A Winter Vacation In Sydney

Two years’ ago around this time I was in Sydney, Australia. I had set up the pictures on this blog to document my trip, but since my mom died four days after I returned to China from my winter vacation, I had lost the desire to write about it. In fact, I think I had felt guilty about going in the first place. How could I choose to go to Australia instead of going back to the States to visit my mom? What kind of daughter was I? Not a very good one.

Of course, I didn’t know she was going to die. She was sick. She’d been sick for a long time. She had been a drug addict, and had many health complications due to her drug abuse in her past. She had Hep C, and high blood pressure, and she had had a stroke years’ back, and she had diabetes, and probably a few things she hadn’t told me about, but she still wasn’t on her death bed. She had been living with all of these things for many years. I knew she probably wasn’t going to be on the planet with me for as long I would have liked for her to be here with me, but I didn’t expect it to be right at that moment. In fact, China was pretty much the last trip for me, and that was why I decided to go to Australia. I felt that I needed to go back to California and take care of my mom, and traveling was not something I was going to be doing for a long time. When was I going to have the opportunity to go to Australia again, I had thought. I had planned on seeing her in six months when my contract in China was completed. I had worried about her dying. In truth, I had been terrified of my mom dying for years, even as a child I was afraid to leave her. It had taken me a long time to be able to allow myself to go anywhere without carrying this fear, even though at this time it was even more possible. I was afraid of her dying from a stroke or diabetic complications, her liver giving up, any number of complications that could have occurred, and that’s why this was my last time to travel.  It was a surprise to me to have her die right then, but even more surprising to learn she had died of an overdose. I wasn’t expecting that.

I felt really guilty. I had a hard time enjoying my memories in Australia, and I hadn’t really dwelt on them since. Coming across this pictures I’ve forgotten the details of the trip. I can only remember the name of the city. Sydney. Famous Sydney and the famous Opera House.


I met my friend, Lisa, who was coming from the U.S. and we stayed our first two nights at an Airbnb, but I forget the neighborhood. We had stayed for about four or five days in Sydney.

The sky was so incredibly blue, and the air was clean and fresh. After spending five months in China in the gloom of grey pollution and then winter it was like coming alive. I remember feeling incredibly happy. So many breathtaking shades of blue.




We stayed with friends of friend’s. We were so lucky to have connections and met up with some really wonderful people that helped us out, and showed us around. We spent a day at the zoo, went to some beaches, ate out, and were shocked at the prices for drinks.

Australia’s minimum wage is high which makes the prices high, which in theory should be affordable to the wages, but it was crazy for Chinese wages, and what we were used to as far as prices in the U.S. Not that we were there to spend our time in bars and restaurants. We were there (I definitely was there) to be outside.



I remember the friend who took us around laughing at us because we were loud in our excitement, and she made this comment, “American’s are so loud.” It was a stereotype that has some serious truth to it, and we fulfilled that truth on the day we took these pictures, but we were also really joyful, and happy.


We met up with a friend of Lisa’s who took us to another part of Sydney, basically the opposite side of where the above pictures were taken. She had given us advice on what museums to visit and she gave us a contact for when we traveled to Melbourne.





It is a shame to not remember the details, but it is hard even now, two years’ later to look at these pictures without some twinge of remorse. Not so much as that I wasn’t in the States, but just that I didn’t write my mom enough while I was on this trip. I could have tried harder to find a place to write an e-mail. I was waiting till I got back to China, but sometimes it’s worth it to take the time in that moment. But hindsight is nothing now.


Hi mom, I don’t have a lot of e mail access but I wanted to let you know I made it safely to Vietnam and Australia. I’m in Sydney, and it is the most beautiful place in the world. I would really like to live here. I leave for Melbourne tomorrow. I will write you as soon as I get home on the 16th. 

I love you.

Your daughter.



hi babygirl,

you will have to tell all about vietnam when you are home and have time to set at a computer. Also need to know how things went in australia??

love you


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