Sydney in September Part III (+ vlog)

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AND

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IN ONE DAY!


She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: “It shines like a little diamond”,
“What does?”
“This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, The Age of Reason


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Before the story gets too exciting with the whales, let’s rewind to the morning when we had just made our way to Circular Quay, the location where one could marvel at two of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks: the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

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“It stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.” Expert evaluation report to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, 2007.

Fusing ancient and modernist influences, the sculptural elegance of the Sydney Opera House has made it one of the most recognisable buildings of the twentieth century, synonymous with inspiration and creativity. As Pritzker Prize judge, Frank Gehry, said when awarding architecture’s highest award in 2003: “[Jørn] Utzon made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology… a building that changed the image of an entire country.”

I’m not too sure if this will be a year-round affair but while we were visiting the Opera House, there was a Virtual Reality (VR) station at the box office foyer (the sitting areas near the entrance) which offered visitors, in my opinion, one of the best ways to experience the grandness of the architectural beauty that is the Opera House: a VR experience climbing the Opera House’s iconic sails and viewing the surroundings of Circular Quay, the city, the Harbour Bridge and beyond. Together with the appropriately paired classical music, the magic of this experience took on a whole new level of excitement and perfection for us. It was quite the vantage point!

The 360-degree, immersive video experience will allow consumers to ascend the sails of the famous landmark using Samsung Gear VR.

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It wasn’t too long after lunch that we headed to Wharf 6 at Circular Quay to get to our Captain Cook Whale Watching Cruise Tour. Having had that brief encounter with the lone humpback whale waving its fluke at us at Maingon Bay, it was close to impossible for me to keep still as we waited for our catamaran to dock and open its doors to us.

By Milan Kindera from 'Laughable Loves': "We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has." I wonder if this is why I feel happiest about a moment after it has transpired, rather than as it transpires. There is too much happening, and hence too much to process at any given sliver of time. This picture is an example of experiencing a greater intensity of happiness in retrospect. In that moment, there were four things making me tingle with joy: my hair dancing in the wind, the subtle burn of sunshine on my skin, the calming sounds of crashing waves, and the decreasing proximity of the concrete jungle (that threatened to suffocate at times). At present times as I look back, those simplicities still ring true to the moment, but it's only now that I realise how much more beautiful that moment actually was. Why? That moment was minutes before I saw one of the grandest creatures in the world, minutes before I realised I loved whales more than I thought I did, and minutes before I witnessed the unbound happiness of free and untethered wild beings. In other words, this picture captured a moment that was the prelude to one of the most monumental blips of my life. Imagine how much more magical that moment could've been for me had I known. Imagine how much more magical every moment could be were we to know what good is in store in our futures. Alas, we can't! However, we CAN believe that there is magic in the future. We CAN choose to attack each moment with happiness, enthusiasm, and love. Because, in retrospect, every moment should be celebrated more! than! it! ever! is! 🌟

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The whales were breaking the surface of the ocean blue, breaching in absolute full glory (picture 1). The boat was rocking on the swell. My heart was soaring in the wind, just as the froth of the ocean was. There was commotion (video 2 & 3), there was elation, and there were violent palpitations of hearts that reverberated through the intimate space we shared with the beautiful wild creatures. It was, arguably, one of the best moments of my entire existence. // This took place on the 25th of September, some time around the 17th minute of the day’s 14th hour. We were just a little way off the coast of Sydney’s Harbour when our captain’s keen eye spotted a pod of whales at 1 o’clock (in terms of coordinates). As we inched closer and closer, he mentioned briefly that we were in the midst of a grand humpback whale migration, and that he was pretty confident about encountering numerous pods today (spoiler alert: he was right as could be). The first pod we saw presumably included a Mum, Dad, and their calf (baby whale), and, clearly excited, one of the adults leaped for joy three (!!!) times. The volume of the screams (that accompanied each jump) was proportional to the height of the whale above the water – I mean, You can just imagine how much of a phenomenal, electrifying experience it was to witness a 12-15m, 30-40 tonne creature manage such a feat with ease and elegance. We trailed this pod for a bit, along nearby cliffs and coasts (even spotting several sunbathing seals – wew alliteration ahha! – along the way!), before we wandered further away from civilisation. Marleen, my new friend, and I stood together at the rear of the open-air deck, where the sun beamed strongly upon us and where we had to compete with the decibels of the wind to be heard by each other. Our eyes would trail off into the distance every now and then, hoping we’d catch a glimpse of a cheeky fin or fluke (pictures/ videos 5-7). We did actually manage to… not once, nor twice, but a grand total of three times! Well, sort of. The third ‘pod of whales’ we saw was actually a pod of dolphins (video 8)! Oh bless! We weren’t complaining. (cont. below)

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(cont.) About mid-way through our marine excursion, our boat decelerated to a pause a little off Bondi, where humpbacks were splashing around in the vicinity of the coast. Beach-goers had caught on to what caused us so much excitement, and, in no time at all, they, too, were audibly ‘ooh’-ing and ‘ahh’-ing in unison with us. We were inwardly and outwardly happy, undoubtedly sun kissed, and proudly sporting wind-blown, salt-crusted hairstyles that rivalled the latest fashion trends (hahah) as we returned to Sydney’s Circular Quay. Oh what! I’d! do! to experience this again (and again!).

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As it is after the most thrilling of adventures, we were famished by the end of the day, and, taking up my friend, Lauren’s, recommendation, we headed to Golden Lotus (authentic Vietnamese vegan cuisine) in Newtown for dinner.

We ordered tofu and creamed corn soup, shredded tofu rice paper rolls, Tom Yum noodle soup, and Pho with vegan chicken. Affordable, sizeable portions, MADLY DELICIOUS and flavourful, no MSG, fresh, quick service, … all of which made for a top-notch dining experience. This was an absolute winner and highlight of our trip (thank You Lauren)! We’d highly highly recommend this place if Asian cuisine is Your cup of tea. Thank us later! 😉

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