Becoming an Expat definitely has its ups and downs. And to me, apart from getting sick, the biggest downside to that is spending special occasions away from my family. It was August 2008 when I first relocated abroad to Singapore and just a month away before my birthday. But since Singapore was a mere 3-hour flight to go home, I had the luxury to book the cheapest budget airfare and flew back to have my birthday celebration with my family and closest friends on that year.

After a year in Singapore, I decided to pursue an opportunity in Melbourne and relocated (again) in August 2009. It was like déjà vu – me, my belongings, and an airfare ticket to a new country. However, unlike the previous year, flying to/fro Melbourne was not a mere 3-hour flight back – it was a 10-hour flight with ticket prices NOT on the “cheap” side. To put it simply, there was no way I’d be able to go home that year to celebrate my birthday with family.

Luckily for me, I found a really nice housemate named Naomi. I didn’t know her personally (only met her when I arrived) but she was so kind and treated me as if I was family. After a couple of dinners and chit-chats together, I shared with her I’ll be having my birthday in September and the fact I love tulips! At that time, I didn’t know there were tulip farms apart from the famous Keukenhof (a newbie traveler).  So I was pleasantly surprised and eagerly agreed when she offered to take me to a tulip farm for my birthday that year!

Tulips are one of the famous spring flowers only in full bloom for four weeks in a year. Similar to other spring flowers, tulips are also fragile and the constant battering of the spring rain can ruin its delicate petals. Melbourne has four seasons in a year but has it on “reverse” and because of this; September is just about the start of spring and very timely for the Tesselaar Tulip Festival!

The Tesselaar Tulip Festival is an annual event in Victoria that attracts hundreds of tourists every year. The festival started in 1954 and easily became an iconic annual celebration to kickstart the arrival of spring. Of course, tulips are the star of the festivities (with over 100 variants on display!) but there are other things to see and do around the area such as viewing exhibits, Dutch dancing, sampling Dutch and Turkish food, market stalls, and more.

It was about an hour drive away from where we lived. Despite the gloomy weather forecasted on that day, we decided to go for it. We arrived just a little past its opening time so it was easy to find a parking space. After buying our tickets, we were greeted by a girl wearing a Dutch costume. I badly wanted to swap my poor choice of footwear on that day – I thought her wooden clogs were badass!

I wish I can trade shoes with her. Photo from personal Facebook page.
I wish I can trade shoes with her. Photo from personal Facebook page.

The farm was on my right and even if the market stalls and live exhibits (they have an alpaca on display!!!) was inviting, I decided to go directly towards the blooming and colorful field of flowers. It was a sight to behold. I never knew there were this many variant and type of tulips since I only knew of the red and purple ones. The field was huge and most of the patches have tulips in full bloom. We were so busy looking at the flowers while chatting and capturing photos when it hailed (also my first experience with hail!). So we hurried towards the limited shelters available and just laughed while we waited for the downpour to stop.

Luckily, it only lasted for about half an hour but that was enough to make the field so slippery and muddy.  I was afraid my faux-leather ballet flats’ sole will give up so I just contented myself looking at some of the potted flowers, the exhibits and sampling the food on sale on the market stalls.

Our day ended with both of us tired, soaked, and still laughing from the experience. It may not have been perfect and I still missed my family on that day but it was one of the most memorable birthday celebrations I have had in my life.

For more information:

The 2016 Tesselaar Tulip Festival started on the 8th of September and will end on 4th of October this year. It is not yet too late to visit this annual event – you still have a couple of weeks left to check it out! For more details, visit the event’s official website:

http://tulipfestival.com.au/

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