go // darwin

(Last year, I went down under once again after that solo trip to Sydney. This time-- I went with Dito. Four months passed and I had no chance to actually reflects on it nor write anything about it. At the moment, Dito and I are having a mini break doing staycation with our baby rabbit, Ubi. I can not think of any better time to write. So, lets start with Darwin..)


Oh, Darwin.. Darwin.. Darwin! I didn't expect anything at all before I arrived. I've heard about the enormous crocodiles stories and Mars-like landscapes but I was invited there to give a talk and attend an art summit. In my mind, the five days I'd spend there would be all about work, two days of nine-hours conference, networking drinks afterwards, and just a bit of getaway each now and then. I was wrong.

Darwin was like an unexpected soirée: it was full of conversations and good drinks. The first night we arrived, there was a familiar yet extremely strange sense in the air. The city was unusually still and quiet. The first strangeness we felt was how dark it is as a city in a first-world country. And yet, there is a lovable quirkiness about it. As soon as the light shine on it, I know that we are in the Wonderful World of Oz. The light shines in a way that enhance the colors of the land and everything on it. The weather was hot and dry, it almost reminds me of Bali, only quirkier. The soil was red, the dessert and the creek was just few minutes away from the housing area, the water was dark turquoise, and the sky was deep blue. Just when I thought that the land was intense enough-- there was the animal! I never saw so many kind of birds in one area, sharing space with human. Not to mention the infamous gigantic crocodile known to roam the seaside, sharks and deadly jellyfish in that turquoise water, the green ants living inside the leaves, and all that is strangely wonderful. It is also very close to the many tribes of indigenous people, And above all, the Darwinians has a special place in our heart.

Dito and I; we spend the morning cycling to the seaside, looking for black parrot and find many surprises. The talk at the consulate was especially uplifting for us and we make many new friends (and many bottles of wine) on the process. During the summit, we sneaked a bit to the seaside, sit in the park for hours, having more Archie Moore moments, exploring the museum, went to the Saturday market just to get addicted to the yummiest inari sushi, had breakfast with sesame toast and rose-petal jam (both inari sushi and rose-petal jam become a continued story at our next destination-- I was obsessed), went to the botanical garden, took a detour around the peninsula, and all the leisurely days spent with the friendliest people. Some of my favorite moments are to find Maurice, our host, reminded us of our good friend, Malcolm, in so many good ways. It makes us love him even more. And all the talks we had with the charming David and extraordinary Matty (who understand the wine and the drinks better than anyone else). I love love love all the mundane detail in Amina's house and how sweet she is in so many ways. How we bonded through a couple of frogs named Cat and Dog that live in the toilet. All the strange wild-life voices outside our bedroom that makes it feels like we are camping in a wood (and I'm loving the idea). That time when we crash into someone's birthday party by a big jellyfish statue at the seaside, drinking and talking about life while looking at the distance city light. That one was started out weird and ended up magical.

And at the end of our short visit, they organize a small farewell picnic involving dumplings, dry martini on fancy glass, hermit crabs walking silently around our rugs, and one dish I will always remember: boiled asparagus and  halloumi cheese. From my experience, what people say about the food in Darwin's restaurants being so-so and overpriced are probably true. Yet, the Darwinians know how to make up for that and serve really good home-cooked meal! Arriving with no idea of Darwin, we leave with good memories of all the delicious simple foods and aching heart of having to say goodbye to our new friends (who reminds me so much of our gank back home). The night when we have to say goodbye and fly to Melbourne, of course, as a major weeper as myself.. I weep and weep and weep. After five days spent in a city with good vibe, good friend, and good view.. I remember what Pooh said: "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard".