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A grizzly, clear sky greeted me from low-cost AirAsia X airplane window a few minutes before it touched the ground of the Kingsford International Airport, Sydney, Australia. I was so much relieved as I have eventually reached the destination after being about 10 hours in two different planes. I felt so nervous too for I was clueless on which path I should have chosen after leaving the airport:Left? Right? Go straight?

I have magically managed smiling to some officers at the airport although I felt tired, thirsty and confused. When I was out from the airport and saw the blue sky of Sydney for the very first time, I was like ‘Oh Alloh swt.. Thank you for making me still alive… So, is this Sydney?”

Prior to this arrival, I was told by a hostel staffer on how to reach the hostel where which I would stay during the short trip for free of charge. But when I was at the airport I took wrong ways. I wasted, like, 30 minutes before a van driver took me and other visitors reaching our respective places to stay.

The hostel was quite below my expectations. I had to call its receptionist to confim my staying and pay the fee for he was out of the hostel by the time I arrived. Thankfully, a friendly female Westerner who also stayed in the hostel informed me all about this. She was so helpful. She told me to wait for the receptionist in a backyard. It had been a long time I had yet to reconnect with Westerners so I found myself a bit afraid at first. Once I came into the backyard which was half full of Westerners they looked at me so awkwardly. Yeah, I understood that. May be they were thinking I was a weirdo with my headscarf and Asian look.

Fortunately, I got used to this quickly and I did not care all about that. I paid as much as them so why should I be afraid? As this calm state of mind persisted, I met several new female friends from Germany who turned out to be so kind. The hostel staffers, somehow, were rude.

It took around two days for me to wholly and completely enjoy the city, to free myself from all nervousness, anxiety, afraidness and such. I needed two days to readjust myself that I was now in a strange land, very far from home, had no friends at all in the city. After dealing with harsh hostel staffers, my problem was about eating. I had prepared myself to get used of eating burgers and cakes but after two days, I gave up. I remembered so well I felt so hungry after surrounding and taking pictures at the Sydney Opera House and all I wanted was rice, rice and rice.

A bus trip from the city centre to Kingsford was like a homecoming journey. It was so surprising that food was the first thing that reminded me much about home. I was only two days in the city but I missed home, my parents very much. Four days onwards, I came to Kingsford every afternoon, eating rice and noodles, speaking with Bahasa Indonesia with the stores’ owners and staffers. Call me too much but this experience almost caused me to cry. Each time I came to the city area, I felt like I was at home.

Meeting with Alessandro Del Piero, watching him doing light trainings and playing in the pitch after countless times of only seeing Ale via television screens was indeed the climax of the tiresome, unforgettable trip. Another most memorable, greatest moment was getting lost in the city centre because I was carried away too much amidst its old, elegant, historical buildings. For a vintage lover like me, admiring this kind of thing could take up hours and hours till I forgot that my legs got hurt and I was so damn hungry.

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The next thing was garden wanderings with my most favorite one was the Royal Botanic Garden. I was freely lying on the clean grass while reading Alessandro Del Piero’s book namely ‘Playing On’ in the park. The sky was turning red while the air was fresh, slightly breeze. There were ponds, beautiful flowers all around the large garden; old, new trees were scattered as far as my eyes could see. Empty benches were abundant, too. I was indeed in a paradise.

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The Sydney Opera House experience was a bit mind-blowing. I was taking a moment to feel the beauty that was lying in front of my very eyes while I was sitting, stretching my legs on the clean floor out of the iconic building. The windy air stroke my face while I was seeing a gigantic bridge right across the opera house, blue sky, high buildings, clear waters separating the city centre with its surroundings, big cruises taking guests circling the famous spot, various tourists activities enjoying their holidays and so forth. Under the very bright ray of the sun, we were having fun. Again, I said to myself: ‘Oh God, can’t believe I have made it this far. Can’t believe I was finally here.’

The call from the stomach woke me up from this priceless moment. I had tortured my stomach a lot by walking so far now that was the time to feed it, now with the rice, no longer cakes, burgers or even tasteless eggs.

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Experiencing public transport was very worthwhile, too. Precise, fast, reliable. I lacked of positive adjectives to describe it. Not to forget was having social interactions with Sydneysiders and foreigners I happened to encounter during the journey. This made me love the city even more as a holiday destination.

Time to return to Jakarta, though. I really like Sydney and never find it enough to be grateful for the experience. Somehow, I missed home so much. I missed my family, too. Farewell Sydney! Till we meet again. This time around I hope I’ll bring someone along with me, amiiin.

*How relieved I am to have written this post. I was quite overwhelmed with this so-called one year anniversary of the Sydney trip this week that forced me to put them down into words. A year has passed since I launched the journey and it feels like yesterday I came to the city on November 26th, 2013. Forever thankful*

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