Friday, September 19, 2008

Finally! The Trip Down Under!

*Warning* Heavy picture post ahead!

So I went for a short brief jaunt over to Brisbane before the start of my new semester. Believe me, I am a firm believer in holidays. They are rejuvenating, educating and refreshing all at once! Thank you so much, Grand mama! I really did enjoy myself and was fully prepped for the new study period! Plus I had such a great time meeting new people- within the short period of 1 week! And... I think that I might have some new appreciation for the formerly-thought crude sport called 'Rugby' because thanks to the teachings of my cousin and my uncle, I actually sat through two rounds of the Bledisloe Cup! All those really buff men chasing a rectangular shaped ball? I know understand the WHY WHY WHY question of WHY they do that!

Me and Grand mama departed to Brisbane via Brunei Airlines, at the most unholy hour of 1.45 am. I am a chick who takes her sleep very. very. very seriously.

Indeed, we were very EXCITED about heading to Brisbane. We just didn't want to arrive looking like sleep-deprived, hunger panged, panda eyed tourists. Have you ever tried sleeping on a plane? Let me tell you, its not exactly as bad as trying to sleep on a bus but it does not allow you to actually doze off. You'll be constantly awake. Due to the shuffling of the other passengers... the hard sides of the seat...bla bla bla.

Or maybe I'm just the type who can't sleep in airplanes. Yea.

BUT THEN- Lady Luck was on our side! Guess who got upgraded to First Class/ Business Class? WOOOOT!

And therefore, we had a swell time, good sleep, excellent service, great meals... AND WE ARRIVED LOOKING FRESH AND ALERT! To the surprise of my aunt!

Lesson learn t? There's a reason why people pay for Business Class, when they can afford it.

My companion throughout the trip. Wait, the little one. My other companion was my Grandma. This little pink fellow with the glassy huge eyes was the silent spectator- everyone, met Mr. BrownHeart.

(Yesh, not the most imaginative name ever BUT can you see that brown colored heart on his...erm... body? Hence the name. One can also say its a parody of BraveHeart. I really detest that film!)

#1 The Neighbourhood

Anyway, we got all settled in and Brrr! It was really really cold. Australian winters are milder compared to European/ China/ Japan winters but for a first-timer, it was really really chilly! There were days when it felt like there was natural air-conditioning in the outdoors and there were days when I just wanted to stay home, cuddle under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate. I now know the significance of hot chocolate and winter- its a symbiosis, one cannot exist without the other!

The good news about winter? FASHION! I could finally wear scarves! & coats! & pashnima shawls! without having weird looking glances thrown my way and aunties shaking their heads, complaining about "young people nowadays and weird fashion sense!"

Thus, it was quite alrite! Since I am (hopefully) heading to Perth next year for the completion of my degree course, I can say that I am now a veteran of Australian winter-time. (Hah! Look whose talking? One winter only!) I can fully prepare for my wardrobe... oh, and my skincare and my diet and my...wardrobe!

Almost a Fairytale- The gateway for one of the houses in my Aunt's suburb

First outing up our sleeves- a walk through the neighborhood. My aunt lives in a suburb called Corinda, located near Indooroopilly. Another frequent haunt for my one week stay was the local Indooroopilly Mall.

The suburbs are fantastic places to do a bit of 'house-watching'. Most suburbs in Brisbane vary in the form of housing design. For instance, Corinda and the surrounding suburbs around Indooroopilly have a strong sense of 'Queensland Architecture'. Another suburb outside SunnyBank, which is a predominantly Asian area, has normal brick houses.

Queensland Architecture is unique because of the way the house is designed. A long veranda is one of the differentiating points of Queensland architecture. Or I might just say that it looks like an amped-up, more luxurious version of the Malaysian Kampung House.

Jen, care to explain more about the various features of Queensland Architecture... or any puzzled people could just Google It!

The infamous Queensland Architecture House.
What I really like is the detailing around the fences and the ballisters.

My childhood dream- a treehouse!

Wandering around the suburbs- while walking away the huge meals that I seem to have almost everyday, is a really entertaining experience. Everyone here has infused so much personality into their houses! Its like their houses are a part of themselves. Which, the same cannot be said for most Miri houses, every Semi-Detached or Bungalow has the same, standardized look that screams- Same, similar, copycat developers!

Blooming Azaleas.

My Grandma almost went crazy over these pink/ white beauties. She almost knocked and wandered into the house, just to compliment the owner on his/her superb gardening skills.

Almost. My aunt and me are fast workers.

I wish I could squeeze them and satisfy my urge for fresh juice.

Grand old trees that look good. Handsome guys.

Duck. Stork. Another Bird Family Friend.

The walk also took us down to the Neighborhood Park. Where I saw mangroves and a man-made pond with little cute ducks waddling about!

The thing about ducks is- you don't really understand the 'waddle' part until you actually see it? They really do waddle! Penguins shuffle, Ducks waddle. Hah- mysteries of the universe! The weirdest thing was that this park forbade onlookers from feeding the wildlife. It seems that its actually a wildlife reserve? Part park, part wildlife reserve. The animals are supposed to be wild. They are supposed to fend for themselves. The theory is that once humans start supplying food, the ducks/ other wildlife will become dependent on those suppliers, taking away their wilderness survival skills.

Ahh, okay, so I couldn't feed these waddling ducks. At least I could appreciate the irony in that.

I heart the way the ripples appear as they swim past.

# 2 The City

The next day... we made a visit to the city! We went to see the fabulously put together Picasso Exhibition at the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), located in the Cultural Center, right next to the State Library. Let me tell you, for an art amateur, I really did enjoy myself, looking at the various paintings on display (no cameras allowed!) in the galleries. The descriptions and running commentary from my Aunt and the museum speaker made the whole visit extremely worthwhile, I was actually learning something! This is another small woe of mine, that Malaysia doesn't really put together nice showings like this- well, there might be one or two, but then, I'll have to jet over to KL... In Brisbane? Heck, they had Andy Warhol before Picasso!!! My cousin went and he was amazed. That says a lot. My cousin is a guy. For a guy to enjoy a museum... yea, I guess it was really really good.

The view of Brisbane City from a lookout point.

It was a chilly day. Leggings-Check! Pashnima-Check!

The city is totally different from my aunt's suburbs. Her suburbs are kinda like a mini-town, you get a whole town square in the middle of the suburbs where people sit in cafes or go to knitting classes at the craft store. But the city? Whoa. The hustle, the bustle, the pure energy! At every corner, there was something going on! People taking pictures! People getting off a bus! People chatting away! The whole city is actually composed of all these dual story townhouses done in a maze. If you take a turn at your left, for instance, you end up in a shopping complex, made out of quaint townhouses! A right turn? A lovely little tea shop!

Of course, there were the skyscrapers and the office buildings but the shopping district! Ooohhhh...

I remember this little cafe that had tables laid out in the back alley for their customers all the way from my 2004 visit. The cafe owners had even transformed the back alley into a little garden. Like an oasis in the middle of the city! We wanted to stop by that cafe this trip- but time was not on our side...maybe next time?

The City Hall right smack in city central.

My aunt, who is a recent graduate of a Fine Arts Diploma Course from Griffith University is a proud jeweler! She works on her projects on a daily basis in the Jeweler's Residence in City Hall. They have all the in-house equipment and provide her with a comfy, inspirational workplace.

The various jewelers works on display.

These works are for sale as well. Its a great way to promote new talent because the City Hall is a tourist destination, which means that these new talents get a lot of exposure and acknowledgment if someone were to purchase their work! Its great too because instead of showcasing your work in a rented space or having an exhibition, City Hall takes care of that for you.

I have promised my aunt that I will purchase a ring (her rings are a piece of art) from her when I get my first paycheck!

These two pictures show my fav works from the many displays. I really like the bird motifs on the plaques. Oohhh, but they really cost a bundle! And the little silver embossed tin man with dancing hands and legs? Can I bring you home? Heart the little cap on his head.

Why did you have to be so expensive, Love?

My love for flooring. Especially flooring that tells a story.

Toy Horses!

These exhibits are from a local toy manufacturer called Dobbins and Drum Toys! These beauties are 100% handmade. I think, if I remember correctly, a sign next to them showcased the famous people for whom the toymaker had served all these years- including, IF I am really not mistaken, HRH Prince Charles himself!

The exterior of GoMA. Its a modern art gallery, hence the ultra modern exterior and interior.

It was a really good showcase!

I've known who Picasso was- hhahhaha, for his extreme art and his extreme love life! He had as many lovers as his famous art works. One of his lovers was even an accomplished artist herself, with her work showing right there next to Picasso's!

Throughout the whole collection, you could really gather how much the artists of that time period influenced one another. Since they were all friends or acquaintances, they all discussed their artwork regularly. As art connoisseurs, all these artists collected one another's' pieces. Then they learnt from each other. Cubism, Picasso's famous feature's origin was explained. As was pointillism, sculptures and various other methods that he used over the years for his pieces.

It was amazing to see that Picasso was so talented, because he wasn't merely a painter- he was a sculptor, illusionist, photographer and art critic...and he did it with aplomb!

A naughty piece of work displayed at the entrance. So whose is BIGGER? I really can't tell!

The artsy chairs at the museum cafe.

Where we had really delicious sandwiches and tea!

Another love of my trip has got to be BREAD. One cannot say that they have visited Australia if one has not tried their bread! In the course of one week, I think I ate more focaccias and loafs than humanely possible. I should have been bloated! But the bread... oh, the bread!

They make the best scones, the best croissants, the best wheat loafs... even the regular sandwich loaves taste so much better!

I can't seem to fulfill my desire for bread back here...the best I've managed so far is French Toast in Baker's Village KL. Note the fact that its in KL.


The first thing that jumped into my mind when I saw these was- FISH! Oops, person.

She who has something-something for cutesy, beautiful and one of a kind wallpapers! Gal, I really wanted to bring one of these beauties back for you but it would have been crumpled to the extreme. Next time when I have more baggage space? (ahem) or Shipping space?

The book shops in Brisbane had the most delightful children's books.

I found these two in the corner shop of GoMA. Its a resolution, I think, the urge to purchase these babies when the time is right!

Above, Sunday Chutney. (Eeeeee, such a yummy name!)

Below, The Giving Tree.

Another special mention.

Everyone knows those gray, rectangular boxes called Power Circuit Boxes right? The ones with the words Sesco or Tenaga Nasional sprayed across the front?

Well, Brisbane has re-defined the ugly. They actually vamped up these sore lookers through a competition that everyone could take part in! All you had to do was to secure a power box or your own anywhere in Brisbane and paint your own design onto it! Then, the judges would go around and select the winner!

This book here documents this creative plan and actually showcases all the painted circuit boxes! They even interviewed the various 'artists'. Talk about a cool state project.

The State Library of Queensland. With a really quaint looking modern-fused exterior!

The fun and cute thing about this library is that there's a game to play! The staff exhibits many sculptures and art pieces of local artists all around the museum. The interesting thing is- they don't place it right in front of you. The point is, they want you to look for them- like a treasure hunt! They give you pointers and the rest is up to you.

Once again, it would have really been a fun game but we had so many things to see, so little time!

Stuffy, old library? Nuh-huh.


Its got to stop somewhere eh?

Dun fret! Next up- Aunt's Place, More City Spotting's and Fave Things.

Meanwhile, I think I want to make a resolution to travel once a year, when I start working and when I can well afford it myself! I think its well worth the money earned and great for my soul!

So, till I can update again-Toodles!