Tuesday, September 09, 2008

So much to see So little time... Sydney 4th and last day

....Woke up just after 5am and dragged myself out of bed freshened up… grabbed my gear and caught a cab to the opera house… There was loud squawking sounds coming from the trees at the park near the opera house… it sounded like cockatoos… anyway, I walked around to get some nice shots of the opera house but thought that the best view was still near the waterfront restaurant… So I walked all the way around the Circular Quay and got into position…. The opera house is such a beautiful building lah
(above taken from a cab at around 5am.........)

While looking through the lens of my camera I notice a flock of birds flying around the Opera House… It was what I suspected… Sulfur crested white cockatoos… They were so noisy I could hear them from where I was standing…. The flock broke into two with one bunch flying across the Harbour Bridge and the second bunch flying across to where I was standing… It felt so strange seeing these wild birds in the city… so cool lah… but they are one noisy bunch…. Made my way back to the hotel to meet Fiona for breakfast…. We didn’t have much time because Fabrice wanted to meet us for a debriefing and discussion… So we walked towards Chinatown but didn’t find anything open yet… we walked an extra block and found a crowded café… The food wasn’t good at all …. I guess it was crowded because it was the only one open…… after breakfast we continued our walk and found Chinatown. Most of it was closed but we suspected that it would all slowly open towards lunch time. I witnessed the strangest thing on our walk back to the hotel

Spent about an hour and a half with Fabrice at the hotel lounge ….. then we had the rest of the day to ourselves… It was about 1pm and our flight was at 8.30pm….

So we went back to Chinatown to eat Dim Sum. Yes, you guessed it… I have never eaten Dim Sum before….. and I really liked it. Fiona explained that the shop we were in was very much a Hong Kong style Dim Sum…. But it has been westernized a little cos they were serving fried chicken wings too…. Kekeke.. actually that was so funny… what was funnier was that we found a shop called Mamak… and they were selling typical Mamak food like Roti Canai, Roti Sardin, Roti Telur and other variation of Roti Canai. Of cos Nasi Lemak too and nnot for getting Mamak Mee Goreng…. Ok so it’s a Mamak stall but there wasn’t a single Mamak fellow in there …. The whole place was run by Chinese dudes… It was hilarious seeing a Chinese Dude twirl roti canai…. Fiona and I could stop laughing as I took a few shots of him making roti canai… The shop was pack though and people were queuing up waiting for their food. They were looking at us probably thinking what’s wrong with us… kekeke

We took a cab to the Opera House because Fiona hasn’t seen it up close …. And I cant get enough exploring the Opera House… The atmosphere at the Circular Quay was so much more different. The place was so lively and buzzling with people. We went inside and visited the gift shop and then walked around looking at this fascinating building…

It was getting cold again so we stopped at a café to get a hot drink and also sit down to rest and take in the scenery around the Harbour…. … After awhile we went back towards the hotel and walked around Pitt Street to get some souvenirs… Standard lah… we are tourist after all…

…. Sigh!!... it was time to go home….Walked back to the hotel and got our bags, then took a cab to the airport... After eating McD’s (yuck!) and visiting the Duty Free shop where I bought perfume for Rose..… Interestingly they asked me to pick it up once I pass security…. Maybe that should have got me thinking hmmm would I get into trouble for the duty free liquor I had in my hand luggage??!... All I can say is I made a mistake of buying duty free liquor coming into Australian then carried it in my hand luggage while getting out of Australia… yes yes im sure u frequent flier people would be slapping your palm on your head… and saying Bodoh punya orang!! (stupid fellow) … made our way to security…..

Well actually I got into trouble even before passing the metal detector. The security guy was like very curt towards me .... TAKE THE LAP TOP OUT!!! …. Then when I passed the metal detector …it beeped!!... GO BACK IN LINE!! ..EMPTY YOUR POCKETS!! TAKE YOUR JACKET OFF!!... then I pass thru and it beeps again!! WHAT ARE YOU CARRYING!! ….I said it might be my belt??!!... GET BACK IN LINE!!... REMOVE YOUR BELT!!... by that time they were announcing last call to board the plane… finally after removing my belt… I passed the metal detector without setting it off… My things where all over the place… my bag was on one end of the line …. WHOSE BAG IS THIS!!! WHOSE BAG IS THIS!!... its mine, I replied… MAY I GO THROUGH IT!! (Said a Security lady like as if I had a choice)…. She takes out the bottle and slams it on the stainless steel counter…. YOU CANT TAKE THIS IN!! YOU HAVE TO CHECK IT IN…!!!... (well its too late now)… I explained that it was duty free and that I had the receipt but to no avail…. Then Fiona gets into the negotiation but I think that kind of pissed her off even more… Then she starts taking everything out of my bag and then shoved it back in… but withheld the bottle… sign!!! Oh well… so much for Bundaberg Rum….

We board the plane and find out that there’s still one more passenger that hasn’t boarded… then as I sat in my seat I suddenly realized that I didn’t pick up the perfume after the security check…. Fiona suggested asking the flight crew if I could go and pick it up… And when I asked them they then asked me to ask the boarding officer… … and when I asked him he tell me that I have 10 seconds to pick it up so run!!... funny chap… When I get to the pick up counter there isn’t anyone there… so I get behind the counter and start looking for it… my taught were racing and thinking what if they arrest me for being behind this counter… … they will interrogate me and will miss my flight … and im going to be jailed … the adrenalin rush was making me giddy….

As I got into the plane the boarding guy shouted CHAMPION!!!... … what an embarrassing night… I just want to go home!!.... but unfortunately it was a transit flight with an hours stop over at Brisbane....
It was turbulence all the way to Brisbane.... and while were landing there... the plane was swinging side to side..... i kid u not!!!.... i swear one set of the plane's tyres touched down before the next set did.... ...arrrggghhh!!...
The flight back to KL wasnt any better either.... turbulence!!! turbulence!!! and more turbulence!!!... i tell you... it was so good getting home.... dumped all my bags and got into bed............... WHAT?? Anwar caught for sodomy? Permatang Pauh? Government take over?... Imigrants??? ISA????... sigh!!!!!!! theres no place like home.........
view pics HERE
or view the slide show below

Freezing in Sydney - Days 2 & 3

… it was a lovely morning lah… even though it was freezing even with the heater at maximum… I think it was the best sleep I had had in a long time…… Wanted to wait for Fiona to arrive at the hotel then go for breakfast with her but I was way too hungry to wait …Went down to the lobby and found out that the buffet breakfast is 17 aussie … looked at what they had and thought…nope…im venturing out…. Went into a nice cozy diner not too far from the hotel and had a lovely English Breakfast for only 10 aussie… superb breakfast with real bacon…. Luckily I didn’t wait for Fiona because the taxi she took from the airport took her to the wrong Travelodge Hotel…. what a stupid cabby…he even had a map…. Well anyway… once she got to the hotel I gave her the bad news that check-in is only 2pm. Dumped her things in my room and I waited in the lobby as she freshened up. Then I took her out for breakfast.

(the worse panorama pic ever... we'll just call it creative shall we... nyway this is the view from my room)

Fabrice picked us up around 10am. As Fiona chatted with Fabrice, I took in the scenery while we drove to the office. They don’t have as many highways as Klang Valley but their tolls are not cheap (Dollar to dollar) but then again most Malaysians have to pass a few tolls a day which I guess would come up to the same amount. Anyway the jams are just as bad over there.

(My shiny self, Fiona, Jack, Andy and Fabrice)

Lunch was nice but I cant seem to remember what I ate… oh oooh… hope I can remember the rest of my trip… We had lunch at a café at a public golf course not too far from the office. After lunch we had a few more sessions at the office then we took a drive with Valerie and Fabrice to visit ‘HYstandard’, a forklift dealer about an hours drive from the office. When we left HYstandard it was bout 5.45pm and it was starting to get very cold. As usual it was the wind that was the culprit…. Valerie took as back to the hotel because she lived nearer to the city. She took us through the main roads instead of the highway to show us what the suburbs look like in Sydney… she also took us to Balmain, at the edge of a river which had a fantastic view of the city. We also got to cross the ANZAC bridge as we got into the city…
(Fiona takes good pictures of me.... heres me in Balmain with the Harbour Brigde as background)

After getting back to the hotel, Fiona wanted to go to for sushi at a Japanese restaurant recommended by a friend of hers which was along Oxford Street. We walked 3 blocks but didn’t find it… so we decided to back track and have tapaz at on a Spanish restaurant … This would be the first time I am eating Tapas… (yes…am adventures but im not adventures with food)…. I loved it… especially the prawn dish which were delicious and so fresh… After dinner we thought of walking to Chinatown but the wind was starting to pick up… it was getting really really cold… even the locals were saying it was exceptionally cold for winter… the weather is screwed up I tell you!!... We decided to just head back to the hotel and call it a nite… we needed to be in the office early the next day anyway…. And I was also extremely tired too… otherwise I would have ventured out to Darling Habour near Chinatown…

As I lay in bed I looked at my finger nails which looked so blue… pulled up my socks and snuggled into my comforter… … damn ‘Chasing Cars’ is still ringing in my ear…. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Day 3.......…

We decided to save time and take a cab to office so that we could start early…. We had sessions lined up back to back and the day went by really fast… Andy, Jack, Val and Fabrice took us across the street at a University campus… walking there and back I hear strange bird sounds in the trees …. Found colourful parrot looking birds high up in the trees.. (did a google search; they’re called Lorikeets) … nope sorry didn’t have my zoom lens with me…

After lunch it was more sessions… it was tiring… We finished nearly at 6pm. Fabrice then treated us for dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant at the Circular Quay across the Sydney Opera House. Fiona and me were just blown away by the view… it was so lovely lah… Anyway the restaurant had an open air concept but because it was winter, there was a canopy put up with outdoor heater lamps put up everywhere… I tell you … if you every want to woo a girl in Sydney… this would be the most romantic place ever… with its ambience and view of the harbour. The seafood was so so only (Malaysia still better :) but it tasted so fresh lah… especially the prawns…

Walking back to the car after dinner was very difficult because it was so freaking cold!!!!. The drive back to the hotel was interesting because we noticed all the nightclubs where packed and the city looked lively….compared to other nights….. The girls were all in their sexy outfits which puzzled me because I really wondered how they can wear skimpy outfits while waiting in line to get into the club…in the freaking cold!!!!... I really wondered….. but of cos I wasn’t complaining lah….…

went to bed early cos i wanted to take pics of the sunrise ........ which is at 5am!!!!...
to be continued.......
view pics of Day 2 and 3 HERE
or view the slide below;

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Leaving an Impression in Sydney.... Day 1

When i heard that i was being sent to Sydney for training i was like... really ah!!! yeah!!... then i thought woah!! sure or not?? im i ready ?? Training for what you ask??... well i am in training to be a product specialist in Hyster Forklifts.... So if you're looking for a forklift be it from pallet movers to container handlers... give me a call...

So... how do you prepare for Sydney in winter.... A bunch of assumptioners did go down there for world youth day to hangout with Pope Benedict... so i asked around.... and all they cld say was awesome and it was cold but bearable.... Well they were right about the awesome part and the freezing part but the bearable part i dont know lah..... ...

It was quite a rush after work last Friday (obviously not last friday) to collect a few things before going to the airport......by the time i got home i only had 25mins to get ready and do some last minute packing.... the cabby had to wait 10min .... The drive to the airport was filled with thoughts of whether i had taken everything or not....

Checked my bag in and then headed to my standard makan place (food place) in the airport, Burger King..... Sitting there eating my fries...it felt strange... This is the first time im traveling alone… so it was a bit strange for me… Actually another colleague of mine was supposed to join me on this trip but she had some issues with her visa.

Hmmm anyway I went around the satellite city a little bit before getting on board the 747-400... got a window seat next to the wings…yeah!!...hmmm.. Got some interesting pics but at the cost of not being able to go to the loo... The ‘uncle’ next to me drank whisky like there was no tomorrow. I stop counting after 5 cups. I tried waking him up during flight but he was out like a light bulb and only woke up during landing in Sydney.

The flight we had a lot of turbulence so it was bumpy...I had difficulty sleeping... I think I had about 3 hours sleep out of the 8.5 hour flight.... But I had the moon as company (seen in pic on the left) ... Watched a few episodes of Smallville but I got bored so I just selected a few songs and just kept playing them over and over,…. Had the song ‘Chasing Cars’ stuck in my head for the rest of the week…… Landed at Sydney airport at about 8am and got out into 13 degrees Celsius without my jacket… like hero like that… interestingly I was ok… but while i was getting my jacket out of the bag… wind started blowing and I could have sworn that it went right through my bones…and out the otherside... The thick shirt I was wearing on top of my t-shirt obviously wasn’t enough…. On went the jacket and a hippidy hop into the taxi and I was off to my hotel, Travelodge Sydney.

(the view of Sydney City from the plane as it was taxing)

The taxi driver started chatting with me asking a lot of Qs… When he found out I was Catholic he asked if I knew about the World Youth Day in Sydney a few weeks ago… blah blah blah blah… I was like woah this cabby is chatty… He also explained that he was a Falun Gong practitioner and how it has improved his life…. Then he went on about how in China his fellow Falun Gong followers are persecuted and even killed. Well im sure we all have heard how people in china are forced to follow everything the communist government forces on to them…. They are not free to practice their fate and beliefs freely and are treated inhumanly. Anyway you can google about it or go HERE for more details.

Well anyway I was really really tired and zombified and it didnt help that when I reached the hotel to check-in I was informed that the room will only be ready at 2pm … it was 9.30am and my pick up to the office was at 10am... sigh,... i cldnt even freshen up properly...... So I put my luggage in storage and just lightly freshened up (yes I brushed my teeth too)… … and then waited in the lobby…… for almost two hours…!!!

(The AMP tower and St Mary's Church)

I only met Fabrice at about noon after some problems with the receptionist who didn’t pass me my messages from him …The worst part was the receptionist kept telling him I hadn’t checked-in yet … OFCOS lah I didn’t check-in yet when they themselves know nobody can check-in before 2pm!!! What was the point of me signing the receipts and giving security deposit and my handphone number for then….Bodoh betul lah!! And I was there all the while just across from them… Stupid fools!!... they don’t allow me to check in then say I haven’t checked in AARRRggggHH!!!... anyway Fabrice called the Malaysian office and got my number… then got a hold of me and was confused with the whole receptionist thing and not to mention pissed…. Anyway he informed me that he will take about 40minutes to reach the hotel…since i was fed up of waithing in the lobby and bored to hell ..i took my tiny map booklet thingy andwent out to explore explore a little bit lah… then when I was headed back to the hotel, I took a wrong turn and got lost …… then it was Fabrice’s turn to wait in the lobby :P

… Anyway… Fabrice supervised my training in Sydney. So after he picked me up I was pretty much in the office for the rest of the day.

You know, for some reason…. I was really hyper… must have been because of lack of sleep or something… I was just not myself… I shld have know I wasn’t myself when I got lost in the city even with a map..(even if it was tiny)… and while in Fabrice’s office… I walked right into his glass wall…. Not only was it embarrassing… with everyone including the GM coming out of his office to investigate the loud BANG!…. it hurt like hell…. My forehead and left cheek was inflamed… my glasses got bent and a little scratched….. There was a nice round smear on the glass wall… What a way to leave an impression …sigh!! Everyone was shocked and worried if I was ok or not…. I just kept saying im ok!! im ok!!… while trying to bend my glasses back into shape… Actually … I wasn’t too sure if I was ok… my head was spinning but after awhile the room stopped moving and I stopped holding the table for balance……I was embarrassed and bruised but I was ok. Felt even better after a late lunch with Fabrice… then continued with the rest of the training.. I did get some good news during lunch. My colleague Fiona got her visa sorted and was booked on the flight to Sydney that night and will arrive in the morning the next day…

Finished around 5pm and took a taxi ride back to the hotel. This time I got a Lebanese taxi driver who was very inquisitive about where I was from… and wondered if I was born in India or Malaysia… He seemed more interested in India then Malaysia… . As we chatted away…the sun went down really fast. The journey from the office is about 40 minutes to the city, so by the time I got back to the hotel it was about 6pm. … everything was closed or closing… and it was dark…

First think I did when I checked-in was to take a nice long hot shower…. Oh I did ask the reception if I had any messages just to spite them….pandis!! The room was pretty decent and clean and according to the map I had, the location was not too bad. After sorting my things I decided to take a walk and find something to eat….. but after looking at the map… I sort of thought… hmmm Sydney harbour seemed near… maybe I will walk over there and take in the scenery. I walked passed a 24hrs pizzeria along Liverpool street and decided since I wasn’t really hungry I would eat on the way back from the harbour.

First thing I noticed is that Sydney was quite hilly… and I was doing more downhills then I was doing uphills. That wasn’t good because that meant I will be doing more uphills when I walk back…… everytime I reached a landmark I would think hmmm shld I just head back to the hotel… but no… I went on… determined to reach the harbour. I cld have taken a taxi… but im cheap that way… besides its very expensive ok….. Town Hall looked nice… and The Queen Victoria Mall was like wow… Too bad I didn’t have my tripod lah…especially when I reached the iMac shop which was really nice… It was like a glass box filled with iMac products which you can touch and feel and even use…. Too bad the photos I took of it didn’t come out well.

(The interior of Queen Mary's Mall)

I can’t remember how long I walked, all I remember is that it was freezing….. I reached an area called The Rocks. I had read that it was the oldest part of Sydney… that’s where I caught a glimpse of the Harbour Bridge……. checking with the map I decided to walk down to the pier and there she was….. The Sydney Opera House… a white marble ship floating on the water across the harbour…. (if only I had my tripod…sigh!!... I managed to brace myself on the lamp post and railing to get a few shots…)

(a tall boat docked at the restaurant after a day of sailing)

(The Harbour Bridge from across the Circular Quay)

I then decided to walk around the Circular Quay to get to the foot of the Opera House. It was quite a walk but when I got to the steps of the Opera House… a silence fell over me… it actually felt so peaceful being there…I just sat there looking up at her… wow!!... maybe because there wasn’t anyone around except maybe one or two people around braving the winter wind like me…. The wind was really getting to me…. The camera felt cold against my palm as I took a few shots…. Hmmm I should have brought gloves… I then went up close to the arch and touched the marble tiles that covered the famous structure …. Her construction looked so simple yet it was so amazing…... just amazing….

Well it was getting late… actually it was only 9.30pm but it felt like midnight... I was really cold and hungry so I took the long walk back to the pizza parlour and got two huge slices of pepperoni and a nice cup of hot chocolate and headed back to the hotel… snuggled into bed after a nice hot shower ................what a day.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Go HERE or view the slide show below for pictures from my first day in Sydney.