Exhibit A of the study holiday turned impulsive excursion scenario. (I did study everyday, honest, this was just “field work”)
Yep. The decision to head down under was made under the irresistible influence of sleep deprivation, anxiety, and the reassuring presence of caffeine on the breakfast table. “Oh yeah, you’re heading over to Sydney to study for your exams”, says the Santos Matriarch, of whose word was law, disobedience punishable by extra dishwashing. Sudden phone calls were made to the loved ones way over to give notice of my arrival, and no I don’t mean the Animal Planet sweetheart, Bindi Irwin.
Next thing I know I’m 3,968 nautical miles from the city-infested Home (Hong) Kong, with no one else but my fellow Hong Kids in Circular Quay!
Sahil Shadadpuri, aspiring pilot, model in the shower, and an absolute gentleman, was an absolute sight for sore and jetlagged eyes. Being one of my best buds in Hong Kong, it’s always a pleasure having seen this gentle giant after he moved out of home base to study in UNSW.
Elora Uytengsu a.k.a. Shy, on the other hand, was a CX Kid (urban dictionary states that this privileged race of kids have relations to one who works in Cathay Pacific, and are thereby impulsive travellers and frequent adventurers), so it wasn’t much of a surprise that our first fateful encounter a month ago in my similarly unplanned Cebu trip, wasn’t the last time I’d ever see her (maybe a story for another day). Correct, a total stranger who we met a month ago at a music festival 3000 nautical miles away, now dubbed as a best bud for being the white-washed tour guide I never thought I’d have. Oh, and credit shall be given where its due, she took some, if not most of the photos.
She offers to embark on a hike (these are bread and butter to the secret of happiness, try it sometime) to Wentworth Falls within the Blue Mountains. Cue compulsory photo of the commute to nowhere (Wentworth Falls station, a good hour away from our rendezvous point of Penrith):
Taken here is a photo of reassurance in the situation I feel lost and found the need to call rescue troops (happened once before, similarly another story for another day):
Hence, here’s some love to the temperate deciduous trees surrounding the beaten path.
The mountains aren’t blue no, blue is what you feel for ever saying no to such a wonderful sight of nature. Dare I say that the Big Man Upstairs deserves a pat on the back for doing this.
Carrying on the path led to troubling stairs too steep for comfort, and natural rock formations that spoke none else but the effort the Australian Government (shoutout to my homie Malcolm Turnbull) took to maintain these sites.
Through a bit of faith, trust and pixie dust (9.99 on eBay look it up), the stairs managed to hold my dense load of 85 kilos long enough for us to hit the jackpot, Empress Falls; hub of cliff diving daredevils unburdened by the fact that a four feet deep spot draws the line between an impressive snapchat, and an ambulance ride.
Low and behold water fresh enough to drink! No camera could do justice to the sight we had witnessed. The untainted water complemented the pure Earth in providing a wonderful habitat for the wildlife that dwelled, the tourists that visited, and a happy Zac. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Carrying on with the path that even the brave Elora was yet to tread brought no ragrets. Rivendelle-esque falls were what followed, beauty of which matches par with Hong Kong’s Wong Lung Hang valley falls (yet again, story for another day).
Now completely convinced to finish that the rest of the path would be well worth treading, we push on, not onto the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but onto the National Pass:
After fourty-five minutes of the beauty amidst uncertainty and awkward greetings with fellow hikers, we were dubbed champions at the sight of this:
and ofcourse after all the blood, sweat, tears and meaningful conversation:
FINALLY IT’S OVER. Boy you’ve never been so wrong in your life. Greeted by the 33 degree 12 noon sun, we realised trouble had just arrived at our doorstep in form of incurable sunburn and an ungodly tan that brought me fifty shades darker. The trek back up:
and here’s Elora struggling oh that poor soul:
Amidst the deep fried treatment of the sensitive skin I call home in, the view showed no signs of depreciation:
Reaching the top and feeling fairly accomplished, we were greeted with the increased presence of civilisation (thank God), a familiar paved path that we were deprived of for hours, and the top of the falls.
And ofcourse, we had to leave our mark on history:
After the four hour hike, we grew appreciative of cell service, buses, convenience stores, power banks, and a decent amount of sleep. The latter of which 16 hours was accomplished.
In massive contrast to our excursion through mother nature, Elora and I met up with the squad the next day for our first Australian night-out in the city (through the convenient Uber service, we’ve done our fair share of hikes for a decade) as a form of celebration for coming out alive without being devoured by 22metre croc nor were we dismembered by Somalian pirates. A couple beverages for the soul and we’ve managed to get through the night:
P.S. mum if you’re reading this, Uncle Greg and Phil are willing to testify as witnesses to my rigorous study sessions.