Down Town Sydney Town: Part Two
In my last post I reported about the first five days of our trip. The food, the friends and family and the wedding. But there was more…
Day 6: Movie day. When you have a huge tv that has a 3D funktion, comfy couches and a great sound system, you would too. We invited the cousins over, watched a couple of action films and in between had some Domino’s pizza. It really is the little things that one misses when you’ve moved out of home and so far away, too.
At night, we met up with my school friends at Mizuya (Japanese Restaurant/Karaoke Bar) and had dinner, minus the karaoke. Michael had his first sticker-photo-booth-experience and enjoyed it. Here’s us being super Asian:
Afterwards we headed off to the Opera House to take some night shots and were pleasantly surprised with fireworks (see last picture in my last post).
Day 7: During the day we relaxed and hung out with the family at home and in the evening we met up with my ex-colleagues at Criniti’s at Darling Harbour. Let’s just say we had a lot of pizza.
Day 8: Mum’s birthday. We went to the unveiling of the Mercedes CLA and it was a funny feeling coming from Stuttgart, the home of Mercedes, to watch an unveiling in Sydney. We also met the sausage guy who was from Hamburg and spoke German with him. It was a nice event but we had no time to lose because mum’s birthday dinner at Ribs n’ Rumps was on afterwards. Still, we couldn’t resist a hot dog, a few pieces of woodfired pizza and a gelato.
My first time at Rn’R but it was a goodie. I shared a Ribs and Rump plate with my dad and just managed to finish it. Here’s us not looking so amused by the bibs:
In the evening we brought out the cake we made for mum’s birthday. Somehow I don’t have a picture of it here but it was delish. It was a Oreo chocolate fudge ice cream cake. Quite easy to make and very heavy. One regular-sized (whatever that is, really) slice is really enough for one person.
Day 9: Our second-last day and we had a little gathering at home and one of the best foods ever. Popiah. It’s like a giant spring roll only you cook the ingredients and just wrap them up in the spring roll pastry and eat it ‘raw’. It’s healthy and oh so good.
Day 10: Our last day in Sydney and we got ourselves ready, had some Shanghai dumplings with the family in Parramatta and then we were off to the airport for the long journey home.
It was a very, super short holiday but it was so worth it to be home for a bit and to enjoy mum’s fine cooking and to spend time with family and friends. Looking forward to our next time there already! And of course, I’m hungry after writing this post so until next time, keep safe everybody!
Down Town Sydney Town
I realise that although I reviewed British Airways, I didn’t actually report back on our trip to Sydney.
It was a short, jam-packed 10-day trip plus a couple of days flying and even though many said it was almost not worth it, it totally was because it had been about 2.5 years since I’d been back.
We planned our trip based on what food we would eat and on the people we would meet up with.
Day 1: We arrived in the morning and after visiting Shaun at work we headed home and had lunch: Korean noodle soup with pork. Dinner was of course dumplings and man is it good to have home-made dumplings! I am drooling just thinking about them. We didn’t even really have jetlag which was amazing and then eventually it was off to bed after a stress-free day.
Day 2: After some successful shopping at DFO with my parents, we visited my friend who was to be married and had a nice afternoon at her place with her then fiancé and their British Shorthair (cat). In the evening, it was Mamak. Asian food just isn’t the same in Germany, and there is a distinct lack of Singaporean/Malaysian food in Stuttgart.
Day 3: The day of the wedding. Shaun and Justin prepared a gigantic breakfast of chorizo, bacon, eggs, caramelised onions, hash browns and bread. Let’s just say that by the time the wedding dinner rolled around, we still could not eat. Still, it was a good time and I got to meet up with the bride, her husband and a mutual friend of ours who no longer lives in Sydney. She’s Austrian and I spoke to her in German for the first time which totally spun her out!
Day 4: We had a party with a few friends, family and our neighbours at home. A feast including chicken curry, noodles, and some other staples in our family. It was a great night organised by our parents and it was nice to meet and hang out over mum’s amazing cooking.
Day 5: Some of this may now be mixed because we had pork belly once at a restaurant and once at home, but I think this is the day that Justin made some home-made pork belly that was delicious but extremely filling.
I think that’s enough to fill your bellies by overloading your eyes for today, so until next time, if you’re going to try these foods…at least give yourself a chance, do this ‘diet’ over a few weeks!
Here’s Sydney welcoming us home:
British Airways: A Review
So we’re back from Sydney after many gruelling flights, the last of which saw us in the air for about 28 hours. We flew there and back STR-LHR-SIN-SYD-SIN-LHR-STR.
Needless to say, it was important that we were as comfortable as possible.
I’d flown long-haul with BA once before but that was alone, and it’s nice to travel in a pair. You don’t chat to other people as much but you also don’t have to go all ninja to protect your stuff whenever you need to go to the bathroom. You just say, ‘Hey, partner, can you watch my stuff?’ if at all.
STR-LHR and back, we were in a small aircraft, all leather seats, quite old, but comfortable. The flight is only about 1.5 hours or so, making it nothing compared to the other two flights. We got a snack both times, and on the way back it was a pastrami croissant with American style mustard mayonnaise and cheese.
For the flight LHR-SIN-SYD we had a brand new aircraft, the 777-300ER. It was a bit of a freaky situation when the pilot announced that they were having some technical difficulties due to the fact that it was the very first time flying this particular aircraft. But, they solved all of that. Cool.
The journey was comfortable and it felt pretty darn good to sit in a brand new aircraft, all squeaky clean and shiny. The entertainment system was new and although this is not a new idea, it was good to be able to charge my phone via USB. I hadn’t uploaded any movies/shows onto my phone but the shows available were great. On the way to Sydney we watched 2 Guns and The Heat and thankfully got some sleep in too.
On the way back we didn’t have the ‘new’ aircraft anymore, but it was still quite a comfortable journey. Both times we had two seats in the middle section where there were only ever three seats, meaning there was no jumping over other passengers or constantly having to stand up for them. The joys of travelling in pairs!
The Food / The Service
I managed to finally get some pics on the return journey. The food was not bad with BA and the service was also good. Still not my favourite airline due to the lack of hot towels, but not a bad one either. They were generous with their drinks and food and were always happy to help.
Flying back, we had penne with grilled vegetables and cheese (or chicken with noodles), penne with minced meat (they love their penne!), an english breakfast (or omelette with cheese) and a bread roll sandwich.
There weren’t too many of these, and one steward even said that they don’t serve ‘snacks’ in our carriage. The little baggie on each seat contained headphones, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Socks and sleeping masks were available on request. Nothing special here.
British Airways was always good for short-haul trips, but after my experience with them long-haul, I’d say that they do a darn good job with that too. The staff on each of the 6 flights were lovely and helpful, the food was decent even if it wasn’t anything spectacular and the entertainment system was great despite the audio on two of my flights being faulty. I would love to try flying Business class with BA some day!
Visitors… from another country
It’s been a while since I’ve seen my sister, she, as you may already know has been living in Germany for the past few years and has been making some fantastic progress over in the land of steins and wurst (the most wurst). She’s picked up the language and from what I hear she is fluent and without accent so she’s like a news anchor, the two have purchased a new place of their own and just generally getting on well. Recently she has been over here with her husband, my new brother-in-law Michael and we’ve been having a great time catching up, talking about random crap and generally mucking about being silly most of the time.
We have had some of the best food since each day was planned way in advance based not on what we were going to do or see but what we were going to eat. Alot of the itinerary/menu was mum’s cooking as well as some new super hot skills acquired by another writer on this blog, Justin! He’s made us amazing pork belly and ensured everyone was having a good time. I have to say that overall it’s been a roaring success. Many late nights watching movies and playing games and having people over and celebrating Mum’s birthday has turned the Kok household into a whirlwind of activity and that is alright.
Steph and Michael will be making their way back to Germany on Saturday and I can’t help but feel that it’s time to plan the next European holiday and soonish because all I seem to be doing at the moment is play GTA, joke about with siblings and work.
Christmas is coming soon which means it’s going to be very hot around here. I have no leave or not much so I’m going to have to be in the office a lot, which isn’t half bad as long as the A/C is on.
Have some pictures to show that there is some sort of life behind the words:
Colours of the wind
Along with the change in temperature and the crazy winds that are terrorising northern Germany, Denmark and southern UK, comes autumn. And what an autumn indeed!
Autumn is just the best time in terms of scenery. Looking out from…practically anywhere, there are so many colours in the beautiful foliage that are mixed together, creating something that looks like a painting.
Speaking of autumn and beautiful foliage, here is a view from our new apartment, from the bedroom balcony. I was mainly trying to capture the trees with my phone so this view is a bit obstructed…
I can’t wait to move in! Our current view is amazing but it’ll be so good to have our own place!
And on the topic of colours, we’ve also picked the flooring for the bedrooms. It was a challenge to decide on a colour but we’re going for darker floors against white and gray.
Here are some ideas of what we’re going for:
Have a great week everyone! We’re so excited to be off to Sydney in less than a week!!
Autumn Wedding: The Ranch
We’re coming to the end of the wedding season, with just one wedding to go and it’s amazing how quickly time flies. 2013 has a grand total of 6 weddings and for next year there’s already another wedding lined up in January!
The very last wedding of the year for us is in Australia which is really exciting. We get to go back and we get to skip out on a bit of winter in exchange for sunny, summery Sydney without the crazy heat.
But before we get to that, I have to report on a wedding that we had about 2 weeks ago. American guy living in Germany since he was little marries a German lady, so of course, we celebrated at a ranch not too far from Stuttgart.
It was definitely a very different wedding to the ones that we have attended and photographed this year. Not only the location, but the food as well. As you can tell, ‘The Ranch’ was very much country style with stables and plenty of horses. The food was delicious with pulled pork, ribs and burgers on offer.
There were a few mishaps like the music not working for awhile, but I suppose, what’s a wedding without them? Still, I’m hoping that ours won’t have any!!
It rained a little but we still managed to get some nice shots of the lovely couple and had a great time.
We also attended a family wedding the next weekend (just over a week ago) and although we didn’t do the photography there, I will report on it next time because it was beautiful and had just about ZERO mishaps!
Til then, I will be working on planning for the new apartment 🙂
Heading home and what it’s like to be Voldemort…
It’s been over 2 years and because I’m going to uni in Germany, I haven’t had a chance to go back to Sydney since I arrived. It’s kind of weird to think about what’s changed since I’ve been away. I don’t think I’d know any of the hotspots anymore, and it’ll be weird to come back to a Sydney without its monorail.
Still, I am looking forward to being back, seeing my family and friends and discovering Sydney anew. They say home is where the heart is, and if that’s true, then I have two homes and both of them have bits of my heart, making me feel a bit like Voldy. Sydney is my first home, where I grew up, where my family is, where I can drive and where I feel at home and accepted because I’ve never had any racist remarks while I lived there. Then there is Stuttgart, a new home, where I am doing another degree, where I have learnt a new language and where my life is at the moment.
I guess this is what it’s like to be a global citizen nowadays. It means to be like Voldy. We travel around the world and sometimes leave parts of us behind.
We’re only there for 10 days, which means that it’s a packed schedule for us, but we’re hoping to squeeze in as many home-cooked meals as possible, as well as perhaps a quick trip to the Hunter Valley. This will also be the first time for me flying with British Airways on a long-haul flight, so I will definitely do another flight review.
I’m excited to head home and visit the other part of me that I left in Sydney. Til then, I’m hunkering down and working on my personal website/portfolio for my final project. I’ll be back when it’s all over!
Vivid Sydney Lighting Festival
The cold is slowly drifting over Sydney, days are shorter and nights ever-longer as we make our slow trudge through the heart of winter. I don’t approve of the darkness setting in just before I get home at 5:30pm. I bet it does the same thing for everyone, you feel like you’re not getting your entire dollars worth when the sun is already starting to set around 4. Thankfully this does give Sydneysiders something else to enjoy and due the celestial electricity energy savings we have more time to enjoy it too. Hello Vivid Sydney.
The concept is simple, setup some very interesting and high-definition projectors be it laser or digital and project it onto iconic buildings around say Circular Quay, where you can get a full audience and excellent view no matter which side of the quay you happen to be on. Each year the themes change and you can’t really say what to expect. You have music videos, cool graphics, graffiti, laser shows the sky is the limit.
Justin and I went to see what is what in the city of lights, excuse the quality of the images, tripod or not we don’t profess to be experts.
If you want to find out more about the event check out the official homepage: http://www.vividsydney.com/
Long-haul Travel Tips
Two days ago marked the one month point to my arrival in Singapore in December. In light of this, I am reposting something that I wrote a little while ago to prep for the long-haul flight. Some of these things may seem silly if you’re a seasoned long-haul traveller, but nonetheless I think that they are helpful!
Living in Germany and having most of my family in Australia and Singapore (and in general, an insatiable lust for travel), has made me a frequent long-haul traveller, mostly flying from Sydney to various parts of Europe and stopping over in Singapore. One of the longest distances I can imagine. I have made this trip many times, and will probably do it many more times.
I understand that there are only about a million articles on this topic, and a lot of it is just common sense, so I will keep this one personal as I really believe that it depends on the individual.
1. A good personal music (and/or media) selection.
This should consist of not just ‘good music’, but songs and/or artists that make you feel good and relaxed. I, for example, have a playlist called ‘Train rides’ because I used to commute 2 hours a day back in Sydney, but it’s really useful for flights too. I was on a Virgin flight once where you could also plug in a USB device and watch movies or listen to music. I hope this becomes more standard with time!
A lot of the articles about long-haul flights that I have read, say to drink plenty of water, but I say (from no health/medical perspective) just drink how ever much you need or usually drink. It sounds silly, I know, but if you drink more than usual because of an article you read online, the result is that you will just need to go to the toilet more frequently and will have a stomach full of liquid which will make you feel uncomfortable.
3. A good stretch.
I think you tend to notice it less when you’re sitting for such a long time, but your joints get quite sore and it really helps to walk around now and then (granted, there is limited space on a plane for this) or even to go to the bathroom when there is less of a queue to freshen up and have a good stretch.
In light of the last point, I think this one is an important one to keep in mind. I tend to leave my things at my seat (or, under the seat of the person in front of me, as we are instructed) when I get up, but seriously, don’t tempt fate. Take anything extremely valuable/important with you if possible, or stow it away in your bag in the overhead compartment. Also common sense, but don’t go flashing your valuables around during the flight, and check that all your things are still in the same place when getting ready to get off the plane.
5. Toilet breaks.
Many people seem to try to go to the bathroom at the same time, creating a huge backlog of people lining up around the toilets and inconveniencing those who really, REALLY need to go immediately. Spread them out, and try to avoid the typical rush times like the hour before the plane lands, and around meal/refreshment times. Also, consider that if you’re a person who needs to go to the bathroom frequently, choose an aisle seat.
6. Noise-cancelling headphones.
These feel like a bit of a luxury when flying because it gives your ears a break from the constant sound of the plane pushing its way through the air. I have a great pair of Sennheiser foldable, noise-cancelling headphones which can be used as regular headphones as well, with just the flick of a switch. They also can be used without the noise-cancelling function without using up your battery (unlike my Bose headphones), which is a real advantage and something to take into consideration when purchasing. Depending on which airline you fly with, you may also require an adaptor to allow you to plug your headphones into the armrest, but adaptors are pretty cheap and usually available at the airport.
7. Reading/entertainment materials.
Personally, I don’t read much on planes. But, if you’re so inclined, or don’t think you can handle the long journey without a good book or magazine, or even sudoku puzzles, then why not. Whatever makes you more comfortable when thinking about how you will occupy your time. Remember, to save weight, there is usually a good selection of movies and tv shows in-flight, and increasingly, airlines are also including a larger selection of games in their entertainment systems. A favourite of mine is playing Super Mario on Singapore Airlines.
8. Snacks and/or drinks during the flight.
Don’t be afraid to ask for them. On offer is usually a good selection of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and snacks to cater for a range of tastes, and also flight attendants who will bring them to you. Press the attendant button, make the most of these if you need them, but try not to annoy them! Plus, it’s free unlike on domestic flights!
This one is definitely an obvious one, but whenever you get the chance, get some shut eye. I tend to get sleepy right around take off, and grab the opportunity to have a nap. Even if it’s only for a short time, it’s better than nothing. If you’re a heavy sleeper, or don’t go to the bathroom so frequently, it’s an idea to choose a window seat. Also, try to time it so that it matches local time (if possible). This helps with jetlag, and means that when you see your loved one(s) again, you will be less of a zombie.
10. Take a break – stopover.
To round out this list, this point is about taking the opportunity to breathe some fresh (albeit, airport-recycled) air, and make the most of a short (or long) break before hopping onto another plane to complete your journey. I have never done a long-haul trip without stopping over, for example, in Singapore for a few days, or even a few hours and I wouldn’t want to experience it. Sometimes a stopover will only be for 2-3 hours, giving you just enough time to grab a treat for yourself (there’s duty free, but just make sure you’re not taking more than your allowance) and head to the next gate, but this tends to be enough. Just follow the ‘transit’ or ‘transfer’ signs as you get out of the plane and the air bridge, and check which gate you need to head to next. If you didn’t get a boarding card for the second flight when you checked in for your first flight, then head to the relevant airline counter to get one printed and then be on your way. Not too long to go now…