I've been wanting to visit Australia since 2006. When I found out last year that work will bring me to Singapore this summer, I decided to hop down-under to Sydney. After spending 5 days here in Sydney, I now know why it's one of the top 10 cities to live in the world, and why everything is so darn expensive --- the weather is unbeatable with the most perfect sky!
Also, I have been EXTREMELY blessed (thank you God!) to have a fantastic summer-like weather throughout this trip (just like in Singapore the previous week - it wasn't blazing hot and I somehow dodged the rain whenever I had to be outside). I've been tracking the weather before the trip and saw that it's been in low 60's and raining before I arrived. A girl friend of mine confirmed this as she was here in Sydney 2 weeks prior. The weather starts cooling down again today (Thursday) and it will rain this weekend.
I arrived Friday night from Singapore (see last blog entry) and ventured out first thing Saturday morning. It's supposed to be winter in the southern hemisphere, but to my surprise, the weather was warm in the mid-high 60's. Here's my first glimpse of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Circular Quay.
Then, the world famous Sydney Opera House. It feels so surreal that it's right in front of me! I couldn't believe I'm in Australia.
I was admiring the Harbour Bridge when I noticed people walking on it. That's going to be me doing the Bridge Climb on Monday!
I kept walking past the Opera House and into the Royal Botanical Garden. It was such a perfect and sunny day in Sydney. I went up to Macquarie's Point.
Looking at Sydney city center.
There are plaques embedded on the ground around Circular Quay. They form this "Writers Walk."
Then, I went on a harbour cruise.
An Aboriginal performer at Circular Quay.
Walking around The Rocks area, Sydney's historic district, and came upon this wedding parade.
The Rocks has an open market on Saturday and Sunday. I browsed the stalls and came upon this place that sells soap but they look like desserts! Yes, you heard it right, these are SOAP.
I then wandered to Dawes Point which is right below the harbour bridge. I will be walking the same path as these people come Monday.
I continued to explore The Rocks area. This is the Argyle Cut. The convicts carved this tunnel using hand tools in 1843, but eventually was blasted through in 1868.
My dinner for Saturday night - Kangaroo pie at the Orient Hotel. Kangaroo meat has similar texture as beef, but tastes sweeter!
I had to capture a night shot of the Opera House. I wish I had a better camera!
There's this Aroma Festival on Sunday in The Rocks. The entire Rocks area was shut down. They had 4 quarters: Latin, The Continent, The Orient, and The Oasis.
What a beautiful day in Sydney!
This little man was looking cool in his leather jacket and his stunna shades. :)
I had some Portuguese chocolate mousse. It was VERY GOOD!
Brazilian performers at the Latin quarter.
It looks like the entire Sydney came out! So many people!
Looking at the Opera House from the Park Hyatt Hotel.
There's a camel ride at the Oasis quarter for AUD$5. There's noway I was going to pass this up since I'm not going to Egypt anytime soon. It felt weird riding a camel by the harbour looking at the Opera House, but it was tons of fun!
There's a classical Chinese music performance at the Orient quarter. I was so happy to come upon this. If you know me, you'd know that I play the instrument on the right (wasn't played in this video clip). Also, I've always wanted to learn the instrument on the left in the trio, but my hands are too small. This is a beautiful piece and reminded me of my jr. high days when I was in a Chinese orchestra. Fun times. :)
After checking out the Aroma Festival, I went to Darling Harbour.
I went into the shopping mall at Darling Harbour and saw this Aboriginal shop. This cute and tall Aussie man Damien spent 20 minutes teaching me how to read Aboriginal symbols in paintings like this. Damien is a Sydney native but worked in U.K. for 10 years before returning to Sydney several years ago. He now works part-time at this shop because of his passion for Aboriginal culture, while finishing his Chinese Medicine school.
There's this cool fountain on the pier.
Looking at the city center from Darling Harbour.
There's this demonstration of a banned Chinese religious group on the pier. Yo lady, get off the phone!
While walking back to the hotel, I saw this huge Apple store on George Street. It's 3 stories!
Monday morning, I grabbed an Aussie pie and sat at Dawes Point looking at the Opera House for breakfast before going on the Bridge Climb.
They closed a portion of the climb route for maintenance, so we did a slightly different route for our climb. Our guide said 2.4 million people have climbed the bridge, and 2.3 million haven't done the route that we're doing. Cool! We're almost up there!
I made it to the top despite getting a little dizzy and my knees getting weak couple of times with my fear of heights! Woo hoo!
On our way down.
I decided to catch a ferry across the harbour Monday night to Milsons Point for dinner, next to this amusement park called "Luna Park."
The Olympic swimming pool is right next to Luna Park and the restaurant I was going to.
I tried some oysters at the "Ripples" restaurant. They were very fresh!
Then I had their fish & chips. It was quite good! The fish was fresh and flaky. Even the batter tasted perfect.
On my way back to Sydney on the ferry after an awesome meal by the harbour.
Tuesday, I went on a tour going out to the Blue Mountains. Aussies drive on the right side just like Singapore and U.K. Here's our tour guide Mick. In addition to doing the tours, he also teaches Aboriginal culture at a college.
First, we stopped at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. I petted a wallaby!
The koalas were all sleeping in the morning. The way they sleep is just too adorable for words! They curl up like a fur ball in between the tree branches.
Petting Clint, a 18-month old koala. He's so fluffy like a stuffed animal, except he's real!
I saw this mommy wallaby feeding its young through the pouch. Amazing! I only saw stuff like this on TV. It was so cool!
Finally, the kangaroos! They're soft as well.
They also have these cute little penguins. 4 in a row!
I can look at them all day!
I caught the roos hopping toward the food. Awesome!
Then, we're off to the Blue Mountains, Australia's Grand Canyon (older than America's). Mick took us to a few lookout points with stunning views like this one.
The famous "Three Sisters" rock formation. There are different variations of the legend of the 3 sisters, but in the nutshell, these 3 beautiful women got turned into stone and the wizard that turned them into the stone couldn't turn them back.
At the Scenic World looking at the 3 sisters.
We descended into the canyon on the world's steepest railway. They actually played the Indiana Jones theme song on our way down. It was pretty funny.
After walking in the rain forest, we then took a cable car back up.
Looking at the Katoomba Falls on our way up.
Mick then took us to another lookout point. On our way there, he pointed out a tea tree and crushed some leaves. They smelled so good!
Looking at "The Camel" and "Boar's Head" rock formations.
Next stop was the Wentworth Falls. The water goes all the way down!
We took a ferry from Homebush Bay back to Circular Quay in Sydney after the tour. It was dusk and this was a beautiful scenery. I wished I had a better camera!
I met this independent and pretty 29-year old woman Katrina, who is on holiday from London on the tour. She's been in Australia for 5 weeks. Since she and I were both traveling alone, we buddied up after the tour and decided to splurge for a good meal at Peter Doyles. Here's our view at dinner. Gorgeous, isn't it?
Our appetizer. Oysters, sushi/sashimi, prawn cocktail, and salmon tartar. Mmmm!
Here's Katrina and I. I had the ink squid angel hair pasta with "bug meat" (craw fish). Delicious!
We also went for the dessert. It was heavenly! I'm still thinking about it right at this second. :)
On Wednesday (my last day in Sydney), Katrina and I met up for lunch. Since we're both on a budget, we went to the famous Harry's Cafe de Wheels off of George St. & Hay St.
I decided to go all out and got the Tiger Curry Chicken pie since I'll be doing a few hours of walking afterward.
I went to the Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour after lunch. They have a salt water crocodile here (the man-eater)! They had one at the Featherdale park as well, but it was hard to see. I also caught them feeding this croc and witnessed its powerful jaw. Pretty impressive.
A green tree frog. I only saw this on the Discovery Channel on TV before. Love the color.
They have dugongs here like the Underwater World in Singapore. I learned that this manatee (which is fresh water) look-alike is unique to southeast Asia and north of Australia. The sailors used to mistaken dugongs and manatees for mermaids. :)
I kept getting lucky on this trip to catch feeding time of the animals. This one was right in front of me!
Then, I went to the Oceanaquarium. Look at the sharp teeth of this shark!
A giant sea turtle swam by me.
I love going to the aquariums! I sat in front of this tank for half an hour looking at the fish while listening to the soothing classical piece it was playing. So relaxing.
The weather in Sydney has been absolutely gorgeous this past week. Temperature climbed to mid-70's on Wednesday. I was walking around in my tank top thinking, "Wow, this is supposed to be winter time? Nice!" But when I was leaving the aquarium, I saw rain clouds moving in and it started to drizzle. The rain came on the night before I leave this place...talk about perfect timing!
I braved the rain and went to see the Opera House one last time.
Katrina and I met up for a drink on my last night here. I now have a friend in London!
I'm really happy I took this trip because it couldn't be more timely. Aussies are very friendly and I've met some wonderful people like Damien, Mick, and Katrina. I learned a lot about Australia and the Aboriginal culture; both are fascinating. During the course of exploring this beautiful city, I also spent a lot of time thinking and self-reflecting. This trip has helped me to re-center myself and re-focus on what I want/need out of my life. I'm looking forward to my future with much excitement and anticipation!
You can view the photo album for this trip at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/purplejoy/sets/72157621632752028/.
Until my next adventure... :)