Sunday, August 9, 2015

back home in sydney!

(Godzilla appears! Shinjuku, Tokyo, July 2015)

It's been a little over two weeks since I got home after eight months overseas! My last stop was the incredible city that is Tokyo, and time has passed so quickly. Even though I never thought I'd say it, it's kind of really great to be home! It's been eight months of self-discovery, and since I got back, I've been really enjoying the things I took for granted: the crispness of winter air (even though it really should not be this cold in August), the stars as I walk home from the bus stop, amongst other things.

(Where I first learnt the lesson of how travel tests friendships. Paris, France, December 2014)

I started the eight months in Europe. The first experience of planning v. reality, where I planned a trip to a total of ten countries and sixteen cities in seven weeks. Looking back now, I don't know what I was thinking. I booked bus tickets in other languages, wandered around in numbing cold trying to find bus stops, booked trains with three minute transfer frames, planned to spend Christmas and New Years alone. I met incredible people whilst solo traveling and also learnt the difficulties of traveling with pre-existing friends. Sometimes I was lonely, and sometimes I wished I was alone. I ate a lot of chocolate and cheese and just a lot of bread. Mostly, I took a lot of photos.

(Lots of mulled wine was also consumed. Kutna Hora, Czech, January 2014)

And then I hopped over to North America. Long story short, I went to get my visa for China over there because it was cheaper than going anywhere else first.

(Exploring the many forests of Portland, Oregon, USA, February 2015.)

I stayed in Vancouver for a week before going to Portland for three weeks, and it was a much needed catch-my-breath period after Europe. I remain firmly in love with Trader Joe's because I irrationally enjoy grocery shopping in different countries a little too much.

(The red shoes cover to prevent sand from getting in was not entirely a fashion choice. Inner Mongolia, China, May 2015)

The next four months were spent on university exchange in Beijing, China, where I managed to do a fair amount of domestic traveling because I was grounded with only one visa entry. I met with relatives I have never seen or have not seen in almost twenty years. I took a sleeper train, bullet trains, and many, many buses. And while I am probably used to squat toilets, may I not have to use one again for a long, long time. I managed to plan the trip I've always dreamed of to the Danxia mountains in Zhangye, Gansu - or more tumblr noteworthy as the Rainbow Mountains, just minus the crazy saturation.

(The incredibly picturesque Biei, Hokkaido, Japan, July 2015)

I squeezed in one last trip to Japan before I had to come back home for university. Japan remains incredible in every season, and is still my favourite of all the countries I have been to. I actually can't wait to go back again, even after two trips in the past two years. It's such a beautiful country, with so much to offer between the modern and traditional.

(A sample of the incredibly fresh seafood on offer in Hokkaido. It was a party in mouth everyday. Utoro, Hokkaido, Japan, July 2015)

Despite Australia's problems, I've come to realise that Sydney is such a lovely place to call home. It's really good to be back.

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