(FINALLY, I’m getting around to doing this. It will just be a short two-part travelogue.)
The department was in Melbourne for four days in May. It was for a conference but also doubled up as a reward for the Corporate Sales team. I’m not doing sales and I don’t support the sales team so it was out of goodwill that I was invited :)
The last time I was in Melbourne was 2000/2001 – a whole decade ago! I remember little about the trip except the pony ride at Queen Victoria Market because my pony stopped midway to poop (while I was on it), smack in the middle of the market. Eww.
We were put up at Oaks on Market, owned by an Australian hospitality group. Simple and well-equipped, our accomodation was also a convenient walk away from the main shopping streets, popular food joints and pubs, Crown Casino and the Yarra River. Awesome location.
We never did get to use the kitchenette even though we planned (countless times) over coffee to gather groceries from Woolies and cook. Hur.
The amount of time we had (after taking into account the conference, planned meals and Phillip Island day tour) was limited so we did not get to do much sightseeing. There were pockets of time to explore but not enough to visit the wildlife park and do the Great Ocean Road trip, etc.
Who’s to complain though – it’s a free holiday!
We used those pockets of free time to explore the city at our own pace, shopped leisurely, browsed at book stores, stopped for coffee when we felt like it and ate only when we felt hungry. I guess it was nice not having to read maps (much) and scurry from place to place.
Instead of a day-by-day travelogue, I’ll be doing a short write-up on each of the places we visited (in the order we visited them). I can only remember bits and bobs now.
This was our first stop, and part of the city tour we were taken on right after landing.
Situated on the fringe of the city grid, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and one of the architectural glories of Melbourne.
We were awed by the majestic stature of the cathedral and the two superbly-crafted bronze statues standing guard by the main entrance, at the top of the Pilgrim’s Path. I managed to take a peek inside the church and it was just as beautiful.
Surrounding the church is an air of pleasant stillness and peace. Some of us were whispering or speaking in low voices without really needing to. It was like we didn’t want to disturb the serenity.
The next time I’m here, I’ll be sure to attend a mass.
Seems like almost every Australian city I’ve been to has a famous park, and this was Melbourne’s.
I really love how the cool, fresh air made the stroll so very pleasant. One portion of the garden had a mini brook complete with pretty flowers and a wooden bridge – very quaint!
There was a lot of rubbish talk, cold jokes and photo-taking. And we did all sorts of jump shots, from crazy to scary (think Twilight), from failed shots to postcard-worthy ones, over and over again.
I always wonder what they did to the soil to grow such big and pretty roses. And did the hands who planted it know it would make visitors (me) very happy? :)
I remembered QVM to be a bustling, colourful market with a carnival-like atmosphere but it was kind of a let down. It was bustling but more like the atmosphere of a wet market in Singapore and not quite as fun as I remembered it to be.
Maybe it wasn’t yet the weekend so the additional elements like pony rides, camel rides and balloon castles weren’t available. Even then, the stuff they sold were very typical market offerings like fruits, flowers and meat. We walked one round and decided to pop into a cafe for cakes and coffee.
Ah, I really needed the coffee after our early flight. Felt so much better after and up the bus we went again.
On one of those nights where we had some free time, we piled on our sweaters, coats, hats and gloves and took a fifteen minute stroll to the casino.
There was a lot of talk about betting aggressively and winning ourselves a good meal but we chickened out. Eventually, we walked round and round, passed by table after table of enthusiastic gamers (all the while asking one another if we should play), made the decision to not gamble, bought ourselves a hot coffee each and strolled back to the hotel.
DAMN. FREAKING. WEAK.
It was a nice stroll though :)
Ooh, I want to talk about this because it was, hands down, the BEST MEAL we had on this trip.
Just a five-minute walk from our hotel, the restaurant sits on a quiet street with a discreet entrance which leads in to a two-storey chi-chi dining area. The tables were packed quite closely to one another and we could hear chatter all around us. Their wait staff were very prompt and super friendly.
We started off with the Baked Mushrooms (big field mushrooms topped with Fetta cheese and Garlic butter) which was so heavenly I could have five servings. I don’t even like mushrooms. It’s that good.
Then I had the Eye Fillet (prime steer, grain-fed) which was served with baked potato and sour cream and your choice of sauce (I forgot the selections). It may sound silly but I don’t like blood on my steak so I usually go with medium-well or, if the restaurant allows, well-done. I actually like the toughness.
Nicole felt the same way…
M: You like your steak medium?
N: I usually don’t but that’s what they recommend. Can’t you see I’m dipping it in A LOT of sauce so I don’t see the blood. Good thing it’s dark.
Rayna was even more amusing. She went with medium-rare (because “that’s what they recommended”) but it ended up being too bloody for her liking so she lost her appetite. LOL.
I went with medium-well and it was just right. The fillet was so juicy, so tasty and so fresh.
It was a marvellous night. We ended off with a warm chocolate cake, chatted over drinks until late and went to bed very smug and satisfied :)
We stumbled upon this place during one of our aimless strolls in the CBD. It was 4 and we didn’t get in a proper lunch so a heavy snack was in order.
I’ve always liked pancakes so when we chanced upon the light box at the corner of La Trobe and Swanston Streets with an arrow directing us to Pancake Parlour, I eagerly agreed we should check it out. Also because my feet were tired and I don’t do hunger very well.
The restaurant had a fun, circus-like décor with whimsical contraptions like giant clocks, model airplanes hanging from the ceilings and a mirror which turned you into a dwarf.
We shared the pancakes, bacon and potato cubes and milkshakes – junk food snack. Whee. Recharged, we continued shopping for a couple more hours, had a light dinner, bought snacks from Coles and headed back to the hotel.
That’s it for city sights and eats. Coming up, Phillip Island day tour!
Read the rest of my Melbourne travelogue:
City sights and eats | Phillip Island day tour
Happiness is health and a short memory.
— Audrey Hepburn
So very true :)
But because of that short memory, I need to record the happy stuff here. Which is something I have not been diligently doing.
Happy memories, coming up!
I was in Penang earlier this year for a meeting with the internal staff welfare committee I am part of. I wasn’t blown away by the fact that I had to travel for work over the weekend (and to Penang) but I suppose it turned out alright.
Our chairlady had cousins living there so they very kindly hosted us during our free time. Nothing quite beats having the locals show you around. They took us to try the best Penang char kway teow, treated us to durians, and arranged for a two-hour in-room massage for a bunch of us (shiokness). I basically just ‘shut down’ and went wherever they took us without bothering to find out street/building names :)
One building name I remember clearly is Komtar Walk. For good reason. Being Internet-junkies, we were feeling quite deprived and detached from the world by the last day. In one of the photos below, you’ll see a group of us huddled together all glued to our phones. That was when we reached the entrance of the building and someone pointed out excitedly, “Guys! There’s ‘weefee’!” We all stopped in our tracks and ignored each other for a good 15 minutes.
Kick-off meeting, check. Stuffing durian by the roadside, check.
Night markets, check. Penang char kway teow, check. Massages, check.
L and I were in Bali with a couple of L’s Shanghai friends for SQ and I’s wedding in June. It was a good three days of lazing and feasting. Home was a lovely three-bedroom villa within Rumah Bali in Nusa Dua that came with a private pool and cooks who made breakfast for us in our villa every morning.
The wedding took place on the day we arrived so after checking in and getting a proper warm meal in our tummies, we got dressed and set off. The couple exchanged their vows against a backdrop of a glorious sunset and sea – it was beyond beautiful. There were even fancy fireworks at night.
On our second day, on the recommendation of some Taiwanese friends who also attended the same wedding, we went for a long high-tea buffet at the King Cole Bar at St. Regis. And on that very night, B ordered us a whole suckling pig delivered all the way from Ubud.
Man, we ate so much our clothes were bursting at the seams by the end of the trip.
Don’t think anyone really wants to hear me babble on so I’ll just post pictures :)
Hello, Villa Alamanda
First meal in Bali
Cute ‘guestbook’ idea
The beautiful chapel
Exchanging their vows
Next morning – lazing in the patio with a book
High tea at St. Regis
Exploring the rest of the resort
Ending the night with a few rounds of pool
Supper on our last night
All decked out in my favourite colour :D
Since it was so well-received last year, Sammi organised another lantern competition for this year’s mid-autumn festival :)
The same rules apply. Our competing lanterns must,
a. be a paper lantern (i.e. no battery operated or cellophane lanterns); and
b. not exceed $4.
And again, dinner was potluck-style so there was plenty of food to go around – KFC, prata, fruit punch, mashed potatoes, nuggets, curry chicken, etc.
The spread… YUM
Our lanterns are lighted and ready!
This year’s competition was fierce – we do not kid when it comes to our lanterns – but there could only be one winner for each category.
Most Fanciful Lantern Open Category
Sammi, with her cute Little Twin Star lantern
(A Domokun pouch with goodies sponsored by Diana)
Most Fanciful Lantern Kid Category
Josline, with her DIY butterfly lantern made with recycled materials
(A pair of pink My Melody earphones sponsored by yours truly)
Technically, there was only one kid since Jaeline is still too young to compete but Josline (or rather, Adel) still put in a lot of effort in putting the lantern together with recycled materials. So cute.
“Raise your hand if you like Josline’s lantern!”
One for the album
Hijacking Adel’s kids. LOL.
Thanks darling, for being our photographer for the night! :*)
I took a day off after Perth to rest and unpack and after I was settled in, we decided to check out the Terracotta Warrior exhibit at the ACM.
We were still feeling all ‘touristy’ so it felt like part of the holiday. Hehe.
It was very interesting to find out that despite the vast number, the figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. They also numerous facial expressions and some even had distinct face shapes and features to represent the different tribes! You’d think they would use a mould since they had so many to create but obviously a lot of effort, skill and supervision went into it.
There’s a lot more information at the exhibition (and on Wikipedia). If you’re interested, do make plans to go soon cos it’s ending 16 October 2011.
I recommend scheduling your visit with a guided tour slot to learn more about the exhibit. We missed a slot so I resorted to eavesdropping on an ongoing tour by hovering nearby to listen to the guide. Oops.
Firstly… CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN, YOU TWO!!
T’was a beautiful night, food and booze flowing and everyone had a good time.
The wedding couple danced to techno music complete with disco lights during the second march-in – HOW FUNKY!
L and I were emcees for the night and I had to choke back tears at the side of the stage during the speech because I got emotional thinking about how far they’ve come, how hard they’ve worked for this day and was overwhelmed with pride and happiness. The groom sniggered at me from the stage.
After ten years of dating, they’re finally married! Here’s wishing them much happiness as they start their lives as one – I ♥ you both!
Tweedle, I’m very honoured to be your bridesmaid and to be a part of such a beautiful wedding. You looked amazing. Can’t wait to see little froggies soon ;)
So what do you do for a girlfriend of eight years who’s going to get married? You throw her a party and embarrass her as much as possible, of course!
It was a breeze planning the night because there were eight bridesmaids so we contributed ideas and split the work in the prop preparation and purchase.
I will not go into detail but we had a lot of fun and the bride-to-be was duly embarrassed but was a very good sport about it. There was as much commotion and laughter as a bunch of nine chatty, trigger-happy girls can make on a Friday night ;)
We started off with dinner at 1-Altitude (the view from the rooftop bar was GORGEOUS), traipsed down Boat Quay, attracted a lot of attention and ended the night at Helipad.
From top (left to right): Breathtaking view from 1-Altitude, dinner at Stellar, group shot, drinks and one last round of embarrassment at Helipad
Me and the pretty bride-to-be!
It’s quite funny that even before I completed my Sydney travelogue, L and I flew off again to Australia. This time to Perth, where my second aunt’s family is. Now that Sydney’s posts are done, I’ll be sorting photos and doing a travelogue for Perth, and maybe do a photolog on Melbourne and Bali.
Since I have only ONE day of leave left for the rest of the year, I’m more or less grounded in Singapore until next year. Boo. Thank goodness I still have a cruise with the family in December to look forward to.
Anyways, quite a bit has taken place in the last two weeks – a promotion, a holiday, two weddings and three birthdays!
I’m more or less settling back into my routine so will write more soon.