Experiencing the Land Down Under: Melbourne

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.

Restaurants

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.

Transportation

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The Tram

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.

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Inside the Metro Rail Network

Metro Rail Network Office

Metro Rail Network Office

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.

Sunday Catholic mass

Sunday Catholic mass

With the Deakin University officials

With the Deakin University officials

Deakin University Australia

Deakin University Australia

Library of Deakin University

Library of Deakin University

Christian Union of the University

Christian Union of the university

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.

With Ms. Gigi, the Philippine Consul in Melbourne

With Ms. Gigi, the Philippine Consul 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.

Beer tasting with classmates and professor

Beer tasting with classmates and professor

Other spots

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.

Flinder''s Street

Flinders street station

State Library of Victory in the morning

State Library of Victory in the morning

Flinders Street

Flinders Street

Hotel

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.

In front of the hotel

In front of the hotel

People

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.

See the world…

It was exactly one month when I traveled to Australia. There are a lot of firsts. But the most obvious is my first trip outside the Philippines. I first set foot in Malaysia for a connecting flight, and that’s for 9 hours and made a city tour for almost 5 hours. Looking back when I enrolled in the Graduate School on November 2013 for my MBA, I was a newbie, I didn’t know what subjects to take, and it’s like my adviser was being impatient to me because it took me few minutes to choose the subjects. When I stumble at the subject, International Trade and Business, I chose it, it’s like there’s a voice in my mind that says, “Take it!”. The reason is because when I see the word “international”, I knew I will learn a lot from that subject because the focus will be the countries outside the Phlippines. Ever since, I really wanted to travel to other countries, without me knowing that subject will be the door to one of my goals. Australia is such a lovely country. I fell in love with the people, their transportation, with the convenience of life, the scenery, landmark, art and history. The people are so kind, so helpful and such a smiley. When you look at their faces, they will give you a nice smile. Maybe beyond all the wonderful sight seeings, and new places I visited, the highlight is our meeting with the Philippine consul in Melbourne, Ma’am Gigi. She is a steward in her profession. She has given an above and beyond service to the Filipinos in Melbourne. What touched my heart and soul is her way of coming up with a decision towards her work. She is praying and asking for discernment to God for all the decisions that she will be making. I love her inspiring stories about the hardships of the Filipinos just to provide a good life to their families left in the Philippines. One advise she gave is for a Filipino that’s having a hard time because of a personal problem. Her advice is, “Whenever you are hurting and in pain, just look at the cross and you’ll see Jesus. He saved us from all our sins, so your pain is nothing compared to Jesus’ pain in the cross.” I nearly cried when I heard that. She is such an inspiration. I will never forget that moment.

 

When I was in the Ferry, looking at the beauty of Sydney, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why am I here?” Not the superficial answer, but the answer that’s deep within my heart. Because there are still uncertainties in my heart at that time. I did not spoil the moment, and just forget that senti question, and just focus on the view. I couldn’t believe it was real. The post card of Sydney that I was looking when I was young is true, because I am seeing it in front of me, the bridge, the opera house, etc.

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I would love to go out and see the world while single. Travelling will open your mind to other cultures, people, and experiencing it first hand will draw understanding of the realities of life. This experience removed my fear to travel outside the Philippines.That I can go the next level which is travelling to another continent. Looking back when I applied in the graduate school last year, I have lots of fears, but conquering those fears are really worth it. Had I surrendered to those fears, I would not experience this, I wouldn’t meet new friends, and I will be stuck in my life thinking what could have been if I do this, do that, I wouldn’t learn, and I will have regrets. The decision feels so right and life is unfolding in every step with so many wonderful opportunities. Thank you God for the courage and strength.

More fears to conquer. You’ll never know it until you do it. 🙂