Spring greens in Sydney

When I moved to Australia in April, we were gob-smack in the middle of Autumn. Five hundred shades of red and yellow and green filled my eyes with wonder and brimmed my soul with glee. Every time I heard the crunch of whittled leaves, orange-ing before browning, before being swept away in a flurry of breeze, my heart skipped a beat. All my life I’d dreamt of fall and the moment I saw it, I fell in love.

And then came winter. 

And I realised the first experience of anything is always cherish-worthy. I lived through my first winter shivering, but also dropping my jaw at the barren white eucalyptus trees whose land we’d encroached. I walked along the Lake Ginninderra every day, inhaling breathtaking freshness that came with a stinging white breeze. I was so inspired and awestruck that I showered my blog with haiku and photographs. 

And now it’s spring.

I spent the last couple of weeks travelling to Auckland, Sydney, and then Melbourne attending corporate conferences and presenting in each city. As nerve wracking as it was, I still managed to get away, to get time for myself to scale volcanoes in Auckland and to tread on a sheen of valleys in Sydney. 

The first time I was in Sydney was last June, and Vivid Festival was in full blow. As is customary for any traveller, I took the ferry across to Manly and back. It felt like a massive achievement. But alas, I couldn’t visit the botanical gardens.

This time, I knew I’d rectify my mistake. And I couldn’t have picked a better time to go. On a Saturday morning, I checked out from my hotel early (I was flying to Melbourne later in the day), and wandered off to the botanical gardens. It was a mere five-minute walk from my hotel—perks of travelling for work.

Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney

When I got there, an expanse of green waved at me. As always, my mouth slipped into a permanent smile. First volcanoes and now this—I was having the trip of my life. A little light headed and a lot light hearted, I made my way around the garden. It’s a massive space full of native plants and flowers, studded with small waterfalls, fountains, and rock formations.

Thousands of flowers were in their prime, blooming out of trees, from behind bushes, and peering through the ground softening up dry parched land that winter had left in its wake. Pristine is an understatement.

As I climbed up a flight of stairs towards the street, saying goodbye at the gates were the four seasons and their dedicated statues. Autumn and winter held goblets, as they should, and summer considered shedding her cloak. And darling spring with a halo over its head, smiled in silence as I bade a reverent farewell. 

Statue of spring - Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney

Until next time.

Advertisements

Sydney scenes

When I exited the aircraft, I was so excited to be visiting Sydney for the first time. After a month there, my brother mentioned it was starting to grow on him.

We both hated the idea of living in Sydney. Even before we’d even seen the city. Now, though, he seemed to have second thoughts, and I was eager to find out how I felt.

Long story short—I still don’t like the idea of living in Sydney.

I did like Sydney, however. Contradictory, I know. But as soon as I reached my hotel on Harbour Street, in the heart of the city (CBD), I texted my colleague to see if we could catch up. After all, I wasn’t touring Sydney—I was there to attend a conference, to stay locked up inside the infamous International Convention Centre from 8 am to 5 pm on a Thursday and Friday. I met my team mates at around 5 pm, and after a not-so-great coffee, I left to explore.

Vivid Sydney display
Vivid Sydney display

Not one to linger these wintry days, the sun had set off at around 5. But Sydney city is the Down Under version of the city that never sleeps. Lights glared from every corner, and instead of listening to my colleagues ranting (reasonably, albeit boringly) about office politics, I preferred to wander the streets.

Sydney Harbour during Vivid Sydney
Sydney Harbour during Vivid Sydney

That’s when I realised the sheer volume of people who called Sydney home. I wasn’t far from Chinatown and Koreatown so I ran into thousands of all flavours of Asians. And I don’t mean ran into in a figurative sense either. So many people wandered just as I did, except they were looking at their phones letting their well-practised feet and conditioned subconsciousness guide them through navigating the street signs.

Almost everyone followed street signs. And that made me so happy. But it was also frustrating when a lot of couples clung to each other while walking down the footpath. Dawdling behind them, I had a hard time overtaking them without bumping into another arm-locked couple.

And I won’t even start about the low-burning cigarette butts every other person clung to. It wasn’t that cold. At least not for me—not after Canberra anyway.

But it was all great fun. I stopped by for a hot chocolate and walked over to the Opera House. May-June is a great time to visit this studded bay area because Vivid Sydney is on show. The whole locality lights up, laser shows beam about, special over-priced cruise tours dig gold, and along with the many significant buildings in the neighbourhood, the Opera House takes on a stunning veil of animated display.

The closer I got to the building, the faster I seemed to walk. It happens to me all the time. Excitement and eagerness make me trot without a regard for my knees or my not-good-for-walking Converse. But what the hell, I thought to myself. You don’t always get to see the Opera House for the first time. There’ll always be reasons no to do something—rain, cold, wind, stiff shoes, bad hair days, tired feet, or work night. But nothing beats the sense of accomplishment that comes with pushing through nevertheless. That keeps the spark alive for a traveller.

Nestling in that spark, I returned to my room, ready for work the following day.

Next day—

Work was average, and I wasn’t happy with my contribution. But the spark still triggered me to take a ferry unto Manly. And I saw the Opera House again from a whole different perspective. After all, what’s the point of life if you let work interfere with it?

Hidden in day light

Vivid Sydney displays during the day and night

Dormant during day

don’t dare underestimate

vivid are the wild


Photo: Vivid Sydney displays during the day and night

Dare

Vivid Sydney, Darling Harbour
Vivid Sydney, Darling Harbour

Not only nightmares

reality’s vivid too

if you dare to dream