18 Dec. 2016 – Day 15: Singapore

Good bye, Melbourne, and Tasmania! And thank you for all the sights and experiences during the past two weeks!

Got the StarBus hotel shuttle to the airport. Really convenient.

Unfortunately at the airport, there was not only a long queue at the check-in counters, our luggage was over the scales so we had to do some last-minute repacking, and finally, our flight was delayed by almost an hour.

So… hmmm…

Our plane flew over the desert areas of Australia and for a moment, it looked like those images we had seen of Mars. Alien landscape, in all sense of the word.

Anyway, we finally got home alright on Scoot, surviving 7 hours of dozing and reading.

What an experience.

hahaha! πŸ˜€

Alien landscape

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Leaving AustraliaIMG_2202

WELCOME HOME.IMG_2203

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17 Dec. 2016 – Day 14: Melbourne

The last day of my time in Australia before I have to leave and return to work.

AHHHH…. 😦

It was a lovely Saturday for a trip to the Queen Victoria Market. Lots of bustle and lots to see. The day was exceptionally bright, such that all the colours seem to pop out on my photos. I finally got round to having that bowl of white wine mussels. Really tasty and fresh! We even had a plate of little Dutch Pancakes. So pretty.

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Took the tram down to the the Bourke Street mall area. Musicians playing in front of H&M store.

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Went to the Royal and Block Arcades to marvel at the architecture, and discovered Hopetoun Tearooms at the Block Arcade. A pity we were too full from our lunch at the market or else could had gone in to have tea.

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What else? Went for the Saturday Sunset Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Really lovely inside the grand building. Pretty flowers growing on the grounds of the cathedral.

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Apple blossoms?

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My last dinner in Melbourne was at Moo Moo Pho. Really tasted just as good as eating in Vietnam, only thing was that the beef was juicier than others.

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Well then, good night and good bye, Melbourne! Thanks for giving me great weather on my last day here!

Till the next time, stay well!

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16 Dec. 2016 – Day 13: Launceston to Melbourne

Our last day in Tasmania.

We took a last drive around Launceston, finally visiting the church we saw while driving a day or two ago. It’s the Church of the Apostles (RC), built in 1864, but its slender spire was not built till a century later (bad photo, can’t get the spire here).

Had a super short visit to Cateract Gorge, which is about 1km behind the church, up on a hill. It is a lovely place that requires more than just 15mins to appreciate. That was how long we stayed before leaving for the airport.


The drive to the airport was incredibly short, even to the petrol station nearest to the airport. We had to top up the tank to the brim before returning the car. We made good time and even had some time to browse at the shops before our departure.

Tasmania is a really beautiful island. It has the cleanest air, by far. If I have maybe another 3 days, I would had covered the Huon Valley, and that would complete my tour of the island.

Thank you, Tasmania, for being such a wonderful and beautiful island, and for giving me such an incredible experience of driving auto-gear up and down the slopes and sides of hills. I shall take the experience of such a drive when I tackle my next road trip.

πŸ˜‰
~~ Back to Melbourne, where the temperature was steadily climbing.

Got our hotel shuttle via StarBus from the airport and checked into Hotel Sophia on King Street. Since we still had time, I brought the Aunt and Uncle using the free Circle Tram, near Southern Cross Station. The variety of food at the food court there was rather bleah. 😞
We had a joy ride, before finally getting off at the stop near Parliament. They wanted to find out where we can go for Sunday Mass so I brought them to St. Patrick’s Cathedral ☘️ behind Parliament Gardens.

We called it a night after taking the tram back to Elizabeth Street/Bourke Street and changing to another tram, and a short walk later, bringing up back to the hotel.

Zzzzzz… 😴

 

4 Dec. 2016 – Day 1: Melbourne, Vic.

A picture, or three, speaks a thousand words. Maybe three thousand instead. 😝 Anyway, I’m super tired and sleepy right now. My flight was delayed by a further 40 minutes. It was supposed to fly at 00:40am, but the time changed to 2:40am. And then, with all of us on board, we finally took off at 3:20am. I was already drifting off to sleep at that time, barely registering the take-off. 

Weather in Melbourne is rather wonky. It felt humid and in the 30 degrees Celsius when I stepped out of the airport terminal. And then, after getting into Melbourne City, it started to drizzle. (Look at the gloomy skies in the photos.) Weather is forecasted to be gloomy in the coming week. πŸ˜‘

Anyway, I’m happy to be lying on a comfortable bed, in a spacious room, slowly lulling myself to sleep. If that’s even possible.

Hope to type more tomorrow!

7 Dec. 2016 – Day 4: Warragul

Took the train 🚞 down from Flinder’s Street Station to Warragul in Gippsland, East Victoria, to visit another family friend, a 1hr 30mins long ride. And to our sunrise, another family friend joined us for lunch! Didn’t see them for almost 10 years now, since our last trip this way. 

It was a simple homely lunch but the company was great. We had lots to talk and catch-up on. Hour after hour after hour, and soon, it was time for us to take the 4:57pm train back to Flinders Street. 

How to take the train: get a myki card. It’s $6 for the card itself and you just top it up with whatever amount you want. It can be used on all three modes of transport; train, tram, and bus. There is no refund on the card itself, only the balance, if you are a foreigner. Ask the information counter at the train station for the address to get your balance back. Otherwise, the card is a little souvenir for your stay in Victoria.

Here’s my photo of being on the other side of the station.

Till the next post!

Day 8: 11 Sept. 2016, Sydney-Home

End notes:

One thing good about getting the airport shuttle is that we didn’t have to rush and worry about the time to get to the airport.  Expedia.com has these kinds of add-ons. I took the package type of ‘flight and room’, and then add on the hotel-airport shuttle. It really makes things convenient and more affordable. 

Get the Opal card – New South Wales’ answer to public transportation payment. Be it buses, the metro, or even ferries, it covers all. Unfortunately, it can only be used in the state of NSW and not in other states. Just tap when getting on and off the public transport system, but do look out for the stainless steel “pillars” at certain locations where it doesn’t have any gantry points. These, with huge arrow stickers on the floor, are where you should tap your cards before and after taking the transport. 

Opal cards can be bought from convenience stores that sport the Opal logo. Top-ups can also be done at the stations themselves. 

As for the fares system, it seems that there is a cap of $2.50 of any trip on every Sunday, and for the rest of the days, there is a $60 cap from Monday to Sunday. This I have to read up on.

The weather in September is lovely. Not too cold even though it’s the beginning of Spring, as the sun is quite strong. Good to have sunscreen, but if you don’t have it, there are many pharmacies and even at the supermarkets that sell it. 

The international airport at Sydney has enough shops and eateries if you are early. I found a good Thai place there where the food is authentic enough and portions big enough to be shared between two to three adults. Just for my friend and I, we had a beef tomyum fried rice and a bowl of chicken tomyum soup. It was a good balance of spicy and sour. Total bill of $29 for those two dishes. Yum!

What else to write? Hmmm… πŸ€”

I think that’s about it. 

Enjoy!!!

Day 7: 10th Sept. 2016, Sydney

Another day of taking it easy. Walked around the city, went to the markets at Paddington and to The Rocks at Circular Quay. Both places were very busy, especially the quay area. Apparently, there was an event being hosted by one of the leading Australian television channels, so many food and dessert stalls were set up. It was crazily crowded!


We went to Pancakes On The Rocks for lunch. There was a queue but it moved at a moderate speed. We waited for almost half an hour before it was our turn. I had a seafood crepe with a side of mushrooms while T had a small pancake with a scoop of icecream (her reason being that she wanted to eat Pad Thai noodles from one of the stalls outside). In my opinion, crepe rolled up with the food inside like that is like the Masala Thosai we have back here in Asia. LOL! But it was a satisfying lunch for me. 


But not so for T. The Pad Thai (fried Thai noodles) she got at the stall was horrible. It was too sweet!!! And it was runned by Thais. Can’t believe they totally cut out the chili and put in so much sugar. 😲

Anyway, it was nice sitting out with a view of the Opera House behind us.


Went to walk around the Circular Quay area somemore and visited the stalls at the markets. (Sorry for the terrible photo!) Amazing stuff they have there, and there was a man who did on-the-spot painting using spray paints. Wow! Unfortunately, he asked that people don’t photograph or video-record him. Oh well… But it was nice to just watch him do his artwork. He was selling his works at $40 per piece, I think. 


Walked around the CBD and visited the Strand Arcade, which was another lovely building. The interior is very much like the QVB from across the road.


I went for Saturday Evening Mass, 6pm, at St. Mary’s Cathedral, near Hyde Park at St. James. Lovely place. 


After that, we walked to Darling Harbour to see the weekly 8:30pm fireworks display. It’s a Free event so if you are in Sydney and are free on Saturday evening, head down there. 

We managed to secure good spots near the waterfront facing the area where the fireworks would be launched. It was all so pretty!!! 


Well, that’s it of Sydney from me. Heading back home on the next day. 

Thank you Sydney for this lovely one week!!! I’ll visit you another time! 😊

Day 6: 9th Sept. 2016, Sydney

After days of hiking, walking, and climbing hills, I think I deserve a day of plain old shopping and staying indoors, right? πŸ˜†

So, we visited the Queen Victoria Building to soak in the architecture and feel the period. I heard a piano playing but just can’t locate it. Do you know where it is?

Saw this on the top floor. A letter from HRM Elizabeth II, to be opened in 2085. I’ll be an old woman in her 90s by then, that’s if I’m still alive.
After that, it was dinner at Jemie’s Italian on Pitt Street. I managed to secure a booking through OpenTable.com. Food was good and atmosphere was nice. Only 2 points: it was quite dark inside and the music was too loud, which caused everyone around us to talk loudly too.

That’s about sums up a really relaxing day. 😊

Day 5: 8th Sept. 2016, Harbour Market & Bondi-Bronte Beaches

Our day started off with a breakfast of seafood at Sydney’s Harbour Market. Lots to a see and loads to eat, but we also were a little mindful of our calories and the bill πŸ˜…. 

We got our food from Peter’s – a mix of battered white bait, baby calamari, half tail of grilled lobster, and a seafood kebab. $39. Ok…

How to get there: Take the Light Rail from Central Station and get off at either Fish Market Light Rail or Wentworth Park Light Rail. One thing to note! Tap on and off before and after you get on/off the light rail. Look down on the floor and you’ll find the arrows leading you to the tapping machines (like a pillar). 

And then it’s a little walk to the market. Follow the signage or use your Google map.


Sydney Fish Market is close to the Anzac Bridge, so if you are into taking photos of bridges, it’s a good spot to eat and take your photos. Just be careful of those darn seagulls. And a pelican, or two.


After that, to help us burn off our seafood calories, it was walkies at the coast of Bondi!

How we got there, it was the incredible rail system from Central Station, of course! All the way to Bondi Junction and then a bus, service 333, to the beach. Just get off when you spot the beach. 

There’s a Kite event happening at the beach on Sunday, so if you are in Sydney, do drop by on that day. It seems exciting, looking at the events lined up. Unfortunately for me, I’ll be heading home on that afternoon. Oh well.

Lovely beach and crazy waves. Lots of surfers but also lots of people. If you follow the beach walk to Bronte Beach, there are lots of beautiful views and incredible stone formations along the way. 


We took the bus back to Bondi Junction from Tamarama Beach, which was the beach just before Bronte Beach.

I think I got tanned. A little.

Day 4: 7th Sept. 2016, KatoombaΒ 

Woke up at 4:50am just so that we can catch the first (6:21am) train to Katoomba from Central. It was a 2-over hours trip and so once we got off on to the Blue Mountains Line, we promptly fell asleep for the next hour or so. So sleepy…

Arrived at almost 8:30am and we were so hungry that we went to search for breakfast straightaway. Found it at The Savoy’s Restaurant, along Katoomba Street, just perpendicular to the station.

We were in time for the 9:30am bus from outside Carrington Hotel to Echo Point; the closest to The Three Sisters. From there, we trekked all the way to Scenic World. On the map, it doesn’t seem so far, but that’s because it follows the main road. We took the trail, so there were lots of ups and downs, but plenty of fresh air and breath-taking sights.

Here are some shots along the way. I must thank T for being so spontaneous with my photo-shots. πŸ˜†

The ticket at Scenic World costs $39 for an adult. I think you can easily google them. The treks and transport system are so well done, especially the latter.  There are three types of transport available to the various parts of the park. You’ll have fun there. Even primary (elementary) school students went for it on their school trips.


After all the walking, seeing the park, and marveling at the trees and scenery, it was time to head back to the town. We missed the train back to the city by just two minutes, so we went to walk about little town. Saw plenty of spring flowers about, especially in the garden of the Carrington Hotsl. So pretty… 🌷🌸🌼


The journey back was just as long. Don’t think it was any shorter as the going-journey. 😝