I’m terrified of heights – always have been. So when we made plans to see Tokyo from the top of Tokyo Tower and from the Tokyo City View sky deck in one day, I prepared myself for a day of anxiety attacks and probably shitting myself. Continue reading “Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 4”
Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 3
Ohhh northern hemisphere. It’s been two years since I’ve endured your summer August, and spending a week in humid, muggy, so hot it won’t rain but it really wants to rain Tokyo was a good enough reminder to cherish my (now) winter birthday in Australia. Continue reading “Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 3”
Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 2
I know I went on about how I don’t plan things when I’m on vacation, and how I’m all fly by the seat of my pants and “planning things isn’t fun”, but I didn’t realise how gigantic Tokyo is. And how much there is to see. And just how quickly 9 days can fly by – especially when 2 of those days are eaten by travel. Continue reading “Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 2”
Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 1
Our trip to Tokyo was amazing, as predicted. For 8 days, we took in the sights (and heights), the sounds (when it wasn’t eerily quiet), the tastes (holy crap, food city), and in all realness, only made it through 1/2 of what Tokyo had to offer.
Aud vs. Australia: the Blue Mountains
You guys – after nearly 3 years, I got to see the Blue Mountains.
There has always been something stopping me from getting there – mostly because I wanted to go with Joel the first time I went, and our schedules, the weather, money, and someone with a car just never lined up. But last weekend, the stars aligned. I bought some active wear (active wear!), we woke up before dawn, and set out with our friend Rob, his flatmate Eloise and her pal Oxanna to see Empress Falls in the Blue Mountains National Park.
After a traffic free, two and half hour drive, we reached the mountains. It felt cold. It felt like actual winter cold, with real frost in the air. So that was exciting. It was less exciting that I was wearing super thin, stretchy active wear pants and that didn’t do a thing to keep me warm unless I was moving in them (clever girl, active wear).
We parked the car and set out to begin our 3.5 km trail. I was too excited to get to the first look out to take many pictures, but I did see some killer rocks, and a pair of underpants in a tree (nature!).
Eloise and Oxanna and I had never been to the mountains, so when we reached the first look out, there were collective OOooOooOOo’s and AAAaaaAAAhhHhHhhs. It was incredible. All the photos I’ve seen, all the movies they’ve been featured in, nothing does them justice. And seeing the bright white cockatoo’s flying against the green trees was beautiful. It’s like looking down at a masterpiece.
We continued down, down the trail, down the trail steps, down the rickety wooden stairs, down the slick, narrow, metal stairs, and we finally got to a valley that looked straight out of Ferngully. Or even Jurrassic Park. All rock walls and hanging plants and waterfalls and boulders.
And there we got our first look at Empress Falls.
It was absolutely beautiful down in the valley. We were down far enough for the sun to barely touch us, and we were surrounded by so many trees and water falls that it felt like walking in a rain forest. I felt like I couldn’t take enough videos or pictures, like I was trying to memorise the entire scene with my camera. It’s just beautiful. Also I kept waiting for a dinosaur to jump out at me.
It was so still and quiet. Since we made it there so early, there weren’t many people around besides us. All you could hear was the waterfall and the birds. No planes, no cars, no people, no phones buzzing. Everything smelled wet and Earthy. I felt the cold air settling in my lungs. It was phenomenal.
Joel and Rob spent a lot of time getting photos of the waterfall.
Like, A LOT of time.
At one point I took out my book, sat on a rock and read a couple of chapters. Totes felt one with the world and nature — sitting outside in the almost sun, listening to the waterfall, breathing in the pure mountain air, wearing my active wear— and I was nearly overwhelmed by how lucky I was to experience all this splendour and solitude and how I should do this more often, when I realised my butt was frozen to the cold rock and I almost pulled a muscle when I extricated myself from it. And then I slipped on the moss when I got down and nearly fell in the water.
Maybe I’m not 100% ready for nature.
Eventually the photographers packed up and we all continued down the trail the next waterfall, Sylvia Falls.
I could have stared at this waterfall all day. It was beautiful. We got there right as the afternoon sun was hitting the rocks perfectly — it was hazy and glittery and very much dreamy.
The sun was also casting amazing light on the trees above us. At this point the tip of my nose and my finger tips were insanely cold (yassss winter cold) and all I wanted to do was take a nap in that sun. But I liked the look of the highlighted gum trees and the dark shadows where the light didn’t touch. Yeah, I had Mufasa’s voice in my head the whole time.
After spending some more time with Sylvia, the moment I had been dreading since we made plans to go to the mountains finally came. It was time… to hike back up to the car.
I’m woefully out of shape. Like, I have the cardiovascular endurance of a 700lb diabetic smoker who’s been bed-ridden for years. It’s baffling to the doctors I work with, who think I must be asthmatic to get excruciatingly, painfully winded with even moderate exertion, but really, I’m just horrifically unfit. Climbing stairs makes me winded, and the slightest incline makes my thighs hurt. And with every step I took going down on the initial journey, I knew that would be one more step going up on the return. So I said a little prayer to the active wear Gods and started followed the rest of my team up the first set of stairs.
I quickly realised Eloise was behind me. I let her pass in front of me, saying “I’m going to be really slow, you won’t want to get caught behind me.”
“Oh that’s ok, I’m really slow too!”
“Nope, you have no idea how slow I’ll be.”
And it was true. Just climbing the short bit of rock stairs between Sylvia Falls and Empress Falls left me gasping and pretending to video the guys ab-sailing so I could catch my breath. Joel hung back with me and pushed me up parts of the stairs, and stopped with me whenever I started seeing stars and needed to stop. I was trying to be positive, trying to feel the inspiration of my active wear and JUST PUSH THROUGH IT! NO PAIN NO GAIN! HUSTLE GETS MUSCLE! INSPIRATIONAL PHRASE but all that kept running through my head was Sam telling Frodo that they needed to save the elfish bread for the return trip home and Frodo looking at him and being all “yeah, we aren’t making it home.” I was quite certain I would die, even as people twice my age were bounding up the stairs and that asshole fitness jock passed us jogging — again.
It took me about 20, maybe 30
hours mins longer to make the walk back to the car. I couldn’t breathe deep enough. My heart was straining from beating so fast, my lungs felt like steel wool, my ribs all felt cracked, my throat and nose were killing me, my head was splitting, and my arms and legs were spaghetti. My face was beet red and I was ready to collapse. At one point I tasted blood (I swear!). It was actually pretty scary. My chest and throat hurts just thinking about it.
But, I survived. And we made our way to the Conservatory Hut to have breakfast. And milkshakes. Because after facing death in the face, you get a milkshake.
We picked up some take away coffees and made our way to the car. I was warm, happy, and snug in the backseat, but too full of caffeine and adrenaline to sleep. When we got home, though, I was instantly so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I slept for 2.5 hours and woke up feeling like I got hit by a truck.
I’ve been sick all week as a result of my cold-weather-over-exertion and resulting sinus/chest infection, but shit. It was absolutely gorgeous and I would do all again next weekend.
Except this time, I’d hire a helicopter to save me from the hike back.
Verdict: +10, will mountain again. Must get in shape, or I will die.
Onwards to the next adventure!
Audrey vs. Australia: Chinese Garden of Friendship
As I mentioned in my last post – I’m doing Australia in a series of posts called Audrey vs. Australia. LOOK OUT! And my first stop was basically in my backyard – a 15 minute walk from our apartment took us to the gorgeous Chinese Garden of Friendship, right in Darling Harbour.
I’ve walked past the Garden more times than I count, but Saturday marked the first time I’ve been behind the walls. It’s $6 for adult admission, and it’s $6 of beauty, zen, and most importantly, big ass, majestic lizards. The garden is filled with peaceful rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and lagoons; is drowning in greenery; is glowing with flowers and lanterns; and dotted with intricately designed pavilions and secret pathways where you can have a sit or explore. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of traditional zen and bustling city, and I had a blast. Will definitely add “Chinese Garden of Zen” to my future dream house plans.
It was a bit cold, and too late into autumn to see the garden in bloom, but it was still absolutely lovely. I can only imagine how lush and beautiful it looks in spring and summer. Or when it’s raining. Ah man.
Let’s take a tour:
I had a pretty stressful Friday, which bled into Saturday morning, and I was surprised that wandering around the Garden all morning absolutely took my mind off of it. As we left, I felt happy, relaxed, and like I wanted to go right back in. I’m not one who is normally fixed by zen gardens, and I didn’t even realise it, but it actually worked. Triumph!
+10, would definitely venture again.
atuI was riding the bus home last week when I got the best text message ever:
We’re going to Tokyo from Aug 9-17! I’ll be turning 33 in Japan. That’s pretty fucking cool. Continue reading “JAPAN!”
When I was nearly 13, my mom let me go to the pool with my friend Pam – and no chaperone. I was pumped. Going to the pool without an adult meant I was officially an adult. She lectured me about being on the look out for creepy older men and about putting on sunscreen EVERYWHERE and I was all “fuck that, I’m getting a tan,” and as I packed my backpack with a comic book and a towel and my rainbow striped hat and 2 boxes of Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, I purposely didn’t bring the sunscreen. My friend Pam was Italian and naturally bronze and I wanted to look just like her. Continue reading “Beach burns”
I love Stanley Kubrick. And I love The Shining. And when I found out that I could see it for the first time on the big screen, I was all yusssssss.
The Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace – yes that is its real name – has held a Kubrick Film Fest all month long, showing every one of his movies. After I
saw totally had a life changing experience seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey in 70mm Cinerama, my life mission has been to see all his movies on the screen. So this month has been one of those times where I really, really, really wish I was independently wealthy and could have taken the month off of work to see all of them. Alas, I am poor. So I chose The Shining and got real excited.
The first time I saw The Shining, I was 10 years old. It was at my birthday party, where we had a taco bar and watched movies (badass). We capped the night off with this beauty, and I can’t figure out why my mom thought it was appropriate. I was always creeped out by the movie box, which looked like this:
And my mom told me about the Redrum! Redrum! scene, which was instantly intriguing to my eerily obsessed with insanity 10 year old self.
But 10 year olds are dumb. And 10 years growing up in the Beavis and Butthead era are even dumber. We were idiot children cackling and making 10 year old jokes about rotting corpse booobies in the bathroom, high fiving any time Jack said fuck, making fun of Shelley Duvall’s teeth, starting blankly at the screen as we, a room full of kids, witnessed furries in action for the first time, not knowing what we just saw, just knowing that it was fucking weird (pun intended). We complained about the lack of gore and there was many a “THIS ISN’T SCARY” to be heard. As I said before, dumb kids.
But I’m all grown and up and totally sophisticated, and The Shining is unsettling and beautiful and a damn near perfect ghost story – actual, demonic ghosts, and the lingering ghosts from addictions and rage and disappointment. And Jack Nicholson. Shit.
Seeing it in theatres was amazing. The soundtrack engulfed me and I felt it right in my bones, and since I was riding solo, I had no one to fan girl to incessantly, so I noticed little nuances and nods to the novel that I hadn’t seen before (like when Wendy and the doctor are sitting in the Torrence’s apartment, the only book with its spine facing the audience is called The Wise Child? Or Jack reading a copy of Playboy in the Overlook’s lounge?) And even though everyone in the audience had seen it before, so when Jack gave lines like “I’d never hurt you. Or your mother,” everyone cracked up. It was one of those instantly annoying/instantly bonding moments – a small part of me was like, aw man, can’t we pretend we all don’t know it’s going to end with an ax murder?
And you want to know how to make that blood coming from the elevator door scene even creepier? See it on a giant screen with booming orchestration. /yikes But I think my new favourite part is the scene between Wendy and Jack, when she brings him breakfast in bed. She asks how his writing is going, and he’s less than enthusiastic. So she says, “it’s all about getting in the habit of writing everyday.” And Jack kinda gives her this half smile, half fuck you face while saying “Yep. That’s all it is.” And it’s just magical. Like, I feel that.
All in all, I had a great time. The Hayden is an art deco style, independent theatre and it’s really fucking cool. Each theatre has its own theme and lush Gatsby era decor. The candy bar sells inexpensive candy and popcorn – in cardboard movie boxes – and not hot dogs or chicken wings. The seats don’t recline, and you can’t buy alcohol. The staff wear vests and bow ties and they still tear tickets. It’s my new favourite place.
It was perfect.
And yes, I’m pretty sure I’ve found a new place to spend all the money I don’t have.
Also, I still sometimes make fun of Shelley Duvall’s teeth. As I said before, I am totally sophisticated.
This morning, Joel and I woke up at 4:45 (what) to catch the sunrise at Bronte Beach. The forecast had been telling us all week that it would rain on Saturday morning, and I’ve kept my fingers crossed for so long that I basically have arthritis now. But, crippled granny hands are worth it, because the sunrise was be-a-u-ti-ful.
There are few things I love more than seeing a sunrise or sunset over the water. Seeing that golden orb sizzle along the horizon fills me with… I’m not sure. It’s a combination of inspiration and awe. Add in the smell of sea salt, the sound of crashing waves, and the cold breeze coming off the water, and it makes me feel so fantastic.
The beaches in Australia are just next level. The water is clear and the most perfect shade of aqua-marine, and the sand is almost white, and most of them have these craggy cliffs that catch and pool water and it’s like walking on another world. And when the rose and gold tones of the sunrise reflect off the water – it’s un real. I like Bronte because there’s a little rock pool to the side that’s very calm, and it’s where whusses like me can get in and splash around and pretend to be cool. Ok ok, insert anecdotes about sharks and dangerous Australian sea creatures here and everything – but you can’t deny just how drop dead gorgeous it all is.
I’m so happy we dragged ourselves out of bed and made the trip happen. It was a beautiful way to wrap up a particularly less than stellar month.
It’s very well known that I didn’t grow up at the beach or near the shore, and I don’t always keep my cool in the beach, but I love being at the beach. It’s very centering, very calming. I think being on the edge of the world makes my other problems feel very small. And being in the presence of such an incredible force helps me put things into perspective… just watching everything wash away with the waves is a good reminder that “this too shall pass.” Maybe it’s the visceral experience – sights, smells, textures, emotions – but the beach is one of the few places where I can go and my mind just clears. I could sit at the beach and do nothing for hours. And it feels good, man.
Thanks for a good morning, universe.