My Winning Ride to The Land Down Under
While going to the airport, the feeling of excitement had gradually manifested to me. I still have the little uncertainties though, repeatedly asking myself: would I experience a pleasant time in Australia? Can I survive my homesickness? Will the workshop that we were required to attend worth it? Breaking free from the invisible globe of domestic attachment while bidding my last goodbye to my husband before the flight is a winning moment for me. Joining the other team leaders – Mic, Jorem, Clarisse, Justine, Inon, Vince and Lin with contagious positivity displayed on their faces, I can see to it that a marvelous expedition was about to unfold. It was what Millennials are coining - “me time” or appropriately for us “our time”, “our time” in the beautiful land down under, Australia.
Coming to my senses, it was a Eureka moment when we finally arrived in Brisbane, Australia, traversing a 5,812-kilometre distance from Manila, Philippines. The weather was cold but tolerable. It started to become nostalgic…remembering the times I woke up early morning in the Philippines, beating the shivery temperature while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. Only this time it was different. This time the sun is up, my hand is on my massive travel bags and the “Welcome to Brisbane” ads were enormously exhibited in front of us when we touched down Brisbane Airport.
We were fetched by some of our AU department managers – Terri, Nat and our fellow Filipino Beth who was accompanied by her lovely family. With Beth, it made us feel somehow at ease and well accustomed to as we were welcomed by our own “kababayan”. As they become our imposing tour-guides and we were the guileless visitors, our eyes feasted with the exquisiteness of the Brisbane area. To cap-off the start of our wonderful AU journey, we found ourselves in gluttony for sea foods being served in Morgans.
On day 2, I made sure to wear a simple yet chic, autumn-ish ensemble to complement the picturesque view of Brisbane city. The city felt welcoming and graphically enticing. Coupled with the City Hall building, ANZAC Square, statues and the contemporary buildings behind and in the surroundings, it gave that compelling presentation of the juxtaposition of vintage and modern.
After the picture-taking struggle, I joined the other team leaders and managers, for a boat ride in Brisbane River which gave us a nice survey of the city and the majestic structure of the Story Bridge. I am on deep thoughts with its name. Perhaps the sentimental feeling of a narrative playing in my mind while on a boat ride and looking at the city was being summoned.
I really like to have everything managed, so I grabbed the opportunity to visit souvenir shops. As opal is the national gemstone of the Aussies, I made sure that I hunted through every inch of the shops to find the best opal jewelry for my mom and mom-in-law. Calling it a day, we dined at the CBD's cozy and dainty Beach House. We ordered their best-selling steak, which after consuming it, made us realize that we wanted to marry it.
On day 3, when we first arrived at the apartment, we were amazed by the fact that we can drink safely from the tap. We felt much accomplished that the water temperature can be modified from hot to cold. On the outside, while conquering the streets of Chermside, a view of other people doing a healthy brisk walking or jogging is a typical scenario than in the suburbs of Manila. God knows how we almost glorify the bus systems because they are stunningly on schedule. The borrowed progression that we experienced is a remarkable understanding how Australians lived efficiently while being law-abiding.
Finally, we visited the headquarters of our beloved company. Seeing ourselves, the staff and managers joined by our CEO Mike and Director of Operations Theresa, as a unified group, I was deeply overwhelmed with happiness and success. Meeting everyone, coming from different countries and culture, there is a substantial diversity emanating from the group.
I was having an emotional roller coaster ride realizing after 4 years of just seeing only the office and the people via video call, I can now apply all my faculties of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touching to them. I wish to kiss the walls, the paintings, the tables, the chairs and our state-of-the-art toilet room. By the way I'm just kidding, because it will be a sickening thing to do that. We enjoyed a healthy lunch from Subway. Oh, how I take delight on how they are accustomed to having a healthy lifestyle. The food on the menu is packed with vegetables and it clearly specifies if it is gluten-free or not. There were even restrictive smoking policies.
Day 4 is our trip to Koala Lone Pine Sanctuary which was one of the most anticipated moments of our Aussie adventure. We felt ecstatic seeing the wildlife especially the mighty kangaroos and the uber-cute and adorable koalas. The one activity that fascinated me most was the “kangaroo-feeding”. The sanctuary staff provided us some organic food to feed to the kangaroos. The roos were astonishingly very domesticated and gentle while steadily eating the feeds on our hands.
If no one was looking, I would have bought a plane ticket for one of the kangaroos so I can take it back home with me. Although my heart can't decide if I should have brought an uber-cute koala as well. I know the animal advocates won't permit this and they are safer in the sanctuary, so this happens to be just my wild imagination. I appreciate that the Koala Lone Pine has been included in our itinerary.
I got the chance to meet the sleeping Tasmanian Devil, pretty Kookaburra bird, the lovely Platypus (especially when he swims) and other authentic Aussie animals. It made me realize to give more attention to our environment. These animals dwell on it so therefore we take responsibility in protecting them as well.
The time ticked so quick before I realized that the day of the Vroom-Hiccup workshop finally arrived. We were already on days 5 and 6 of our stay in Brisbane. It is the very reason why we enjoyed a handful of fresh seafoods in Morgans, why we were able to catch a boat ride and had a delightful stroll in the quintessentially progressive city of Brisbane and why we had the honor to feed the kangaroos and to cuddle a koala. The very reason also is that we were able to visit our headquarters and to come face to face with the great managers of our company.
As Mike showed us also Robin Sharma's videos, a world-renowned self-help guru, we felt much empowered. There is a favorable energy that radiated throughout the training which kept us driven, passionate, inspired and motivated not just only with our work but also with our life. Exciting times are indeed coming ahead to our company. It is truly a rewarding and remarkable experience. Those are the words that I will surely write on my journal as I summarize my wonderful journey.
Seeing the marvelous August night sky, which enveloped the city lights of Manila, made me feel that my dream is about to reach its conclusion. It reflected a more ethereal and captivating scenery while reminiscing my AU Trip, as if it reckons me from not leaving. As I scurried my way in excitement to meet my husband again, I saw his eagerness as well. I was about to feel ecstatic that he warmly missed me, when I saw his wide eyes locked on to my baggage. Striking his first conversation to me after the trip, he blurted out… “Where's my Tim Tam chocolates?”
Australia, especially the city of Brisbane, should definitely be included in your bucket list of places to visit. Below is a recap of my one-week adventure in Brissy.
About the Author:
Eliz Mendoza is the VroomVroomVroom Team Leader for Finance Team based in Manila. She has finished a Bachelor's Degree for Accountancy and is a Certified Public Accountant in the Philippines. Apart from her financial services career, she loves spending time reading various books, watching movies and drinking green tea. She is a Potter-head as well.