I went down under again!
This time it wasn’t so cold, although the weather was unpredictable indeed. Most of the time it was raining or cloudy.
My first stop was Melbourne, but I only spent a day there, so didn’t get to do much before heading to Canberra the next day.
My mum always talks highly of the capital and I can definitely see why. It is indeed very ordered and peaceful, and I think the best weather throughout the trip happened there- it was sunny and the trees were at their best.
And the charm didn’t end there. First there was the city planning museum. The idea of a very well-planned city, which served political purposes of a nation, exclusively, was quite intriguing. Jakarta is a city overburdened with population and purposes, with everything ranging from government buildings, luxury malls, daunting CBDs and slums all mushed together. There have been talks of moving the capital to Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. Would the idea of having an exclusively political city work? I don’t know but if the government continues to be as corrupt as it is now, most likely we will see more miraculous permit to build one mall or luxury blocks after another popping up, even after the capital is moved.
Then there’s the parliament house. I was first surprised at how it has only two assembly rooms (Upper and Lower House), in comparison to the god knows how many rooms we have here in the House of Representatives (they’re going to build a new building with a spa on top, yknow!), and was impressed when the tour guide told me that they often have tours of school children to help them understand what goes on in the house. Now that’s an idea. I often pass through the Attorney General’s Office next to a public high school in Jakarta, and wonder do those students know whats going on in those buildings next to them? do they even know what the people there do?
Other memorable visits included the National Gallery-which was showing Southeast,
and mostly Indonesian, heritages, of all exhibitions! and the National Portrait Gallery. Of course I enjoyed the Japanese and Chinese section, learned some new things about the ancient artworks from my own homeland, and to my surprise I developed a keen interest and liking towards aboriginal arts, although I must say I like the contemporary ones better.
Next stop: Kangaroo Valley! Yes! although it rained most of the time we still managed to make the best of the time we spent there. I went on my first kayak ride (I was slow, but I made it!) in the Kangaroo River, went to the beautiful, beautiful Hyam’s Beach, reportedly having the whitest sand in the world and I think I believe that, and went bushwalking to see gorgeous waterfalls, although it started to rain in the middle of it.
The shopping areas were cute. I enjoy browsing the little shops selling vintage stuff and souvenirs, although yes, it was unashamedly touristy. I like this funny old fudge shop especially.
Do you think Kangaroo Valley would be swarming with kangaroos? well..er, yes it
was. I mean,there are probably other parts of Austalia where you can see more of them, but we went to this open field in one part of the valley and I’ve seen more kangaroos there than I’ve ever seen.
And it wasn’t just kangaroos. The valley also allowed me to sight wombats, a wallaby and even an echidna. In short, I had a wonderful getaway.
Then time to head to bustling Sydney. I have to say, I had stronger feelings towards it compared to Melbourne. Maybe its because I’m used to living in a big city so I felt more at home. Melbourne is cool, artsy and quirky, but Sydney has this “I have to BE here!” vibe that I am more familiar with.
And I was also impressed because despite the amount of things going on there, there were still beautiful parks, and even a lovely botanic garden! The walk through the garden , especially the part where you’re by the sea and you can see the ocean, the other parts of the city, and the harbor bridge, was like a dream. Not to mention the
clean harbors! To me, who’s accustomed to flooding, foul-smelling ports, seeing the city’s beautiful harbor was a nearly unbelievable experience.
Buut….I heard that not very long ago, the Sydney Harbor wasn’t that clean. The Harbor Bridge wasn’t that pretty either. So maybe it’s not too late. You know, as long as we stop mucking around and be rid of all the idiocy that goes on around here…
I made time to see an old friend I haven’t seen since a decade ago, I think. She is now an aspiring artist and she allowed me to see her rehearse in this really cool space.
And what’s a visit to Sydney without going to the beach? it was too cold to swim in Bondi, but there was Sculpture in The Park exhibition and so we walked along the coast (it was another sunny day), saw the artworks-some quirky, some ironic, some just plain intriguing-and went all the way to the beautiful cemetery.
I wish had more time to spend in Sydney. As I said before, I felt a connection and I think there’s much more to explore.
Nevertheless, I’m glad I had a chance to visit it and I hope Sydney (and the country) is yet to see the last of me!