Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sydney Travelogue (Part 1)

Today is Sunday and I woke up wanting to do something productive so I decided to start writing on my last Sydney trip. I know i know, i have yet to even finish writing about my trip to Japan (and I'm still considering whether to write on Korea) but i realized the longer I delay, the less vivid the memories will be and I will have trouble writing about my trip, which explains why till today i still can’t finish my Japan travelogue :( 

So I have decided to do a short and simple (probably) 2 post photo travelogue to sum up my Sydney trip. But before I start, let me just share on why Sydney. Every year I would plan a long trip (2 weeks or more) and it would usually either be over my birthday period or over the Xmas/ NYE period for countdown but last year I decided to make use of the National day long weekend to go on a long trip. I wanted somewhere that I can survive alone, with enough attractions and places of interest for me to do at least one activity a day and probably somewhere I have never been to before. I mean if you think about it, I could easily go to places like London or NYC to fulfill these requirements but I felt that it’s not the right time to visit those amazing places. 

Then one morning, I woke up with a random thought of Sydney in my head (I'm serious!) Honestly I’ve never thought of going to Sydney (no idea why) but that morning I just grabbed my phone and started to do some simple googl-ing on Sydney and i was like - THIS IS THE PLACE. It fits my description exactly. A modern city, very much like Singapore but at the same time, you can connect with nature by traveling out within a couple of hours. I could even go on a whale watching tour and see a real life whale (which is in my bucket list btw) I then texted a few friends and they too agreed that Sydney would be a good place for me.

Next thing I did was to book my flight tickets via Singapore Airlines (It was on promotion, felt as if all the stars were aligned) and over the next couple of months, decided on my AirBnB and started planning my itinerary. Even the exchange rate was a good SGD1 to AUD1.07! Fast forward into August, it was time to fly to my first “ang mo” country (I’ve been to Australia but that’s for work but that’s not counted, lol)
After an 8 hour flight, I arrived in Sydney, bought my opal card and made my way to my AirBnB located at Darlinghurst via train (first time seeing a double decker train!) When it comes to selecting my accommodation for the 2 weeks in Sydney, the one key thing i was looking at was location. I wanted somewhere central, not too far from the places of interest, somewhere i can still walk back if there are no more public transport. Found this nice 1 bedder apartment which is about 8 mins walk from the nearest station and was within my budget.
Prior to the trip, i did some research during my free time and sort of decided where are the places I would want to visit, what i want to do and also pre-bought some of the tickets via Klook. Do note that the sequence of event might not be in chronological order as i didn't really take much photos during the trip.On one hand i was trying to insta-story every moment, and take lots of photos since it's my first time in Sydney (and everything is so beautiful!) but after a couple of days in i was feeling it and felt that i was not enjoying the moment fully because of all these social media updating and stuff so i told myself i would take quick short video snippets (basically ig story format but not edit and upload them cos it takes time) but only compile and edit them into a short video when i'm back at my apartment. The end result turned out great!
First day in Sydney was pretty much free and easy and I gave myself more time to settle into my apartment (I sound like I'm moving there for good, lol) Decided that I should visit the iconic Sydney Opera House and see the place with my own eyes. (Technically i could have visited the place on Day 2 since I booked a walking tour but still.) Had fish & chips along the harbor and took an evening stroll along the iconic harbor bridge which connects Sydney CBD to the North Shore. Really enjoyed the walk as the weather was a cool 14 degrees. It's quite amazing to see famous landmarks in real life after seeing images of them for the longest time.
If you know me well in person, you would know that i'm a brunch person and Australia is like the ultimate brunch destination for me. I could easily walk into any cafe at any time of the day just to have a hot drink, or order from their all day brunch menu. The weather was just perfect. It was cold but there was still sun and all you want to do is just embrace the weather by sitting outdoor and having warm drink and food.
Every time when i go to a new place, i would always want to learn something new about the place and for Sydney, i booked myself a Sydney Opera House walking tour which gives me exclusive access to places within the opera house and the tour guide will also share about the awe-inspiring architecture, and wonderful history this landmark has. The tour was very informative and everyone had a headphone issued to us so we could hear the guide clearly wherever we are. I learnt so much about the place within that hour or so!
Across the bridge was the north shore where there is an old school carnival theme park called the Luna Park. Trust me, when i say old school, i really meant old school. The games were simple and funny, the prizes were the most random (that i have no idea what to do with it except to give it away, lol) but best of all, entry to the park is free. You can get passes/ tokens to play the different rides, the game stalls and also get carnival food alike the candy floss and popcorn. The whole place just gives you a rustic old school vibe, like those old movies where there is a clown who kidnap kids and is the ultimate killer kinda feels. Like the movie "IT" lol
I remember after 3 or 4 days in, i was craving for Asian food. For meals every day was either brunch, pizza, fish and chips and i was like, i need RICEEEEEE and my one of my friend recommended me to head to Sydney's Chinatown to curb my craving for asian food. Upon reaching, i felt like i was transported to another place. Everyone was asian and almost everyone speaking in either mandarin or cantonese. There was a sense of familiarity and i almost felt like i was not in Sydney, LOL Decided on this stall that had roasted meat hanging at the front and i ordered this plate of Char siew and chicken drumstick rice that cost 18 bucks. Ladies and gentlemen, don't be surprised. That's the typical price for asian food in Australia. Expensive but worth it.
Another day of awesome weather and awesome Eggs Benedict.
I love going seeing animals and creatures and one of the main reason for coming to Sydney was actually to experience the balance of city life and nature. Like i mentioned earlier in post, the way i planned my itinerary is to have one main activity a day so i planned for a day visit to the Aquarium, a day visit to the Zoo, a day out for whale watching (in fact 2 days for this trip), a day to a wildlife sanctuary and all these would actually take up 5 days of my entire trip already! For aquarium, i visited the Sea life aquarium located at Darling Harbor. It was honestly quite meh but what really surprised me was how they managed to house the entire aquarium (and a freakin' zoo and Madame Tussands just right beside) at this seemingly small area. 
Another night of asian food craving so i did a quick research online and found this Thai restaurant called "Chat Thai" and i had probably one of the best $18 pineapple fried rice i ever had in my life, it was so good omg. On the right in the famous Australia's most instagrammed dessert - The watermelon and rose cake which i told myself i die die must come back another day during this trip (but i must arrive early, probably just before opening hour) to try it because the queue was so long and it's often sold out daily.

To be continued,