We started Tuesday with a lovely (…not!) breakfast provided by the Ibis Hotel for 5 bucks per person before returning our car and taking the flight to Sydney. White toast, butter, jam and a tea or coffee was on the menu. We’re somehow a bit fed up with this white toast bread which seems to be everyone’s favorite here (but yeah, American will not be better we heard…). But for once we had at least a bit of fun with this “classical” Aussie breakfast: the pancake machine. Imagine a machine like those producing coffee or hot water with a press on button but for pancakes – pretty funny (and so-so yummy it was). The drop-off of our VW Jetta at the airport was again unspectacular. After a short 2-minute deal we went checking in for our flight and got airborne 60min later. After a flight time of one hour we landed during some thunderstorm weather in Sydney. We were both amazed by the approach since the airport is very close to the city center and we (or at least the boy who always has the window seat) could enjoy some panorama views of the city center. After a bumpy landing we took the train to the center station and walked to our accommodation for the next four nights. We “enjoyed” a romantic walk through all those packed streets with 30kgs luggage and a light drizzle rain for around 20mins before we finally reached our backpackers. Yes, we chose a backpackers again since hotels in Sydney are really a rip-off in our view (bottom rates at, say 120-150$ a night at least?). Anyway, we will be camping in New Zealand for 5 weeks after this so don’t raise the standard too much ya. The room we got was a private double with shared facilities, maybe 10m2 big. Really nothing fancy, a small bed, a dated and rundown shelf & cupboard and stained carpet on the floor but ya, it suits our needs and it saves money. The rest of the day was unspectacular. Since rain was pouring down the entire afternoon we stayed in our room for afternoon/evening and only went out for a lunch and dinner. We were happy to know that we will be staying at this place for four nights, not because it’s perfectly nice, but because we got tired of checking in and out every day. It may sound ridiculous but travelling got us a bit tired recently. Especially sight-seeing every day, finding a new place to stay every evening, and packing all our stuff before check out the next morning felt like a constant rush.
On Wednesday we enjoyed the luxury not being required to check out and got up late. We then had a brunch at famous Din Tai Fong (a Taiwanese restaurant particularly famous for its fresh dumplings) which was just around the corner (somehow a bit suspicious that all those Asian restaurants are so close by – wondering why YinRu choose this backpackers to stay at…not a bit intended?hm?). After getting refueled with these lovely dumplings and a fried rice we walked a few kilometers and made our way to the circular quay where Sydney’s most iconic opera house and harbor bridge is located at. But there was a guest who stole these two landmarks’ limelight: the Queen Mary 2, a 350m long transocean cruise boat. We were lucky since the second largest cruise boat in the world only arrived in the morning and would be leaving in a few hours. We had a quick chat later on with the security guys and got to know that this boat features space for up to 3’000 guests, hosts more than 10 restaurants, a theater and casino and many other amenities for those willing to pay a cruise price starting at 20’000$ per person for this 113 days around the world trip. We discussed if a world trip like this would not have been something for us. Maybe in 30-40 years? This time definitely not. We continued to browse around the quay, enjoyed some street artists’ shows and ended up at the Sydney Café for a longer break. Located the 5th floor of the customs house, it offers spectacular views of the harbor front, superb food and service. Definitely recommended (by us) although a bit pricey. After resting for almost two hours at the café we put our feet on the streets again, discovered the CBD area, shopped a bit and went back to the harbor front to say bye to Queen Mary 2. It was a unique moment to witness how the boat navigated through Sydneys’ harbor at sunset and how long the echo of her horns could be heard in the entire area. We had an exceptional late lunch at another Taiwanese restaurant near our backpackers (yes, we mainly eat Asian food now, knowing that we cannot cook all those lovely meals in our campervan in New Zealand we want to get as much as possible these days). All in all we might have not see as many things as one would usually in one day in Sydney. We enjoyed slowing down a bit, taking more time and not rushing to hunt one sight after another. The presence of Queen Mary 2 though was a true highlight of this day.
Thursday was again another day waking up as late as we wish! How lovely! To start off the day we went for Dim Sum breakfast at Marigold Restaurant. It was a huge restaurant that could easily cater 2/300 people. Well we went there for weekday brunch so there were not so many people but we could imagine that on weekends this place could be pretty booked. It was a traditional Cantonese style Dim Sum and reasonably priced. After getting some shrimp dumplings, shu mai, char seow bao dancing in our stomachs, we walked to Darling Harbour. We had some detour walking there as we were unaware of the construction sites in the area. The sun in Australia is pretty strong so we always make sure we put on sunscreen before walking in the sun for long time (15mins is long without sunscreen we’d say?). Yinru especially is soaking up the UV quite a bit. Not that she minds it but she would probably be recognized as an Indonesian if she were in Malaysia. We went to Sydney Fish Market from Darling Harbour, as this fish market is known as a must-visit here. We could smell the fish from 100meters away and it reminded us of Roman’s mom, as she is not the biggest fan of seafood. The Fish Market instead seems like a Chinatown to us, only worse. The employees of diverse restaurants were almost all Chinese/Asians (only saw one “white” person there)! Tour buses came in with dozens of Chinese all the time. We have nothing against the Chinese but against wasting food and shouting in public…but well lets not go into details. We also saw how lobsters were prepared: they were cut into pieces ALIVE! An employee would take a huge lobster out of a bag, cut the lobster into half while it was still moving! We were so sad and questioned ourselves how cruel we humans are sometimes. Knowing that it is maybe not the right/best thing to do, we still had a small lunch there (instead of some vegetarian restaurant maybe). We then headed back to Darling Harbour and spent some time just observing people around. We initially planned to visit the Sea Life, like a big zoo but for fish etc but decided that it was too expensive. In the evening we met up with a friend from Sydney who we knew from Taiwan, Pamela who showed us a bit of nice bars and happening places in Sydney. We enjoyed sunset view at harbor front and head back to Chinatown for our dinner. We shared a Laksa at a hawker center run by Malaysians at the Sussex Center. By the way, our biggest highlight of the day: We found out today that there was a free bus running in CBD area! Having walked kilometers yesterday as we did not know about this bus, we did feel like we were not the smartest people when we learnt about the bus (but maybe we’re healthier because of these few kilometers of walking?) 😉
TGIF! It is Friday! Well honestly for us, which day of the week does not play a big role as we are basically on holiday EVERDAY 😀 the difference is that on certain days of the week you notice people start drinking in the afternoon, buses run longer and some people seem happier. So you know, ah, it must be Friday! We talked to some people living here and it seems that Work-Life balance is very important to them. We have seen people started drinking at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon so there must be quite some “balance” there. Maybe they have had early shift behind them which could explain the early afternoon drinks, but you get the picture. So on Friday afternoon we saw bars started to get crowded, more traffic and people in city area etc. In Switzerland maybe getting off at 5pm is considered early enough. But of course compared to countries like Korea and Japan Switzerland is quite humane, and Australia is very humane 😉 We started our day off late, wanting more “travel-life-balance” so we took our time, had more time to dine, just enjoyed sitting in a park watching people and birds. A lot of birds. Sea gulls actually. They can be pretty annoying at times. When someone tries to feed them the whole colony would fly towards you! They could also look quite funny too when they fight for territory and make funny noises. Australia, being a hugeee country, also has weird people sometimes, like everywhere else in the world. In Chinese we say “one type of rice feeds hundred types of people”. We have seen a (weird) guy wearing same clothes, standing at the same spot, at circular quay for third day in a row. Each time we passed by we saw him. We also saw another guy, probably homeless and drunk, sitting in the middle of the road and all the cars had to avoid him. So behind the fabulous and relaxed side of Australia, there are also many other sides of Australia yet to be discovered. Highlight of the day was enjoying the sunset at Mrs Macquaries point which overlooked both the landmarks of Sydney: the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Roman took some amazing shots there. While the man works hard with the camera, the woman was busy being silly singing to the opera (a new theatre had its premier right at Mrs Macquaries point so we could hear everything). We ended the day with a yummy Japanese dinner! Now that is our work-life balance 😉
After travelling in Australia for one month now, we are contended to see what we have seen and it was indeed a very pleasant experience. We have travelled pretty intensively and have yet only seen a small part of this country. The Aussie experience is great and we thank you for the lovely weather, kind people, diversified food and cute animals (kangaroos, koalas and kookaburras are our favorites)! We will see you again, and till then, CHEERS MATE! Next stop: New Zealand.