I used to work in companies where people get sent abroad, people of higher position or those who are just simply brilliant at what they do; I fall neither in these categories. So there it goes, at the back of my head, an impossible dream. It wasn’t until I worked in my previous company that I started entertaining possibilities of being sent on a business trip. I wasn’t consistent with the whole ritual of visualization where you meditate and think about it every single day. My process is more like, I ask the universe then forget about it. And then it happened, just not exactly the way I envisioned it. Late last year, I left the company, accepted another job offer, and just a month after I started, my boss summoned me to our head office in Sydney, Australia. The business trip I only used to dream about has materialized.
Wait what, how did this happen?
I wish I could tell you, it was due to my outstanding performance as an employee, but it was too early in the game for that. I started working for my current company in October, the business trip transpired in November. My boss summoned me so I can meet the rest of the Knowledge Management team. I am working as a Knowledge Specialist for an IT company based in Sydney. In the Philippines, our office can be found in Eastwood, Quezon City.
No hassle Australian visa application
I only had a month to prepare and I made sure that I have all the documents needed to assist in the approval of my visa. It was a relief to know that Australian visa application is all arranged online. I applied for Visitor (subclass 600) visa. I filled out the form and submitted the following documents:
- Bank certificate
- Certificate of Employment
- Scanned copy of passport
- Birth certificate
- Invitation letter from employer
- Travel history (scanned pages of passport with immigration stamps)
I paid AUD 140 (₱5,716.65) and passed my application on the 30th of October. That’s it, no interview, no embassy visit, no need to have it arranged by a travel agency. My flight was scheduled on the 10th of November so I sent a follow-up email on the 6th. The next day, I received my visa approval.
First time to fly from NAIA Terminal 1
I was excited to go to Sydney, but I wasn’t too keen to be on an 8-hour flight. I was traveling with my fellow writer, Kristel on a 10:30 p.m. PAL flight. We met at NAIA Terminal 1, as soon as I got off the Uber, one of the airport staff approached me with a trolley. Next thing I knew, he was leading me to a booth where I had to pay for his porter service. He did push the trolley for me but only up to the counter. I could very well do it on my own, I only had one luggage and one backpack, the porter service is an unnecessary expense in this case.
NAIA Terminal 1 is smaller and less busy than the other airport terminals. I know this may sound funny, it’s not like I was flying business class, but this terminal somehow made me feel like a VIP.
PAL is cool, like seriously!
The first time I flew PAL was on a trip to Bohol. I remember feeling sorely disappointed that it wasn’t anything I expected it to be. It’s the Philippine flagship airline, I didn’t appreciate being served with Skyflakes for snacks. My opinion of the airline changed dramatically on this flight. First of all, food! Not just crackers but a meal. I’m aware this may be because it’s an international flight, but still, I appreciate the full package.
And the next best thing, the digital monitor for each passenger. You’ve no idea how important this little piece of screen helped me manage my flying anxiety. Sleeping on a flight is not my thing, or should I say, not something I am capable of doing. Hence, I was ready; music on my phone, check, books to read, check, and now movies to watch, check! I was armed to the teeth.
Somewhere between that 8-hour flight, turbulence strikes, too intense for my armory to handle. What’s a girl to do but sleep? I couldn’t do it on my own, I needed to pop a pill. When the med took effect, I was too groggy to care if the world is crashing down. I took liberty in occupying all 3 seats in my row and I did it with my seatbelt on; uncomfortable but doable.
If you somebody told me years ago that I would go to Australia for a business trip, I wouldn’t have believed it. I have come to appreciate this aspect of life, the part when you get thrown with pleasant surprises.
Nov 11 – around 10:00 a.m., Sydney time, we touched down Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport. The first point of business is to get an Australian sim card and the Opal card. I approached the Optus store and asked for data that is good for 1 week of use. The staff recommended the Sim Only Plan for AUD 30 (₱1,225.00) with 3GB data.
Opal card is a smartcard ticket that you can use and reload for public transport in Sydney. I got the Adult Opal for AUD 40 (₱1,633.33).
After getting what we needed, Kristel and I parted ways; we wouldn’t see each other again until Monday. Meanwhile, I had the weekend to explore Sydney. I hailed an airport taxi that cost more than my soul to take me to my hostel. They do right-hand driving in Sydney, the driver is an Indian guy who said that he has been living in Australia for 3 years now.
He asked me a few questions, such as my country of origin, the reason for visit, as well as my job. He asked me if I could see myself living in Sydney for good. That time I had only been there for 2 hours, but I remember answering “Of course. I think it would be awesome.“
And it was the beginning of the best 9 days of my life.