Sunday, July 31, 2011

11 May 2011: Sydney Airport looking brand new

Sydney Airport has undergone a series of transformation. When I last visited it in Nov 2010, much of airport was under renovation. When I was back in Sydney in May 2011, I felt that it was a friendly and more interesting looking airport greeting me.

All the transformations are part of the Sydney Airport's efforts to upgrade the International Terminal so as to provide passengers with a better travel experience. I was pretty delighted with the new food and beverage outlets and the increased number of waiting areas at the Sydney Airport. Go and experience it for yourself.

Here's a sneak preview of parts of the Sydney Airport. I was playing a bit around with the fish-eye effect program on the Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS camera.

I feel thankful I was back again in Sydney to witness the transformation of the Sydney Airport.

Please also see: My visit to Sydney, May 2011
All the photos on this post were taken using a Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS camera

Friday, July 29, 2011

A great fit for me: Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments

My mother and I had a good time staying at Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments when we were in Sydney in May 2011. It was the perfect accommodation to meet our needs and budget. Here, I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to the staff and management of Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments for providing a pleasant stay and for sponsoring three nights of stay at the hotel. My mother and I extended our stay beyond the three nights at a very affordable rate.

Situated at a very accessible location within walking distance from the Convention Light Rail and Monorail stations, Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments is a sure pleasure for folks like myself who would like to stay in a centralised and accessible location in Sydney. I like its location because it is a stone-throw away from the beautiful Darling Harbour and is within walking distance from Sydney's Chinatown where shops still open after 5.30 p.m.

There is a covered walkway that links the Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments with the Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Beautiful Darling Harbour, taken in the morning.
Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments in the background. Darling Harbour in the foreground.

Though these facilities are less of a concern of mine, potential guests to the Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments may like to know that this apartment provides sauna, pool, spa and fitness facilities. I was happily exploring Sydney that I did not use any of the sauna, pool, spa and fitness facilities.

What I was more delighted with was the fact that the Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments occupied an historic landmark building with a neo-classical facade. I love its ironbark columns and the tallowwood floors. I simply love the air-wells.

Even more delightful to yours truly was that at an affordable room rate, I could enjoy a wonderful stay in one of the Studio 4 rooms. The rooms are serviced daily. Guests could expect a daily change of towels. The apartments also provide complimentary toiletries. I was delighted that the room has full kitchen facilities with microwave and more. I love the idea of having a bread-toaster in the room. That allowed me to enjoy some toasted banana bread in the room. This helped make up for the fact that there was no breakfast served every morning. On the other hand, that meant that I could be very creative in securing good breakfast treats everyday.

The room also had full laundry facilities though I was occupied with exploring Sydney to have used much of these facilities. Then again, some guests may appreciate such facilities.

At the end of each day when my mother and I returned from our daily exploration of Sydney, we would be welcomed by a room that was clean and cosy. We did our part. We were responsible guests who make our beds every morning and keep the place clean. What I love most about the room was that it was decorated with nice art works. I thought that it reflected a sense of good taste!

I also like the balcony area. Although my room did not face the Darling Harbour, I liked the interesting designs of the brick-walls that I happily enjoyed whenever I took a leisure break at the balcony.

Service was adequate. In fact, the staff members of Oaks Goldsbrough were very nice to allow me to extend my check-out time by an hour upon my request. Baggage storage services were also available for guests who came before the check-in time and for guests who would like some help to store their belongings after the check-out time.

On the whole, the Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments was a perfect fit for me. An accessible location, an affordable rate and a clean and homely room facilities. These all made me feel I was staying a home away from home throughout my six nights stay at the Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments.

If you are looking for an affordable apartment to stay in Sydney with an accessible location, Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments is worth a consideration.

Many thanks again to Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments for a wonderful stay.

Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments
243 Pyrmont Street
Darling Harbour
NSW 2009
Tel: (+61) 2 8586 2500

All the photos on this post were taken using a Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS camera.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

11 May 2011: Mamak Delight

The long queues!

One evening, when my mother and I were walking about Sydney's Chinatown, we saw a restaurant that had a long queue waiting for their turn to enjoy dinner. This food establishment was Mamak.

Curiosity led me to check out Mamak with my mother on the last day of my trip to Sydney. I suggested having lunch at Mamak and sensitively ensured that my suggestions were acted upon.

At Mamak, we ordered the following:
- egg roti (AUS$5.50 per serving)
- murtabak - lamb (AUS$11.50)
- chicken satay, (half a dozen) (AUS$9.00)

The egg roti was not crispy and did not quite taste like the roti prata with egg that I have had in Singapore. However, I must have been too biased to compare the food here with those in Singapore since Mamak is technically a food establishment that specialises in serving Malaysian cuisine. When we gave our feedback to one of the members of the staff, he gladly told us that if we prefer our roti to be crispy, we could state our requests when we order our food.

The curry sauce that came with the egg roti was wonderful. It has a nice taste of spices and was spicy with a fiery punch. The dhal was good too.

The murtabak was way better than the egg roti. I strongly recommend the murtabak. It was a dish that was worth waiting for. We waited for about 15 minutes for the murtabak to be served. It was simply delicious.

The peanut sauce meant to go along with the satay was a wonderful delight. I love the fact that there was chunks of cruncy peanut bits in the peanut sauce. My mother said that the satay meat was marinated in a different way from the satay meat that were served in Singapore. Obviously, you could tell that I seldom eat satay meat in Singapore to tell the difference. I was by default, a vegetable lover.

Overall, Mamak is a great place for a delightful meal with good service, nice ambience, and food that is served with pride and love.

One way to beat the crowds is to visit Mamak for lunch on a weekday.

15 Goulburn Street
Haymarket/ Chinatown
Tel: (+61) 2 9211 1668

Some reviews on Mamak:
- Trip advisor's review
- Citrus and Candy's review
- The Food Pornographer's review

All the photos on this post were taken using a Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS camera

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The free 555 shuttle bus

I would say that the New South Wales government is very thoughtful and wise. It operates free shuttle bus services around various parts of the state of New South Wales to make it easy for people to get from one location to another.  These buses have high frequency. In addition, the buses are clean and comfortable to travel on.

When travelling about the Sydney Central Business District, one can use the free 555 shuttle bus service. This is one bus service that makes travelling about the Sydney Central Business District a breeze!

Route 555 - Free CBD Shuttle

All the photos on this post were taken using a Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS camera

Saturday, July 23, 2011

11 May 2011: The Hyde Park fantasy

11 May 2011 (Wed):

Anyone who is familiar with London will know about Hyde Park. What about Hyde Park in Sydney? 

Right on the eastern side of the Sydney Central Business District sits Hyde Park. It was named after the original Hyde Park in London. It is bordered by Elizabeth Street, College Street, St. James Road, Prince Albert Road and Liverpool Street.

I took this photograph using the colour swap program.

There were a number of interesting monuments and buildings in the vicinity of Hyde Park. Somehow at Hyde Park, I felt I was being transported to a fantasy world right inside a busy and modern Sydney Central Business District.

One of the most convenient ways to travel to Hyde Park is to take a train to St. James Station. The beautiful St. Mary's Cathedral is within walking distance from the St. James Station. St Mary's Cathedral is a English-style Gothic church envisioned by the architect, William Wilkinson Wardell. Like many cathedrals, the building was completed 100 years after the architect's death. The vibes from this cathedral had a positive effect on me when I was passing by. Somehow, I felt a pleasant sense of serenity and peace.

Hyde Park Barracks was nearby. I had to give it a miss due to time constraints. The best that I could do is to take a photograph of it. I somehow like its simple and hardy structure. 

One particular monument that caught my eyes was the J.F. Archibald Memorial Fountain created by the artist, Francois Sicard. This fountain was unveiled on 14 Mar 1932 by Lord Mayor of Sydney, Samuel Walder, to commemorate the association of Australia and France in the Great World War 1914-1918.

J.F. Archibald Memorial Fountain.

As we left Hyde Park to head for lunch, we noticed a group of gentlemen enjoying a leisure game of chess. Their chess set was rather monumental in size!

I like Hyde Park in London better because of its sheer size and beauty. Then again, Hyde Park in Sydney has its own lovely charm.

All the photos on this post were taken using a Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS camera

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sketching Sydney

Compared to my previous trip to Sydney in Nov 2010, I did lesser sketches during my recent trip to Sydney this May. Anyway, please find a compilation of my humble sketches. Which one is your favourite?

I noticed that I have an inclination to sketch structures and landscapes with interesting textures and shapes.

Before I conclude this post, here is a photograph of the tools that I use for my sketching exercises in Sydney this May. My lesson learnt whenever I sketch is simply: Good practice makes perfect. So please make time to practise.

All the photos on this post were taken using a Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS camera

Monday, July 18, 2011

10 May 2011: Sydney Aquarium

10 May 2011 (Tue):

Sydney Aquarium's opening hours are from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. My mother and I were advised that we could visit the Sydney Aquarium at night if we prefer to spend the earlier part of the day visiting the other attractions. It would be good to set aside at least two hours to spend at the Sydney Aquarium. As such, I recommend that visitors visit the Sydney Aquarium by 6.00 p.m.

I prefer the Sydney Aquarium to the neighbouring Sydney Wildlife World. Perhaps I have a hidden love for the marine sea creatures swimming away in the waters.

Yet again, the See Sydney Attractions Pass helped my mother and I save on the admission. Usually, the admission would be AUS$34.95 per adult. Pass holder once again gets free entry into the Sydney Aquarium.

My favourite animal was the dugong. I was practically following the dugong for at least 15 minutes! Admittedly, I like the music that was played at that section of the Sydney Aquarium.

The seahorses and the coral reefs section caught my attention as well. They looked simply stunning under the florescent lights.

The shark section was also pretty interesting. However, due to limited time once again, I did not learn as much about sharks as I would like to. I left the Sydney Aquarium with a new knowledge that while most sharks give birth to live young, there are some sharks that lay eggs. There was a shark hatchery inside the Sydney Aquarium that had caught my attention. Check it out if you are there please.

For myself, it may be quite a while before I visit the Sydney Aquarium. I would prefer to visit Port Stephen to see dolphins and whales swimming in the wild! I miss my two visits to Port Stephen which were made in Nov 2010.

Sydney Aquarium
Aquarium Pier, Darling Harbour
Tel: (+61) 2 9262 2300

All the photos on this post were taken using a Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS camera

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Ice-ball challenge

Ice-ball, from the Singapore Food Trail.
Special thanks to Belinda Tan for giving permission to use this photo taken by her.

What was it like to eat an ice-ball? I have read about and heard of people reminiscing fondly of the days when they ate ice-ball. Yet I did not have a clue how the experience would be, until I visited the Singapore Food Trail (located at the Singapore Flyer) recently.

The Singapore Food Trail is a food establishment with an interesting concept to let its guests relive the nostalgic days of Singapore in the 1960s. One of the interesting food available at the dessert stall is the ice-balls. To enjoy an ice-ball against the backdrop of makeshift stalls along the roadside can make one feel as if one has taken the time-machine back to the 1960s' Singapore.

I learnt that in the 1960s, ice-balls were sold at 5 cents each. One of my friends, Eastcoastlife, told me that in those days, a 5-cents ice-ball was her half-a-day's pocket money. She shared that there were occasions when she secretly ate an ice-ball against the advice of her mother. Yet, many of the times, her mother still found out about her secret treats to ice-ball. How could this be so? The coloured marks left behind by the melting coloured ice-ball had betrayed her.

Chun See who writes the blog Good Morning Yesterday has a very interesting post, titled Ice Balls, that helped me to visualize how an ice-ball could be made in the past. Go and check out the photo of the first generation ice-shaver. Apparently, the ice-shaver was made up of a wooden block with nails on it.

Fast forward to the 2011, I could have the pleasure to witness how ice-balls are made. I have a hunch that the management who have made the Singapore Food Trail possible are likely people who have very fond memories of ice-balls.

Placing the filling into the ice-ball.

Adding the colourings.

My grandmother told me that the way to eat an ice-ball was to suck the icy liquid from the ice-ball. After which, one could eat the ice. During this interesting endeavour to savour the ice-ball, there would be an anticipation to find delightful 'treasures' inside the ice-balls. My mother told me that in the past, fillings such as red-bean and peanut could be found inside an ice-ball. The popular 'treasure' appeared to be the attap-chee.

I had my first hands-on experience taking up the challenge of eating an ice-ball on 7 Jul 2011. Eating a colourful ice-ball was a slightly messy affair that required the skillful act of sucking the ice-ball so as to drain it of the melting ice. In addition, I had to train my bare hands to tolerate the cold from the ice-ball. My verdict? Eating an ice-ball is a fun and challenging experience. I felt proud that I had finished enjoying one entire ice-ball without using a spoon!

If you like to have your hands on an ice-ball, please join me in the ice-ball challenge: Eat an entire ice-ball with the mouth and by holding the ice-ball with your bare-hands. No spoon please.

The reward is, the fun and excitement that comes with eating the ice-ball.

Singapore Food Trail
Singapore Flyer
30 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039803

Opening hours:
10.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday,
10.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Also see: Singapore Food Trail: Reliving the good old 1960s once more