To be honest, when I left Australia in 2010, I had never had a plan to set my foot in the country again. But there I was, taking a trip to Sydney for three weeks last year. Something inside me made a quest to go back to where I spent my life for almost ten years—my second home.
My then departure was quite a bitter change from uncertainty in Sydney to another life chapter back in Bangkok. But then again, I decided to take another big turn taking a job in Washington DC. Living in the States triggered me to explore what I was made of. In other word, it was a homesick, not just for Bangkok but also Sydney.
A five-month break from work in Bangkok gave a window for me to visit Sydney. How I spent those three weeks:
At the arrival, it was a cloudy day with drizzling rain. Squeaking sound of rainbow lorikeets from a gum tree afar came through the taxi window. Such a pleasant welcoming!
After a nap, I went to Happy Chef on King Street for the chicken I craved for and had a walk on the street to see how it had changed. Newtown still had its unique vibe although there were different shops (but still many Thai restaurants). The walk ended with a schooner of Coopers at Bank Hotel.
A couple of days later I have a brief walk around Thai Town before meeting Stilgherrian and C Bar. He showed me around some changes in Sydney CBD. It was delightful catching up with him again after all those years. There was an overwhelmed feeling afterwards. I guess my brain was trying to process it.
One of the to-do lists—to examine my favourite tunnel—was checked. The first week ended with a bad hangover from the drinks with friends on a trivia night that we came in second place.
One of the reasons I chose to be there in May-June was Vivid Sydney. And I attended one of its events—Speed Networking at AFTRS—to have a peek at media business. I walked a lot to see the festival including Bjork Digital at Carriageworks and light installations along Martin Place to Circular Quay.
The week was also full of walking in my old suburbs’ back lanes. Other than that, Stilgherrian introduced me to one suburb that I’d never been to Hurstville. Even though there wasn’t enough time I could explore it, to me, it was a real Chinatown where new Chinese immigrants formed their community.
I was in Hurstville for the 9 pm Public House Forum. I caught up with more people there as well as other friends later in the week. The week was done with a long day for a walk along Enmore back lanes, a stroll at Bondi Beach, the gym, and tagging along with Stilgerrian for a radio interview at the ABC in Ultimo then drinks with him at C Bar.
The final week was filled with three major exhibitions: Telling Tales: Excursions in Narrative Form at Museum of Contemporary Arts, World Press Photo 16 at State Library of New South Wales, and Manifesto by Julian Rosefeldt at Art Gallery of New South Wales. All were worth it.
In the week, I also had to dedicate some time to develop a video production. It was actually good to do some work while I was there where I re-started media career. And for old times’ sake, I wrote a video outline in a regular spot at Kelly’s on King.
Catching up with old Thai friends also gave me some more perspective of Thai community. They truly made Sydney home whereas I was fed up with it and moved on. The big night with the Thais was also at C Bar, which became one of the prominent unofficial Thai pubs in Sydney.
With much of drinking, one to-do list I kept postponing until nearly the end of the trip was a dawn walk at Sydney Harbour. Towards the last days of the trip, an emotion submerged.
Leaving Sydney tomorrow. I'm feeling a bit emotional. There're a lot of ppl I haven't caught up with & stuff didn't get a chance to do.
— 'Pong (@ApostrophePong) June 15, 2016
The final night, after finishing the video outline, I went to the Townie for the last time and joined a couple I met and had a conversation at the same pub earlier in the trip. I almost got up late for the flight if the AirBNB host didn’t wake me up in the morning. So the trip ended with some hangover on the plane back to Bangkok.
Apparently, I needed some Aussie comforts to fill up five years gap of absence: good old friends, photo walks, food, art events, beer and pubs, etc. Moreover, tracing back my own footsteps was like a self-pilgrimage to recap my ten-year life in those three weeks in Sydney. It reminded me of how I had grown from those years. It didn’t just provide me with a place to nestle but also intensively incubated me before I parted away.
Someone asks me if I want to go back to live in Australia again. I say I don’t know. I’ll consider if there’s a new opportunity that challenges me. At the moment, I don’t see that prospect. However, what I know for sure is that I couldn’t come this far without life in Sydney. There are so much to be grateful for it.