Sunday, January 31, 2010

Federer Clinches his 16th Grand Slam Title!

Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray in 3 straight sets 6-3 6-4 7-6 (13-11) in less than 3hours (161mins) to clinch his 4th Australian Open Title and increased his Grand Slam tally to 16! He becomes the 1st Dad to win a Grand Slam title since Andre Agassi in 2003.

Congratulations to Roger Federer and Good job! It is a fantastic start to the new year 2010, and we wish him all the best for the remaining of the year, with more Grand Slams to come!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Australiogue - Epilogue The Final Chapter

Finally after 2wks of writing, I have finally come to the ending chapter of the trip, the concluding chapter, the epilogue! Phew! It took long enough to get here... Luckily I can still remember stuff from the trip..

This final chapter will focus on the days in Melbourne City area itself, where I spent a total of 3 days (Angeline only 2 cos she left earlier). It was a fruitful 2 (3 for me) days for us, where we spent the time walking ard Mel city, exploring the various tourist sights, did a little shopping (me only a little, Angeline ALOT) & such...

The day of Mel begun on 4th Jan 2010, when we drove 1hr from Mornington to Mel. The drive was rather uneventful, leaving the cool windy Mornington for a sunny Mel! The day started bright & Sunny, with the prospect of good weather to come! Even though the sun was bright, the air was surprisingly cool & the wind slightly chilly! So it was not exactly very hot out there! Quite a nice weather!

After we deposited our stuff at Clara's place. sat down a while to rest, we set out in search of carpark for our vehicle cos the parking at Clara's was only free for 1hr between 8-530pm. So we gota find another place to park our car b4 returning after 530pm for free parking! When u see 1P (8-530pm) it juz means u can ONLY park 1hr free during tt duration stated, & if u exceed, u'll be FINED!! Yes FINED!! There's no way u can buy extra hour! Unless there's a 'ticket' written beneath the '1P' which means u have to buy ticket for 1hr parking during tt duration. It sounds complicated but it's actually quite easy to understand!
Us @ Royal Botanic Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens

So our 1st stop was Royal Botanic Garden, where we found a 2P parking (means 2hr free). In we stepped into the Botanic Gardens, & it was so much bter than the Adelaide one! At least I don't feel cheated hahaha! It was HUGE!!! Lotsa of blooming flowers, pond etc... I like the feeling of the Botanic Gardens there! IT was a nice almost 1hr walk, & we headed out to find another parking space nearer to the city center. This time we found a 4P (ticket), which means pay for at most 4 hrs of parking, & it'll be free parking aft 630pm. Coincidentally, a lady (v v kind soul) gave us her ticket which still had 1hr to go, so in reality, we paid 4hrs but got 5hrs! Which we needed cos we were there at abt 115pm, so we needed to park till 630pm to get free parking!

SO anyway, after Botanic Gardens, we walked over to Federation Square & begun our small tour of Mel city! We took the city tram (FOC btw), stopped at Bourke Street (Chinatown) and shopped a while! This Chinatown is alot bigger than the one in Adelaide! Then we went to Mel central & QV center. After that, we went over to Crown Casino just for a look! Nope we DID NOT gamble... After all were done, dinner ate, it was after 7pm! We headed back to Clara's place, changed into warmer clothing (cos it's kinda chilly at nite) & headed out to St Kilda's beach for penguin watching! Yes, u heard it! Free Penguin watching!! No nd to pay to go to Philip Island to watch the penguins. U can watch them for FREE at St Kilda's! The crowd is not tt big & u get to b closer to the penguins! Another tip, if u have a torch, bring it! Cos the guides there can provide u with red cellophane that u can wrap ard ur torch so that the beam will be red! & penguins are less sensitive to red light, so it will not harm them!

Night scenery @ St Kilda's

Night scenery @ St Kilda's

NEVER SHINE WHITE LIGHT AT PENGUINS!! Cos they need a long time to adjust and recover from the blinding effect.

Cute Fairy Penguin

Another fruitful day at Mel on 7th Jan, where we started the shopping spree at Queen Victoria market! A must go if u wana get cheap souvenirs, cheap fruits & veges & nuts! Yes, they are cheaper there compared to even supermarkets! Fruits like avocadoes r sold at AUD1 each (yes they may be smaller in size but compared to AUD3.50 each, not much smaller), passionfruits @ 8 for AUD2, or mangoes @ AUD1 each! It's like the pasar malam, selling clothes, souvenirs, food, etc.. Lots of stuff. There was where Angeline started her shopping spree!! Hhaha.. She was damn excited when she saw the currency note pad, which of cos she bought eventually! It's also a good place to grab a cheap & fast lunch where sandwiches/rolls are sold at abt AUD3-4 each, pizzas @ abt AUD5-7, comparably cheaper than outside.

I'm Too Sexy for This Car

After spending half a day at Queen Victoria, we went over to DFO (direct factory outlet) in hopes of landing some cheap buys, but didnt find any that caught my eyes. Next stop, was the Library! Haha, muz b wondering y we went to the library! Their library is actually v grand! & there were a few free exhibits inside! There was one on the history of shopping (yes even that can become 1 exhibit), changing face of Victoria & books & ideas. The exhibits are actually quite interesting..


Inside of the Library

This is a very furnie painting

After the exhibits, we went for a little afternoon tea or rather chocolate dose @ a chocolate cafe! Yum Yum.. The chocolate drink is actually quite good! ALthough it was abit too thick! My order was Spicy Hot Chocolate, v thick spanish hot chocolate drink with a tinge of spice. It was a nice counter balance to the sweetness of the chocolate, but the drink was abit too thick for my liking.. Had to pour water to dilute the taste.

The very very thick Hot Chocolate

After the short break, we went in search for our dinner! Clara recommended a woodfire pizza place & off we went in search of the place! Alas, we took a different bus which took us to the wrong end of the road & we had to take the bus to return to close to our starting point again! After 3 bus changes & several miles walked, we reached the place to discover that it was closed for the New Year! What Luck!~! However, luckily we found another woodfire pizza place & settled our dinner there!

Our most expensive dinner for the whole trip - Eggplant & pizza

& it was time to head back to Clara's for ANgeline to pack & head to the airport & fly home! With us accompanying her to the bus station to take the airport shuttle, we waved goodbye to Angeline. Then we headed off for the night view of Yarra River... It was a nice walk along the river coast, with all the lightings & stuff, although it is not exactly very brightly lit...But managed to capture a few good night photos of the scenery!

Night scenery along Yarra River

Last day in Mel, 8th Jan, left with myself & Clara (for half a day). We started the day with a walk @ Fitzroy Gardens with the temperature soaring to a high of 35 degrees!! A smaller garden compared to Royal Botanic, but it has its own beauties!

Fa Lun Gong demonstration

After a short walk we proceeded to Melbourne museum. It is AUD8.50 for adults but FREE for concession holders (i.e. students) which i so happen to hold! I highly recommend this musuem! It has very interesting exhibits, some permanent, some seasonal, so check out the website b4 u go!

Blob Fish.. How ugly

Spider ahead BEWARE

There were 4 main exhibits when we went - The Fossil (dinosaurs, animals & stuff), bugs, human life & aboriginal art! I think there was a 5th cos i rem seeing sth to do with Melbourne exhibits, but can't rem if it's part of another or one of its own..

Who the Hell wears such shoes?!?!

Me on the Moon

A Big Gold Nugget!!!

Anyways, the fossil exhibits were quite interesting, cos it wasnt all abt dinosaurs. There were interesting facts abt the underwater life, special species of fish, mammals etc... The exhibit on bugs was quite interesting as well, with live exhibits of bugs enclosed in glass boxes (obviously)..

Aborignal art was ok, although alittle dull as compared to the rest but it was interesting to read abt the life struggles they encountered during days of oppression.

I kinda like the human exhibit... Where they showed the various dissected portions of the human & explained way of working for various parts of the human body. There is also a section to educate pple abt reproduction process (which does not allow photography for obvious reasons). There are exhibits on human psychology & behaviour etc...

I'm a Size U!!

Do you know the answer to the remaining 2 spaces??

After the musuem, it was all me alone to explore Mel! I went shopping, finally, for some cheap bargains. Go along Swanston street & u can find quite alot of sale going on & some are quite good buys! I managed to get 2 tops which I like! They have alot of those long maxi dresses, which are cheap but i did not buy. Shld stop myself from buying too many dresses...

The ending figure. Believe me, it started with 31006

& so, after 12 days, 2,215km of car travel, here in ends my travel in Australia... My flight was rather uneventful, no shuai ge, no special encounters etc... By the time i arrived in Singapore, i was dead tired!

My stash of goods from Australia - lots of biscuits (Arnotts, not tim tam), 2 tops, lots of photos & great experience! I miss my Trip!!!!!!! Now it's back to reality back to work...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Australiogue - Chapter Four (3/01/2010; 5/01/2010 - 6/01/2010)

Funny dates? Yes indeed, cos I decided to devote this blog entirely on places that are considered outskirts of Melbourne City, for consistency & easier narration. You wun want to pop in and out of Mel city every now and then. So this blog will be about Mornington Peninsula, Dandenong and Yarra Valley! We had a tour of Melbourne city in between these 3 places, which I will blog about in the next chapter, also known as Epilogue

So there, after the breathtaking views & coastal area of GOR (not to forget the windy & cold weather), we headed out from our fanciest hotels ever (4 points @ Sheraton Geelong) through a 1hr drive to Queenscliff pier for the ferry across to Mornington! 1st time ever to drive onboard a ferry! I think both of us were affected by the cold, we made a couple of wulongs (mistakes) by parking at wrong plcs 2 times, b4 finally proceeding to juz drive through to the boarding area! Luckily we got there earlier if not we would have missed the ferry & will hv to wait another 1hr! At exactly 9am, the ferry moved & we were on our way to Mornington! We were contended to stay inside the ferry due to the ferocious wind outside, not a nice weather to be in the outdoors.

The ferry ride took only 45mins, & we were off to explore Mornington (MP). 1st stop - Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm to do our own U-pick of strawberries! As i said, cold weather is not good for outdoor activities, like strawberry picking. U pay AUD8 each, for a box of abt 500g strawberry. As long as u r able to close the lid, u'r free to squeeze as much as u deem fit! Of cos, they didnt act check to make sure the lid is closed b4 u exit... But of cos, we're all honest people!
Tips on picking strawberries

All geared up with plastic wrapped due to muddy grounds
Picking strawberries. Even tho it's end of the season, they are still big n juicy!

Our harvest!

Our intial plan was to head for Arthur's Seat for picnic aft strawberry picking but it was drizzling & not good weather, so we decided to postpone Arthur's Seat in search of the Chocolate store. Alas, we had an old map, & went the wrong way, turning here & there, a great practice session for 3-point turns! I lost count of how many 3-point turns i made during that day! Let's just say, sometimes, u only realize u reach tt plc when u drove past it! I can make a 3-point turn blindly now! Anyway, after we found out the new address, we attempted to find it but apparently, we don seem to see it! So it's off to head our TIP OF THE TRIP #1, find the visitor information center! With the new map in hand, & a rough idea of where the chocolate store is, we decided to head to Arthur's Seat 1st, seeing that the weather seemed to be glowing again! & It is here, that we encountered the windiest roads of all! Even worse than GOR! The turns were like less than 30degrees!

View from Arthur's Seat

The Seat! Nothing spectacular tho

We reached Arthur's Seat only to discover that the seat is juz a plain metal chair named after someone called Arthur. Hahah, but the view from there was great! Anyway, we loitered for a while, b4 proceeding to the next stop - Ashcombe Maze! Like I said b4, sometimes, u only realize u reached the destination after u passed it. Tt was wat happened to us, & we had to (once again) do a 3-point turn at a convenient plc to turn back!

There are 3 main mazes to be completed, and we spent quite some time trying to clear the 1st 2 mazes... Not easy ok! But we finally did it, although let's juz say we sorta cheated on the 2nd cos we cldnt find the exit, so we returned to the entrance to get out! Hahaha, too desperate! In the end, after we exited, we found the exit at the next corner. & Good news! The sky finally cleared & mighty SUN came out to play!!! At least we don't have to wonder ard the maze in the cold...

Maze 1, which direction to go??

Kangaroo Paws cos they look like Kangaroo's Paws! Haha

Barking Ben on the tree

Next up, rose garden. It looked simple enuff, but with all the wire barbs, it was hard to see which route leads to the center! Final stop - Lavender Gardens. Not a maze but a garden of Lavender! Quite pretty!

@ Rose Garden


By the time we were done there, it was already 4pm, gota rush to the Chocolate store b4 it closes at 5pm! Yes e'rything is gone by 5pm. Turns out, we actually passed by tt plc earlier (twice) but the signboard was too small to notice! Hahahah.. Anyway, the chocolates are bloody expensive. Didn't buy any. Then we went to check into our motel (not a bad motel). Even tho we reached b4 5pm(let's juz say abt 10mins b4 5pm), the recep was oredi closed for the day, & our keys were left in the room booked for us. SO funny..

Even though the next morning, we were headed to Melbourne city, I shall not blog in tt chronological manner, but instead move on to 1 day later when we visited Dandenong, then followed by Yarra Valley!

@ Puffing Billy Station, 3 of us!

Dandenong - 5/01/2010. Our Guest Star - Clara Chen joined us for the trip! Our aim was to catch the Puffing Billy Train ride, take a return trip for 1 station & come back to the original station, just to try it out! Luckily we managed to get the return trip as there was no more stop at the 2nd station for the day! So in the end, we managed to get the return train at the 2nd station, which would depart 5mins after we arrive at the 2nd station! How lucky is that! Anyway, nothing much at the stations.. But the ride was quite fun! U get to sit on the ledge & hand ur legs outside! So the 3 of us did! The train did not tip! We saw people, heavier than us do tt b4 we proceeded with caution!
Me sitting on the ledge...
Look, i'm weightless!
After the train ride, we aimed to go for Olinda Village via GPS (thanks Clara for that device) but apparently, it took us to dono where & we kept turning here n there but cldnt find what we want! Hahahha, in the end we decided to change to go Olinda Falls, but still cldnt get there! & by coincidence, we suddenly arrived at Olinda, right at the carpark of 'Pie In The Sky', the location where we initially wanted to go! Hahahah, it goes to show, u'll eventually get there! Of cos, we cldnt miss trying the Pies! Delicious! Alot of accolades for the pies there! Remember to go try if u happen to be ard that area! After lunch, we shopped ard the area. They have alot of interesting themed stores, selling unique items. Like a store that sells all lacy stuff, teapots, candies etc...
Taste the difference! Yum Yum

My order of Feta & Spinach Pie. Their pies r really good!

After our short break, we proceeded to continue to find Olinda Falls. After a long long drive, missing our way, driving into dirt road, & keep driving ard the same area, we finally found the place! Interesting & furnie story - We actually found the place at 1st try, but the signboard was covered by our car, we didnt get out. Seeing that there were no signs, & the place didnt look to have a Fall, we drove out to find another way, only to be guided back to the same place! When we got outa the car, we saw the signboard right in front of us! & the same family was seated there. They must be wondering what the hell is wrong with these 3 Asian Girls. ahhahaha. So Olinda Falls is actually a 10mins walk from the carpark, & of cos, with Summer, comes no rain hence only trickled water flowing...

It was here all along!!

Last stop of the day - One Tree Hill, which we assumed was a hill with only 1 tree ontop (u know like the one in Auckland) but it's juz a hill, with lotsa trees, & no particular lookout point. I guess it's more for trekking then anything else. By the time we were done with Dandenong (after going the wrong way a couple of times) we finally left for dinner at some other far away place hahaha...

TIP OF THE TRIP #3: Share food helps to save cost. Especially if u visit places like Australia or US.
This may only be true for those countries cos their portions are really extremely big! It's like almost x2 the size we have here! & I can't even finish my food here in Singapore most of the time! So it's good, cos we sorta split the cost for 1 portion that actually is sufficient to feed 2!! No wonder they are so big sized! But then again, Americans r much fatter than Aussies...
Yong Tau Foo Tom Yum. Share w Angeline

Playing w the magic mirror

Acting cool

Charlie's Angels!

Yarra Valley 6/01/2010. Time for some booze! The day started with a drive to Bluehills with the weather being gloomy & kinda chilly! Our conclusion is that whenever we are to pick fruits, the weather will become cold for us! We paid AUD11/kg each to enter & start picking raspberry & blackberry! I like raspberry! We ended up with slightly more thatn 2kg in total, so had to pay extra! Kinda regretted it cos it was too much fruit to finish! Imagine >2kgs of berries!

Me with abt 2.5kg of berries!

After berries, it's time for some wine tasting tour at Domaine Chandon. It offers free (Yes u read it correct FREE) wine tour of the premise & the wine making process at scheduled timing (11am, 1pm and 3pm daily) Quite informative tour! Then after, free wine tasting of fixed menu, & u have to go from Champagne to White Wine to Red Wine. NEVER the other way round! Of cos, we only had a sip or 2. Drink, Don't Drive. Since we're driving, we cannot drink too much!

Another small 'incident' with the GPS along the way. Instead of leading us through the more direct way (as per the MAP and google MAP), it led us through to a dirt road which seemed to lead to nowhere or rather to a longer route... Morale of the story: Never trust ur GPS too much! SOmetimes, it's more accurate or easier to check the map (paper map) or google it ahead to check out your route and know where u'r going, rather than juz trust GPS blindly. At least i prefer to know where am I headed to...If anything goes wrong, at least I know where I'm stuck at! In any case, once we realized the GPS led us to 'Holland', we turned back, & went our own way (according to initial map analysis) which turned out to be much easier...

The famous Moet Chandon

We headed next to Yarra Valley Dairy, in hope of some interesting Cheese tasting At affordable prices or a tour of the premise, but were disappointed. The cheese platter was quite expensive & the place smell of animal dunk. Haha So our Yarra Valley tour ended with the fast stop at YV Dairy & we headed back home (or rather Clara's house) to rest for the night, not even bothering to go for Queen Victoria's Night market, which is on only during Summer every wednesday night.

Alrighty, next up, Epilogue. All you need to know about what we did in Melbourne City. Not necesarily all u need to know abt Melbourne City, cos we may not have explored all there is to it!