Edwin, and their beautiful girls Sam, Andrea, and Laura. Our friend, Mara, also visited us for a couple of days. But one of the highlights was when Carlo visited me. We spent our 5th year anniversary long distance and relied on Skype to have a meal together. I was overjoyed when he visited and we made every minute count visiting all the places and creating memories. We even got to fly out to visit The Gold Coast (I'll save this for another blog entry). He was only supposed to visit for 2 weeks in September but ended up staying for a little less than a month because of typhoon Ondoy (in the Philippines, so the planes couldn't land).
In my year here, I made it a point to try to be as touristy as can be. Ever day off (which was usually Tuesday or Thursday), I'd try to visit a new place, and get lost a little bit more. And Sydney was a large place with so many attractions, so many new and beautiful places to leave me speechless. These were some of the places I visited: Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, The Rocks, Hyde Park, Royal Botanic Gardens, Tarronga Zoo, Queen Victoria Building (QVB), Chinese Gardens, Sydney Olympic Park, Bondi Beach, Manly Beach, St. Mary's Cathedral, Nelson Bay, Canberra, Luna Park, Sydney Fish Market, Market City (like their Chinatown, carrying bootleg items), all the Westfield malls, all the Coles supermarkets, and a whole lot more. Oh! And we even got to watch Wicked in the theatre!
Sydney taught me how to live on my own. And it was a journey I'll forever be grateful for. So happy I took that leap. I remember the days I would be soooo tired from work and just slumping dead on my bed, I'd think that I had to do my laundry. I remember crying at how tired I was but then I'd make that choice to wipe my tears and stand up. The days where I'd sharpen my knives, hang up my chef's jacket to dry, cook my own dinner, clean my own room, carry my own shopping, calculating my expenses... I'd be lying if I didn't wish my yaya (nanny, Manang Josie to be exact) was there with me. Nonetheless, Sydney taught me how to balance life - money, work, rest, gallivant, read, study, stay connected to family, and all that jazz.
Here are some photos to take you to Sydney, Australia.
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