GIVING THANKS & BEING PRESENT

There’s been so many awesome parts to this year. I tend to review some moments in my head while I’m on the train to work; I’m one of those people with that faraway look in their eyes, face dead to the world, arms holding on for dear life to the carriage handles as life crowds in on her through the opening doors. Please mind the gap. In those moments at least the world is blocked out audibly and Interpol’s words fill my head and pretty much agree with me. We should take a trip now to see new places; I’m sick of this town and I’ve seen my faces change. 

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My friend got married in Tasmania in November. A mountain wedding! It was such a beautiful ceremony up in Cradle Mountain, around Dove Lake. Nature is its own best wedding planner. For three days we were beautifully shielded within the forest in a resort that had - for better or worse - no bloody wifi in its cabins. Intentionally I’d also opted not to get a data card for my phone. Instead of pretending to check Instagram to avoid socially awkward conversations, I’d actually turn to an unwitting stranger / family friend and make socially awkward conversations (no humans were harmed in the making of this production). 

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We ate too many chips for our own good; pounded the rosé, skulled the shots, snorted the coffee; marvelled at wallabies being fed outside our resort and then mulled over the ethics of eating cute animals (smoked wallaby tastes like bacon). Instead of Netflix lulling me to sleep at night, I tuned in to the stiff silence of the night that washed over me like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. It was the best sleep I ever had. No emails were checked. I loved being in nature even when it was painfully obvious I had zero instinct for it (me, while we were driving through Cradle Mountain: It’s so beautiful and wow, I can really smell the pine of the forest! Friend’s husband: er, it’s the scent of the windshield wiper fluid.

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Technically, any time you do a walk through the forest it’s called a bush walk (educated by an Aussie), not a hike as I’ve always called it. And Cradle Mountain is one of my favourites ever. The trail is almost luxuriously easy to walk, gently curved around the mountain formation with views of the lake from all heights. The two-three hour walk passes rich flora and an incredibly dreamy, dense canopy called the Ballroom Forest. Does it not look enchanted? “He understood for the first time that the world is not dumb at all, but merely waiting for someone to speak to it in a language it understands. In the fairy’s song the earth recognised the names by which it called itself.” 

The walk we took around the lake is easy as the paths are well structured and maintained; there is hardly a steep incline. There are a few other walks that vary with time and levels of fitness, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. The most famous walk is the Overland Track, a 65KM trek towards Lake St. Claire that takes six days. There are tours offering private hut accommodation on the trek which looks frankly spiffy despite the remote tranquil. This trek takes you through waterfalls, rugged highland, and through forest protecting trees millions of years old. It is something I definitely would come back to explore one day.

Cradle Mountain is a 2.5 hour drive from Launceston. We stayed in a resort about forty minutes drive from the park so we could access it easily. 

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There’s a powerful, therapeutic lesson in disconnecting. Putting the unlimited access to information away and filling the vacuum with just your thoughts, what you can create, and your connection to your environment and self. Heading into 2018, do yourself a favour and disconnect a little. Find a cabin somewhere out in the world and spend some time reconnecting with yourself and the peace that comes with no judgement but your own. 

It has taught me how to be more present. Being easily irritable and distracted seems to be the affliction of the modern millennial. Allowing myself to disconnect every now and then has taught me how to be present and to appreciate what I’m doing in that moment. I started cooking and eating more vegan and vegetarian foods and I learnt from my past failures (going cold turkey). I’m more forgiving when things don’t go my way (again, every single time I give in to my favourite foods which are all meat based) and I’m learning to be consistent: the key to any long-term changes you want to see in your life. 

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This year has been such a roller coaster; I feel like I’m in a long-term sabbatical, a constant challenge of everything I know to be routine. There’s a ton of people and situations to be thankful for, each of which pushed me into a different realisation about myself. But for the fun bits to wrap up the year, I’m giving thanks to everything I had the chance to enjoy and love this year: 

Watching my favourite band Interpol perform TWICE, once in Tilburg where I was close enough to kiss their shoes and once in their hometown, New York.

Cashew cream. How did I never know this? Ever since I started my vegan / vegetarian sorta life it’s now my go-to creamy sauce for any time I want an indulgent but guilt-free meal. TBH it’s fantastic as a standalone regardless even you’re vegan or not. The cashew flavours blend so well with pesto or garlic. And while we’re on the subject, thanks to the Kitchn for having some really good vegan food ideas (like this decadent vegan mac & cheese).

This amazing salad, with one of the tastiest, most amazing dressings I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy. I made one batch once and I got hopelessly hooked to it. Most enjoyable is the fact that it goes with every salad ingredient I can think of AND I know exactly what’s gone into it. I love it so much.

All the #metoo stories that surfaced this year; it’s about time for such a powerful reflection on what women are capable of and what we should stop tolerating as normal.

Getting into the reading spirit again! 10 books this year is a sorry score but I’m so glad to have found some good reads this year that I really couldn’t put down. Highly recommend Sapiens.

Monster trucks! They came to Singapore this year and it is quite something to see a 10,000 pound truck dressed as a night terror do a backflip. 

Being more sustainability-focused. With a little more discipline and motivation, Shawn and I started recycling more proactively. I started looking out for how much plastic I inadvertently consumed daily, especially while I travelled. 

A record for travel this year! I have been to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Ho Chi Minh (albeit only a day for work), Jaipur, Bali, New York, San Francisco, Tasmania, Melbourne, *deep breath* our North Europe tour: Stockholm, Copenhagen, Tilburg, Amsterdam, Tallin, Antwerp (a drive-by for an impressive feast at Michelin restaurant The Jane), Dusseldorf, Brugge, Ghent, Brussels, Helsinki and lastly, Rovaniemi the Finnish Lapland where we were so lucky to see the Northern Lights in full force. Amongst other firsts, we enjoyed the Wonderfruit festival in Pattaya and brought my parents out of town for their first time (ever!) to spend Christmas in Bangkok.

So I hope you have tons of things you are thankful for this year and that 2018 will be super awesome. Happy new year, friends!