by Jam Bufi

ComCo Southeast Asia, as a creative communications agency, makes an effort to hold its away days in a far away place to discover and experience new things that widens the perspective and inspire creativity of the team. And of course, team building and bonding is on top of it! From our trip to Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, in 2018, this year took us to the Land Down Under – Sydney, Australia! Needless to say, we were all excited for a chance to take a short break from work, reenergize, and explore an entirely new place. For some of us, it was even their first trip outside the Philippines.

Months before the trip, we were already buying gloves, scarves and thick jackets in preparation for the Baguio-like weather in Australia at the time of our visit. With our itineraries organized, foreign currencies exchanged, and bags packed, we were all set for the journey ahead!

Sydney was an elegant, urban beauty. It had tall buildings similar to our very own Makati and Ortigas, but there was a seemingly classic and Victorian feel to its surroundings. Their train stations alone had a King’s Cross station feel while next to skyscrapers and modern transportation, which by the way is far, far better than ours – it alone made us so jealous of the locals – were structures like the Queen Victoria building and neighborhoods such as The Rocks that evoked nostalgia with its quaint, small-town look.

As travelers, we had our checklist of unnegotiable places to visit in Sydney. First on that list is of course, the Sydney Opera House, one of the most recognizable architectural masterpieces in the world, which we marveled at from afar and even more so up close for its elegant and complicated architecture. It’s the first thing on and off our must-visit list for the trip.

Our next stop made me envious of the Aussies. As a beach lover, all I want is to have a clean and swimmable beach that was less than an hour from the city, making spontaneous beach trips with friends and family so much easier. In Sydney, it only took us literally 30 minutes to get to famous Bondi Beach from Sydney’s central business district and despite the cold weather, the beach’s smooth sand and rich blue waters made me want to run to the shores and go for a quick swim in full clothing.

A trip to Taronga Zoo is sure to alleviate all your stress away. The koalas alone were to die for and who wouldn’t be able to relate to these sleepy, clingy creatures? The hyper tiger cubs, cute little meerkats (all I could think of was Timon from The Lion King) and graceful seals made all of us gush and all I wanted to do by the end of the trip was to take a koala home with me – but alas I had to make do with a stuffed toy from the gift shop.

Seeing as World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) is one of ComCo Southeast Asia’s longest clients, it only made sense for us to visit its headquarters in the country that started one of its most notable campaigns, Earth Hour, the world’s biggest volunteer movement for the environment, which our Agency supports and works on year on year. Their office had a perfectly sustainable and eco-friendly design while learning about their various projects inspired us as a company to continue our fight to save the environment.

As the trip came to an end and last minute shopping trips were done (we bought way too many Tim Tams and Papaw Ointment), I ended my last night with a quick stroll around the city, walking to wherever my feet took me just so I could appreciate the city and take in as much of it as I could.

Syndey captivated us with its bustling and busy streets and nightlife that was both vibrant and tranquil. Being in an unfamiliar city has a way of bringing people closer and as the squadron explored Sydney, we were able to create new experiences together outside of work. With a “work hard, play hard” motto, ComCo SEA always makes hard work fulfilling and somehow easier because of the camaraderie and friendship formed within the office strengthened by team bonding moments beyond office hours.

Traveling to as many countries as possible has always been a dream of mine and this opportunity to visit Australia was a rare opportunity, one that I was very lucky to do with my teammates. And as 2020 draws nearer, we can’t help but speculate where we might go next – maybe in another continent or to one of our Southeast Asian neighbors? Wherever it is, I’m sure it will be another life changing experience.

‘Til next time!