From December 9th, 2009 to January 4th, 2010 I went on vacation around the pacific ring. My second stop was Sydney, Australia. The reason? I wanted meat pies with tomato sauce.
My flight out of Auckland was at 9 am. The flight was only three and a half hours, but I was so tired since I woke up at 5:30 am that morning. All I can remember from the flight was that I listened to ABC by the Jackson 5s on repeat the entire flight.
Roxy, my girlfriend, greeted me at the airport after I landed. Unlike me, she had a 12 hour flight from San Francisco – ouch. I arrived two hours after she did, so she waited at the airport to meet me (aww). I freshened up – can’t step into Sydney with airport hair – and we found the shuttle to our hotel. We booked a two night stay at the Intercontinental in downtown Sydney since we wanted to pull out all the stops – aka money – since we were on the other side of the planet!
We reached our hotel, checked in, left our bags, and took on Sydney in our sleep deprived state. The very first thing we did was make a stop at the convenience store for lollies – aka, candy! I was bragging about the Magnum I ate in Auckland, so I wanted to get one. No, it’s not a condom, it was half ice cream sandwich, half ice cream bar, and 100 percent delectable. Unfortunately, the Magnum was $8 AUD, and since the Australian dollar was not far off from the US dollar I opted for the other ice cream options. I ended up picking up a PaddlePop. I thought it was an average ice cream popsicle, but my PaddlePop eating behavior would have said otherwise. I ate six or seven of them in my three days in Sydney – I even had two PaddlePops at the same time at one point. Other than PaddlePops, I was devouring ice cream and gellato like my Auckland trip.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around Sydney. The weather was crappy – it was overcast and slightly windy – and it reminded me of San Francisco during the fall … err … every day of the year. We were in the heart of downtown in the middle of the week, so everyone around us was dressed up for work. The Aussies dressed really well! It reminded me of New York. Women had very high heels on, and men were in their best suits. We were totally out of place with our airplane hair. We basically got off the plane and went wandering after we dropped off our bags – tourist much? I think so.
My first meal in Australia was a meat pie and a sausage roll with a side of tomato sauce – aka ketchup. They were awesome. The only issue was that I ate in a fancy mall with a knife and fork. Meat pies and sausage rolls were meant to be purchased and devoured like you would a hot dog – from a street stand with your bare hands. Also, tomato sauce isn’t free! So I had to pay for the tomato sauce to go on my meat pie and sausage roll. Lame. After finishing, we walked towards the St Andrews Cathedral. If you get a chance to walk inside, do it. It’s amazing. The atmosphere and lighting were breathtaking. Right outside I picked up a ChocTop with a chocolate flake – vanila ice cream cone with a chocolate shell and a chocolate flake inserted into the ice cream – and walked towards Hyde Park. We checked out the reflection pool, relaxed our feet, and then walked towards the opera house.
As you can see, the opera house was ‘meh’ at best in the overcast weather – it was to me anyways. The roof has a slight orange/brown tint, and is made of tiles. In the overcast light, it looked pretty boring. I know, I just said the Sydney Opera House looked “boring”, but it was! It redeemed itself when the sun came out. But, without the sun, it’s just another odd shaped building to look at – probably true for many buildings around the world. After 20 minutes trying to frame a picture with the opera house, we walked towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Along the way we saw some aborigines perform with a digeridoo. This was one of the coolest sounding instruments I’ve ever heard. The men added a modern twist to the sound of the digeridoo – they added some cool beats in the background. It was awesome. It reminded me of a song from Paul Kelly – From Little Things Big Things Grow. This instrument was pretty much bad ass.
You can buy souvenir digeridoos, but the real ones are made from termites hollowing out a tree branch. I bought a souvenir one since I couldn’t find a branches and termites. Bummer.
Several months ago, Sydney had a big sand storm where the weather turned reddish orange. Tons of photographers took pictures of Sydney during the sandstorm and a fellow put these photos together into a magazine. One of the photos in the picture was beneath the bridge. I wanted to take this picture with my own camera because I thought the shot was amazing. Mine didn’t turn out as awesome as the other photo, but I still like it.
After the bridge we looked for a place to get dinner. We didn’t have to look far since the quay around the bridge and opera house had tons of fancy restaurants. We found a diner-like restaurant and we both ordered fish and chips. I love fish and chips! After dinner, we went back to the hotel and passed out. We both needed the rest, and rest we got. It was probably the best night of sleep we’ve had in a long time.
The next day we woke up early and took a ferry over to the Sydney Zoo. I ate fish and chips again at the stand near the ferry for breakfast. I love fish and chips! These were especially good since they were blazing hot and salty. I think this was the sixth time I’ve had this meal on my trip so far.
Taronga Zoo was the best zoo I have ever been to. The zoo was very open. It didn’t feel like I was looking at animals behind bars like you see in American zoos. Instead, animals were fenced or walled in, but without distracting the visitors view of the animal. The zoo also had animal enclosures, where we walked into a fenced area and looked at animals face to face. We were on their level, eye to eye. In the kangaroo enclosure I had the chance to pet a wallaby! It was raw and incredible.
I saw every unique Australian animal at the zoo. I was so lucky! I saw the Tasmanian devil (in an awesome night encounter), the emu, the platypus, the kangaroo, the wombat, the echidna, and the koala. Best. Zoo. Ever. If you ever have a chance to go, don’t miss out on it. Also, make sure you take the gondola ride rather than walk or bus up to the zoo. Looking down into the elephant pit in the cable car is just an experience you cannot miss out on.
Dude tempting fate with an emu while girlfriend captures it on camera!
After the zoo, we took a short break at the hotel, grabbed our Sydney Opera House tickets, and headed down the pier. We were seeing Barry Humphries perform as himself, Les Patterson, and Dame Edna. Seeing the opera house from the outside was fantastic, but seeing the inside was on another level. It was beautiful. To add to this, Barry Humprhies was hilarious too! I’ve seen bits and pieces of shows with Dame Edna, but I couldn’t remember anything about them. His show was great though. As for the music, that’s another story unrelated to the talent of the musicians. I was so tired from spending a whole morning and afternoon at the zoo that I could barely keep my eyes open when the orchestra played. I can’t tell you if they were awesome or not. I can tell you that my neck hurt from jolting myself awake every few minutes.
We went home after the show, knocked out, and woke for our last day in Sydney. What were we to do? We were going to climb this:
That’s right, climb it. It was actually more of a walk, some ladder climbing, then a walk up a small hill. We walked across the bottom of the bridge to the point where the arc began. We then climbed several ladders that took us up to the top where the arc started. From there, we walked up to the center point of the bridge. It was not as bad as I had thought it would be. We were lucky that there was a slight breeze to keep us cool. It was costly at $200 AUD, but the experience and view at the top was amazing! We both agreed that it was worth every penny.
At the very top of the bridge, we were able to see some of the setup for Sydney’s New Year’s Day fireworks. If you look at the picture below, you can see a small grate-like object in the middle of the bridge. This grate-like object was actually a series of fireworks, strung across the bridge. The tour guide told us that the setup costs $6 million dollars and one year to develop – all for 12 seconds.
While we were at the top, the tour guide asks us to look down to see if we can figure out what the design of fireworks will be. Even though Roxy and I had decent views of the firework setup from the ferry rides, we had no idea what the design was. I took one peek over the side and I immediately yelled out that it was a yin yang. Now, this wasn’t that funny, but it was hilarious to Roxy. The thing is, I was the only asian person in our tour group, and I happened to be the first to figure out what the design was. Was it funny? Eh, it was sort of funny, but Roxy had a good laugh.
After the bridge, we ate at a german restaurant in The Rocks, an old district in Sydney. The food was okay and the service kind of sucked, but we filled our stomach and headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags. We hailed a taxi, loaded our bags, and had the best ride to the airport! The driver was extremely friendly. I learned from the driver that Australia had a similar economic melt down that the U.S. is going through a few decades before. It was due to the exact same thing – banks loaning money to people who cannot pay loans. It would have been nice if the U.S. had looked at the Australian economy before going down the bad loan path.
At the airport, Roxy’s flight was first, and mine was an hour later at a different gate in a different terminal. Luckily, at Australian airports, family and friends can wait at the gate – something the U.S. used to allow until 9/11. So, I hung out with her until she flew out, then went to my gate and waited. I had the unfortunate luck arriving to a gate with a delayed flight. The reason was that they were waiting for their pilot to arrive from another flight. The other flight was obviously late. That’s the weirdest excuse I have heard for a delayed flight though. It entertained me for a whole minute. When I finally started boarding the plane, the flight was so late that the crew allowed the passengers to board the plane from the front as well as the rear! I didn’t realize they had mentioned that so I just walked through the front when I should have went through the back. But, when I landed in Perth, they allowed us to exit via the front and rear, so I was able to walk on the tarmac. It was a pretty cool experience. I’ve never been on the tarmac before, and now I have! I can check this off my life’s to-do list.
That’s the end to my Sydney leg of the trip. I’ll detail the Perth trip in another post, but you can view the Sydney pictures from my SmugMug account:
Other cities I’ve written about so far: