Life, the train ride

Living life is like traveling on train. You take a train to get you from where you are to where you want to be. You wait at the right station, on the right platform, for the right train to come around.

But it’s not as simple as just riding a train from end to end. You need to know when it’s time to get off. If you do too early or too late, you’ll end up in the wrong station and may not be able to immediately transfer to the next train that will take you closer to your destination. Sometimes, if you stay on a train for far too long, it will take you back to where you started.

I may have stayed on in my last train a bit too long. Maybe I got too comfortable and too used to it, that I failed to get off at the right stop. Now I’m waiting at a station wondering which train to ride to get me back on the right track. It may take some time, and maybe some additional train rides, but I know I’ll be able to figure it out soon.

Also, notice those people in the train with you? Most of them did not come from where you came from, and are not heading to the same destination as you. Don’t compare your travel to them, don’t make any of them a benchmark. Strike a conversation with them if you wish, but do not let yourself get attached too much. Don’t you ever let them make you forget where you intend to go.

Nonetheless, no matter how far you plan to travel, or how many trains you need to ride, just remember to enjoy the ride.


After years of listening to songs and watching movies about trains and train rides, I finally experienced and realized the real train system in Sydney and Melbourne. It’s not as simple as the usual metro rail or light rail systems I’ve seen so far. Perhaps it would be more interesting to see and explore the train systems in Europe. 🙂

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Walking Sydney

I had almost two weeks in Sydney during my trip to Australia. The purpose of our trip was mainly to visit my brother, but we included a lot of sightseeing. There is just so much to see around Sydney.

Town HallIt was good that my brother’s place where we stayed is smack in the middle of the city. He has a condo along George Street, and if I understand correctly, it’s one of the main roads within the city. Almost everything was within walking distance and we were able to take advantage of this.

 

Hyde Park was two blocks away. It was a wonderful big park, although I don’t know how else to describe a beautiful park besides mentioning the nice big trees, the lush green grass, and the amazing fountains, and the lovely park benches. There was also a small war-memorial museum on one side of the Hyde Park. On one end, you can already see the St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was just a good place to walk to and around.

 

The Town Hall was right beside the condo, although we never took time to have a look inside. However, there is a free walking tour around downtown Sydney that starts infront of the Town Hall twice a day. We joined one walking tour one morning, and it showed us around the different sights and structures around the George Street area, ending at the edge of The Rocks, near the Circular Quay. The entire walking tour took around 3 hours, but it was a very leisurely walk, together with a crash course in Sydney history.

 

 

Sydney structures and architecture are beautiful, and something different to me. Their old buildings are very ornate, reflecting such a rich history as a Commonwealth colony. It’s good that they are able to preserve a lot of these buildings downtown, if not all. The Queen Victoria Building (QVB) building was pretty interesting too, the way it has been re-purposed to be a high-end mall, and yet retaining that old-English vibe. It is a wonderful mix of the old and the new.

 

 

The Westfield mall was also close by. You can practically get from QVB to Westfield and Pitt Street through the basement shops. Westfield is their big, high-end mall. They have mid-range stores at the lower levels, and a good food court at one of the upper levels. You can also access the Sydney Tower Eye through Westfield mall.

Paddy’s Market and Chinatown was also around the vicinity. Although their Chinatown is not as “Chinese” as the other Chinatowns I have visited, here in Manila and in Singapore, it was also a pretty interesting area. Paddy’s Market is a covered, flea-market style retail area, and there are also a lot of things you can find there, both dry goods (clothes, household items, toys, souvenirs) and wet goods (fruits, vegetables, and meat). It’s a good place to buy souvenirs and “pasalubong” (take-home gifts for family and friends).

The Circular Quay is a long walk or a short bus ride away. From there, you can take a ferry to most of the ports around Sydney. It also gives a good vista of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge on opposite directions. Unfortunately we did not have the time to go climb the Harbour Bridge, nor walk to the Sydney Opera House. We did, however, take a ferry to Manly Beach and explore the area. Manly Beach is a good place to hang out, sunbathe, swim, and surf, and it’s pretty near the city and very accessible via the ferry.

Speaking of beaches, we did go to Bondi Beach, but it’s a bit of a drive from the city. We did not get to swim because it was pretty cold during that time, but there were number of Aussies doing their sunbathing. We decided to settle around the grassy area and have a picnic. We also got to walk around the area, with a number of food places and stores around.

 

Darling Harbour was also a short walk from my brother’s place. Darling Harbour is a busy area but also relaxing in a way. There are a few museums around Darling Harbour including the Maritime Museum and Madame Tussauds along the harbour, and the Powerhouse Museum a short walk away. We did not go to any of the museums though. I went on a solo walk there one late afternoon and just spent some time around the Tumbalong Park and beside the harbour. On another occasion, I was there with the family and we had dinner as we waited for the Saturday evening fireworks.

Whatelse? Hmmmm… Maybe I should also mention Woolworths (or Woolies!) right across Town Hall. We were getting foodstuff from Woolies almost every day, and it was just a tumble away from the condo.

Perhaps if I had more than two weeks in Sydney, I would be able to see more and explore more of the city and the nearby suburbs. I would also be able to spend more time with the extended relatives. Aye, I’ll definitely be back, I’ll find a way.

See you again Sydney.

Home is where the heart is

The title may sound so cliche. But I came to realize how true and genuine it is. Home is not a single, constant place. It’s wherever our family and our heart is.

It was our very first trip to Australia as a family, and the first ever for me and my sister. Used to be that we do family trips to Singapore at least 2x a year to visit my brother, but since the start of this year he has transferred to Sydney and have been a lot farther than before. Because of the travel cost and effort required (visas, tickets, and the actual travel time), we decided to do a one-time trip to Australia altogether and spend a longer time there.

Those were a wonderful 3-weeks with the family. Add to that the super-extended family we found in Sydney. My dad has a cousin who lives there with his family. My mom has three cousins there, all with grown kids about my age. A number of our second-cousins have gotten married already and now starting their own families. There goes a mega-extended family, a clan growing by the moment. We even had a weekend trip with a total of 27 people with us, all relatives and their partners.

The importance and influence of the family is a significant Filipino trait, and it extends way beyond the physical boundaries of the country. I’m not sure what other cultures cling to their families as much. And family relationships and the warmth are not limited to the immediate family members, but as far as you could trace your blood relationships.

There was something about Australia that made it feel so much like home. Maybe it’s the fact that I was there with the family. Maybe the extended family added to the homey feeling a bit. Perhaps it’s also the environment that seemed so comfortable for raising a family. Whatever it was, I was drawn and enamored. And honestly, I didn’t want to leave anymore.

Wherever my family is, there my home will be. Furthermore, wherever I will be raising my own family in the future, there my home will be. Our family is all grown now, my brother working outside the country for the past 7 years, and the possibility in the next few years that me and my siblings will all leave the nest and explore abroad or get married, or both. It’s just interesting to imagine the possibilities. I wonder where I’ll eventually end up. Would be nice to have that somewhere be still close to family.