New South Wales

Whites Beach, Broken Head

I found Whites Beach two and a half years ago... Man, I make that sound like a decade! But honestly, my entire Australia stint feels like it happened a decade ago! Even my cashj/by the way mentions of and about Australia sets that tone. I am possibly one of the most adjustable people so I don't have that endless and incessant yearning or complaints about how my life somewhere else was so much better than it is now. I like that life is a journey of multiple and unpredictile stops. So you have to enjoy that sentiment and that passion as if its the first and the last time. 

I guess Whites beach must have become more mainstream now but back then, it still held its reputation as being a 'secret beach' and I think it's quite evident even from the pictures below. You pretty much have the beach all to yourself and there are even some beach caves for you to 'rent out' and take a snooze. I read about people who've camped here and I honestly think that would be a pretty darn cool thing to do.

What I remember most about Whites beach is bringing a visual context to what I remember about the Famous Five. As a rite of passage, The Secret Seven and Famous Five were pretty important to my childhood. Considering the number of adventures the Five had near the sea, White beach sure seemed like a spot for a mystery. On the other hand, this beach also displayed the grand and unimaginable vastness of the ocean that amazes yet scares me very much (because I have a mild phobia for water and a massive phobia for drowning).

Photographed with the Canon 450D, randomly and terribly/ 2014.

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Byron Bay

If not for the beaches, go for the food. If not for the food, the shopping. If not for the shopping, the adventures. And if not for the adventures, for the vibes. Byron has something for everyone and for me, it was the closest and easiest trips to do (an hour and a half away from Brisbane). I quickly formed an attachment withe the lighthouse (believe it or not, seeing a lighthouse was always on my list of things to do since I was a kid because FAMOUS FIVE!) and hiking the lighthouse/most easterly point trail became somewhat of a 'must-do' all of the times. 

I think it's so important to travel and adventure with likeminded people so I would like to go back to Byron with either such people or alone (people pictured below are strangers by the way. They were in the way but not in the distracting sense. Kind of created the image for me). I went to Byron on my own once and that was probably the one trip I enjoyed the most in comparison to the rest for which I had company. Just to get this out of the way, I don't enjoy traveling with people who crib and whine about things like the heat, the sand (SAND. You're not fucking Anakin Skywalker) and what the water is going to do to their hair (Y U at the beach tho). I am also not down with just lying on the damn beach nor being told about surfing and snorkeling trips being too expensive (cashmeouside, how bou dat?). I mean, I could list endless things but even this feels like too much information. ANYWAY. When you're on a holiday or a vacay or backpacking or whatever you want to call it, get yourself a likeminded person or screw that shit, and go solo because that's the best. 

Not surprisingly, it was also during this solo trip that I took my favourite pictures of Byron; the Byron that I remember today. 

The question is not what you can do in Byron. It's what can't you do. 

All photos taken with my Pentax 35mm and iPhone (18-19-20-21-24.25.26) / 2013 to 2014. 

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Sydney: Bondi Beach

Sydney. A place that felt like home. I was the intern that got the promotion and my move to Sydney practically happened overnight. 

I had visited Sydney once before the move. It was my first few months in Australia and within three months I got a taste of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and as electric as Melbourne was, Sydney took my heart so the move (even if I had to quickly figure things out) was a no brainer. I guess it also helped that my best friend was there. We shared what seemed like the cupboard under the stairs but it was three weeks of endless conversation which for us was a piece o' cake. There is nothing quite like an age old friendships and both he and I seemed like we needed a familiar face around to spew out everything -from heart and head- without restrain.

I walked everywhere because Sydney that way is extremely accessible and beautiful. It's a good thing there was no instagram stories and snapchat wasn't as popular because I am certain I would've been "that person." My friend and I once walked all the way back from the CBD to Surry Hills at night after dinner at a cheap Vietnamese cafe that I will attest to was one of the best meals I had in Australia. Oddly enough, the second best was at a tiny, blin-and-you-miss Japanese Cafe in Chapel Street while the third would be the everyday meals I had in a Japanese sushi cafe that I worked part time in during Uni. So you see the pattern. Asian food in Australia is pretty stellar. lived in Surry Hill and Alexandria, two of the most beautiful suburbs in Sydney. The best though is without a doubt Bondi. 

Asking which is the best beach in Sydney is gut wrenching. I say Bondi and then I begin adding the rest because Bronte, Tamarama, Coogee and Clovelly are equally stunning. So you see the conundrum: it's impossible. And yet, Bondi. It just has a vibe. Whether you hang around the beach, do the Bondi to Bronte walk, swim at the Icebergs, walk around the 'burbs or grab a bite to eat, it's just a fantastic feeling being there. And then there's the view. There's the sunrise and the sunset, there's the endless view of blue and of course, the beautiful folks.

I went back to Bondi a lot but not enough. These photographs are from my first visit with my friends who, being based in Sydney, also visited for the first time with me. This is the only stash of photographs I have of Bondi because all the other times I visited after that was an odd picture here and there because I also thought I had more time and that I would come back one day specifically to take pictures. Something I had thought about while I was in Melbourne all the time only to realise now that my one year there was barely documented in photographs. It's all in fragments of memories, stories and words. For once though, I do have a nice photograph with my friends that we asked a stranger to take of us. The three of us were whispering how typically Asian we must have seemed to him: Bondi beach, didn't even swim, fully clothed, beautiful sunset and asking to have our picture taken. We had ticked all the 'Asians in Australia' boxes. nevertheless, we looked happy and he was a cool dude and that resulted to a good photograph. I remember sending it over to my family and their first reaction was that I had gotten too thin and I need to eat more. Parents I tell you.

The burning question and also a doubt in people's mind: Is Bondi overrated and overhyped? Not a chance. You can't not go to Bondi when you're in Australia. I'm not even saying Sydney. I mean Australia. You have to make your way to Sydney for Bondi. Bondi is a lifestyle you sort of just slide in and in the words of Frank Ocean, "whatever comes, comes through clear" (especially once you've taken a swim at the Icebergs. It's an absolute must).

If I had Dorthy's red shoes, Frank L. Baum's and not Tarsem Singh's, and I chanted "there is no place like home", the magical forces are certainly going to be unsure because home for me translates to my real home as well as Sydney. I also blame the Quantas commercial for drilling this song into my head and making me bawl my eyes out since it came out around the time I was leaving but that's feeling captured in the commercial is pretty much how I feel about Sydney. So that's that. That's how much I felt it was a home to me. I always remember it. I always remember the essence of it; its spirit but I don't pine for it. I know it's there and I kind of have an inkling that I'll see it again. When, I don't really know but I'll see it again. Do you Sydney, do you.

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