October 2014 – Touchdown, Melbourne (Days 1-2)

If you told me last year that we would have an opportunity to visit and tour Australia in 2014, I would’ve told you to beat it and stop giving me fantasies to think about. But what can I say, God has been truly good: _DSC0354 _DSC0352 _DSC0357 Long story short, we finally took the plunge (most important “plunge” being that of spending more pesos than we were usually accustomed to) after a few invites from our longtime family friend who now lives in Melbourne. The process of us booking our plane tickets was a comical disaster story in itself, but in short we were still able to get to where we were supposed to be, which was on a plane pointed towards the land down under… _DSC0358 _DSC0361 _DSC0363 Before you start wondering, these were taken at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. In the name of getting cheaper tickets, we booked a flight with a stopover and transfer at Malaysia. Sure, it meant a longer travel time by around 2 more hours, but it’s definitely cheaper than the straight flights we saw. _DSC0359 _DSC0365 What made my first stop at Malaysia memorable was the fact that I had to spend these Malaysian ringgit which I had been keeping since my college days in China. Being in a class full of international students, exchanging currency (not the serious kind, okay) was bound to happen sooner or later, and these ringgit came from dear Malaysian classmates. What really piqued my interest was when my Malaysian friend told me that their currency was double the value of China’s RMB. So there, tiny bit of trivia for you. _DSC0369 We landed at Melbourne a little past midnight, so we were immediately fetched and brought to our host’s home in Geelong, where we immediately crashed. It was still dang cold for us sun-loving Filipinos (it was around 15 degrees C at that time?) when we woke up, but a trip to the beach made it all better: _DSC0377 _DSC0379 _DSC0380 This nice stroll along the sunny sand came courtesy of a new friend, Mai, who warmed our hearts more than the sun did by being so friendly as to volunteer to take us around Melbourne. This, I have to say: if God blesses you, it’s going to be with the best people. πŸ™‚ _DSC0403 Family with Mai πŸ™‚ _DSC0398 _DSC0393 _DSC0397 The whole Eastern Beach area was a sight for sore eyes. It was a simple but perfect indication of what a first-world country looks like and how it operates. Right near this beach was a park where there was a clean and nicely-kept playground, eating areas without all the mess, and even a big swimming pool where the kids could swim for free – everything stayed so clean and organized. We kept saying among ourselves, “if this were the Philippines, it’d be a mess by now.” Sad but true. _DSC0405 _DSC0408 _DSC0406 A lot of local dudes kept jumping off the platform here. In 15-degree weather! Some were outright lying down on the planks; I guess they really like their sun. That’s where the Philippines has them beat. πŸ˜€ _DSC0407 _DSC0412 Above is the free-admission swimming pool I was talking about earlier! But isn’t the area gorgeous? To think that this is just one of the many spots around Melbourne that you can go to. It’ll be perfect for taking a stroll, stressed or not. πŸ™‚ _DSC0428 _DSC0425 Lots of outdoor activities these ‘Strayans can come up with; they are just so interesting to see. _DSC0422 Dad and Mom did something out of the ordinary (for them, anyway) and talked to this random couple sitting by the beach. Should we hashtag #relationshipgoals now? Hahaha _DSC0429 _DSC0433 _DSC0436 Going around the area a bit more and seeing all these photograph-friendly places; it’s just so interesting to see. But naturally, I was more excited for lunch. Where were we going to eat? Is it going to be something good ol’ Australian? I was ready for a big lunch! _DSC0438 _DSC0439 Mai took us to Hog’s Breath Cafe, promising that it was going to be good, and promising that I was going to get the big lunch I was dreaming about._DSC0442 _DSC0441 _DSC0447 _DSC0452 And boy, was itΒ good. We were told that places to eat like these in Australia typically cost a bit, but thanks to Mai’s local knowhow we were able to catch the lunch special at Hog’s Breath costing – wait for it – $9.99! Ten dollars for a giant plate filled to the brim with generous servings of food, which was to be our first indicator of the quality of food servings they give in Australia. _DSC0456 We got more than we asked, hoped and wished for, and this was just day 1. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to see what kinds of adventures God had in store for us in the upcoming days. Truly, when it’s God orchestrating your travel plans, you keep getting surprised, and they’re the best kind. πŸ™‚



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