Jan 20, 2013

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Sydney in 4 days

Last year I made my first ever trip to Australia. I’ve travelled to a few places yet I’d never taken the time to visit our closest neighbour and say G’day, despite it being so close and cheap to fly. After visiting I can certainly see the appeal, but I didn’t visit Sydney to see the city, I went to see Matt & Jenna (and Nathan), Sam and Jess & Sheldon – friends who have sadly left NZ and taken up various jobs in the most populated city in Australia[1].

Matt & Jenna had been offering to host me since they moved over and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I got a cheap ticket by using Wenza and decided to take on the 7kg challenge[2] and only travel with a carry on bag. I sacrificed my laptop but I had everything I needed plus some room to take over kiwi snacks. Unfortunately, a 7am flight meant a 5am check in, so I was very tired.

Day 1

189388_10151064775807190_1380983254_nI was picked up at Sydney airport by Matt & Jenna, got a Vodafone SIM for the time I’d be there and went back to their place. After planning out our itinerary for the next couple of days I promptly crashed and slept for a couple of hours. When I came back to feeling human there were sandwiches waiting for me in the kitchen. This was just the start of how well I was looked after on this trip, Matt & Jenna’s hospitality is second to none. After eating we headed out into the city.

We visited Chinatown.

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Saw the fireworks.

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And took in a show.

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Day 2

We visited Paddy’s Market.

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We got this close to being in a submarine, but it was closed for the day.

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Not all was lost. I found Sam and he found beer.

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Then we saw Batman in IMAX – way better than any 3D I’ve seen.

Day 3

We took the ferry from Manly to Circular Quay.

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I posed like the tourist I was on the Harbour bridge.

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We saw a plane that had been cut up and sent by postal mail to the US and back.

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We tried out Matt’s camera remote to great success.

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And before the delicious steak BBQ in the evening, we even managed to see this view.

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Day 4

We visited the zoo and saw animals that entertained.

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Animals that took my money.

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Animals I’m glad NZ doesn’t have.

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Animals that were very cute.

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And we worked on Kiwi[3] & Aussie relations.

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We packed heaps into the 4 days and I enjoyed myself so much I know I’ll be back. I have way too many photos and memories for a single blog post, but I’ll leave you with these suggestions:

  • Travel light: Carry less weight, pay less to check a bag, spend less time packing and waiting for bags
  • Stay with friends: Not only do you get to see your friends, you also get a place to sleep
  • Plan rest: Don’t exhaust yourself trying to do everything on your list, it’ll keep
  • Pick the cooler months: Sydney can get incredibly hot and uncomfortable for exploring if you go in the middle of summer
  • Be sure to see: Darling Harbour, Chinatown, Maritime Museum, “The Local” bar (and get a tasting paddle) and the Museum of Contemporary Art

Footnotes

[1] To give that a bit of perspective, the population of New Zealand is roughly the same size as the population of Sydney (including suburbs).

[2] My backpack weighed in at 6.7kg (the scale wasn’t calibrated properly) but because you can also take a “small personal item such as a handbag” in addition to your 7kg allowance my SLR camera and bag travel too.

[3] Kiwi is my travelling companion, he has visited Hawaii, Philippines and Australia with me, sneaking into photos along the way.

Jan 2, 2013

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2012 redux

It’s the first days of 2013 and I can’t decide what kind of year I had in 2012. Were it not for this past week of holiday I’d leave 2012 feeling exhausted and run down. However, with time to dwell on the year, moments taken where I didn’t think “I need to do X” remind me of all I’ve been blessed with this year. I do feel it ending on a good note.

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I started 2012 in Shanghai, in a taxi cab trying to get to the Bund to see the new year fireworks. I saw Shanghai in a new way, saw real ice castles, terracotta warriors and Hong Kong. I attended a few weddings, including my best friend’s. I went to Parachute Festival, the best weekend event of my year. I saw Chinese fireworks on the waterfront, Jenn Lim and Tony Hsieh speak about happiness at Webstock 2012 and got sick of taking photos (but got back into it later). With the help of others I ran a PC fix up day for the community. I attended my first ANZAC day dawn service saw P.O.D play live in Wellington and started a new yoga class on Thursday lunchtimes. I spent a lot of time rewriting and tweaking the NZ Post Address & Postcode Finder. I saw friends leave for Australia and Christchurch, renewed my passport, did a SCUBA diving course and got my open water dive card. I flew to Auckland for OWASP Day, gave two Backbone.js training courses and introduced NERF guns to the office :). I made new friends in my church and others, visited friends in Australia for the first time, made my second book (wedding gift), and did camera operating for Porirua Christmas in the Park. I kept in contact with friends overseas for the whole year!

I accepted that I wasn’t going back to Hawaii in a great rush and struggled to find something to fill the gap, but not very successfully. I ended up drifting away from the Standby Task Force Tech Team. I spent less time in prayer and bible reading than I should have. I lost focus on why I was doing things, asking “what’s the point” rather than “what’s the purpose”? I poured time away on Facebook instead of putting it to use. I worried what others thought of me. I thought of lots of cool stuff to do, but didn’t do it. I remembered my own failures and forgot my successes. I made 2012 harder than it needed to be.

2013 will be different. This year I’ll be asking “what’s the purpose?” when I do something. I’ll rant less and fix more. I’ll have an “awesome jar”. I’ll worry less, pray more, seek God and make time for the things that matter by taking it away from the things that don’t.