Friday, 23 March 2007

My Trip To Sydney, Part 2

Boy and I had cooked hotel breakfast this morning, and it was quite passable, especially cause we ate it in bed! We also discovered that children's TV show presenters in Sydney are even more annoying than those in Melbourne. The forecast for today was 30oC and humid (dammit!) so we were looking for things to do undercover. We went to Paddy's Markets, which is a lot like the Vic Market in Melbourne, except much smaller and crappier. (Later on, I found out that there is a much larger version in Flemington, which I'm assuming is better and may even have actual fruit and vegetables as advertised.)

Market City

The market was in the bottom floor of a shopping centre called Market City, and all the ads made it sounds pretty good, so we checked it out. It was very boring, and we saw it all within about 15 minutes. So as we'd already decided that today's motto was Walk As Little As Possible, we thought it was time to break out the cheese and catch the monorail.

Here It Comes!

Touristy Ads at the Station

Native Sydneysiders studiously ignoring the monorail near Chinatown

Now, the thing that everyone needs to know about the Sydney monorail is that is sucks arse. It's expensive ($4.80 for a single loop or $9 for a day pass), the carriages are too small and its crowded, a lot of the stations are hard to find, it's embarrassingly touristy (there are souvenir shops just outside many of the stations), most of the windows were covered in those overlays with advertising on the outside, which makes it damned hard to take photos from the inside, and worst of all, it's not air-conditioned. At first we thought that the air-conditioning in the carriage we were on had broken down, but when we caught another one later and it was like sitting in a sauna, we realised they actually don't have any at all. I thought it would be just like the City Circle tram at home: you get on, you go round and round in relative comfort and have a good gorp at everything and take some photos and have a nice sit down while you take in the scenery. But no. Unless you get to be slapped with birch twigs by good-looking Swedish people in towels and have a roll around in the snow afterwards, then you wanna get off that damn thing as soon as possible. So we did. We got off at City Central as we'd heard the Lindt Chocolate Cafe was nearby. But first we went to check out Centrepoint Tower and see if we could go up to the observation deck.

Stupid Ripoff Tower!!

It cost $24 each and it included some lame-looking 'Oz trek' presentation, which was compulsory. It looked really stupid and we were very disillusioned. So I said to Boy, "screw this, lets just go to the chocolate cafe!" and he agreed wholeheartedly. So we proceeded two blocks to No. 53 Martin Place, where the Lindt Chocolate Cafe was situated. We were a bit freaked out by how dead Martin Place was, and I was almost relieved when we spotted a posse of skater dudes doing their thing on the steps.

We found the cafe without too much trouble, and it was marvellous. I had a milk iced chocolate and profiteroles, and Boy had a dark iced chocolate and black forest cake. I felt like I was somewhere in Europe. It cost much less than the stupid tower ($33 for us both) and was much more fun. As I said to Boy after we finished, "I'm very happy now!" Mmmmm...chocolate....

Moving on. Next we went for a wander back to the Pitt Street Mall and had a look around the shops at the Strand Arcade and the QVB Building.

Pitt Street Mall

I was feeling a bit bad cause there wasn't much for Boy to look at (being a man plus not into shopping), so I suggested we stop off for a coffee. We found a Gloria Jean's in the Mid City Arcade. Normally my preference is for Hudson's, but Sydney doesn't seem to have them. In my time there I saw 3 or 4 Gloria Jean's, but only 1 Starbucks. This is a good thing, in my book. It made me feel a bit cheated when my punchcard was accepted without question - it felt too much like being at home. But then it turned out that my barista was a surly middle-aged man who acted like making coffee was a huge inconvenience to him, and I felt like I was in Sydney again.

While we were drinking the coffee, Boy spied a hobby shop on the level above us and asked if we could go there. I'm sure he'd had more than enough of looking at bags and earrings and necklaces over the last two days, so I said yes.

It turned out to be Hobbyco, the largest hobby shop in the southern hemisphere, and it had enough to look at to keep us busy for over an hour. I finally came away with the coolest thing ever - an unbelievably kitschy paint-by-numbers kit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I wasn't sure at first cause it was $20, but then I thought, "stuff it, I'm on holiday!" Boy couldn't find any art kits he liked, unfortunately, but he did buy me some glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs.

Cheesy Paint-By-Numbers Kit

We then went to the International Food Court for lunch. After some time umming and aahing, we decided to get the combination salads from the hot roast meals bar. They were really yummy and the girl who served us was pleasant. Afterwards we shared a Dutch Chocolate Pretzel from Pretzel World. It might all sound very mundane, but it really was a bit freaky overhearing someone saying, "I was on the ferry home the other day when..." There were also a few people wearing outfits that onlookers would have glanced twice at in Melbourne.

Staggering out of the foodcourt and back into the heat, Boy and I decided to give the monorail another go and head back around to Chinatown, as time was getting on and it was close to the hotel. We were unable to find seats on two services in a row, and had to wait, and when we realised that none of them were air-conditioned, this was when the true suckiness of the Sydney monorail sunk in. The sauna effect was twice as bad as before, and just left me thinking, 'please let the next stop be my stop!' It was pretty bad, really.

A Pic Boy did manage to take while
on the monorail, of the Sydney Convention Centre

We wandered randomly around Chinatown for a while, mostly just trying to stay in the shade. Then we discovered the most amazing shop ever!

Leung Wai Kee Buddhist Craft and Joss Stick Trading Company

It stocked Chinese figurines, feng shui supplies, painting and calligraphy supplies, religious items (Buddhist and Taoist), incense and a whole load more. It was fantastic. We wandered around agog for well over an hour, making sure we saw everything, and grabbing all manner of stuff along the way. We both found it very exciting.

My Purchases

We finally tore ourselves away as it was nearly time to go back to the hotel, and we had one more thing to do before we left. There was a Cold Rock Ice Creamery opposite the markets that we had taken note of earlier in the day. I had a macadamia supreme with a Caramello Koala and cookie dough. We ate them sitting in front of the Sydney Entertainment Centre, with the monorail sailing past overhead. How surreal is that?

The Sydney Entertainment Centre -
how you are supposed to tell just by looking, I don't know.
(No signage at all.)

Then Boy and I headed back to the hotel, tired and looking forward to going home. Little did we know the drama that lay ahead...

Our airport shuttle booking was stuffed up and it came nearly half an hour later than we expected. Then the shuttle was delayed by having to go round and round in circles to get to other hotels, dodging and weaving in between other much larger buses.

One of the buses we got stuck behind;
our fellow bus-ridin' daredevils

But once it got away from that area, the driver (a tiny Thai man) floored it and drove like some kind of speeding demon. I feared for my life, but I no longer feared missing the plane!

I'd like to take this opportunity to list some of the things I didn't get a chance to take a photo of during this trip, not just on the speedy bus outta hell, but overall:
1. a Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant called 'Pho Pasteur'.
2. A pub called the Cauliflower Hotel which had a 2 metre wide cauliflower on the roof.
3. Various pedestrians in very interesting outfits who I can only assume were heading for the Madri Gras.
4. A street we went down called Mandible Street.
5. The whole suburb of Redfern, which just about everyone in Australia has heard of. It reminded me of Footscray.

Randomly, some other souvenirs I bought throughout the trip

We got to the airport in plenty of time, and went through to the shops to have a look around. After about 45 minutes, we heard an announcement about a plane to Melbourne being cancelled, which we really hoped didn't apply to us. But alas, it did. A lady at the gate told us to go back out of the terminal to the Jetstar service desk. We waited there in a queue for about 20 minutes. You'd be surprised how hot it can get in such a large space. Then an announcement said for everyone who didn't live in Sydney to proceed to desk no. 24, causing a stampede to the other side. We were near the end of the first queue, so we ended up near the start of that queue.

We waited there for about another 15 minutes. Then a lady told us they were going to get us on a Qantas flight, wrote our names down on a piece of paper and told us to pick up our luggage and go to Terminal 3. It all seemed very cobbled together and unprofessional, but we did exactly what we were told. It was on the way there that I realised the true genius of the travelator. The signals I was getting from my feet had escalated from resentment to pure hatred. On the way there, we saw some guys picking up their baggage. There were about 20 of them, all in red polo shirts. I wondered what all that was about, and I managed to get a closer look at the logo on on of them. It was the Sydney Swans. I'm sure if I had been someone else (i.e. someone who doesn't detest football with a passion), I might have gotten excited about it. At least it was kind of fitting, cause it made our Sydney experience even more complete.

When we arrived at Terminal 3, it was totally dead. Only one baggage drop desk was open. The lady there very kindly asked if we needed help, and we told her the situation. She hadn't been told anything, so she did a ring-around. Apparently Jetstar weren't ready to tell them anything yet, but the lady told us to wait right there and reassured us that we were in the right place.

After about half an hour, we were getting increasingly worried. The only thing that kept me from total desperation was a guy in a yellow shirt who was on the same flight as us and who had been told the same things we had. He paced up and down, yelled into his mobile, and gave the attendants some impressively filthy looks. Yes, Yellow-Shirt-Guy did all the things that Boy and I wanted to do but were too polite. It was quite gratifying. At one point he even parked his baggage trolley right in front of the desk, plonked himself down on it, crossed his arms and stared pointedly at the attendant until she asked him to move back. (By this point, Kind-Lady and her colleague had been relieved by Rude-Pimply-Woman and I-Really-Wanted-To-Be-A-Pilot-Man, who were having a good old chat while we suffered.) Yellow-Shirt-Guy paused for a moment, but then he must have decided that he didn't want any trouble, because he moved his trolley back about 2 metres before plonking himself back down in it. Then, the tension dissipated, he resumed his wandering up and down the terminal.

After about an hour, the words 'stranded at the airport' started spiralling through my mind. That is a pretty scary thing, I can tell you. We became especially despondent when the 8.15 flight to Melbourne was announced as closed and still no-one from Jetstar had turned up.

Stranded at the Airport

Finally, after about 2 hours, Boy spied a trail of tired and pissed off-looking people wending their way through the carpark. It had to be them! And indeed, it was the rest of the passengers from the cancelled flight, being led by a Jetstar representative, like some twisted, perverted version of the Pied Piper of Hamlet. They looked particularly tired and upset under the sickly green fluorescent lighting of the carpark.

The rep told us that there was a flight to Tullamarine Airport but they didn't want to check us in until the Qantas customers had arrived. So we had to wait for about another 20 minutes, still not knowing if we would all get on the flight or even when it was. Boy found out from one of the other passengers that they had been waiting all this time at the baggage carousel at the other Terminal, and had not been told anything either.

Finally we were allowed to approach I-Really-Wanted-To-Be-A-Pilot-Man and give him our luggage. The gate we had to go to was right next to the security check - at least one thing was going right tonight. We sat down to wait some more, but this time with relief. I managed to finish three Sudoku puzzles while a kid ran up and down and up and down and...

It was around this time that I realised it was after 9pm and I hadn't had any dinner - and wasn't likely to for some time yet. There were no food outlets on this side of the check in, and all the ones we had passed on the way were shut. All the ones at the other Terminal had been open, but they were at the other Terminal, and that was two hours ago! And I realised that everybody was in the same boat. This made Boy and I both very sad. Our last hope was that they served dinner on the plane. But with the flight being at 10.20pm, it wasn't very likely.

At about the same time that the kid got sick of running up and down, our plane appeared. It was a beautiful sight. Eventually we were allowed on it. It was full. I'd like to think that we all got a seat. Boy and I took a pair of complementary headphones (you know, the type with the weird plug that can't be used anywhere but on the plane, but you are allowed to keep anyway) and listened to the radio channels while we prepared for take off.

I made Boy take the window seat, but sadly for him there wasn't much to see. If everything had gone to plan he would have seen the sun setting over Sydney. Poor Boy.

We were given some very small breadsticks, spicy dips, juice and an apple during the flight, which everyone scoffed down immediately. I would have made a very inaproppriate offer for a cup of tea, but there were no hot drinks to be had, and the attendants looked stressed enough as it was. For the last flight of the evening to be chock-a-block full is a bit like a queue going out the door and around the corner at closing time, I suppose.

The in-flight entertainment was the Best of Top Gear, featuring a very amusing interview with Michael Gambon (who is a compulsive liar apparently!) and some very pretty cars. Before we knew it, we were descending into Melbourne. Thank goodness for that! But my happiness was tempered by knowing we had to get on a bus for another hour to get to Avalon Airport. Thankfully we were standing around like stunned mullets for only a short time before we were ushered to a really cool double-decker bus. I bags the top level!! A very nervous-looking, very young-looking boy counted us as we got on the bus, and said his butt would be kicked if there were less than 57 people on the bus when it left. I felt it was more like a 'you snooze, you lose' situation. I wanna go home!!

But we didn't have to wait very long before the bus set off. We snoozed while half-listening to a guy in the back telling stories of how he met two hot 16-year-old chicks in bikinis on Bondi Beach, who flirted with him for a while before revealing they were lesbians. He didn't seem too upset by it though. It's all part of the Sydney experience.
When we turned into the Jetstar terminal at Avalon Airport, Lesbian-Guy quipped, "there's our plane!" And he was right, there it was. Bastards.

After everybody's credit card rejected at the parking payment station, we finally got the hell out of there. Boy and I only had to drive back to Geelong (about 10 minutes), but a lot of the poor sods had to drive all the way back to Melbourne (over an hour), or further. Some of them had gotten the 6am plane to Sydney the same day, and so had been up for well over 24 hours. I hope they all got home OK.

After a short detour to Pizza Land for an extra large cheese and garlic turkish bread (all hail Pizza Land, the 24-hour saviours), which we ate in bed, Boy and I went straight to sleep.

Was it all just a dream??

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

My Trip To Sydney, Part 1

Here is the travel diary I wrote after I came back from two nights in Sydney recently. I hope you-all will find it amusing.

WARNING: There are quite a lot of photos. I have re-sized a lot of them for easier downloading though. All names have been changed to protect the naughty. ;)


Boy and I got the 1.30pm flight from Avalon Airport to Sydney. Avalon is so small, it's almost cute. At least you dont have to worry about getting lost.
I was excited when I saw them wheeling the stairs up to the plane. I love going up the stairs - it makes you feel like it's the 60's and the guy from Catch Me If You Can might be your pilot. Everything went smoothly. We had coffee and cheese and biscuits and a chocolate muffin on the plane.
They were reasonably priced and everything!

We flew over Sydney and saw the islands in the harbour as we landed. I can't believe that people actually live on islands and get around by yacht in the centre of a city!
I was a bit disappointed that it was cloudy, and it looked cold. But no - as I stepped out of the plane door, the disgustingly muggy heat was like a slap in the face. It was gross.

Boy and I retrieved our suitcase without any troubles and headed out of the airport. We were told by a very glum looking woman that the train to the Central Station would cost $12.50 each. Thinking that surely a 12km taxi ride wouldn't cost that much, and even if it did, it would take us straight to the hotel, we passed her by.

Our taxi driver was wonderfully eccentric, even down to the reggae playing softly in the background and the digitally controlled air conditioning set to 18oC. He gave us the choice of toll or no-toll, and seeing as we had no clue, and he said they would cost about the same anyway, we chose toll. So, we got to see some sights, experience Sydney's version of the Burnley Tunnel, and have some interesting chat on the way. It was informative chat as well - he even told us which way to walk to get to the city centre.

The fare ended up being $28.50 plus $10.00 for the tollway. But the sight of traffic banked up to the rafters veering to the left while we sailed into the almost empty tunnel at full speed almost made up for it. The hotel was in Ultimo, about a kilometre from the city centre. The area was densely populated with lots of student accommodation for the UTS at the end of our street, but very quiet. It reminded me of Carlton. The hotel itself was quite nice, with a comfortable room that had a balcony overlooking the crappy part of town. The air conditioning worked very well.

The Mercure Hotel Ultimo

After unpacking, Boy and I went for a walk. After a false start, we found Haymarket and Chinatown. It's a much larger Chinatown than the one in Melbourne and seemed to have more of an 'authentic' feel. There were lots of little arcades and neon signs and a great diversity of people.

Gateway at Chinatown

I bought a bag from the biggest Morning Glory store I have ever seen. We wandered up George Street, goggling at everything and only getting slightly lost, before making our way back to Chinatown and a restaurant we had seen in the guidebook: the BBQ King. It had a whole bunch of very authentic-looking ducks hanging in the window. The inside was decorated with lovely paintings and wood carvings... lots and lots of them.

We had spring rolls, Singapore noodles and barbeque pork on rice. It was all very delicious. In fact, I would even say it was the best barbeque pork I've ever had, and possibly the best Singapore noodles, too. It came with copious amounts of chilli on the side as well, which we like. Boy and I had tickets to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical at the Lyric Theatre, Star City Casino at 8pm, and we were concerned about finding it on time, so we left the restaurant without too much mucking around. We walked along the foreshore (well, one of the foreshores, anyway), past the Chinese Garden of Friendship, the Sydney Convention Centre, some posh waterside restaurants, under the Cahill Expressway and up a huge set of steps. We walked around a corner, and there it was! See, Sydney is actually very easy to get around after all. We were still too early to even pick up the tickets, so we had a look at the old ships that were moored nearby at the Maritime Museum. One of them was the Bounty! The actual Bounty! That was pretty cool. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me. [See photos here]

Then we went into the Star City Casino to check it out. There were some pretty cool water cascades out the front and trees clipped into giant cube shapes. I noticed overall that Central Sydney has a lot of water features - waterfalls, spouts, cascades, ponds, etc. I guess they don't have the water restrictions that we do in Melbourne.

The casino itself was rather disappointing. In keeping with Sydney's reputation for over-the-top glitz and glamour, I expected the casino to be an insane folly of cheesy kitsch, but it wasn't half as big or glittery as Crown. Perhaps all that was behind the scenes in the member's areas though. Not very democratic of them, if you ask me. The actual gambling floor was up an escalator guarded by some very frightening bouncers, so I didn't get to see what it looked like.

Boy and I had some ice cream at the boring corridor that served as a food court before going in to the show. At least the Lyric Theatre itself was up to par. It had a fancy bar, and glitzy, 80s style mirror-lined walls in the corridors leading to the stalls. The seats were comfortable and upholstered in navy blue with reddish wood panels on the backs. There was a very interesting 50's style mural of musical instruments and clowns on the ceiling.

The show was brilliant. It was as fun and glam as its reputation promised, and seemed the perfect way to experience Sydney. The costumes were fantastic and it was a lot of fun. It got a standing ovation. Boy enjoyed it a lot too. I bought some Priscilla fridge magnets from the stall.

(Disclaimer: I received the tickets for free from my work.)

We managed to find our way home after stopping off to buy some snacks and wine. We fell asleep after scoffing mini wagon wheels and sipping a nice semi-sweet Verdelho while watching the first half of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on the hotel movie channel. Yah, so we are not really creatures of the night, okay?

After hotel breakfast of fruit, yoghurt and toast, Boy and I set out with a vague idea of seeing 'stuff' today. The weather forecast today was 28oC and we were disappointed to discover on going outside that it was still very muggy. But we sucked it up.

Our first stop was the Chinese Garden of Friendship. It cost $6, but it was well worth the price of admission. It was amazing. We took more photos here than anywhere else. It had a huge pond system, a mountain, pagodas and waterfalls. It had ducks, carp and some very bold lizards:

Lake & Pagoda

The Moon Gate

Rock Formations in the Forest Section

A Cheeky Lizard

The Large Waterfall

The Decorative Dragon Wall

Carp In The Pond

It was so lovely and relaxing that I wanted to stay much longer, but after about an hour, we thought we had better get moving. I bought a bookmark and a fridge magnet, and a neck pendant for boy.

We walked to the other end of the foreshore and all the way up George Street to Circular Quay, goggling at everything and everyone along the way. I noticed that the streets weren't really more crowded than in the Melbourne CBD, but there was a higher proportion of young people (i.e. under 40) and the standard of dress was in general more professional for the corporate types, and more surfy for the casual types, with more bright colours. No-one was wearing black, which people do even on a 30oC day in Melbourne. In fact, the whole time I was there, I didn't see any goths or punks at all, and hardly any emos. Then again, I might have been hanging out in the wrong areas. But I digress.

When we got to the Rocks foreshore though, things were very different. We were in the tourist mecca of Sydney, with ye old Harbour Bridge on one side, and ye olde Sydney Opera House on the other. After taking the obligatory cheesy tourist shots of the Opera House arcross the Quay, we sat down for a rest on a bench at what was apparently busker central.

There was one busker there who:
a) refused to perform if anyone was taking a photo of him;
b) refused to perform unless he was paid first;
c) kept engaging in passive-aggressive conversation with other buskers near him with the intention of making them go away;
d) was a massive tool.

After exchanging a bit of eye-rolling with the tourists sitting next to us, we moved on.

Our first view of the Harbour Bridge was pretty much straight on:

The Bridge

The unbelievably huge cruise liner parked at the quay, The Statendam, was a much more impressive sight. By this time, I was gagging for a coffee, and Boy didn't object, so we had an average flat white at an average ye-olde-style cafe with an average friand and average service into the bargain. Actually, the froth on my coffee was in the shape of a loveheart and the second waiter was extra polite to make up for the rudeness of the first. So I shouldn't really complain. A quiet moment like this is another good chance to reflect on how different Sydney is from Melbourne. There's a stereotype that Sydney is the gay capital of Australia, but you can never judge a book by its cover.

Next, we walked around the Rocks. I have to say it was very disappointing. At least half the buildings were built in the 70's and 80's, and of the genuinely old ones, they had all been sandblasted to within an inch of their lives and housed tourist-oriented indigenous art galleries and Ken Done sales centres. There was a really cool shop which sold candles in the shapes of everything you could possibly think of, and a maritime-themed antiques shop called Bottom of the Harbour, which was only slightly overpriced.

I was vaguely impressed with the fact that you could walk right up the the Bridge and even walk over it. We didn't do that though - my feet were already sending me strong signals that if I did that, I wouldn't live to see Day 3.

We did see one fairly cool thing though:

Argyle Street and Argyle Steps [to the right]

The bridge and the steps leading down to Argyle Street were very old. The stones stuck out at odd angles and they were all covered in moss and little ferns. Here finally was a small taste of the historic Sydney I had always heard about. Unfortunately the effect was spoiled slightly by the workmen halfway down the steps fixing something with lots of wires sticking out and playing loud rock music on their radio.

Just down the road there was a small, very 80's-looking shopping centre called the Clocktower. We bought water from the smallest supermarket in the world, before heading over to the Sydney Visitors' Centre, in the hopes of getting some good souvenirs. We weren't disappointed. I got a fridge magnet, some bookmarks, badges and a Bonsai Potato Kit. Boy got some postcards and a Chinese Seal Kit, which he was very happy with. There were some cool build-your-own Harbour Bridge or Opera House push-out wooden model kits, but I passed them by. The Visitors' Centre did have a very good range of specifically Sydney-related, minimally cheesy souvenirs for the discerning tourist. The service was totally incompetent though. Oh well, you can't have everything.

We next walked back round Circular Quay, gorping at the ferries going in and out. Fancy getting a ferry to work every day or to your lunch appointment! Nutty!

As we walked along the Quay towards the Opera House, I commented to Boy: "Oh, so this is a bit like Docklands, except people actually come here." The terrace was lined with expensive-looking cafes and gelaterias. In fact, there were a lot of ice cream outlets throughout central Sydney. Considering that it's a tourist hotspot and has 300 days of sunshine every year, that's not really surprising.

A Better Pic of the Bridge

As we passed the Kino Dendy Opera Quays cinema, we had our first view of the Sydney Opera House emerging from around the corner. It was crawling with sunburnt English backpackers, large men that looked like Dolph Lundgren walking around in groups of 2 or 3, and touristy types in fashions from 10 years ago. We climbed the steps to the summit and took some photos.

The Opera House

Me in the Middle of it All

Giant Bonnet

Boy is so excited he can barely keep his eyes open

The Sydney Opera House is actually very shiny, and I have to admit that it is quite impressive. I saw people inside, and I was determined to get in there myself. Finally we found an entrance in the basement that led to the box office. There were ushers guarding the stairs going up the the foyer, and they were only letting people with tour tickets through. Foiled!

We left via the lower concourse, past gift shops and expensive-looking cafes and bars. I get the feeling that the native Sydneysiders wouldn't be caught dead at the Opera House unless they had tickets to 'the Opera' or 'the Symphony'.

Boy and I had lunch at a cafe on the mall at Circular Quay. Our focaccias were quite good, but the man who took our payment complaining that we'd interrupted his own lunch was a bit much.

After lunch we walked back down Pitt Street, turned right at King Street, past some expensive-looking restaurants and went to the Sydney Aquarium at Cockle Bay Wharf. The admission price was quite a lot ($27.50 ea.), but it was just about worth it. We saw fish, a crocodile (it moved!), octopus, seals (asleep), penguins (either sleepy or terrified, I couldn't tell), sharks and rays, etc.

A Real Crocodile

Sleepy Seal

'Sleepy' Penguins

Ray In The Oceanarium


All in all, it was great, though I was thoroughly sick of ramps by the end of it, and my feet were sending me strong signals of hate and resentment. It was still very hot and humid when we came out, even though it was heading past 5pm. Boy and I made a mutual decision to stagger back to the hotel and flake out.

After a nap (awwww!), we headed out to try and find the K-Mart we could see out of our hotel room window. It was at a shopping centre called Broadway which, quite frankly, sucked arse bigtime. I did eventually get what I needed there though, and on the way back we stopped off at a Chinese takeaway to get dinner. We had to wait a little while, but that was only because of the large table of eat-in diners who ordered endless dishes and devoured them all with gusto, like a huge, eight-mouthed monster. It was like a Miyazaki movie or something. But our plastic bag was finally ready and the very nice lady gave us some free prawn crackers by way of apology. The food was delicious. I highly recommend the Hong Kong Restaurant and Takeaway on Mary Ann Street, Ultimo.

We had curry puffs, beef satay with homemade noodles, and garlic chicken on rice. We also had fried bread which I'd never had before and which was surprisingly good. The noodles were the best though - soft and melting in your mouth.
We watched Boytown on the hotel's movie channel and had M&Ms and Skittles from the vending machine in the foyer for dessert, along with a blended red we had bought the day before. Classy all the way.

Then we saw that the second half of Pirates of the Caribbean was on the other channel, so we thought, 'why the heck not?' And by the time the crew had decided to rescue Jack from the Kracken's jaws, it was beddy-bye time.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming up soon!