Sydney Fish Market

3rd October 2008, Friday

Our last day in Sydney was spent at the Sydney Fish Market. It was a great place for fresh seafood fare. I think this is probably the highlight of our trip. For some of us who would think, “Aiyoh.. fish market ah? Sure smelly one!” It wasn’t smelly at all. The place was quite clean in fact and there are some restaurants inside the place. You get to see a lot of sea produce in gigantic sizes!

A lot of people would prefer eating in the building instead of outside at the wharf as there were many annoying seagulls around waiting for left overs.

It was quite a good place to take pictures as you have the scenic Anz Bridge as backdrop and some fishing boats rocking at the jetty.

On how to purchase food at this place, you need to place your order at any girls manning the food counters, and you would be given a number. You pay when your number is called and you would get your order.

The seafood platter here cost about AUD28.50 per platter. Half dozen fresh oysters cost about AUD14.50.

After the scrumptious lunch, we made our way to Bradfield Park where you get to view Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge together! It was a breathtaking view! Luna Park is also situated here, so you could get some rides to view the place from high up in the sky if you want to.

Before we go to the airport on our last day, we went to visit WL’s university. The University of Sydney looks uncannily like the School of Hogwarts! Harry Potter’s school!

We bid WL and Little Isaac good bye to head back to Melbourne.

Again, Jetstar was delayed for an hour and we were stranded in the airport. Sigh!! Very bad traveling experience!

We were greeted by drops of rain upon reaching Melbourne Avalon airport. The airport is like LCCT in Sepang. So, we had to run to the terminal under the rain. Imagine the chilly wind that blew while you were soaking in the rain. Gawd! I think if the walkway is much longer, I would have probably suffered hypothermia! It was a good thing I decided to wear my jacket before getting down the plane! My teeth were chattering like crazy the moment I stepped foot into the terminal.

We reached Brunswick East and were welcomed into a house with delicious aroma of chicken in bitter guord soup. Nothing could beat a nice warm soup on a cold night of October in Melbourne.

Gap Park & Bondi Beach, Sydney

2nd October 2008, Thursday

It was a leisurely day. We had a late morning breakfast and set out for the day. The first stop was Gap Park. It looked somewhat like Uluwatu in Bali, only difference is the cooler breeze! I heard stories that if you ever see a pairs of slippers by the side of the rocky hill, you better call the morgue (if you can find the body, that is). There would be a suicide case. I think we could see Gap Park coast line when we were flying from Melbourne to Sydney! The scenery was simply breath taking.

Our friend dropped us at one high end of Gap Park, so we ended up hiking the place to get back to the car. Yeah.. me hiking! No wonder I lost some weight while I was there. I was doing everything that I never would have done in KL! Trek! Hike! My gawd!

As I was struggling to maintain my pace, a friendly elderly man chuckled and said to me, “It’s all the way UP!!”

I summoned enough breath to reply him, “*Huff* Thanks… for telling me! *Puff*” and he laughed.

For lunch, we stopped by Bondi Beach. We ended up eating some Asian food again. It’s really funny that all the while when I was in Sydney, I ate mostly Asian food! They have really good sambal! Lol!

It was early spring, so the weather is just nice for sun worshippers and beach lovers. There are few nudes walking about the beach but of course, I didn’t take their pictures! The place was packed but not as packed as summer, it seemed. During summer, there are hardly any spot left for you to even stand!

Along the roads following the coastline of Bondi Beach, there are many people in bikinis and swim wears. There were surfers too. Most people were bare footed. So I guess we were the handful people who walked around fully clothed. Not to mention that someone was even in her jacket in such a sunny day! Haha!

This is definitely the place to check out hot people while you sip a cup of cappuccino in the many cafés along the walkway.

Be careful of the wind though. When it blows, you might get sand in your eyes! So, wear your sunglasses and put on lotsa sun lotion!

We ended the day by walking around Paddy’s Market to purchase some souvenirs home. I decided to try the Emperor’s Puffs at Chinatown. They were pretty good!

*For those who are on your own free and easy trip, you may hop on Explorer Bus by purchasing one-day ticket and the buses would stop at every tourist hot spots.

Blue Mountains, Sydney

1st October 2008, Wednesday

We started the second day early in Sydney. After light breakfast, our friend dropped us at the train station. We got ourselves tickets to Katoomba station where Blue Mountains is situated. Thinking it would be freezing cold at the Blue Mountains, we packed extra warm clothing.

It is convenient to get to Blue Mountains. You need to buy train ticket to Katoomba from any major train stations heading for Blacktown and also a bus pass. The bus pass itself is AUD32. You get to hop on and off the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus all around the Blue Mountains area. I spent a total AUD46.60 for two-way ticket from Parramatta to Katoomba inclusive of the bus pass.

The trip from Parramatta to Katoomba took about 1.5 hours. I dozed off in between the stations and woke up to see some views of trees, hills and residential area. One thing about the trains in Sydney, you can actually move your seat to face where you are going instead of sitting with your back forward. I didn’t know this till I saw people pushing their chairs to face where the train is going!

One incident happened while we were on our way to Katoomba. Apparently, there were a bunch of people did not pay full fare for traveling all the way from the city to Katoomba. Some officers came up to check for tickets and found these perpetrators did not pay a full fare. If caught, AUD200 penalty could be issued. I guess the officer must be in a real good mood to let those people go. So, don’t even think about cheating!

The moment you got off the train, you just need to go to look up the overhead for instructions. You change the bus pass you bought at a shop facing the entry to Katoomba town. You will never miss it as hoards of people would be there waiting to get their bus passes. The bus pass comes in a form of a booklet with useful information. What you need to do is to wave your bus pass whenever you see the Explorer Bus to get in.

I grabbed a quick lunch to go with me at the café next to the shop – a delicious panini turkey bacon sandwich with extra tomatoes!

There are a total 29 stops along the way around Blue Mountains. Some important stops which are worth to spend time at are the Katoomba Cascades, Scenic World (you have to pay AUD25 to ride the cable car), Echo Point – Three Sisters, Honeymoon lookout (where you set to descent along a bridge that leads to the Three Sisters! We missed this point! Damn!) and Leura Village (my favorite – no trekking and lotsa shops!).

For the life of me, I couldn’t believe that I actually trekked. Me? Trekking? You heard it right. I was telling ML that, FRIM is like 5 minutes away from my house and I hardly even go there. Probably once a year… and now, I paid so much money to come all the way to Blue Mountains to trek? Lol!

It was the drought season everywhere in Australia so I guess the Katoomba Cascades is not that spectacular. There were still some water but not as big as I thought it might be. We walked around to snap some photos of some plants instead.

At Leura Valley, if you happen to go during spring, you would be greeted with luscious cherry blossom decorating the pavement dividing the roads. The valley is peppered with little shop cottages where you could find just anything from scented candles to bras, antiques to little knick knacks. Not to mention, small little quaint coffee houses.

Why is it named Blue Mountains when it’s not even blue?? I found some explanations here.

The Blue Mountains are so named because, from Sydney, they look blue. They are clad in vast forests of eucalypts (commonly called gum trees), which in the hot sun discharge a fine mist of eucalyptus oil from their leaves. The mist refracts light, which makes the haze look blue at a distance.

It was an enjoyable one day trip. We bid good bye to Blue Mountains at 5.30 pm to catch a train to Parramatta. On the way home, we were sandwiched by four guys from India and a few girls from Germany ( I gathered from the phlegm inducing language they speak!) and a mother and son pack from other parts of Australia.

I suggest you go early so you could slowly take your time in taking pictures or enjoy your long walks in the luscious forest and waterfalls.

The explorer bus starts to operate at 9.45 am every day and the last train to depart from Katoomba to Central is at 11.16 pm.

Sydney, Here We Come!

30th September 2008, Tuesday

Since we were already there in Melbourne, we decided to visit Sydney as well. It helps when you have some friends scattered all over the world (very, very cost effective! Lol! So, Yin Mand if you are reading this, please let your sis know I will come one very fine day to Brisbane to see her!). So, ML took this opportunity to visit her good friend in Sydney.

We took a bus from Southern Cross to Avalon Airport. Sunbus will take passengers to Avalon for Jetstar domestic flights only. You can also take Skybus to Tullamarine, where other domestic and international flights take place. It costs AUD38 for two way journey to Avalon from the city and back. It takes 40 minutes to get to Avalon. They are pretty punctual. So, our Malaysian mind set of “It’s ok to be five minutes late” does not apply here!

We arrived at the airport on the dot. For domestic flight, it is okay to bring water bottle. You just need to take them out and place it in the basket provided to be scanned. LAG rules do not apply. Jetstar delayed a little but we reached Sydney slightly later than scheduled time.

The moment we got into the terminal, we were a little lost to get to the train station. So, to prevent you guys from getting lost, always remember, the train is always located at the basement of the airport. So, get your ass down the escalator to the train station and just follow signboard.

Sydney has useful pamphlet on how to purchase a train ticket. For those who are traveling by yourself for a few days in Sydney, you may opt for an unlimited boarding pass. Since I am going to stay with a friend, I didn’t get the unlimited pass. The ticket from the airport to Circular Quay costs AUD14.60.

We were greeted by this man playing didgeridoos upon reaching Circular Quay. This is the area where the famous world landmarks are – the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We snapped like 500 pictures of the Opera House alone! Lol!

It was quite convenient to walk around the place. The weather in Sydney is a little warm compared to Melbourne but it was still a little cold. It was nice to walk under the sun and do not sweat at all! So, remember to put on generous amount of sun block and wear sunglasses and hat, or else, you would get sun burn even if the air is cold and crisp. We walked about and soaked ourselves in the charming atmosphere surrounding the Opera House. There were many people jogging in the middle of the day. Yes, at 1 pm.. and there are many families taking their children out for a walk and of course, many, many holiday makers.

As we strolled along the walkway towards the Opera House, we checked on the prices of food on the menus at the restaurants overlooking the Harbor Bridge. They are freaking expensive. Since we would have to pay AUD30 for meals, we might as well take a cruise with buffet lunch from Vagabond. It costs about AUD55. You may also opt for coffee and cakes at AUD25.

The buffet spread was quite generous. They have roast beef, roast chicken, pasta, potato salads, prawns, mussels, etc. They even serve kim chi! I think it wasn’t really a good idea to take this cruise because by the time you finished eating, you would have miss a lot of sightseeing. I ate lunch in a haste to snap some photos. Captain Cook’s Cruises seemed like a more popular choice and it stopped at many tourist spots. We took Vagabond because it was less crowded and we were in a hurry.

We got off the cruise at King’s Wharf and walked about Darling Harbor. It was quite warm then and the sun was too glaring to keep my eyes opened. I don on my sun glasses. I could feel the skin on my face started to get flaky. It was the cool, dry hair that caused my skin to shed. Please reapply skin lotion if you spend a lot of time outside. There is even a Garden of Friendship with Chinese motives nearby. We didn’t go in because have to pay AUD6. Imagine.. going to Australia and entering a place looking like a Chinese temple? LOL!

We walked around the harbor and even went to Chinatown and Paddy’s Market. Since we were already in a hurry to get to the train station to catch a train to Strathfield by 6 pm, where the friend lives, we quickly made our way to Café de Wheel at George Street to try the recommended hot dog. We opted for the chilli dog and only ordered one since it was quite huge. It was hot and yummy! We would like to try the signature Café de Wheel hot dog the next time we come.

As we were munching the hot dog, we sat opposite this Emperor’s restaurant where they sell the Emperor’s Puff. They are actually cream puffs. For AUD1, you can get four cream puffs. They were hot and delicious.

We made our way to Strathfield to meet up with a friend, after a whole day walking about Sydney with backpacks on our backs.