Year 2012: Thank You For Leading Me Home

I suppose it’s a bit premature to say thank you to 2012 twelve days before the new year. But just in case the world ends tomorrow I want to have been able to reflect on this past year (and of course it helps that I have time to do that now 🙂 ).

Moving to Australia was the hardest things I had to go through in my life. Leaving my friends behind broke me into a million pieces. I left my comfort zone, my home and the people who have been the source of my strength in life. I remember thinking “am I wrong for wanting such a massive change? am I wrong for wanting to follow my dreams?”. At my age stepping out of that small Manila bubble was more than a big change. It was a life altering decision.

sydney australia

Looking back, I wouldn’t have imagined being where I am now. There had been great highs and terrible lows. I’d been disappointed. I laughed and I cried. Because of the move, I was able to push myself emotionally, mentally and physically. Looking back at 2012 I can’t be more proud of where I’ve been and where I am. This year brought me more than I could have ever wished for. I wasn’t able to travel as much as I wanted to but I discovered the Maldives and the South of New Zealand. I am too far from my Manila friends nor do I have heaps of friends over here but I have been blessed with the most wonderful bunch of people.  These past few months would have been terrifying without all of them. I was always afraid of applying for a job and ended up with one of the most satisfying (albeit very tiring) jobs one could ever ask for. I was scared that since my 2 boys moved for me they wouldn’t be able to adjust but it seems that they have – beautifully.

So to my family, thank you for putting up with the move, for putting up with me and for loving me every second of the day. To my friends and family in Manila and to my best friend in the US, I miss you more than words could ever say. Thank you for the unending text/facebook/whatsapp/viber messages, emails and calls. Even from across the miles you all have been my strength and the reason why I smile everyday. To my friends here in Australia, thank you for the warmth and laughter. I am very lucky to have you all in my life and cannot imagine not having all of you in it. To the big Guy up there, I never say it enough but thank you. This year has been the biggest blessing yet and for that I am utterly, wholeheartedly grateful.

So 2012, thank you for leading me home.

new zealand

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Australia Highs (2010)

My family and I spent 2 weeks in Australia early this month. It was pretty tiring but still amazing since I was able to spend time with my son 🙂 In addition to that I discovered a couple of things that totally made the trip worthwhile…

Favorite Hotel/Apartment

Towers of Chevron Renaissance, Surfer’s Paradise, Gold Coast (I was pretty set on choosing a beachfront apartment but luckily I was vetoed by my husband and sisters in law. We loved this place! It was close to everything and the our apartment had a spectacular view of the river and docks. http://www.chevronrenaissance.com.au/ — a reminder: check out time in Australia is at 10 am not 12 noon).

Best Dish/Food/Meal

Ribs from Hurricane’s Grill, Darling Harbour, Sydney (http://www.hurricanesgrill.com.au/about-hurricanes/hurricanes-darling-harbour;  Big, TASTY ribs and chips/fries…need I say more? But I need to share my worst/least favorite dish from Sydney – Meat Pie from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels – http://www.harryscafedewheels.com.au. A lot of people will disagree for sure since this is a staple dish but I cannot stress this enough —- I HATE MASHED PEAS!!!!! I actually wanted to throw up right after my first bite but this is just my personal opinion. We were 8 in our group and I was the only one who didn’t appreciate mashed peas).

Favorite Dessert

Deep Fried Mars Bars from Bondi Beach, Sydney (Heaven help me if we had this here in Manila. THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST DESSERTS EVER. http://www.bondisurfseafood.com.au/mars/mars_fr.htm)

Deep-fried Mars Bar Picture from http://grabyourfork.blogspot.com/2009/11/food-bloggers-birthday-and-mountain-of.html


Favorite Snack

Tim Tam Chewy Caramel (I love all Tim Tam snacks but this is my favorite! http://www.arnotts.com.au/our-products/products/arnotts-tim-tam.aspx)

Best Non-alcoholic Drink

Guylian Shake – Prailine and vanilla shake with guylian chocolate syrup from Sydney’s Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe (I’m addicted to sweets and milkshakes. I’ve tried numerous shakes all over and this tops my list – nothing comes close! http://www.guyliancafe.com.au/)

Best Alcoholic Drink

Jack Daniel’s Cola from Surfer’s Paradise, Gold Coast (I’m a Jack Daniel’s girl. I don’t drink beer but can have Jack Daniel’s for breakfast. So while we were shopping for drinks – my husband always tries different beers from different countries/cities – I found bottles of Jack Daniels Cola. MIXED! SOOOOOOO GOOD!!!!!! Expensive (around 17 aud for 4 bottles) but REALLY GOOD. On that note, I also found Johnny Walker Red Label Cola which sucked and Jim Beam Cola which was surprisingly good as well. One of my favorite discoveries = Jack Cola + Tim Tam Chewy Caramel!!! YUM!!!!)

Favorite Park/Zoo

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast (Staying true to it’s slogan you really “get closer” to the animals 😛  http://www.currumbin-sanctuary.org.au/ )

Favorite Tourist Spot

Sydney Opera House, Sydney (I always remember being a kid and seeing the Opera House for the first time. This was my 3rd time in Australia and my 3rd time to visit this and it always feels like the first time. As an added bonus we were also able to experience vivid sydney – http://vividsydney.com)

Favorite City

Gold Coast (I’m a bit biased but I’m really in love with Gold Coast – specifically Surfer’s Paradise. If I could I would live there!)

Favorite Australian Animal

Koalas (Most people would probably say the same too, I know my husband would – he’s obsessed with Koalas. My son on the other hand adores kangaroos. Even though he’s smaller than them he would go near them and try to pet them and play with them. Totally scary from a mother’s point of view but I’m sure it was fun for him.)

Australia will always be one of my favorite countries to visit. The cities we visited, I have been to 2x before so hopefully the next time around we get to see more of this beautiful country 🙂