Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My Awesome New Year’s Eve Experience in Sydney

It was 11:55pm of December 31, 2014.
There I was, standing on an elevated platform at the world famous Sydney harbour, along with 20,000 excited spectators. All around Sydney, more than 100,000 people were anxiously waiting for the clock to strike 12.
The official countdown program was already on its final stretch and there was an electricity in the air that you just cannot deny. Everywhere you look, you can see smiling faces looking up at the harbour bridge, waiting for the fireworks to light up.
Couples, families, and friends were holding on to one another, hugging, kissing, exchanging well wishes to one another as the clock continued to wind down.
Loud music was blasting from the many large speakers surrounding the harbour but everyone seemed to be oblivious, focused only on the upcoming spectacle.
Neil’s photo
In a matter of minutes, I was going to experience my very first New Year’s Eve party in Sydney, Australia and I was just a bundle of nerves.
You see, it has long been my dream to witness the New Year’s countdown in Sydney.
I was 16 years old in 1999 when I first saw a video feed of the Sydney celebration. I was sitting alone in front of the TV screen on new year’s eve, waiting for live video feed of the various celebrations around the world.
Neil’s photo
My eyes were transfixed on the TV screen as it flashed scenes of bright colorful fireworks lighting up the Sydney sky. All along, thousands of excited souls roared in jubilation as the fireworks display in the harbour reached its climax.
Neil’s photo
As I watched, I said a small prayer for me to be able to experience it someday. Even then, I knew that it was a long shot, since Australia is too far away and a visit to the land down under is no doubt expensive.
I don’t know what I did right in my past life, but the universe conspired for that prayer to come true.
Fifteen years after that childhood wish, I managed to save up and embark on a 6,000 kilometer journey to Australia. I encountered several hiccups but with sheer determination and stubbornness, I was able to do it.
photo from http://www.sydneynewyearseve.com/
At this moment, the entire crowd was silent as the clock continued to wind down.
A bright flash of light came from the harbour bridge, signaling the start of the 15-minute display and the crowd went berserk. It was complete chaos and pandemonium.
Never mind if they lose their voices, but absolutely everyone was roaring loudly, I couldn’t help but join in.
Sparks of red, yellow, orange, green and blue illuminated the evening sky.
The harbour bridge was of course the center of the attraction but fireworks were also being lit all around the Sydney, so the crowd was treated to an awesome 360 degree display.
photo from http://www.sydneynewyearseve.com/
I could no longer remember how many times I shouted in appreciation of that once in a lifetime experience. I was so mesmerized that I began to tear up. In my defense, I was definitely not alone as all around me, locals and tourists alike erupt in spontaneous sobs of joy.
What we were witnessing was such an unforgettable sight, and many of us in the crowd were going to experience it only once in our lifetimes, so we let go of pretenses and inhibitions and gave in to the celebration.
The fireworks display lasted for 15 minutes and it was complete magic.
When the last embers faded, the crowd applauded and cheered in unison, appreciating a memory we will never forget.
Neil’s photo
Minutes after the fireworks display, the Sydney crowd continued to linger at the harbour, still on a high following the spectacle. All around me, people were kissing and hugging and wishing everyone a happy new year.
Impromptu concert along George St.
I don’t know how many people I said Happy new year to but I know it was a lot.
I joined the thousands of people walking back from the harbour towards the city center. You see, all roads are closed during new year’s to give way to the multitudes of people watching the display.
I was still on cloud nine after witnessing the city party, but I was not prepared for what happened next.
It was already 3:30am and I was walking along George St. the main avenue in Sydney, when a large crowd along Market St, suddenly erupted into an acapella song.
Every second, passersby were happily joining them in the song and within minutes, the place suddenly became a concert with many singers taking turns.
Midway to the mini concert, a group of kids with percussions and drums joined the concert and launched into a street performance, encouraging the crowd into an impromptu group dancing.
It was such a magical experience and all I could do was join in on the fun. I was simply humming along to the crowd during the mini concert, but when the crowd eurpted into a street dancing, I grabbed the nearest person and danced wildly along George St.
The singing and dancing lasted for another hour before the crowd finally dispersed.
people dancing in the streets
On a high from the event’s festivities, I made my way to the nearby Hyde Park and decided to pass the evening there and go back to my hotel room come morning.
I still couldn’t believe what happened during the last few hours: the people I’ve met, and the things I have experienced. I couldn’t help but smile.
The early morning sky was so bright thanks to a half moon and in  a few hours, dawn would come and I would experience my first new year’s day in Australia
Any moment now, my closed would close as sleep finally won over my body.
But before everything went blank, I looked back to that one night in 1999 when I said a prayer for me to go to Sydney. It took years, but my prayers were answered and my wish came true.
I looked up to the evening sky and said  another prayer. I prayed that I can come back to Sydney so I can experience it all over again.
And I have a feeling that my prayers would be answered again.
Note: Hi-res photos are from http://www.sydneynewyearseve.com/


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