It was last year when I had my very first trip outside the country, and also to a different continent, Australia. It was an educational trip in one of my classes in UST The Graduate School. I remembered a few days before the trip, I was very excited but at the same time nervous because our Australian Visa were not yet released. The trip was scheduled on Saturday but it was only 2 days before our departure, on Thursday, that our visa were released. I started blogging in 2011 but 2013 and 2014 were not a blogging year for me. I was not in the mood to write, so the wonderful experiences on those years were not posted here. That’s why I’m catching up right now. I want to look back on these experiences years from now, 5 years or 10 years down the road, if I already have my own family, realizing that life may have been far from perfect but I lived and enjoyed life while young and single.
From Kuala Lumpur International Airport, we had a 9-hour plane ride to Melbourne Airport. I was seated with an Australian man (I forgot his name), who was working in a Casino in Melbourne. He was going back to Melbourne from his travel in Thailand. For me, one of the best perks of traveling is meeting strangers, whom you can have great conversations with, learn a lot of things and exchange ideas from one another’s origin. As with the Australian man, he shared his experience from Thailand where he was able to attend a wedding of a local Thai who both were working in the Elephant conservation area. The elephants were the “guest of honor” in the wedding. He also showed me a video of baby elephants rolling and enjoying while taking a bath on a large basin. The elephants were so cute. He also gave tips and helpful information for our trip to Melbourne, as a Melbourne local himself.
We ate in a different types of restaurants in Melbourne. We tried Turkish restaurant where we ordered lamb meat, wrapped like a shawarma. We also experienced Chinese buffet restaurant, China Bar, in the Central Business District, where the family of my professor’s friend hosted our lunch.
Melbourne has an excellent transportation. The kinds of public transportation are tram, cab and bus. I think the most famous is the tram. We bought a tram ticket in 7/11, it’s called Miki card, where you will tap the card in the censor upon entering the train. The tram was so comfortable, it was air conditioned, and not crowded. What I absolutely admired about the transportation was their road. The busses, cabs, private vehicles, and tram share the same road, but they each have a right of way with the help of stop lights, so accidents are far to happen. We were also lucky to go inside the Metro Rail Network, where the engineer, showed us the office and how they ran the railway system in Victoria.
Places we’ve visited
Our primary reason for traveling to Melbourne was to meet the officials of the Deakin University, in Burwood. After the small conference, the officials toured us around the university. We went to the different colleges, the university library (a haven!) and the university art museum.
We also met the Philippine Consul in Melbourne, Ms. Gigi Kalong. She was such an inspiration for me, as how she’s being a steward for the welfare of all Filipinos in Melbourne.
Another activity we did was visiting Carlton Brewhouse. We were taught how a beer was produced, its ingredients and the long process of brewing and bottling. We were able to taste the different kinds of beer. I just noticed that in Australia, the employees are multi-tasker. Our tour guide was also the barterder and the waitress of the bar, amazing! I and my classmates enjoyed the beer tasting at the end of the tour. We ordered pizza and chicken, the food best paired with unlimited beer.
There are a lot of parks in Melbourne where you can relax, people watch, and spend your day. There’s also the famous Flinders street, the central station in Melbourne’s suburban rail network. We went inside the State Library of Victoria, where everyone can go in, use a computer and enjoy free wifi. The library holds over 2 million books. We also stayed for a few hours in QV Melbourne, it had several restaurants and offers unlimited Wi-Fi access. When we were there, me and my classmates lie on the grass and stare at the sky, realizing our last night in Melbourne.
We stayed in the Grand Chancellor Hotel. What I loved about our accommodation were the friendly hotel staffs, and the thing I looked for every morning, the hotel’s continental breakfast. I loved sausages, scrambled eggs, fruits, pork and beans, ham, bread, etc.
Australians were friendly, and such a smiley, in a way that when you look at their faces, and they caught you looking at them, they will give you a warm smile in return.
I really fell in love with Melbourne. This trip ignited my childhood dream to travel more to other parts of the world. It is not always everyday that I can travel like this. Truly, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.