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Friday, January 30, 2009

Sydney (Part I)

We arrived on Wednesday the 28th at 7:40am, right on schedule. Our travel agent had cleverly booked us on a window + asile seat, leaving us with an empty seat between us on a not-completely-full flight. A shuttle dropped us off at our hotel, Holiday Inn Darling Harbour, which is nicely located next to Chinatown, granting us access to excellent breakfast food in the morning.

My first impression of Sydney is that it's an incredibly diverse city. Even more so than San Franciso or Singapore. Looking around, you'd see all types of faces --- at least to me, it looked like the city wasn't dominated by any single race, which was impressive. The way this benefits the tourist is pretty obvious --- the food is nothing short of impressive. We found a Singaporean food place called Mamak almost right away, though due to their opening schedule we never did get to eat there until Friday night. The Nasi Lemak, however, was pretty authentic and their satay is the way I remember, though the sauce was not very spicy.

The first order of business on arrival was to visit Camera Warehouse in Sydney to pick up some LP-E6s. The Canon 5D2's batteries simply could not be had for love or money in the US, but Australia seemed to have plentiful supply as I placed an order on-line to be held for pickup. We won't need the batteries right away, but expect that during the camping portion of our trip access to power sockets would be challenging to come by and having a couple of spares would help tide us over. Hoping to get our jet-lag to a minimum, we walked to the store, giving us a chance to explore the city.

We immediately discovered the best thing about being so close to asia --- savoury pies! Those are yummy if not cheap, and we immediately bought some to eat as we go. The day was warm, well into the 80s or 90s, and we had sunny weather. Once we were done with our shopping, we found our way to the centerpoint, where we did the touristy thing and rode up to the top of the tower for a view of Sydney. Following the touristy theme, we then rode the monorail for a close aerial view of the city (with the city buildings literally a foot away or so from the monorail, it definitely looked different). We then returned to the hotel for a quick nap before visiting Google to have dinner with Lea Kissner and Ben Laurie.

Thursday morning found us having breakfast at a Chinese restaurant around literally the corner. Porridge and Taro cake and Chee Chong Fun! Wonderful stuff, if a little on the expensive side. Then we walked around town as Lisa wanted to visit the Opal museum. We visited the small museum, which seemed as much devoted to selling jewelry as to showing you where Opals came from. Then on the way to Campbell's Cove Pontoon, we stopped by another store which showed us a huge cut Opal.

We were signed up for a Sea Sydney Cruise + Twilight bridge climb package. Told to pack swimming suits, we were not at all prepared to discover a motor-yatch picking us up for a cruise just for the two of us. We were then motored around the harbour, with the crew telling us about what we were seeing before being anchored off a beautiful beach, given a Kayak, and given a chance to visit the shore. I changed into swimming trunks, and upon reaching shore took a brisk swim around --- warm water is such a delight, though even in this weather it didn't take very much distance from the beach before the water cooled rapidly, though not in such a way to make swimming unpleasant. Then we were served a late lunch on the boat and then finished up the cruise. Lisa loved the cruise and wouldn't stop talking about it for days.

All throughout this time we saw the bridge with people climbing it. With all the safety gear we were told to put on, we expected it to be steep or at least physically challenging, but it turned out that the top section of half dome was quite a bit more challenging, and we needed less safety equipment for that! What a tourist trap. Nevertheless, the views of Sydney was great, and we got up there at exactly the right time for a gorgeous sunset.


N said...

Cruise sounds so nice! Warm water + lunch on a boat...

Piaw Na said...

I will admit that the prospect of having a nice Summer while the rest of the northern hemisphere is experiencing winter and returning just in time for Spring was the major reason for this trip.

N said...

Smart... ;)

Sy said...

you got great pies because it was a british colony!!! NZ has great pies too! and you're probably thinking of meat pies!

got nothing to do with asia! though i guess curry puffs were a derivative of a meat pie...but still.