Wednesday, January 28, 2015

SYDNEY ESCAPADES

Places
It is a known perception that people and places have energies and vibrations that can affect our persona. 

Some places do have explicit charm on people. Negatively, some have vibrations that can be sensed by people who are sensitive.

When I first set foot in Sydney, it was a dejavu for me. I felt as though I had stepped out of a dream. As days went by, I could feel myself energized and in symbiosis with the environment. Strangely though, I've travelled to many places, but none had this effect on me.  

I am now engulfed by a sudden urge to relive those memorable moments in Sydney. 

Environment
I can see myself relaxing on the balcony, breathing-in the cool, clean, jungle air, while watching screeching krakatoas, kookaburras, and parrots flew by. Some joyously perched on the surrounding trees looking really contented. 

These birds are all part and parcel of life in the neighbourhood. They are protected and not caged or kept as pets. The presence of various species of birds, within the compounds of private homes, and parks, are pride and joy to the residents.

There are strict laws prohibiting hunting and caging of wildlife.  However, it is not just the laws, but admirably most Aussies are nature lovers.  People are generally proud of their environment, and their country, and do their utmost in preserving nature. For nature-lovers, the Australian shores and forests, are certainly worth exploring.

Lifestyle in Sydney
Consecutively, I was greeted by Sydney's cold winters. It was a pleasant change to walk around with sweaters, and overcoats, which I don't get the chance to wear in Malaysia.  The cold weather that pierced through the layers of thick clothes,  did not really bother me.

I'm no traitor, but there are many things about Sydney that I do like, especially the choice of lifestyles that are availableIt is a cosmopolitan city, resident to people from all corners of the earth. One can enjoy city life, yet breathe unpolluted clean air. 

For sure, people here do more walking than we do in Malaysia. I observed that there were more elderly people out there in their 70s, 80s and 90s, walking about, climbing steps, going to movies, and shows, etc. What gave them the energy and the willpower to sustain themselves physically and mentally? Where are all the elders in Malaysia?  What is robbing us of our ability to enjoy a healthy lifestyle?  These questions kept spinning in my mind.

Commuting
Initially when commuting, I headed straight for the lift, but halted when I saw that those queuing were either the disabled, the pregnant, or the sick. Later, I began to enjoy walking the steep steps after realizing that I was fitter than I gave myself credit for. I really felt good tackling the kilometres of walkways between destinations. 


Here, people rarely drive to work. It is expensive to take cars into the City Centre, and is discouraged to ensure that the city is not polluted. Buses and trains are punctual, immaculate, and well maintained. These are relatively cheaper modes of travel. It is no status drop commuting in buses and trains. Even top executives do so, and walk the rest of the journey to their work places.

On week days, everyone is in a rush. One would be glared at or shoved out of the path for obstruction. Absolutely, no jaywalking or feet-dragging along the side-walks, while office crowds are on the move. The elders are mostly seen out and about, after the office crowds have dispersed. These daily walks do compensate to some extent, whatever is lacking in physical exertions, especially if one is deprived of time.  

Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge
These two places are symbolic of Sydney – the favourite destinations of near-most every tourist.

During the recent trip, a sight totally unexpected was awaiting. Sydney transformed into the exuberant and vibrant City for which it is known for. People from all corners converged for various ongoing festivities.
The Opera House is beautiful from the exterior and interior. There are regular events that are pretty costly but well worth the experience – something that one would not forget.  The "South Pacific” 1950s movie adaptation that we attended, was beautifully staged by international artists, with excellent vocals, and choreography. Cameras were not allowed during shows. I sneaked a shot of the interior, when I attended a conference (above). 

The City Centre
Around the City Centre, one can browse the Art 
Galleries, mooch around the Hay Market and China Town,  and get the feel of the mood of Hong Kong and China, where everything is available.   

Tourists need not visit remote areas to catch a glimpse of the Australian wildlife as the wildlife park located on the city side of Darling Harbour, provides a good substitute. 


There are varieties of food to choose from, ranging from fast food to gourmet dining. Prices are considerably reasonable, if one earns in Aussie dollar. People mostly don’t dine out often, except on weekends and special occasions.  I did not see any 24-hour eatery like those we have in Malaysia. Although this is less convenient, it's good to keep the mind off food, to sustain a healthy body and lifestyle!  


Asian food is available everywhere, so Asians won’t miss home food. I was surprised to find on the menu, roti canai, nasi biryani, rojak, etc. served at a cafĂ© named “Mamak” in Chatswood.

Close to nature
There are many beautiful places within Sydney, and the surrounding suburbs, that are safe to spend leisure time. Here one can relish the scenic beauty of nature, alongside man-made habitat, and breathe-in the cool salty air. 






The Blue Mountains

The 75 km train ride to the Blue Mountains from Downtown Sydney, took us about 90 minutes. Along the way, we passed many interesting suburbs, landscaped jungles, and rugged terrains. 


During the journey, we also crossed a long stretch of never-ending bridge. For awhile, I saw nothing but water on both sides, and wondered, what if the water swelled up. My anxiety was put to rest, since this had never happened. The Blue Mountains is also accessible by road.


We finally arrived, and it began to drizzle. It was a sunny day when we left, and I was not properly attired. The sudden cold weather made me yearn for thick blankets.
Fortunately, the drizzles stopped after awhile.

Walking to the ‘3 sisters’ from the train station, was something that I would not attempt, although I was enticed to do so. The plan was aborted, and we took a bus instead. This was less time consuming.  

I've seen brochures of the ‘3 sisters’ but to be at the actual site, and viewed it at close range, was truly an amazing experience. 

Mountains and seas specifically, have unfailing, tremendous effects on me. I was lost in my own world. My whole being was in unison with the energy that surrounded me as I gazed in awe, at the majestic spectacle that stood before me.

The weeks of walking had me fully prepared for a little exploration along the winding pathways, to appreciate different views of the 3 sisters.

Without guides, it would be foolish to take on the dense jungles. Some have been lost, and perished in this wilderness - not forgetting the many wildlife occupants that can pose threats to visitors. By that I mean “snakes”.  Fortunately, I spotted this little one (above) when we were

returning from the  2-hour walk. The dangerous specie could have been mistaken for a branch, from a withered tree. Undisturbed, it slithered away when curious onlookers gathered around. 







Breathtaking Bondi Beach 
I grew up near the sea, but surely, the beach was nothing in comparison to the beaches in Sydney and the surrounding suburbs. Bondi beach is well-known by tourists and surfers worldwide.


It was a sunny day, and after weeks of bleak weather, people headed for the shores to bask in the sun, and surf.  No one was bothered about ultra-violet rays, or ozone layers, but out to have a good time, to make the best of the good weather

Bouddi
On that particular day, I was not too enthusiastic to explore the coastal areas as the mid-afternoon sun was too much to bear. Furthermore, I did not have much calories to burn, as my breakfast was only toasts and black coffee. After some persuasion by my daughter, and a guarantee that I would be missing something really interesting, I then agreed. 

Reluctantly, I combed the 3 km stretch of beach in the blazing sun. While dragging my feet, I felt like a nomad walking on the sands of Sahara desert, searching for water.

Finally, I reached the destination. To my utter amazement it was worth every single step, and every uneven rock that I stepped on.  I was mystified. I had never seen anything this unique in my entire life. The place is truly a work of art - and, an exhibition of Nature’s Creativity. Strangely however, this place is not known to many.



At the extreme end, about a kilometre further, there are more beautifully carved rocks, formed through ages of wave-movements. I was tempted to
venture, but my eyes had to give way to my rumbling tummy, since it was past 2 pm. 

Manly trip
Manly is another favourite tourist-destination. The ferry ride to and fro, especially the evening ride home was an enjoyable experience.  As the ferry approached the well-lighted buildings of Sydney City Centre, it was a sight to remember. Slowly, the Opera House, and the Sydney Bridge came into view.  Looking distinct, they truly earned their image as the pride of Australia. I was happy to capture the visuals on video.

Most memorable, was the privilege to meet a wonderful family, whose magical charm, and warm hospitality, touched me. It was sad to bid farewell to the two lovely kids.
  








Woy Woy
The place reminded me of Fremantle in Perth that we visited many years ago. Everything about Woy Woy is unique – its name, including this little shop with its variety of decorative items and new age stuff.

Surprisingly, the quaint town was pretty quiet on a weekend. The locals were courteous, but curious of unfamiliar visitors. I somewhat liked the feel of this place, as it was simple and unpretentious.

In addition to the delicious freshly cooked seafood served in this restaurant (right), the main attraction of Woy Woy is obviously the Pelicans. 

These regular guests flock the place and the surrounding areas throughout the day, from the wee hours.

We lingered on to see what was promised to be a pleasant experience.  At exactly 3pm the birds assembled for their daily meal. The place became alive with their honking, and screeching. These pictures speak a thousand words.


Epilogue
In all corners of the earth, there are exotic places. Every little pebble on the beach has its uniqueness, and individuality. It is how we perceive and appreciate what we see, that really matters.

I am happy to have lived those memorable moments relishing the beauty of nature that Sydney has to offer.  Sydney, will always have a special place in my heart!

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