Monday, September 25, 2006

Ahh, the leisurely country life!
If you think Brisbane is relaxing compared to Singapore/Melbourne (which I think it is), welcome to Bundy-the land where the pace slows righhhhhhhhhhht down. People are so friendly here, they behave as if they have all the time in the world. Whenever I walked along the main street, people would greet me and stop abit for a chat or a handshake (it's weird getting all these attention since coming from singapore). The only problem is, I keep getting mistaken for a Japanese tourist!
Aside from enjoying free cable TV from my 4 star motel, I've recently joined the local ballroom dance classes. Have I really been transported back in time to the 1940s, where they have strange social dance routine names like Queen of Hearts? It certainly feels like it. At intermission, everyone paused to enjoy some homemade cakes and sandwiches, and the grandpas and grandmas would come up and greet me before returning to their graceful waltz routines. Sigh, I love the elegance of waltz, gliding effortlessly across the shiny floor carried by songs of enchanting romance...

Here's Bundy by night
Bundy by day...
Colorful buildings and plenty of parking spaces on the main street...notice how there's hardly any people?
The Bundy church, in tropical paradise
Check out this Bundy Rum cake from 'Across the Waves Sports Club'!!! If you love tiramitsu, you'll LOVE the flavour of this cake, drenched in the good old Bundaberg Rum! The sports club was surprisingly lively, with jolly groups of people drinking beer, live bands playing classics and people jiving and rocknrolling to the music.
Beautiful one day, perfect the next. The day I landed off this tiny jet plane, the sky was oh so blue. The sky's been blue ever since. No I'm not joking! It's been sunny and 25 degrees every day.

Next on the checklist: a drunken wine tasting tour, a famous barrier reef and a gorgeous island named after a lady

xiao ying @ 9:38 PM.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Once upon a time, a fence divided people into 2 groups. Group A wanted to climb over the fence to group B. Yet group B were scrambling and desperately trying to find ways to reach the A group. Both sides looked across the fence and were convinced that the other group had a better place.
Which kinda sums up life doesn't it? We're never really satisfied. We always look at others and wonder to ourselves, what if they have it better? What if I will enjoy it more if I leave what I have now and change? We all experience breathtaking awe-inspiring moments that mirror those in hollywood movies. In real life, the gaps between these moments are filled with the mundaness of everyday life. Diluted with the normalities, how many of us are guilty of taking everyday blessings for granted and crave for that distorted romantic view of fresh new prospects and adventures?
Travel is a good example. When you're sweating, hungry and trying to find a loo in a foreign country where people don't understand a word you say, it's alot better to relive that moment in the safety of your own memory than going through that actual experience. You forget the sense of loneliness wondering across unfamiliar streets, lost, scared, sick, vulnerable. You forget those nights or days when all you want is to be surrounded by people who love you, or that inviting unreachable warm bedroom you have back home, thousands of miles and seemingly another lifetime away.
Ironically, one of the most memorable moments during my vietnam trip was that night a guy in our group was feared missing/dead after returning from the summit of Mt Fansipan (Vietnam's tallest mountain). We trekked for 3 days, and my cold was getting worse. It rained so hard that night that I woke at 3 am with my feet drenched in rainwater. In a waterlogged tent, cold, sick and nowhere to go, our group huddled sitting, shivering and waiting for dawn to arrive. We looked out to the relentless rain and wondered how our friend who's lost in the mountains was coping. I tried to sleep because god knows after 8 hours of climbing to reach the summit, I was dog tired. Somehow time passed and I woke up with a headache finding myself curled up in a fetal position at a small corner with a tiny remaining dry part of a sleeping bag partially covering me.
The next day, descent down the mountain was another 8 hours. Clouds drifted dreamily across the mountain beneath our feet, moments of transient cold fog and warm sunshine felt romantically surreal and dreamlike. Yet the descent felt way too long. There were too many hills to pass through; and steep pathways where too often I slipped, fell and bruised myself; and branches with thorns that injured my fingers. I just wanted to get to a shower and a bed quickly. Any bed that's flat without a treeroot underneath, and any shower that is warmer than water from a cold mountain river. The idea of a simple thing like that suddenly appealed to me like heavenly luxury.
I will never forget that moment when we reached the foot of the mountain greeted by the welcoming glimpst of clear river beds and rolling hills of luscious green paddy fields. I ran like mad and just dunked my muddy, sweat covered body in the clear fresh water. Under the warm sunlight feeling the sweat washed away by gentle stream water, with a sense of exhilaration and relief so great, I couldn't help but abuse my friends' eardrums with hours of happy joyful singing of all the gay songs I could possibly think of.
Such contrasting moments.
I guess you really appreciate the good and simple things in life after you endure the bad. My job now pays me well to travel and experience Australia. The conditions are great, I get to live in beach resorts for free and enjoy swimming pools, spas and gyms. My job finally feels more and more professionally satisfying. But we're never fully satisfied are we? With freedom and adventure, comes the price of uncertainty, fear and lack of warmth inherant in solitude living.
I wonder if I'm still that girl from group A who craves for group B, and wants to return to group A once I've taken the leap over the fence.

xiao ying @ 11:54 PM.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Travel life has the essence of a dream. It is something outside the normal, yet you are in it. It is peopled with characters you have never seen before and in all probability will never see again. It brings occasional homesickness, and loneliness, and pangs of longings...But you are like the vikings who have gone into a world of adventure, and home is not home until you return.

But home is where the heart is. So where is home?


xiao ying @ 8:40 PM.


Fun night out with new friends in Brisbane. Dinner and Dessert. Feels like I'm back Melbourne!!

xiao ying @ 8:24 PM.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder,
till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had.

xiao ying @ 11:41 PM.


Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first." Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw) (1818-1885)

A friend took me to the Gunshot Cafe one lazy sunny morning. With a delightful pancake covered with berries and pistachio happily tucked in to my tummy, I've experienced the best breakfast place (so he claims) in Brisbane.

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands -- and then eat just one of the pieces

I was pleasantly surprised by this stick of chocolate covered strawberry from Tian, bought from a street hawker sidestore at Chinatown, Singapore.

Catching up over a cappuccino and chocolate caramel brownie with a new friend at Coffee Club, Gold Coast. It was overwhelmingly sweet, I couldn't finish it XP

"The worst vice of the solitary is the worship of hi food. " Cyril Connolly (1903-1974)

Solitary moment with hot chocolate and cinnamon apple muffin in a winter's morning at Muffin Break, Brisbane CBD

Farewell feast of signature Singaporean chilli crab dish with family friends at Hawker Center Bukit Batok, Singapore. Forget the fancy restaurant environment surrounding, 11 favor bursting seafood dishes later, it was one of the most memorable, gastranomical experience in my life.

I still remember this welcoming piece of artwork. The taste is every bit as delicious as it looks. Can’t remember the name of the café, but it’s near the Esplanade, Singapore.

Randomly chosen from a Vietnamese cafe menu (because there was no English translation), some taste delicious, and some well, surprising. The total bill was under 3 AUD I think…In Hanoi, Vietnam

Pork skewers at Hot Stone, Clarke Quay Singapore
The hot stone plate beneath slowly cooks the meat while we wait with saliva hanging out from the heavenly aroma of the meat turning brown

"Food is the most primitive form of comfort. " Sheilah Graham (1904-1988)

Shark Fin Soup at a Thai Restaurant, Singapore

Pineapple rice with Prawn, Mmmmm, at a Thai Restaurant, Singapore

"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort." Norman Kolpas

xiao ying @ 6:34 PM.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I couldn't be stuffed getting out of bed today. Both the unrelenting grey sky outside and my sore throat gave me an excuse to procrastinate the entire day away in the comfort of my fluffy warm bed. A friend recently joked that it must have been me who brought the miserable Melbourne weather along to this sunny state of Queensland.

Just spent an entire day sitting infront of the computer playing with Photoshop. My god there are so many cool functions that I never knew existed!! I was so hooked I forgot to eat lunch. I could definitely forsee hundreds of hours wasted away in the future on this godsent software...I'm in love!!

Haha, check out some of the photos I've edited:

Merging the spectacular fireworks from the Brisbane Riverfire Festival with a normal photo of myself.

Before and after photoshop: who needs anti pimple creams and lipstick when you have photoshop?
Haven't blogged for ages. Blame it on being too busy studying my therapeutics course =D.

Quality time at the Gold Coast was spent partying at Surfers Paradise on weekends, jogging along the golden beach under the morning sun before work, and fine dining at some beach front restaurants. I even got invited to several colleage student parties (boy, do Australians know how to let loose and have fun!). The Salsa scene ain't as spectactular as Melbourne or Singapore, but I did try Argentine Tango the other day. I definitely want to learn it sometime in the near future!

Brisbane has a slower pace of living compared to Melbourne, it's more relaxed and traffic is less congested. Somehow the beautiful Brisbane River reminded me of the Yarra, strolling along the banks on a sun drenched afternoon, the cafes and sculptures resembled South Bank and the Melbourne Arts Center. The other night Brisbane River enrupted with a spectacular show of fireworks in the wake of the annual River Festival. Our group squealed at the explosion of flower in the sky like a bunch of kindergarten kids, and expressed our cravings for candies coz they somehow looked like orange, strawberry and banana flavored sorbets. Don't ask me why, but it was fun.

Last weekend I strolled along the famous trendy Hampton St at Noosa, Sunshine Coast, enjoying a mouth watering seafood dinner banquet as well as a very expensive but mediocre breakfast. The tourists at Noosa are either YUPpies or retiring upperclass business people I think, because the prices I paid for a meal is probably more than enough to feed me an entire week at Vietnam. I did, however, score a free front row seat in this awsome orchestral/choir concert that my friend performed in.

I thought I'd die of loneliness up here in QLD but fortunately not. Now I'm on the move again because of work allocation. Next week it's up the Sunshine Coast to sugar and rum country. Just when I'm starting to love Brisbane....sigh.

xiao ying @ 10:23 PM.