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Vacation it right - silence your email

A heart-stopping one minute of free-fall in Wollongong. Photo: DNSW
A heart-stopping one minute of free-fall in Wollongong. Photo: DNSW

Lighten up and soak up Sydney

There are some things that should just come naturally to all of us, not least how to relax while taking a holiday overseas. But it seems Singaporeans could learn to be better holidaymakers.

According to a 2015 survey of 34 countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas, some 32 per cent of Singaporeans found it hard to let go of work while on a vacation and 51 per cent said their bosses expect them to be contactable. The survey received responses from 400 people in Singapore.

It is a pity there are no SkillsFuture courses to help us learn to leave work behind and truly enjoy a holiday. That’s why Scoot and Destination New South Wales are bringing Singaporeans a national movement with a series of experiences to help you upskill your holiday by exploring Sydney and New South Wales (#DoNSW). But if these experiences were skill courses, here’s what you can experience when you #DoNSW: 

EXPERIENCE CREATING A FOOD BABY


PHOTO: SCOOT AND DESTINATION NSW

Location: Surry Hills, Sydney
Certification: Diploma

For those of you who have not had the joy of patting your own rounded belly or had well-meaning strangers pat your rounded belly, this experience allows you to do so. Surry Hills, a gentrified district formerly  comprising industrial warehouses, is defined by its ever-changing, ever-vibrant food scene. Locals say it is home to some of the best coffee in the city, and it seems to always have a hot new eatery to check out, whether it is New York-style bagels or award-winning Japanese fare.

After sufficient indulgence in various pastries, snacks and brunches in Surry Hills, you are likely to nurse a temporary rounded belly, not to mention a big taste of food. Don’t be surprised if strangers give up their seats for you — they are just being nice to who they think is a pregnant person.

BE A MASTER TOE WIGGLER


PHOTO: SCOOT AND DESTINATION NSW

Location: Nielsen Park, Sydney
Certification: Diploma

The art of toe wiggling, once widely practised before the Industrial Revolution and certainly before the invention of covered footwear, has seen a sharp decline in practitioners due to changes to lifestyle, fashion, landscapes and occupational demands. Hot tarmac and abrasive concrete pavements just aren’t friendly to bare human feet. This experience will teach you how to liberate your toes and properly navigate and enjoy the pristine sands of Nielsen Park Beach without the need for pesky footwear.

With three large sheltered picnic areas and great views of the harbour, Nielsen Park is a highly recommended spot for chillaxing as well as toe-wiggling. Free your toes, lounge on the grass and enjoy your lunch beneath the shade of leafy trees. Stroll along the scenic walking track or explore the area by kayak.

EMBRACE THE HIGH OF HANGING LOOSE


PHOTO: SCOOT AND DESTINATION NSW

Location: Wollongong
Certification: Diploma

Falling from the sky in a controlled manner is a human achievement probably as recent as the desire to willingly fall from the sky in any kind of manner at all. In this experience, you will achieve what countless ancient folk couldn’t – survive a fall from 12,000 ft. After a heart-stopping one minute of free-fall, you will learn to hang loose with the aid of a parachute, soaking in impressive aerial views of the coastal city of Wollongong.
 
The course will also include other aspects of hanging loose, apart from letting it all go in the sky. Wollongong offers cycle tours — on the road, off the road and by the beach; the Early Start Discovery Space interactive museum for children aged up to 10; and Revolution Laser Arena, for some live-action gaming. In Wollongong, participants will learn how one relax through physical activities, rather than by doing nothing. Because, after all, relaxation is all in the mind.

LEARN TO WALK AWAY FROM CIVILISATION


PHOTO: SCOOT AND DESTINATION NSW

Location: Pulpit Rock, Blue Mountains National Park
Certification: Bachelor

Spending most of life in polluted, noisy and congested cities can take its toll on one's mental health. It is important to know when to take a step (or many steps) away from stress triggers such as traffic jams, crowds, overwork, office politics, squabbling children, unending household chores, and endless queues everywhere. This experience will take you through ancient forests in the Blue Mountains to witness awe-inspiring rock formations and jaw-dropping views.

There are several styles of “walking away”: guided walks with Tread Lightly Eco Tours and Aboriginal Blue Mountains Walkabout to explore flora, fauna and Aboriginal history and culture. For extra course credits, you can even participate in a challenging three-day hike with Life’s An Adventure.

BE A LEADER IN TRAILBLAZING


PHOTO: SCOOT AND DESTINATION NSW

Location: Stockton Sand Dunes, Port Stephens
Certification: Bachelor

Prolonged use of Singapore’s public transport system could dull one’s senses as a result of long periods of waiting. This experience will reignite your thirst for adrenaline and adventure, or even the urge to just get up and go, somewhere, anywhere, and preferably roar triumphantly at the same time. Learn to manoeuvre an All Terrain Vehicle through the largest shifting sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere at speeds of up to 40kmh. Recommended for mid-career, hardcore workaholics.

CLEANSE YOUR SOUL


PHOTO: SCOOT AND DESTINATION NSW

Location: Bogey Hole, Newcastle
Certification: Bachelor

Yoga and meditation are good for clearing your mind temporarily. But it is child’s play compared to the awe-inspiring cleansing prowess of the South Pacific Ocean. In this experience, you will learn how inconsequential problems are when juxtaposed against the infinite, eternal gloriousness of Nature. Let the ebb and flow of waves wash away your problems at the Bronte Baths, a swimming pool courtesy of Mother Nature, and also at the Bogey Hole in the city of Newcastle. You will learn to drown out critics, naysayers, and unsolicited feedback from your colleagues, hence regaining sanity.
 
At both locations, you will learn how to suppress that inner voice that tells you to get moving and do something, and achieve the higher art of appreciating the unique sensation of dipping one’s feet into beautiful waters of saltwater seaside pools which are sheltered from the ocean yet filled by its waves.

PEDAL AWAY FROM THE RAT RACE


PHOTO: SCOOT AND DESTINATION NSW

Location: Hunter Valley
Certification: PhD

Workaholics can escape the rat race amid the stunning Hunter Region of New South Wales. You will be taken far away from downtown Sydney to pedal among world-acclaimed vineyards, lush greenery and untamed Australian wildlife. Learn to make candy or savour cheese and wine along the way. Recommended to those who want to break out of a vicious work cycle.
 

LEARN SEAL-SPEAK


PHOTO: SCOOT AND DESTINATION NSW

Location: Montague Island
Certification: PhD

Designed for those who desire little or no human interaction, this experience offers you instant immersion into the home of seals at Montague Island. Home to a colony of Australian fur seals and thousands of little penguins, it plunges participants into an environment with perhaps fewer people than animals. Swim, snorkel or dive with hundreds of fur seals in the crystal-clear waters of the island located 9km off the coast of Narooma. The playful and inquisitive Australian fur seals are the largest fur seals in the world. Fifteen species of birds also nest on the island.

For an even more upskilled experience, you could stay on the treasured island at the beautifully refurbished Montague Island Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, built in 1881. National Parks and Wildlife Service runs day and overnight eco tours to the Montague Island Nature Reserve, where you can join a penguin research project during your stay.

You are reminded to avoid the following subjects with the seals: deadlines, paperwork, traffic, taxes and unpleasant coworkers. Languages banned during class include double-speak, office jargon, and meaningless acronyms.

HIDE FROM EMAILS


PHOTO: SCOOT AND DESTINATION NSW

Location: Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains
Certification: PhD

Most city-dwellers struggle to avoid work emails. Inhabitants of the Jenolan Caves have no such problems. At Jenolan Caves, you will learn how to ignore notifications and avoid checking your inbox using techniques inspired by creatures such as wombats, bats and wallabies. In the quiet of the underground deep within the wilderness of the Blue Mountains, buzzing smartphones are only a memory. 
 
Once you’ve become proficient at email-avoidance, you may enrol for course electives such as two-hour, three-hour or full-day adventure caving inside the limestone formations and bush-walking (six trails are available).
 
 

Visit www.flyscoot.com/sydney to book your tickets and #DoNSW for an upskilled holiday experience.