Friday, December 31, 2010

Tasmania Adventures: Day 5, Back Home

We boarded the ship in the evening, and had a good night's sleep, before waking up to the lovely sunrise in the morning.

Standing by the window, watching the sun rise at sea for the first time, it was a wonderful feeling.  These past few days have been the best days I've had in very long time. To see the beautiful wonders of Tasmania, both natural and historical, it's an experience I will never forget.

Tasmania really amazed me in ways that I never thought existed, and it's a place I can say with great definitive sense that I could visit time and time again. It's just been such an incredible ride from the beginning, and I feel so lucky to have experienced it all. Not only have I learned so much more about Tasmania, I've experienced so much over such a short span of time, and it's just been amazing.

Upon arrival, with a bag on shoulders and luggage in hand, I walk out onto Melbourne. A rush of memories plays in my mind, reminding me what a great few days I've had.  Looking around, I realised that I'm home. And I love home, but boy, I wouldn't mind going back to Tasmania again.

Tasmania Adventures: Day 4, Hobart - Devonport

After breakfast, we were back on the road for the last time. We made a stop at Mount Nelson (above) and many took the chance to have photos of themselves taken with the beautiful panoramic scenery in the background.

It striked me that I was a little different from my fellow tour mates. While they take every opportunity to have their photos taken during our trip, I immerse myself in the beautiful Tasmanian scenery and take the opportunity to capture the beauty in pictures. Going through my photos, I realised that I had only one photo of myself throughout the entire trip. I guess I'm more of a photography mused tourist; my love for photography is endless. According to my mum, I should take a photography class next year.

Our next destination - the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.

Ever since I could remember, I didn't think much of botanical gardens. To me, they were huge posh gardens of plants everywhere with names that everyone had trouble pronouncing or remembering (or was it just me?). Even so, I really came to admire those who look after botanical gardens, for keeping the flora preserved so beautifully and creating a serene environment.

We stopped by Ross, viewed the historic Ross Bridge and many of us had scallop pies at Ross General Store, famous for their scallop pies. I had the chicken mushroom pie, second on their menu.We stopped a cheese, cherry and chocolate factory on our way back to Devonport, where our journey first began.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tasmania Adventures: Day 3, Launceston - Hobart

After a long, long ride on the bus, we finally reached the charming village of Richmond. We visited the oldest church in Australia, St. Johns - built in 1836. After visiting the church, we walked across Australia's oldest bridge to the heart of Richmond. It's a small town, but there's something so magical about it, with old English buildings that you feel like you've stepped into a street in England in the 1800s. I had the most delicious pancakes there, topped with berries and ice-cream, finished with a raspberry milkshake.

Next destination - Port Arthur.

I had been really looking forward to visiting Port Arthur, and I was just in awe of the land. Despite it being a prison, it had really open and picturesque scenery. I had researched Port Arthur for a Geography class,  one thing I learned is that you can read as much as you want off the internet, but coming to the place is where you learn most. We had a tour around the land, and was told of some of the famous and not so known histories and stories. After the tour, we were free to roam around.

We took the opportunity to visit the museum and Separate Prison. Separate Prison is a prison of punishment cells where prisoners are, yes, you know it, confined to a closed cell each to themselves, and not permitted interaction with other prisoners. Many prisoners became insane after experiencing this. We, as humans, we're not built to be alone. We're not built to isolate ourselves from the world. Looking at the cells, I couldn't imagine what it was like to live in a closed cell, surrounded by just bricks with no windows.

When we're little and naughty, adults may send us to our rooms or make us face the corner for a period of time. And even for that short period of time, we feel uneasy and a little lost. Imagine what it's like for these prisoners, who had to experience this for months and even years, in harsher conditions.

We went on a cruise on the waters at Port Arthur. It was a wonderful cruise, with really, really beautiful views. We viewed the other prison camps and was educated more about Port Arthur. One thing I cannot emphasise more is that the cruise really gives you the opportunity to take great photos of the Port Arthur's land itself, and it presents you with absolutely breathtaking views.

On our way to Hobart, we stopped by a couple of attractions, such as Blowhole, Devil's Kitchen and Tasman Arch.

After settling in our hotel, we headed back out and took a 20-minute walk out to the pier, where there was an array of seafood restaurants.  We had our seafood dinner on a small boat on the waters - fish and chips and tiger prawns. We discovered that there was also an overcrowding food festival by the pier, and after dinner, had a short walk around the festival.

I really loved today. Over my life, I've seen so many skyrise buildings and many "tallest monuments in the world" and while it's supposed to be all impressive, it's places like Port Arthur that really touch me. Today was all about the old, and I really loved that. Maybe it's because I'm infatuated with old things to begin with, but today's just one of those days where everything is just so.. perfect.

And to be honest, I haven't had many of those.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tasmania Adventures: Day 2, Devonport - Launceston

Our second day of the tour started off wonderfully. Our first attraction was the Cradle Mountain, which was about an hour and a half's drive from the hotel. Upon arrival, we took the shuttle bus to Dove Lake, which was where the Cradle Mountain stood. Being listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Cradle Mountain is a beautiful place. Seeing Cradle Mountain for the first time is like stepping onto a whole new world, with its beauty so gratifying and remaining yet so mysterious.

We stopped by Sheffield, a small town known for their unique and artistic murals.

Our next destination was Cataract Gorge. Now, a little insight about Cataract Gorge. Cataract Gorge is the longest single spanning chairlift in the world, located just a 15-minute walk from the city centre. Apart from the chairlift, you will find walking trails, swimming pool, peacocks and many other aspects of the wildlife. Mum and I took the chairlift, and it was a wonderful experience in which I would recommend to everyone. If chairlifts aren't your thing, go for one of the walks and you will also get the opportunity to capture the magnificent views Cataract Gorge has to offer.

Now, by this time of the day, I thought, 'Wow, this day's been really good. Could it get any better?' The answer? Yes, yes it could.

Our next activity was a cruise down Tamar River. There's one thing about me, and that is that I absolutely love cruises. There's something about the water, the boats and the amazing views that just simply draws me in, and to this day, I have no idea why. The Tamar River cruise seemed timeless. Chances are, it probably only took about 45 mins at the most, but our skipper, Jeremy, had an impressive mount of knowledge about Launceston and the views, were just- well, I was simply in awe. The rock formations, the houses sitting on the hills, the water, the sunshine, the buildings and the boats both old and new -- it was enchanting. And I learned so much more about Australian history. By the end of the cruise, I felt like I had been washed over by a cascade of life, and it just felt so good.

And that was the end of the day. After settling down in our hotel room, Mum and I went down to the shops and after a long walk and familiaring ourselves with the town while looking for a place for dinner, we found a Turkish restaurant by luck, and was served by a really friendly lady, who was handling the store on her own, something which I found of admiration. We took a walk back to the hotel and had our dinner in peace in our hotel room, while having a movie on the telly. Speaking of our hotel room, here are a few photos of it:

I thought it was quite unique to have another room of beds within a room, and had never seen anything like it. If you're ever in Launceston, I would recommend this hotel (Best Western: Balmoral). The rooms are very comfortable and very roomy, and the facilities are great

Gosh, I sound like one of those brochures advertising tourism and how great a country it is. I sound like one of those travel shows with presenters that say 'so just sit back and relax' like they're living in paradise. But you know what? That's exactly how it is. Tasmania has been amazing so far, and truly a paradise. I'm loving it here. It's like.. I haven't had this good of a time in ages. And it's.. it's great.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tasmania Adventures: Day 1, Devonport

My first photo of Devonport

I’m now sitting on the bus, waiting for the bus to depart Devonport for Launceston. It’s 7.13am and it seems as though everyone is sleepy and tired, as we were to wake up at 5.30am and I suppose not everyone is used to waking up that early. I look out to my right, and I see two ladies taking turns to snap last photos of themselves in this beautiful town, Devonport.

After a long ship cruise, we arrived in Devonport at around 6.45pm last night. As I had never been to Tasmania, it was hard for me to picture how Devonport would be like. In fact, throughout the 9 hours of the boat ride, Devonport had not once crossed my mind. I guess I was just too immersed in experiencing my first ship ride. When the ship had finally stopped with a halt, we went to the open air on the boat and it was then that I got the perfect panorama view of the town. Being me, I grabbed my camera at once and took my first photographs of Tasmania, and I haven’t even step foot on land yet.

From then on, everything was quick and easy. We picked up our baggage, and to my surprise, the bus was already there ready to pick us up. As we moved through the small town of Devonport, I noticed little things here and there about Devonport. I saw that unlike many suburban areas in Melbourne, many houses had large front yards, and most houses cared about their gardens, and this became more and more obvious as we moved through more houses.

It doesn’t take long before you realize that Devonport is a town which has decided to keep their greens and their nature, while developing a neighbourhood with facilities like a cinema, eateries, winery, clothing stores, dentists, doctors and supermarkets.  It’s rare to find a town that’s not fussed about building statuesque infrastructures and keeping up with the ‘trends’. Living in Melbourne, I experience the ‘trends’ and while I’m not about to condemn it, coming here into Devonport, I truly appreciate the small town-y feel and its beautiful parks and piers.

After walking around for about half and hour, Mum and I finally agreed on Pizza Hut. Mum had a margarita pizza while I had lasagna. After we had finished up, we went to Coles and bought fruits, yoghurt and fruit juice. It was a chilly night, but none of us complained as we had a great liking to the town and not even the strong winds could bring us down. We watched a bit of telly, snacked on our fruits and took our showers. We went to sleep at around 11.30pm, both exhausted.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First days

I'm now on the train on my way to my first day at work. I'm not sure what the day will bring, but I guess I'm pretty stoked in a sense. This holidays I decided that I wasn't just going to just sit on my butt all day at home doing nothing. For the last six years or so, I've resorted to the computer and the telly to keep me occupied during the holidays. And let's face it, while I could be content at home having a six week telly marathon, I really could devote my time to something else. Gladly, I could watch Gibbs and DiNozzo all day, but I guess it's time to try something else. Why work? I have no idea. It just seemed like a good idea when it came to me a couple of weeks ago. And I hope all turns out well.

Being the first day of work, I've been reflecting upon my 'first days' in the past. My first day in kindergarten, my first piano lesson, my first day in primary school, the first day I step foot into Australia and many other first days. As I think about them, I realise that on each and every one of my first days, I've had a different emotion, whether it was being scared, afraid or excited.

During my first day of kindergarten, I remember feeling vague and a little scared. I can't remember my first day exactly, and can't recall my worry on the day. Somehow, every other kid in my class felt that way and to my relief, I didn't feel out of place at all. During my first piano lesson, I could not stop crying because I could not understand what my teacher was saying and felt strange sitting behind an electone. Soon enough, the teacher became my piano teacher for six years, before I moved to Australia. On the day I set foot into Australia, strange enough,  in a new country which I knew nothing about except for the fact that you had cute cuddly animals called koalas and 'weird jumpy things' called kangaroos, I felt completely normal. I was anxious on what the future would present me, but was excited about new things I would discover, being the ever-so-curious 10-year-old that I was.

Today, I think about these first days, and today being one day to be added to the list of first days, and how do I feel? I feel happy and content. I'm not scared, worried, nervous or even anxious. I'm just happy that I'm about the start my first day at work. I'm happy about doing something different, and something new.

Monday, December 20, 2010

This Christmas

One day I'd like to spend Christmas in a foreign country, perhaps where it snows during Christmas. England, perhaps? I'd like to learn about the different ways people celebrate Christmas. Deep down, I know that may never happen because during Christmas, all I do is snuggle in the comforts of my loved ones and you know what they say about being at two places at once. It only happens in movies. Sigh, there goes my dream.

I was texting my friend tonight, and she was talking about getting a water gun from her dad for Christmas. Yes, I know how weird this sounds, but trust me, it's totally legitimate. Anyway, she texted more telling me that her dad was only willing to spend $70 on her presents. While my mum said that $100 was the limit, I could honestly not stand the thought of $100 spent on me entirely. It's a ridiculous amount of money. And as I hit reply, and started typing, I realised -- I didn't mind at all if I didn't get a present this year.

I don't need a present. Why? Because I have all that I want this year. My family and friends have absolutely been beautiful to me, and honestly, that's all I ask for and could ever want. I'm lucky to have parents who can afford to buy presents for me, but I can do without the presents. I'm not saying that I'm not materialistic like most people in the world, because I am a human being who is naturally influenced by the surrounding advertisements and product commercials all around. I live in a commercialised world.

I guess what I'm saying is presents don't matter anymore. Over the years, the value of presents have dropped slightly for me, but it's only this year that I realise the real importance of Christmas to me. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have such good people around me. I'm a lucky girl, I really am. I wake up in the morning, and no matter how bad yesterday was, just replaying the voices and faces of my loved ones in my head make me smile. And that, to me, are my Christmas presents sitting by the tree.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Unexplainable love

It's almost three in the morning, I'm tired and my ankles feel like they've been hammered, but I'm not complaining. Tonight I had a nice dinner at Flower Drum down in the city, celebrating the uni graduation of my twin aunt and uncle. Very much like my dad, I like things casual and prefer conventional food, but the restaurant had a nice setting to it and the food was pretty great.

While watching my lovely relatives gather around the table to celebrate this event, I came to realisation of something that has been right there in front of me the whole time, but it's just never came to view in my eyes. While watching my one-year-old cousin Jonathan cuddling sweetly to his mum and having the whole table of people adore him, I realised it and found myself in such awe of my sudden realisation.

When we're born into this world, we're already loved by so many. I guess it comes so naturally to us every day that we have people around us who love us, we don't realise it often enough to see it. It's not to say that we take love for granted, but I'm just amazed by this concept -- that people love us from the very beginning, even before we're born, and they don't even know who we are. It's amazing that someone could love another person without knowing them and without seeing them, but just feel the love for them.

And I'm so stumped by that. I ask myself, is that a scientific explanation for this? In fact, I don't even care if there is or isn't. I just find this.. this thing that has been going on for thousands and thousands of years absolutely beautiful. I guess it's something to do with bringing a life into the world, and knowing that he or she is related to you, and somehow, you're bonded.

For some reason, loving a new life about to be born is instinctive. It's human nature, and somehow, cannot be explained with a definite answer. We can't stop our hearts from loving something that we hold a strong bond to, eventhough we have never met them, seen them or touch them flesh to flesh. The love is just so powerful, and I find that so beautiful and enchanting at the same time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Darkness, change and uncertainty

I had just finished watching movie just past midnight, and brought two glasses from the living room for wash. The house was in total darkness. I couldn't see a thing, and as I made my way to the kitchen, I made sure that I wouldn't knock against anything. I knew exactly where the walls were and where everything was. Even so, I couldn't help the feeling inside me that was so eager for the lights to come on. There was this uncertainty that I couldn't make out how it came about, but it's this feeling where you know where exactly all the things are, but you have a feeling that in the dark, it all changes. Like the things have moved.

I know it's a normal human condition to be scared of the dark, and I overcame this a long time ago; being a person who only sleeps a maximum of five hours a day, I often spend my nights in the dark awake. But every now and then, it catches onto me. When the lights are off, the world's foreign and everything seems like it can be changed. And I associate this sort of fear with people. I'm fearful of change. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. I don't think there is a single person in this world who will put their hand up eagerly for change. We all take on change differently. Some welcome change, some challenge change, some run away from change and some just go with change.

Me? I don't know what to make of change yet. Although I haven't had many huge momentous changes in my life, I've gone through enough changes to say that I'm not too fond of change. I've seen people change -- some change for the better, and some don't. Sometimes people leave me feeling a bit betrayed, because they had changed and I had no longer fitted in their life because of that.  I have had changes that changed my life, and probably for the better, but still, there are things and people that I miss before those changes, and you can't help but to think, "What if?"

And that question -- that question leaves you in total darkness, like I had been in my own kitchen. It leaves you in confusion and regret, but more than that, it leaves you in the hunger of thinking something that would never be, because I've learned that there's no turning back in life. That's why every decision must matter. Things, people -- they change. I've been trying to fool myself in thinking that change is just a part of life, and I realised tonight that I can't. I'm still scared of change, of what's it's going to do and when it's going to come. It's natural, right? Like being scared of the dark. Dark, change -- they're not that different.

I can adjust basically to just about everything, but when it comes to changes in people and life, I'm still learning to grasp that. At the moment, I'm scared that I'll wake up tomorrow and everything I've ever known changes. I know there's no way that it would happen. But somehow I've managed to put it in my head that  one single change can change everything.

I hope that there are others out there like me who are scared of change. Ones who neither welcome, challenge, run away from or go with change, but finds it to be so foreign. Ones who are still P-platers in dealing with change, and may not get their license any time soon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

If today was your last day...

If today was my last day on Earth, what would I do? Often I find myself unable to sleep, asking myself questions like that. I could say that I would go all wild and do all the things I've always wanted to do but never did, like going bungee jumping or skydiving. I could get on a plane and go to every possible destination I could make it to. I could eat all the food I want. And I would, if it wasn't my last day.

It's confronting when I think about it and realise how little 24 hours is when coming to the conclusion that there would be many things I'd want to do in those hours. People I want to see. And no matter how much  right I do throughout my life, there would be regrets in those 24 hours without a doubt. However, when you think about it, why does it matter? And as I gather my thoughts, I realise that there are only a few things I would really need to do on my last day on Earth.

I would live the day like it's any other day of the year. I would spend the day with my loved ones -- share my favourite meal with them and doing everyday things like watching the telly and argue over something ridiculously silly. I would pack all my things so that my family wouldn't have go through all the trouble. I would perhaps visit my old primary school and relive the memories. Yes, I can be nostalgic like that. I would  use a time machine and see who Ted's wife really is on How I Met Your Mother, if technology permits. Oh, I'm kidding. No, the most important thing on that day is leaving here knowing that I have lived well. That I have lived a good life surrounded by people I love and proud of where I've reached in the end.

Now, it's getting late so I might try to head to sleep soon.
Do have think about it yourself -- what would you do if today was your last day?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

James Blunt - If Time Is All I Have

If time is all I have
I'd waste it all on you
Each day I'll turn it back
It's what the broken-hearted do
I'm tired of talking to an empty space
Of silences keeping me awake

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Think before you act

People don't always tell us how they feel. They don't tell us what's on their mind, and what they're going through. However, when they do find the courage to share what's going in their lives or just a shred of what they're going through, I think we all need to be understanding. We need to put ourselves in their shoes, and more than that, we need to listen. Perhaps, before saying something or giving advice, we need to first think about how we would feel if we were in their position.

However, there are times where we simply can't put ourselves into their shoes, and that's when we lend our support. Sometimes give advice isn't going to help. Sometimes lending our support and just being there is what is needed. I'm not saying don't give advice, but just give it at the right time, and really truly think about it before you go through with saying something that would seem silly if you really put yourself into their shoes. I think it's easier to give advice or just blurt out something when we're not actually going through the things that the other person is going through and don't have the full picture of what it's like. We have to take into consideration of their feelings and that they may have a completely different take on things, and probably, chances are, they will.

Sometimes it's comforting to have someone give you advice on what you should do, but sometimes, it hurts when it's advice not thought through at all. Be understanding. Sometimes a hug works better than a million words put together, and sometimes, that's all we mere humans need at our most vulnerable.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One word -- AWESOME.

Directed by: Duncan Jones
Release date: 15 April 2011 (North America)

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{2010} decembernovemberoctoberseptemberaugustjulyjunemayapril

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