Saturday, December 30, 2006

Melbourne 2006 - Day 2 (231106)

Just remember that I forgotten all about Melbourne! Need to blog it down before my memory fails me forever. I think I can hear the pages of recollections flying out my brain. Old liao... Haiz...

Day Two was the day when we visited the Puffing Billy. It is one of those old steam trains. Remember steam trains? The ones that started the whole Industrial Revolution? You do? *gasps* You're that old?! Haha...

Took the half day package from one of the tour agencies in the city. Swanston Street is where you find the whole bunch. If you have no transportation or fancy quite a bit of commentary while you cruise along the highway, seek them out. Remember to compare prices of course. First stop was at one of the bird feeding area. Before I elaborate on that, I need to complain!

We were told to reach the agency at 8.20am. We were there at 8.10am. The lady at the counter told us we should wait outside for the green flag that says "Puffing Billy". We did as we were told and saw that it was for the full day tour! We went back in and the lady, with her sour face and not in the least apologetic, told us that we were right to wait there. When we pointed out that we were on the half-day tour, she gave a shrug and told us the tour had already left. What the fuck? Dumb ass couldn't read and pushed us away onto the street to wait for a bus that wasn't meant for us in the first place. We stood there looking at her. She asked if we would like to go on the full day tour instead. NO! Bloody hell. I wanted to either forget about the trip, make it on another day, or look for another agent. Fucking pissed. The more I write about this, the more I remember it. We did as instructed but were delivered a rude slap. ARGH!

In the end, we were told to get onto the full-day tour, which would later join with the half-day tour and we could switch then. Shit organisation. So on the tour we went. First stop was to feed birds and have morning tea. Morning tea was lamington cakes and billy tea. Had those before, in Sydney. But bird feeding is another thing. Where I stayed in Brisbane, one of the breeds of birds that caused a ruckus outside our house was amongst those to be fed at the stop! Shit! Feeding my unwanted alarm clock! But quite fun la. The big, fat, white ones are those you should avoid. They leave scars. +_+

This type quite cute.

We were off to take the steam train next. It's all very touristy actually. But if that's the way to make money, that's the way to go.

火车, 火车, 嘟嘟嘟, 请问你要去哪里?

You only can go one short ride la. We liked it though. Why?

Because you can sit like that!!! Happening hor!

Rest our feet but pain our asses. Bars and asses are not best friends.

In our cabin was an Ah Pek, who's the "Head Conductor". We were given old skool tickets and the Ah Pek was dressed in old skool uniforms. Like the conductor in Noddy? Oh. I heard Noddy is gay? No idea. Haha.. We took photos with the Ah Pek but blurred. Too bad.

In the very hot coal room, where they really burnt coal to keep the train moving.

The ride was fun! Sitting on the side of the train and enjoying the breeze! It was off to the next stop too soon - a small village of the Dandenong Ranges.

Got toy shop! I bought something. Babushka dolls on a pin!

And I made a family.

Half-day tours are actually quite enough. Because they leave you time to explore other places. On the other hand, day tours are not as flexible as traveling by yourself. You cannot stop indefinitely at a place you have fallen in love with. Great to start from day tours and go back to places you would like to visit!

We were dropped back in the city again. Something that is different from the other day tours I went in Sydney and Adelaide is that this day tour was less personal. Largely because it was a big group. But I think the driver/tour guide could have made the effort to stand up and shake hands with everyone while we were alighting. Oh well.

Yesterday we took the free City Circle tram and noted that we wanted to take a closer look (ie. been-there-done-that photos) at the Parliament House.

Oh! What big crowns you have!

Today was on-foot day to the Gardens! If you look at the map of Melbourne, you will notice they have a few gardens. Time to visit them all! But first, we had sushi and a drink at Max Brenner's. Too chocolatey for my liking.

To find Cook's Cottage, we headed for Fitzroy Gardens. I like this garden the most. Because of the beautiful, beautiful elm trees. If you look at the garden from the air, you will see a red cross of Saint George, ala the flag of England. Gorgeous, gorgeous! Perfect for making out! Or simply strolling along, hand-in-hand. Awwww... *weeps tears of cheesiness*

To enter Cook's cottage, you need to pay a fee of $4. Flip through the tourist brochures. Some of them have discounted rates. 20 cents also money right?!

The post pillar outside the cottage. I don't know if it's really in use but it's cute anyway.

Inside Cook's cottage, you will see how people from Captain Cook's era lived. I think it's worth taking a look, trying to imagine how you can fit inside the narrow bed. Or how you can make soap using ashes from the fireplace. Let your imagination run wild!

We walked a super, super lot! Along the way, we asked for directions to Southbank and were greeted with looks of horror. "It's very, very far away!", "You should take tram!". But being the cheapskates we were, we didn't want to go on a paid tram. So we walked and walked and walked. And passed the Olympic Parks and reached the Royal Botanic Gardens. It's huge! Try walking there yourself and you will see how far we walked. Inside the gardens, we saw some families having picnics. That's the difference between Australia and Singapore I think. In Singapore, we seldom embrace the outdoors and brave the sun to have a picnic. Not my family anyway. In Australia, they love the sun and make time for their families.

We walked somemore along the Yarra River. Many schools were training their rowing teams there. The interesting thing was their coaches were on the banks while the students were in the river. The coaches cycled along the banks and used loudspeakers to communicate with their students. Imagine everyone on the river hearing how slowly you row. Gosh! An incentive to do better? Finally we reached Southbank.

There's a Southbank in Brisbane too. It is considered the cultural hub of Brisbane, where convention centres, theatres, and many cafes dot the streets. What's at Southbank, Melbourne then? More and more cafes and the famous Crown Casino!

One of the cafes that came highly recommended was Zampelis Cafe Greco. But we didn't know why because the food was disgusting. Disgustingly overpriced and disgustingly untasty. We ordered a pasta (tasted ok but more like ang moh hokkien mee) and two cakes. Strangely, we were not served iced water. Later we realised you have to pay for water. Stingy, stingy. I don't understand why there was the queue outside the restaurant. The cakes were expensive (about $9 each?); too expensive and too sweet. I don't think we finished them. Besides, the service was horrible. The waiters could not wait to send us on our way. The particular one who brought us to our table was sour-faced through out. BAH! I suspect people were taken in by this:

Remember: Looks are NOT everything!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


My room is cluttered with many things. I found that I do not have enough space for everything.

Things, for me, carry memories. It is hard to part with them. The round tin with the baby angel is from primary school. The red and blue Roxy wallet is from friends. The black bag with the heart iron-on is more than 10 years old. They symbolise something more than what they are. They are rich with emotions, bursting with images, brimming with words, with many stories to tell.

Perhaps Salvation Army can help them create stories for someone who needs them more.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Back in the rain

How do you pack 1 year into two suitcases? And make them well under 30kg? You simply use 9 suitcases instead.

Hello Singapore!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Melbourne 2006 - Day 1 (221106)

Long overdued records of my Melbourne trip! As usual, had to get up at an ungodly hour because that's when the air tickets are the cheapest!

Being the old ladies we are, it was a relaxing first day. First order of the day was to check in at our hotel. Hotel Rendezvous! WooooOoOoOO! We took the airport shuttle to the hotel. Something I noticed was that the driver did not help us with our baggage! In Sydney and Brisbane, they do! Hmm...

First impression of Melbourne? "Am I out of Brisbane already?" I supposed it's because we have been travelling around Brisbane to different suburb that once in Melbourne, we felt that we were in just another suburb. Hmm...

Check in already need to do the most important thing. Fill the stomach!

Heading home soon but still got to eat some bak chor mee!

We settled for a place called Chom Chom in the city the sells Singapore food. Not too bad but of course not as good as the best we can get back home. Lots of vinegar is the trick to good bak chor mee. Haha!!

Just getting our bearings right in the city, to get ready for shopping tomorrow. There's a free tram that goes around the city. So that's a good thing to start off with. See the sights, note down what we want to explore further.

City Circle tram

The main mode of transport in Melbourne city seems to be the tram. Not exactly the fastest mode but quite convenient I suppose. Interestingly, they have some special traffic rules because of the trams. Say, a car wants to turn right. The driver needs to do a 'hook' turn, that is, first, he has to bear left so as not to disrupt the tram traffic and turn right later. Geddit? Never mind, being the kind soul I am, I shall draw you a picture.

Too bad, the picture doesn't want to load. Well. Lots of great architecture in Melbourne city. Their toilets are interesting too. Out of the blue. Take a trip there and you will see what I mean.

Inside the Royal Arcade [?]. I take a better picture than those on the website, don't I?

After spending more than a year in Brisbane, I wasn't used to the hordes of people in Melbourne. Ironic isn't it, with me coming from one of the countries with the highest population density in the world? Yes, in Melbourne, you dodge people. And flies. We were warned about the houseflies before coming. But it wasn't as bad as expected. At least we could talk without having to cover our mouths.

Take a map of Melbourne city and look at its grid-like layout. You cannot get lost in Melbourne. Everything is at right angle. If you so amazingly manage to get lost, there are a few elderly volunteers in the city (usually along Swanston St) who can help you get your bearings. They wear bright red tops with the word "Me!bourne" written on them. Very nice people! Great to ask them for suggestions on where to go in the surrounding suburbs too. They also carry with them maps and brochures. Oh yes, before heading for those paid places, such as Cook's Cottage in Fitzroy Gardens, check out the tourist brochures. They have discount coupons. Smashing!

The city has many small lanes. In one of them, near FCUK, we found this serviced apartment.

I think it looks amazing, don't you?

First day was pretty uneventful. Headed to THE Vietnamese restaurant, Mekong on Swanston St. Bill Clinton reportedly had two bowls of Pho Tai there. For us, we thought it wasn't up to all the hype. Maybe we were just used to the flavours we get here in Brisbane. We had Pho Tai and prawn rolls. The Pho Tai had lukewarm soup and the prawn rolls' rice paper was a tad too hard. Hmm.. Picky, picky! Thanks for the recommendation anyway, Stanley and piglet!

Another amazing fact of Melbourne during summer. It doesn't get dark until after 8.30pm! As you can see from the picture, we were back in the hotel before 8.30pm.

Eating the free chocolates! I hope it's free anyway.

Hotel Rendezvous has one of the best beds! It was pure torture to wake up in the mornings. The room was small. The TV could have provided more free cable channels. Location is great (Flinders St). Design retained its heritage. There's a particular cute concierge. Shan't tell you his name. If you happen to stay there, let me know who you think was cute! :P

Friday, December 08, 2006

More holidays

Hello all! These few days have been parents' day! Touring around Brisbane area with my parents! And more touring to come! Here's a small snippet of what we did.

Stayed at Crowne Plaza in Surfers Paradise with this beautiful view.

Climbed to the Balancing Rock at Cherrabah Homestead Resort.

Cycled (mostly) to the rocks at Log Cabin in Cherrabah.

In the meantime, if you are wondering where you should go for your next Australia destination, go to Cherrabah. With 5,000 acres of land to explore, you will have no lack of activities to do! :D

Friday, December 01, 2006

Off again!

Off to meet mama and papa in 4 hours time! Then to Gold Coast! Woohoo!!! Results out, graduation scheduled! YEAH!!!

Sneak preview for Melbourne!

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Guess how many pictures two girls can take on a week-long tour! WoooooOOOOOooooOO!!!